A chaotic campaign helped save Rhode Island’s House speaker in 2016. Now it threatens to end his political career

“I used to joke with people, ‘Are you sure you want to be seen with me? Because the speaker could be watching.’” Frias recalled in an interview last week.

Turns out, even that was true.

Last week’s criminal trial of former Mattiello campaign consultant Jeffrey T. Britt was meant to determine whether Britt laundered $1,000 to help pay for a postcard mailer designed to boost Mattiello during that 2016 campaign. But it also offered a rare glimpse into the win-at-all-costs culture of politics, as witness after witness detailed the strategies employed to help defeat Frias.

Those tactics included surveillance conducted on Frias by a semi-retired private investigator who was seeking a state job, a mail-ballot operation run by a veteran operative who had previous tours of political duty with some of the state’s most corrupt politicians, and the mailer that Britt orchestrated to try to convince a handful of Republicans to back the Democrat in the race.

In the end, Mattiello won the race by 85 votes, a razor-thin margin where almost any maneuver could have tipped the scales in the speaker’s favor.

Now, with early voting scheduled to begin Wednesday, Mattiello’s back is against the wall again as he faces a serious challenge from Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung, the Republican wife of Cranston’s popular mayor, who is eager to capitalize on the seedy details that came out during last week’s trial.

But Mattiello, who was never charged, testified that he knew nothing about the controversial mailer until it hit mailboxes in his district, and a key campaign aide described the mailer as “Jeff Britt’s project.”

The judge has said he won’t issue a ruling for five to seven weeks. So that means voters will render their decision first, in the Nov. 3 general election.

“I think it clearly crossed a line,” Providence College political science professor Adam Myers said of Mattiello’s campaign operation in 2016. “But the question is whether the public’s opinion of Rhode Island politics is already so jaded that coverage of the trial won’t change any minds.”

* * *

If it’s possible for the most powerful politician in the state to be an underdog in his own backyard, hindsight suggests that’s where Mattiello – the man whose rock-solid support within the Rhode Island House of Representatives gives him almost dictatorial power over any piece of legislation – was sitting four years ago.

House District 15 includes fewer than 11,000 registered voters, the majority of whom are unaffiliated but are considered far more conservative than residents of the rest of Cranston and almost every other city in the state. Mattiello frequently draws criticism from more liberal members of his party, but his political values – pro-business, pro-life, pro-National Rifle Association – are largely in line with the voters who have sent him back to the State House every two years since 2007.

But in 2016, simply being a conservative Democrat wasn’t going to be enough to guarantee Mattiello a victory. Cranston’s Republican Mayor, Allan W. Fung,

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Trump taps U.S. Marine Band for White House event and raises questions about employing the military for political purposes

The band has played at every presidential inauguration since 1801, when President Thomas Jefferson gave the group the title “The President’s Own,” according to its online history. The band is called upon when the president is discharging his duties as head of state.

But federal regulations bar the use of government resources for, and the coercion of federal employees into, political activities aimed at a candidate’s reelection — and taxpayer-funded military bands cannot be used for campaign events. Members of the U.S. military are prohibited from wearing military uniforms at political campaign events.

Administration and military officials said the activity on Saturday was an official White House event called, “Peaceful Protest for Law and Order.”

“The United States Marine Band provided musical support for the Peaceful Protest for Law and Order event, an official event on the South Lawn of the White House,” Capt. Joseph Butterfield, a spokesman for the Marine Corps, said in a statement. “All tasking for U.S. Marine Band support at the White House, including for this event, is generated by the White House Military Office.”

Judd Deere, a spokesman for the White House, said: “The event yesterday was an official White House event and was conducted in compliance with the Hatch Act.” The Hatch Act bars federal employees from using their titles and positions to engage in political activity. The president and vice president are exempt but do fall under criminal provisions that prohibit the coercion of federal government employees to engage in political activity.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and his predecessor, retired Marine Corps general Jim Mattis, have sought to protect the military from overtly partisan activity. But their efforts have been challenged by a president who has shown a willingness to defy civil-military norms respected by his predecessors, beginning with his first official visit to the Pentagon, when he used the Hall of Heroes to sign a ban on travel from majority-Muslim nations.

