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Republicans call on Democrats to stop ‘politicizing’ intelligence on 2020 election meddling

Two top Senate Republicans called upon the Democratic leadership to stop “politicizing intelligence matters” after Democrats criticized the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia, China, and Iran are all looking to interfere in the 2020 election.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and acting Intelligence Committee Chairman Marco Rubio said they were “disappointed” in Democrats in a brief statement on Sunday in support of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center’s Director Bill Evanina, who was criticized on Friday in a joint letter by Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff after the intelligence official warned Congress and the public that multiple foreign adversaries were looking to meddle in November’s election.

The two Republicans said the nation was better prepared to fight against foreign interference in 2020 than it was under President Barack Obama back in 2016.

“Evanina is a career law enforcement and intelligence professional with extensive experience in counterintelligence. His reputation as a straight-shooter immune from politics is well-deserved. It is for this reason that Evanina received overwhelming support from the Senate when he was confirmed to be Director of the NCSC and again when the Administration tapped him to lead the nation’s efforts to protect the 2020 elections from foreign interference,” McConnell and Rubio said.

“We believe the statement baselessly impugns his character and politicizes intelligence matters,” they added. “Their manufactured complaint undercuts Director Evanina’s nonpartisan public outreach to increase Americans’ awareness of foreign influence campaigns right at the beginning of his efforts.”

Democrats said days ago that Evanina’s public statement “does not go nearly far enough in arming the American people with the knowledge they need about how foreign powers are seeking to influence our political process” and claimed that “the statement gives a false sense of equivalence to the actions of foreign adversaries by listing three countries of unequal intent, motivation, and capability together.”

They also said that Evanina’s assessment “fails to fully delineate the goal, nature, scope and capacity to influence our election” and that “to say without more, for example, that Russia seeks to ‘denigrate what it sees as an anti-Russia ‘establishment’ in America’ is so generic as to be almost meaningless” and claimed “the statement omits much on a subject of immense importance.”

The Democrats said that “the Russians are once again trying to influence the election and divide Americans“ and that “a far more concrete and specific statement needs to be made to the American people” by the intelligence community. They avoided mentioning Chinese or Iranian meddling.

“At this time, we’re primarily concerned with China, Russia, and Iran ⁠— although other nation states and nonstate actors could also do harm to our electoral process. Our insights and judgments will evolve as the election season progresses,” Evanina last week.

“Russia’s persistent objective is to weaken the United States and diminish our global role,” he added, pointing to “a range of efforts, including internet trolls and other proxies,” while warning that “Russia continues to spread disinformation in the United States that is designed to undermine confidence in our democratic process and denigrate what it sees as an anti-Russia ‘establishment’ in America.”

The nation’s top counterintelligence official also said, “China is expanding its influence efforts to shape the policy environment in the United States, pressure political figures it views as opposed to China’s interests, and counter criticism of China.” He also noted that “Beijing recognizes its efforts might affect the presidential race.”

“Iran seeks to undermine U.S. democratic institutions and divide the country in advance of the elections,” Evanina additionally warned, noting that “Iran’s efforts center around online influence, such as spreading disinformation on social media and recirculating anti-U.S. content.”

“We will not discuss classified information in public, but we are confident that while the threat remains, we are far better prepared than four years ago,” McConnell and Rubio said. “The intelligence community, law enforcement, election officials, and others involved in securing our elections are far better postured, and Congress dramatically better informed, than any of us were in 2016 — and our Democrat colleagues know it.” The duo added that “our nation is safer with Director Evanina and his team on watch, and we hope our Democrat colleagues will set aside politics and stop undercutting these career professionals.”

Evanina’s announcement came the same week that the United States condemned Russian intelligence-linked hackers for attempting to steal coronavirus vaccine research and indicted two Chinese secret police-linked hackers for stealing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of trade secrets and for targeting U.S. research institutions for possible COVID-19 research. Last week, Iran also executed a man it claimed was a spy who helped the U.S. kill Iranian military commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

“Today, we see our adversaries seeking to compromise the private communications of U.S. political campaigns, candidates, and other political targets. Our adversaries also seek to compromise our election infrastructure, and we continue to monitor malicious cyber actors trying to gain access to U.S. state and federal networks, including those responsible for managing elections,” Evanina said. “However, the diversity of election systems among the states, multiple checks and redundancies in those systems, and post-election auditing all make it extraordinarily difficult for foreign adversaries to broadly disrupt or change vote tallies without detection.”

Congressional Democrats revealed last week that they sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray claiming that “Congress appears to be the target of a concerted foreign interference campaign” related to the 2020 election.

“Gang of Eight (and others impacted) were already briefed. Weeks ago. This request is a CYA,” former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell tweeted in response.

In March, ODNI officials told lawmakers they rejected a stream of media reports based on classified briefings on election security.

“The IC has not concluded that the Kremlin is directly aiding any candidate’s reelection or any other candidates’ election. Nor have we concluded that the Russians will definitely choose to try to do so in 2020,” the ODNI’s declassified fact sheet read. “This is not a Russia-only problem.”

Robert Mueller’s special counsel report, released in April 2019, said Russians interfered in the 2016 election in a “sweeping and systematic fashion” but “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government.”

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New notes will show FBI lied to Congress about Steele dossier

A top Republican defended his committee releasing the declassified FBI interview with a top source for British ex-spy Christopher Steele and said a forthcoming document would show the bureau misled Congress about the reliability of his anti-Trump dossier.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, criticized the former MI6 agent, said Steele’s dossier was compromised by Russian disinformation, and argued newly public FBI notes from a January 2017 discussion with Steele’s “primary subsource” demonstrated the FBI knew the dossier was unreliable but continued to use it anyway. During his interview with Maria Bartiromo on Sunday Morning Futures on Fox News, he also previewed new bureau records to be released in the upcoming week he said would show the FBI misled not just the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court about the Steele dossier, but also lawmakers.

“We also now have found, and this will come out next week, that Congress got suspicious about the Russian subsource and reliability of the Steele Dossier, and that members of Congress asked to be briefed about it,” Graham said. “Here is what I think I’m going to be able to show to the public: not only did the FBI lie to the court about the reliability about the Steele dossier, they also lied to the Congress. And that is a separate crime.”

