With Mariana Alfaro

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Bernie Sanders has massively stepped up efforts to woo female voters since Joe Biden took the lead in delegates and Elizabeth Warren dropped out of the race. 

The independent senator from Vermont unveiled a “reproductive health care and justice for all” plan on Saturday evening. He’s attacking the former vice president for supporting the Hyde Amendment, which banned Medicaid funds from being used to cover abortions, until reversing himself under pressure last year. He’s reading aloud a quote from the 1970s in which Biden said that Roe v. Wade “went too far.” 

“Women have a right to control their own bodies, not the government,” Sanders said during an outdoor rally here on a sunny Sunday afternoon. “Here is my promise to you: I will never nominate anyone to the Supreme Court or the federal bench who is not 100 percent pro-Roe v. Wade. … We’re in this together.”

Jesse Jackson told the crowd of 7,600 that he endorsed Sanders only after receiving an ironclad commitment that he would nominate an African American woman to the Supreme Court and a promise that he would give “serious consideration” to naming a black woman as his running mate. “Bernie can win, will win and must win,” said Jackson.

Michigan is the most populous, and symbolically significant, of six states voting tomorrow. An EPIC-MRA poll released this morning showed Biden leading Sanders 51 percent to 27 percent in the state, with 13 percent undecided and 9 percent saying they plan to vote for another candidate. The survey of 400 likely Democratic voters, conducted Wednesday through Friday, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent. But this should be taken with a grain of salt. The pre-primary polls four years ago showed Hillary Clinton with a similarly huge lead, and Sanders pulled off an upset. Clinton’s weakness foreshadowed Donald Trump narrowly carrying the state in November. 

The Sanders campaign rushed resources and staff to Michigan over the weekend, going all-in on the Wolverine State the way that Biden did before South Carolina’s primary. The other states with primaries on Tuesday are Missouri, Washington, Idaho, Mississippi and North Dakota.

Women are the centerpiece of Sanders’s comeback strategy here, including an effort to win over former supporters of Warren. Biden led him among women by 12 points on Super Tuesday, 37 percent to 25 percent, based on median support in available exit polling, with Warren (D-Mass.) pulling 15 percent and former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg getting 13 percent. Biden led Sanders among men by a narrower 4 points, 36 percent to 32 percent, with Warren in single digits.

“My heart wants to vote for Bernie. My gut wants to vote for Biden,” said Melissa Courtade, 46, who sits on the Kenowa Hills school board. She had planned to vote for Warren on Tuesday and remains undecided after watching Sanders speak. Courtade likes Sanders’s plan to raise teacher pay to a minimum of $60,000 per year but doesn’t think it’s realistic. She likes the idea of Medicare-for-all, but she isn’t sure that’s realistic either. She really likes Sanders personally, and many of her friends support him, but she’s not sure he can beat Trump. 

Courtade, who voted for Clinton in the 2016 primary, said her 19-year-old daughter is supporting Biden because she thinks Sanders is too liberal to carry Michigan in the general election. “She jokingly teases me and says you’re ADD when it comes to this election, and I really am,” Courtade said after Sanders’s rally. “I just don’t know where my head is at right now. It’s so hard. I’ve never not known who I was going to vote for.”

She was one of about two dozen women I spoke with at Sanders’s rally on Sunday afternoon. Several said they had planned to back Warren or one of the other female candidates but now reluctantly needed to decide between Sanders and Biden. A February Washington Post-ABC News poll found that while Sanders was ranked higher as a second choice by many Warren voters, a significant chunk favored moderate candidates, including Biden. Warren herself has not endorsed. The Massachusetts senator is trying to balance playing an inside game versus an outside game. Whether she backs someone or not, her ideas won’t go away and neither will she.

Sanders won his upset four years ago by running up the score in rural and conservative parts of Michigan. He managed to eke out a 1.4-point win statewide despite losing the Detroit metropolitan area, including Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. But Sanders won Kent County, which includes Gerald Ford’s hometown of Grand Rapids, by 25 points, a 17,000-vote margin of victory. That was almost exactly his statewide margin. He’s trying to replicate this on Tuesday. 

Kim Sapkowski, 55 of Belmont, had planned to vote for Warren but will now support Sanders because, in her view, Biden’s plans are too incremental. Her position as an administrative assistant at a local university was eliminated last month because of budget cuts. Now she’s unemployed and has two kids of her own in college. She worries a recession is looming, which bolsters her conviction that this is no time for “the half-measures” that she believes Biden wants to pursue. “I’m disappointed that we still are hesitant about electing a woman as president, but we’ve just got to beat Trump,” said Sapkowski. “The biggest response that the crowd gave Bernie was when he said that the government should get its hands off women’s bodies. That was the strongest response he got, and you’re in maybe the most conservative part of Michigan.”

