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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Georgia governor bans local governments from issuing mask mandates

Kemp. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) issued an executive order on Wednesday banning cities and counties from making face masks mandatory in public and explicitly voiding such mandates in at least 15 local governments, according to AP.

Why it matters: Kemp argued that statewide recommendations that strongly encourage but do not require masks should take precedent over local orders. Mask orders in major Georgia cities including Atlanta, Savannah and Athens will now be unenforceable, despite major upticks in confirmed coronavirus cases.

RNC to restrict attendance at Florida convention amid coronavirus surge

The 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The Republican National Committee will move to significantly limit attendance at its nominating convention events in Jacksonville, Fla., next month, party chairwoman Ronna McDaniel wrote in a Thursday letter to members, Politico reports.

What's happening: Only delegates will be able to attend the convention on the first three nights. On the fourth night, when President Trump will give his acceptance speech — which may take place outdoors — delegates will be able to bring a guest, while alternate delegates will also be permitted to attend.

3 hours ago - World

The U.S.-China trade war quietly escalates

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Alex Wong/Getty Images and Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Lost amid headlines about the coronavirus pandemic and the seemingly unstoppable stock market rally, has been the monthslong escalation of tensions in the U.S.-China trade war —  and it's likely here to stay.

Why it matters: The tariffs continue to impress a sizable tax on U.S. companies and consumers, adding additional costs and red tape for small businesses, farmers, manufacturers and households trying to stay afloat amid the pandemic.

Facebook to label posts about voting from presidential candidates

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook announced Thursday that it will add labels to all posts from presidential candidates and federally-elected officials that mention voting or ballots, regardless of whether they contain misinformation.

Why it matters: It's the tech giant's response to scrutiny that it doesn't do enough to tackle voter suppression on its platform. Earlier this year, Facebook — unlike Twitter — did not take action against posts from President Trump that included false information about mail-in voting.

Michelle Obama's podcast will debut on Spotify on July 29

Photo: Spotify

Spotify announced Thursday that "The Michelle Obama Podcast," the first podcast as part of its partnership with the Obamas' production company Higher Ground, will debut on July 29 for both free and paid subscribers.

Why it matters: It's the latest big media project from the former first lady. Her stated goal, alongside former President Obama, is to use media platforms like podcasts, film and social media to help Americans achieve a greater understanding of the world and to inspire young people.

Trump's summer shakeup

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump demoted campaign manager Brad Parscale and replaced him with his deputy, hours after a brutal new round of polls showed Trump losing five of six swing states — and sinking into a double-digit hole nationally.

Why it matters: Trump's announcement — on Facebook, in the midst of a Twitter outage — shows that he knows he's losing.

Trump's war on the public health experts

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A pandemic would normally be a time when public health expertise and data are in urgent demand — yet President Trump and his administration have been going all out to undermine them.

Why it matters: There's a new example almost every day of this administration trying to marginalize the experts and data that most administrations lean on and defer to in the middle of a global crisis.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 a.m. ET: 13,565,868 — Total deaths: 584,385 — Total recoveries — 7,570,721Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5 a.m. ET: 3,499,398 — Total deaths: 137,419 — Total recoveries: 1,075,882 — Total tested: 42,521,027Map.
  3. States: Alabama's GOP governor issues statewide mask mandate — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt tests positive.
  4. Politics: Fauci says White House effort to discredit him is "bizarre" — Trump says trade adviser Peter Navarro shouldn't have written op-ed attacking Fauci.
  5. Schools: Houston and San Francisco public school districts to be online-only this fall
14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump announces new campaign manager

President Trump. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump announced on Wednesday that Bill Stepien will take over as his new 2020 campaign manager.

Why it matters: The elevation of Stepien is a demotion for Brad Parscale, Trump's existing campaign manager. Parscale was hand-picked by Jared Kushner, the president's adviser and son-in-law. He had been in the role longer than any of Trump's previous campaign managers.

Poll: 62% say Trump is hurting efforts to slow spread of coronavirus

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

62% of registered voters say President Trump is hurting efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, compared to 31% who say he's helping, according to a Quinnipiac University poll out Wednesday.

The big picture: 36% of Americans approve of Trump's overall job performance, and 60% disapprove — his worst net approval rating since August 2017 and a 6-point drop from June. The poll has Joe Biden with a 15% advantage nationally over Trump, widening his lead from last month by 7 points.

Updated 19 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Ruth Bader Ginsburg discharged from hospital

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for DVF

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was discharged from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore on Wednesday after being hospitalized Tuesday morning for a possible infection, according to the Supreme Court. "She is at home and doing well," a spokesperson said.

Why it matters: The 87-year-old liberal justice has battled health complications for years, including a cancer diagnosis that she beat in January of this year. In May, Ginsburg was hospitalized and received nonsurgical treatment for a gallbladder condition.

George Floyd's family files lawsuit against city of Minneapolis

Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

George Floyd's family has filed a federal wrongful-death suit against the city of Minneapolis and four former police officers charged in his killing, the Washington Post reports.

The state of play: The family is arguing that the officers involved in Floyd's death — which set off a wave of nationwide protests — infringed on his constitutional rights when they restrained him. They suit also alleges that the city of Minneapolis allowed a culture of excessive force and racism to fester.

Fauci says White House effort to discredit him is "bizarre"

Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci told The Atlantic on Wednesday that efforts by certain White House officials to discredit him are "bizarre" and that it "ultimately hurts the president" to undermine a top health official in the middle of a pandemic.

