Aug 18, 2020

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 528 words, a 2-minute read.

🚨Postmaster General Louis DeJoy will halt operational changes and cost-cutting to the U.S. Postal Service until after the 2020 election to "avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail."

1 big thing: The final Russia report (for now)
Screenshot: Senate Intel Committee's Russia report, Vol. 5

Today's final bipartisan, 996-page Senate Intelligence Committee report goes further than the Mueller report in showing the extent of Russia's connections to members of the Trump 2016 campaign, Axios' Zach Basu and Alayna Treene report.

Among the report's more notable details:

  • The committee labeled Russian national Konstantin Kilimnik, who was associated with Paul Manafort, a "Russian intelligence officer." That is a stronger description than the Mueller report, the N.Y. Times notes.
  • Manafort sought to pass sensitive internal polling data and campaign strategy to Kilimnik on numerous occasions.
  • The report assessed that President Trump spoke with Roger Stone about WikiLeaks on "multiple occasions," despite the president saying he did not recall doing so in written answers to special counsel Robert Mueller.
  • FBI investigation: The report concluded that "certain FBI procedures and actions in response to the Russian threat to the 2016 elections were flawed," specifically with respect to the bureau's interactions with the DNC about the email hacks and its treatment of the Steele Dossier.

The bottom line: While Democrats and Republicans could agree on some basic facts, they still walked away with different conclusions.

  • The Democratic appendix noted: “The committee obtained some information suggesting that the Russian intelligence officer, with whom Manafort had a longstanding relationship, may have been connected to the G.R.U.’s hack-and-leak operation targeting the 2016 U.S. election. ... This is what collusion looks like.” (N.Y. Times)
  • Senate Intelligence acting Chair Marco Rubio (R-Fla.): “We can say, without any hesitation, that the Committee found absolutely no evidence that then-candidate Donald Trump or his campaign colluded with the Russian government to meddle in the 2016 election."
2. Pics du jour
Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP

Above: Workers construct staging on the South Lawn of the White House for President Trump's RNC speech.

Below: Joe Biden leads a conversation on racial justice with Art Acevedo, Jamira Burley, Gwen Carr, Derrick Johnson and Lori Lightfoot during the first night of the DNC.

Photo: Democratic National Convention via AP
Bonus: Bill Clinton targets Trump

The DNC managed to keep President Bill Clinton to just five minutes, and he'll use those minutes to go after President Trump by name.

  • “At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos,” Clinton will say, a source familiar with the speech tells Axios' Hans Nichols.
  • The first half of Clinton's speech directly targets Trump then pivots to how Joe Biden’s Senate and White House experience will help him heal the country and revitalize the economy.

Between the lines: Clinton has seen his standing as a trusted party elder called into question during the #MeToo movement, but Democrats familiar with the convention planning say that his presence is evidence that Biden needs to improve his numbers among working-class Americans who fled the party in 2016.

P.S. 📺 18.7 million people watched last night’s coverage between 10 and 11 p.m. on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC, Nielsen said. Four years ago, Democrats’ opening night drew just under 26 million viewers. (AP)

  • The Biden campaign said today that it tracked 10.2 million views on digital streams, taking the total to 28.9 million.
3. Catch up quick
  1. Trade is the last major area where the U.S. is still relying on traditional diplomacy to work through problems with China. Go deeper.
  2. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied reports that he gave the Trump administration a green light to sell F-35 fighter jets to the UAE. Go deeper.
  3. Experts are again sounding the alarm that the dollar could lose its role as the world's reserve currency. Go deeper.
4. 1 new book
Photo: Crown Publishers

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has a book coming out on the coronavirus, expected in October, AP reports.

  • Why it matters: Cuomo's New York has been a national outlier, first for having the highest death rate in the U.S. and now for managing to get the outbreak to low enough levels to allow NYC to have in-person schooling.
Mike Allen