Mikhail Klimentyev / Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Trump is about to appoint a special envoy to communicate directly with one of Putin's top aides, Vladislav Surkov, according to a BuzzFeed News report.

The precedent: Obama also had a direct channel with Surkov to work out agreements, and German and French diplomats are supportive of the connection. Surkov serves as the head of the administration of the president, which is akin to the White House chief of staff, according to The Daily Beast, and some say he has long been the mastermind behind Putin's political strategy.

It's because of Ukraine: A pair of ceasefire deals have been largely unsuccessful in brokering peace between Russia and Ukraine, which have been clashing in the Donbass region since 2014. This is the US' way of supporting a move toward peace. Surkov has been the political supervisor of the disputed Donetsk and Luhansk regions for the Kremlin since September 2014, according to the International Crisis Group.

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Updated 15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Voters in Wisconsin, Michigan urged to return absentee ballots to drop boxes

Signs for Joe Biden are seen outside a home in Coon Valle, Wisconsin, on Oct. 3. Photo by KEREM YUCEL via Getty

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Driving the news: The Supreme Court rejected an effort by Wisconsin Democrats and civil rights groups to extend the state's deadline for counting absentee ballots to six days after Election Day, as long as they were postmarked by Nov. 3. In Michigan, absentee ballots must also be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted.

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Facebook warns of "perception hacks" undermining trust in democracy

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Facebook warned Tuesday that bad actors are increasingly taking to social media to create the false perception that they’ve pulled off major hacks of electoral systems or have otherwise seriously disrupted elections.

Why it matters: "Perception hacking," as Facebook calls it, can have dire consequences on people's faith in democracy, sowing distrust, division and confusion among the voters it targets.

Obama: Trump is "jealous of COVID's media coverage"

Former President Barack Obama launched a blistering attack on President Trump while campaigning for Joe Biden in Orlando on Tuesday, criticizing Trump for complaining about the pandemic as cases soar and joking that he's "jealous of COVID's media coverage."

Driving the news: Trump has baselessly accused the news media of only focusing on covering the coronavirus pandemic — which has killed over 226,000 Americans so far and is surging across the country once again — as a way to deter people from voting on Election Day and distract from other issues.