Home featured 2020 Election Updates: House Committee Seeks to Hold Pompeo in Contempt

2020 Election Updates: House Committee Seeks to Hold Pompeo in Contempt

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaking during the Republican National Convention on Tuesday.
Credit…Evan Vucci/Associated Press

The House Foreign Affairs Committee announced on Friday that it would move to hold Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in contempt of Congress for defying the panel’s subpoenas related to the State Department’s compliance with Senate Republicans’ investigation targeting the Bidens.

The move, announced on Friday by Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the panel, would amount to a rare and stinging rebuke of the nation’s top diplomat. In a statement, Mr. Engel cited what he said was Mr. Pompeo’s “unprecedented record of obstruction and defiance of the House’s constitutional oversight authority.”

Mr. Engel said he had sought records from Mr. Pompeo regarding “his transparently political misuse of department resources,” including in his recent address to the Republican National Convention from Jerusalem.

The announcement came the morning after President Trump accepted his party’s renomination at a rally-like political event on the South Lawn of the White House, turning the building into a partisan prop as no politician has ever done before.

The speech capped a Republican National Convention that broke decades of norms by repeatedly blurring the lines between governing and politics, including by having Mr. Pompeo, a sitting secretary of state, speak at all.

As Senate Republicans escalated their efforts to pursue investigations into President Trump’s political rivals that the president hopes to weaponize for his re-election campaign, Mr. Engel launched his own inquiry, accusing Mr. Pompeo of misusing State Department resources to aid Senate Republicans’ investigations.

While the State Department has provided more than 16,000 pages of documents to Senate Republicans, Mr. Engel said, it has yet to provide the same information to the Democratic-led House panel, defying two separate subpoenas.

Senate Republicans’ investigations center on unsubstantiated claims that former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son helped a Ukrainian energy firm curry favor with the Obama administration when his father was vice president. In a letter sent to Mr. Engel on Thursday, a top State Department official suggested that the Democratic-led committee would not receive the requested documents because lawmakers on the panel had not indicated they were interested in probing those claims.

“Mr. Pompeo is demanding that the committee do essentially the same thing Russia is doing,” Mr. Engel said in a statement, “spreading claims about corruption” in order to “interfere in the American presidential election.” He added: “I want no part of it.”

The House in November voted to hold Attorney General William P. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt of Congress for their refusal to turn over documents related to the Trump administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The vote formally authorized House lawmakers to take Mr. Barr and Mr. Ross to federal court to seek judicial enforcement of subpoenas for the material in question.







Breaking Down the Biggest Moments of Trump’s Speech

The Times’s White House correspondent Maggie Haberman analyzes President Trump’s nomination acceptance speech and breaks down the major moments.

