“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell came out Thursday in support of providing states with an additional $250 million in election security funding, an abrupt turnaround after more than a year of opposition by the Kentucky Republican on the issue,” the Washington Post reports.
Kamala Harris’ campaign is setting up an early goal post, vowing to achieve a top-three finish in the Iowa caucuses, CBS News reports.
Said campaign manager Juan Rodriguez: “We want to make sure that we have a strong top-three finish. I think that will kind of continue to give us a slingshot to go into that early primary state calendar and then make sure that we’re also competitive heading into Super Tuesday.”
“The internal watchdog for American spy agencies declined repeatedly in a briefing on Thursday to disclose to lawmakers the content of a potentially explosive whistle-blower complaint that is said to involve a discussion between President Trump and a foreign leader,” the New York Times reports.
“During a private session on Capitol Hill, Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community, told lawmakers he was unable to confirm or deny anything about the substance of the complaint, including whether it involved the president, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the closed-door conversation. The meeting was still underway.”
President Trump on Thursday sued Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance in an effort to block New York prosecutors from obtaining 8 years of his personal and corporate tax returns, Axios reports.
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“The acting DNI broke the law when he decided to basically intercept the Inspector General’s report… There’s nothing in the statute that gives the DNI the authority to do what he did. And the American people should be worried about that.”
— Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), on MSNBC.
David Frum: “Trump has been engaged in improper contacts with foreign governments for years, and built deep business relationships with foreign nationals. Russian assistance helped elect him. Money from wealthy Russians reportedly helped keep his businesses alive from 2006 to 2016. Since 2016, more and more foreign money has flowed Trump’s way. Trump literally has a hotel open on Pennsylvania Avenue to accept payments—there’s a big carpet in front, his name on the door, nothing even remotely clandestine about the flow of corruption. That corruption seeks returns. Again and again, Trump has acted in ways that align with the interests of foreign states, raising questions about his motives.”
“Exactly what was promised in this particular conversation, and to whom, America and the world wait to hear. Perhaps there exists a reasonable explanation for a conversation that the Trump administration is trying hard to keep from public view. But the basic grammar of all Trump scandals has been visible from the beginning: many secrets, no mysteries.”
Global News has obtained video showing Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau in blackface, the third instance of racist dress to come to light in 12 hours.
“It’s not clear when or where the video was taken, but the video shows Trudeau covered in what appears to be dark makeup and raising his hands in the air while laughing, sticking his tongue out and making faces.”
Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball updates its Electoral College ratings by making one slight adjustment, moving New Hampshire from Toss-up to Leans Democratic.
“The Granite State is almost always competitive, but Trump’s approval there has generally been weak. Throughout 2018, Gallup measured Trump’s approval in New Hampshire at 35% approve, 58% disapprove; more recently, Morning Consult found his approval rating 20 points underwater. The University of New Hampshire’s Granite State poll (42% approve/53% disapprove) and Gravis Marketing (44%/54%) from earlier this summer are better but still weak for the president. So this trend isn’t really new, but in reassessing our ratings, we thought it was more appropriate to list New Hampshire as Leaning Democratic.”
These changes are reflected on our consensus Electoral Vote Map.
President Trump is now an underdog in every state Hillary Clinton won in 2016.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) told the Albany Times Union that he doesn’t “know of any other Democrat who agrees” with Beto O’Rourke’s proposal to confiscate automatic weapons.
Said Schumer: “I don’t know of any other Democrat who agrees with Beto O’Rourke, but it’s no excuse not to go forward.”
Meanwhile, O’Rourke told CNN that many Democrats “are complicit in what we see right now” with regards to gun violence.
Aaron Blake: “The divergence in Iowa polls highlights a challenge for observers early in the 2020 election: While we have an abundance of national polls, early-state polls have been few and far between, and that makes it incredibly difficult to draw conclusions about whose organization and message are appealing to the voters who matter most. It’s not clear yet whether we have a true and accurate picture of the race, even as it stands now.”
“The pace of early 2020 polls is significantly slower in Iowa and in New Hampshire than it was four years ago. The poll Wednesday was just the second live-caller poll released in Iowa since the beginning of August, compared with six over the same period in 2015. In New Hampshire, there have been just two over the same span in 2019, compared with four in 2015.”
“If you expand the universe to all quality polls and stretch it further back in the race, the pattern holds. There have been just seven quality polls, including automated and online surveys, in Iowa since the start of May, compared with 14 over the same period in 2015.”
“A president with few ideological constants, Donald Trump has consistently been leery of getting entangled in overseas military engagements. It’s a stance shaped by his belief that wars in places like Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq have drained America’s resources at home and its reputation abroad,” the AP reports.
“Despite his tough talk about American military might, Trump has largely kept the United States out of international conflicts, a dynamic that has come into focus this week as his administration builds the case that Iran was directly responsible for a crippling attack on a Saudi oil field. Even as tensions escalate, fueled in part by Trump’s own rhetoric, the president has hesitated, harking back to his campaign pledge to avoid military conflict.”
“Pete Buttigieg on Thursday unveiled his plan to reform the U.S. healthcare system by offering everyone coverage under the federal Medicare program, but not forcing people to give up private heath insurance plans,” Reuters reports.
Vox: “The plan is more modest than what the most progressive candidates and voters support, which would be a single-payer system similar to Canada and Taiwan. But the Buttigieg plan is still ambitious and reflects the leftward shift of the Democratic mainstream: the more moderate candidates aren’t willing to scrap private coverage entirely, but they are still pushing for a much larger government role in providing health care to Americans.”
CNN: “Back in the 2000 election, John McCain opened his campaign bus up to reporters, offering extreme access as he engaged with journalists in between stops. The bus was called the Straight Talk Express and became a symbol of McCain’s commitment to providing press access..”
“Nearly 20 years later, Pete Buttigieg is going to try out the concept. Beginning Saturday, Buttigieg will go on a four-day swing through Iowa in which reporters from national and local outlets will be welcomed on his bus. Everything will be on the record.”
“While weeks of negotiations to form a coalition government lay ahead, conditions set by the parties could hobble the task within the allotted time, prompting a never-before held third election. With nearly all votes counted Thursday, the centrist Blue and White party stood at 33 seats in Israel’s 120-seat parliament. Netanyahu’s conservative Likud stood at 31 seats,” the AP reports.
“Neither party can form a government without the support of the election’s apparent kingmaker, Avigdor Lieberman of the Yisrael Beitenu party. His insistence on a secular government would force out Netanyahu’s traditional allies, the country’s two ultra-Orthodox parties and another nationalist-religious party.”
“Kentucky State Police seized a computer Tuesday from the Office of the Secretary of State as part of an ongoing investigation into how Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and her aides used voter data,” the Lexington Herald Leader reports.