1/ Russia, China, and Iran have all recently attempted to hack people and organizations involved in the 2020 presidential election. An investigation by Microsoft’s cybersecurity experts concluded that it’s the same Russian military unit that oversaw the “hack and leak” campaign of Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential election. The report said the Russian group had targeted more than 200 organizations that “are directly or indirectly affiliated with the upcoming U.S. election.” Chinese hackers targeted Biden’s campaign and at least one person formerly associated with the Trump administration, while Iranian hackers tried to log into the accounts of Trump administration officials and Trump campaign staff. The findings come a day after a whistleblower claimed that the White House and the Department of Homeland Security had tried to “censor or manipulate” intelligence on Russia’s interference because it “made the president look bad,” and instructed government analysts to focus on interference by China and Iran. (CNN / Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC)

  • The U.S. Treasury sanctioned a member of the Ukrainian Parliament for alleged efforts to interfere in the U.S. presidential election, accusing him of being “an active Russian agent” involved in Moscow’s “covert influence campaign” to interfere in the 2020 U.S. election. Andrii Derkach, who met with Rudy Giuliani in December, had promoted “false and unsubstantiated” allegations about Biden “from at least late 2019 through mid-2020.” Derkach had also worked with Giuliani to dig up information on Biden, and his son Hunter. Three other Russian nationals who also sanctioned – Artem Lifshits, Anton Andreyev and Darya Aslanova – for their work at the Russian troll factory known as the Internet Research Agency. (Politico / Bloomberg / CNN / BuzzFeed News / CNBC / Axios)

2/ Russian hackers targeted one of Biden’s election campaign advisory firms. Microsoft recently alerted the campaign that over the past two months, the hackers targeted staff at the Washington-based campaign strategy and communications firm, SKDKnickerbocker, which has been working with Biden and other Democrats. The hackers failed to gain access to the firm’s networks. Meanwhile, a Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the allegations as “nonsense.” It is unclear whether Biden’s campaign was the target or whether the hackers were attempting to gain access to information about other SKDK clients. (Reuters)

3/ Senate Republicans failed to advance their coronavirus stimulus bill – four months after House Democrats passed their $3 trillion plan. The $300 billion package would have reinstated enhanced federal unemployment insurance at $300 per week through Dec. 27 – half of the $600 weekly payment that expired at the end of July – established legal protections for businesses and health providers, added funding for testing and vaccines, and provided money for schools and child care. Democrats called the package inadequate and refused to accept any proposal less than $2.2 trillion, arguing that it did little to address the economic devastation of the pandemic. The package fell short of the 60 votes needed to move toward passage with all Democrats and one Republican opposed, leaving no clear path forward for economic relief before the November elections. (CNN / Washington Post / ABC News / CNBC / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian)

  • COVID-19 has claimed over 900,000 live globally, with the United States accounting for more than a fifth of the fatalities. (NBC News)

  • The algorithm used by the Department of Health and Human Services to allocate pandemic relief money to hospitals discriminates against predominantly Black communities. (Bloomberg)

  • People who tested positive for COVID-19 were more than twice as likely to report eating or drinking at a bar or restaurant in the past two weeks. (NBC News)

4/ Unemployment claims remained unchanged at 884,000 people last week. Continuing claims, meanwhile, increased to 13.385 million. Overall about 29.6 million people are receiving some form of assistance from state and federal programs. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, has fallen to 8.4%. [Editor’s note: The Labor Department changed how it seasonally adjusts and reports the numbers, so the past two weeks’ totals are not directly comparable to reports from earlier in the pandemic.] (Bloomberg / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

5/ The Justice Department charged 57 people with stealing more than $175 million from the Paycheck Protection Program meant to help small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. Federal law enforcement authorities have reportedly identified nearly 500 individuals suspected of committing coronavirus-related loan fraud and have opened “several hundred” investigations. (CNBC / Politico / New York Times)

  • Congressional Democrats accused a top Trump administration health official of “extensive abuse” of millions in taxpayer dollars to boost her “personal brand.” The leaders from four congressional committees are calling on Seema Verma to “personally reimburse the taxpayers for these inappropriate expenditures.” (Politico / CNBC)

