Tuesday's politics & policy stories

Biden rips Trump for mocking mask-wearing: "Lead by example"

Former Vice President Joe Biden bashed President Trump for ridiculing face masks on Tuesday, telling CNN that the president is "an absolute fool to talk that way."

Catch up quick: Biden on Monday wore a face mask for his first public appearance in more than two months to honor Memorial Day by laying a wreath at a veterans park. Trump, who did not wear a mask during public Memorial Day activities, mocked Biden on social media for wearing the mask.

Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets for first time

President Trump briefs reporters in the Rose Garden on May 26. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Twitter fact-checked two of President Trump's unsubstantiated tweets that mail-in ballots in the 2020 election would be fraudulent for the first time on Tuesday, directing users to "get the facts" through news stories that cover the topic.

Why it matters: Twitter and other social media platforms have faced criticism for not doing enough to combat misinformation, especially when its propagated by the president.

House Republicans to sue Nancy Pelosi in effort to block proxy voting

Photo: Michael Brochstein / Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

20 House Republicans plan to file a lawsuit late Tuesday against Speaker Nancy Pelosi in an effort to block the chamber's new proxy voting system amid the coronavirus pandemic, three congressional sources tell Axios.

The big picture: The lawsuit, led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, alleges the rules are unconstitutional because the Constitution requires a quorum, or a majority, of lawmakers to be physically present in order to conduct business. The lawsuit was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

DOJ closes insider trading probes of 3 senators, but not Richard Burr

Sen. Kelly Loeffler. Photo: Toni L. Sandys-Pool/Getty Images

The Justice Department is closing its inquiries into stock selloffs by Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that occurred after the lawmakers were briefed about the coronavirus' potential economic toll, the Wall Street Journal first reported.

The big picture: The investigation into trades by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who stepped down as chair of Senate Intelligence Committee pending the results of the inquiry, is reportedly continuing. Burr's cell phone was seized by the FBI earlier this month.

Updated May 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

FBI to investigate death of black man after video shows officer kneeling on neck

A man protesting near the area where a Minneapolis Police Department officer allegedly killed George Floyd. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI will investigate the death of a black man for possible civil rights violations after video emerged of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the man's neck for several minutes, ignoring protests that he couldn't breathe, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

The latest: Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey tweeted Tuesday afternoon that four officers involved in the incident have been terminated. "This is the right call," he added.

AFL-CIO endorses Joe Biden for president

Joe Biden. Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The AFL-CIO is endorsing Joe Biden for president, the group's president Richard Trumka told the Washington Post Tuesday.

Why it matters: The AFL-CIO is the largest federation of labor unions in the country. The endorsement is not a surprise, but support from the powerful coalition could still prove crucial for Biden as he competes with Trump for the support of working-class voters in November.

Kayleigh McEnany defends Trump's conspiracy theories about Joe Scarborough

At a press conference Tuesday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany repeatedly defended President Trump tweeting baseless conspiracy theories about the 2001 death of congressional aide Lori Klausutis, 28, who worked for then-Congressman Joe Scarborough.

Why it matters: Klausutis' widower has written to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey pleading with him to delete the president's tweets, stating that his "wife deserves better." But McEnany suggested at the press conference that Scarborough, now an MSNBC host, should be held accountable for answers on Klausutis' passing — despite there being no evidence to support Trump's allegations.

Updated May 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Pentagon watchdog sidelined by Trump resigns

Fine testiying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Glenn Fine, the Pentagon's principal deputy inspector general, submitted his resignation on Tuesday.

Why it matters: President Trump removed Fine as the Pentagon's acting inspector general in April 7 after a group of independent federal watchdogs selected him to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, which was set up to oversee the rollout of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill.

Clyburn says he cringed at Biden's "you ain't black" comment

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told "The View" Tuesday that he "cringed" at Joe Biden's comment to radio show host Charlamagne tha God last Friday, in which the presumptive Democratic nominee suggested people who haven't yet decided between he and Trump aren't black.

Why it matters: Clyburn's endorsement of Biden in February was a pivotal moment in reviving the former vice president's campaign. It preceded Biden's win in South Carolina, Clyburn's home state, which was largely driven by wide support among black voters.

Pence press secretary returns to work after beating coronavirus

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Katie Miller, Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary, announced on Twitter Tuesday that she is returning to work after contracting the coronavirus earlier this month, saying she has tested negative for the virus three times.

Why it matters: Miller's illness sparked fears that Pence or President Trump could have been exposed to the virus, as she is in close contact with both men.

