Fox News hosts laud Michelle Obama's DNC speech: 'Sliced and diced' Trump

Fox News panel had high praise to offer after former first lady Michelle Obama’s address at the Democratic National Convention Monday night.

In her nearly 19-minute speech, Obama denounced President Donald Trump for creating chaos and division and failing to lead with empathy and competence. She also urged Americans to bring his presidency to an end and elect former Vice President Joe Biden.

Many right-wing figures, including some Fox News contributors, criticized the address online. Fox News chose not to air much of the first portion of the convention, opting instead to show Sean Hannity interviewing Donald Trump Jr. Nonetheless, the conservative network’s panel for the convention was apparently impressed by Obama’s speech.

“It’s very difficult to try to connect with an audience without an actual audience there with you but she has the ability to connect with people through the screen,” Fox News anchor Dana Perino said. “You got the sense when you talk about authenticity, she has it in spades.”

“She has that voice, she has clarity, and she knows what she is out there wanting to do,” Perino added. “She was trying to get everybody to really focus and then she had a call to action. Ask for your ballot tonight. I think that the DNC if they look over the course of the night, the first virtual convention of our history, I think they would say that Michelle Obama stuck the landing.”

 

Fox News host Chris Wallace agreed, saying Obama’s speech was a “heck of a contribution” to Biden’s campaign.

“She really flayed, sliced and diced Donald Trump, talking about the chaos and confusion and lack of empathy, especially coming from this president and from this White House,” he said.

Juan Williams, a network co-host and political analyst, said he believed Obama’s address outdid her rousing “When they go low, we go high” speech in July 2016. He compared the tone she took with viewers as something like that of a mother addressing her family.

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Even conservative analyst Brit Hume had mostly positive notes to offer.

“She was very good, she’s a very good speaker, for someone who doesn’t like politics she certainly is good at it,” he said. However, Hume also claimed Obama’s remarks were “laced with distortions and exaggerations.”

Former DNC chair Donna Brazile, now a Fox News contributor, said she was disappointed that Obama didn’t mention Biden’s historic running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). 

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Pelosi Calls On House To Return Early To Vote On Postal Service Legislation

Nancy Pelosi

“Lives, livelihoods and the life of our American Democracy are under threat from the President,” the House Speaker wrote.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday the chamber will return from its vacation early to vote on legislation meant to limit changes to the Postal Service ahead of the presidential election in November. 

The California Democrat said she would call on the House to return to the Capitol in the coming days.

“Lives, livelihoods and the life of our American Democracy are under threat from the President,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues. “That is why I am calling upon the House to return to session later this week to vote on Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman [Carolyn B.] Maloney’s ‘Delivering for America Act,’ which prohibits the Postal Service from implementing any changes to operations or level of service it had in place on January 1, 2020.”

The House was not scheduled to return until Sept. 14, but the vote on the Postal Service legislation will likely take place Saturday, both Politico and The New York Times reported. The House Democratic leader, Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), will announce a final schedule on the vote in the next few days.

The abrupt return to Congress comes amid growing concerns about the Postal Service as an unprecedented number of Americans are expected to vote by mail in November’s upcoming election because of changes to absentee voting rules and the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
President Donald Trump’s new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, enacted changes to mail service that voting rights advocates worry could disenfranchise many voters who could have trouble getting their ballots in time.

DeJoy, a top Republican megadonor and supporter of the president, took over the Postal Service in May and quickly moved to limit overtime for postal workers and remove mail-sorting machines from some processing centers.

The agency recently warned 46 states that it couldn’t guarantee that all mailed ballots would be delivered to voters in time (Americans are also deeply concerned about getting regular mail, including prescriptions and paychecks).

DeJoy moved to assuage those concerns earlier this month by saying the Postal Service still had “ample capacity to deliver all election mail securely and on time,” arguing that he instituted the changes to keep the agency from losing money because of a “broken business model.”

The moves sparked public outrage, and the Postal Service said that it would stop removing mailboxes around the country for 90 days. The White House, meanwhile, said it would not take any more sorting machines offline before Election Day.

But Democrats have called for DeJoy to testify before lawmakers to address “why they are pushing these dangerous new policies that threaten to silence the voices of millions just months before the election.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on the chamber’s Republican leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.), to bring back the Senate early as well.

“I call on Leader McConnell to bring the Senate back into session to quickly act on the House’s legislation that will undo the extensive damage Mr. DeJoy has done at the Postal Service so that people can get their paychecks, medicines and other necessities delivered on time and to ensure our elections will remain completely free and fair,” Schumer said in a statement Sunday night.

Pelosi on Sunday called the Postal Service a “pillar of our democracy” and urged her colleagues to move to protect the agency.

“In a time of a pandemic, the Postal Service is Election Central,” she wrote. “Americans should not have to choose between their health and their vote.”