6/ Trump bragged that he protected Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from Congress after ordering the assassination of the American journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “Yeah, but Iran is killing 36 people a day, so —” Trump told Bob Woodward for his upcoming book, “Rage,” before Woodward redirected the conversation. “I saved his ass,” Trump reportedly said. “I was able to get Congress to leave him alone. I was able to get them to stop.” The CIA concluded that Prince Mohammed had personally ordered Khashoggi’s murder. Trump has used executive power to veto a bipartisan bill to end U.S. support for the Saudis in Yemen, as well as bypass congressional efforts to block an $8 billion arms sales to Saudi Arabia. (Business Insider)

7/ Trump called a reporter a “disgrace” after asking why the president lied to Americans about the severity of COVID-19. ABC News correspondent Jon Karl – referring to audio recordings from February of Trump saying COVID-19 was “deadly” while he was publicly minimizing the threat of the coronavirus – asked Trump during a news conference: “Why did you lie to the American people, and why should we trust what you have to say now?” Trump didn’t answer the question, but instead replied: “That’s a terrible question and the phraseology. I didn’t lie. What I said is we have to be calm. We can’t be panicked.” Trump insisted that he was a leader and it was his duty to have “confidence in our country” and not “instill panic” by “jump[ing] up and down and start shouting that we have a problem that is a tremendous problem.” But as one Trump campaign adviser said: “Hard to say fake news when there is audio of his comments.” (Politico / The Hill / New York Times / CNN / Axios)

  • 📚 The WTF Just Happened Today? Book List

  • [Woodward Book] Trump said he does not believe he has a responsibility to understand the “anger and pain” felt by Black Americans because of his privileged upbringing. (NBC News)

  • [Woodward Book] Trump claimed that North Korea’s Kim Jong Un told him how he had his own uncle killed, bragging that Kim “tells me everything.” (ABC News)

poll/ 46% of American households report facing serious financial pain during the coronavirus pandemic. 54% of those with household incomes under $100,000 reported serious financial problems, compared to 20% of households with incomes greater than $100,000. 35% say they have used up all or most of their savings, and 28% report serious problems paying off debt. (NPR)

poll/ 51% of voters in six 2020 swing states said Trump is mentally unfit to be president, while 49% said he is fit to hold the job. Similarly, 52% to 48%, also responded that Biden is mentally unfit to be president. (CNBC)

poll/ 61% of voters would prefer to vote before Election Day, compared to 39% who would prefer to vote on Election Day. 46% of voters said they are uncomfortable going to a polling place. (Washington Post)


⚡️ Notables.

  1. Trump unveiled a revised list of 20 potential Supreme Court justices that includes Sens. Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz. Trump’s top aides and advisors have encouraged him for months to release an updated list of justices ahead of Election Day as a way to remind his base what’s at stake on November 3. Cotton said he was “honored” to be selected for the list and that he believes “the Supreme Court could use some more justices who understand the difference between applying the law and making the law.” Cruz said in a statement that he is “grateful for the president’s confidence in me and for his leadership in nominating principled constitutionalists to the federal bench.” The list’s release was originally slated to take place prior to the Republican National Convention. (Axios / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  2. A federal judge rejected Trump’s bid to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that Trump’s inaugural committee and the Trump Organization misused nonprofit funds to enrich Trump’s businesses. The suit was brought by D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine in January and claims that Trump’s inaugural committee was aware that it was being overcharged for services at Trump’s D.C. hotel in 2017 and still spent over $1 million at the hotel. Some of the money was spent on a private party for Trump’s three older children. Part of the inaugural committee’s argument is that Racine’s office failed to show a violation of the Nonprofit Act and that the committee is not “continuing to act” in violation of the law. D.C. Superior Court Judge José López rejected that argument and allowed the suit to move forward. (NBC News)

  3. Trump’s reelection campaign asked a federal judge in Las Vegas to block a Nevada law and prevent mail-in ballots from being sent to all active voters in the state. Lawyers for the campaign argues that sending ballots to nearly 1.7 million active voters will hurt Republicans and “‘confuse’ their voters and ‘create incentive’ to stay away from the polls.” The campaign also argued that it forces Republicans to divert resources to “educating Nevada voters on those changes and encouraging them to still vote.” (ABC News)


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