Graham said congressional investigators “got suspicious … about Steele and the reliability about the dossier” and “so they started asking questions to the FBI… and I found the notes that the FBI used to prepare that briefing.” The South Carolina Republican said, “You’re gonna find not only did the FBI lie to the FISA court, they lied their ass off to the Congress” in 2018.

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s December report on FISA abuse seemed to reference the notes Graham was referring to, noting that “according to an FBI memorandum prepared in December 2017 for a Congressional briefing, by the time the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was transferred to the Special Counsel in May 2017, the FBI ‘did not assess it likely that the [Steele] [election reporting] was generated in connection to a Russian disinformation campaign.’”

Declassified footnotes now show the FBI became aware that Steele’s dossier may have been compromised by Russian disinformation.

Igor Danchenko, a 42-year-old Russian-trained lawyer born in Ukraine, was identified as Steele’s primary subsource after Graham released declassified documents that undercut the credibility of Steele’s dossier, including a three-day interview with Danchenko in January 2017 where Danchenko contradicted claims made in the dossier and undercut the FBI’s case against Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

Graham said he wants to call the FBI analyst who prepared the memo and the case agent who interviewed Danchenko and ask, “Did you tell anybody above you that the dossier is a piece of Russian disinformation?” Graham dismissed criticism from the New York Times and others, including Democratic Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, that a source such as Danchenko had now been outed, claiming, “Russian disinformation was used by American law enforcement in weapons form to go after a sitting president. They’re laughing their ass off in Russia about this. They would give this guy a medal.”

Horowitz released a lengthy report in December that criticized the Justice Department and the FBI for at least 17 “significant errors and omissions” related to the FISA warrants against Page and for the bureau’s reliance on Steele’s unverified dossier.

“Not only do we now know that the FBI lied to the FISA court about the reliability of dossier, they told the court that the subsource was truthful and cooperative and Russian-based — the truth is that the subsource was American-based,” Graham said. “He was an employee of Christopher Steele, who was on the payroll of the Democratic Party, and he told Christopher Steele this is all a bunch hearsay. And when the FBI understood the dossier was no longer reliable they continued to use it.”

Horowitz’s report noted the second and third surveillance application renewals targeting Page advised the FISA court that, after the interview with Danchenko, “the FBI found the Russian-based sub-source to be truthful and cooperative.” But despite a few trips to Russia in 2016, Danchenko was not “Russian-based” since he had lived in the United States for many years.

The DOJ watchdog said the renewals “continued to rely on the Steele information, without any revisions or notice to the court that the Primary Subsource contradicted the Steele election reporting.”

Steele put his research together at the behest of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, funded by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee through the Perkins Coie law firm.

“[Danchenko] told Christopher Steele, ‘Here’s what I’ve got. It is bar talk. It’s rumor. It is innuendo. It is not really reliable.’ And what did Christopher Steele do with that? He turned it into a Tom Clancy novel. He sold it to the FBI,” Graham said. “They sold it to the FISA court to get a warrant against Carter Page. … After they knew it was a bunch of garbage, they continued to use it anyway. Somebody needs to go to jail.”

Graham also pointed to another recently declassified document showing typed notes from now-fired FBI special agent Peter Strzok criticizing a New York Times report from February 2017 where Strzok critiqued Steele.

Graham said that Strzok “has a duty to report to the court exculpatory information, he has a duty to notify his superiors that the key document to get warrants against Carter Page, the Russian dossier, is no longer reliable.” He said he found it “impossible to believe” that FBI Director James Comey and FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe would not have been made aware of the dossier’s flaws, adding, “Anybody that knew that the Russian dossier was unreliable and continued to get a warrant against Carter Page based on that document should go to jail for defrauding the court.”

U.S. Attorney John Durham is expected to release a report about his criminal inquiry into the Russia investigation by the end of the summer.

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Stimulus update: Republicans to include $1,200 checks and smaller federal unemployment aid in new proposal

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that $1,200 checks to Americans will be part of the new recovery package, in addition to reemployment bonuses, retention bonuses and tax credits for small businesses and restaurants.

The new provisions are slated to be unveiled on Monday, in hopes of replacing benefits that officials characterized as potentially incentivizing recipients not to return to work. “We want to move forward quickly, the bill will be introduced Monday, we are prepared to act quickly,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Kudlow told Tapper that “we have had a flood of inquiries and phone calls and complaints that small stores and businesses and restaurants can’t hire people back.”

“They went too far,” he continued. “Maybe last March, it was necessary for that, but really the consequences of people not returning to work … we want to pay folks to go back to work.”

The enhancement was designed to keep laid-off people at home instead of out looking for work during the pandemic-fueled lockdowns and has helped millions pay the rent, buy groceries and cover other bills. But it has also kept some workers on the sidelines — creating headaches for employers trying to get back up and running, even as new coronavirus surges complicate state reopenings.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been divided about whether to extend the federal boost, with Democrats saying it should be extended into next year because the economy is still weak and the unemployed say they are having trouble finding positions, as well as childcare.

Republicans, however, are concerned that such generous payments may deter people from going back to their jobs, which would slow the economic recovery.

And even as Republicans are gearing up to release their coronavirus stimulus bill, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham had a stark prediction for an upcoming vote on such legislation.

“Half the Republicans are going to vote no to any Phase 4 package, that’s just a fact,” Graham said in an interview on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” though he noted, “I think we will come together before August the 5th to get this done.”

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said on ABC’s “This Week” that “the original benefits will not” be in the new bill, adding that “the original unemployment benefits actually paid people to stay home.”

The chief of staff also confirmed he and Mnuchin are returning to Capitol Hill on Sunday to continue going over details of the bill.

Meadows said the proposal will involve offering enhanced unemployment benefits that would replace a laid-off worker’s wages up to 70%, although he acknowledged challenges some states will face in administering such a complicated benefit. He said he has worked with Mnuchin and Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia to ensure “antiquated computers” in some state benefit offices don’t stop people from receiving their benefits.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed Republicans’ potential benefit change on Sunday, saying on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that she would prefer to see enhanced unemployment benefits paid at a flat rate, not as a portion of a worker’s lost wages as Republicans are preparing to propose.

