Photo: Michael Reynolds/Getty Images

President Trump intends to tap deputy FEMA administrator Peter Gaynor as the agency's permanent director, 2 sources familiar with Trump's decision tell Axios.

Why it matters: The administration has been operating without a confirmed FEMA chief during an active hurricane season after the nomination of Jeffrey Byard stalled in the Senate.

The state of play: Byard's nomination had not been withdrawn as of Wednesday evening, per one administration official.

  • But Trump has already made a decision to move forward with Gaynor, according to sources both inside and outside of the administration.
  • Gaynor has served as the agency's acting administrator while Byard's nomination stalled in the Senate. The president was impressed with the way Gaynor handled Hurricane Dorian.

The backstory: Trump nominated Byard — the associate administrator for FEMA's Office of Response and Recovery — to lead the agency in February after former FEMA administrator Brock Long resigned amid an investigation into his personal use of government vehicles.

  • Byard's nomination went through the Senate Homeland Security Committee (HSGAC) in June, but issues regarding a personal conflict later arose and have continued to hold up his nomination.
  • Politico first reported that the White House was considering pulling Byard's nomination.

Worth noting: The nature of Byard's "personal issue," as several sources familiar describe it, is still unclear. Only a select few people — including Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson and a small circle of administration officials — actually know.

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NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN on Friday evening that if "people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it."

Why it matters: Fauci made the comments the same day the U.S. hit its highest daily COVID-19 case count since the pandemic began.

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Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris speaks at a "Get Out The Vote" rally at Morehouse College. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Kamala Harris appealed to Black voters in Georgia on Friday, urging them to "honor the ancestors" by casting ballots, and again calling President Trump a "racist."

Why it matters: The U.S. saw a significant decline in African-American voter turnout between 2012 and 2016, reaching its lowest point since 2000. Higher turnout among Black Americans this year could tip the balance in favor of Democrats in key battleground states, including Georgia.

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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