Buttigieg says White House is “still in denial about” COVID-19 pandemic as VP debate looms

The coronavirus pandemic will play a central role in Americans being able to “really see the difference” between the Biden-Harris campaign and the Trump White House, said former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg as both campaigns make final preparations for the October 7 vice presidential debate.

Buttigieg, who was seen Monday in the lobby of a hotel where Senator Kamala Harris is preparing for her debate against Vice President Mike Pence, accused the White House of not wanting to “face reality” in the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Trump returned to the White House after three days at Walter Reed where he was treated for COVID-19. As virus-related fatalities in the U.S. soared above 210,000, Buttigieg said the White House “seems to still be in denial” about the pandemic. 

Kamala Harris will have to contrast that messaging by showing it knows “what it will actually take to confront this pandemic that’s now killed more than 200,000 Americans,” Buttigieg  said on “CBS This Morning” Tuesday.

While the former South Bend, Indiana mayor side-stepped a question on reports that he was acting as Pence in Harris’ debate practice, he did warn the vice president is “a very effective debater.” Vice President Pence served as Indiana governor from 2013 through President Trump’s inauguration in 2017.

“I’ve seen him debating for governor and debating for vice president as well. He has an ability to deliver lines with a high degree of confidence, whether they’re true or not,” Buttigieg said. “But of course, saying something with a straight face doesn’t make it true.” 

He said it was up to Wednesday evening’s moderator, USA Today Washington bureau chief Susan Page, to fact-check the vice president if he wanders from the truth so Harris could “focus on getting out the message about how this country’s going to move forward.” 

Doubts over the Trump administration’s honesty and lack of transparency is leading to an erosion in trust among Americans that Buttigieg called “an incredibly dangerous thing.” 

That lack of trust is the subject of Buttigieg’s new book, “Trust: America’s Best Chance,” in which he argues that trust in each other and U.S. institutions is critical to getting through the tumultuous years he predicts lie ahead. 

He held up Americans’ reactions to the coronavirus pandemic as an example of why trust is critical amid uncertain circumstances.

“Right now researchers are racing against the clock to develop a vaccine, and yet there is polling indicating as many as half of Americans would hesitate to get one,” Buttigieg said. “It’s just one example of how a concept that sounds very theoretical, like social trust, that’s a life and death issue.”

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Crenshaw looms large as Democrats look to flip Texas House seat

Democrats hoping to turn Texas blue see a tempting — if formidable — target in freshman Rep. Dan CrenshawDaniel CrenshawSecond night of GOP convention outdraws Democrats’ event with 19.4 million viewers GOP sticks to convention message amid uproar over Blake shooting The Hill’s Convention Report: Mike and Karen Pence set to headline third night of convention MORE (R).

Crenshaw’s seat is one of several in Texas Democrats are contesting this cycle, and the party is bullish that the 2nd District — and the state at large — are in play. But while several other Democratic House contenders are either competing for open seats or in districts with lesser-known incumbents, the party could face headwinds trying to unseat a rising GOP star in Crenshaw, who has been cast as a future Republican thought leader. 

On paper, the 2nd District is similar to other areas where Democrats saw massive gains in the 2018 midterms. It has a high number of college graduates, it includes parts of a major city — Houston — and the surrounding suburbs and about 44 percent of adults there are either Black or Hispanic, two demographics that lean Democratic.

But in 2018, as Democrats captured the House, they lost an open race to Crenshaw by more than 7 points. And the former Navy SEAL and combat veteran is running for reelection with a campaign account of over $4 million and a mushrooming national profile.

Democrats have thrown their support behind Sima Ladjevardian, a prominent Houston attorney and health care activist who fled Iran as a child, survived cancer and advised former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s 2018 Senate campaign, setting her up to run as a candidate with a compelling life story who reflects the growing diversity of the Houston area and Texas at large. 

“I want somebody who cares and can give back and can represent the people of the community, and I’m the person to take him out,” Ladjevardian said in an interview. “It’s my duty for a country that’s taken care of me to give back and make sure I do that.”

Democrats see promising signs that the district could be moving in their direction.

While Crenshaw won in 2018 by a healthy margin, O’Rourke lost there by just 1 point the same year. The party has also been able to narrow the margins in presidential races — the district went for the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainAnalysis: Biden victory, Democratic sweep would bring biggest boost to economy The Memo: Trump’s strengths complicate election picture Mark Kelly: Arizona Senate race winner should be sworn in ‘promptly’ MORE (R-Ariz.) by 20 points in 2008 and now-Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTrump ‘no longer angry’ at Romney because of Supreme Court stance GOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power McConnell pushes back on Trump: ‘There will be an orderly transition’ MORE (R-Utah) by 27 points in 2012, but President TrumpDonald John TrumpSteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence

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White House, Congress struggle to complete stop-gap spending bill as October shutdown looms

Trump weighed in on the issue over Twitter, writing: “Pelosi wants to take 30 Billion Dollars away from our great Farmers. Can’t let that happen!”

