with Mariana Alfaro

On Thursday morning, President Trump called into the Fox Business Network to express impatience with the pace of the inquiry by U.S. Attorney John Durham into how the FBI and other intelligence agencies pursued evidence of Russia’s election interference in 2016. 

“Bill Barr has the chance to be the greatest of all time, but if he wants to be politically correct, he’ll be just another guy, because he knows all the answers, he knows what they have, and it goes right to [Barack] Obama and it goes right to [Joe] Biden,” Trump told Maria Bartiromo, referring to his attorney general.

On Thursday night, Barr went on Fox News and announced that there will be news from the Durham investigation on Friday, in what appeared to be an effort to reassure Trump. “It’s not an earth-shattering development, but it is an indication that things are moving along at the proper pace as dictated by the facts in this investigation,” the attorney general said.

This was not the biggest news from the day, or even from that Fox Business interview, but it offered a revealing window into the multitude of ways that Trump is trying to use his presidential perch to improve his reelection hopes, even if that means publicly prodding his appointees to use the law enforcement apparatus of the federal government to prosecute his perceived enemies.

In comments that seemed aimed at a constituency of one, Barr emphasized during his appearance on Sean Hannity’s show that there will be more “significant developments before the election,” which is just over 80 days away. This gave Democratic strategists flashbacks to FBI Director Jim Comey’s October 2016 announcement that the bureau was reopening its probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, something Clinton continues to blame for her defeat, even though he announced shortly before the election that they had found nothing. 

Trump has frequently accused the Obama White House of directing the investigation of his 2016 campaign. Officials in the Obama administration and the Justice Department from that time strenuously deny it and note there is no good evidence to support the president’s claims. But close Biden allies nonetheless fear that Barr will time pre-election announcements to mislead and manipulate voters.

Trump is intent on taking full advantage of the powers of incumbency. The president confirmed Thursday that he plans to deliver his Republican convention speech from the White House lawn. “It’s a place that makes me feel good, it makes the country feel good,” Trump told the New York Post during a sit-down interview in the Oval Office.

The administration dispatched Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler to Pittsburgh on Thursday to sign an order that Trump hopes will help him carry Pennsylvania again. The new rules effectively rescind the agency’s authority to regulate methane, the largest component of natural gas and a major driver of climate change. Instead, oil and gas companies will get to decide themselves how much of the potent greenhouse gas can escape into the atmosphere from wells, pipelines and storage tanks.

Trump has also been taking credit on Twitter this week for various pork-barrel projects that the Transportation Department is funding in battleground states, including Wisconsin, Florida and New Hampshire. Presidents have been doing that sort of thing for generations. One of my mentors, Walter Pincus, even wrote his senior thesis at Yale in the 1950s on how Franklin Roosevelt touted this kind of spending as he campaigned for reelection in the 1930s.

President Trump said on Aug 13 that he would not direct the postmaster general to reverse some of his recent policy changes at the U.S. Postal Service. (The Washington Post)

But Trump, as he often does, is disregarding long-standing norms that have constrained the presidential prerogative. To wit: The buzziest part of Trump’s phone call to Fox Business on Thursday was his confession that he is blocking funding for the U.S. Postal Service because he wants to restrict how many Americans can vote by mail. He was candid that his purpose is to prevent Democrats from expanding mail balloting, which he has previously said he believes would hurt his reelection chances. “They need that money in order to make the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump told Bartiromo. “If we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money.” 

Sure enough, the Republican-controlled Senate adjourned later in the day – until mid-September – without reaching any deal on coronavirus relief aid. Trump’s comments sparked alarm that ballots will not be delivered in time to count in November.

Louis DeJoy, the billionaire GOP megadonor Trump installed as postmaster general two months ago, is in frequent contact with top Republican Party officials and met with the president in the Oval Office last week. “With nearly 180 million Americans eligible to vote by mail, the president’s actions could usher in widespread delays, long lines and voter disenfranchisement this fall,” Amy Gardner, Josh Dawsey and Paul Kane report. “Trump told reporters Thursday that he would not tell DeJoy to reverse changes that have slowed the mail. … Soon after taking office, DeJoy ordered a series of changes in policy that shocked postal employees. He banned overtime and told carriers to leave mail behind at distribution centers, causing it to pile up day after day. Employees also report that sorting machines that help speed mail processing have been removed from postal facilities.”