“My fellow Americans, tonight with a heart full of gratitude and boundless optimism, I profoundly accept this nomination for president of the United States.” “This evening was a huge demonstration of the president’s grip on his party. This convention has largely been about allies of the president, friends of his.” “Do you think America is to blame or do you believe in American greatness?” “To make —” “America —” “— great again, again.” “Joe Biden is not a savior of America’s soul.” “Trump’s speech last night was, you know, withering about Joe Biden and making clear that it is going to be a pretty brutal and savage general election campaign. He was using the power of incumbency in a way that we’ve never seen a president use the White House. He was literally pointing to the building behind him and saying —” “The fact is I’m here. What’s the name of that building?” “That was a stunning moment.” “The fact is we’re here, and they’re not.” There was a big question this week about whether there have been violations of the Hatch Act, which is a prohibition on using your government post for partisan purposes. The president is exempt from it, but his aides are not — many ethics experts believe that his aides who participated in this convention, and there were many, did that. Whether there are going to be any consequences, the answer is almost certainly no. Most of the crowd was not wearing masks. People were basically on top of each other. People within close proximity of the president were tested. But everybody was not. I think that Donald Trump will do and say anything to win. And I think that people who don’t understand that after seeing this week are missing it. So I think we are in for a messy 60 some-odd days. There was no clear message to this week, other than sort of an overarching ‘Biden is bad and Trump is good.’” “Joe Biden is weak.” “In terms of the specifics of how they were presenting that, I think it was — I think it was jumbled.” “He takes his marching orders from liberal hypocrites who drive their cities into the ground while fleeing far from the scene of the wreckage.” “We got a lot of what we have heard from Donald Trump over a very long period of time. There was no vision that he presented that we have not heard before.” “In a new term as president, we will, again, build the greatest economy in history, quickly returning to full employment, soaring incomes and record prosperity.” “He is telling people, ‘If you like me, I will continue to do more of this.’ The president continued something he’s been saying for a while, which was to paint his administration as a victim of China.” “They could have stopped it, but they allowed it to come out.” “His goal was to try to describe the coronavirus response by his administration, which has been widely criticized as slow and incompetent and halting, to describe it as a success story. That is not true, for the most part.” “We are delivering life-saving therapies, and will produce a vaccine before the end of the year or maybe even sooner.” “If people have not been paying close attention to it, did he do enough to comfort. people who are not that tuned in — possibly.” “At no time before have voters faced a clearer choice between two parties, two visions, two philosophies or two agendas.” “Trump had a number of items that he ticked off about a second term that were pretty confusing. Mostly where he was clear was when he was drawing a contrast with Joe Biden.” “Your vote will decide whether we protect law-abiding Americans or whether we give free rein to violent anarchists and agitators and criminals, who threaten our citizens.” “The huge overarching message of his speech tonight was law and order. And he suggested that the country will be, you know, continuing on a path of unrest if Biden is elected, forgetting about the fact that President Trump is president right now. And these events are happening right now.” “And this election will decide whether we will defend the American way of life, or whether we will allow a radical movement to completely dismantle and destroy it.” Crowd: “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now. What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now.” “There were protests outside of the White House grounds, and you could hear sirens at various points all the way to where we were sitting on the South Lawn. And it was police interacting with the protesters. It was an interesting split screen. Republicans know that the president is playing defense in basically every critical state that he needs to win. And, you know, they’re anxious. The closer you get to inside the president’s circle the better they’re feeling about it. But that isn’t necessarily because they’re seeing something other people aren’t. It’s because they have muscle memory about 2016, and they’re hoping this will end up being similar and certainly anything can happen still. And that is something people should remember, there’s a long race ahead.” “I’m very, very proud to be the nominee of the Republican Party. I love you all. God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you very much.” “Hi I’m Sarah Kerr, the producer of this video. Thanks for watching. With the conventions behind us, we have just over nine weeks to go until the election. Stay up to date with the latest news and analysis at nytimes.com/2020.”

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The Times’s White House correspondent Maggie Haberman analyzes President Trump’s nomination acceptance speech and breaks down the major moments.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for a second term on Thursday, joining a general-election contest against Joseph R. Biden Jr. that he and his party cast this week as a crusade against left-wing ideology and violent social disorder, fought against the backdrop of a virus that Republicans largely described as a temporary handicap on the economy.

Mr. Trump misrepresented his own record on the coronavirus, part of a broader attempt to minimize his lapses in office and turn a harsh light toward Mr. Biden, the moderate Democratic nominee. The president also repeatedly accused his opponent and Democrats of failing to take on rioters, though Mr. Biden has condemned recent acts of violence, and of harboring designs to restructure the American economic system along socialist lines.

Mr. Trump, who is due to speak at a rally in New Hampshire this evening, adopted the role of a defender of traditional American values and an unbending ally of the police in his speech Thursday.

“Your vote will decide whether we protect law-abiding Americans, or whether we give free rein to violent anarchists, agitators and criminals who threaten our citizens,” he said, standing on a stage on the South Lawn of the White House. “And this election will decide whether we will defend the American way of life, or whether we allow a radical movement to completely dismantle and destroy it. That won’t happen.”

Much of the night was given over to unusually explicit rebuttals to Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities: Seldom if ever has a political party spent so much time during a convention insisting in explicit terms that its nominee was not a racist or a sexist, and that he was, perhaps despite public appearances, a person of empathy and good character. Ben Carson, the lone Black member of Mr. Trump’s cabinet, argued that people who call the president a racist “could not be more wrong.”

The president used the White House as the backdrop for his speech, obliterating the line between governing and politicking.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

He called it “the People’s House.”

But on Thursday night, as President Trump accepted his party’s renomination in an overtly political event staged on the South Lawn of the White House, he turned the majestic building into a partisan prop like no politician has ever done before.

