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Trump adds Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz to list of potential Supreme Court justices

President Trump unveiled Wednesday his revamped list of potential Supreme Court justices that includes 20 new names, including Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Neb.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) .

Why it matters: Top aides and advisers to the president urged him months ago to put together a new list of justices ahead of Election Day to pump up his base and remind them why a Republican needs to remain in the White House.


What we're hearing: Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who has long been viewed in Trumpworld as next in line to fill a vacancy on the bench, is still at the top of the list, along with Judge Amul Thapar and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).

  • Many within the conservative movement have been lobbying the Trump administration to give more consideration to Lee, especially after his performance fiercely defending the Constitution during Trump's impeachment proceedings, one source familiar with the discussions tells Axios.

Behind the scenes: The list's release was originally slated to take place prior to the Republican National Convention — providing another talking point for Trump's re-election campaign.

  • White House Counsel Pat Cipollone played a big role in the creation of the list, sources involved in the process tell Axios.

The bottom line: "The list is a political statement as much as a working document," one of the sources said. “You're trying to create as many touch points as possible to people who you want to re-elect him as president, and energize them to help him get re-elected."

  • "But secondly, it is a working document, in the sense that he’s making a commitment to pick from the list, so you can't just throw it to the political wind. You have to be committed to only putting people on the list that you’ll be comfortable appointing to the court.”

Anxious days for airline workers as mass layoffs loom

The clock is ticking for tens of thousands of anxious airline employees, who face mass reductions when the government's current payroll support program expires on Sept. 30.

Where it stands: Airline CEOs met Thursday with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who said President Trump would support an additional $25 billion from Congress to extend the current aid package through next March.

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House Democrats ask DOJ watchdog for "emergency" probe of Durham's Trump-Russia investigation

Four Democratic House committee chairs on Friday asked the Justice Department's inspector general to launch an "emergency investigation" into whether Attorney General Bill Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham, his appointee, are taking actions that could "improperly influence the upcoming presidential election."

Catch up quick: Last year, Barr tapped Durham to conduct a sweeping investigation into the origins of the FBI's 2016 Russia probe, after he and President Trump claimed that it was unjustified and a "hoax."

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U.S. nutritional supplements retailer takes first step to sell to China’s Harbin Pharma

GNC Holdings, the Pittsburgh-based nutritional supplements retailer, received bankruptcy court approval to sell itself to China’s Harbin Pharmafor $770 million, although the deal still faces U.S. political pressures over how GNC customer data is protected.

Why it matters: It's a reminder that the U.S.-China merger mess goes well beyond smartphone apps, with Sen. Marco Rubio asking for a CFIUS review.

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The cumulative climate change effects of Trump's regulatory rollbacks

Reproduced from Rhodium Climate Service; Chart: Axios Visuals

The Trump administration's scuttling or weakening of key Obama-era climate policies could together add 1.8 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent to the atmosphere by 2035, a Rhodium Group analysis concludes.

Why it matters: The 1.8 gigatons is "more than the combined energy emissions of Germany, Britain and Canada in one year," per the New York Times, which first reported on the study.

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Boeing's dual crises: How the pandemic has deepened its 737 MAX crunch

The grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX was the worst crisis in the plane-maker’s century-long history. At least until the global pandemic hit.

Why it matters: Wall Street expects it will be cleared to fly again before year-end. Orders for what was once the company’s biggest moneymaker were expected to rebound after the ungrounding, but now the unprecedented slump in travel will dash airlines’ appetite for the MAX and any other new planes, analysts say — putting more pressure on the hard-hit company.

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New downloads of TikTok, WeChat to be blocked on Sunday

The Commerce Department issued Friday an order blocking new downloads of WeChat and TikTok in the U.S. as of Sept. 20.

The state of play: President Trump has been in a standoff with TikTok, threatening to ban the app if it's Chinese owner, ByteDance, does not relinquish control to a U.S. company. A deal is in the works with the American tech company Oracle, but would need to go through before Sunday to prevent TikTok from being ousted from app stores.

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Michael Bloomberg unleashes $100 million "wall to wall" ad blitz to take down Trump in Florida

Mike Bloomberg's $100 millionFlorida blitz begins today and will continue "wall to wall" in all 10 TV markets through Election Day, advisers tell me.

Why it matters: Bloomberg thinks that Joe Biden putting away Florida is the most feasible way to head off the national chaos we could have if the outcome of Trump v. Biden remained uncertain long after Election Day.

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Biden's hardline Russia reset

When he talks about Russia, Joe Biden has sounded like Ronald Reagan all summer, setting up a potential Day 1 confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin if Biden were to win.

Why it matters: Biden has promised a forceful response against Russia for both election interference and alleged bounty payments to target American troops in Afghanistan. But being tougher than President Trump could be the easy part. The risk is overdoing it and making diplomacy impossible.

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