D.N.C. Live Updates: House Judiciary Democrats Urge Criminal Inquiry of Postmaster

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Credit…Michelle Gustafson for The New York Times

Two Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee urged the F.B.I. director on Monday to open a criminal investigation into the role that the postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, played in mail delays that they said threaten to compromise the November election.

The committee members, Representatives Ted W. Lieu of California and Hakeem Jeffries of New York, made the request in a two-page letter to the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray. They also called on the bureau to scrutinize the actions of the Postal Service’s Board of Governors.

“Multiple media investigations show that Postmaster DeJoy and the Board of Governors have retarded the passage of mail,” they wrote. “If their intent in doing so was to affect mail-in balloting or was motivated by personal financial reasons, then they likely committed crimes.”

The letter was first reported by MSNBC.

Mr. Lieu and Mr. Jeffries serve on the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.

“There is overwhelming evidence that Postmaster General DeJoy and the Board of Governors have hindered the passage of mail,” they wrote. “At least 19 mail sorting machines, which can process 35,000 pieces of mail per hour, have been dismantled and over 671 are slated for reductions later this year.”

The Postal Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday morning.

The letter comes as Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California called the House back from its annual summer recess almost a month early to vote this week on legislation to block changes at the Postal Service that voting rights advocates warn could disenfranchise Americans casting ballots by mail during the pandemic.

The White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, signaled openness on Sunday to providing emergency funding to help the agency handle a surge in mail-in ballots, and Democratic state attorneys general said they were exploring legal action against cutbacks and changes at the Postal Service.

The moves underscored rising concern across the country over the integrity of the November election and how the Postal Service will handle as many as 80 million ballots cast by Americans worried about venturing to polling stations because of the coronavirus. President Trump has, without evidence, repeatedly derided mail voting as vulnerable to fraud, and the issue had become a prominent sticking point in negotiations over the next round of coronavirus relief.




The Political Conventions Are Starting. Here’s What to Expect.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed nearly every facet of life in 2020, and the political conventions are no exception. Our reporters catch you up on what you need to know.

