State attorneys general sue Trump administration over Postal Service changes

The attorneys general of Pennsylvania and Washington are leading a group of 20 states in a pair of lawsuits to stop service changes at the U.S. Postal Service ahead of the election, despite the postmaster general’s pledge to hold off on cost-cutting measures as the states prepared their lawsuits Tuesday, reports CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak.

“I will not let my foot off the gas so long as the postal officials continue to violate the law through the procedural steps that are here,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who today announced he would be suing President Trump.

The lawsuits come after a series of moves by USPS to cut overtime for carriers, and remove ballot-sorting machines — all as the country gears up for a massive influx of votes cast by mail for the November election. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump mega-donor, has come under recent scrutiny for the operational changes and is the defendant in both cases.

Shapiro and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson contend that DeJoy’s changes were illegal because he skipped required procedures, including a public comment period. Ferguson, who filed Washington’s lawsuit this afternoon, said 13 additional states, including the battlegrounds of Michigan and Wisconsin, signed on. They’re suing President Trump, DeJoy and the USPS.

“Look, what’s going on right now is nothing less than a full-on assault by this administration on the U.S. Postal Service, an institution that millions of Americans rely on every single day,” he said. Shapiro said he plans to file a lawsuit against DeJoy and USPS Board of Governors Chair Robert Duncan in the coming days, and that nearly a half dozen other states have signed on, although he expects the number will eventually be as high as 20.

Of the 25 Democratic state attorneys general across the country, 21 have filed against the president and/or the Postal Service. Three that have not, New Jersey, New York, and Washington D.C., told CBS News campaign reporter Cara Korte Tuesday that they plan similar lawsuits in the coming days.

The only Democratic attorney general to not act on the matter was Iowa’s Tom Miller. In a statement, Miller said Iowa’s Republican Governor Kim Reynolds blocked his request to join the lawsuit.

“I’m encouraged that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has temporarily suspended some changes,” Miller tweeted. “He should reverse what’s already been done, however. My AG colleagues are going to court to ensure his promises are binding.”

According to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster, Miller reached an agreement last year with Reynolds that requires Miller to get approval from the governor pursuing legal cases on behalf of Iowa. Shapiro said no Republican state attorneys general have yet signed on.

FROM THE CANDIDATES

JOE BIDEN

Joe Biden’s history with the Democratic conventions is a long one, CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson reports, in a look back at how the former vice president used the quadrennial gatherings to chart the course of his long career in politics. Biden has attended almost every convention for the past 50 years. When he accepts his party’s nomination on Thursday night, it will be his seventh convention address.

Erickson also spoke with the first-ever person to vote for Biden to be the Democratic presidential nominee. That happened in 1984 when a second-grade teacher from Maine was impressed by Biden’s charisma. The delegate, now a Florida retiree, said she didn’t think it would take this long for Biden to rise to the top. Read much more here about Biden’s 48 years of being playing a supporting role for past Democratic nominees. This week he’ll be center stage.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

The Trump campaign has launched a series of new digital advertisements calling into question the mental acuity of Joe Biden, reports CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga. In counterprogramming to the Democratic National Convention, the president’s re-election bid has released the slew of campaign ads, playing on rotation during a 96-hour takeover of YouTube’s home page banner. “It’s an uncomfortable conversation to have, but voters deserve to be able to assess Joe Biden’s capabilities by seeing him and listening to him in his own words, especially as compared to just a few years ago,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told CBS News, in a statement.

Biden said he has not taken a test to measure his cognitive ability, shrugging off the suggestion as President Trump and his campaign continue to question his mental fitness for office.

“No, I haven’t taken a test. Why the hell would I take a test? Come on, man,” Biden told CBS News correspondent Errol Barnett, earlier this month.

Addressing a crowd of over 900 gathered in Yuma, Arizona, at a campaign rally that defied CDC guidelines, President Trump bashed his Democratic opponent, baselessly alleging that if Joe Biden wins in November, there will be “a giant jail break for MS-13 and vicious criminal gangs.” The president called 2020 “the most consequential” election year in history. “And I never thought I’d say it because of what happened four years ago,” Mr. Trump added. “But this is going to be the most important election of your life.”

“Team Trump on Tour” is back on Twitter in time for the swing through Arizona this week, CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin reports. A spokesperson for the social media giant said it reinstated the handle after it says the “account was mistakenly caught in a spam filter.”