Capping a week in which Mr. Trump and his Republican allies repeatedly ignored rules that are supposed to enforce the line between politics and policy, the president stood grandly in front of the country’s most important landmark to denounce his rival.

“At the Democrat National Convention, Joe Biden and his party repeatedly assailed America as a land of racial, economic and social injustice,” Mr. Trump said to an audience of more than 1,500 as American flags waved behind him. “So tonight, I ask you a simple question: How can the Democratic Party lead our country when it spends so much time tearing down our country?”

Previous presidents have sought to carefully navigate the propriety of mixing campaigning with governing, even though the laws that attempt to minimize their collision do not apply to the occupant of the Oval Office.

Jimmy Carter announced his re-election bid in the East Room and Ronald Reagan did so from the Oval Office. But neither had live crowds flanked by giant Jumbotrons on either side of the White House, serving as immense campaign billboards.

Mr. Trump appeared to recognize the power of the setting. At the beginning of his speech, he noted that the White House “has been the home of larger-than-life figures like Teddy Roosevelt and Andrew Jackson, who rallied Americans to bold visions of a bigger and brighter future.”

But if the president was aware of the building’s storied history, he showed no embarrassment at the prospect of putting it to use as the backdrop for fierce partisan attacks.

“We have spent the last four years reversing the damage Joe Biden inflicted over the last 47 years,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump’s campaign spared no expense in creating that backdrop — building an extensive red-white-and-blue stage where Marine One usually takes off as well as installing 1,500 folding chairs and a lectern with the seal of the president of the United States.

In his speech, as he called for evicting the “failed political class” from Washington, Mr. Trump turned back toward the White House.

“The fact is, I’m here,” he said, a broad smile across his face. “What’s the name of that building?” he asked as the crowd cheered. Turning back to the crowd, he was even more blunt: “But I’ll say it differently. The fact is we’re here, and they’re not.”

And at the end of his speech, he punctuated his use of the public spaces in Washington with a thunderous fireworks display over the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial — all in service of his campaign.

Spelled out in the sky: “TRUMP” and “2020.”

People gathered at the Lincoln Memorial on Friday morning for a protest organizers are calling Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks.
Credit…Cheriss May for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Hours after President Trump commanded the South Lawn of the White House to rail against what he called agitators bent on destroying “the American way of life,” thousands of Americans streamed on Friday morning to the Lincoln Memorial, not a mile away, for what frequently seemed a forceful reply.

The Commitment March, as its organizers are calling it, was devised in part to build on the passion for racial justice that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. summoned when he delivered his “I Have a Dream” address on that same spot 57 years ago.

Morning speeches delivered by union leaders, civil rights advocates and Black ministers cast Mr. Trump as the prime obstacle to their goal, and voting to remove him as the first step toward a solution.

“November is coming and we have work to do,” said Kyra Stephenson-Valley, a policy adviser at the National Action Network, a civil rights group founded by one organizer of the march, the Rev. Al Sharpton. She asked attendees to scan their tickets to check their voter-registration status.

Frank Nitty was one of a group of Black civil rights advocates who marched 750 miles from Milwaukee to be at Friday’s demonstration. “My grandson isn’t going to be marching for the same thing my granddaddy marched for,” he told the crowd. “We’ve got to vote Trump out of office, right?”

King’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom drew a quarter of a million people. Today’s protest was expected to attract a small fraction of that, in part because of social distancing rules and the city’s quarantine requirement for visitors from 27 states.

The event is including speeches by relatives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Eric Garner — all people of color whose deaths at the hands of the police sparked protests across the nation.

Goals of the protest, organizers said, include increasing voter registration and participation in the 2020 census; enacting a new version of the Voting Rights Act of 1965; and pushing for passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which is backed by House Democrats and the Congressional Black Caucus and would overhaul law enforcement training and conduct rules to limit police misconduct and racial bias.

The event is being livestreamed by Mr. Sharpton’s National Action Network and covered on cable by BET. It is accompanied by a so-called virtual march conducted online.

Senator Kamala Harris speaking in Washington on Thursday.
Credit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times

Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, said that no one who refuses to wear a mask would “be punished” if she and presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden Jr. were to implement a national mask mandate to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

In an interview that aired Friday on NBC’s TODAY, Ms. Harris framed the mask requirement she and Mr. Biden have called for as more of “a standard” than a mandate.