“Let me just say: the reason we had $600 was its simplicity,” Pelosi said, noting that calculating 70% of someone’s lost earnings would be difficult for administrators. “Why don’t we just keep it simple? Unemployment benefits and the enhancement… is so essential right now.”

Pelosi declined to say whether Democrats would be willing to accept an unemployment insurance enhancement that is lower than $600.

“We’ve been anxious to negotiate for two months and 10 days,” Pelosi said, criticizing Republicans for taking so long to propose another stimulus package.

“We can’t go home without it, but it’s so sad that people should have this uncertainty in their lives,” she said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday that Democrats are against the GOP officials’ plan to limit unemployment benefits and that internal division remains among Republicans on the issue.

“We are for extending it … we should not give a 30% pay cut to those who lost their jobs through no fault of their own,” Schumer said at a news conference. “The unemployment insurance has kept millions out of poverty, prevented the recession from becoming a depression, we need to extend it.”

He accused Republicans of “dithering, twiddling their thumbs,” saying that “we Democrats passed a bill two months ago and yet we’ve got nothing from our Republican colleagues. President (Donald) Trump’s in one place, some Senate Republicans are in another, and some Senate Republicans are in a third.”

Administration officials dropped a push for the payroll tax cut that Trump has repeatedly demanded after failing to secure support for it from enough Senate Republicans and after acknowledging it was a non-starter for Democrats.

“I would have preferred a payroll tax cut on top of that check, but be that as it may, politically it doesn’t work but the check is there,” Kudlow said on “State of the Union.”

When asked whether the change in benefits could harm the economy by jeopardizing those facing bills and evictions, Kudlow said that the combination of unemployment benefits capped at 70% of wages, reemployment bonuses and retention tax credit bonuses is “going to more than offset any of this.”

“The trick here is going back to work,” he added.

CNN’s Tami Luhby contributed to this report.

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Treasury Secretary Mnuchin: $1,200 checks coming by August

WASHINGTON (AP/WREG) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Saturday that Republicans were set to roll out the next COVID-19 aid package Monday and assured there was backing from the White House after he and President Donald Trump’s top aide met to salvage the $1 trillion proposal that had floundered just days before.

Mnuchin told reporters at the Capitol that extending an expiring unemployment benefit — but reducing it substantially — was a top priority for Trump. The secretary called the $600 weekly aid “ridiculous” and a disincentive for people to go back to work. He also promised a fresh round of $1,200 stimulus checks would be coming in August.

“We’re prepared to move quickly,” Mnuchin said after he and Mark Meadows, the president’s acting chief of staff, spent several hours with GOP staff at the Capitol. He said the president would “absolutely” support the emerging Republican package.

Mnuchin’s optimistic assessment came before Democrats weighed in publicly on the updated proposal, which remained only a starting point in negotiations with House and Senate leaders in the other party. He said he recently called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer ahead of shuttle negotiations next week on the broader deal.

The White House and Senate Republicans were racing to regroup after plans to introduce a $1 trillion virus rescue bill collapsed Thursday amid GOP infighting over its size, scope and details. It was expected to bring $105 billion to help schools reopen, new money for virus testing and benefits for businesses, including a fresh round of loans, tax breaks and a sweeping liability shield from COVID-related lawsuits.

As Republicans struggled, the White House team downplayed the differences with the GOP senators as overblown and said Trump was focused on providing relief.

“The president has been very clear. He wants to make sure that the American people have what they need during this unprecedented time,” Meadows said, “to make sure not only the money is there but the programs.”

The expiration of the $600 weekly jobless benefits boost had been propelling the Republicans to act. Democrats already approved their sweeping $3 trillion plan from Pelosi two months ago. But with millions of Americans about to be suddenly cut off from the aid starting Saturday, they were bracing to prevent social and economic fallout.

The White House floated plans to cut the additional aid back to $100 a week, while Senate Republicans preferred $200, with general agreement about phasing out the flat boost in favor of one that ensures no more than 70% of an employee’s previous pay.

Mnuchin also said the $1,200 direct payments would be based on the same formula from the earlier aid bill. Individuals making $75,000 or less, for example, received the full amount and those making more than $75,000 received less than $1,200 depending on their income. Individuals earning above $100,000 did not qualify for the payment.

“We’ll get the majority of them out in August and those will help people,” Mnuchin said.

The administration officials said the overall package remained at $1 trillion, apparently on par with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s original draft.

Democrats had warned time was running out, saying Republicans were in disarray.

The jobless benefit officially expires July 31, but due to the way states process unemployment payments, the cutoff was effectively Saturday. Other aid, including a federal eviction moratorium on millions of rental units, also expires at month’s end.

The GOP plan was not expected to come to a vote but serve as a counter-offer to Democrats. That strategy enabled McConnell, who did not have full support from his GOP majority, to avoid having to endure a failed outcome. But it also gave Democrats some leverage in insisting on their priorities as part of any final deal.

The path ahead remained uncertain, but both sides were scrambling to reach a deal.

McConnell, who spent time over the weekend in his home state of the Kentucky, said Friday he hoped a package could be agreed on “in the next few weeks.”

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Rep. John Lewis taken across Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma

More than five decades after he was slammed in the head by a white state trooper’s billy club while he lead a march on behalf of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, the late Rep. John Lewis made one last crossing on Sunday.

In an emotional ceremony that symbolizes the 80-year-old Lewis’ lifelong work for civil rights, hundreds of mourners watched the procession escort the congressman’s casket across the 1,284-foot bridge spanning the Alabama River. A horse-drawn caisson carried Lewis’ casket alone across the bridge.

The somber journey brought Lewis full-circle to the spot he almost died as a 25-year-old on March 7, 1965, when Alabama state troopers attacked him and other civil rights demonstrators in an incident that became known as “Bloody Sunday.”

MORE: John Lewis, congressman and civil rights icon, dies at 80

“I was hit with a billy club, and I saw the state trooper that hit me,” Lewis would recall later during a federal hearing. “I was hit twice, once when I was lying down and was attempting to get up.”

