Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee this morning. While many GOP senators focused on USPS' funding, CBS News campaign reporter Cara Korte says Democrats were mostly concerned about mail and ballot processing.
DeJoy stated, "There have been no changes made with election mail." He confirmed that all ballots would be handled as first class mail, ensuring expedited delivery. But DeJoy wouldn't promise that the 671 sorting machines that have been taken offline this summer will be replaced. When pressed by skeptical Democrats about recent changes that have lead to major mail delays, DeJoy often replied that such policy decisions were made before he became postmaster general, and he has since halted controversial changes.
Democrats didn't touch on DeJoy's personal finances, even though it's been reported that he has potential stakes in Amazon. Korte says that sources inside the American Postal Workers Union were generally unhappy with DeJoy in today's hearing and accused him of being ambiguous and untruthful. Expect DeJoy's Monday testimony before the Democrat-led House Oversight Committee to be more eventful.
Meanwhile, over a half dozen Democratic attorneys general led by Pennsylvania's Josh Shapiro filed a lawsuit against DeJoy and the U.S. Postal Service over changes they say could delay the delivery and return of mail-in ballots in the general election. CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak reports the lawsuit, announced Tuesday, followed another lawsuit that 13 attorneys general filed in Washington state earlier this week over USPS operational changes.
This latest suit, filed in Pennsylvania federal court, argues that policy changes such as prohibiting overtime and extra delivery trips made at USPS were unlawful because they weren't submitted to the Postal Regulatory Commission and made public before they were implemented. Joining Shapiro were attorneys general from California, Delaware, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Maine and the District of Columbia. They say DeJoy's policy changes violate the Constitution's Elections Clause because they could interfere with states' ability to regulate the "times, places and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives."
They also argue that service changes that could disproportionately affect older voters' ability to return mail-in ballots in time to be counted violate the 26th Amendment, which guarantees citizens the right to vote. The lawsuit requests that the court vacate the operational changes made at USPS in July and appoint an independent monitor to ensure the agency complies.
FROM THE CANDIDATES
The virtual Democratic Convention brought in real cash this week as the Biden campaign announced on Friday it raised $70 million dollars throughout the week. The campaign also says that 1.1 million people signed up with the campaign by text message. And while Joe Biden was the main focus of his nomination night on Thursday, 13-year-old Brayden Harrington garnered attention as well. In New Hampshire earlier this year, Biden met Harrington at an event and they bonded over a trait they share: stuttering. Holding up his speech, Harrington noted that the day he met Biden, he showed him how he marks his speeches for easier delivery.
In the convention room with Biden for his primetime address, CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson noticed what appeared to be similar markings in Biden's TelePrompTer. You can see the pictures here. On the upcoming GOP convention, Biden's campaign along with the Democratic National Committee promised daily counter-programming and rebuttals. DNC chairman Tom Perez also dubbed the next convention: the "chaos convention."
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga says the Trump administration and president's re-election bid are furiously prepping for their turn, now that the Democratic convention is over. President Trump will appear every night of next week's GOP festivities, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh confirmed Friday.
In an interview with CBSN, Murtaugh noted, "it's going to be a fairly unusual participation level by the president," adding the party's nominating convention will be "very focused on real people."
"The Democrats held the darkest and angriest and gloomiest convention in American history," President Trump told audiences gathering at the Council for National Policy Meeting in Arlington, Virginia, Friday. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Council for National Policy is "a key venue where mainstream conservatives and extremists mix," with fringe politics often prevailing. Tamping down expectations for election night, the president added that he does not expect "meaningful" election results on the evening of November 3.
"I don't think you'll know two weeks later, I don't think you'll know four weeks later, and I don't know what's gonna happen," the president said. In a Fox News interview Thursday night, Mr. Trump vowed to equip polling locations with law enforcement officials. "We're going to have everything. We're going to have sheriffs and we're going to have law enforcement," Mr. Trump said. "We're going to have everybody, attorney generals. But it's very hard."
CBS NEWS COVID CHRONICLES
TRADE SCHOOLS IN TEXAS
A major benefit of trade school is students attend in order to parachute right into the workforce. That reality has turned ironically null amid COVID-19. In May, CBS News campaign reporter Cara Korte spoke to many trade school grads about the struggle to find work. This week we caught up with Thuy Carroll, a pastry chef, who was hoping to be able to wait out the virus to find work, but when vet medical bills unexpectedly mounted she had to start making money. In response, Carroll just last week started her own baking company – named after her ailing pup, and run out of her home kitchen.
"I've been looking for jobs at the Four Seasons and the higher-end hotels, and they're just nonexistent right now," she said. "It's been a challenge. So, I was like, I'm just gonna pivot and see what happens."
PAYING IT FORWARD
Ahead of what was originally slated to be a full-scale Republican National Convention in Charlotte, CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell says the 2020 Host Committee (CLT Host 2020, Inc.) announced Friday that it would donate furniture to a local non-profit organization as part of its goal to further the Queen City's economic development.