“I mean, nobody’s going to be punished,” for not wearing a mask, she said. “Come on.”

“Nobody likes to wear a mask. This is a universal feeling, right?” she added. “The point is this is: This is what we, as responsible people who love our neighbor — we have to just do that right now. God willing, it won’t be forever.”

Shortly after Mr. Biden selected Ms. Harris as his running mate, the pair sought to draw an immediate policy contrast with President Trump, saying that every American should wear a mask while outside for at least the next three months, and that all governors should mandate mask wearing. Ms. Harris’s remarks on Friday offered more clarity around how a Biden-Harris administration would implement such a proposal.

Mr. Biden has attacked Mr. Trump for months over his handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 180,000 Americans and upended the economy. He has specifically sought to hammer the mask issue given that the president resisted wearing a mask for months before shifting his stance and endorsing the use of masks last month.

Mr. Trump, who has ignored or mischaracterized scientific data throughout the pandemic, has brushed aside his opponents’ call for a mask mandate, calling it “anti-scientific.” He has also argued that imposing such a requirement would overstep individual freedoms.

In accepting the Republican nomination on Thursday night, Mr. Trump spoke for more than an hour before a crowded and mostly maskless audience outside the White House.

President Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, on Thursday, the final night of the Republican National Convention.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

— President Trump

This figure, which calculates the number of people known to have the coronavirus who ultimately die from the disease, is currently just above 3 percent in the United States, putting it in roughly the top third of countries afflicted by the coronavirus.

The United States has the 51st highest observed case fatality rate out of 170 countries, according to Johns Hopkins University. It also has a relatively high death rate when calculated as deaths per capita, registering more than 50 deaths per 100,000 people over the course of the pandemic. That puts the country squarely in the top 10 countries with the most deaths per capita, when excluding countries like Andorra and San Marino, which have had relatively few cases. And the United States still leads the world in absolute death counts, with more than 180,000 dead, according to a New York Times database.

— President Trump

Not according to historians. Historians agree that among modern presidents, the most significant legislative achievements belong to President Lyndon B. Johnson, who shepherded the passage of the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act.

A 2017 study that assessed modern presidents based on the analysis of editorials published in Black newspapers ranked Mr. Johnson at the top. Mr. Trump would place in the bottom third, the study’s co-author told The Times.

— President Trump

It is true that the U.S. economy gained more than nine million jobs between April and June, but it had lost more than 20 million jobs between February and April. The bounce back was rapid in part because many people had been only temporarily laid off as states shut down to control the spread of the coronavirus and were then quickly rehired. But it’s an open question how robustly the remaining lost jobs will come back as the recovery progresses.

— President Trump

Mr. Biden has made no such promise, nor do his policy proposals ban production of those energy sources. Mr. Biden’s climate change plan would end new leases for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for oil and gas on federal lands, but would not ban existing fracking on public lands or new or existing fracking on private land.







Highlights From the Republican National Convention: Night 4

President Trump officially accepted his party’s renomination from the South Lawn at the White House, turning the setting into a partisan prop as no other president had.

