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.

All politics & policy stories

Biden's clean energy push resonates in Senate battlegrounds

Data: Data for Progress; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Joe Biden's climate posture is a political winner in four states where Senate races and the presidential contest are competitive, per new polling from progressive think tank Data for Progress.

Why it matters: Biden has tethered the spending portion of his energy and climate platform to his wider economic response to the coronavirus pandemic, which could mean a quick push for legislative action if he wins.

Filibuster and Obama fossil fuel ties could slow Biden's climate ambitions

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Two new stories, taken together, highlight the political push-pull around Joe Biden's climate and energy plans.

Driving the news: Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that some left activists "want Biden to distance himself from former Obama administration advisers they view as either too moderate or too cozy with the fossil fuel industry."

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 18,837,392 — Total deaths: 708,316— Total recoveries — 11,384,444Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 4,824,230 — Total deaths: 158,268 — Total recoveries: 1,577,851 — Total tests: 58,920,975Map.
  3. Public health: Fauci says task force will examine aerosolized spread.
  4. Business: July's jobs report could be an inflection point for the recovery — Teladoc and Livongo merge into virtual care giant.
  5. Sports: Where college football's biggest conferences stand on playing.

Pence calls Chief Justice John Roberts a "disappointment"

Combination images of Vice President Mike Pence and Chief Justice John Roberts. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images/I Senate Television via Getty Images

Vice President Pence told the Christian Broadcast Network in an interview to be broadcast Thursday that Chief Justice John Roberts "has been a disappointment to conservatives."

The state of play: The conservative Roberts has this year sided with the Supreme Court's more liberal justices on abortion, LGBTQ discrimination and the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sally Yates: There was a "legitimate basis" for FBI's Flynn interview

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified Wednesday that she believes there was a "legitimate basis" for the FBI to interview then-national security adviser Michael Flynn in January 2017 as part of a counterintelligence investigation into Russian election interference.

Why it matters: The Justice Department under Attorney General Bill Barr is attempting to dismiss the case against Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, on the grounds that there was no basis for the FBI to interview him in the first place.

Michelle Obama: Trump administration contributing to her "low-grade depression"

Former First Lady Michelle Obama during the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former first lady Michelle Obama said on her Spotify podcast Wednesday that it's "exhausting" waking up daily to "yet another story" of a Black person being dehumanized, hurt, killed or falsely accused of something.

The big picture: Obama was speaking in the context of the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests prompted by May's death in police custody of George Floyd. "I know that I am dealing with some form of low-grade depression," she said. "Not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife, and just seeing this administration, watching the hypocrisy of it, day in and day out, is dispiriting."

Go deeper: Barack and Michelle Obama sign podcast production

GOP Rep. Rodney Davis tests positive for coronavirus

Rep. Rodney Davis. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) announced on Wednesday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Davis, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, said he has taken precautions against the virus, such as twice-daily temperature checks. He spoke to Republicans about staying safe after Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) recently tested positive for the virus and spoke out against wearing face masks, Politico notes.

Updated 14 hours ago - Technology

Facebook, Twitter take down Trump post saying kids are immune to coronavirus

Photo: NurPhoto/Getty Images

Facebook removed a video post from President Trump Wednesday in which he claimed in an interview with Fox News that children are "almost immune" to COVID-19.

Why it matters: It’s the first time that Facebook has removed content from Trump's account for violating policies on coronavirus-related misinformation.

Updated 14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump campaign outraises Biden by $25 million in July

Combination images of President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images/Mark Makela/Getty Images

President Trump's re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee announced on Wednesday they collectively raised $165 million in July.

Why it matters: With 90 days until the election, Trump and the RNC outpaced the Biden campaign, the Democratic National Committee and their joint fundraising committees, who announced earlier Wednesday that they raised $140 million last month.

Trump defends idea of accepting Republican nomination at White House

President Trump on Wednesday defended the idea of delivering his Republican nomination speech from the White House, claiming it would save "tremendous amounts of money for the government in terms of security and traveling."

Why it matters: A number of Republicans, not to mention Democrats, have questioned both the optics and the legality of Trump delivering his acceptance speech from the White House, given past presidents have drawn a firm line between the White House and presidential campaigns.

White House, Democrats remain "trillions of dollars apart" on stimulus talks

Meadows and Mnuchin. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Trump administration and Democrats have not agreed to any "top-line numbers" and remain "trillions of dollars apart" on coronavirus stimulus negotiations, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Wednesday.

The state of play: Meadows told reporters, "At this point we’re either going to get serious about negotiating and get an agreement in principle or — I’ve become extremely doubtful that we’ll be able to make a deal if it goes well beyond Friday.”

Rand Paul: Republicans should apologize to Obama for complaining about spending

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tore into his fellow Republicans on Fox News Wednesday for considering a coronavirus relief package that could cost more than $1 trillion, calling on them to apologize to President Obama "for complaining that he was spending and borrowing too much" during his time in office.