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USPS Removes Mailboxes, Shuts Down Letter-Sorting Machines As Mail-In Voting Looms

As Trump’s postmaster thwarts the Postal Service, the USPS warns 46 states that mail-in ballots may not be delivered on time, potentially canceling out those votes.

The U.S. Postal Service removed mail collection boxes in at least four states and is eliminating automatic letter-sorting machines that speed delivery ahead of an expected surge of mail-in ballots in the Nov. 3 elections.

As the Postal Service began to dismantle its own process for speedy mail delivery, it sent a letter to 46 states warning that voters could be disenfranchised because their mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to make vote deadlines, The Washington Post reported Friday. Some states are quickly moving up deadlines, forcing voters to request or cast ballots sooner.

The startling actions appear to support accusations by Democratic lawmakers and voting rights groups that Postal Service management — now headed by major Donald Trump contributor Louis DeJoy — is sabotaging mail delivery before Election Day.

The USPS has removed mailboxes in Oregon, Montana, Indiana and  in Manhattan. Trucks filled with the blue metal boxes alarmed Oregon residents in Portland, where four were removed, and Eugene (28 boxes) this week. A USPS spokesperson said they’re being removed because of “declining” mail volume, The Oregonian reported Thursday.

The agency planned to remove 68 of the collection boxes in Montana, but the operation was placed “on hold” as of Friday after dozens were taken, following a report by a local NBC station and a complaint by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.). The USPS later issued a statement that it would stop removing letter boxes in 16 states and sections of two others in the western region of the agency until after the election, CNN reported.

The USPS is also currently eliminating hundreds of mail sorting machines that have significantly speeded up mail processing. 

Cost-cutting moves are already delaying mail delivery by as much as a week, according to The Washington Post. Some states, meanwhile, are anticipating 10 times the normal volume of election mail as voters seek to avoid the risk of contracting COVID-19 by voting in person.

Trump has already declared the Nov. 3 election the “most corrupt” in American history because of the anticipated wide use of mail-in ballots, even before any votes have been cast. He has claimed, without any evidence, that the mail-in ballots will be “rigged,” even though he and first lady Melania Trump on Wednesday requested their own mail-in ballots for Tuesday’s Florida primary.

On Thursday, the president all but admitted he is blocking a desperately needed infusion of funds to the cash-strapped Postal Service, knowing it will hamstring voting by mail.

“We have an underfunded state and local election system and a deliberate slowdown in the Postal Service,” Wendy Fields, the executive director of the nonpartisan Democracy Initiativetold The New York Times last month. Trump is “deliberately orchestrating suppression and using the Post Office as a tool to do it,” she said.

Vanita Gupta, a Justice Department official in the Obama administration and currently president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, characterized  the situation as the “weaponization of the U.S. Postal Service for the president’s electoral purposes.”

It’s “completely outrageous that the U.S. Postal Service is in this position,” she told the Post.

Vice was the first to report Thursday that 19 mail-sorting machines from five USPS processing facilities had been removed. The USPS told Vice that the change was part of routine adaptations to mail and package volume

But both Vice and CNN obtained a report revealing that the USPS is in the process of eliminating about 15% of the machines, which can each sort as much as 35,000 pieces of mail an hour, according to Vice. Loss of the sorters will significantly delay mail processing and delivery.

CNN reported Thursday that postal officials cited decreased mail volume and a need for efficiency for the removal of the sorting machines.

The changes come on top of an internal memo last month that announced a halt to overtime pay for letter carriers and a new limit on hours when mail can be delivered.

After those cuts were revealed, the watchdog organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington called for an immediate investigation into the agency’s mail-in ballot “voter suppression tactics.” 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and eight other lawmakers on Thursday also called on the USPS inspector general to investigate the policy changes — as well as newly revealed ethics issues concerning DeJoy.

DeJoy, who has no experience working in the USPS, is a prominent Trump donor and the former lead fundraiser for the Republican National Committee. He stands to profit from an implosion of the Postal Service. CNN reported earlier this week that DeJoy continues to hold a $30 million equity stake in his former company, XPO Logistics, a USPS contractor, which could conceivably partner with a competitor if the agency stumbles.

DeJoy also purchased Amazon stock options after he was appointed postmaster general, giving him the right to buy new shares of Amazon at a price much lower than their current market price, according to his financial disclosure filings.

CNN reported Friday that the inspector general of the USPS has launched an investigation into DeJoy’s policy changes and potential ethics conflicts.

“We have initiated a body of work to address the concerns raised, but cannot comment on the details,” Agapi Doulaveris, a spokesperson for the USPS watchdog, told CNN in an email. Documents have already been requested, according to CNN.