[music, “God Bless The U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood] “My fellow Americans, tonight with a heart full of gratitude and boundless optimism, I profoundly accept this nomination for president of the United States. [cheering] Gathered here at our beautiful and majestic White House, known all over the world as the people’s house, we cannot help but marvel at the miracle that is our great American story. In recent months, our nation and the entire planet has been struck by a new and powerful invisible enemy. Like those brave Americans before us, we are meeting this challenge. We are delivering lifesaving therapies and will produce a vaccine before the end of the year or maybe even sooner. [applause] And this election will decide whether we will defend the American way of life or whether we will allow a radical movement to completely dismantle and destroy it. That won’t happen. [applause] At the Democrat National Convention, Joe Biden and his party repeatedly assailed America as a land of racial, economic and social injustice. So tonight I ask you a simple question: How can the Democrat Party ask to lead our country when it spends so much time tearing down our country? [applause] In the strongest possible terms, the Republican Party condemns the rioting, looting, arson and violence we have seen, in Democrat-run cities all, like Kenosha, Minneapolis, Portland, Chicago and New York, and many others. And on Nov. 3, we will make America safer, we will make America stronger, we will make America prouder, and we will make America greater than ever before. [cheering] Donald Trump did not come to Washington to win praise from the Beltway elites. Donald Trump came to Washington for one reason and one reason alone: to make America great again. [cheering] My father has strong convictions. He knows what he believes, and he says what he thinks. Whether you agree with him or not, you always know where he stands. I recognize that my dad’s communication style is not to everyone’s taste, and I know that his tweets can feel a bit unfiltered. But the results? The results speak for themselves.” Crowd: “Four more years! Four more years!” “We will stand our post on behalf of the millions of Americans whose stories aren’t told in today’s newspapers, whose struggles are just as real. We’ll continue to support American families as we defeat the coronavirus and return our economy to the envy of the world. The stakes have never been higher, which is why I’m asking you to support Republican Senate candidates across the country and re-elect my friend President Donald Trump.” “Biden has changed his principles so often, he no longer has any principles. He’s a Trojan horse, with Bernie, AOC, Pelosi, Black Lives Matter.” “Before I begin, I’d like to say that our hearts go out to the Blake family and the other families who’ve been impacted by the tragic events in Kenosha. As Jacob’s mother has urged the country, ‘Let’s use our hearts, our love and our intelligence to work together to show the rest of the world how humans are supposed to treat each other. America is great when we behave greatly.’ In order to succeed and change, we must first come together in love of our fellow citizens. History reminds us that necessary change comes through hope and love, not senseless and destructive violence.” [music] [cheering]

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President Trump officially accepted his party’s renomination from the South Lawn at the White House, turning the setting into a partisan prop as no other president had.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

In addition to President Trump’s lengthy speech from the South Lawn of the White House, the last night of the Republican National Convention featured relentless attacks on Joseph R. Biden Jr. and an appearance from a prominent member of the Republican establishment: Senator Mitch McConnell, the House majority leader. New York Times reporters Jennifer Medina and Sydney Ember discussed their big takeaways from the final night. Here are excerpts from their conversation:

Sydney: One of the main (and dark) messages on Thursday night — something we’ve heard a lot over the course of the convention this week — was that America would not be safe under Mr. Biden.

Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas put it especially bluntly: The country under Mr. Trump, he said, was “safer now than four years ago” whereas “Joe Biden would return us to a weak and dangerous past.” He was particularly cutting on Mr. Biden and China, though some of his claims were misleading. It all sounded pretty dire!

Jenny: Absolutely. Apart from President Trump, Senator Cotton perhaps presented the clearest example of how Republicans intend to campaign this fall: by trying to convince voters that they will be in clear danger if Mr. Biden is in the White House.

Jenny: One of the most remarkable things this week was who was not speaking — no former Republican presidents, vice presidents or nominees for those posts, no former cabinet members, no Ted Cruz, no Bushes. That’s what made the cameo from Mr. McConnell more remarkable.

Sydney: Sure, you have the White House, Mr. McConnell seemed to suggest, but can I introduce you to the Senate? In particular, he warned Republicans that they could not afford to lose seats in the upper chamber.

Jenny: Of course, there was really one main event this week: President Trump’s acceptance speech.

Sydney: Admittedly, I thought he lacked some of his usual bombast. But some of his attacks on Mr. Biden were scorching, like when he called Mr. Biden’s record “a shameful roll call of the most catastrophic betrayals and blunders in our lifetime” or when he suggested that a pandemic-induced economic shutdown on Mr. Biden’s watch would lead to an increase in drug overdoses, depression and suicides.

I would also note that Mr. Trump produced some revisionist history, particularly when touting his handling of the pandemic. Overall, though, his speech felt a bit low-energy. Even his typically rousing ending, in which he usually declares that he will “Make America Great Again,” seemed a bit deflated.

BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany refuses as a rule to comment on the internal affairs of other countries or pass judgment on their leaders. But that hasn’t stopped her letting her face from doing the talking, reflecting confusion, befuddlement or exasperation regarding President Trump as the situation required. On Friday, she was at it again.

Asked during her annual summer news conference about a claim made at the Republican National Convention by Richard Grenell, the former U.S. ambassador to Germany, that he had “watched President Trump charm the chancellor of Germany,” Ms. Merkel drew her eyebrows together, tilted her head and leaned toward the reporter.

“He did what?” she asked.

“Charmed,” repeated Marina Kormbaki, a journalist with the German reporting collective R.N.D.