Biden will hold his own rally in Grand Rapids on Monday in a bid to blunt Sanders’s strength in Western Michigan. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who dropped out a week ago today, also came here to campaign for Biden on Saturday. “People are looking for someone who is a rock, someone who is a safe place, and that is Joe Biden,” she said at a brewery here.

Carolyn Ferrari, the regional manager for a theater company and one of the relatively few black faces at Sanders’s rally here, had leaned toward supporting Klobuchar. But she decided to support Sanders on Sunday after hearing him commit to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court. “Warren spoke very well, but something about her didn’t seem genuine to me, and I don’t think Biden can really get the job done,” said Ferrari. 

A hundred years after the ratification of the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote, the 49-year-old said she assumed all along over the past year that no women would be left in the race at this stage because sexism remains so endemic in American politics. “You hope, but you never really expect,” she said, with a sigh. “I’m almost 50, and I don’t know that it’s going to change in my lifetime. But to be honest, I also didn’t think we’d see a black president in my lifetime.” 

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) remains in the race, but she only has two delegates from American Samoa. The Democratic National Committee announced qualification requirements for Sunday night’s debate in Phoenix that ensure only Biden and Sanders appear onstage.

Leslie Schwartz-Thomas, who retired as a 911 dispatcher to focus on being a grandmother to triplets, loved Warren. “The chance to vote for a woman had something to do with it,” she said. “I’d be lying if I said it didn’t, but I wouldn’t vote for somebody just because they’re a woman.” Her son who lives in Seattle is a diehard Sanders supporter and urged his mom to feel the Bern after Warren suspended her campaign. The 59-year-old agreed to go to Sanders’s rally to hear him out. “A lot of what Bernie talks about, I agree with,” she said, “but I worry he won’t beat that man who is in the White House – I won’t even say his name.”

Women, especially in the suburbs, powered the Democratic takeover of the House in the 2018 midterm elections. Several first-term congresswomen who flipped seats have endorsed Biden in recent days, including Elissa Slotkin and Haley Stevens in Michigan. Gretchen Whitmer, the state’s Democratic governor who also won in 2018, endorsed Biden last week. But Sanders had the early support of Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) – another member of the Squad elected in 2018 – introduced him on Sunday night before a crowd of 10,240 in Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan.

Indeed, Sanders fares better among women than the saturation coverage of the “Bernie Bros” might lead you to believe. “His main supporters are teachers,” said Sanders supporter Nichole Biber, 45, an elementary school librarian in East Lansing. “Every time I go canvassing, it’s women and men. The grass-roots movements that endorse him are made up of a lot of mothers. All the women I know voted for him four years ago too.”

Sanders has flushed out what once seemed like a box-checking afterthought toward the end of his stump speech with a robust commitment to make fighting for women a top priority. He now says one of his top legislative goals would be codifying the protections of Roe into federal law and “significantly” increasing funding for Planned Parenthood. The reproductive health-care plan Sanders put out on Saturday pledges to use executive authority to reverse “Trump’s anti-choice actions,” require preclearance by the Justice Department for all new state abortion laws, block any federal funding for “crisis pregnancy centers” that don’t perform abortions, make birth control available over-the-counter (it would also be free under Medicare-for-all) and ban abstinence-only sex education in schools. 

The plan includes an emphasis on increasing access to reproductive services in communities of color, with provisions for eliminating “contraceptive deserts” and increasing funding to hospitals where most patients are African American. Discussing this plan in Grand Rapids, Sanders said: “We’re tired of black mothers dying at three times the rate of white mothers.”

Biden has been trying to stay above the fray as Sanders intensifies his criticism. His campaign didn’t respond directly to the abortion-focused attacks. Instead, he is running a commercial here that touts past praise from former president Barack Obama, as well as a response ad to a Sanders attack that he once supported cutting Social Security benefits.

On Sunday, Biden released a lengthy statement commemorating International Women’s Day. “Four years after more than 65 million Americans proudly cast their ballot hoping to elect our first female president, we are fighting for the very soul of our nation and to rid the White House of a man who has fostered misogyny, bigotry, racism, and division all across our country,” he wrote. “I promise that, as president, I will use every tool available to me and take every opportunity to push our nation closer to that aspirational American creed – that all of us are equal in rights and dignity and deserve equal opportunity. … I have pledged to seek gender parity and full diversity in my national security appointments, and that will be true across my government.”