Twitter’s move had come after a swing through neighboring Nevada, where the president’s campaign says it held 12 stops across in two days across the state with the state’s GOP chairman Michael McDonald, former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, and American Conservative Union head Matt Schlapp. Grenell posted that he has asked Twitter “for a phone call to discuss the reasons” for the short-lived suspension, suggesting the account “was working fine until we reached out to Black and Latino supporters.”

And for the second day in a row, the Trump team campaigned in the battleground state of Wisconsin. A day after President Trump visited Oshkosh and claimed the only way he loses in November is if the election is rigged, son Eric stopped by the Milwaukee Police Association to reiterate the administration’s support for law enforcement. Vice President Pence is also scheduled to campaign in Wisconsin tomorrow.

Eric Trump showed up with “Cops for Trump” hats and delivered brief remarks, calling Democrats proposals to reform police departments as “dangerous” and “sad” policies. He claimed the same people who want to take away guns from Americans are the ones calling for defunding of police departments.

The president’s son told a crowd of roughly 30 people packed in a small room that America appreciates law enforcement, adding, “we as a family love you.” There was minimal attempt at social distancing or following other safety protocols at the event. Eric Trump showed up without a mask, spoke for less than 10 minutes and then spent the next 15 minutes shaking hands and taking photos with supporters.

Outside the venue, Trump and Biden supporters gathered before the event. For Scott Hana, a retired pharmacist from Milwaukee, the upcoming election is about showing support for police. “Now is the time to say, ‘hey, keep your heads up, and stick with it because we appreciate what you’re doing’,” Hanna said. “I can’t think of anything more important,” he added. Hanna said he doesn’t necessarily trust the Black Lives Matter movement because he believes “bad actors” are taking advantage of the moment. But he said he can’t blame the “regular Joe on the street” who wants to be treated the same as everyone else. He supported President Trump in 2016 and plans to vote for him again.

Meanwhile, Lisa Remmets, a photographer from nearby Brookfield told CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar there is no way she will vote for Mr. Trump in November. She thinks the president has blood on his hands and is putting the lives of Americans at risk because “he has done nothing about COVID.” Remmets said she voted for Mr. Trump in 2016 because she didn’t like Hillary Clinton and thought he “would manage our tax dollars better” than Clinton. “I had no idea that something like this would happen and that he was this much of a narcissist jerk,” Remmets said.

She added that she’s not a fan of Joe Biden either but will still cast her vote for him to protest the sitting president. Remmets, who recently lost a family friend to coronavirus, said, “Trump has to go.” She added, “Our house is burning right now. We need to put out the fire first and worry about the redecorating later.”

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM

ON THE AGENDA

Democrats kick off night two of the Democratic National Convention Tuesday with the theme “Leadership Matters.” Among speakers taking the spotlight for the virtual events are Dr. Jill Biden, former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and former Secretary of State John Kerry. During a call with reporters Tuesday morning, CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice says Kerry previewed his remarks, taking aim at President Trump not just for his handling of the coronavirus and economic fallout but also for his actions on the global stage. Kerry accused Mr. Trump of not caring about national security and creating consternation in the world with respect to U.S. alliances. “We will make it crystal clear to America and to the world that not only do we recognize that leadership matters, but that Joe Biden is going to bring us back,” Kerry said.

According to a source familiar with former President Bill Clinton’s speech, it will be his sharpest rebuke of President Trump to date, and he will address Mr. Trump by name. CBS News managing editorial producer Jenna Gibson is told Clinton wrote the speech himself. He discusses the economic crisis the country is faced with because of the coronavirus, but will argue it didn’t have to be this bad and that the U.S. shouldn’t be doing worse than other less developed countries.

The former president will also focus on what Biden brings to the table as a leader and how he will get the U.S. out of the economic mess it’s in. According to the source, he will go so far as to call the current situation “chaos.” While Clinton has been more measured in the past criticizing a current sitting president, CBS news is told this approach reflects his reaction to the number of deaths from the coronavirus.

Another voice lending Joe Biden support is Cindy McCain, the wife of late Republican Senator John McCain, though the video is not an official endorsement. A video airing on day 2 of the convention focuses on the “unlikely friendship” between Biden and John McCain, who was assigned to serve as a military aide to Senator Biden in the 1970s. They ended up traveling thousands of miles together and their families got to know each other, holding picnics in the Biden’s backyard. “They would just sit and joke, it was like a comedy show sometimes to watch the two of them,” Mrs. McCain can be heard saying in the video. McCain and Biden would end up on opposite sides of the ticket in the 2008 presidential election, but they would remain friends up until McCain’s death in 2018.