“Ah, OK,” Ms. Merkel said. Then she added with a laugh, “I don’t talk about internal discussions.”

The claim that Mr. Trump had charmed Ms. Merkel, even as he was insisting that Germany pay more as a member of NATO, brought derision on both sides of the Atlantic. Social media lit up with compilations of images of the chancellor’s reactions to Mr. Trump from their meetings over the past four years, including a photo of Ms. Merkel leaning over a table toward a defiant Mr. Trump that spawned social media memes.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, laced into the city in his remarks to the Republican convention on Thursday.
Credit…Republican National Convention

For the first half of the final night of the Republican National Convention, you could be forgiven for thinking the Democratic presidential nominee was New York City itself.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, a former New York mayor, attacked the city. Patrick Lynch, the president of the city’s police union, ticked through a list of local people killed by gun violence. There was a video montage attacking, for some reason, Mayor Bill de Blasio (who, it should be noted, did briefly run for president himself last year).

And Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, in his very brief testimonial, proudly noted that he was the only leader in Washington not from New York or California.

All this for the city that launched President Trump’s career in real estate, the media and eventually politics.

It’s hard to imagine a Democratic convention spending an evening firing a series of attacks against a heavily Republican state like Oklahoma or Idaho. But Republicans don’t think twice about painting New York or San Francisco as political boogeymen, places to hold up as examples of what the rest of the country wants to avoid.

Much of this is simply Republicans engaging in the very identity politics they claim to abhor. New York City is full of Black and Hispanic people, and millions of immigrants — the sort of people Republicans have long used to scare up votes in white America long before Mr. Trump’s rise.

Now that they have a president eager and willing to tar American cities because they are governed by Democrats, there is very little subtlety to their attacks on New York City.


Republicans set out to run the convention messaging as if it were still January — when the economy was booming, Senator Bernie Sanders was leading the polls and there was no pandemic.

A majority of the speakers made only passing reference to the coronavirus — unless it was a revisionist history of conquering it, even as cases break records in multiple states and Americans continue to die each day. Nor did many spend much time on the current economic crises. And the political enemy remained socialism, even though the Democratic opponent — Mr. Biden — is a moderate.

Altogether, the Trump clan and those in his orbit took up nearly half of the total speaking time during the convention. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, together had less speaking time than any Trump family member.

But much as with the Democrats, speeches were significantly shorter than in 2016.

President Trump continues to have a lot of support among users on the social network.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

In his latest analysis of the political landscape, our technology columnist Kevin Roose writes about how right-wing influencers are dominating the political discussion on Facebook, raising questions about whether that will translate into electoral success in November.

Since the 2016 election, I’ve been obsessively tracking how partisan political content is performing on Facebook, the world’s largest and arguably most influential media platform. Every morning, one of the first browser tabs I open is CrowdTangle — a handy Facebook-owned data tool that offers a bird’s-eye view of what’s popular on the platform. I check which politicians and pundits are going viral. I geek out on trending topics. I browse the previous day’s stories to see which got the most reactions, shares and comments.

Most days, the leader board looks roughly the same: conservative post after conservative post, with the occasional liberal interloper. (If you want to see these lists for yourselves, you can check out @FacebooksTop10, a Twitter account I created that shows the top 10 most-interacted-with link posts by U.S. Facebook pages every day.)

It’s no secret, he adds, that despite Mr. Trump’s claims of Silicon Valley censorship, Facebook has been a boon to him and his allies, and hyperpartisan Facebook pages are nothing new.

But what sticks out, when you dig in to the data, is just how dominant the Facebook right truly is. Pro-Trump political influencers have spent years building a well-oiled media machine that swarms around every major news story, creating a torrent of viral commentary that reliably drowns out both the mainstream media and the liberal opposition.

The result is a kind of parallel media universe that left-of-center Facebook users may never encounter, but that has been stunningly effective in shaping its own version of reality. Inside the right-wing Facebook bubble, President Trump’s response to Covid-19 has been strong and effective, Joe Biden is barely capable of forming sentences, and Black Lives Matter is a dangerous group of violent looters.

Symone Sanders, a senior adviser to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., pitched him to young voters of color and progressives on the popular Instagram Live show hosted by the comedian Ziwe.
Credit…Matt Rourke/Associated Press

Last Monday, on the first night of the Democratic National Convention, the comedian Ziwe tweeted at the Democratic Party and asked it to be a guest on her Instagram Live show.