On the other hand, many feminists remain angry at Biden for his shoddy treatment of Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearing to the Supreme Court in 1991. Biden, who was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, has expressed regret over his handling of her allegations of sexual harassment. Lucy Flores, a former Nevada state legislator, accused Biden last spring of smelling her hair and kissing the back of her head at a 2014 rally in Las Vegas.

After Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) backed Biden on Sunday, her aides told reporters that she waited to support him until there were no other major female candidates left in the race. Harris plans to introduce Biden at a rally tonight in Detroit. “Like many women, I watched with sadness as women exited the race one by one,” she said in her video announcement. “This is something we must reckon with, and it is something I will have more to say about in the future. But we must rise to unite the party and country behind a candidate who reflects the decency and dignity of the American people and who can ultimately defeat Donald Trump.”

Shannon Koneracki, a 42-year-old stay-at-home mom from Sparta, never thought Sanders would get this far. She supported Clinton in the 2016 primary because she didn’t think Sanders could win, but the fact that Trump managed to get elected that fall led her to conclude that Sanders probably could too. So she will vote for him on Tuesday. “I would love to have Bernie pick a vice president like Warren because it would help with the women’s vote,” said Koneracki, as her 6-year-old daughter Genesis ran in circles around her.

The latest on the coronavirus

Markets tanked this morning.

“The threat of a coronavirus-fueled oil war and continued panic around the outbreak brought markets to unprecedented lows Monday, triggering the first-ever forced halt on trading after the Standard & Poor’s 500 index sank 7 percent shortly after the open. The Dow Jones industrial average cratered as much as 2,000 points before clawing back,” Thomas Heath, Will Englund and Taylor Telford report. “The forced freeze was a sign of unprecedented volatility for Wall Street amid the most turbulent trading in recent memory. Another 15-minute halt will be triggered if the S&P 500’s losses hit the 13 percent threshold. In the event of a 20 percent decline, markets would shut down for the day. 

“Oil prices tumbled into the $30s, after Saudi Arabia and Russia deadlocked over production. The Saudis had been pushing for a cut in output to prop up prices, but did a reversal when Russia balked and decided, instead, to flood the market with hundreds of thousands of additional barrels per day at a steep discount — a move analysts fear may trigger a price war.”

The White House and the Fed are at odds over how to stabilize the economy. 

“The coronavirus is threatening the economy … Yet U.S. economic leaders are divided about how to respond, with [Fed Chair Jerome] Powell and his Trump administration counterparts, [economic adviser] Kudlow and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, differing in their assessments of the risks as well as the policies best suited to address the economic threat,” Heather Long and Jeff Stein report. “Not only do the Fed and the White House appear to disagree on the severity of the potential economic hit, they’re at odds about the power of interest rate cuts to stem the panic. Trump and Kudlow have emphasized the Fed’s power to cut interest rates as the primary economic response to the crisis. But although they have moved to cut rates, Powell and others at the Fed have suggested that they have only a limited role to play … The White House hasn’t, however, shown consistent support for such stimulus.”

The number of U.S. cases has topped 500.

“Saudi Arabia followed Italy in enacting new travel restrictions, Iran suspended flights to Europe, and the [U.S. government] warned citizens against cruise travel,” Felicia Sonmez, Juliet Eilperin and Kim Bellware report. “A virus-stricken cruise ship made its way to California to dock … The Department of Health and Human Services [said] that the Grand Princess cruise ship’s more than 3,500 passengers, at least 21 of whom have tested positive for the coronavirus, will be quarantined in California, Texas and Georgia. Some White House officials privately believe the number of U.S. cases will double — or more — in the next 48 hours. At least 21 people have died.” More than 30 states have announced infections.

The District's first confirmed case is the Rev. Timothy Cole, rector of Christ Church Georgetown: “A church spokesman said Cole was present for three services last Sunday attended by 550 people. Virginia announced a second case on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases in the Washington area to nine." 

  • D.C. officials urged hundreds who attended Christ Church Georgetown on several recent days to self-quarantine. This is the first broad self-quarantine order in the Washington region. (Fenit Nirappil and Darran Simon)
  • The School Without Walls, a D.C. public high school, is closed today. City officials determined that a staff member had close contact with a person who tested positive. (Perry Stein and Martin Weil)
A case of the virus at CPAC brought the virus closer to Trump. 