In partnership with Beds for Kids 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, CLT Host 2020, Inc. will donate beds, dressers, tables, chairs, and bookshelves that will serve hundreds of families in the local area. According to the 2020 Host Committee website, the not for profit organization that was responsible for hosting and funding the 2020 Republican National Convention in Charlotte, also plans to donate $3.2 million to the Charlotte region through donations to a dozen local non-profits, a $500,000 grant to businesses and vendors negatively impacted by scaled-down events due to the coronavirus pandemic, and a $2 million discretionary grant that will serve as seed funding and support for creative initiatives that could jumpstart lasting economic growth in Charlotte.
"I accepted the opportunity to serve as CEO of CLT Host 2020, Inc. for just this reason," said CLT Host 2020, Inc. CEO John Lassiter. "As important as large-scale events can be to the hospitality and tourism industries, the value-add to the community is what most interested me."
ISSUES THAT MATTER
The United States Postal Service is confirming that workers cannot serve as absentee ballot witnesses while on duty, according to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster. Ten states require absentee voters to get a witness signature or have their absentee ballot notarized for this upcoming election. This year, some states have suggested postal workers could serve as witnesses, but earlier this week, the Anchorage Daily News reported that USPS employees refused to serve as witnesses for some absentee voters during the primary.
"Postal Employees are prohibited from serving as witnesses in their official capacity while on duty, due in part to the potential operational impacts," USPS senior public relations representative Marti Johnson said in a statement Friday. "The guidance has not changed this year. The Postal Service does not prohibit an employee from serving as a witness in their personal capacity off-duty, if they so choose."
In March, the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) listed "mail delivery persons" as potential witnesses for absentee voters. WEC spokesperson Reid Magney told CBS that officials in Wisconsin weren't aware of the rule. "We didn't know. We made an assumption that they could do it. Apparently this has been a policy for quite some time," Magney told CBS News this week.
Data released by the Bureau of Labor on Friday shows that battleground states Florida and North Carolina are among a list of states with "unemployment rates significantly different" from rates reported in July 2020. CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that both states saw slight percentage increases in their state's unemployment rates in the past month.
In July, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announced that the state's unemployment rate for June 2020 was 10.4 percent, a 3.3% drop from the revised May 2020 unemployment rate of 13.7%. The latest report shows that Florida's unemployment saw a 0.9% uptick to 11.3% in July. In North Carolina, the unemployment rate increased by 1 percentage point, from 7.5% in June to 8.5% in July. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is also the only Democrat in statewide office in the state, said in a statement Friday that "because Trump refused to come to the table" and negotiate additional coronavirus relief with House Democrats, Floridians lost federal unemployment assistance and again facing eviction. "Donald Trump's incompetent response to the coronavirus crisis has thrown millions of Floridians into economic insecurity and his continued effort to downplay and distract from the pandemic clearly continues to cost Floridians their lives and livelihoods," said Fried. "Our unemployment crisis will persist until we have a leader capable of getting the job done and executing a national strategy to control the coronavirus..."
North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin released a statement Friday blaming the president's coronavirus response for the continued economic strain on state's workforce. "Nearly six months into this pandemic, our workforce and small business community are still suffering because of the Trump administration's delayed, mismanaged response to the crisis," said Goodwin. "His backwards priorities have made it clear that he is not capable of rising to this challenge…"
ON THE $$$
CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice reports presidential campaigns and political parties had a monthly filing deadline with the Federal Election Commission overnight, and new reports give more insight into the spending of the campaigns in July and their standing in the final months of the election season. The Trump campaign, RNC and its entities previously announced raising $165 million last month. Filings show the campaign also had $64.5 million in operating expenditures, while the RNC had $29.7 million in expenditures in July. Earlier this month, the campaign said the RNC and joint fundraising committees raised $1 billion across the entire cycle so far, but the new filings also show the entities combined have now spent more than $1 billion since the beginning of 2017.
Meanwhile, the Biden campaign had previously announced it along with the DNC and joint fundraising committee raised $140 million in July, but the new filings show the Biden campaign had $58.7 million in expenditures last month while the DNC had $8.9 million in direct operating expenses not including transfers to other committees. Neither campaign's joint fundraising committees face a filing deadline with the FEC for July numbers until later this fall. After wrapping up July, the Trump campaign and GOP entities said it had $300 million cash on hand; the Biden campaign and Democrats announced earlier this month they had $294 million cash on hand.
It's been a bad week for Yeezy in the Midwest, reports CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. A day after getting kicked off Wisconsin's ballot, the Illinois State Board of Elections voted unanimously this morning to not certify Kanye West as a candidate in November, due to a lack of valid signatures. After a challenge and examination in the Chicago office of the SBE, 1,928 out of the 3,128 signatures filed by West were found invalid, so he fell 1,300 signatures below the minimum 2,500 needed. The board sustained the objection, which means West will not be on the ballot in his home state of Illinois. Minutes after the decision, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose invalidated West's filing that state after information or signatures on his filings didn't match. West also fell short in West Virginia by 761 signatures. His campaign did not respond to questions about whether the decisions would be appealed. He filed in Tennessee on Thursday and in Virginia on Friday. Both states' filings are still under review, as well as Iowa and Minnesota, though West included them in a list of states where he says he will be on the ballot.