PHOTO: Rose petals representing the blood spilled on Bloody Sunday are seen on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, July 26, 2020. (Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters)

The moment that Lewis was attacked was captured in news photographs that opened the eyes of the world on the brutality civil rights marchers were enduring in the South in a quest for voting rights and equality for Black Americans.

MORE: House holds emotional moment of silence to honor John Lewis

Sunday’s tribute to Lewis came during a six-day celebration of the man who became known as the “conscience of the U.S. Congress.”

The bridge crossing occurred a day after Lewis was eulogized in his hometown of Troy, Alabama.

MORE: ‘The Boy from Troy’: Funeral services begin for the late Rep. John Lewis

Sunday’s march started at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church in an event titled “#Good Trouble: Courage, Sacrifice & the Long March for Freedom.”

Lewis’ body is scheduled to be taken later Sunday to Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery to like in repose.

PHOTO: Congressman John Lewis in his offices in the Canon House office building in Washington, March 17, 2009. (Jeff Hutchens/Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: Congressman John Lewis in his offices in the Canon House office building in Washington, March 17, 2009. (Jeff Hutchens/Getty Images, FILE)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced last week that Lewis will be honored in a private ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Monday, followed by an unprecedented public viewing taking place outside, as opposed to inside, the Capitol building due to coronavirus concerns on Monday night and Tuesday.

MORE: 6-day celebration of life for Rep. John Lewis begins Saturday

Lewis died on July 17, seven months after a routine medical visit revealed that he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

Rep. John Lewis taken across Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

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Lawless Cities Should Be Prepared To Lose Their Taxpayer Funds Thanks to GOP Lawmakers

Seattle’s CHOP/CHAZ is no more. The hive of lawlessness and left-wing performativity was finally shut down by the city of Seattle on July 1; the “summer of love” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan hoped it would engender never materialized.

Its legacy will end up being two dead African-Americans, a few shootings, a bunch of tourists and a lot of empty rhetoric.

There’ve been a few attempts to establish similar power vacuums in other cities since then with varying degrees of success, although nothing on the level of what happened in Seattle. The most recent example, New York’s City’s Occupy City Hall, was shut down late last week, having failed to push the administration of Bill de Blasio further to the left.

In most of these cases, the cities involved were willing to countenance these occupied autonomous zones far longer than they should have. If Sen. Joni Ernst has her way about it, that might not be the case in the future.

According to The Daily Caller, the Iowa Republican sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget — signed by 29 of her colleagues in the House and Senate, urging the OMB “to ensure taxpayer dollars are not used to promote anarchy.”

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The move came after Ernst introduced a bill last month that would defund cities and locales that allowed lawless zones to persist.

“In Seattle, where an ‘autonomous zone’ persisted for weeks and was only stopped after a string of shootings and murders, local officials’ abysmal judgment has a budgetary effect, as the city wrestles with a $300 million revenue shortfall. Law-abiding citizens should not have to pay for their abdication of responsibility. We ask that you scrutinize any future federal funding that flows to such lawless jurisdictions,” Ernst wrote in the letter.

“The federal government must ensure judicious and lawful use of taxpayer funds. With this responsibility in mind, we ask you to investigate and report the amount of taxpayer dollars local officials used to, encourage, sustain, bolster, supply or repair the damage in these anarchist ‘autonomous zones.’

“In FY2019, the federal government provided the top 20 most populous U.S. cities over $88 billion in taxpayer dollars. That money comes from the people, and should have been spent to protect them, not put them in harm’s way. The most fundamental duty of these cities is to provide security for law-abiding citizens. Instead, we have seen businesses destroyed and lives senselessly taken. Thank you for your time, and we look forward to your leadership in ensuring transparency for tax-payer dollars used to enable anarchy.”

Should cities that allow “anarchist jurisdictions” be denied federal funding?

Ernst had previously introduced the “Ending Taxpayer Funding of Anarchy Act,” a bill that would have defunded cities that allowed “anarchist jurisdictions,” in the midst of the CHOP/CHAZ controversy.

“Mayors and city leaders are letting this chaos and anarchy continue in their streets, and in some cases preventing law enforcement from doing their job,” Ernst said during a June conference call with reporters, according to The Des Moines Register.

“That’s not the America I know or fought for,” added Ernst, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard who was stationed in Kuwait in 2003 after the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

CHOP/CHAZ may be no more, but Ernst is continuing to push the bill.

“It has gone on for too long and it’s too much,” Ernst told The Daily Caller. “So, we want to make sure that there is peace across the United States and that law and order is restored. You know, enough is enough, so what I’ve decided is that a way to be effective is just to deny taxpayer – federal taxpayer dollars – for these areas that are continuing to allow anarchy.”

RELATED: Seattle Hosts Segregated Class To Teach ‘Undoing Whiteness’

“And, we want, of course, peaceful protests, we encourage dialogue, that’s what we want, that’s what I support. But we don’t want anarchy. What I see is not an effort to talk about racial injustice, I see this as just an expression of hatred towards the United States.”

The bill, if it were to pass, would apply to cities that have an “anarchist jurisdiction” beginning on Oct. 1.

Ernst noted to The Daily Caller that the bill would need Democrat help to pass — something it’s unlikely to get.

“Well, I do have a lot of support from my Republican counterparts,” Ernst said. “So, that’s the issue is that we really need our Democratic friends to step up and say, ‘This is not right. These mayors are putting those citizens in jeopardy.’”

“The mayors are allowing this to happen by appeasing these anarchists.”

National Democrats are unlikely to take that step, however, particularly given the pitched battle between the Trump administration and Democrat-controlled city governments.

However, even though Ernst conceded “it’s an uphill battle,” she said it’s one “that needs to be fought.”

“We need peace across the United States, not, you know, miniaturized war zones where it’s a free-for-all,” she said. “That should not happen … if they understood that federal funds are in jeopardy, they would be less inclined to allow those anarchists zones.”

Using the OMB to defund cities that allow autonomous zones might be a tricky strategy, given the legal challenges. This said, it’d certainly be one way to throw down the gauntlet at cities that refuse to enforce the law — and just the threat might be enough to stop one of the most disturbing trends of 2020.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

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President Trump Bows to Reality: This Week in the 2020 Race

Welcome to our weekly analysis of the state of the 2020 campaign.

