Politics & Policy

Why it matters: While Democrats fight to convince voters that they should be the ones tasked with taking down President Trump, the current administration is powering ahead on efforts to restrict immigration, unleash business and reshape the U.S. role in the world.

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The coronavirus is Trump's slow-burn crisis

Photo: Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images

At 6:30 p.m. from the White House press room, President Trump will publicly make himself the face of America's response to the coronavirus crisis.

Why it matters: This is exactly the situation where a president needs the credibility to truthfully explain a tough situation to the public.

Obama demands South Carolina stations stop airing misleading anti-Biden ad

Photo: Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage

Former President Obama's office is calling on South Carolina TV stations to stop running a misleading attack ad by a pro-Trump super PAC that uses Obama's voice out of context to make it appear as if he is criticizing Joe Biden and Democrats on race.

Why it matters: It's a rare intervention by Obama, whose former vice president is facing a critical primary in South Carolina on Saturday. Obama has said he has no plans to endorse in the Democratic field.

The members of Congress departing in 2020

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

More Republicans than Democrats are exiting Congress in the lead up to the 2020 elections. Twenty-six GOP representatives and four senators are retiring without bids for higher office, compared to five Democratic representatives and one senator.

Driving the news: Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-La.) announced his retirement Wednesday, fulfilling his pledge to only serve three terms.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump gets "woke" in 15-city campaign to court black voters

The Trump campaign is leaning into its effort to woo African American voters, opening "Black Voices for Trump" offices across six swing states, the campaign says.

Why it matters: "Woke" stickers, "Black Voices for Trump" T-shirts and other branded swag are part of this storefront approach as the campaign ramps up its efforts to erode Democrats' lock on this key demographic.

House passes bill to make lynching a federal hate crime

Photo: Aaron P. Bauer-Griffin/GC Images via Getty Images

The House voted 410-4 on Wednesday to pass legislation to designate lynching as a federal hate crime.

Why it matters: Congress has tried and failed for over 100 years to pass measures to make lynching a federal crime.

Trump campaign sues New York Times for libel over opinion article

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The Trump campaign is suing the New York Times for libel over an opinion article that claimed the campaign had an "overarching deal" with Russian President Vladimir Putin to trade election help for a "new pro-Russian foreign policy."

Why it matters: Throughout his career in business and politics, President Trump has often threatened to sue for libel but rarely followed through. In order for a public official to successfully sue for libel, they must be able to prove that the defendant acted with "actual malice" — a high bar for most lawsuits.

Court rules Trump administration can withhold funds from sanctuary cities

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The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the Trump administration can withhold millions of dollars in federal law enforcement grants from sanctuary cities and states that don't cooperate with immigration enforcement, AP reports.

The state of play: Seven states and New York City sued the U.S. government after the Justice Department said in 2017 it would withhold funds from cities and states that don't give immigration enforcement officials access to jails or notice when an undocumented migrant is scheduled to be released from jail, per AP.

This year's census may be the toughest count yet

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Community leaders are concerned that historically hard-to-count residents will be even harder to count in this year's census, thanks to technological hurdles and increased distrust in government.

Why it matters: The census — which will count more than 330 million people this year — determines how $1.5 trillion in federal funding gets allocated across state and local governments. Inaccurate counts mean that communities don't get their fair share of those dollars.

Bloomberg hits Trump on coronavirus response in new ad

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Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg is going after President Trump for his response to the novel coronavirus outbreak in a new ad set to air nationally on Thursday, his campaign announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: The 30-second spot claims the U.S. is "underprepared" for the crisis, while highlighting Bloomberg's response to the 9/11 attacks and health emergencies during his time as mayor. Bloomberg is the first candidate to air an ad about the coronavirus, per NBC's Josh Lederman.

Former California Rep. Katie Hill to publish memoir

Katie Hill. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Former California Rep. Katie Hill, who resigned amid a House investigation into allegations that she engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a congressional staffer, plans to release a memoir this summer, according to Grand Central Publishing.

Details: The book, titled “She Will Rise,” will expand on Hill's message from her final floor speech in the House, in which she decried revenge porn and the "double standard" that men and women face surrounding sexual behavior.

More than 200 Native Americans urge Elizabeth Warren to fully retract ancestry claims

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More than 200 Native Americans signed a letter asking Elizabeth Warren to fully retract her claims of Native American ancestry, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Why it matters: The authors, who include prominent activists like Daniel Heath Justice and Rebecca Nagle, write that her actions "have normalized white people claiming to be Native, and perpetuated a dangerous misunderstanding of tribal sovereignty."

South Carolina "kingmaker" Jim Clyburn endorses Joe Biden

Joe Biden with Rep. Jim Clyburn at the World Famous Jim Clyburn Fish Fry in Columbia, South Carolina in June 2019. Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the highest-ranking black member of Congress, endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden Wednesday, days before South Carolina's primary.

Why it matters: Clyburn wields tremendous political influence in South Carolina, where a weak showing by Biden could be the death blow to his presidential campaign. Biden has long viewed the state as his firewall due to his strong support among black voters, who make up about 60% of South Carolina's Democratic electorate.

There's hope that Congress may pass energy legislation in 2020

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Some climate and energy legislation could actually reach the finish line this year in a divided Congress, according to a new analysis from the think tank Third Way.

