Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Dan Coats, who served as President Trump's director of national intelligence, wrote in a New York Times op-ed published Thursday that "every conceivable effort" must be taken to safeguard November's election from claims of illegitimacy.

Why it matters: President Trump has repeatedly baselessly suggested that increased mail-in voting could lead to widespread voter fraud, and intelligence officials warn that foreign actors, including Russia, will continue to try to influence this year's election.

  • Coats called the election's legitimacy "the essential linchpin of our entire political culture."
  • He, who also served multiple terms as a Republican senator from Indiana, called for Congress to create a "supremely high-level bipartisan and nonpartisan commission" tasked with overseeing the election.
  • He said it should "monitor [existing electoral] mechanisms and confirm for the public that the laws and regulations governing them have been scrupulously and expeditiously followed ... without political prejudice and without regard to political interests of either party."

The big picture: While serving as DNI, Coats repeatedly affirmed the intelligence community's consensus that Russia had interfered in the 2016 elections, despite pushback from Trump.

What he's saying: "Our democracy’s enemies, foreign and domestic, want us to concede in advance that our voting systems are faulty or fraudulent," Coats wrote, also citing the discourse around conspiracy theories, the news media and social media.

  • "If those are the results of this tumultuous election year, we are lost, no matter which candidate wins. No American, and certainly no American leader, should want such an outcome."
  • "Total destruction and sowing salt in the earth of American democracy is a catastrophe well beyond simple defeat and a poison for generations. An electoral victory on these terms would be no victory at all. The judgment of history, reflecting on the death of enlightened democracy, would be harsh."

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Why it matters: Consumers already struggle to differentiate between straight news, fake news, opinion journalism and political advertising on the internet, and partisans in today's information war are deliberately blurring the lines, with technology's help.

California to independently review FDA-approved coronavirus vaccines

California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California will "independently review" all coronavirus vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration before allowing their distribution, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced at a news conference Monday.

Why it matters: The move that comes days after NAID director Anthony Fauci said he had "strong confidence" in FDA-approved vaccines could cast further public doubt that the federal government could release a vaccine based on political motives, rather than safety and efficacy.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Politics: Trump says if Biden's elected, "he'll listen to the scientists"Trump calls Fauci a "disaster" on campaign call.
  2. Health: Coronavirus hospitalizations are on the rise — 8 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week.
  3. States: Wisconsin judge reimposes capacity limit on indoor venues.
  4. Media: Trump attacks CNN as "dumb b*stards" for continuing to cover pandemic.
  5. Business: Consumer confidence surveys show Americans are getting nervousHow China's economy bounced back from coronavirus.
  6. Sports: We've entered the era of limited fan attendance.
  7. Education: Why education technology can’t save remote learning.