Sunday's politics & policy stories

Trump Jr. defends saying Democrats want millions to die from coronavirus

Donald Trump Jr. said he's "entitled to speak with hyperbole" when questioned in an interview with "Axios on HBO" about his statement suggesting Democrats want millions to die from the coronavirus.

Between the lines: Trump Jr. told Fox News in late February that "for Democrats to try to take a pandemic and seemingly hope that it comes here and kills millions of people so that they could end Donald Trump's streak of winning is a new level of sickness."

Ben Carson on HUD cuts, "nasty" Trump tweets and trans access to shelters

In an interview with "Axios on HBO," I asked Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson why homelessness among the transgender population is growing at 43% — far higher than the rise in homelessness in the overall population.

Driving the news: Carson offered the theory that "a lot of them are youth and their families don't welcome them," while saying his personal view is that the Bible teaches "we should love everybody and leave the judging to God."

Exclusive: Ben Carson says the minimum wage is too low

In an interview for "Axios on HBO," Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson told me that the $7.25-an-hour federal minimum wage would be "very difficult" to live on and that in his view it should be higher.

Driving the news: "I don't have any problem with raising the minimum wage," Carson said. "My personal opinion is that it should be indexed."

Donald Trump Jr. defends his father’s attacks on fired Cabinet officials

In an interview for "Axios on HBO," Donald Trump Jr. tells Axios co-founder Jim VandeHei that President Trump “getting there” on hiring the right people for his Cabinet:

  • “You have a guy that functioned as a businessman for a long time. It's an entirely new world. I think now he's figuring that out.”

Trump Jr: "I have no intention of running in 2024"

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Donald Trump Jr. said in an interview with "Axios on HBO" that he will not be running for president in 2024 and that his only goal is getting his father re-elected in 2020.

The big picture: An Axios poll last month showed Trump Jr. in second place for Republicans' top choice for a 2024 nominee. Vice President Mike Pence led at 40%, Trump Jr. at 29%, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley at 26% and Ivanka Trump at 16%.

Donald Trump Jr. says his dad has told him to tone down the tweets

Donald Trump Jr. said in an interview for "Axios on HBO" that he learned his Twitter tone from watching his father, who has told him at times to cool himself on the platform.

  • "I have gotten that phone call before. It's like ... I'm picking up the phone, 'This is the White House operator.' I’m saying, 'Oh, boy, what did I [do] now.'"

Donald Trump Jr. says he'll debate Hunter Biden and release his taxes

In an interview for "Axios on HBO," Donald Trump Jr. told me he wants to debate Hunter Biden over who has benefited more financially from their father's government service.

Driving the news: "We can go full transparency, we show everything, and we can talk about all of the places where I am supposedly grifting but Hunter Biden isn't," said the president's eldest son, who still runs the Trump Organization with his brother Eric.

Updated Mar 8, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Sanders says "the establishment" forced out Klobuchar and Buttigieg

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday that he believes "the establishment" forced Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg out of the 2020 presidential race to ensure that voters "coalesced" around Joe Biden in order to defeat him.

Why it matters: Klobuchar and Buttigieg both dropped out and endorsed Biden last week, helping the former vice president earn a sweeping victory in 10 out of 14 Super Tuesday states — especially among late-deciding voters. Sanders said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he would have won more states if the two moderates hadn't dropped out.

Bernie Sanders on swastika unfurled at rally: "It is unspeakable"

Bernie Sanders said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that it is "disgusting" and "unspeakable" that a man unfurled a Nazi swastika flag during his rally in Phoenix last week.

Why it matters: Sanders, who lost family members in the Holocaust, could become the first Jewish presidential nominee of a major American political party.

Hillary Clinton: Bernie Sanders is the weaker candidate against Trump

Screenshot: CNN's "GPS"

Hillary Clinton said Sunday on CNN's "GPS" that she will not endorse a candidate for president, but that she does not believe Bernie Sanders is "our strongest nominee against Donald Trump."

Why it matters: Clinton would not say whether she would campaign for Sanders if he wins the nomination, saying, "I don't know if he would ask me to campaign for him, because I have no idea what he is thinking about for a general election campaign." However, she stipulated that she would "support" whoever wins the nomination.

Rev. Jesse Jackson endorses Bernie Sanders

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Civil rights activist and former Democratic presidential candidate Rev. Jesse Jackson endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday.

Why it matters: Jackson's endorsement is the kind of boost Sanders needs as he looks to slow the momentum of Joe Biden, whose surge in South Carolina and on Super Tuesday was driven largely by black voters.

Watch: America's growing diversity has massive election ramifications

As part of our What Matters 2020 series on the critical trends that will outlive this moment, Axios co-founders Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen discuss what rapidly growing diversity means for the future of politics in America.

Kamala Harris endorses Joe Biden

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris endorsed Joe Biden for president on Sunday, saying in a tweet that he "has served our country with dignity and we need him now more than ever."

Why it matters: It's yet another endorsement of Biden from a former presidential candidate and an especially significant one considering that Harris' attacks on Biden over his support for busing in the first Democratic debate were viewed at the time as a massive blow.

"SNL": Elizabeth Warren makes surprise appearance in cold open

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on "Saturday Night Live" with Kate McKinnon's Warren. Photo: Will Heath/NBC

The latest "Saturday Night Live" cold open featured a cameo by Sen. Elizabeth Warren as the show returned to last week's subject of the novel coronavirus.

The big picture: This time, "SNL" went after conservative Fox News host Laura Ingraham for her coverage on the virus. Cast regular Kate McKinnon's Ingraham called COVID-19 an "urban legend." "The left continues to wage its deceitful, dishonest and frankly gay smear campaign against President Trump," she said, before moving on to "interview" Warren — who suspended her Democratic presidential campaign last Thursday. McKinnon surprised Warren by appearing beside the Massachusetts senator after a quick change at the end of the segment.

  • Watch the clip below:

Flashback: "SNL" cold open tackles coronavirus

AFL-CIO presidential forum canceled over coronavirus concerns

Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden during the Democratic presidential debate in Houston, Texas, last year. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

The AFL-CIO presidential forum that was to be held in Orlando, Florida, this week has been canceled because of the novel coronavirus outbreak, a spokesperson said in a statement Saturday.

Why it matters: Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders were due to appear at the forum on Thursday, ahead of the Florida primaries on March 17.

Go deeper: Two dead in Florida after exposure to coronavirus from international travel

In photos: American expats cast their Democratic primary ballots in New Zealand

Mexicali Fresh owner Cindy Buell at her Auckland Waterfront restaurant, the polling station for the Democrats Abroad New Zealand presidential primary, on Saturday. All photos: Rebecca Falconer/Axios

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — The Auckland Waterfront restaurant Mexicali Fresh was transformed into a polling station Saturday, as Americans voted on a warm, sunny fall day in the global Democratic presidential primary.

Why it matters: Democrats Abroad New Zealand chair Mike Haught told Axios it's important for Americans outside the United States to stay connected and have a voice, especially as they must comply with a U.S. citizen-based tax system. "There are 9 million–11 million of us overseas, and if you put us together in a group, we're basically a state that's about the size of Virginia," he said. There are some 21,000 Americans in New Zealand.