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Wake Up To Politics - August 19, 2020

It’s Wednesday, August 19, 2020. Election Day is 76 days away. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

DNC Night 2: Democrats officially nominate Biden for president

More than three decades after he first pursued the party’s presidential nomination as a young Delaware senator, former Vice President Joe Biden received the prize he has long sought on Tuesday as Democratic delegates formally selected him to take on President Donald Trump in November.

Since the coronavirus pandemic precluded delegates from packing in a large convention hall and participating in an in-person vote to crown the nominee, Democrats featured a virtual “Roll Call Across America” — a tour through all 57 U.S. states and territories, with one presenter from each jurisdiction announcing their delegation’s tally behind a scenic backdrop.

After Biden had officially clinched the nomination, he appeared on screen from a Delaware high school, as his grandchildren tossed confetti to mimic the traditional balloon drop that he would have received at an analog convention. “Thank you all,” Biden said in brief remarks after the roll call vote. “It means the world to me and my family.”

More than any specific policy, speakers focused on Biden’s character throughout the convention’s second night, attempting to create a contrast with the incumbent president. “A down-to-earth, get-the-job-done guy,” former President Bill Clinton described him. “A man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide.”

“Faced with a president of cowardice, Joe Biden is a man of proven courage,” unsuccessful Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams declared in the keynote address.

Tragedy was a constant presence throughout the night, from a video tribute featuring the late Sen. John McCain to a powerful computer-generated speech on his ALS diagnosis by health care activist Ady Barkan to an emotional address by the nominee’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden. (Even Barkan’s speech, ostensibly about health care, grated over policy specifics. The activist is a strong supporter of Medicare for All; Biden opposes such a plan.)

Dr. Biden’s remarks were the focal point of the night, tying together the tragedies her husband has faced in his life — the deaths of his young wife and daughter, then of his son decades later — and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic tearing its way through America.

“The burdens we carry are heavy, and we need someone with strong shoulders,” Dr. Biden said. “I know that if we entrust this nation to Joe, he will do for your family what he did for ours: bring us together and make us whole. Carry us forward in our time of need. Keep the promise of America, for all of us.”

Although she did not utter the word “coronaivrus” once (or the name “Donald Trump,” for that matter), the longtime teacher made the  pandemic a subtext for her speech by delivering it from an empty schoolhouse. “The rooms are dark as the bright young faces that should fill them are now confined to boxes on a computer screen,” she said, promising later: “With Joe as president, these classrooms will ring out with laughter and possibility once again.”

As with Monday night, Biden’s connections with two groups of people were emphasized on Tuesday: everyday American workers and establishment Republicans. On the convention’s first night, a video highlighted his relationship with Amtrak employees; on its second, an elevator operator who met Biden at the headquarters of The New York Times placed his name into nomination.

On the first night, former Ohio Gov. John Kasich led a virtual parade of Republicans offering their endorsements; on the second, Cindy McCain spoke about Biden’s friendship with her GOP standard-bearer husband while former Secretary of State Colin Powell crossed party lines to testify to Biden’s leadership. “With Joe Biden in the White House, you will never doubt that he will stand with our friends and stand up to our adversaries — never the other way around,” said Powell.

A smattering of prominent Democratic Party figures were given primetime speaking slots as well, a collision between leaders from the bygone era Biden emerged from and the new one he now hopes to lead. There was Clinton, and fellow former President Jimmy Carter, and John F. Kennedy’s daughter Caroline, and former Secretary of State John Kerry — all on hand to underline Biden’s decency, and work ethic, and national security experience.

Amid the collection of old Washington hands, Democrats also gave time to a younger face: New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest member of Congress and a leader of the party’s progressive wing. Ocasio-Cortez spoke for under two minutes; she had been designated to place runner-up Bernie Sanders’ name into nomination. As such, Biden’s name went unmentioned for the entirety of her remarks.

The Rundown

The Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan report Tuesday detailing a web of ties between the Trump campaign and Russian throughout the 2016 election. The nearly 1,000-page report marked the close of the Republican-controlled panel’s exhaustive investigation into Russia’s efforts to interfere in the most recent U.S. presidential election. Some key revelations:

  • Wall Street Journal: “A substantial portion of the report focuses on the connections of onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort with Konstantin Kilimnik, who is officially described for the first time as a Russian intelligence officer, and Russia-aligned oligarchs in Ukraine. Mr. Manafort’s high-level campaign access and willingness to share information with Mr. Kilimnik and others ‘represented a grave counterintelligence threat,’ the report concluded.”
  • Politico: “The committee, which conducted the only bipartisan investigation on Capitol Hill centering on Russia’s 2016 meddling, also raised the possibility that Manafort was personally connected to the ‘hack-and-leak operations’ that targeted Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The committee states that ‘some evidence suggests Kilimnik may be connected’ to the effort, which was helmed by Russia’s GRU, its main military-intelligence directorate.”
  • Washington Post: In one of its most startling passages, the report concludes that one of Trump’s core claims of innocence cannot be credited. In written testimony to the team of federal prosecutors led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, Trump insisted that he could not recall ever discussing the WikiLeaks dumps with political adviser Roger Stone or any other associate. ‘Despite Trump’s recollection,’ the Senate report said, ‘the committee assesses that Trump did, in fact, speak with Stone about WikiLeaks and with members of his campaign about Stone’s access to WikiLeaks on multiple occasions.’”

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced Tuesday that he would halt all operational changes to the Postal Service until after the 2020 election. DeJoy, who has come under intense pressure from Democrats in recent days, said that his decision was made “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”

“The abrupt reversal from DeJoy, who is set to testify Friday before the Senate, comes as more than 20 states, from New York to California, announced they would be suing to stop the changes,” the Associated Press reported. “Several vowed they would press on, keeping a watchful eye on the Postal Service ahead of the election.”

Among the changes suspended by DeJoy were the reduction of post office hours and the removal of mail processing equipment and facilities, cost-cutting measures that he said were intended to stem the financial crisis faced by the agency.

President Trump posthumously pardoned women’s suffragist Susan B. Anthony on Tuesday. Anthony had been arrested and fined $100 in 1872 for illegally casting a ballot, before women were given the right to vote. Trump announced the pardon at an event marking the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which included women in the electorate.

“She was never pardoned. Did you know that? She was never pardoned,” Trump remarked. “What took so long?”


All times Eastern.

President Donald Trump will receive his intelligence briefing at 1 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence will deliver remarks on “Joe Biden’s failure to put American workers first” at a campaign event in Darien, Wisconsin, at 1 p.m.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany will hold a press briefing at 1 p.m.

The House and Senate are on recess.

The Supreme Court is on summer recess.

The Democratic National Convention will continue for its third night from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Speakers will include Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, and former President Barack Obama.

Night Three of the convention will also feature performances by Billie Eilish and Jennifer Hudson. The emcee for the night will be actress Kerry Washington.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will deliver pre-taped remarks to the Democratic National Convention’s Hispanic Caucus and Black Caucus meetings, attend av virtual fundraiser, and join a virtual meeting with convention delegates from Wisconsin.

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