Why it matters: Paul's comments, while tongue-in-cheek, underscore the divisions within the Senate Republican conference, where as many as 20 GOP senators are likely to vote against any coronavirus relief bill — even if a deal is reached between Democrats and Trump administration.

17 hours ago - Politics & Policy

23 million Americans face eviction

Natasha Blunt of New Orleans, who is at risk of eviction. Photo: Dorthy Ray/AP

The coronavirus pandemic threatens America with a new wave of homelessness due to a cratering economy, expiring unemployment stimulus payments and vanishing renter protections.

What they're saying: "I've never seen this many people poised to lose their housing in such a short period of time," said Bill Faith of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio to AP.

17 hours ago - Podcasts

America's next housing crisis

An early pandemic fear was that people would be unable to pay rent, thus leading to a surge in homelessness. Lawmakers intervened, creating eviction moratoriums — many of which have since expired, including the federal one.

Axios Re:Cap digs into what comes next with Alieza Durana of the Eviction Lab at Princeton University.

19 hours ago - World

Pentagon chief says "most believe" Beirut blast was an accident

Esper. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at the Aspen Security Forum Wednesday that "most believe" the explosions that rocked Beirut, Lebanon, on Tuesday were the product of some kind of accident.

Why it matters: President Trump claimed at a press conference Tuesday that he had spoken to generals who "seem to feel that this was not some kind of a manufacturing explosion type of event," and that it was "a bomb of some kind." The remarks set off confusion and prompted anonymous defense officials to tell CNN and AP that there is no indication yet that the blasts were an attack.

Exclusive: Trump campaign seeks early September presidential debate

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Image

The Trump campaign is asking the Commission on Presidential Debates to move up the last presidential debate to the first week in September to get ahead of an expected surge in early voting.

Driving the news: President Trump's personal attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, made the request in a letter dated Wednesday and obtained by Axios.

Iowa governor signs order restoring voting rights to some felons

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed Wednesday an executive order restoring voting rights to some Iowans with felony records, the Des Moines Register reports.

Why it matters: It had been the last state in the country to bar all felons from voting, unless they applied for a special exception from the governor's office.

GOP senator says stimulus needs to be as "narrowly focused" on COVID-19 as possible

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said at an Axios virtual event Wednesday that the next coronavirus relief package needs to be as "narrowly focused" on COVID-specific issues as possible in order to resolve the differences between Republicans and Democrats.

Why it matters: Democrats and negotiators from the Trump administration remain far apart on a deal for the next tranche of relief. The fraught negotiations come as millions of Americans continue to suffer from the health and economic effects of the pandemic without the unemployment benefits from the first stimulus bill.

When U.S. politicians exploit foreign disinformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. political actors will keep weaponizing the impact of widespread foreign disinformation campaigns on American elections, making these operations that much more effective and attractive to Russia, China, Iran or other countries backing them.

Why it matters: Hostile powers’ disinformation campaigns aim to destabilize the U.S., and each time a domestic politician embraces them, it demonstrates that they work.

Joe Biden will no longer travel to Milwaukee for Democratic convention

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Joe Biden will no longer be traveling to Milwaukee the week of Aug. 17 to accept his nomination in person at the Democratic National Convention due to COVID-19 concerns, the DNC announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: No planned speakers will travel to Milwaukee, meaning that the convention will be entirely virtual — unlike the hybrid event that the party had previously been planning. Biden will accept the nomination from his home state of Delaware.

Fiona Hill pens book on America's politically polarized future

Photo: Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Russia expert and Trump impeachment witness Fiona Hill has penned a book on the future of a polarized America that its publisher says describes "the origins and growth of deep, geographically concentrated opportunity gaps, and show how they have fueled the rise of populism at home and abroad."

Why it matters: Hill's testimony to the House last year argued that an ongoing conspiracy theory about Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 presidential election distracted President Trump from the real threat that Russia poses to America's democracy.

Acting State Department inspector general resigns after fewer than 3 months

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a hearing on July 30. Photo: Greg Nash/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Acting State Department inspector general Stephen Akard announced his retirement on Wednesday, fewer than three months after being tapped to take over for his ousted predecessor Steve Linick, the Washington Post first reported and Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: Akard was appointed after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked Trump to fire Linick, who has since testified that he was conducting five investigations into Pompeo and the State Department.

Why the employee retention credit is an overlooked stimulus issue

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

D.C. remains deadlocked on the next stimulus package, days after extended unemployment benefits ended and days before PPP is set to expire.

Where it stands: One unresolved issue that hasn't gotten enough attention is a proposed expansion of the employee retention credit, which could have a significant impact for companies that have experienced severe revenue declines.

Biden responds to Trump cognitive test challenge: "Why the hell would I?"

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Joe Biden pushed back against a challenge from President Trump to take a cognitive test during an interview that will air Thursday, reports Yahoo News.

Why it matters: The Trump campaign has been attempting to revamp its attacks against the former vice president, arguing that his mental faculties are diminished.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib fends off Democratic primary challenge in Michigan

Rep. Rashida Tlaib. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib won her Democratic primary against challenger Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, according to AP.