“I accept —” “— your nomination —” “— for president —” “— of the United States.” [cheers and applause] The conventions. “It’s when a lot of people start taking the race seriously.” “I’ve been to pretty much every convention since 1988.” “Read my lips.” “Normally, a convention is wild.” But in 2020, things are a little different. “The pandemic has changed virtually every aspect of the 2020 campaign.” “I think it’s defining the election. And I think you’re seeing that in the way they’re approaching the conventions.” “You could say that it has caused a reckoning about, do political conventions even matter at all? Can’t we just do this whole process without them?” So, how did the conventions grow to the spectacles they are today? “What do you mean, ‘shut up’?” And what will this year hold? “Conventions have been around for about a century in various forms.” “1944: The Democratic Convention in Chicago, Illinois, lifted the roof.” “I mean, it used to be, like, you’d have these really dramatic nomination fights.” “I feel absolutely confident that, in this convention, I’m going to be the winner.” “And floor fights.” “I don’t care!” “Keep your hands off of me!” “And things about platform and who should be allowed. The networks used to give these things around-the-clock attention, gavel to gavel. And most of that stuff is gone.” Over time, the process evolved. And now candidates are chosen based on the results of primaries and caucuses, so there aren’t many surprises. “And what has happened to the conventions is they have become this sort of four-night advertisement for the candidates —” “Thank you.” “— and their parties.” “If you believe that we must be fierce and relentless and terminate terrorism, then you are a Republican.” [cheers] But generally, that format hasn’t really changed. “The critique of conventions is that they’re just kind of like a dinosaur.” [music, Los Del Rio, “Macarena”] “They’re a relic of a past age of politics.” The challenge for campaigns this year — “Good afternoon, everybody.” — is how to pack in substance and excitement virtually. “How do you do a convention in the midst of a pandemic?” “The campaigns have really struggled to carry on since the pandemic.” “Good morning.” “Joe Biden is a helpless puppet —” “In contrast to Trump’s desire to keep campaigning, Biden has been at home, for the most part.” “The Democratic Party has approached the convention and Covid —” “Hey, good evening, Tampa.” “— much more conservatively, small C, than the Republican Party.” “We saved millions of lives. And now, it’s time to open up, get back to work, OK?” So what is actually going to happen? Well, the plan has changed — a lot. “The Democrats had hoped to have a big, splashy convention in Milwaukee. Then the virus intervened.” So the Democrats went to an almost entirely virtual convention. “And we ultimately received the call that even Joe Biden would not actually be traveling to Milwaukee to give his speech in person.” Instead, now all speakers, including Biden, will deliver their addresses from around the country. And the R.N.C.? “The Republicans had hoped to hold the convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.” But after North Carolina required masks and social distancing rules, the R.N.C. moved the main events to Jacksonville. Then cases spiked in Florida. “I looked at my team, and I said, ‘The timing for this event is not right.’” So now, they’ll be mostly virtual as well. And Trump will give his speech accepting the party nomination from Washington, D.C. “The challenge for both of these conventions is, what can you do to engage the American electorate that is already very tired of sitting on Zooms all day? What can you do to ensure that they tune in anyway and get energized?” “— is Jimmy Carter and I’m running for president.” “In terms of presenting the candidate to the nation, there are two moments to watch. One’s the roll call.” “We’re now prepared to call the roll of the state.” “Roll call vote!” This is where the delegates formally nominate the candidate. “California casts 33-and- one-half votes for Kennedy.” “And it’s kind of corny, but it’s kind of cool. But it’s kind of corny.” “75 votes for President George W. Bush!” “This year, I guess, it’ll be a Zoom call. And the other is the speech.” “Extremism in the defense of liberty —” “Let us build a peace.” “Let me be the bridge to an America that only the unknowing call myth.” “This is the biggest audience they will have for their pitch to Americans.” “The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation —” “This is their chance to lay out their vision for the future of the country.” “— I alone can fix it.” This year, Biden and Trump will give these speeches to, well, primarily a TV camera. “Giving a speech without an audience and without having a constant loop of audience feedback does look poised to present a challenge for both of the presidential contenders.” So are there any potential benefits to this? “One of the sort of benefits of the pandemic is that people in, well, a lot of the country are still locked at home. The question is, Are you going to watch reruns of ‘The Sopranos,’ or are you going to watch the convention?” “I think there’s a lot of fear and a lot of interest. And people really want to know how these different leaders are going to lead us through this pandemic and through the economic crisis that accompanied it.” But there’s also potentially a whole lot of downside. “You lose the energy that, presumably, you send delegates out into the world with to begin the fall campaign.” “For the president, what he’s missing out on is showing off this contrast from four years ago, when there was a lot of dissent against him.” “Stand and speak and vote your conscience.” “He would be able to show that, four years later, the party is in lockstep with him.” “They don’t call it Super Tuesday for nothing!” “Joe Biden is missing these big moments that would show someone who has struggled to look like a real candidate with a lot of enthusiasm behind him.” “Just this morning we heard we won Maine as well.” “Yeah, right!” So is it time to rethink conventions altogether? “I think the conventions matter less this year than ever — partly because neither one of them is happening in a normal way, but also because this election seems more than anything to be a referendum about Donald Trump. It’s really Donald Trump against Donald Trump.” “You’re fired! Get out!” “We’re just getting started.” And don’t expect the rest of the campaign to resume any sort of normalcy soon. “Historically, the conventions do mark the beginning of a really intense general election campaign cycle. But the subsequent activities after the convention — door-to-door engaging of those voters, how those voters actually cast their ballots — all of that is set to look extraordinarily different this year.” “So, we are in my tiny, postage stamp-sized backyard in Washington.” “We’re in my backyard in Hollywood, California.” “And I am currently at home in New York City, about to head to Delaware.” “It’s very hot. It’s very buggy. But we’re making the best of it.” “Hi. I’m Sarah Kerr, the producer of this video. We spent weeks looking back through footage of old conventions and learning how they might be different this year. Now, they’re finally here. And they’re definitely going to be unconventional. Check out nytimes.com every night for live video and analysis. We’ll see you there.”

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The coronavirus pandemic has changed nearly every facet of life in 2020, and the political conventions are no exception. Our reporters catch you up on what you need to know.CreditCredit…Photo Illustration by The New York Times

Greetings from the Democratic convention in Milwaukee!

Oh, wait, not really. Like the candidates, delegates, contributors and hangers-on, most of the New York Times team covering the convention this week — and the Republican convention next week — is everywhere but Milwaukee. But we are looking to see how the party, and the nation, adjust to this latest challenge of running a presidential campaign during a pandemic.

Here are a few things I’ll be watching for:

  • Can Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee, adjust to speaking to a room that does not have a crowd? If he does, and the signs in his limited appearances so far are promising for him, that could give him a decided advantage over President Trump, who has struggled to modulate his tone as he faces a campaign without rallies.

  • Will the Democratic Party in the post-Biden era — no, it’s not too soon to think about this — be the party of Kamala Harris, the California senator and presumptive vice-presidential nominee? From Andrew M. Cuomo in the East to Gretchen Whitmer in the middle of the country to Gavin Newsom in the West, there will be a lot of Democrats trying to use this time to stake a claim on the party’s future. That’s going to be much more difficult in a format in which most speeches are limited to less than five minutes.

  • How will Ms. Harris define her role as a vice-presidential candidate? Will she speak mostly about Mr. Biden, Mr. Trump or Ms. Harris? This will probably be the biggest platform she will have, short of the vice-presidential debate, until Election Day.

  • Balloons and boos. Many longtime convention goers are going to miss the dramatic balloon drop at the end of the fourth night. (Even better, truth be told, is when they flub the balloon drop.) But it’s a good guess that the convention organizers are not going to miss another convention staple: the inevitable boos from Democratic dissidents.