  • Fox News released polls from Michigan, Pennsylvania and Minnesota showing President Trump trailing Joe Biden by anywhere from 9 to 13 percentage points.

  • Most Americans worry that sending children back to school could be dangerous, a range of polls showed. In an Associated Press/NORC poll, 80 percent of respondents said they were at least somewhat concerned.

  • On Facebook, Trump is outspending Biden, $2.2 million to $530,000.

This was the week when President Trump started looking like he was facing reality about America’s coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday he tweeted a picture of himself wearing a face mask — something he had long resisted — and encouraged the country to join. At a Tuesday news conference, he said the virus would likely “get worse before it gets better,” instead of acting like the worst was in the rearview mirror. His news briefings were shorter and less antagonistic than those in the spring. He spoke of setting a good example for the country.

But Mr. Trump’s attempt at a Covid Reset for his presidency — in the face of soaring cases, as well as his falling poll numbers — raises two important questions:

How long will it last?

Will many people believe it?

The president usually reverts to combative form after a seeming change in tone, a pattern of behavior that helped make him famous — and now endangers his re-election. His response to the pandemic has been widely panned by Americans in public polling and public health experts, who say these actions should have come in March or April, not July. About 145,000 Americans have already died.

After months of bluster, the president has seemingly come to understand what many have known for months: he cannot wish away the coronavirus. The refusal to acknowledge the reality of rising cases and deaths has hurt Mr. Trump’s poll numbers and hampered the country from a coordinated response. It has alienated him from key groups of swing voters, including seniors and ideological moderates.

In several interviews and news conferences this week, Mr. Trump tried to change course. Here’s how:

  • Teed up with an opportunity to criticize Dr. Anthony Fauci from Fox News host Sean Hannity, Mr. Trump ignored it.

  • On Thursday, Mr. Trump said schools should delay reopening in coronavirus hot spots — a reversal of his previous position that all schools should open in the fall.

  • That afternoon, the president canceled the Republican National Convention in Florida, citing the threat posed by the virus. Some Republican leaders had already said they would not attend.

The relationship between President Barack Obama and his vice president, Mr. Biden, was so publicly affectionate that it was its own meme genre. The relationship helped Mr. Biden secure the Democratic nomination, and on Thursday, Mr. Obama returned to the virtual campaign trail, releasing a sleek video conversation with Mr. Biden filmed in the 44th president’s D.C. office.

The discussion focused on Mr. Trump’s response to the coronavirus, and contrasted how a potential Biden administration would deal with unforeseen crises. But more than any individual policy, Mr. Obama sought to brand Mr. Biden as compassionate and decent, the type of person who stands out against Mr. Trump’s combativeness.

“The thing I’ve got confidence in, Joe, is your heart and your character, and the fact that you are going to be able to reassemble the kind of government that cares about people and brings people together.”

Some other highlights from the video release, which totaled 15 minutes:

  • Mr. Obama called the Affordable Care Act a “starter house,” saying it’s time for Democrats to expand coverage.

  • Both men encouraged those who have been leading protests against racial inequality and police brutality. Mr. Obama’s administration was, at times, criticized by activists for not embracing systemic police reform. Mr. Obama said Mr. Biden would be an ally to bigger change.

The whole idea behind moving the convention from its original location in Charlotte, N.C., to Jacksonville was to make it easier to give Mr. Trump the spectacle he wanted: televised images of packed crowds cheering him into the final sprint of his re-election campaign, a dangerous reality that Republicans thought would not be possible under strict social distancing rules that Democratic governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper, was requiring.

But bringing together a large crowd during a surging pandemic proved to be much more difficult than simply finding a new location with a supportive Republican governor and mayor.

And on Thursday, Mr. Trump broke the news himself that he was pulling the plug on his second attempt at a large-scale celebratory convention.

“It’s not the right time for that,” Mr. Trump said, nodding to the growing cases in Florida and the problems with security that local law enforcement officials had expressed.

The end was welcomed by Republican officials who had been tasked with putting it together. Some talked of celebrating the president’s decision by cracking open expensive bottles of wine on Thursday night.

How did we get here?

  • Republicans said raising money had been difficult, and making last-minute adjustments — like sending attendees in-home Covid-19 test kits, had been complicated. They also assumed that Mr. Trump would ultimately be blamed for a coronavirus death tied to the convention.

  • The Jacksonville City Council president opposed a bill that would have given the mayor, Lenny Curry, the power to spend $33 million in federal security funds however he deems necessary.

  • The sheriff of Jacksonville, meanwhile, said of convention security on Monday: “We can’t pull it off.” The Republican National Committees response? “Jacksonville has accommodated upwards of 70,000 people for football games and other events, and we are confident in state, local and federal officials to be able to ensure a safe event for our attendees,” Mandi Merritt, an R.N.C. spokeswoman, said.

  • Florida continued to see a rise in coronavirus cases and deaths overall this week, and Jacksonville is no exception. Over one-fifth of Jacksonville’s coronavirus deaths were reported in last seven days, according to local news sources.

Isabella Grullón Paz and Giovanni Russonello contributed reporting.

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Joe Biden leads in three key states Trump won in 2016 in new CNN polls

In Florida (51% Biden to 46% for President Donald Trump) and Arizona (49% Biden to 45% Trump), registered voters break in Biden’s favor by single-digit margins, while in Michigan, Biden’s lead stands at 52% to 40%, matching the national average for the presidential race per the most recent CNN Poll of Polls.

Trump carried all three states in 2016, with his narrowest win in any state coming from Michigan, which he carried by only 10,704 votes. The poll results are among registered voters, but when looking only at those who say they are most likely to vote in this fall’s election, support for the two candidates remains about the same.

Nearly all recent high-quality polling out of Florida and Michigan has shown Biden with an edge there, while in Arizona, there has been a mix of Biden leads and results within each poll’s margin of error. The new CNN poll in Arizona shows Biden narrowly outside the poll’s error margin. Quinnipiac University’s poll in Florida, released late last week, showed Biden with a double-digit lead there, larger than most other surveys have found.