It was a joke, but Symone Sanders, a senior adviser to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., heeded the call, and she joined Ziwe on Thursday night as the Republican National Convention wrapped up.

Most of Ziwe’s guests are “canceled,” and she asks them questions that are at the root of whatever caused them to be excommunicated from pop culture. Others are there just for fun or because they think Ziwe is fabulous, like Ms. Sanders said.

While Ms. Sanders has not been canceled, she was attempting to make the case for Mr. Biden, who won the Democratic primary on the strength of overwhelming support from Black voters — in particular, older Black voters. But younger voters of color, as well as younger white progressives, have long viewed Mr. Biden far more skeptically.

Since the primary ended, the Biden campaign has stepped up its youth and progressive outreach efforts, and Ms. Sanders has played a central role.

Ziwe asked Ms. Sanders questions many young voters have about Mr. Biden’s platforms, including how he would respond to the rash of murders of Black trans women across the country.

“What is Biden doing for Black Trans women?” Ziwe asked.

“We need to be very clear that we often name the names of Black people who have lost their lives at the hands of police officers, but we do not talk enough about the epidemic that is Black trans women losing their lives,” Ms. Sanders said.

“Joe Biden is an accomplice for the L.G.B.T.Q.+ community,” she added, suggesting that Mr. Biden was in the trenches with the group.

When Ziwe asked about climate change, Ms. Sanders was quick on her feet.

“The Democrats think it’s something we have to address,” Ms. Sanders said. “Joe Biden has said there are four crises in America: a health crisis, an economic crisis, a racial reckoning and the fourth crisis is a climate crisis.”

Ms. Sanders, one of the most influential Black advisers in Mr. Biden’s campaign, seemed to enjoy herself on the show, complimenting Ziwe’s white eyeliner and letting her know that her “fabulous friends” loved the sarcastic host.

There was one tense moment during the 30-minute interview: Ziwe’s image was frozen because of technical difficulties, which Ms. Sanders said was “the work of the Russians.”

Asked about the Biden campaign’s outreach to young Black and Latino voters, Ziwe said Ms. Sanders’s appearance was “a good example of meeting young voters where they are.”

“I’m eager to see the Biden campaign do more virtual events and engage with young progressives,” Ziwe said. “I’d love to have Senator Harris and Vice President Biden on my show.”

She also noted the importance of voting as early as possible. “I’m encouraging all my viewers to do the same,” she said.

In July, the Postal Service warned states that it might not be able to meet their deadlines for delivering last-minute mail-in ballots.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Even after a warning from the U.S. Postal Service that it may not be able to meet deadlines for delivering last-minute mail-in ballots, many states still have not changed their policies and risk disenfranchising thousands of voters whose ballots could arrive too late to be counted in the November election, an expert plans to tell Congress today.

“More than 20 states allow for a voter to request a ballot be mailed to them within seven days of an election — after the time that U.S.P.S. recommends the ballot be mailed back,” Tammy Patrick, the Democracy Fund’s senior adviser for elections plans to tell the House Committee on Homeland Security.

At a hearing entitled, “Protecting America’s Democracy: Ensuring Every Vote Counts,” Ms. Patrick also plans to testify that she has concerns about Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s “tone” toward vote-by-mail operations.

“The voters should not be disenfranchised because of the failings of their elected officials,” Ms. Patrick plans to tell the panel. “In the past, the Postal Service has moved mountains if need be to ensure ballots were prioritized — even, and most importantly, in those final days before the deadline.”

Mr. DeJoy testified to Congress last week, “We will do everything in our power and structure to deliver the ballots on time.”

In July, the Postal Service warned states that it might not be able to meet their deadlines for delivering last-minute mail-in ballots, further fueling the clash over Mr. DeJoy’s handling of vote-by-mail operations, as President Trump continued to rail against the practice.

In letters sent to all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Thomas J. Marshall, the Postal Service general counsel, urged those with tight schedules to require that residents request ballots at least 15 days before an election — rather than the shorter periods currently allowed under the laws of many states. In response, some states, including Pennsylvania and Michigan, have called for extensions on counting late-arriving ballots in the November election.


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