Trump has left the White House to travel to Florida and North Carolina, where he will deliver two speeches later today.
The president will first travel to Jupiter, Florida, to speak about his “environmental accomplishments for the people of Florida.” Trump will then fly to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for a campaign speech.
Recent polls of Florida and North Carolina show Trump locked in very close races with Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Both states voted for the president in 2016.
Despite his severe skepticism of the House investigation of Louis DeJoy, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said the postmaster general would “cooperate completely” with the oversight committee’s inquiry.
“We serve in a great country where you’re innocent until proven guilty, especially when that guilt is thrown your way by members of Congress,” Meadows said.
Democrats on the oversight committee have said they plan to investigate DeJoy over accusations that he pressured employees of his former business to donate to Republican candidates.
Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, dismissed the House investigation of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy as politically motivated.
But DeJoy’s former longtime director of human resources confirmed the story to the Washington Post.
“Louis was a national fundraiser for the Republican party. He asked employees for money. We gave him the money, and then he reciprocated by giving us big bonuses,” David Young said.
House to investigate DeJoy over alleged campaign finance violations
House Democrats plan to investigate the postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, over allegations that he encouraged employees at his former business to donate to Republican candidates in violation of campaign finance laws.
The Washington Post reported yesterday:
Five people who worked for DeJoy’s former business, New Breed Logistics, say they were urged by DeJoy’s aides or by the chief executive himself to write checks and attend fundraisers at his 15,000-square-foot gated mansion beside a Greensboro, N.C., country club. There, events for Republicans running for the White House and Congress routinely fetched $100,000 or more apiece.
Two other employees familiar with New Breed’s financial and payroll systems said DeJoy would instruct that bonus payments to staffers be boosted to help defray the cost of their contributions, an arrangement that would be unlawful.
Democrats, who have previously criticized DeJoy over his handling of the US Postal Service, pledged to hold him accountable.
The White House is trying to walk back Trump’s disparaging comment about Pentagon leaders, after the president claimed senior officials at the defense department were beholden to government contractors.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows claimed Trump’s comment was “directed about the military industrial complex.”
Trump said yesterday that Pentagon leaders probably weren’t happy with his leadership, telling reporters at a White House press conference, “The top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t because they want to do nothing but fight wars so all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.”
Trump is defending his campaign’s spending practices, as national polls show him trailing Democratic nominee Joe Biden by an average of about 8 points.
“My Campaign spent a lot of money up front in order to compensate for the false reporting and Fake News concerning our handling of the China Virus. Now they see the GREAT job we have done, and we have 3 times more than we had 4 years ago – & are up in polls,” Trump said in a tweet.
The tweet appears to be a reaction to this New York Times story about how the president’s cash advantage over Biden evaporated in recent months:
Brad Parscale, the former campaign manager, liked to call Mr. Trump’s re-election war machine an ‘unstoppable juggernaut.’ But interviews with more than a dozen current and former campaign aides and Trump allies, and a review of thousands of items in federal campaign filings, show that the president’s campaign and the R.N.C. developed some profligate habits as they burned through hundreds of millions of dollars. Since Bill Stepien replaced Mr. Parscale in July, the campaign has imposed a series of belt-tightening measures that have reshaped initiatives, including hiring practices, travel and the advertising budget.
Under Mr. Parscale, more than $350 million — almost half of the $800 million spent — went to fund-raising operations, as no expense was spared in finding new donors online. The campaign assembled a big and well-paid staff and housed the team at a cavernous, well-appointed office in the Virginia suburbs; outsize legal bills were treated as campaign costs; and more than $100 million was spent on a television advertising blitz before the party convention, the point when most of the electorate historically begins to pay close attention to the race.
Among the splashiest and perhaps most questionable purchases was a pair of Super Bowl ads the campaign reserved for $11 million, according to Advertising Analytics — more than it has spent on TV in some top battleground states. It was a vanity splurge that allowed Mr. Trump to match the billionaire Michael R. Bloomberg’s buy for the big game.
This is Joan Greve in Washington, taking over for Martin Belam.
As the president tries to address the ongoing fallout from the Atlantic story, dangerous fires continue to burn in California.
The AP reports:
Wildfires have burned more than 2m acres (809,000 hectares) in California this year, setting a state record even as crews battled dozens of growing blazes in sweltering temperatures Monday that strained the electrical grid and threatened power outages for millions.
The previous high was 1.96m acres (793,184 hectares) burned in 2018. the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, began tracking the numbers in 1987.
Lynne Tolmachoff, spokeswoman for Cal Fire, said the most striking thing about the record was how early it was set, with the most dangerous part of the year ahead.
Edward Helmore reports for us this morning on how Donald Trump is expected to announce a new list of potential supreme court justices:
The White House is expected to announce a new list of potential supreme court justices as soon as Wednesday, a move designed to shore up conservative support for Donald Trump as his race for the White House against Joe Biden enters the final stretch.
Trump’s decision to name a list of possible picks during the 2016 election is widely seen to have boosted support among conservatives otherwise queasy about backing him against Hillary Clinton. Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, both now on the court, were included on that list of reliably conservative picks.
And with that, before we all get replaced by the robot that wrote an op-ed for us today, I will hand over from London to my colleague Joan E Greve across the water.
The president is back to pushing the line that the Democratic party are in favour of measures to try and arrest the spread of Covid-19 not for their own sake, but as a political tool against him.
It is worth remembering that while Donald Trump describes shutdowns as ridiculous, the country has the largest toll of coronavirus cases, 6.3m, and deaths, 189,000, in the world.
He was earlier specifically railing against efforts to keep the coronavirus contained in New York.
Over in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been appearing in the second day of a court hearing that is expected to last four weeks and which will decide whether he can be extradited to the US. It’s been an eventful morning in the court, as my colleague Ben Quinn reports:
Julian Assange has been warned by the judge in his extradition case that he would be removed from the court and tried in his absence after he interjected while a lawyer for the US authorities sparred with a high-profile witness giving evidence in support of the WikiLeaks founder.
The incident came on the second day of Assange’s extradition hearing at the Old Bailey, where the founder of the legal charity Reprieve said “grave violations of law” such as the use of US drones for targeted strikes in Pakistan had been brought to light with the help of documents published by WikiLeaks.
Questioned by James Lewis QC, acting for the US authorities, Clive Stafford-Smith was told, however, that Assange was not being prosecuted because of the leaked cables which he had cited. Rather, the US charges related to the publication of the names of informants in Iraq and Afghanistan that had put their lives at risk.
As the row developed, Assange attempted to intervene, and was told by the judge “I understand you’ll hear things you disagree with … and you’d like to contradict and speak about these things yourself, but this is not your opportunity to do so.”