Another Trip To Bedminster Means More Taxpayer And Donor Money In Trump’s Pocket

trump golf

The president is back at his New Jersey golf resort, bringing his taxpayer-paid golf tab to $142 million.

President Donald Trump returned to his New Jersey golf course Friday to host a campaign event, meaning yet more donor and tax dollars flowing into his own cash registers.

New York City’s police union is set to endorse Trump’s reelection at his Bedminster resort Friday evening, allowing it to charge Trump’s campaign for the rental of the meeting space and catering. Taxpayers, meanwhile, must pay for rooms and food for Secret Service agents and other staff during his stay.

Neither the Trump campaign nor the Trump Organization, his family business that runs his hotels and golf resorts, responded to HuffPost queries about how much the campaign would be charged for Friday’s event.

The Washington Post has reported that the Secret Service has been renting a cottage for agents to stay in for $17,000 a month, even when Trump is not there ― an amount higher than homes in the surrounding area rent for.

And filings with the Federal Election Commission by the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and its two joint fundraising committees show total payments of $86,982 to the golf course from the time Trump took office through June 30, 2020.

In all, those campaign committees have sent $6.9 million to Trump’s various businesses, including $639,031 to Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach, Florida, resort, $1.7 million to his hotel in New York City, and $1.6 million to Trump Tower for office space, even though the campaign is based in an Arlington, Virginia, high-rise a few miles from the White House.

This weekend’s trip to Trump National Bedminster is the president’s 23rd since taking office, and will increase his golf-related taxpayer tab to $142 million in travel and security expenses. Each trip to Bedminster costs taxpayers about $1.1 million, compared to $3.4 million per trip for his visits to Mar-a-Lago, of which there have been 30. Trump has also visited his golf courses in Los Angeles, Scotland, Ireland and Doral, Florida, beside the Miami airport, all on the taxpayer dime.

Trump frequently criticized his predecessor, Barack Obama, for playing too much golf, and promised during his campaign that he would be too busy to take any time off. “I just want to stay in the White House and work my ass off,” he said at a February 2016 rally.

Trump, however, has played golf on 2½ times as many days as Obama did through the same point in his term, and Trump’s golf outings have cost more than four times as much as Obama’s. The significantly higher expenses are due to Trump’s insistence on playing at his own resorts, while Obama played most of his rounds at military bases within short motorcade rides of the White House.

Trump has already spent 268 days on golf courses that he owns in his 1,303 days in office, of which 85 have been at Bedminster.

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AP FACT CHECK: Harris eligible to serve as VP, president

 President Trump and Sen. Kamala Harris. (Andrew Harnik/AP, Jeff Kowalski/AFP via Getty Images)

False claims that Kamala Harris is not legally eligible to serve as U.S. vice president or president have been circulating in social media posts since 2019, when she first launched her Democratic primary campaign.

On Thursday, after Harris was selected by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to serve as his running mate, President Donald Trump elevated the conspiracy while speaking to reporters from the White House podium.

A look at the claim:

THE CLAIM: Harris is ineligible to serve as vice president or president because her mother is from India and her father is from Jamaica. Trump said he “heard" the California senator doesn't meet the requirements, adding, “I have no if idea that’s right.”

THE FACTS: That’s false. Harris was born on Oct. 20, 1964, in Oakland, California, according to a copy of her birth certificate, obtained by The Associated Press.

Her mother, a cancer researcher from India, and her father, an economist from Jamaica, met as graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley.

Since she was born on U.S. soil, she is considered a natural born U.S. citizen under the 14th Amendment, and she is eligible to serve as either the vice president or president, Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School, told The Associated Press Thursday.

“Full stop, end of story, period, exclamation point,” Levinson said.

There is “no serious dispute” in the legal community around the idea that someone born in the U.S. can serve as president, said Juliet Sorensen, a law professor at Northwestern University.

“The VP has the same eligibility requirements as the president,” Sorensen said. “Kamala Harris, she has to be a natural-born citizen, at least 35 years old, and a resident in the United States for at least 14 years. She is. That’s really the end of the inquiry.”

Trump was asked directly about the social media posts by a reporter Thursday. “I heard today that she doesn’t meet the requirements,” Trump said in response.

The false claims first started circulating on social media in 2019, during Harris’ presidential campaign, and they were revived against last week, days ahead of her selection as Biden's running mate. Facebook posts falsely said she would not be eligible to take over for Biden, because her parents were both immigrants.

“I can’t believe people are making this idiotic comment,” Laurence Tribe, a Harvard University professor of constitutional law, told The Associated Press at the time. “She is a natural-born citizen and there is no question about her eligibility to run.”

Trump was a high-profile force behind the so-called “birther movement” — the lie that questioned whether President Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black president, was eligible to serve. Only after mounting pressure during his 2016 campaign did Trump disavow the claims.

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