Oct 11, 2018

Trump would overrule Sessions, support criminal justice reform

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump said Thursday during an expansive interview on "Fox & Friends" that he would overrule Attorney General Jeff Sessions if he tries to stop a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill in the Senate, a favorite project of Jared Kushner.

“There has to be a reform because it's very unfair right now. It's very unfair to African Americans. It's very unfair to everybody. And it's also very costly.”

Why it matters: In the past, Trump has been more hesitant on the topic — particularly regarding federal sentencing guidelines — thanks to tough-on-crime Republicans like Sessions and Sen. Tom Cotton. His latest remarks are a victory for Kushner, Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, Sen. Dick Durbin and other members of Congress who have worked to get the reform bill through the House to find compromise in the Senate.

Context: Trump is meeting with Kanye West to discuss prison reform later today. He has previously met with Kim Kardashian, West's wife, to discuss clemency and prison reform efforts and commuted Alice Johnson's sentence after Kardashian's advocacy.

What's next: Trump does not plan to openly push for the bill until after the midterms due to opposition from hardline conservatives like Cotton. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will bring the bill to the floor sometime after the midterms if it has more than 60 votes.

  • The bill would likely lower some mandatory minimum sentences, incentivize prison rehabilitation programs, provide sanitary products to women and send around 4,000 prisoners home.

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America's rundown roads add to farmers' struggles

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

American farmers are struggling to safely use the roads that cut through their fields; decades of neglect and lack of funding have made the routes dangerous.

The big picture: President Trump has long promised to invest billions in rural infrastructure, and his latest proposal would allocate $1 trillion for such projects. Rural America, where many of Trump's supporters live, would see a large chunk of that money.

South Korea and Italy see spikes in coronavirus cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday, while Italy's case count rose from 3 to 62 as of Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

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Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."