But it is worth noting that recent Florida polls have been fairly consistent about Biden’s level of support in the state (Quinnipiac pegged it at 51%, same as the new CNN poll, while CBS News landed at 48%, and Fox News placed it 49%), with greater variation in support for the President (46% in the new CNN poll, 42% in CBS News, 40% in Fox News and 38% in the Quinnipiac poll).

Across all three states, Trump’s approval ratings generally, for handling the coronavirus outbreak and for handling racial inequality in the US are underwater. There is some variation in the President’s overall approval rating, with disapproval at 57% in Michigan, 54% in Arizona and 51% in Florida.

But on coronavirus and racial inequality, two issues which have dominated the national conversation in the last few months, Trump’s disapproval stands around 60% across all three states. On the coronavirus outbreak, 60% disapprove in Arizona, 59% in Michigan and 57% in Florida. On racial inequality in the US, 59% disapprove in both Arizona and Michigan, 57% do so in Florida.

The results suggest the President could be on better ground in all three states should the country’s focus shift to the economy: In Arizona and Florida, majorities rate the President positively for his handling of the economy (52% approve in each state). Michiganders are about evenly divided (47% approve to 49% disapprove).

But there is little to suggest such a shift is in the immediate future. In Arizona and Florida, both areas where coronavirus infections have spread rapidly in recent weeks, majorities (57% in Arizona, 64% in Florida) believe the worst of the outbreak is yet to come. In both states, more than 7 in 10 voters who say the worst is ahead back Biden for president. In Michigan, a narrow majority says the worst is behind them (51%).

Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has publicly clashed with Trump over her response to the coronavirus, earns high marks from residents of her state for her handling of the virus, with 69% saying they feel she is doing everything she can to fight it. The Republican governors of Arizona and Florida are not seen that way by their constituents: 66% say Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey could be doing more to fight the outbreak, and 63% say the same about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Both Biden and Trump have made arguments that they are the better choice for Americans’ safety, with Trump’s campaign focusing on a law-and-order message and Biden’s campaign arguing that Trump has dropped the ball on coronavirus, costing Americans’ lives. Asked which candidate would “keep Americans safe from harm,” voters in Michigan choose Biden, 52% to 43%. In Arizona, they are evenly divided, 47% for each. And in Florida, they choose Trump, 51% to 46%.

Across all three states, Biden is more often seen as honest and trustworthy than is Trump, but just under 1 in 10 in each state say that description applies to neither candidate.

Biden’s advantage in all three states is largely attributable to his edge among women. He earns the support of 61% of women in Michigan, 56% in Arizona and 53% in Florida. The differences in how women vote across states are largely due to differences in support among White women. In Michigan, Biden holds 57% among White women to Trump’s 36%. In Arizona, they split more evenly, 50% for Biden to 46% for Trump. And in Florida, Trump leads among White women, 55% to Biden’s 42%. Biden holds wide leads among women of color across all three states.

That difference among White women in Michigan versus those in Arizona and Florida also emerges quite strongly on the question of which candidate would keep Americans safe. While White women are more likely than White men in all three states to say that Biden would keep them safe, in Michigan, they are 18 points more likely to do so, while that gap is five points in Florida and six points in Arizona.

With the pandemic raging, voters’ views on how they would prefer to cast a ballot in the fall are divided by party, with Democrats more likely to prefer voting by mail or early and Republicans more often in favor of in-person Election Day voting.

That means that preferences for voting by-mail rather than in-person are stronger among Biden’s supporters than Trump’s supporters. In Arizona, 78% of Biden backers say they would rather vote by mail, compared with 43% of Trump supporters. In Florida, 59% of Biden supporters would rather cast mail ballots vs.19% of Trump supporters. And in Michigan, 67% of Biden supporters say they’d rather vote by mail vs. 22% of Trump backers.

While most votes in Arizona and Florida in recent elections have been cast early or absentee, the poll suggests that in Michigan, where about a quarter of votes have typically been cast absentee in recent years, mail-in ballots could spike significantly. Almost half of voters in Michigan, 47%, say they would prefer to vote by-mail using an absentee ballot, and another 6% would like the option to vote early in-person.

The Democratic candidates hold leads in the Senate races in both Arizona and Michigan, according to the polls. In Michigan, incumbent Democrat Gary Peters tops Republican John James 54% to 38%. In Arizona, Democratic challenger Mark Kelly leads Republican Sen. Martha McSally by 50% to 43%.

These CNN Polls were conducted by SSRS by telephone from July 18 through 24 among random samples of adults living in Arizona, Florida in Michigan. In each state, results for the sample of adults have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points, it is 3.8 points for the subsets of registered voters in each state. Interviews were conducted with 1,002 adults, including 873 registered voters, in Arizona, 1,005 adults, including 880 registered voters in Florida, and 1,003 adults, including 927 registered voters, in Michigan.

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Donald Trump’s new 100-day strategy (opinion)

All of these were swept aside this week by President Donald Trump, as he began reacting to polls showing public disapproval of his handling of the coronavirus crisis, suggesting that he could lose the election that is about 100 days away.

The president who planned to gain another four years in the White House on the strength of a booming economy has watched the pandemic blow it up. The quick recovery he hoped to tout at mass rallies around the country has been jeopardized by the fast-spreading virus (and so have the rallies).

As a result, Trump has been trying out three other campaign themes: pledging “law and order” in cities that are seeing Black Lives Matter protests; warning that fair housing regulations would “destroy the beautiful suburbs” and bragging about his performance on a cognitive test that he challenged his rival Joe Biden to take.

Trump brought back the afternoon coronavirus briefings this week but without medical experts like Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx. The first briefing, on Tuesday, prompted Frida Ghitis to ask, “Who was that man speaking at the White House podium, and what did he do to President Donald Trump? I’m just kidding, of course.” Ghitis said the man we saw in the briefing room was “Candidate Trump, terrified that his approval ratings are collapsing” and fearing that he could face “a humiliating defeat in November.

It may be too late, wrote former ABC News president Ben Sherwood. Only about a third of Americans say they have considerable trust in what Trump says, “a product of his many months of delay, denial and dissembling.” But if the President can’t provide that assurance, Sherwood wrote, the only way to get out of the coronavirus crisis is to trust in others such as Fauci.