A new Pew Research Center poll illuminates why Trump might be so fixated on undermining the postal system: Eighty percent of registered voters who support Trump or lean toward supporting him would rather vote in person, and only 17 percent prefer to vote by mail. By contrast, 58 percent of voters who support or lean toward supporting Biden say their preference is to vote by mail.

During the Fox Business interview, Trump also attacked FBI Director Chris Wray for not sufficiently cooperating with the investigations into those who investigated him. “There are documents that they want to get and that we have said we want to get. We are going to find out if he’s going to give those documents. Certainly, he’s been very, very protective,” the president said of his own appointee. “Let’s see how Wray turns out. He’s going to either turn out one way or another.”

“An FBI spokesman declined to comment on the president’s criticism Thursday, but the bureau has said previously that it is cooperating with such requests, including congressional subpoenas, ‘consistent with our law enforcement and national security obligations,’” Devlin Barrett reports.

Two Republican-led Senate committees are investigating the FBI’s handling of the Russia case. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) released a statement after Trump’s interview that said Wray has personally promised that he will provide him with witnesses and documents. “I believe the Director is committed to being helpful,” Graham said.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the chairman of the other committee investigating the FBI, suggested in radio interviews this week that undermining Biden is his goal. “The more that we expose of the corruption of the transition process between Obama and Trump, the more we expose of the corruption within those agencies, I would think it would certainly help Donald Trump win reelection and certainly be pretty good, I would say, evidence about not voting for Vice President Biden," the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee told a Twin Cities station, per Politico. Johnson added in another radio interview that the evidence his committee is compiling is so “outrageous” that “it should completely disqualify Biden from president.”

Coronavirus

Joe Biden called for mask mandates in all 50 states, and polls show most Americans support this.

Today's 202 comes to you from Wilmington, Del., where Biden called on Thursday for governors in all 50 states to require every resident to wear a mask when they leave their homes, saying this would save the lives of at least 40,000 Americans. “Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months at a minimum,” the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said during an event at the Hotel Du Pont on Thursday. “Be a patriot. Protect your fellow citizens. Step up. Do the right thing.”

Biden’s comments came during a second joint appearance with his new running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). Both of them plan to give their speeches from the Chase Center in Wilmington next week. The convention was originally scheduled for Milwaukee, but Biden thinks it is safer to stay here. Trump attacked Biden at his daily coronavirus briefing for the mask mandate proposal, accusing his challenger of “playing politics from the sidelines” and describing the idea as “very defeatist.”

A fresh poll from Fox News, which shows Biden leading Trump by seven points nationally, finds that 74 percent of Americans favor “requiring everyone in the United States to wear a face mask when they are outside of their home,” and 21 percent oppose doing so. An NPR-PBS-Maris poll, released this morning, shows Biden leading Trump by 11 points nationally and ahead of the president 53 percent to 37 percent on the question of who is better to handle the pandemic.

A poll released Tuesday by Marquette University Law School found that 69 percent of Wisconsin voters support mask requirements in all public places while 29 percent disagree. Gov. Tony Evers (D) issued a mandate in that state, but Republican legislators — including state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald — said they plan to return to the state Capitol in Madison to vote it down, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Marquette poll showed 54 percent of Republicans oppose mandates, however, while 43 percent said they support them. But 71 percent of independents support the requirements. Support was much greater for the mask mandate in the cities than rural areas. A Quinnipiac University poll last month found that 79 percent of Florida voters believe everyone in their state should be required to wear masks in public.

  • Oklahoma City has seen a dramatic drop in cases ever since the city enacted a mask ordinance on July 17, said Mayor David Holt. “Just like clockwork, about a week ago, we began to see the decline in the cases and the hospitalizations,” Holt, a Republican, told KFOR. “Over the course of this last week, we’ve seen cases drop about a third here in Oklahoma City, and we have seen hospitalizations drop about 20 percent.” (Antonia Farzan)
  • The White House’s coronavirus task force warned that Georgia continues to see “widespread and expanding community viral spread” and said the state’s current regulations aren’t enough to curtail the virus. The group “strongly recommends” that Georgia adopt a statewide mask mandate, but Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has continued to vehemently refused to impose one. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • Delta Air Lines said more than 130 people have been put on its “no-fly” list for refusing to wear masks. “Fortunately, that’s a tiny percentage of our travelers, but we do take it seriously,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a Medium post.
  • Experts recommend washing cloth masks regularly. “The widely recommended method, which has also been promoted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is simple: Throw the dirty mask in with your regular laundry,” Allyson Chiu reports. “Cloth coverings can also be properly cleaned through hand-washing. … Make sure clean masks are stored in places where they cannot potentially be exposed to contaminants, or spread any contaminants already on them. For example, masks should probably not be hung on the rearview mirror of a car.”
  • The CDC issued new guidance saying that masks with valves or vents do not prevent the transmission of the virus. (Reis Thebault and Angela Fritz)
The recession is over for America’s rich, but the working class is far from recovered. 

