Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who's in Brussels, discussed U.S. opposition to Russia's proposed Nord Stream II natural gas pipeline into Germany. After meeting with EU energy officials, Perry fielded a press question about whether the project would come up in President Trump's July 16 meeting with Putin.

"The president, he is pretty straightforward about what he believes, and he thinks Nord Stream 2 is not in the European Union's best interest, and my bet is he'll be more than happy to tell President Putin that straight to his face."
Rick Perry

Yes, but: While the U.S. opposes the project, Perry strongly downplayed the prospect of sanctions against European companies working on the long-proposed pipeline.

  • “Sanctions are kind of the last place we would like to land. They are always an option," he said.
  • However, per Reuters, the State Department reiterated Wednesday that firms investing in the project remain at risk of sanctions.

What's next: Perry's comments are another signal that energy could be among the topics when Trump and Putin meet in Helsinki.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Chris Christie: Wear a mask "or you may regret it — as I did" — Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted relief bill.
  2. Business: New state unemployment filings fall.
  3. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  4. Health: FDA approves Gilead's remdesivir as a coronavirus treatment How the pandemic might endMany U.S. deaths were avoidable.
  5. Education: Boston and Chicago send students back home for online learning.
  6. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.

Early voting eclipses 2016 total with 12 days until election

People stand in line to vote early in Fairfax, Virginia in September. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Americans have cast more than 47.1 million ballots in the 2020 presidential election, surpassing the total early-vote count for 2016 with 12 days left until Election Day, according to a Washington Post analysis of voting data.

Why it matters: The election is already underway, as many states have expanded early and mail-in voting options because of the coronavirus pandemic.

What to expect from the final debate of the 2020 election

Trump and Biden at the first debate. Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Image

Watch for President Trump to address Joe Biden as “the big guy” or “the chairman” at tonight's debate as a way of dramatizing the Hunter Biden emails. Hunter's former business partner Tony Bobulinski is expected to be a Trump debate guest.

The big picture: Trump's advisers universally view the first debate as a catastrophe — evidenced by a sharp plunge in Trump’s public and (more convincingly for them) private polling immediately following the debate.