Democrats in California have been dreaming about the possibility of an open U.S Senate seat and with Sen. Kamala Harris on the ticket, that might happen in January. Should Joe Biden and Harris defeat President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, California Governor Gavin Newsom will appoint a replacement for Harris to serve the remaining two years of her term.
Democratic sources in the state tell CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar that Congressman Adam Schiff, Congresswoman Katie Porter, Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Baragan, and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, have all made calls to lobby constituencies for the job. Others, like Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Representatives Karen Bass and Barbara Lee, and former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis consistently come up in conversations as likely replacements. Top strategists, staffers, and state lawmakers in California explain the pressure points Newsom will face, the factors he'll consider, and what the potential decision could mean for the state's politics.
Republican legislative leaders in Wisconsin are urging the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) to add a fourth debate and believe it should be held in the Badger State, reports CBS news campaign reporter Adam Brewster. The first presidential debate between President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden is scheduled for September 29 in Cleveland.
Clerks in Wisconsin must mail absentee ballots to voters who have requested them by September 17. "By the time the first presidential debate happens on September 29, 2020, voters in Wisconsin will have already started voting," Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate President Roger Roth wrote in their letter to the CPD. "Wisconsinites who vote early deserve the same opportunity afforded to other states to hear the two competing visions for our country and make a well-informed decision when casting their vote."
Biden's campaign has supported holding three debates, but earlier this month President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani requested a fourth debate be held in early September. In a letter on August 6, the CPD co-chairs denied the request. "While more people will likely vote by mail in 2020, the debate schedule has been and will be highly publicized. Any voter who wishes to watch one or more debates before voting will be well aware of that opportunity," the co-chairs for the CPD wrote.
IN THE HOUSE
In their second debate, CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro reports incumbent Congressman Richie Neal and challenger Alex Morse again argued over Neal's 30-year record, as well as how to handle the economic crisis stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Morse and progressive groups like the Justice Democrats have played up Neal's ties to special interests, trying to portray the incumbent as out of touch with the district. In response, Neal talked about being able to get federal funding for district projects, his record on Social Security and Medicare, and specifically hit Morse on saying he wouldn't support the CARES Act. Their Democratic primary for Massachusetts' 1st District is on Tuesday, September 1.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Vice President Mike Pence were direct in their condemnation of the QAnon conspiracy extremist group, days after the president seemed to back the group by saying QAnon members like him and "love our country."
On Thursday, in an appearance on Fox News, McCarthy said there's "no place" for the group in the Republican party. He said of Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia GOP candidate who has supported conspiracies associated with QAnon, that she has denounced it. "But the real question will be, when you look to the Democratic party, to a Tlaib or Omar, to the anti-Semitic comments where the Democrats would not stand up," he added.
In May of 2019, the House passed a broad censure condemning "anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism and other forms of bigotry" after comments critical of Israel were made by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. Greene, who once described Tlaib's and Omar's entry into Congress part of an "Islamic invasion," told the Washington Examiner on Friday that QAnon doesn't represent her campaign. "I was willing to post it and talk about it — and sometimes believe things that maybe I thought were true at the time, and then, no, no, I don't think this is true. I'm not ashamed of that whatsoever," she said. According to Navarro, this comes after a week of an assortment of clips of her talking about 9/11 and Seth Rich conspiracies surfaced, both theories within the QAnon network.
Congressman Tom Malinowski, a freshman Democrat in New Jersey's 7th District, tweeted that constituents contacted him about a poll asking if he belonged to a "child sex ring." Malinowski wrote, "That's right - they are using a poll to push out the main QAnon conspiracy theory in our district." The notion of a child sex trafficking ring is one of the central theories with QAnon, and has led to one man being arrested for firing an assault rifle in a DC pizza restaurant. The National Republican Campaign Committee quote-tweeted him, and wrote, "You lobbying to protect sexual predators isn't a conspiracy @Malinowski. It's a fact." This referred to a story Republicans have been pushing, about Malinowski lobbying against a sex offender registry during his time at the Human Rights Watch organization. Malinowski told Navarro he had "no role whatsoever" on that issue, and during his tenure he was in a completely different department, focused on foreign policy and national security. He said the HRW had to fill out a lobbying disclosure form with everything the D.C. office divisions had worked on, including an effort against a 2006 crime bill that had provisions related to expanding who would be on the national sex offender registry.
While he was listed, Malinowski said it had "all the people who did the advocacy on Capitol Hill, but that doesn't mean everybody on that list worked on every issue that was on the list."
A former HRW colleague of Malinowski's, Jennifer Daskal, said he had no involvement on domestic issues such as the effort against the crime bill. "Those I did independently of him, and did not consult or work with him on," Daskal said.
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