Jobs are fully back for the highest wage earners, but fewer than half the jobs lost this spring have returned for those making less than $20 an hour, according to a new labor data analysis by John Friedman, an economics professor at Brown University and co-director of Opportunity Insights,” Heather Long reports. “Though recessions almost always hit lower-wage workers the hardest, the pandemic is causing especially large gaps between rich and poor, and between White and minority households. It is also widening the gap between big and small businesses. Some of the largest companies, such as Nike and Best Buy, are enjoying their highest stock prices ever while many smaller businesses fight for survival. Some economists have started to call this a ‘K-shaped’ recovery because of the diverging prospects for the rich and poor, and they say policy failures in Washington are exacerbating the problems. … 

“As much of the economy has moved to work-from-home mode, the shift has mainly benefited college-educated employees who do most of their work on computers. A Fed survey found that 63 percent of workers with college degrees could perform their jobs entirely from home, while only 20 percent of workers with high school diplomas or less could work from home. Richer Americans also have seen their wealth recover — or even surge — as home values have jumped to their highest level ever (even in inflation-adjusted terms), according to the National Association of Realtors. … Black men and women have recovered about 20 percent of the jobs they lost in the pandemic vs. almost 40 percent for White men and 45 percent for White women, Labor Department data shows. The slow job rebound is leaving many minority families fearful of eviction. Nearly half of Hispanic renters and 42 percent of Black renters said they had ‘no confidence’ or only ‘slight confidence’ they could pay their August rent, according to a Census Bureau survey.”

On Reddit, unemployed Americans are posting harrowing accounts of their electricity being shut off, not being able to afford medication and being days from eviction. “I truly feel abandoned by this country,” said a user in Michigan, who filed for unemployment benefits in March but has received no money.  

The covid-19 fatality rate in New York is comparable to the 1918 flu. 

“The increase in deaths in New York City during the early months of the covid-19 pandemic rivals the death toll there at the peak of the 1918 flu pandemic, according to an analysis published Thursday. The comparison, published online in the medical journal JAMA Network Open, found that the number of deaths from all causes was roughly equal during the two peak months of the flu epidemic and the first 61 days of the current outbreak,” Lenny Bernstein reports. “The H1N1 flu pandemic eventually killed 50 million people a century ago, about 675,000 of them in the United States. The current pandemic has claimed at least 746,000 lives worldwide, about 162,000 of them in the United States. ... 

New York in 1918 had a population of 5.5 million people, so the death rate of 287 per 100,000 person-months was greater than the 202 of the current covid-19 pandemic. Person-months is a way of measuring the number of deaths in a population during a specific period of time. But the current outbreak has seen a more dramatic rise in ‘excess deaths’ — the number of fatalities above what would be expected in a normal year. With better medical care, public health, hygiene and medicines such as antibiotics, New York typically has about half the death rate of a century earlier — about 50 per person-month instead of 100. So the current outbreak has quadrupled the death rate, while the flu pandemic nearly tripled it.”

  • Across the U.S., at least 200,000 more people have died than usual since March, according to a New York Times analysis of CDC data. That is about 60,000 cases higher than the number of deaths attributed directly to the virus.
  • “Federal data cited by two long-term care associations this week show that the number of new cases in nursing homes bottomed out at 5,468 during the week of June 21 and has climbed steadily upward to 8,628 for the week of July 19, the last week available. That is a 58 percent increase that roughly parallels the rise in U.S. cases overall during that time, Lenny reports.
  • One quarter of young adults have contemplated suicide during the pandemic, the CDC said. “While 10.7 percent of respondents overall reported considering suicide in the previous 30 days, 25.5 percent of those between 18 to 24 reported doing so. Almost 31 percent of self-reported unpaid caregivers and 22 percent of essential workers also said they harbored such thoughts. Hispanic and Black respondents similarly were well above the average,” Politico reports.
As the U.S.-China rift grows, Mexico is trying to lure American business to move operations closer to home. 

