Ken Cuccinelli of the Department of Homeland Security testifies during a House Oversight subcommittee last month. (Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Democratic lawmakers are disputing the legality of Chad Wolf's appointment as acting Homeland Security secretary and immigration hardliner Ken Cuccinelli as his deputy, asking the U.S. Comptroller General for an expedited review. 

Why it matters: If the argument set forth by two House committee chairs on Friday prevails, it could give Democrats a path to try to block the ascension of Cuccinelli, or more broadly to seek to invalidate months of agency actions.

Between the lines: Before leaving office, former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen changed an internal policy determining who is next in line if the current agency head can no longer serve in that position.

  • The lawmakers are arguing that her successor, acting secretary Kevin McAleenan, may have never legally served in that role — and that even if he did, his appointment may have legally expired before he left the job.
  • While Nielsen changed who was next in line in case of "disaster or catastrophic emergency," she did not make any changes to the line of succession in case of "death, resignation, or inability to perform," according to the letter.
  • Meanwhile, under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, they argue that McAleenan's acting position may have expired days before he changed the same policy to allow Wolf to become acting Secretary. If Wolf's appointment isn't legally valid, they argue, he lacks the authority to elevate Cuccinelli.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 11,288,094 — Total deaths: 531,244 — Total recoveries — 6,075,489Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 2,839,917 — Total deaths: 129,676 — Total recoveries: 894,325 — Total tested: 34,858,427Map.
  3. States: Photos of America's pandemic July 4 ICU beds in Arizona hot spot near capacity.
  4. Public health: U.S. coronavirus infections hit record highs for 3 straight days.
  5. Politics: Trump extends PPP application deadlineKimberly Guilfoyle tests positive.
  6. World: Mexican leaders call for tighter border control as infections rise in U.S.
  7. Sports: 31 MLB players test positive as workouts resume.
  8. 1 📽 thing: Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback.

Protester dies after car drives through closed highway in Seattle

Protesters gather on Interstate 5 on June 23, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images

One person is dead and another is in serious condition after a car drove onto a closed freeway in Seattle early Saturday and into protesters against police brutality, AP reports.

  • "Summer Taylor, 24, of Seattle died in the evening at Harborview Medical Center, spokesperson Susan Gregg said."

Where it stands: The suspect, Dawit Kelete of Seattle, fled the scene after hitting the protesters, and was later put in custody after another protester chased him for about a mile. He was charged with two counts of vehicular assault. Officials told the AP they did not know whether it was a targeted attack, but the driver was not impaired.

Trump's failing culture wars

Data: Google; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

President Trump built his political brand by stoking the nation's culture wars, but search data is showing us how much harder it's been for him to replicate that success while running against another white man in his 70s — and while there's a coronavirus pandemic.

The big picture: Google Trends data shows Trump's "Sleepy Joe" name-calling isn't generating nearly the buzz "Crooked Hillary" (or "Little Marco") did in 2016. Base voters who relished doubting President Obama's birth certificate aren't questioning Biden's.