Tuesday night will also feature nominating speeches for Joe Biden by Delaware Senator Chris Coons and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester before a virtual “Roll Call Across America.” Unlike the conventions past where this featured thousands of people in a packed arena, the 2020 Roll Call will include a mix of live and taped messages from across the 57 U.S. states and territories. Where it’s been a longer process in the past – the 2016 roll call took about an hour and a half – this year’s will be condensed to about 30 minutes.

A security guard seen in a viral video where she said “I love you” to the former vice president in an elevator will nominate him for president. Meanwhile, the Democratic National Convention keynote Address this year will also look different as well. In the past, one person has given the speech – including Elizabeth Warren in 2016, Julian Castro in 2012, Mark Warner in 2008, and then state senator Mark Warner in 2004. This year’s address will feature 17 diverse “rising stars” of the Democratic party from across the country including Stacey Abrams, Congressmen Brendan Boyle, Colin Allred, Conor Lamb, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and more.

Dr. Jill Biden will give the final remarks of the night with a speech taking place at the high school in Wilmington, Delaware from the very classroom where she once taught in the early 90s. The former second lady and wife of Joe Biden will be introduced with a video highlighting her teaching career, noting that even as second lady, she continued to teach full time as an English professor in Northern Virginia. In a recent interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Dr. Biden said she hoped to continue teaching even if her husband wins the election come November. In a tweet this morning, Dr. Biden wrote, “Teaching is not what I do. It’s who I am. I’ll be giving my convention speech tonight from my former classroom. Brandywine High School. Room 232.”

RNC LINEUP

Patricia and Mark McCloskey, the couple who pointed their guns at Black Lives Matter protesters outside of their St. Louis mansion in June, are expected to speak at the Republican National Convention next week, their lawyer confirmed to CBS News White House producer Sara Cook, Tuesday. “Their remarks will be concise and clear,” their lawyer said. “The decision relating to the day on which they appear is one left in the hands of those in charge of the RNC.”

The couple weathered a backlash in late June after a video showing them wielding guns at peaceful protesters went viral. The protesters were marching through St. Louis’ well-to-do Central West End neighborhood toward the mayor’s home to demand her resignation amid nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality.

The McCloskeys were each charged with “unlawful use of a weapon,” CBS affiliate KMOV-TV reported.

They have also gained many supporters, especially among gun rights activists and Republicans who have sought to portray the GOP as the party of “law and order.”

In July, the couple appeared at a virtual Trump campaign event, where they were interviewed by Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr. and former Fox News personality who now hosts a web series for the campaign.

RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

BIG FINALE

A nearly 1,000-page report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday documented a broad set of links and interactions between Russian government operatives and members of the 2016 Trump campaignCBS News intelligence and national security reporter Olivia Gazis and senior news editor Stefan Becket report, adding new details and dimensions to the account laid out last year by special counsel Robert Mueller and raising counterintelligence concerns about certain Russian efforts that may have persisted into the 2020 election season.

Tuesday’s report was the committee’s final, and long-awaited, chapter in its more than three-year investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference, marking the conclusion of what was held up as the last and arguably only bipartisan congressional investigation into the matter. Spanning 966 pages, it concluded, as have other assessments of Russia’s efforts, that Moscow “engaged in an aggressive, multifaceted effort to influence, or attempt to influence, the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.”

The report, redacted in parts, detailed extensive contacts between Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national who worked closely with Manafort for years. The report labeled Kilimnik a “Russian intelligence officer,” and said Manafort, for reasons the committee could not determine, sought on numerous occasions to “secretly share internal Campaign information with Kilimnik.” It also said the committee obtained “some information” linking Kilimnik to Russian intelligence services’ efforts to hack and leak information to damage Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.

The Trump campaign declared in a statement the report showed “no collusion” while decrying the “Russia Collusion Hoax” as “the greatest political scandal in the history of this country,” Sganga reports.

LISTEN UP

“THE DEBRIEF”

In the latest episode of “The Debrief with Major Garrett,” CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett explores party switchers and their impact on presidential elections. The Democratic convention Monday night featured four prominent Republicans who will be casting ballots this fall for former vice president Joe Biden.