Driving the news: Third Way says that's not crazy, pointing to a series of modest measures where "priorities are aligned" on both sides of Capitol Hill.

Democratic health care debate topics finally expand past Medicare for All

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Democrats finally debated health care subjects other than Medicare for All on Tuesday night.

Why it matters: We have a much wider range of health care problems than political debates usually suggest. Discussing rural Americans' lack of access to health care may not be as exciting as debating whether to do away with private insurance, but it's a subject that many voters struggle with every day.

Go deeperArrow11 hours ago - Health

Exclusive: Pro-Trump group plans post-Super Tuesday blitz on Democrats

Democratic presidential hopefuls take the debate stage in South Carolina. Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images

Pro-Trump super PAC America First Action is preparing to unleash a series of targeted, swing-state attacks on the Democrat most likely to face President Trump after Super Tuesday, people familiar with the group's plans tell me in an exclusive preview of its strategy.

The state of play: The group has been tracking favorable/unfavorable ratings in Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania for 2020 candidates Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Michael Bloomberg — under the theory that if Trump wins each of these six states he would win re-election.

Sanders hits new stratosphere of online interest

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios — Note: Hover over the weekly rank on desktop to see articles and interactions for each candidate and issues.

For the second straight week, Bernie Sanders has hit the high watermark for online attention in the Democratic primary, according to data from NewsWhip provided exclusively to Axios.

Why it matters: It's not just quantity. The sentiment of the top stories about Sanders has been more positive than his top Democratic rivals — particularly Michael Bloomberg, whose recent online attention has been overwhelmingly negative.

Ilhan Omar offers preview of upcoming book

Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks to supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders at a campaign event in Clive, Iowa, on Jan. 31. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) announced Tuesday details of her upcoming memoir, due to be published in May, which publisher Dey Street Books called an "inspiring coming of age story of a refugee."

Why it matters: The 38-year-old freshman Democrat became in 2018 the first Somali-American ever elected to Congress — and she's one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, along with fellow "squad" member Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

Go deeper: Ilhan Omar makes history as first Somali-American elected to Congress

In photos: The South Carolina Democratic debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden thinks and Sen. Amy Klobuchar listens while Tom Steyer makes a point at the tenth Democratic presidential debate Tuesday night. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images.

Candidates spoke past their allotted time, punched the air, talked over each other and at times looked into the camera and directly addressed the American public and Russian President Vladimir Putin at Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina, the last before Saturday's primary and Super Tuesday a few days following.

Why it matters: South Carolina's contest on Saturday is a measure of African-American support for the 2020 contenders. It's the make-or-break state for former Vice President Joe Biden after he underperformed in the first three contests. It's also a chance to check Sen. Bernie Sanders' momentum, which has eaten into Biden's lead in the state and propelled Sanders to the front of the pack.

Debate night: Candidates' last face-off before Super Tuesday

Sanders, Biden and Klobuchar in South Carolina, Feb. 25. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders wanted to keep his momentum after winning contests in New Hampshire and Nevada, while former Vice President Joe Biden hoped to keep his own campaign alive. The other five candidates were just trying to hang on.

What's happening: Seven contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination were in Charleston, South Carolina, for the 10th debate, just days before the South Carolina primary and a week before Super Tuesday. They spoke, sometimes over each other, about health care, Russian interference in the election, foreign policy, the economy, gun control, marijuana, education and race.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 19 hours ago - Politics & Policy

4 takeaways from the South Carolina debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden, right, makes a point during Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders listens. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The 10th Democratic debate was billed as the most consequential of the primary thus far, but Tuesday night's high-stakes affair was at times awkward and unfocused as moderators struggled to rein in candidates desperate to make one last splash before Saturday's primary in South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

The big picture: After cementing himself as the Democratic favorite with a sweeping win in Nevada, Sen. Bernie Sanders came under fire as the front-runner for the first time on the debate stage. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will be on the ballot for the first time next Tuesday, was a progressive foil once again, but he appeared more prepared after taking a drubbing at the Nevada debate.

Sanders mocks Trump's coronavirus response: This "great scientist" says it will end in April

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images.

Sen. Bernie Sanders mocked President Trump's response to the novel coronavirus Tuesday at the Democratic debate.

What they're saying:

" In the White House today, we have a self-described great genius — self-described — and this great genius has told us that this coronavirus is going to end in two months. April is the magical date that this great scientist we have in the White House has determined — I wish I was kidding, that is what he said."
— Sanders

Bloomberg denies telling a pregnant employee to "kill it"

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the debate stage Tuesday denied telling a former employee to terminate her pregnancy.

Catch up quick: Per the Washington Post, a former saleswoman has alleged workplace discrimination against Bloomberg and his company and says Bloomberg told her to "kill it" when he learned she was pregnant. Bloomberg denied the allegation under oath and entered a confidential settlement with the woman.

Sanders to Putin: You won't interfere in any more elections if I'm president

Sen. Bernie Sanders sent a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the debate stage Tuesday, stating, "If I'm president of the United States, trust me, you're not going to interfere in any more American elections."

The big picture: It was unveiled last week that Russia has been interfering to boost Sanders' campaigns in an apparent attempt to strengthen President Trump's bid for re-election. Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg said, "Vladimir Putin thinks that Donald Trump should be president of the United States, and that's why Russia is helping [Sanders] get elected."

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