“The Mexican government calls it a ‘relocation strategy’ — a campaign to convince companies that they’d be safer bringing production closer to the U.S. market, to a country with a newly signed North American trade deal and a warmer relationship to the U.S. government,” Kevin Sieff reports. “Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador sees increasing exports as the primary way to extract the country from a deepening recession. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the economy was stagnating. The International Monetary Fund expects the country’s GDP to decline this year by 10.5 percent. … But economists say Mexico’s efforts to lure firms from China are hamstrung by López Obrador’s own policies, which have created an uncertain investment climate. Foreign direct investment in Mexico fell by 16.1 percent in 2019.”

  • Britain said it overcounted its coronavirus death toll by 5,377. The country trimmed its toll from 46,706 to 41,329 — a reduction of more than 10 percent. A review revealed that a government agency had been counting people as having died of the virus regardless of when they tested positive — meaning even an asymptomatic carrier who was infected in March but was killed in a traffic accident in July would be considered a covid-19 death. (William Booth and Karla Adam)
  • The British government added France to its list of countries from which anyone arriving will be required to quarantine for 14 days. Britons abroad scrambled to get home before Saturday to avoid the isolation period. (Jennifer Hassan)
  • European countries rushed to house the homeless when the pandemic began. Advocates worry the changes won’t last. (Miriam Berger)
  • Universities in Australia are seeing students trickle back to campus. They’re fining students $20 for breaches of campus rules on crowd sizes and establishing protocols to aid contact tracing. (John Buckley
  • Italy’s schools are set to welcome students next month, but first the nation needs to buy 3 million single-seat children’s desks to replace the traditional two-person desks. The government ordered everything built and shipped within the next month. “I almost drove into oncoming traffic when I heard,” said Alessandro Zecchin, the managing director of a school-furniture company. (Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli)
  • Virginia will study the presence of antibodies in children who live in the D.C. suburbs. The study will look at as many as 1,000 people younger than 20 who are receiving care at participating clinical sites. It is being conducted with Inova Health System. (Justin Moyer, Dana Hedgeth and Rebecca Tan)

More on the elections

Lori Cash, a 22-year USPS veteran, talks about the Trump administration's influence on the Postal Service and how it is causing concerns for mail-in ballots. (The Washington Post)
The Postal Service is removing mail-sorting machines from facilities around the country. 

“In many cases, these are the same machines that would be tasked with sorting ballots,” Vice News’s Motherboard reports, citing interviews with postal workers, who say no explanation or reason has been given.

After the Postal Service warned Pennsylvania that some mail ballots might not be delivered on time because the state’s deadlines are too tight for its “delivery standards,” election officials asked the state Supreme Court on Thursday to extend the deadlines to avoid disenfranchising voters. “Some counties set up drop boxes in the primary election so voters could hand-deliver their ballots without relying on the mail. But the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee have sued the state to block drop boxes from being used in November,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The RNC and conservative groups are spending tens of millions of dollars on lawsuits and advertising aimed at restricting who receives ballots and who remains on the voter rolls. “The party is also working to train as many as 35,000 poll-watchers to monitor both in-person voting and ballot counting,” per Amy, Josh and Paul. “And the RNC and Trump campaign advisers are now mapping out their post-election strategy, including how to challenge mail ballots without postmarks. … The campaign plans to have lawyers ready to mobilize in every state and expects legal battles could play out after Election Day in such states as Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan and Nevada.” 

The Supreme Court on Thursday rebuffed the RNC by allowing a consent decree to go forward so that Rhode Island voters can cast mail-in ballots without in-person witness verification during the pandemic. State officials had already implemented the change for the June primary. (Robert Barnes)

Trump has requested a vote-by-mail ballot ahead of Florida's primary election on Tuesday. The Palm Beach Post reports that this is the second time he has done so since changing his voter registration from New York to Florida. The request for himself and first lady Melania Trump came Wednesday, drawing charges of hypocrisy.

Potential trouble spots lurk as Biden and Harris complete their political merger.