“Trump was photographed shaking hands with Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, who confirmed that he had been in direct contact with the infected man during the Conservative Political Action Conference last month,” Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey and Juliet Eilperin report. “The handshake at CPAC put Trump just two degrees of separation away from the virus … While the White House has maintained that Trump was never in direct contact with the infected person and does not have any symptoms, the potential close call at a political event underscores how the outbreak threatens to upend the president’s routine as he campaigns for reelection. 

"There is growing tension among Trump administration officials, who now view the rapidly spreading outbreak as a black swan event that could consume the president’s fourth year in office, even as Trump remains reluctant to see much cause for concern ... Concerns for the president’s personal health have also escalated as the death toll from the virus has risen, with most of the victims being senior citizens. Trump’s personal doctor, Sean Conley, now attends some White House meetings on the coronavirus, tracking where new cases are being reported … The White House is also being cleaned more regularly and people with flu-like symptoms are being urged not to come into the complex, with the added warning that they may infect the leader of the free world …

"Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said in a statement Sunday that he ‘briefly interacted’ with the infected person while at CPAC and would self-quarantine at his Texas home 'out of an abundance of caution.' He said he does not have any symptoms associated with the virus. Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) tweeted Sunday that he and three of his staff members are under self-quarantine ‘after sustained contact at CPAC’ with the person who has the virus. He added: ‘We are all asymptomatic and feel great.’”

Sanders and Biden both plan to forge ahead with campaigning.

“With the outbreak in the United States now affecting 30 states, some political organizations have reassessed their plans for conferences and large-scale events. The AFL-CIO, the largest group of labor unions in the country, announced that it is canceling its presidential forum, which had been scheduled for Thursday in Orlando. Sanders and [Biden] had been planning to attend,” Felicia Sonmez, Juliet Eilperin and Paige Winfield Cunningham report.

  • “We are in communications with public health officials wherever we go,” Sanders said on CNN. “We will not endanger the health of anybody in this country. … We are watching this thing very, very carefully.”
  • Sanders will hold a roundtable this afternoon with public health experts in Detroit to discuss how the country should address the coronavirus.
  • During a campaign stop in Jackson, Miss., Biden answered a question about the coronavirus while rubbing sanitizer on his hands. “We’re listening to the experts at the CDC and doing everything they recommend,” he said.
  • Trump has typically held a rally on the eve of each Democratic primary or caucus. But he does not have one planned for tonight. His last rally was this past Monday in North Carolina. Erin Perrine, a Trump campaign spokeswoman, said the campaign is “proceeding normally” and will announce further events at a later date.
Coronavirus anxiety is growing in an aging Congress. 

“Members of Congress are becoming increasingly anxious about coronavirus, and there is growing pressure on leadership to take steps to protect lawmakers — even potentially recessing for a period of weeks,” NBC News reports. “Members plan to raise concerns with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., at their weekly leadership meeting [today]. … It’s Pelosi’s decision whether to keep the House in session or make changes in the schedule.” 

One of America’s largest hospitals, is already feeling the virus’s pressure.

“Mass General is a renowned medical center with just over 1,000 beds and top research facilities, the kind of place many patients want to be when something terrible happens. Yet in a sign of the enormous challenge covid-19 poses to the health-care system, even emergency-response teams here were bracing for an outbreak that seemed increasingly likely to test staff and resources,” Emma Brown reports. “At the ground level — observed during several days at Mass General and in interviews with key planning leaders — teams were working long hours to deal with challenges that the White House was playing down or insisting did not exist. … Mass General health-care workers who encounter a patient with fever, cough and other symptoms of covid-19 can call a ‘biothreats’ pager at the hospital for advice and help determining whether that patient should be tested. On Tuesday, the pager buzzed about 20 times, according to Erica Shenoy, an infectious diseases doctor and associate chief of infection control. By Thursday afternoon, the buzzes sounded every 10 minutes and had become a full-time job for Amir Mohareb, the young infectious diseases doctor.”

Italian authorities are struggling to lock down about 16 million people. 

“The plan to lock down large swaths of the north was the first major attempt by a democracy during the coronavirus crisis to radically halt the routines of daily life — an effort that will have significant impacts on civil liberties,” Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli report. “But in the hours before and after the measure became law, people continued to stream out of the northern hubs of Milan and Venice on trains and planes for southern Italy or elsewhere in Europe. Sunday, then, provided the first glimpse of a coronavirus lockdown, European-style … Data released by Italy on Sunday night only underscored the urgency. Active cases jumped more than 1,300 in a single day to 6,387, and deaths jumped by 133 to 366. … Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte described a series of emergency steps: People across the north, in the region of Lombardy and in 14 other provinces would be barred from exiting or entering other than for emergencies or essential work or health matters. But Conte also said some transportation would continue. He framed the measures as part of a broader message to keep distance from others and not ‘throw parties.’”