Why it matters: Tlaib, a democratic socialist and member of "The Squad," found herself in a vulnerable position, facing off against Jones after narrowly beating her two years ago.

Aug 5, 2020 - Sports

WNBA players escalate political protest against Sen. Kelly Loeffler

The Seattle Storm's Sue Bird wears a shirt in support of Loeffler's opponent. Photo: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

WNBA players wore T-shirts on Tuesday endorsing the Democratic opponent of Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the co-owner of the Atlanta Dream who has criticized the league for dedicating its season to the Black Lives Matter movement.

What's happening: The shirts had "Vote Warnock" printed on them, a reference to Atlanta pastor Raphael Warnock, one of the top Democrats running against Loeffler in a special election in November.

Biden confidants see VP choices narrowing to Harris and Rice

Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images; Win McNamee/Getty Images

Confidants of Joe Biden believe his choices for vice president have narrowed to Sen. Kamala Harris and Susan Rice — and would be surprised if he picks anyone else.

The state of play: This is a snapshot of the nearly unanimous read that we get from more than a dozen people close to him.

An election like no other

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The coronavirus will make the 2020 presidential election different from any in modern history: Voting that begins earlier, results that take longer, mail carriers as virtual poll workers and October Surprises that pop in September.

The big picture: Perhaps 80 million Americans will vote early, by mail or in person, Tom Bonier, CEO of TargetSmart, a Democratic political data firm, tells Axios. That's going to set up more of an Election Season than an Election Day — and increase the odds of national turmoil over the vote count.

Exclusive: Inside McCarthy's new GOP messaging platform

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has given his GOP colleagues new marching orders for stump speeches between now and November, as incumbents worry about how President Trump's own challenges may strain their re-election bids.

Driving the news: McCarthy delivered a PowerPoint presentation to the GOP conference in person last Thursday at the Capitol Visitor Center, with several members joining via Zoom, lawmakers and aides familiar with the gathering tell Axios.

Biden launches $280 million ad push

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign is launching a $280 million TV and digital ad campaign heading into the fall, targeting 15 states with a message — delivered directly from Biden — about the coronavirus pandemic and the economy.

Why it matters: The size of the buy, which advisers described on a call with reporters Tuesday night, signals a campaign that isn't worried about burning through cash — and it may force the Trump campaign, or associated super PACs, to increase their spending in response.

Missouri voters approve Medicaid expansion

A poll worker helps a voter access his ballot in St. Louis on Tuesday. Photo: Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

Missouri residents on Tuesday voted for Medicaid expansion for low-income adults by a majority of 52%, AP reports.

Why it matters: Some 230,000 Missourians will benefit from the measure, which marks the sixth time voters have gone against a resistant Republican-led Legislature, Politico notes. It's the 38th state to back the expansion under former President Obama's signature health care law, AP notes. It comes amid the backdrop of a pandemic that's seen over 54,000 cases and more than 1,200 deaths from COVID-19 in Missouri.

Go deeper: The effect of Medicaid expansion on the uninsured

Progressive activist Cori Bush beats incumbent Rep. William Lacy Clay

Cori Bush, who features in "Knock Down the House," about progressives who ran for Congress in 2018, canvasses in St Louis, Missouri, Monday. Photo: Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

Progressive challenger Cori Bush, who featured in the Netflix documentary "Knock Down the House," defeated Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) in the Democratic primary late Tuesday, AP reports.

Why it matters: She'd be the first Black Congress member to represent Missouri if she were elected to the House in November, per the New York Times. Clay, who's been in office for nearly 20 years, beat Bush in 2018. The former homeless woman, now a nurse and ordained pastor, led protests in Ferguson, Missouri, over the 2014 fatal police shooting of Black teen Michael Brown. Bush was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Roger Marshall wins Republican Senate nomination in Kansas primary

Rep. Roger Marshall. Photo: Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Rep. Roger Marshall won the Kansas Republican Senate primary on Tuesday evening, beating former Secretary of State Kris Kobach and a slew of other candidates, AP reports.

Why it matters: Following GOP Sen. Pat Roberts' retirement announcement, some Republicans worry that if Kobach won the primary it would endanger the party's chances of keeping the seat and maintaining a majority in the Senate.

Updated Aug 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Primary races to watch in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Washington

Photo: Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

Primary elections on Tuesday in fives states see crowded fields of both Republicans and Democrats hoping to make the ballot in 2020.

What to watch: Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) is "fighting for her political life" in a tight primary race against Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, who Tlaib beat by 900 votes in 2018, The New York Times writes. Senate Republicans are also watching the primary race in Kansas to see who could replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Roberts.

First bipartisan multistate coronavirus testing drive to tackle shortages

A Whittier Street Health Center nurse performs a COVID-19 test in Roxbury, Massachusetts, on Monday. Photo: Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

A bipartisan group of governors has joined the Rockefeller Foundation to deliver 3 million rapid coronavirus antigen tests to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help states safely reopen, the nonprofit announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: With no national plan, the initiative with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R), and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) would be the first coordinated testing strategy in the U.S.

More politics & policy stories