Matt Viser reports: “One challenge is determining whether Harris’s husband, Douglas Emhoff, will quit, or possibly take a leave of absence from, his job as a well-connected corporate and entertainment lawyer. His firm, DLA Piper, touts him as representing ‘large domestic and international corporations and some of today’s highest profile individuals and influencers in complex business, real estate and intellectual property litigation disputes.’ That is hardly a description calculated to endear him to the Democratic Party’s resurgent left wing. … Biden’s campaign views Harris as a potentially strong voice in swing states — particularly around predominantly African American cities such as Detroit, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia — but also hope that she will motivate voters in immigrant-rich communities in Arizona, Florida, and Texas.” Often, but not always, these will be virtual events, aides tell us.

Trump promoted the outrageously false claim that Harris might not be eligible to serve.

The daughter of immigrants was born in California and has always been a citizen. “I heard it today that she doesn’t meet the requirements,” Trump told reporters. “And, by the way, the lawyer that wrote that piece is a very highly qualified, very talented lawyer. I have no idea if that’s right. I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked that out.” All these claims are false. Harris’s citizenship is not under any legitimate question, legal experts told The Post. Trump has, for years, stoked the “birther” conspiracy theory that Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. Now, he’s challenging the citizenship of another prominent Black politician with no evidence. (Sal Rizzo)

  • Michele Norris: “Trump wants to define what it means to be truly American. His Kamala Harris nickname exemplifies that.” 
  • Martha Jones, history professor at John Hopkins: “Black women in politics are no longer a ‘first.’ They are a force.” 
  • Vanessa Williams: “Harris forces us to look beyond Black and White.” 
  • Petula Dvorak: “Gen X finally gets close to power.”
  • Colbert King: “Harris’s HBCU experience prepares her to take on Trump.”
  • Ruth Marcus: “Harris and Marjorie Taylor Greene embody the divergent roads confronting America.”
  • Michael Gerson: “Harris exacerbates Biden’s existing problem with religious voters. He must work to reassure them.”
Biden winnowed a large list of candidates to four finalists. 

The other three finalists were Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Susan E. Rice, the former national security adviser, the New York Times reports. “Ms. Rice had sterling foreign-policy credentials and a history of working with Mr. Biden, but was inexperienced as a candidate. Ms. Warren had an enthusiastic following and became a trusted adviser to Mr. Biden on economic matters, but she represented neither generational nor racial diversity. Ms. Whitmer, a moderate, appealed to Mr. Biden’s political and ideological instincts, but selecting her also would have yielded an all-white ticket, Other candidates rose and faded in the process: Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois powerfully impressed Mr. Biden’s search team, but his lawyers feared she would face challenges to her eligibility because of the circumstances of her birth overseas.”

Michael Cohen’s forthcoming memoir, “Disloyal,” claims that Trump will “never leave office peacefully.” 

“Among many other accusations, Cohen alleges that Trump worked to get close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and ‘his coterie of corrupt billionaire oligarchs,’” NBC News reports. “Cohen claims that Trump lied when he told the American public he had no dealings in Russia, because Cohen personally oversaw Trump’s efforts to secure a major real estate deal in Moscow during the campaign. ‘Trump had colluded with the Russians, but not in the sophisticated ways imagined by his detractors. I also knew that the [Bob] Mueller investigation was not a witch-hunt,’ Cohen wrote, although he did not provide specifics about the alleged collusion in the excerpt. ‘Trump had cheated in the election, with Russian connivance, as you will discover in these pages, because doing anything — and I mean anything — to ‘win’ has always been his business model and way of life.’”

Jared Kushner confirmed he huddled privately with Kanye West in Colorado. 

“I’ve known him for about 10 years,” he told reporters at a White House briefing. Asked whether the two discussed the rapper's presidential campaign, which Trump officials hope will siphon Black voters away from Biden, Kushner did not deny it. “We had a general discussion, more about policy, he said. (Felicia Sonmez and Rosalind Helderman)

A new magazine profile argues that Kushner has become his father-in-law’s most dangerous enabler, and the coronavirus crisis epitomizes this dynamic. “White House colleagues say that Kushner genuinely believes he has the capacity to handle any problem assigned to him,” the Atlantic's Frank Foer reports.

Discontent with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is on the rise in the House. 

