Monday's politics & policy stories

Navarro on TikTok: "The mothers of America" have to worry about China tracking their kids

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Monday that the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok poses a threat to privacy and national security, telling the Axios Re:Cap podcast, "Let's not downplay the threat here: the mothers of America have to worry about whether the Chinese Communist Party knows where their children are."

Why it matters: Navarro, a fervent China hawk, is among the voices shaping White House policy on TikTok, which President Trump said Monday must be sold by Sept. 15 in order to avoid a U.S. ban. Navarro suggested that if Microsoft is allowed to buy TikTok, the company should be forced to make unrelated concessions related to its China operations.

House Democrats call postmaster general to testify on USPS changes under Trump

The LeDroit Park post office in Washington, D.C. on May 28. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The House Oversight Committee has asked Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, appointed by President Trump in May, to testify on Sept. 17 on changes made to the U.S. Postal Service under the Trump administration.

Why it matters: USPS mail has seen days of backlogs and delays after DeJoy, a former fundraiser for Trump and the Republican National Committee, enacted new cost-cutting procedures that took effect in mid-July, the Washington Post reports.

Aug 3, 2020 - Podcasts

White House adviser Peter Navarro talks TikTok

President Trump has relaxed his threat to immediately ban the popular social media app TikTok, giving Microsoft room to negotiate an acquisition from Chinese tech giant ByteDance.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the situation with Peter Navarro, the White House's top trade adviser and a noted China hawk, who suggests Microsoft should be forced to make unrelated concessions related to its China operations.

Schiff announces probe into DHS intelligence activities in Portland

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The House Intelligence Committee will investigate the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis over reports that officials have targeted protesters and journalists in Portland and other cities, chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) announced Monday.

Driving the news: DHS reassigned its top intelligence official, acting Undersecretary Brian Murphy, after his office analyzed communications between Portland protesters and supplied law enforcement with lists of journalists that had published leaked agency documents, the Washington Post first reported.

Obama throws support behind 118 candidates in first wave of endorsements

Photo: Zahim Mohd/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama on Monday endorsed 118 candidates running for office in November, including 52 campaigning for the House and Senate.

Why it matters: Obama consistently rates as one of the Democratic Party's most popular figures and is starting to campaign more aggressively after staying on the sidelines for much of the primary season. His first wave of endorsements is aimed at keeping the Democratic majority in the House and winning back the Senate, in addition to shaping state offices ahead of this year's redistricting.

Trump says TikTok will be banned if not sold by Sept. 15, demands cut of sale fee

President Trump said Monday that TikTok will be shut down in the U.S. if it hasn't been bought by Microsoft or another company by Sept. 15, and argued — without elaborating — that the U.S. Treasury should get "a very substantial portion" of the sale fee.

Why it matters: Trump appears to have backed off his threat to immediately ban TikTok after speaking with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who said Sunday that the company will pursue discussions with TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance to purchase the app in the U.S.

Filing suggests Manhattan DA is investigating Trump for possible fraud

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP

The Manhattan District Attorney's office suggested for the first time Monday that it's investigating President Trump and his company for "alleged bank and insurance fraud," the New York Times first reported.

The state of play: The disclosure was made in a filing in federal court that seeks to force accounting firm Mazars USA to comply with a subpoena for eight years of Trump's personal and corporate tax returns.

House Democrats subpoena top Pompeo aides in probe of IG firing

Mike Pompeo. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images

The Democratic chairs of the House Oversight and House Foreign Affairs committees announced subpoenas Monday for four State Department officials as part of their investigation into the firing of former Inspector General Steve Linick.

Why it matters: The two committees, in addition to Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are investigating whether Linick was fired because he was probing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the State Department's attempts to bypass Congress to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

White House will require staff to undergo randomized coronavirus testing

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Staff in the Executive Office of the President will be subject to mandatory coronavirus tests, in efforts to "protect the health and safety of the entire White House Complex," CNBC reports.

  • Why it matters: Multiple people in the White House have tested positive for COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, including President Trump's national security adviser Robert O'Brien last week.

What they're saying: “As part of our ongoing efforts to protect the health and safety of the entire White House Complex, randomized testing of Executive Office of the President staff, which has been ongoing for several months, will become mandatory rather than voluntary," a White House official said Monday.

Aug 3, 2020 - Health

Pelosi: Birx "enabled" Trump on coronavirus misinformation

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN on Monday she does not have confidence in White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx because "she has enabled" President Trump to spread coronavirus misinformation.

What she's saying: "I don't have confidence in anyone who stands there while the president says, 'Swallow Lysol and it's going to cure your virus,'" Pelosi told host Jim Sciutto.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Aug 3, 2020 - Economy & Business

A wild weekend for Microsoft's play for TikTok

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

While its Big Tech rivals were testifying in front of a congressional antitrust committee last week, Microsoft was negotiating what could be the largest — and most politically perilous — tech acquisition of 2020.

The state of play: The hullabaloo surrounding Microsoft picking up TikTok has undergone a flurry of twists and turns over the weekend, as both the White House and the tech giant reacted in real time.