Enjoy. We will keep updating this campaign briefing until the final balloon — sorry, until the final gavel drops. Or at least until our Zoom time expires.

The Democratic National Convention will air from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern time every day, Monday through Thursday.

On Monday, the speakers are: Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina; Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada; Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York; Senator Doug Jones of Alabama; former Gov. John Kasich of Ohio; Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; Representative Gwen Moore of Wisconsin; Michelle Obama, the former first lady; Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont; Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi; and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan.

There are several ways to watch:

  • The official livestream will be here. It will also be available on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Twitch.

  • ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News will carry the convention from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. each night. C-SPAN, CNN, MSNBC and PBS will cover the full two hours each night.

  • Streams will be available on Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV by searching “Democratic National Convention” or “2020 DNC,” and on Amazon Prime Video by searching “DNC.”

  • The convention will air on AT&T U-verse (channels 212 and 1212) and AT&T DirectTV (channel 201). It will also air on Comcast Xfinity Flex and Comcast X1 (say “DNC” into your voice remote).

  • You can watch on a PlayStation 4 or PSVR through the Littlstar app.

  • If you have an Alexa device, you can say “Alexa, play the Democratic National Convention.”

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

In the months since Senator Bernie Sanders ended his campaign for president, progressive candidates have notched once-improbable primary victories against longtime Democratic incumbents. Each member of the so-called Squad, the group of progressive women of color in the House, will almost certainly return to Washington. The coronavirus pandemic has revitalized support nationwide for progressive policy proposals including “Medicare for all.”

In that time, Mr. Sanders has quietly faded back into Senate life. Aside from endorsing some fellow progressives down the ballot, he has largely kept his focus on the public health crisis. One of his latest initiatives was to introduce legislation that would provide “masks for all.”

On Monday, Mr. Sanders will address the Democratic National Convention and once again make his case for the progressive cause. Once again, he will deliver a speech as a losing candidate to rally his loyal followers behind another nominee.

But this is not 2016. While Mr. Sanders nominally lent his support to Hillary Clinton at this point four years ago, he never stopped arguing that he had been mistreated in the primary — that the election was rigged and the entire political system was, too — an air of grievance that his followers took with them to the convention floor.

That 2016 gathering was overshadowed by hacked emails from D.N.C. accounts showing party officials eager to help Mrs. Clinton and undercut Mr. Sanders — a revelation that left the party’s Clinton and Sanders wings deeply divided and confirmed the longstanding complaints of bias from the Vermont senator.

Mr. Sanders is still stubborn, still passionate and still convinced he would have made the best president. But this year, he also appears to be something else: at peace.

Credit…Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times

MILWAUKEE — In a year of canceled plans, with vacations, graduations and sports seasons upended by the coronavirus crisis, the stretch of downtown Milwaukee where Democrats were supposed to hold their nominating convention this week was quiet and sparsely populated — another reminder of a summer lost.

Instead of thousands of Democrats preparing to gather at the newly built Fiserv Forum, there was just one street blocked off this weekend near the smaller Wisconsin Center, which will host the last few parts of the Democratic National Convention that will still take place in this city. Hotels were closed, restaurants were empty and the bars of America’s most beer-loving city were eerily barren.

“What convention?” said Michaela Jaggi, a 21-year-old who passed by the Wisconsin Center on Saturday afternoon.

She eventually remembered: Mr. Biden was supposed to accept the Democratic nomination for president here this week. And the Democratic Party, shamed for not adequately investing in Wisconsin during the 2016 election, was to showcase its commitment to an all-important Electoral College state.

That was before the virus crisis forced Democrats to transform their convention into a virtual event, in which none of the leading participants will actually appear from Milwaukee.

“I’ve spent all these months in my apartment,” Ms. Jaggi said. “I guess it was cool they were coming here, but it’s responsible they’re not anymore.”

Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

President Trump is struggling to attract and retain a reliable stable of millionaires and billionaires willing to write seven-figure checks, despite his takeover of the Republican Party and a policy agenda that largely serves the interests of America’s ultrawealthy. Thus far, only six of the top 38 donors to Trump-related super PACs in 2016 and 2018 have contributed to America First for the president’s re-election, according to a New York Times analysis of federal campaign finance data.

Mr. Trump is hardly lacking for cash; he has received huge numbers of small donations online from a fervent grass-roots base, and he raised a jaw-dropping $165 million in July for his campaign and the two fund-raising committees that he shares with the Republican National Committee. The Trump Victory fund, one of those committees, has also collected respectable sums through donations that cannot exceed $580,600 — as opposed to super PACs, which are vessels for unlimited contributions.

But the president’s sagging popularity, driven by his erratic and divisive behavior during the coronavirus crisis, has prompted some of the wealthiest Republicans — the heavy artillery of modern politics — to delay, divert or diminish their giving, just as Joseph R. Biden Jr. has begun to tap a rich vein of Wall Street and Silicon Valley support, party operatives and donors said in interviews.

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