“The matter bubbled to the surface this week with the primary election of Marjorie Taylor Greene, a fringe House candidate in Georgia who espouses the QAnon conspiracy theory and has made numerous racist comments. [She’s also a 9/11 truther.] Multiple Republicans implored McCarthy to help defeat her by supporting her primary opponent. But McCarthy refused, phoning the candidate in an apparent peace accord before the primary … However, the frustration with McCarthy had already been brewing for weeks as Trump’s polling has sagged behind [Biden],” Rachael Bade reports. “According to interviews with more than 10 House Republicans — all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to be frank — some GOP lawmakers are worried that McCarthy has tied the conference too much to Trump, refusing to stand up to the president or act as a buffer to distinguish the conference from him.”

Quote of the day

“The Democrats are high on conspiracy and high on lots of bad things,” Trump told Breitbart News, a site that, like him, pushed the falsehoods that Barack Obama was born in Kenya.

Divided America

Abortion and transgender rights are likely to land back before the Supreme Court.

“In the past week, lower courts have resurrected controversial abortion restrictions in Arkansas, stopped a Vermont program that disfavored students at religious high schools and ordered a Florida school district to change its policy banning transgender students from the restrooms of their choice. All were based on the Supreme Court’s decisions reached just weeks ago. And especially on transgender rights and abortion, they raise issues that seem to warrant the justices’ continued attention,” Robert Barnes reports

On abortion, Arkansas is questioning whether Chief Justice John Roberts's pivotal vote striking down a Louisiana law actually paved the way for courts to approve restrictions that have been enacted elsewhere. The Louisiana law would have imposed requirements on abortion providers that they said would close all but one of the state’s clinics. Roberts said the law was identical to a Texas law the court had declared unconstitutional in 2016, and thus could not be upheld under the court’s precedents. Still, Roberts said he continued to believe the Texas case was wrongly decided. It didn’t take long for lower courts to take notice. A panel of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit argued that because Roberts and the court’s four dissenting justices don’t agree with the reasoning of the Texas case, it was no longer controlling law. The circuit instructed a district judge to evaluate four controversial measures passed by the Arkansas legislature, using the standard laid out in Roberts’s opinion, which is whether they constitute a “substantial obstacle” to abortion rights.

The two other issues center on schools. The Supreme Court ruled 6 to 3 that LGBTQ workers were covered under the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in the workplace, but it glossed over the contentious issue of which bathrooms transgender individuals could use. Dissenters, however, said the reasoning in the decision would be applied by lower courts to the bathroom controversy, and a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit last week became the first to do so. In a 2-to-1 vote, it affirmed a lower-court ruling that required a suburban Florida school district to allow a transgender student access to the restroom that matches his gender identity. The decision drew a sharp dissent from the circuit’s chief judge, William Pryor, who oversees one of the country’s most conservative courts, and if the school board wants to continue to fight, it might ask all of the court’s judges to reconsider the panel decision en banc.

In Vermont, a program that provides funding for high school students to enroll in college courses before graduation has come under fire after a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit indicated there was little ambiguity in the Supreme Court’s decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, which concerned whether religious schools must be included in public programs that benefit other private schools. The Vermont program barred students at religious high schools but not those at secular private schools or those who are home-schooled.

The Justice Department accused Yale of illegally discriminating against White and Asian applicants. 

“The department said it had concluded that the university gave too much weight to race in reviewing applications, in violation of federal civil rights law,” Nick Anderson reports. “Yale said it ‘categorically denies this allegation.’ The department’s findings represented the Trump administration’s latest challenge to affirmative action in higher education, particularly the consideration of race in selective college admissions.” 

Men’s rights groups helped the Trump administration water down sexual assault regulations for universities. 

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos met in 2017 with National Coalition for Men Carolinas (NCFMC), Families Advocating for Campus Equality (FACE) and Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), all groups that claim there is a crisis of false rape allegations against male college students. Emails obtained by the Nation show that DeVos’s meeting with these groups was part of a much larger collaboration between the department and various men’s rights organizations. The department offered legal advice and meetings to these groups and even hired some of their members.

Police recruitment videos offer a window into how law enforcement agencies attract new officers and see their role in the community. (The Washington Post)
The Secret Service tried to get tactical aircraft to protect the White House amid protests. 