“If citizens are going to follow public health guidelines, they’ll need to trust that government decisions are unbiased and fact-based. If we’re going to send our kids back to school, there’s a chain of people we’ll have to trust. And imagine the chain of labs and regulatory agencies and manufacturers and distributors and scientists involved in a vaccine. That will require a quantum leap of trust.

Tough choices

Whether to reopen schools has emerged as one of the most consequential and controversial choices facing America. Dr. Lee Beers, the incoming president of the American Academy of Pediatrics wrote that “particularly for our younger learners, weeks — or months — out of school can have long-lasting implications for their education. Online classes are not an equivalent substitute for many.”

Still, she argued for greatly increased resources to make sure schools are reopened safely — and pushed back at Trump’s threat to stop funding schools that do not reopen in-person classes this fall. “When public health expertise is reframed to fit political interests, it harms those who have the most at stake and the least opportunity to advocate for themselves: children.”

On Thursday, the President canceled the Republican National Convention festivities in Jacksonville — a big blow to Trump, wrote Julian Zelizer.

“Trump has desperately wanted to make sure that Republicans can convene a grand convention on the scale of what other incumbents have enjoyed in the past. He thirsts for a celebration of his term and the public confirmation that he is as successful as he says.” But the President is discovering, like everyone else, that reverting back to pre-pandemic life just isn’t possible — not yet.
Marc Thiessen, writing in the Washington Post, saw a merchandising opportunity for Trump’s campaign. “If Trump really wants to convince his supporters to start wearing masks, the best way to do so is to start distributing MAGA masks,” he wrote. “If Trump supporters really want to show their defiance of the establishment, they shouldn’t go mask-less. Wear a MAGA mask. It will drive the left crazy.”

Trump’s cognitive test

President Trump’s boast about acing the Montreal Cognitive Assessment Test flummoxed the experts. Psychologist Peggy Drexler wrote that passing the test, “which includes such tasks as identifying animals and drawing a clock, determines nothing other than that the taker is not suffering from mild cognitive dysfunction. … It takes ten minutes and is not meant to be hard — unless, that is, you have dementia.”

She added, “it’s unlikely there’s any standardized test that will offer definitive proof that Trump is fit to serve as leader of the free world. That’s up to Trump himself to prove. By my measures and, it would seem, by those of many Americans, he’s failing — spectacularly.”
While Trump is citing the test to spread doubts about Joe Biden’s mental acuity, one viral ad from the Lincoln Project turns that kind of attack back on him, with the narrator saying, “Something’s wrong with Donald Trump” and showing him using two hands to drink from a water glass in his West Point speech. The Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans who are backing Biden, “has vaulted into the center of this presidential election through a barrage of the best campaign ads in the 2020 race,” wrote Lincoln Mitchell.
President Trump startled some observers at his Tuesday briefing when he was asked about the prosecution of an alleged accomplice of Jeffrey Epstein and wound up saying of Ghislaine Maxwell, “I just wish her well, frankly.” Legal analyst Elie Honig wrote that “heads would have exploded,” if any other President had said as much when “asked about a case brought by his own Justice Department alleging that a defendant had committed serial child molestation.”

It’s impossible to know for sure “what motivated Trump’s outlandish public display,” Honig noted. “But he has previously expressed sympathy publicly for his personal friends who ended up as criminal defendants. The key now is to pay extra attention to make sure that this case doesn’t end up short-circuited, like those before it.”

AOC’s reply

Rep. Ted Yoho’s sparring on the Capitol steps with his fellow member of Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, backfired in a big way. The Florida Republican was heard by a reporter using obscenities about the congresswoman from New York as he walked away after their exchange.

Without admitting he used those words, Yoho made an apology of sorts on the House floor. But that left AOC an opening for a devastatingly effective reply, wrote Kara Alaimo. Ocasio-Cortez “broke down Yoho’s protestations that he is a family man with a wife and two daughters by turning that well-worn defense on its head,” Alaimo noted.

Ocasio-Cortez said, “I am two years younger than Mr. Yoho’s youngest daughter. I am someone’s daughter too. My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho treated his daughter.”

Alaimo concluded, “by refusing to accept either the insult or Yoho’s half-hearted apology, Ocasio-Cortez issued a badly-needed defense not just of herself, but of all women who seek power.”

VP pick nears

Sometime in the next several weeks, Joe Biden will make what is likely to be the biggest decision of his campaign: his vice-presidential pick. He offered a little more information about his search this week when he said that four Black women were among those being vetted.

In 2008, David Axelrod was part of the team that chose Biden as Barack Obama’s running mate. There are many factors Biden is likely considering in making the choice, wrote Axelrod. But there is one will likely be foremost: “facing the prospect of taking office in the midst of crises even more daunting than those that confronted Obama in 2009, my guess is that Biden will be seeking a partner who can … help him not only win an election but govern in what promises to be a whirlwind.
Often such picks don’t significantly influence voters’ decisions, but history shows that some of the choices have turned out exceptionally well — while others have bombed. Read historian Thomas Balcerski’s ranking of the three best and three worst picks.

For more on politics:

Portland and Chicago

“The President and his administration began setting conditions for a political theater road show many weeks ago,” wrote Michael D’Antonio. “Attorney General William Barr used tear gas, horses, and batons to clear Lafayette Square, a park across from the White House where protesters had gathered.” More recently, with deployment of federal officers to US cities, Barr and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf “helped create images that matched Trump’s obvious desire to be perceived as, “Your President of law and order.”
Benjamin Haas pointed out that “videos show law enforcement officers from the Department of Homeland Security plucking protesters from the streets of Portland and stuffing them in unmarked vehicles before driving away. The agents, clad in the same camouflage pattern that I wore as an Army intelligence officer in Afghanistan, are not readily identifiable either by name or by agency…There is no war in the United States and law enforcement organizations should not be trained and equipped to act as if they are in one. Yet the Trump administration would have us believe that protesters are enemies who must be defeated in combat.”
The Trump administration is sending 150 federal agents to Chicago, where shootings are up 47% so far this year, wrote Jens Ludwig, director of the Chicago Crime Lab. He argued that the added officers will likely have little impact in a city where there are roughly 13,000 police. A far more effective move would be to crack down on gun dealers outside the city who sell weapons that wind up being used in crimes, Ludwig wrote. “Our cities do actually need help from Washington, DC, more than ever right now, but it’s got to be the right kind of help.”

