Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is sending his colleagues a letter calling for “another comprehensive, bipartisan” Covid relief bill. | Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo
HAPPY THURSDAY. OVER THE LAST 24 HOURS, we’ve seen the two Senate leaders — MITCH MCCONNELL and CHUCK SCHUMER — strike diametrically different tones and stake out opposite positions on a new economic relief package, helping again shine a light on the very rocky road toward another deal in the next four weeks.
SCHUMER, the Senate minority leader, is sending his colleagues a letter calling for “another comprehensive, bipartisan” Covid relief bill.
HERE IS WHAT SCHUMER has to say about the Republicans’ small-bore bill we described in Wednesday’s Playbook — which we expect to get toward the floor next week: “Republicans may call their proposal ‘skinny,’ but it would be more appropriate to call it ‘emaciated.’ Their proposal appears to be completely inadequate and, by every measure, fails to meet the needs of the American people. With no money for rental assistance, no money for nutrition assistance, and no money for state and local services, the census, or safe elections, Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans would be making another unacceptable and ineffective attempt at providing relief.”
SO … SCHUMER wants big. REPUBLICANS believe they can only pass small, “targeted” Covid relief. These are irreconcilable views. Read Marianne LeVine for more about the state of play … The Schumer letter
AND HERE’S WHAT MCCONNELL HAD TO SAY WEDNESDAY in Kentucky: He said he doesn’t know if another stimulus deal will get done this month: “I do think we do need to reach agreement,” he said, per CNN’s ALI ZASLAV, but “the cooperative spirit we had in March and April has dissipated.”
— AND THEN THERE’S THIS: “U.S. government debt will nearly equal the size of the entire economy for first time since World War II, CBO finds,” by WaPo’s Jeff Stein
— AND THIS: BEN WHITE: “Trump’s rebound story meets mounting bankruptcies”: “Economic-relief money drying up in August and September will mark a final blow for some firms that had managed to hang on so far with government aid — which now appears unlikely to be renewed for weeks, if ever.
“Cold weather and flu season could end outdoor dining, halt other indoor activities and contribute to Covid-19 outbreaks at workplaces. And economists expect weak demand and tight credit — especially for smaller businesses — to add to the tens of thousands of firms that have already collapsed amid the Covid-19 pandemic, while restraining entrepreneurs hoping to replace them.”
DEPT. OF CAN HE DO THAT? … NYT’S MAGGIE HABERMAN and JESS MCKINLEY: “Trump Moves to Cut Federal Funding From Democratic Cities”: “President Trump has directed federal officials to find ways to cut funding to a string of cities controlled by Democrats, citing violence amid protests against systemic racism in policing, a move that threatens billions of dollars for many of the country’s largest urban hubs as the president makes the unrest a centerpiece of his re-election campaign.
“Mr. Trump laid out the directive in a memo, released Wednesday, to Russell T. Vought, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Attorney General William P. Barr. It accuses state and local officials of abdicating their duties.
“‘Anarchy has recently beset some of our states and cities,’ Mr. Trump wrote in the memo, mentioning a few cities specifically: Portland, Ore.; Washington; Seattle; and the president’s birth city, New York. ‘My administration will not allow federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones.’”
— THIS IS A TRIED AND TRUE TRUMP TACTIC, and he usually doesn’t follow through. And legally, he might not be able to do so. REMEMBER WHEN he said he was going to withhold funds from the University of California, Berkeley?
DEPT. OF YOU CAN’T DO THAT … CNN: “Trump appears to encourage North Carolinians to vote twice to test the system,” by Maegan Vasquez
BARR TRIES TO EXPLAIN THE THUGS ON AIRPLANES THING to WOLF BLITZER on CNN: BLITZER: “In an interview this week, the president claimed that he heard about a plane, in his words loaded with thugs wearing dark uniforms from a certain city that was headed to the Republican National Convention here in Washington, in his words, to do big damage. He didn’t offer any specifics. He later the next day changed this story, the plane wasn’t coming to Washington, it was leaving Washington. Have you asked the FBI to investigate this?”
BARR: “I don’t have to ask the FBI because we received numerous reports of individuals coming from Portland, Washington, Seattle and several other cities to come into Washington for the specific purpose of causing a riot.” BLITZER: “Were they wearing black uniforms and were they loaded, if you will?”
BARR: “I think there were many on planes. We’ve received multiple reports on this topic.” BLITZER: “And so what the president was talking about was information that you provided the president –” BARR: “I don’t know what the president was specifically referring to … but I will say that we are trying to follow these things and we receive numerous reports of people coming from other cities into Washington, as we receive many reports of people going into Kenosha from various states.”
PELOSI SAYS SHE WAS DUPED BY HER HAIR SALON … S.F. CHRONICLE: “Nancy Pelosi calls salon visit a ‘setup,’ refuses to apologize,” by Tal Kopan and Richard Swan: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined to apologize Wednesday for her visit to a San Francisco hair salon that was supposed to be closed under the city’s coronavirus pandemic rules, and suggested the business had tricked her.
“Pelosi said she took responsibility for falling for the ‘setup’ to have her hair done inside the salon Monday. But the San Francisco Democrat said that if anyone owes an apology, it’s the salon. ‘I think that this salon owes me an apology, for setting me up,’ she said at an event about school reopenings in San Francisco’s Noe Valley.”
VACCINE POLITICS — “Debate rages over whether FDA should use emergency powers to clear a coronavirus vaccine early,” by WaPo’s Laurie McGinley and Carolyn Johnson: “With concerns growing about the politicization of the FDA amid a botched White House rollout of the agency’s emergency authorization of convalescent plasma and sharply criticized comments by FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, some scientists and bioethicists are demanding the agency forgo use of its emergency authority for a vaccine. They worry its very flexibility, which gives FDA officials broad latitude, could make it easier for the White House to pressure the agency into clearing an unproven vaccine before Election Day, Nov. 3.”
HOLLY OTTERBEIN in Philadelphia: “‘Can you imagine if we’re waiting on Pennsylvania?’: State Democrats scramble to avoid voting fiasco”: “With concerns about an Election Day debacle rising in this critical swing state, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf privately convened a group of Philadelphia Democrats recently to underscore the consequences of another vote-counting fiasco like the one that took place in the June primary.
“The city took more than two weeks to count all of its votes due to a massive surge in mail voting amid the coronavirus pandemic — and a repeat performance might make it unclear who won the presidential election in the key battleground state long past Nov. 3.
“Wolf’s intervention accentuated the fears that state Democrats have of the nation being forced to wait on Pennsylvania to call the election — and that President Donald Trump might exploit the fact that it could take days or weeks to count mail ballots in states across the country. Trump has already stoked fears of mail-in voting, and Democrats worry that he could falsely claim that delays in Pennsylvania and elsewhere are proof of fraud, or perhaps even declare victory before all of the votes are tallied.”
INTERNAL MEMOS ON THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE MODERATORS: NOAH OPPENHEIM on NBC’S KRISTEN WELKER … SUZANNE SCOTT on Fox News’ CHRIS WALLACE … The full slate of moderators also includes USA Today’s SUSAN PAGE and C-SPAN’s STEVE SCULLY
SECOND DUDE NEWS … COURTNEY O’DONNELL is joining the BIDEN-HARRIS campaign as DOUG EMHOFF’S chief of staff. She was comms director to JILL BIDEN in the Obama administration.
THE JUICE — BOLD PAC, the campaign arm of the CONGRESSIONAL HISPANIC CAUCUS, is transferring $2.7 MILLION to its independent expenditure efforts to boost Latino candidates running for Congress in the general election. It previously invested roughly the same amount in competitive primaries.
TRUMP’S THURSDAY — The president will have lunch with Secretary of State MIKE POMPEO at 12:30 p.m. At 5:25 p.m., he’ll leave the White House for Latrobe, Pa. At 7 p.m., he’ll speak in Latrobe, and at 8:35 p.m., he’ll head back to D.C. He’s scheduled back at the White House at 10 p.m.
JOE BIDEN is traveling with JILL BIDEN to Kenosha, Wis., where he’ll “hold a community meeting in Kenosha to bring together Americans to heal and address the challenges we face,” according to his campaign. They’ll also “make a local stop.”
— AP’S BILL BARROW in Wilmington, Del., and WILL WEISSERT in Atlanta: “In Kenosha, Biden to test his promise to unify the nation”: “Campaigning for more than a year as a calming, unifying figure, Joe Biden and his core pitch for the presidency face the most intense test yet when he travels to Kenosha, Wisconsin, a city wrenched by police and protest violence that makes it a microcosm of the nation’s election-year reckoning with systemic racism.
“The 77-year-old former vice president, traveling two days after President Donald Trump visited the same city, plans to meet Thursday with family of Jacob Blake, who remains hospitalized after being shot seven times in the back by a white police officer as authorities attempted to arrest him. Biden also plans a community discussion that he indicated would draw business figures, civic leaders and law enforcement officials.”
JOHN HARRIS column: “Trump is Winning the Psychological War on Democracy”
ABOUT THOSE POLLS … STEVE SHEPARD: “President Donald Trump and Joe Biden have emerged from the national party conventions roughly where they were before: with Biden holding a significant lead, though his advantage is far from secure.
“A glut of new national and state polling out since the Republican National Convention ended last week shows either a small bump for Trump or no bounce at all. The net result: Biden still holds a high-single-digit lead nationally, along with a smaller-but-consistent advantage in the battleground states. Biden’s lead over Trump is large in some swing-state polls, while others show Trump still behind but within striking distance.” POLITICO
MUCK READ — “Postal Service Has Paid DeJoy’s Former Company $286 Million Since 2013,” by NYT’s Luke Broadwater and Catie Edmondson: “The documents also show a surge in revenue for XPO from the Postal Service since Mr. DeJoy took over on June 15. The Postal Service paid XPO Logistics and its subsidiaries about $14 million over the past 10 weeks, compared with $3.4 million during the same time frame in 2019 and $4.7 million in 2018.”