Trump has already spent several years directing tens of billions of dollars in bailout funds to farmers by using a Depression-era law in a way that even some Agriculture Department officials believed was possibly improper. To continue sending the funds, Trump needs congressional approval, and Democrats have opposed sending more bailout money to farmers because they allege he is using the taxpayer money to try and mollify the political backlash to his trade policies.

Trump announced at a rally Thursday night in the battleground state of Wisconsin that farmers would get an additional $13 billion, money from the same fund that the administration is seeking to replenish via the short-term spending bill.

“We have serious concerns about giving President Trump a blank check to spread political favors,” a senior House Democratic aide involved in the talks said in explaining the Democrats’ opposition to the money. “It is an abuse of taxpayer dollars to give this administration more money so the president can grab headlines with announcements at campaign rallies.” The aide spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Additionally, Democrats are seeking more money for food assistance to children impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. They also want $3.6 billion in additional election security funds as part of the short-term bill — something Republicans oppose.

The talks on the short-term spending bill are separate from the stalemate over a new coronavirus relief bill. That standoff showed no signs of budging on Friday, as Pelosi continued to hold out for a $2.2 trillion bill that Republicans have rejected — despite pressure from moderates in her caucus to give ground.

Pelosi dismissed a reporter’s question about whether she was letting the perfect be the enemy of the good regarding the broader coronavirus relief bill. She reiterated that she has already compromised from a $3.4 trillion bill House Democrats passed in May, which the White House and Senate Republicans dismissed.

“It’s not perfect … perfect is $3.4 trillion,” Pelosi said. “This is not about perfect being the enemy of the good.”

Trump has recently signaled he would be comfortable with a bill in the area of $1.5 trillion. Both Trump and House Democrats have said they support legislation that would send another round of stimulus checks to Americans, as well as more unemployment assistance.

The plight of airlines is also a growing area of concern for members of both parties. A provision from the Cares Act that required airlines to keep workers on payroll in exchange for aid expires Sept. 30, and major airlines have warned of mass lay-offs.

In a letter Friday to congressional leaders and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the head of United Airlines and the leaders of several major airline unions urged Congress to renew negotiations on a new covid relief bill that would include an extension of the airline Payroll Support Program. The

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TikTok reaches deal with Oracle, rejects Microsoft as White House deadline looms

TikTok has reached an agreement to partner with software giant Oracle, a landmark deal that could redefine how the U.S. and China square off over the reach of their homegrown technology companies.

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The deal, which was confirmed Sunday by a source with direct knowledge, comes after the Trump administration pressured TikTok to sell its U.S. business over concerns about the threat to national security. The administration alleged that the company’s ties to China through its parent company, ByteDance, meant it would have to hand over data about Americans if asked by China’s government. TikTok has denied that it would hand over data, which it stressed is stored outside China.

The source would not detail which parts of the technology were being taken over by Oracle, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday. Microsoft had been considered a front-runner to buy TikTok US until this weekend. Microsoft said earlier that ByteDance had alerted the company that it was passing on its proposal.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in an interview with CNBC on Monday morning that the White House had received a proposal from TikTok for an Oracle partnership.

ByteDance and Oracle still face several hurdles in completing a deal. First, they will need to win approval from the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, an interagency group that is tasked with overseeing foreign investments in the U.S. A source familiar with the negotiations said both parties believed their deal was structured to satisfy all of the committee’s national security concerns. Even then, the deal still remains vulnerable to the larger geopolitical tensions between Washington and Beijing, and both governments could move to scuttle a deal if they deemed it politically advantageous.

TikTok spokesperson Hilary McQuaide declined to comment, saying the company would not comment “on rumors or speculation.”

The short-form video app burst into popular culture in the past few years, becoming one of the few recent social media upstarts to offer a credible rival to U.S. giants like Facebook and Snapchat. The app, which gives users the ability to create short videos matched to sound or music, has created its own generation of celebrities and countless dance trends.

TikTok head of U.S. operations says they do not pose national security threat



But its ties to China emerged in the past year as a quiet point of contention in Washington. In November, TikTok was mentioned as a national security threat, and the U.S. government opened an investigation. Since then, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the U.S. was “looking at” banning the app, and President Donald Trump has threatened to do so several times.

“There’s a bit of a reciprocity process going on here, since China doesn’t allow U.S. tech companies like Facebook and Google,” said Paul Triolo, head of global technology policy at the Eurasia Group. “All of these actions are part of an effort by China hawks

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