Quote of the day

"It turns out that the truth matters, and epidemics can't be subdued by tweet,” said Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled by Trump. (Bloomington Herald-Times)

The new world order

Blasts disrupted the Afghan president’s swearing-in ceremony.

“An attack disrupted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's inauguration Monday amid a deepening political crisis that threatens to undermine the future of peace talks with the Taliban,” Susannah George and Sharif Hassan report. “Both Ghani and his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, held swearing-in ceremonies Monday after weeks of efforts to mediate between the two men failed. Afghanistan's election commission named Ghani the winner of the September presidential contest, with just enough of the vote to avoid a second round, but Abdullah declared the results fraudulent and claimed victory. The spectacle of dueling inaugurations held just yards apart in separate compounds reflect worsening divisions among Afghanistan's political elite as the country prepares to enter talks with the Taliban. The peace deal signed between the militants and the United States called for intra-Afghan talks to begin Tuesday. It is unclear if that benchmark will be met. Mediation efforts were held late into the night Sunday and continued until just moments before the ceremonies.”

The U.S. envoy to Afghanistan now faces his greatest challenge. 

Zalmay Khalilzad “is expected to be closely involved when representatives from the Taliban, the Afghan government and Afghan society sit down as early as this week to begin mapping out a future governing structure and finding consensus on divisive issues such as the role of Islam and women’s rights,” Missy Ryan and John Hudson report. “Already there are signs of trouble. Afghan and Taliban leaders are disputing the terms of Khalilzad’s initial deal, and the militants have launched a series of deadly attacks. The format, objectives and even precise location of the next negotiations remain a mystery. ‘This is his biggest challenge,’ said Carter Malkasian, a former Pentagon official who took part in some of the talks Khalilzad conducted with militant leaders over the past two years … Looming over the negotiations is officials’ hazy understanding of what Trump wants and will tolerate. While the president has consistently voiced his desire to get U.S. troops out of the country, it is less clear how he will define American interests in what is likely to be a protracted effort to shape Afghanistan’s future."

North Korea fired three projectiles after threatening “momentous” action. 

“South Korea’s national security director, defense minister and spy chief held an emergency video conference and agreed the North Korean action were not helpful to efforts to establish a peace on the Korean Peninsula, according to South Korea’s presidential Blue House,” the AP reports.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman detained two other Saudi princes in villas.

“Two senior princes detained in a crackdown against potential rivals of Saudi Arabia's powerful crown prince are being held in private villas and have been allowed to call their families, according to a person with ties to the royal family,” Liz Sly, Ellen Nakashima and Kareem Fahim report. “The detention on Friday of [King Salman’s] younger brother, Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, and one of his nephews, Mohammed bin Nayef, sparked rumors that Salman’s health might have deteriorated, prompting the bold move by [the Crown Prince], the king’s son and heir, against some of the most senior members of the royal family. … The princes have in the past been considered possible heirs to the crown. … The person said the princes contacted family members on Saturday and told them that they were being held not in prisons but in private royal villas. Ahmed asked relatives to send him his ‘bisht,’ a robe worn for official engagements, prompting the person to speculate that he might soon make a public appearance, perhaps under duress."

Gaza militants targeted Israel with party balloons bearing bombs. 

“In recent months, hundreds of booby-trapped balloons — sometimes bearing the messages ‘I Love You’ and ‘Happy Birthday’ along with small improvised explosives dangling by a string — have descended [on communities] downwind of the nearby Gaza Strip, according to Israeli police,” Steve Hendrix, Hazem Balousha and Ruth Eglash report. “Most land in open countryside, and none has yet caused injury or death, something a local police commander described as a miracle bound to give way to a tragedy.” 

Tens of thousands of Mexican women protested femicide and gender-based violence. 

“Women poured into the streets on Sunday to start a two-day protest and national strike against gender-based violence, in what organizers hope will be a turning point for women's rights in a country disfigured by violence and machismo,” Mary Beth Sheridan reports. “Many wore purple, the color symbolizing International Women’s Day, celebrated throughout the world on Sunday, and waved signs reading ‘Fight today so we don’t die tomorrow’ and ‘We are the voice of those who are no longer with us.’ … Mexico’s femicide rate rose about 10 percent in 2019 to 1,010 cases; an average of 10 women are killed per day. Surveys have found a majority of women have been victims of violence at some point in their lives.” Meanwhile, a 22-year-old Guatemalan woman became the eighth migrant to die in ICE custody this fiscal year, per BuzzFeed News.

