Tom Perez. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images.

Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez told the New York Times that while he hears 2020 candidates' frustrations over the qualification criteria for primary debates, he believes everything the committee has done has been "completely fair and transparent."

Driving the news: Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who failed to qualify for the December debate, circulated a letter over the weekend urging the DNC to lower its debate qualifications for the January and February debates. Nine candidates have signed the letter, including the seven who qualified to appear on stage Thursday.

  • Booker has sought to bring attention to the fact that the December stage — with the exception of entrepreneur Andrew Yang — will be entirely white. Booker and former governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick are the only two black candidates left in the race, following Sen. Kamala Harris' (D-Calif.) exit earlier this month.
  • The letter requests that the DNC use either polling or fundraising thresholds as a debate qualification. Both are currently required, with December's thresholds set at 200,000 individual donors and 4% support in four qualifying national polls, or 6% support in two early-state polls.
  • Perez has already decided the January debate will continue to require both thresholds and reiterated that decision to the Times: "I’m a huge fan of Cory Booker. I think the world of him. ... And if voters are disappointed that he hasn’t qualified, then when they answer the phone, they need to express their preference for Cory Booker.”

The push for lower qualifications also comes the same week as a coordinated effort from all seven Democrats to boycott the December debate if an ongoing union dispute at the venue, Loyola Marymount University, is not resolved.

  • Perez, who beat out now-candidate Pete Buttigieg in the 2017 race to become DNC chair, told the Times he does not intend to serve for long in the thankless role: "I will be a one-term DNC chair. Ask my wife."

Go deeper: DNC announces next four Democratic debates

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Robert Mueller speaks out on Roger Stone commutation

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill on Wednesday July 24, 2019. Photo: The Washington Post / Contributor

Former special counsel Robert Mueller responded to claims from President Trump and his allies that Roger Stone was a "victim" in the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, writing in a Washington Post op-ed published Saturday: "He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so."

Why it matters: The rare public comments by Mueller come on the heels of President Trump's move to commute the sentence of his longtime associate, who was sentenced in February to 40 months in prison for crimes stemming from the Russia investigation. The controversial decision brought an abrupt end to the possibility of Stone spending time behind bars.

Trump dons face mask during Walter Reed visit

Trump wearing a face mask in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on July 11. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump wore a face mask during his Saturday visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, according to AP.

Why it matters: This is the first known occasion the president has appeared publicly with a facial covering as recommended by health officials since the coronavirus pandemic began, AP writes.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 12,607,510 — Total deaths: 562,338 — Total recoveries — 6,948,863Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 3,228,884 — Total deaths: 134,600 — Total recoveries: 983,185 — Total tested: 38,919,421Map.
  3. Public health: Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter: "Please wear a mask to save lives" Fauci hasn't briefed Trump on the coronavirus pandemic in at least two months — We're losing the war on the coronavirus.
  4. Food: How the coronavirus pandemic boosted alternative meat.
  5. Sports: Charge of "money grab" by college football.
  6. World: India reimposes lockdowns as coronavirus cases soar.