In the years since, Trump has treated troop talks and Pentagon appearances like campaign rallies, intervened in military justice cases and signed “Make America Great Again” paraphernalia on official presidential visits to military facilities overseas. He deployed active-duty forces to the southern border with Mexico before the 2018 midterm elections, taking heat for using the military as a political prop.

On Saturday, the Marine Band provided the musical backdrop as a crowd gathered under the South Portico of the White House, where Trump gave remarks from the balcony due to his coronavirus infection. Despite being billed as a non-campaign event, Trump began his talk by calling on the guests to vote his opponents “into oblivion” and attacked his Democratic opponent, former vice president Joe Biden.

Trump’s rallies regularly make use of show tunes, including from “Phantom of the Opera.” Saturday’s event was no exception. One “Blexit” supporter posted a video on Instagram beaming with excitement as the Marine Band played “America” from “West Side Story.”

“We are here at the White House, guys. Look!” the supporter said. “Isn’t it an

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Why Won’t White House Say When Trump Last Tested Negative? | Political News

By JILL COLVIN, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — It is a basic, crucial question and one the White House refuses to answer: When was President Donald Trump’s last negative test for the coronavirus before he tested positive last week?

“Yeah, I’m not going to give you a detailed readout with timestamps every time the president’s tested,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters last weekend.

“I can’t reveal that at this time,” echoed Alyssa Farah, the White House director of strategic communications. “Doctors would like to keep it private.”

“I don’t want to go backwards,” said Dr. Sean Conley, the president’s physician.

The answer could help fill in vital details about the course of the president’s illness as well as when he may have been contagious and whom else he may have exposed. And the White House refusal to answer makes it hard not to wonder what they’re hiding, given other details they’ve shared.

“At this point it’s just so strange that they’re unwilling to give us the information,” said Michael Joseph Mina, a physician and professor of epidemiology at Harvard’s school of public health. “It makes people start thinking things like, ‘Was the president the super-spreader?’… If there was no nefarious activity going on, then they should have no problem answering this question.”

The information is also key to tracking who else may have been exposed to the virus so their contacts can be traced to prevent new clusters of infection.

“Then you can get an idea, potentially, of when he was infected, how long his incubation period was, and also then evaluate who may have been exposed to him over that time frame,” said Benjamin Pinsky, medical director of the clinical virology laboratory at Stanford Health Care. While there is considerable variability between cases, he said, Trump was most likely infectious several days before he tested positive — a period during which he traveled and had close contact with dozens of people.

Senior White House staff and those who are in direct contact with the president are tested for the virus daily. The White House originally gave the impression that Trump, too, was tested every day, with McEnany claiming in July that Trump was “the most tested man in America” and tested “multiple times a day.” But Trump contradicted her, saying, “I do probably on average a test every two days, three days.”

The current White House line is that Trump is tested “regularly.”

Here’s what is known: On Wednesday, Sept. 30, during a trip to Minnesota for a fundraiser and rally, one of the president’s closest aides, Hope Hicks, began feeling ill. She isolated herself aboard Air Force Once during the trip home, but the White House appears to have taken no further action.

The next morning, Hicks was again tested for the virus. This time, the results came back positive, just as the president was about to leave for a fundraiser at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. A frantic effort was made to

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For 3rd Time, Groups Seek End to Trump Order on House Seats | Political News

By MIKE SCHNEIDER, Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — For the third time in two months, civil rights groups and state and local governments were asking judges to strike down a directive from President Donald Trump that would exclude people living in the U.S. illegally from being counted when deciding how many congressional seats each state gets.

The coalition of civil rights groups and state and local governments called Thursday on federal judges in California to rule that Trump’s order was illegal, claiming it discriminates against people based on race, ethnicity, and national origin. They said Trump’s order goes against 230 years of U.S. history, will cause them to lose political representation and is discouraging people in the country illegally from participating in the 2020 census.

Trump administration attorneys say the challenge to the order is premature and should be dismissed.