Trump campaign names Bill Stepien as deputy campaign manager

The Trump campaign announced Tuesday that it promoted former White House political director Bill Stepien as its deputy campaign manager.

Why it matters: It's a sign the campaign is looking to strengthen its team with a key political veteran heading into the homestretch of the 2020 presidential election.

Kelly Loeffler ties Doug Collins to Stacey Abrams in new ad campaign

Screenshot: Loeffler campaign ad

Sen. Kelly Loeffler's (R-Ga.) re-election campaign is trying to come from behind by tying her top competitor, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), to Democrat Stacey Abrams, who has been floated as Joe Biden's potential running mate, in a new six-figure ad campaign.

Why it matters: While Abrams is a popular figure among Democrats nationally as well as in Georgia, Loeffler is betting Abrams will be a lightning rod for the Republican contest.

Whitmer: "I can’t for the life of me understand" Trump’s antagonism toward Michigan

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) said in an interview with "Axios on HBO" Monday that she "can’t for the life of me understand" President Trump's antagonistic attitude toward her state, pointing out that he won it by more than 10,000 votes in the 2016 election.

The backdrop: Trump threatened to "hold up" unspecified federal funding to Michigan last week because the state government rolled out plans to expand voting-by-mail options amid the coronavirus pandemic. He's also repeatedly tweeted about Whitmer directly, claiming she's "way in over her head" with the coronavirus and that she "doesn't have a clue."

Updated May 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Husband of deceased Scarborough staffer asks Twitter to delete baseless Trump claims

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The husband of Lori Klausutis, an aide to Joe Scarborough when he was a member of Congress who died in 2001, asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to take down President Trump's tweets baselessly accusing the MSNBC host of murdering her, according to a letter obtained by the New York Times' Kara Swisher.

The state of play: Timothy Klausutis asked Dorsey to delete the tweets because Trump "has taken something that does not belong him — the memory of my dead wife and perverted it for perceived political gain."

May 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump's biggest targets on Facebook during coronavirus

Data: Bully Pulpit Interactive, Chart: Dani Alberti/Axios

Donald Trump has spent far more Facebook ad dollars targeting topics like "fake news" and "immigration" during the pandemic than any policy area, according to new data provided to Axios from political ad firm Bully Pulpit Interactive. Joe Biden has spent an overwhelming majority of his Facebook ads talking about the president and health care.

Why it matters: The president's re-election messaging hasn't shifted all that much during the pandemic, except that the president is focusing slightly more now on targeting the press than on immigration.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
May 26, 2020 - Energy & Environment

The oil stakes of Trump vs. Biden

Reproduced from Rapidan Energy Group; Chart: Axios Visuals

U.S. oil production is in a steep decline, but one question is how much November's elections will affect how much it does — or doesn't — bounce back.

Why it matters: The powerful price and demand headwinds from the coronavirus pandemic are creating a financial crisis in the oil patch.

Air Force removes height requirement in bid for more women pilots

An Air Force pilot climbs into a EA-18G Growler aircraft in 2018. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

The Air Force removed its minimum and maximum hight requirement for pilots in an attempt to expand the diversity of its pool of prospective applicants, specifically to encourage more women to enlist.

Why it matters: The previous height requirement of between 5-foot-4 and 6-foot-5, with a sitting height of 34 to 40 inches, eliminated around 44% of American women between the ages of 20 and 29.

The polarized pandemic election

A Trump supporter protests Pennsylvania's stay-at-home order, during a May 15 rally outside the Capitol in Harrisburg. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

President Trump is going all-in on pushing for a rapid, robust return to normal life, creating a visual, visceral contrast with Joe Biden and other Democrats who are more reticent to rip the masks off.

The state of play: Business friends have been urging Trump from the beginning to keep the lockdowns short. He's listening more and more.

Mike Allen, author of AM
May 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Palantir CEO reflects on work with ICE

Palantir CEO Alex Karp told "Axios on HBO" that there have "absolutely" been moments he wished the company hadn't taken a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

  • "Did I suffer? ... I've had some of my favorite employees leave," Karp told "Axios on HBO."
May 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Michigan governor won't apologize for coronavirus lockdown

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer defended the strictness of her state's coronavirus lockdown in an interview with "Axios on HBO," saying it was necessary — despite the protests that have drawn national attention — because of how quickly the state's cases were rising.

The big picture: Whitmer, who has been a frequent target of President Trump, insisted that she had to act in the face of a lack of federal leadership — and that thousands more people in her state would have died without the lockdown.