Driving the news: Fauci's comments come on the heels of a USA Today op-ed by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, who claimed that Fauci has been "wrong about everything" related to the coronavirus that the two have interacted on. Fauci told The Atlantic: “I can’t explain Peter Navarro. He’s in a world by himself.”

21 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump says Navarro shouldn't have written op-ed attacking Fauci

President Trump told reporters Wednesday that White House trade adviser Peter Navarro was speaking for himself when he wrote a USA Today op-ed attacking Anthony Fauci, and that he "shouldn't be doing that."

The big picture: The White House put out a statement earlier Wednesday saying that Navarro's op-ed, which claimed that Fauci has been wrong about everything that the two officials have interacted on during the pandemic, did not go through "normal White House clearance processes."

22 hours ago - Health

Austin Mayor Steve Adler calls for caution when reopening economies

Photo: Axios screenshot

Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler cautioned states against loosening restrictions meant to stem the spread of coronavirus without having proper measures in place, at an Axios virtual event on Wednesday.

The big picture: Adler called on jurisdictions to "be innovative and adaptive and creative" when they reopen, to ensure people's safety.

22 hours ago - Health

Austin mayor: Having to cancel SXSW festival was "horrible"

Photo: Axios screenshot

Canceling the South by Southwest festival was "horrible," but necessary, as the coronavirus began to spread through the United States, Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler said at an Axios event on Wednesday.

The big picture: The popular film, music and technology event attracts more than 400,000 attendees annually to the city's downtown. It was scheduled to take place March 13–22 before it was moved to an online format. The cancellation cost Austin $350 million in revenue, Adler said.

23 hours ago - Health

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt tests positive for coronavirus

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) announced on Wednesday he has tested positive for the coronavirus and will self-isolate, Tulsa World reports.

Why it matters: The 47-year-old Stitt is believed to be the first governor in the U.S. to test positive. He attended President Trump's rally in Tulsa last month, which the county's health department director said likely contributed to a surge in cases in the region.

White House says it didn't clear Navarro op-ed that attacked Fauci

Photos: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images

The White House said Wednesday that a USA Today op-ed by economic adviser Peter Navarro attacking Anthony Fauci "didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes."

Why it matters: In a normal administration, Navarro's actions would almost certainly result in his dismissal — but the White House did not immediately indicate any disciplinary action against him. It also further obscures the administration's support of Fauci, days after it put out a statement listing the times he was "wrong on things" in the coronavirus pandemic's early days.

Biden teases political path for climate plans

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

Joe Biden is offering hints about how he’d try to thread the political needle to move big climate and energy plans through Congress.

Why it matters: If the 2020 election opens a path to moving substantial legislation, it's likely to be a fraught and narrow one that could vanish entirely in the 2022 midterm elections.

Jul 15, 2020 - Sports

Timeline: CrossFit transforms as athletes unionize and new owner steps in

Photo: Ed Zurga/Getty Images

In the three weeks since CrossFit founder Greg Glassman resigned amid backlash against his offensive remarks on George Floyd's killing, the company — and community — have undergone substantial change.

Why it matters: While CrossFit undergoes its first ownership change, its athletes are unifying and aiming for a seat at the table when it comes to the future of their sport.

What a Democratic wave in 2020 could mean for asset prices

Data: BofA Global Investment Strategy, Bloomberg, Haver; Table: Axios Visuals

More asset managers are starting to consider the "rising probability of political 'blue wave'" with Democrats sweeping the White House and Congress in the fall, strategists at Bank of America write in a note.

Where it stands: The analysts note that Oddschecker.com is factoring in a 57% likelihood of a win for Joe Biden, while Real Clear Politics puts a 62% likelihood on Democrats taking the Senate. BofA's data found annualized returns for assets from 7 out of 21 "blue waves" since 1928. The analysts also cite the likelihood of a "Blue Deal" fiscal stimulus in 2021 that would include infrastructure, student debt forgiveness and health care spending, which would be positive for value stocks and banks.

The CIA's new license to cyberattack

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In 2018 President Trump granted the Central Intelligence Agency expansive legal authorities to carry out covert actions in cyberspace, providing the agency with powers it has sought since the George W. Bush administration, former U.S. officials directly familiar with the matter told Yahoo News.

Why it matters: The CIA has conducted disruptive covert cyber operations against Iran and Russia since the signing of this presidential finding, said former officials.

Jul 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Jeff Sessions loses Alabama Senate primary runoff

Jeff Sessions. Photo: Michael DeMocker/Getty Images

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions has lost the Republican nomination for Senate to Tommy Tuberville in Alabama in Tuesday night’s primary runoff, AP reports.

Why it matters: Sessions had been the underdog in the race against former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, who had the backing of President Trump. Tuberville will now face off against Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) in November, who is considered to have one of the most vulnerable Democratic Senate seats in the country.

Kansas Rep. Steve Watkins charged with voter fraud

Rep. Steve Watkins. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Rep. Steve Watkins (R-Kan.) has been charged with three felonies and a misdemeanor relating to an investigation into whether he illegally voted in a 2019 municipal election, The Kansas City Star reports.

The state of play: Watkins, a first-term congressman, was first investigated by the Shawnee County Sheriff's Office after allegations arose that he listed a UPS store in Topeka as his registration address to vote in the 2019 municipal election.

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