Wake Up To Politics - September 8, 2020
It’s Tuesday, September 8, 2020. Election Day is 59 days away. The first presidential debate is 24 days away. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.
The prospect of a coronavirus vaccine has become the latest flashpoint in the 2020 presidential race. Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, suggested in a CNN interview on Saturday that she would not trust President Donald Trump to fairly approve a vaccine. “I will say that I would not trust Donald Trump and it would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability of whatever he’s talking about,” she said. “I will not take his word for it.”
In a Monday news conference, Trump accused Harris of “endangering lives” with “anti-vaccine rhetoric” that politicizes the public health crisis. “That’s so bad for this country,” he added. “So bad for the world to even say that.” (For his part, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden told reporters Monday that he would take a vaccine “tomorrow” if it were available.”)
Trump also repeated his promise Monday that a vaccine would be ready by the end of the year. “It could be during the month of October, actually could be before November,” he said, notably promising that a vaccine would be produced around Election Day. According to the New York Times, government scientists are fearful that President Trump may try to rush a vaccine through the testing process as the election nears. The chief executives of nine drug companies pledged in a joint statement this morning not to seek regulatory approval of a vaccine until it had undergone three phases of clinical trials, hoping to boost public confidence in an eventual vaccine.
With less than two months to go until Election Day, the Trump campaign is reportedly strapped for cash. President Trump entered the 2020 race in an enviable financial position, especially compared to the lackluster fundraising of his Democratic rival. But lavish spending in the run-up to campaign season has left the president’s re-election campaign hemorrhaging cash. According to an extensive review by the New York Times, the Trump campaign and Republican Party has spent more than $800 million of the $1.1 billion they raised since 2019. The Times uncovered a number of questionable expenses, from exorbitant legal fees ($21 million) to an advertising campaign in deep-blue Washington, D.C. ($1 million) to a Super Bowl ad buy ($11 million) that cost more than they have spent on TV in some top battleground states.
The Trump campaign has yet to announce their last month’s fundraising totals; the Biden campaign raised $365 million in August, breaking the monthly record for presidential campaign fundraising and firmly turning around their once-dim financial prospects. The Trump campaign’s money concerns are “an unusual predicament for a sitting president,” Axios reported, “and one that worries veteran Republican operatives, with Trump so far behind in swing states as the race climaxes.”
According to Bloomberg, Trump has discussed spending as much as $100 million of his own money to boost his cash-strapped campaign.
House Democrats are launching an investigation into accusations that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy illegally reimbursed employees for campaign contributions made to Republican politicians. The alleged arrangement was first reported by the Washington Post, which quoted multiple former employees from DeJoy’s former company claiming that he urged them to donate to his preferred political candidates and then offered them bonuses to defray the costs of their contributions. Such an arrangement is known as a “straw-donor scheme,” in which donors evade contribution limits by reimbursing others to make political donations on their behalf; it would be a violation of federal law and campaign finance law in North Carolina, where the company was headquartered.
New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, announced Monday that her panel would probe the claims. She also said DeJoy would be investigated for potentially lying to her committee under oath; he was confronted with similar allegations in a hearing last month and flatly denied them. President Trump defended DeJoy as a “very respected man” at his Monday news conference, but said he was open to an investigation into the allegations.
In his wide-ranging news conference, Trump also launched a broadside at the U.S. military leadership, accusing them of waging wars to benefit defense manufacturing companies. “They want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy,” Trump said of the “top people in the Pentagon.”
The president’s comments came as he has sought to deny a report in the Atlantic that he had called fallen soldiers “losers” and “suckers,” among other anonymously-sourced allegations about his views on the military. 19 current and former Trump administrstion officials have issued on-the-record denials of the report, which has since been partially confirmed by several news outlets. Trump’s relationship with the Pentagon has reportedly been strained for months; even as he has denied insulting rank-and-file soldiers, the preisdent has skewered his commanders and military heroes such as the late Sen. John McCain in recent days. According to NBC News, Trump has also considered ousting Defense Secretary Mark Esper, reportedly discussing the position with Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie.
All times Eastern.
President Donald Trump will travel to Jupiter, Florida, to deliver remarks on his “environmental accomplishments for the people of Florida” at 3 p.m. He will then travel to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to speak at a campaign event at 7 p.m.
The Senate will convene at 3 p.m. to consider the nomination of Brett Ludwig to be a U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. The chamber will vote at 5:30 p.m. to advance Ludwig’s nomination.
- The Senate is returning from a three-week recess. According to Politico, the chamber is no closer to agreeing on a new coronavirus relief package.
The House will meet at 9:30 a.m. for a brief pro forma session.
The Supreme Court is on summer recess.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has no public events scheduled.
Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris will attend virtual fundraisers.
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