Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Beto O'Rourke. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A group of 2020 Democrats have called President Trump a "white supremacist," an extraordinary charge at an extraordinary moment in American politics.

Why it matters ... This is a big shift from calling the president a white nationalist. Check out Merriam-Webster's definition of white supremacist: "a person who believes that the white race is inherently superior to other races and that white people should have control over people of other races."

  • Elizabeth Warren told the New York Times "without hesitation" that Trump gave white supremacists aid and comfort. "He’s done the wink and a nod," she said. "He has talked about white supremacists as fine people. He’s done everything he can to stir up racial conflict and hatred in this country."
  • Beto O'Rourke told MSNBC Trump made it "very clear" that he's a white supremacist.
  • Bernie Sanders told CNN's Jake Tapper over the weekend that he believes Trump is a white supremacist.

The big picture: 2020 Democrats have been driving the national conversation in the wake of last weekend's twin mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, calling for more gun restrictions and directing much of their criticism at Trump.

  • O'Rourke has been one of the most vocal anti-Trump figures since El Paso's massacre Saturday. The former Texas congressman has said previously that Trump is a "white nationalist" who encourages racism and violence in the U.S.

What he's saying: Trump denies he's racist. He told reporters Wednesday he's "concerned about the rise of any group of hate." "Whether it's white supremacy, whether it's any other kind of supremacy. Whether it's Antifa," he said, referring to the far-left, anti-fascist movement. "Whether it's any group of hate."

  • Trump later tweeted: "The Dems new weapon is actually their old weapon, one which they never cease to use when they are down, or run out of facts, RACISM! They are truly disgusting! They even used it on Nancy Pelosi. I will be putting out a list of all people who have been so (ridiculously) accused!"

What’s next: This will put pressure on other Democrats to agree with a charge not made in a generation of American politics: that their opponent, the sitting president, believes whites are the dominant race and should control other races. 

  • While former Vice President Joe Biden has not called Trump a white supremacist, he did say earlier Wednesday that the president "has fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 19,477,290 — Total deaths: 723,531 — Total recoveries — 11,801,489Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2. p.m. ET: 4,983,026 — Total deaths: 162,181 — Total recoveries: 1,623,870 — Total tests: 60,415,558Map.
  3. Politics: Trump signs 4 executive actions on coronavirus aid.
  4. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective — 1 in 3 Americans would decline COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Science: Indoor air is the next coronavirus frontline.
  6. Schools: How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on — Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Howard to hold fall classes online.

Trump signs 4 executive actions on coronavirus aid

President Trump speaking during a press conference on Aug. 8. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump on Saturday signed four executive actions to provide relief from economic damage sustained during the coronavirus pandemic after talks between the White House and Democratic leadership collapsed Friday afternoon.

Why it matters: Because the Constitution gives Congress the power to appropriate federal spending, Trump has limited authority to act unilaterally — and risks a legal challenge if congressional Democrats believe he has overstepped.

6 hours ago - World

What's next for Lebanon after the Beirut explosion

Photo: Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Beirut residents are still clearing rubble from streets that appear war-torn, days after a blast that shocked the country and horrified the world.

Why it matters: The explosion is likely to accelerate a painful cycle Lebanon was already living through — discontent, economic distress, and emigration.