Kanye West and history

A celebrity runs for president and attracts huge attention on social media with an outrageous claim. That has become a familiar pattern in the US. This week, it was Kanye West, whose rally in South Carolina a week ago, Richard J. Reddick noted, “drew our attention with his appalling misinterpretation of Harriet Tubman’s legacy when he said Tubman ‘never actually freed the slaves.'”

Some dismissed it as a “mental health crisis,” wrote Reddick, but that doesn’t go far enough. “While I and many others hope that West gets the help he needs during this time, it’s important that we don’t overlook his damaging and inaccurate claims about Harriet Tubman. His words have power during a time when many people are trying to learn more about Black history while the discussion of systemic racism is at the forefront.”

Blocked by The Bahamas

The Bahamas, a nation that thrives on tourism from the US, blocked American travelers this week, in light of the surge in Covid-19 cases. European countries have also kept their borders closed to Americans. “For the first time in my life,” wrote reporter Alice Driver. “I am witnessing how the lack of US leadership on Covid-19 is devaluing the US passport I carry.”

“The result of the staggering mishandling of the pandemic response is that the power and status that US citizens have enjoyed for decades is quickly waning,” she wrote.

“When I have interviewed migrants during Covid-19, many have told me they would prefer to seek asylum in Canada rather than the US.”

Deborah Trueman has been with her partner Marco for nearly 20 years, but today they must stay on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Americans who are married to EU citizens are allowed to enter European countries, but Trueman and her partner aren’t married. They were together for Christmas in Tuscany and then she returned to New York for medical visits. “And then the coronavirus stopped the world in its tracks,” she wrote. “My April flight back to Rome was canceled. And then my July flight as well. And there is no sign I will be allowed back in any time soon.”

So, to my dear Italy: Please let me come back to you. I will take a Covid-19 test. I will quarantine. I know you believe in love; You practically invented it.”

A hero who was real

Nicole Austin-Hillery says a friend once warned her never to meet her heroes because she would inevitably be disappointed. The friend “never met Congressman John Lewis,” she wrote. As an aspiring civil rights lawyer who grew up in public housing, Austin-Hillery said she chose Lewis as her role model.

When they eventually met, the civil rights pioneer was more than generous with his time. “There was no question too small or obvious for him to answer… I savored every story, every parable and every lesson he shared. It was his response to my last question that stuck and continues to guide me to this day. When I asked him how young people could ascend to leadership roles when seasoned leaders are unwilling to teach and mentor, he stiffened his back and without missing a beat told me: We didn’t ask permission to move into leadership, we took it.
Lewis, who died July 17, famously said, “Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” Nicole Stamp wrote that the Black Lives Matter protests “are good trouble, and they continue because racial injustice continues… The civil rights movement is still happening today. Participate in it: with your body. With your dollars. With your actions.

Don’t miss

Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky: Mike Pompeo is botching his job

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Feel not-so-good movies

Sara Stewart‘s diet of feel-good movies during the pandemic is turning out to be less appetizing than she had hoped.

Her “pop-cultural comfort food of choice has been romantic dramedies from simpler times, tales of adorably complicated women and the often-chiseled men who love them. Movies like these hail from an era of now-verboten pleasures, like casual hugs and bustling nightclubs and actual, not virtual, shopping.”

The problem? The characters played by Andrew McCarthy (“Pretty in Pink”), Ethan Hawke (“Reality Bites”) and Ryan Gosling (“The Notebook”).

“These romantic male leads hoodwink heroines into thinking they’re Mr. Right, despite failing to demonstrate any understanding of good relationship dynamics,” wrote Stewart. “Outside the rosy light of nostalgia, I have to be honest. This is not love. This is not cute. This is manipulation. (Even if it’s dressed up as peak Ryan Gosling.) And rom-coms have been grooming cinephiles to think otherwise for far too long.”
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Sunday morning talking heads

“Hopefully we can come together behind some package we can agree on in the next few weeks,” said Mitch McConnell on Friday about a new round of fiscal stimulus to replace the one that expires … in five days. Power players from both parties who are involved in deciding what that package will look like are the star guests on this morning’s Sunday shows. For Republicans it’ll be White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on “This Week,” top economic advisor Larry Kudlow on “State of the Union,” and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on “Fox News Sunday.” Ted Cruz will also turn up on “Face the Nation” to defend his politically suicidal impulse to restore fiscal conservatism in the middle of a pandemic, at a moment when already record-setting weekly jobless claims have begun to rise again. Actually, I should say “politically homicidal”: Cruz himself will be just fine, it’s his party that’ll sustain a mortal wound if he gets his way.

For the Democrats, it’ll be Nancy Pelosi on “Face the Nation” and, well, that’s all. No other Democrat on the Hill matters right now. Why would anyone else be interviewed?

Elsewhere, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will chat with “State of the Union” and “This Week,” respectively, about Trump’s plan to send federal agents to their jurisdictions to fight crime as part of Operation LeGend. Neither is enthusiastic about the plan, but Lightfoot has expressed some grudging willingness to give it a shot if the feds are true to their word about partnering with local police. What she and Grisham don’t want is a Portland-style campaign commercial in their backyards. Whether they get one anyway remains to be seen.

Last but not least, Dem Rep. Karen Bass will be on “State of the Union” to chat about her dark-horse candidacy for the Democratic VP slot. Bass was completely off the radar a few weeks ago but chatter has picked up about her and she has some supporters within the party. If you believe this site, Biden’s advisors have told people that the choice is down to her or Tammy Duckworth. If she’s the pick, her ascendance would be meteoric: She didn’t enter elected politics until she was over 50, when she joined California’s state assembly. Sixteen years later, she could soon be one very old heartbeat away from becoming America’s first woman (and second African-American) president. The full line-up is at the AP.