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Trump's Supreme Court plans create major opportunity for Kamala Harris to go on offense

President Trump's Supreme Court plans have created a major opportunity for Sen. Kamala Harris to go on offense.

Why it matters: A confirmation fight puts Harris back in the spotlight thanks to her role on the Senate Judiciary Committee.


  • Allies still point to her grilling Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 (clips of which have racked up millions of views on YouTube) and they laugh at her "suggested ... hinted ... inferred?" exchange with Attorney General William Barr in May regarding the Mueller report.
  • These exchanges with Harris often go viral and they usually showcase a moment where she's riffing or offering a snap reaction to the person she's questioning. 
  • Those are the electric moments that you can't always learn during debate prep, and allies say they show that Harris is meticulous and skilled at the clapback — arguing both will serve her well in the Oct. 7 debate against VP Mike Pence. 

The big picture: In many ways, some Harris allies say she's more comfortable in the Senate Judiciary seat, grilling Trump nominees like Kavanaugh, Barr and former AG Jeff Sessions.

  • Some close to Harris say that being a good prosecutor doesn't always make you the best debater (though several say they think she'll do well next month). 

Between the lines: Harris has been criticized for reversing herself on big policies central to her career, like criminal justice and health care, and some worry that she's not as good on policy as Pence. "He's got more policy chops than Kamala," says a former Harris campaign aide.  

  • Other former Harris aides tells Axios that during debate prep in the presidential primary, she spent a lot of time going over policy to get to know the issues backwards and forwards. Another former aide tells Axios that she spent eight hours a day of preparation during the week of the debate. 

"She wants to know everything all the time even if she doesn’t need to," one former aide said, "so it can go off into wild tangents sometimes."

Universal mask use could save 130,000 lives in U.S.

Nearly 130,000 fewer people will die of COVID-19 this winter if 95% of Americans wear face masks in public, according to research published Friday.

Why it matters: “Increasing mask use is one of the best strategies that we have right now to delay the imposition of social distancing mandates," Dr. Christopher Murray of the University of Washington told the N.Y. Times.

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Israel and Sudan begin normalization process after call with Trump

Sudan and Israel announced today that they will “end the state of belligerence” between them and start the process of normalizing ties.

Driving the news: The announcement came after a phone call hosted by President Trump with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, and the head of Sudan's governing council, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

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We're all guinea pigs for Tesla's latest self-driving tech

Tesla is beta-testing its latest self-driving technology with a small group of early adopters, a move that alarms experts and makes every road user — including other motorists, pedestrians and cyclists — unwitting subjects in its ongoing safety experiment.

Why it matters: Tesla hailed the limited rollout of its "full self-driving" beta software as a key milestone, but the warnings on the car's touchscreen underscore the risk in using its own customers — rather than trained safety drivers — to validate the technology.

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Trump removes Sudan from state sponsors of terrorism list

President Trump signed Friday an order to remove Sudan from the State Department’s state sponsors of terrorism list, senior U.S. officials tell me.

Why it matters: Trump’s signature paves the way for the U.S. and Sudan to move forward on a larger deal — which will also include a Sudanese announcement on normalizing its relations with Israel.

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Big Ten football is back

The Big Ten football season kicks off tonight after months of a "will they, won't they" narrative.

The state of play: Each team will play eight regular season games, culminating in a ninth, cross-divisional matchup on Dec. 19 (i.e. the Big Ten Championship, but also No. 2 East vs. No. 2 West, etc.).

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Child care crisis is denting the labor market

Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

New data from the Pew Research Center shows that parents are being hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and as far as job losses go, mothers and fathers are faring equally poorly.

Why it matters: Economists have been warning for months that the pandemic could do long-term damage to the economy as people remain unemployed for longer stretches of time.

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"This guy": Trump-Biden personal venom was on full display during final debate

Joe Biden twice referred to President Trump as "this guy," and Trump called the former vice president's family "like a vacuum cleaner" for foreign money.

Why it matters: The personal venom — during Thursday's final presidential debate, in Nashville — was a reminder that even during a more normal debate, nothing this year is normal.

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Trump's hopes of nuclear deal with Putin come down to the wire

A surprise offer from Vladimir Putin has the U.S. and Russia once again circling a potential pre-election nuclear deal.

The big picture: The last treaty constraining the U.S. and Russia, New START, is due to expire on Feb. 5, 2021, two weeks after the next U.S. presidential inauguration. For the first time since the height of the Cold War, the nuclear guardrails could come off.

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