“The Secret Service sought to bolster its protection of the White House with surveillance aircraft and a Blackhawk helicopter carrying a ‘fast rope’ commando team after crowds protesting the police killing of George Floyd knocked down temporary barricades and one man got onto the complex grounds in late May,” Carol Leonnig and Nick Miroff report. “The Secret Service asked U.S. Customs and Border Protection to provide aircraft that could be used in a rapid-response helicopter operation. … Customs and Border Protection ultimately provided the agency with live information from a surveillance plane, but the Secret Service determined that the helicopter was not necessary. … 

The agency proposed the aircraft could be used to rapidly drop six tactical agents for emergency missions, to help officers under threat and to descend on crowds from overhead. … The Blackhawk helicopter with fast ropes that the agency requested is known for its use by Special Operations teams dropping into a dangerous situation for a covert mission or to extract a hostage or victim. … The unexpected size of the crowd and aggressiveness of protesters on the White House perimeter led to some hand-wringing inside the Secret Service about how to harden the complex if multiple protesters rushed the complex’s gates at the same time … Some officers complained … that the White House had been extremely vulnerable the night of May 29 and that the Secret Service had to consider more combative measures to keep protesters at bay.”

DHS’s shifting mission is leaving its founders dismayed as critics call for its dismantling.

“The White House has run the department as an instrument of policy and politics, appointing openly partisan figures to its top leadership ranks where they serve in acting roles without the slightest pretense of a formal nomination,” Nick Miroff reports. “It was the president’s use of force in Portland last month that appeared to cross a line for DHS founders, who cringed at the department turning its powers inward against Americans. ‘I wasn’t just disappointed — I was angry,’ Tom Ridge, the former Pennsylvania governor who served as the department’s first secretary under President George W. Bush, said in an interview. ‘The president has perverted the mission of DHS.’ … If elected to the presidency, Biden is likely to face calls to reorganize or even dismantle DHS, the third-largest federal agency. … Proposals to carve up DHS remain outside the mainstream, but they have intensified within a segment of the Democratic Party. The American Civil Liberties Union this week urged DHS’s breakup, and counterrorism expert Richard Clarke has called for its demise, arguing that Trump has made the department ‘synonymous with unsympathetic government overreach, malevolence and dysfunction.’”

  • The Government Accountability Office said today that appointments of the top two officials at the Department of Homeland Security violated federal law. “GAO, which is an independent watchdog agency that reports to Congress, said that Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf and his deputy Kenneth Cuccinelli are serving under an invalid order of succession under the Vacancies Reform Act,” per Erica Werner.
  • Oregon State Police are pulling out of downtown Portland. The decision comes as police declared a riot early this morning as a group of protesters set fires and exploded commercial-grade fireworks outside the Mark Hatfield federal courthouse, prompting officers to use tear gas. (Jessica Wolfrom)
  • The Austin City Council in Texas voted to cut its police department budget by one-third and reinvest that money in social services. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said the move puts officers at risk. (Texas Tribune)
  • Clay County, Fla., Sheriff Darryl Daniels (R), facing a primary challenge next week, turned himself in to the jail in nearby Jacksonville on a felony charge of tampering with evidence and three misdemeanor counts of giving false information to law enforcement. “The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed an internal investigation last year into a corrections officer who had been Daniels’ mistress while he was her supervisor,” the AP reports. “Officials said Daniels had tried to get the woman arrested in May 2019 on stalking allegations, and investigators told prosecutors there wasn’t enough evidence.”
  • Las Cruces, N.M., agreed to police reforms in a settlement over a Latino man’s choking death. The city will adopt racial bias training for officers and may require officers to intervene in possible excessive-force episodes. (AP)
  • Democrats in Virginia’s House of Delegates announced plans for a criminal justice overhaul and a state budget do-over forced on them by protests and the pandemic. They plan on making it easier for local governments to remove Confederate monuments and are proposing a ban on police chokeholds and no-knock warrants. (Laura Vozzella)
  • Maryland’s Talbot County voted this week to keep a statue honoring the “Talbot Boys,” a group of Confederate soldiers, which stands outside its courthouse. (Justin Moyer)
  • D.C. marked a construction milestone on the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. Six iconic arches are now up, and the $480 million project is on track for completion next year. (Luz Lazo)

Social media speed read

A historian noted that Honest Abe once delivered the mail:

A former Democratic senator from Missouri, who lost in 2018, said the harms from messing with the postal system will be much bigger than voting:

Famed English composer Andrew Lloyd Webber volunteered for a vaccine trial: 

Videos of the day

Stephen Colbert reviewed Michael Cohen’s book intro: 

Seth Meyers thinks Trump is struggling to figure out how to attack Harris: