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Biden campaign vows virus focus

Joe Biden's campaign contends that President Trump's talk of delaying November's election is an effort to distract, and vows to be what a Biden aide called "laser-focused" on Trump's pandemic response.

Why it matters: After aides convinced the president that the issue was hurting him badly in the polls, Trump has tried for the past two weeks to show renewed focus on the coronavirus, including the restoration of his briefings.


  • So the day-by-day effort to define his handling of the crisis carries high stakes for both campaigns.

A new Biden document, "Trump Broken Promises on COVID-19," declares support for "a nationwide testing campaign and ... advances in faster, more affordable, more accurate testing — as Joe Biden has repeatedly called for."

  • "Testing sites are hard to access, and lines are long," the Biden document says.
  • "The criteria for who needs a test is still unclear. And supply-chain bottlenecks mean some Americans are waiting a week or more for results, effectively rendering the test useless."

What they're saying: Tim Murtaugh, Trump campaign communications director, said in a statement to Axios: "President Trump has been leading the country through the coronavirus crisis and has taken dramatic, effective steps to protect the health and safety of our citizens. ... "

  • "The testing system the President implemented is nothing short of a major success, with nearly 60 million tests conducted to date. When the world learned that China had been lying to the world about the origin and danger of the coronavirus, he held them accountable and withdrew funding from the WHO ... ."
  • "As always, Biden talks a big game, but his record and rhetoric do not hold up to scrutiny."

Read the Biden document.

Clinton and Warren speaking the same night at Dem convention

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton both are slated to speak on the Wednesday of the Democratic convention — Aug. 19 — four sources familiar with the planning told Axios.

Why it matters: That's the same night Joe Biden's running mate (to be revealed next week) will address the nation. Clinton and Warren represent two of the most influential wise-women of Democratic politics with the potential to turn out millions of establishment and progressive voters in November.

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Trump says he's considering order on pre-existing condition protections, which already exists

President Trump announced on Friday he will pursue an executive order requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, something that is already law.

Why it matters: The Affordable Care Act already requires insurers to cover pre-existing conditions. The Trump administration is currently arguing in a case before the Supreme Court to strike down that very law — including its pre-existing condition protections.

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Trump says he's prepared to sign executive orders on coronavirus aid

President Trump, speaking from a podium at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., on Friday announced that he is prepared to issue executive orders suspending payroll taxes and extending enhanced unemployment benefits through the end of 2020, and halting student loan interest and payments indefinitely.

Why it matters: The impending orders come after talks between the White House and Democratic leadership collapsed Friday afternoon. But Trump said he remains committed to striking a deal with Congress on a broader stimulus package before signing the orders.

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Trump affirms: "We are going a different way" on coronavirus aid

President Trump tweeted on Friday that his administration is "going a different way" with coronavirus aid after negotiations with congressional Democrats stalled again, suggesting he will use an executive order to address stimulus spending.

What he's saying: "Pelosi and Schumer only interested in Bailout Money for poorly run Democrat cities and states. Nothing to do with China Virus! Want one trillion dollars. No interest. We are going a different way!" Trump tweeted.

Trump's swift, sweeping China offensive

President Trump's rhetoric on China has tended to run hotter than his actions — until now.

Why it matters: Even at the height of Trump's trade war, his administration never hit China as hard, as fast, and on as many fronts as it is right now.

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Liberty University's Jerry Falwell Jr. agrees to “indefinite leave of absence”

Jerry Falwell Jr. will take an “indefinite leave of absence” from his his roles as president and chancellor of Liberty University after posting a photo of himself with unzipped pants and an arm around a woman on social media, according to the school.

The state of play: The picture, which has since been deleted, drew backlash and charges of hypocrisy from conservative political figures because the university's honor code strictly prohibits students from having "sexual relations outside of a biblically-ordained marriage," and recommends they dress with“appropriateness” and “modesty."

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White House recommends Trump issue executive orders on coronavirus aid

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said President Trump should sign executive orders unilaterally addressing coronavirus stimulus spending after negotiations with congressional Democrats stalled again on Friday.

Why it matters: Friday was viewed as a self-imposed deadline to negotiate a new relief bill. But after an intense week of negotiations on Capitol Hill, White House and Democratic leadership failed to reach a deal on delivering much needed aid to Americans and businesses.

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Counterintelligence chief: Russia aiming to “denigrate” Biden ahead of election

National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina said Friday that the Russian government is "using a range of measures" to "denigrate former Vice President Biden" before the November election.

Why it matters: Evanina warned that some Kremlin-linked actors are trying to support President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television, while others are spreading false claims about corruption to undermine Biden and the Democratic Party.

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