The numbers used for deciding how many congressional seats each state gets is a process known as apportionment. It is derived from the once-a-decade head count of every U.S. resident that is set to end at the end of the month. The census also helps determine the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal funding annually.

After Trump issued the order last July, around a half dozen lawsuits were filed across the U.S., challenging it. Hearings on the order already have been held in Washington and New York, and a panel of three federal judges in New York ruled that it was unlawful. The Trump administration has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The New York judges didn’t rule on the constitutionality of the memorandum, merely saying it violated federal laws on the census and apportionment. That left open the door for the judges in the other cases to rule on other aspects of the president’s memorandum. Other lawsuits challenging the memorandum have been filed in Maryland and Massachusetts, and a lawsuit filed two years ago in Alabama covers the same ground.

The California case was being heard virtually Thursday before three district judges. They included U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, who last month in a separate case stopped the Trump administration from finishing the census at the of September, allowing the count to go on for another month through October. A different coalition of civil rights groups and local governments had sued the Trump administration for the extra time, arguing minorities and others in hard-to-count communities would be missed if the counting ended early.

The Trump administration on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to put Koh’s order on hold.

Although the legal fights over Trump’s order and when the census will end are being fought in separate court cases, opponents challenging the Trump administration say they are intertwined since the census schedule was shortened to accommodate Trump’s order.

Facing disruptions to field operations because of the pandemic, the Census Bureau proposed a new timetable in April that extended the deadline for finishing the count from the end of July to the end of October and pushed the apportionment deadline

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DC Faults White House Over Rose Garden Event, Urges Testing | Political News

By ASHRAF KHALIL, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — In an extraordinary step, the Washington, D.C., Department of Health has released an open letter appealing to all White House staff and anyone who attended a Sept. 26 event in the Rose Garden to seek medical advice and take a COVID-19 test.

The letter indicates a lack of confidence in the White House medical team’s own contact tracing efforts regarding an ongoing virus outbreak that has infected President Donald Trump, multiple senior staff members and two U.S. senators, among others.

Co-signed by nine other local health departments from neighboring jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia, the letter flatly states a belief that contact tracing on the outbreak has been insufficient.

It says the public appeal is based on, “our preliminary understanding that there has been limited contact tracing performed to date, there may be other staff and residents at risk for exposure to COVID positive individuals.”

It asks all White House employees, anyone who attended the Sept. 26 event and anyone who may have been in contact with those people to “contact your local health department for further guidance/questions regarding your potential need to quarantine.”

The letter represents a rising level of concern and a clear shift in strategy by Mayor Muriel Bowser’s government, which had previously remained publicly hands-off and said it trusted the White House’s robust medical operation to handle its own contact tracing and follow-up.

Bowser said earlier this week that repeated attempts to contact the White House over the outbreak had received a “very cursory” response but that she believed the necessary steps were being taken.

“There are established public health protocols at the White House that are federal in nature,” Bowser said on Monday. “We assume that those protocols have been engaged.”

A Health Department spokeswoman did not respond to questions on whether the letter had been directly sent to any White House employees or people who attended the Sept. 26 event, or if the D.C. government had been provided with a list of attendees.

The move highlights the public health dilemma faced by Bowser’s government regarding the current outbreak. The Trump White House has operated for months in open violation of several D.C. virus regulations, hosting multiple gatherings that exceeded the local 50-person limit and in which many participants didn’t wear masks.

It shines a further spotlight on the Sept. 26 Rose Garden ceremony to introduce Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. Multiple attendees, including Trump and Notre Dame University President Rev. John Jenkins, who flew in from Indiana for the ceremony, have now tested positive.