More on 2020

Steve Bullock officially announced he’ll run for Senate.

Montana’s Democratic governor will challenge Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.). This reversal by the former presidential candidate boosts Democratic fortunes in their bid to unseat and reclaim the Senate majority. (Felicia Sonmez and Paul Kane)

Twitter debuted its “manipulated media” label.

A deceptively edited video of Biden was shared by White House social media director Dan Scavino and retweeted by Trump. “The video was the first test of a new policy the social media company implemented on March 5 to label tweets that contain manipulated or synthetic media, ranging from edited videos to more sophisticated examples known as ‘deepfakes’ that can fabricate events that never happened," Cat Zakrzewski reports. "In this case, the altered video of Biden … is based on a speech he gave in Kansas City, Mo., on Saturday. It was then shared on Twitter by Scavino, only edited to make it appear as if Biden inadvertently endorsed Trump for reelection.” 

The Russian media is freaking out about Biden’s resurrection.  

“The pro-Kremlin newspaper Vzglyad complained that Biden ‘rose from the ashes like a phoenix,’ prevailing ‘in spite of the corruption scandals’ that have long been alleged and cultivated by the Russians—and the Republicans—concerning his son, Hunter, and his own activities in Ukraine,” the Daily Beast reports. “With notable irritation, Vzglyad griped about [Biden’s] primary victories in North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Alabama, claiming that the pro-Biden votes in rural states were secured by ‘rednecks, who shoot skunks for fun, bowl, beat their wives and associate the word ‘socialist’ with the communist threat.’ The newspaper bitterly surmised that through Biden’s anticipated nomination, the U.S. elites won yet another Cold War against socialism.”

A watchdog warned the administration that it “urgently” needs to address problems with election security. 

“The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), part of the Department of Homeland Security, was to have finalized plans by January to support states and localities with their election security operations. That did not happen, according to a Government Accountability Office report,” Joe Davidson reports. “The report said the agency ‘is not well-positioned to execute a nationwide strategy for securing election infrastructure prior to the start of the 2020 election cycle’ because it has not completed plans. According to the report, cybersecurity agency officials said they are unlikely to develop plans for election security assistance to political parties or come up with strategies for raising public awareness about foreign threats.” 

James Biden’s health-care ventures face growing scrutiny.

In January, the FBI raided Americore Health hospital, a health-care business linked to Joe Biden’s brother, seizing boxes of documents and deepening the legal morass surrounding James Biden’s recent venture into health-care investing, Politico reports: “In the weeks since the raid, two small medical firms that did business with James Biden have claimed in civil court proceedings to have obtained evidence that he may have fraudulently transferred funds from Americore ‘outside of the ordinary course of business’ … The purpose of the Jan. 30 raid of an Ellwood City, Pa., hospital remains unclear, and there is no indication it was related to the actions of Biden’s younger brother … In 2017 and 2018, James Biden was embarking on a foray into healthcare investing, telling potential partners, including at Americore, that his last name could open doors and that Joe Biden was excited about the public policy implications of their business models, according to court filings and interviews with former business contacts of James’s.”

Donald Trump Jr. challenged Hunter Biden to a debate.

In an interview with Axios’s Jim VandeHei, the president’s son said he wants to debate the former vice president's son over who has benefited more financially from their fathers' government service. “We can go full transparency, we show everything, and we can talk about all of the places where I am supposedly grifting but Hunter Biden isn't,” said Don Jr., also claiming that he’d be willing to release his own tax returns if Hunter Biden put his out. “If we do it both, 100 percent. Let's talk about who profited off of whose public service.” A Biden campaign spokesman replied that it's “hard to believe anything a Trump says on tax returns.”

Social media speed read

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) endorsed Biden's candidacy:

On International Women’s Day, a Post reporter noticed inequity even among cleaning sponges: 

Ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who has been a regular target of gendered attacks by Trump, shared a message from Monica Lewinsky:

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, Trump golfed with players for the Nationals who are in West Palm Beach for spring training:

Videos of the day

Trump’s former top adviser on Russia, Fiona Hill, gave her first sit-down interview since testifying during the impeachment hearings:

There are thousands of sheriffs up for reelection this year, and John Oliver looked into what the job entails: