Markey fends off Kennedy in the Massachusetts Senate primary, as Trump tours wreckage in Kenosha. It’s Wednesday, and this is your politics tip sheet. Sign up here to get On Politics in your inbox every weekday.
Where things stand
President Trump met with law enforcement officials during a visit to Kenosha, Wis., yesterday, touring burned-out businesses as he sought to bring attention to the destruction wrought in some places by protesters and rioters.
Speaking to reporters, he described the unrest in American cities that has grown out of protests against police brutality as “domestic terror.” (More on that term later in this newsletter.)
Trump likened the officer who shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back last week to a golfer who had choked on an easy putt. And for the second consecutive day he declined to denounce a 17-year-old supporter of his who was charged with killing two people during a night of clashes in the city last week.
Trump did not meet with members of Blake’s family. While he visited the city, the family participated in a separate event on the block where Blake was shot. They were joined by the Rev. Jesse Jackson at what became a community festival.
Ed Markey defeated Joe Kennedy in the Massachusetts Democratic Senate primary yesterday, marshaling his strong support among the party’s left wing and thwarting a challenge from a member of the state’s most powerful political family.
Richard Neal, the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, also fended off a younger opponent in Alex Morse, though in this case the challenger was the one with the progressive bona fides. As of this morning, Neal led Morse by nearly 20 percentage points in the primary for Massachusetts’s First Congressional District.
Remember the next stimulus package, that thing Congress was breathlessly haggling over about a month ago — until all of a sudden it wasn’t? Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, still says we need that. And it looks as if most Americans agree.
Testifying before a congressional coronavirus subcommittee yesterday, Mnuchin said that the economy was recovering from the pandemic-induced recession but that “there is more work to be done.” He said he would keep pushing for a “bipartisan agreement” on another round of stimulus.
A survey released yesterday by Gallup and Franklin Templeton, the investment firm, found that 70 percent of Americans said the federal government should send out a new round of stimulus checks. That included more than six in 10 Republicans and roughly two-thirds of independents.
The Trump administration yesterday announced a nationwide ban on evictions through the end of the year, going beyond the now-expired moratorium on evictions that Congress passed in the spring as part of the CARES Act.
To be protected from eviction under the plan, tenants must show a substantial loss of household income and must have made an offer to pay partial rent. Tenants also need to attest that eviction would be likely to leave them homeless or force them to live with others in close quarters.
Joe Biden’s campaign plans to report that it raised a record sum in August — over $300 million — more than doubling his previous month’s haul and shattering the previous monthly high, people familiar with the matter told our reporter Shane Goldmacher.
The surge in fund-raising has been driven by both high-dollar donors and smaller contributors, who have flocked to the Biden campaign particularly since he announced Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate.
An internal Postal Service audit found that election boards across the country had sent over one million mail-in ballots for this year’s primaries too late for them to reliably be counted.
The study, which looked at ballots cast from early June to mid-August, has highlighted concerns about whether the post office will be able to handle the high volume of mail ballots expected this fall.
“There are concerns surrounding integrating stakeholder processes with Postal Service processes to help ensure the timely delivery of election and political mail,” the auditors wrote.
Photo of the day
President Trump met with business owners near the remains of a camera shop in Kenosha that was damaged during demonstrations.
Is D.H.S. taking the threat of white supremacist terror seriously?
When the Department of Homeland Security announced last year that it would begin to treat white supremacist terrorism as a primary threat, it came after a decade of pressure from activists and local law enforcement agencies.
But now, a year after the department stated its intention to focus on combating white supremacist violence, little progress has been made, as our reporter Zolan Kanno-Youngs writes in a new article. To dive into the details, we spoke to Zolan and Katie Benner, who contributed reporting.
As you describe in your article, a year ago this month the Department of Homeland Security published a document announcing that it would put a new focus on reining in domestic terrorism and white supremacist groups. What led to that decision, and why was it a milestone for the agency?
Zolan Kanno-Youngs: Federal law enforcement recorded an uptick of suspected domestic terrorism crimes in 2019, including many investigations that involved some form of white supremacy. The Department of Homeland Security was created in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks to protect the United States from national security threats, but the focus at that time was mainly on foreign terrorist organizations.
While the department is not the lead investigator in domestic terrorism cases, it does shoulder the task of sharing intelligence to keep federal, state and local officials informed about the latest threats to the United States. The agency has long focused on the foreign terrorist threat, but it has faced a backlash for years for underplaying the dangers posed by domestic extremists, including white nationalists and anti-government groups. So it was certainly noteworthy when the department issued a framework focusing on domestic terrorism and singling out white supremacist extremism as a primary national security threat.
Not long after that announcement, Trump installed Chad Wolf as the acting secretary of homeland security. Has Wolf followed through on the plans outlined in that initial document to contain white nationalist groups and grass-roots paramilitary activity?
Zolan Kanno-Youngs: When the Homeland Security Department released the strategy framework last September, agency officials said the public would soon see an implementation plan that would detail how the federal government would work with local partners to prevent acts of extremist violence. Weeks later, then-acting secretary Kevin McAleenan announced he would resign. His successor, Chad Wolf, said in a speech in January that the plan would be ready in the coming weeks. Fast-forward seven months and no such plan has been released.
While the strategy released last year focused on collaborating with local authorities, Wolf has faced widespread criticism for engaging in the opposite.
Wolf made the decision to deploy tactical teams from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol to crack down on unrest in Portland, Ore., even after local representatives rejected help from the Trump administration. Wolf cited the need to defend a federal courthouse in the city from crowds of protesters that grew in size after the federal deployment. He has continued to cast blame on local Democratic leaders.
In order to contain domestic terrorist groups, how essential is cooperation with local law enforcement? You write that the original document spoke directly to the role that local officials and community groups should play. How has Wolf’s D.H.S. handled that aspect of this work?
Zolan Kanno-Youngs: Most law enforcement officials would say that information sharing between federal and local law enforcement is crucial to preventing crimes involving extremism.
Under Wolf, those partnerships have been put to the test.
Former senior homeland security officials have raised concerns that the agency has been transformed into a political tool for Trump’s White House, prompting local officials to refrain from working with the agency. An interesting example is in Portland, where armed right-wing activists arrived over the weekend and clashed with demonstrators. One person wearing the hat of a far-right group was also shot and killed.
Senior administration officials, including Wolf, have called for local representatives to accept more assistance from the federal government to quell the unrest. Ted Wheeler, the Democratic mayor of the city, had a simple message in a letter to Trump last week: “Stay away, please.”
The F.B.I. is also responsible for combating domestic terrorism, and you write that since George Floyd’s killing in late May, the bureau has opened investigations into over 300 potential threats. Do we know what kinds of groups the F.B.I. is most concerned with here?
Katie Benner: The Justice Department’s task force is focused on anti-government extremists, no matter whether their ideology is more aligned with far-left or far-right politics. While the department has opened hundreds of domestic terrorism investigations since George Floyd was killed, it has so far charged a far-right extremist group, boogaloo, with crimes that arose from the civil rights protests.
“Somehow, the notion of committing violence in the name of an anti-government dogma — be it antifa, boogaloo, or any of the other espoused ideologies — has been gaining traction at an alarming rate,” a federal prosecutor in Texas testified before lawmakers this summer.