Washington’s local virus regulations don’t apply on federal property, but the current outbreak has blurred those distinctions. Trump inner-circle members like former counselor Kellyanne Conway, who has also tested positive, are D.C. residents, as are many of the staffers, employees, Secret Service members and journalists who have had close contact with infected officials.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said Monday that the White House “has established a robust contact tracing

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Trump claimed, without justification, that new tighter FDA vaccine guidelines were a ‘political hit job,’ hours after the White House approved them



a man wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump removes his mask upon return to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 5, 2020 in Washington, DC. Win McNamee/Getty Images


© Win McNamee/Getty Images
President Donald Trump removes his mask upon return to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 5, 2020 in Washington, DC. Win McNamee/Getty Images

  • Trump claimed the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) tougher guidelines for COVID-19 vaccine developers are a “political hit job” on him.
  • The White House approved the new regulations on Tuesday.
  • The FDA says that before vaccine makers submit an emergency-approval application they should follow trial participants for at least two months after a final dose.
  • These stricter guidelines will most likely prevent any vaccine being approved before the presidential election on November 3 — a deadline Trump had hoped vaccine makers could hit.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump has accused the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of launching a “political hit job” on him, hours after the White House accepted the regulator’s stricter guidelines for coronavirus vaccine developers.

Trump has consistently said he hopes to have a vaccine ready before election day, but the new FDA guidelines will make it difficult for any COVID-19 vaccine to be approved before the November 3 vote. 

He lashed out at the FDA in a tweet on Tuesday evening, tagging commissioner Stephen Hahn.

He did not offer any evidence for his claim the new guidelines were motivated by politics.

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The tougher guidelines were cleared by the Office of Management and Budget on Tuesday after a two-week hold-up, during which they were reportedly blocked by senior White House officials, including Mark Meadows, chief of staff.

In the guidelines, the FDA said that before vaccine makers submit an emergency-approval application they should monitor trial participants for a minimum of two months after their final dose in phase-three clinical trials. The agency also expects vaccine developers to document five cases of severe infection in volunteers who took the placebo instead of the vaccine.

Four vaccines have entered the final stage of testing in the US, including one from Pfizer and one from Moderna. The two companies kicked off their trials in July.

Volunteers usually receive their second dose less than a month after their first, but two months of monitoring make it unlikely that either company will have have enough data before November.

Moderna’s CEO said on September 30 that the firm wouldn’t be able to submit an application for emergency approval until late November at the earliest, as it wouldn’t have enough safety data, per the Financial Times.

Coronavirus has claimed more than 210,000 lives in the US so far, and infected more than 7.5 million people.

Among those that have been infected is Trump himself: He tweeted on October 2 that he and Melania Trump had tested positive for the virus. After being flown to Walter Reed Medical Center, he received two experimental treatments to fight the infection. He has since returned to the White House, where staff are reportedly anxious about catching COVID-19 from him, per multiple

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House Democrats push forward on probe of Pompeo’s political speeches

House Democrats are widening an investigation into whether Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump COVID-19 result raises pressure on Pompeo GOP Sen. Thom Tillis tests positive for coronavirus Pelosi tests negative for COVID-19 MORE is illegally campaigning for the president ahead of the November election. 

Reps. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelDemocrats introduce bill to combat sexual harassment at State Department Overnight Defense: Congress recommends nuclear arms treaty be extended | Dems warn Turkey | Military’s eighth COVID death identified Democrats warn Turkey over involvement in Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict MORE (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroCalls for COVID-19 tests at Capitol grow after Trump tests positive Democrats introduce bill to combat sexual harassment at State Department Disinformation, QAnon efforts targeting Latino voters ramp up ahead of presidential election MORE (D-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, sent a letter Monday to the State Department demanding the agency’s legal guidance over at least three recent speeches Pompeo delivered in the U.S. 

This includes speeches to the Wisconsin state legislature and a church in Texas in September and a speech Saturday at an event for the anti-abortion advocacy organization the Florida Family Policy Council.

Pompeo was originally expected to deliver his remarks in person, where attendees paid upward of $10,000 for tickets to secure a personal visit with the secretary, CNN reported.

Pompeo rescheduled his remarks, delivering them remotely from Washington out of an abundance of caution following President TrumpDonald John TrumpQuestions remain unanswered as White House casts upbeat outlook on Trump’s COVID-19 fight White House staffers get email saying to stay home if they experience coronavirus symptoms White House says ‘appropriate precautions’ were taken for Trump’s outing to see supporters MORE’s positive diagnosis of COVID-19. 

But his participation in the event one month before the election is adding to outrage from congressional Democrats with oversight of foreign affairs. Trump is trailing Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenQuestions remain unanswered as White House casts upbeat outlook on Trump’s COVID-19 fight CNN anchor confronts senior Trump campaign adviser after motorcade: Trump’s ‘downplaying the virus’ Biden again tests negative for COVID-19 MORE in Florida, according to the most recent poll published by Siena College and The New York Times. 

“It is concerning that the Secretary is suddenly crisscrossing the country at taxpayers’ expense to speak with state legislators and private groups and that these events appear to be increasing in frequency as the November 3rd election approaches,” Engel and Castro wrote in the letter.

It was sent to Undersecretary of State for Management Brian Bulatao and acting Legal Adviser Marik String, two close allies of Pompeo.

The documents requested by House Democrats builds on an investigation launched in August over whether Pompeo violated the Hatch Act by delivering pre-recorded remarks to the Republican National Convention while he was on diplomatic travel in Israel. 

The Hatch Act prohibits federal officials from using their government positions for partisan political activity. In June,

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Voice Of America White House Bureau Chief Investigated By Political Appointees : NPR

An investigation by political appointees into Steve Herman, the Voice of America’s White House bureau chief, for anti-Trump bias is the latest act that may break federal laws promising its journalistic independence.

Voice of America


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Voice of America

An investigation by political appointees into Steve Herman, the Voice of America’s White House bureau chief, for anti-Trump bias is the latest act that may break federal laws promising its journalistic independence.

Voice of America

Two political appointees at the federal agency that oversees the Voice of America recently investigated one of its most prominent journalists to make the case he was biased against President Trump, NPR has learned.

They compiled an extensive report deemed “confidential” on VOA White House bureau chief Steve Herman, claiming that in his reporting and tweets that Herman had been unfair to Trump and had broken the broadcaster’s standards and social media policies. And they repeatedly cited a “conflict of interest,” based on their conclusions from Herman’s social media postings, including his own tweets and his “likes,” according to materials reviewed by NPR. The findings were quietly presented to acting Voice of America Director Elez Biberaj for action two weeks ago.

In so doing, the two men appear to have violated laws and regulations intended to protect the federally funded news outlet from political interference or influence. That has set off alarms within the VOA newsroom, already unnerved by investigations of coverage of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden by VOA’s Urdu language service and the tenor of language used to describe his wife, Jill Biden, to introduce a segment on VOA’s French to Africa language service.

NPR spoke to three people who had knowledge of the episode and another five for other elements of this story. It is not clear what Biberaj has done with the file. Herman, who declined comment for this story, is perhaps the most public face of VOA. He has been its bureau chief in India, South Korea and Thailand as well as the network’s senior diplomatic correspondent.

Earlier this year, Herman drew the ire of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff after revealing the vice president had not worn a mask inside the Mayo Clinic despite his office’s awareness of the hospital’s policy requiring it ahead of time. And Herman last week filed a first-person dispatch about being barred from Joe Biden’s campaign plane over concerns of COVID-19. Herman had traveled on Air Force One a day earlier — just before news broke that White House communications director Hope Hicks and the president had tested positive for the virus.

The investigation of Herman is the latest and perhaps the most blatant in a growing series of episodes pointing to the politicization of the international broadcaster since Trump’s pick, Michael Pack, became CEO of its parent agency. Pack took over the U.S.

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Top Trump Aide Hope Hicks Tests Positive for Coronavirus | Political News

By ZEKE MILLER and JILL COLVIN, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hope Hicks, one of President Donald Trump’s closest aides, has tested positive for the coronavirus after spending time in close proximity to him this week.

Hicks, who serves as counselor to Trump and traveled with him to a rally Wednesday, tested positive Thursday, according to an administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private health information. She is the most senior White House official to test positive so far.

The White House did not immediately respond to multiple questions about the last time Trump was tested and whether he and other staffers who spent time with Hicks in recent days will be asked to quarantine. But it does not appear that Trump intends to. He traveled to New Jersey Thursday for a fundraiser. His social media director Dan Scavino and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who were originally set to join him on the trip, were replaced at the last minute by other aides.

