It’s Friday, September 4, 2020. Election Day is 60 days away. The first presidential debate is 25 days away. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.
Report on Trump and fallen soldiers: “Trump rejected the idea of [visiting an American cemetery in France in 2018] because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day. In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, ‘Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.’ In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as ‘suckers’ for getting killed.”
...“On Memorial Day 2017, Trump visited Arlington National Cemetery, a short drive from the White House...[Then-Homeland Security Secretary John] Kelly’s son Robert is buried in Section 60. A first lieutenant in the Marine Corps, Robert Kelly was killed in 2010 in Afghanistan. He was 29...According to sources with knowledge of this visit, Trump, while standing by Robert Kelly’s grave, turned directly to his father and said, ‘I don’t get it. What was in it for them?’” (The Atlantic)
--- Numerous Trump advisers have denied The Altantic’s report, including White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, White House strategic communications director Alyssa Farah, and former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. One other outlet, the Associated Press, has partially confirmed the report.
Shutdown watch: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have tentatively agreed to use a short-term spending bill to avoid a government shutdown at the end of September, according to Capitol Hill aides.”
“The agreement on government funding comes even as the White House and top Democratic officials have been unable to reach a compromise on a new Covid relief package. Pelosi and Mnuchin spoke for more than 30 minutes earlier this week but remain hundreds of billions of dollars apart on additional stimulus efforts to help the slumping U.S. economy.” (Politico)
--- Congress must pass a spending bill by September 30 to avert a government shutdown.
Mail-in voting: “Russia has sought to ‘amplify’ concerns over the integrity of U.S. elections by promoting allegations that mail-in voting will lead to widespread fraud, according to an intelligence bulletin obtained by ABC News, again echoing a frequent and unfounded complaint raised by President Donald Trump.”
“Analysts with the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence branch issued the warning on Thursday to federal and state law enforcement partners after finding with ‘high confidence’ that ‘Russian malign influence actors’ have targeted the absentee voting process ‘by spreading disinformation’ since at least March.” (ABC News)
--- “After Trump’s remarks, election officials warn that trying to vote twice is a crime and could undermine the system” (Washington Post)
--- “Trump’s Tactic: Sowing Distrust in Whatever Gets in His Way” (New York Times)
Vaccine update: “Facing a persistent polling deficit and a struggling economy, President Donald Trump has cranked up pressure on administration health officials to expedite work both on a coronavirus vaccine and on treatments that might signal to voters there is an end in sight to the life-altering pandemic that has imperiled his reelection prospects.” (CNN)
--- Trump at a campaign rally on Thursday: “[A vaccine will] be delivered before the end of the year, in my opinion, before the end of the year, but it really might even be delivered before the end of October.”
--- Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific adviser to the Trump administration’s vaccine efforts, to NPR on Thursday: “There is a very, very low chance that the trials that are running as we speak [could be ready by the end of October]... I think it’s extremely unlikely [that there will be a vaccine by then] but not impossible.”
All times Eastern.
President Donald Trump will host negotiations between President
Aleksandar Vučić of Serbia and Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti of Kosovo at the White House. The neighboring countries have been engaged in a decade-long territorial dispute since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.
At 11:05 a.m., President Trump will participate in a signing ceremony with the two leaders to ink an agreement easing economic relations between Serbia and Kosovo. At 11:15 a.m., the three leaders will meet together in the Oval Office.
The House and Senate will hold brief pro forma sessions. Neither chamber is expected to conduct any business.
The Supreme Court is on summer recess.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will deliver remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, on the economy. He will later attend a pair of virtual fundraisers.
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