PIPELINE POLITICS … REUTERS: “Calls mount for Germany to rethink Nord Stream 2 after Navalny poisoning”: “A European response that involves the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is needed against Russia after the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny with a Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent, some politicians and diplomats in Germany said on Thursday.
“Chancellor Angela Merkel said she expected Moscow to join efforts to clear up what happened and that Germany would consult its NATO allies about how to respond, raising the prospect of new Western sanctions on Russia.”
SCOOP — “T-Mobile CEO privately argues against Trump’s reelection — with a warning for Democrats,” by John Hendel: “‘Democrats/Liberals, if we want to LOSE THIS ELECTION, we should keep saying and repeating the phrase “Defund the Police” and associate the phrase with our candidates,’ [Mike] Sievert, who heads the country’s second largest wireless carrier, wrote following the unrest in Kenosha, Wis. ‘This phrase is a sure fire way to hand Donald Trump and many R’s in Congress another term.’
“Sievert’s post, on the locked personal account he shares among friends, was unusually partisan by the standards of corporate leaders who need to maintain relationships with both Republicans and Democrats. An image of the Facebook remarks taken shortly after Sievert posted them was shared with POLITICO.”
MAUREEN DOWD GOES LONG: “Jane Fonda, Intergalactic Eco-Warrior in a Red Coat”
Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at [email protected].
MEDIAWATCH — Emma Carrasco is joining NBCUniversal News Group as SVP for corporate affairs. She previously was SVP for global engagement at National Geographic Society.
TRANSITIONS — Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson will be the next president of the Children’s Defense Fund. He currently is president and CEO of the Deaconess Foundation, and previously co-chaired the Ferguson Commission. … Jerika Richardson will be SVP for equitable justice and strategic initiatives at the National Urban League. She most recently has been senior adviser and secretary to the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board. Announcement … Cory Harris is now legislative director for Rep. Jim Baird (R-Ind.). He previously was government relations manager at the American Feed Industry Association.
ENGAGED — Cameron Easley and Joanna Piacenza, both senior editors at Morning Consult, got engaged last week. He proposed after they had completed their early morning newsletter duties in northern Wisconsin at her family’s lakeside cabins. They met nearly three years ago when she joined the Morning Consult newsroom. Pic
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Sarah Cannon, legislative director for Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), and Jared Eichhorn, director of federal affairs for the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, welcomed Joanna (Jojo) Cannon Eichhorn on Tuesday night. She came in at 7 lbs, 6 oz and 20 inches. Pic
BIRTHWEEK (was Wednesday): Victoria Bonney, comms director for Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) (h/t Mark Greenbaum)
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Edward Felsenthal, editor-in-chief and CEO of Time. What he’s reading: “‘Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire.’ Tina Brown gave it to me in the early days of The Daily Beast and said it was riveting. Twelve summers later, I finally got to reading it. As usual, Tina was right.” Playbook Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: Brian Stelter, “Reliable Sources” anchor and senior media correspondent at CNN, is 35 … Rick Perlstein is 51 … John Mercurio of INATBA … POLITICO’s Mohana Ravindranath … Doug Herman … Lucia Alonzo, COS at Ferox Strategies … John Zogby is 72 … CBS’ Erica Brown … Sarah Curran … Jonathan Silver … Rita Hite, EVP at the American Forest Foundation (h/ts Jon Haber) … Dominic Hawkins of Deloitte … Todd Lindeman … Elina Shirazi, Fox News multimedia reporter, is 26 … Teresa Davis, Pentagon deputy press secretary, is 3-0 (h/t Brian Morgenstern) … Trump White House alum Jessica Ditto … Maggie Christ of the Campaign Legal Center … Graeme Crews, senior media strategist at the Southern Poverty Law Center … Mary C. Curtis, Roll Call columnist … NBC News’ Adam Reiss … AFSCME’s Tiffany Ricci … Paul Merski, top lobbyist for ICBA (h/t Karen Marangi) … Gary Zaetz …
… WSJ’s Kristina Peterson is 37 … former Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.), now a senior policy adviser at Holland & Knight, is 7-0 … former Rep. John Olver (D-Mass.) is 84 … former Rep. Michael Huffington (R-Calif.) is 73 … Mario Draghi is 73 … Michigan state Rep. Mari Manoogian is 28 … Shawn Sachs, CEO of Sunshine Sachs … Kim Rubey, head of social impact and philanthropy at Airbnb … Curtis Jablonka … Carly Sandstrom … Greg Jordan-Detamore … Tiffany Waddell, senior adviser and director of federal relations for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan … Adam Ezring … Tripp Donnelly, founder and CEO of REQ … Alex McConnell … Hillary Allen … John McDonald … Mara Stark-Alcala … Joshua Gross … Flin Hyre … Kathi Wise … Jon Corley … Bob Simmons … Niki Grant … Jayne Visser … Lois Kimmel … Jim Gilio … Melinda Warner … Liz Hitchcock … Caroline Lehman (h/t Dave Molina)