The positive test is yet another reminder that the virus continues to spread, even as Trump has tried desperately to pretend it no longer poses a danger. Since the beginning, he, the White House and his campaign have played down the threat and refused to abide by basic public health guidelines — including those issued by his own administration — such as wearing masks in public and practicing social distancing. Instead, Trump has continued to hold campaign rallies that draw thousands of supporters. The virus has killed more than 200,000 Americans and infected more than 7 million nationwide.

In a statement, White House spokesman Judd Deere said the president “takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously.”

“White House Operations collaborates with the Physician to the President and the White House Military Office to ensure all plans and procedures incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices for limiting COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible both on complex and when the President is traveling,” Deere said.

Hicks traveled with the president multiple times this week, including aboard Marine One, the presidential helicopter, and on Air Force One to a rally in Minnesota Wednesday, and aboard Air Force One to Tuesday night’s first presidential debate in Cleveland.

Hicks is one of the president’s most trusted and longest-serving aides, having worked as spokesperson for his 2016 campaign. She originally served as White House as communications director, and re-joined the administration this year as an adviser ahead of the election. Her positive test was first reported by Bloomberg News on Thursday evening. She did not respond to a request for comment.

Multiple White House staffers have tested positive for the virus, including Katie Miller, Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, and one of the president’s personal valets.

After earlier positive cases close to the president, the White House instituted a daily testing regimen for the president’s senior aides.

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White House Ups Bid in Last-Ditch COVID Talks With Congress | Political News

By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is backing a $400 per week pandemic jobless benefit and is dangling the possibility of a COVID-19 relief bill above $1.5 trillion as last-ditch, pre-election negotiations hit a critical phase Thursday.

The offer by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on unemployment is higher than many Republicans would like in any potential COVID deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Significant, possibly unbridgeable hurdles remain.

But the talks have gained momentum as the Trump administration presses for an agreement. On Air Force One Wednesday night, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Trump made an offer that was “extremely generous and certainly above the $1.5 trillion that has been articulated to date.”

The White House proposal yielded ground on funding for state and local governments, supporting a $250 billion infusion, and backed $20 billion in help for the struggling airline industry. Both areas are of great interest to Democrats’ union backers.

Details on the White House offer, first reported by the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call, were confirmed by congressional aides, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door discussions.

Pelosi postponed a vote Wednesday on a Democratic alternative measure but could take it up again Thursday.

After a 90-minute meeting in the Capitol, Pelosi issued a statement saying that she and Mnuchin would continue to talk. “We found areas where we are seeking further clarification,” she said. Their negotiations were expected to resume Thursday.

“We made a lot of progress over the last few days. We still don’t have an agreement,” Mnuchin said after meeting with Pelosi and briefing top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell.

At the very least, the positive tone set by Pelosi and Mnuchin represented an improvement over earlier statements. But there is still a considerable gulf between the two sides, McConnell said.

Meadow cautioned that Trump won’t approach a $2 trillion threshold. But there’s plenty of wiggle room in numbers so large, and the revenue picture for many states is not as alarming as feared when a huge $3.4 trillion Democratic aid bill passed in May.

In a Wednesday appearance on Fox Business, Mnuchin described the talks as the first serious discussions with Pelosi in several weeks and said he is raising his offer into “the neighborhood” of $1.5 trillion. That’s well above what many Senate Republicans want but would probably be acceptable to GOP pragmatists and senators in difficult races.

After initially saying the Democratic-controlled chamber would vote Wednesday night on a $2.2 trillion relief bill — a debate that would have been partisan and possibly unproductive — Pelosi made an about-face and postponed the vote until Thursday in hopes of giving the talks with Mnuchin greater breathing room.

At issue is a long-delayed package that would extend another round of $1,200 direct stimulus payments, restore bonus pandemic jobless benefits, speed aid to schools and extend assistance to airlines, restaurants and other struggling businesses. A landmark $2 trillion relief bill in March passed with sweeping support

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