Critical to Donald Trump’s election in 2016 was a coalition of Democrats – especially in the industrial Midwest – who abandoned their party loyalties and boarded the Trump train. In interviews with a range of voices, including Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller, Hillary Clinton’s former campaign manager Robby Mook, and The Lincoln Project cofounder Steve Schmidt, Major asks if 2020 is going to see a swath of voters cross parties and cast their ballots for the candidate of the opposite party. “A good candidate understands what’s happening in the country at a given moment in time and what that means in terms of either areas of the country or groups of people across the country that might be willing to cross party lines or abandon their party and cast a vote for them,” said Lynn Vavreck, the Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics and Public Policy at UCLA.

POLLING PLACES

ELECTION ON THE BRAIN

As the Democratic National Convention airs this week and the Republican National Convention kicks off next week, more Americans are thinking about the election. According to the latest Gallup poll, seven out of 10 are giving it a lot of thought, the most since Gallup began its 2020 tracking last fall. CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice says this comes after attention to the election fell in late April ,as the coronavirus dominated the headlines. Attention right now to the 2020 election is on par with attention paid at this time during the last four presidential elections. A similar level of attention is also being paid by Democrats and Republicans as well as Independents. Meanwhile, enthusiasm for voting is “relatively high” for August ahead of an election according to the polling.

STATE-BY-STATE

ARIZONA

Speaking Tuesday at a hearing marking the latest legal showdown between Republicans and Democrats over the coming election, CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin says an attorney for Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs acknowledged that she agreed with Democratic Party attorneys suing her office that a rule over unsigned ballots is unconstitutional and should be changed. Democrats have asked the judge to force Hobbs, a Democrat, to allow voters time after Election Day to “cure” their ballots if they fail to sign them, as is granted to voters whose signatures are deemed a “mismatch” by election authorities. Local and national Republicans, including the state’s attorney general and President Trump’s campaign, have moved to block the Democratic Party’s request. U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Rayes says he plans to issue a ruling “relatively soon” in the case.

FLORIDA

It’s state primary day in Florida and voters will decide on a slate of Congressional, state, and local candidates throughout the state. CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that while data from the state’s Division of Elections show that more than half a million voters cast their ballots early, it’s a small percentage of the 13.8 million registered voters in the state.

Some of the reported key races to watch include the contests for Florida’s 3rd and 19th Congressional Districts, where the winners will replace Republican Reps. Ted Yoho and Francis Rooney. Polls close at 7 p.m., hours before top Florida Democrat Nikki Fried is scheduled to join a handful of Democratic leaders slated to speak during the keynote address slot of the second night of the Democratic National Convention.

“Tonight at @DemConvention, the future leaders of @TheDemocrats will share why #LeadershipMatters,” said Fried in a tweet. “I’m proud to be among them. And I’m damn proud to be on @TeamJoe.”

Fried, who currently serves as Florida’s 12th commissioner of agriculture and consumer services, is seen as a rising star within the Democratic Party who has been outspoken in her criticism of GOP Governor Ron DeSantis’ handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the state. Also in Florida, Mitchell notes that Congresswoman Val Demings — who is up for re-election — held a Day of Action with constituents to #SavetheUSPS according to a thread of tweets posted Tuesday. This comes as the USPS Postmaster General has announced that he will delay making changes to the Postal Service after the backlash over changes he planned that could delay the delivery of mail-in ballots this year.

MICHIGAN

The League of Women Voters of Michigan and other voting rights advocates are asking the Michigan Supreme Court to reconsider its decision not to hear a case challenging Michigan’s deadline for absentee ballots, according to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster.

Michigan requires absentee ballots to be turned in by 8 p.m. local time on Election Day in order to be counted, but advocates are asking for the court to change that deadline to allow ballots postmarked on Election Day to be counted.

Michigan’s Supreme Court declined to take the case last month, but plaintiffs argue that the recent USPS letter sent to Michigan and more than 40 other states warning that ballots may not arrive in time to be counted means the court should reconsider.

“USPS’s letter and the recent operational changes also make clearer that the received-by deadline violates the Purity of Elections Clause and Equal Protection Clause,” the filing says. “Voters will be arbitrarily disenfranchised based on where their ballots happen to lie in the stack of mail piled up in USPS offices in Michigan. That is not constitutional.” Plaintiffs also cite data from Michigan’s August primary. In that election, more than 6,400 ballots that were sent by Election Day had to be rejected because they arrived after the deadline. Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has urged the GOP-controlled legislature to fix the law to allow ballots to be counted if they are postmarked by Election Day, but arrive up to 2 days after. “We look to courts to decide constitutional issues,” said Mark Brewer, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys. “Whether the legislature did anything or not, the current law is unconstitutional. That’s what courts are for.”

NEVADA

Democrats are denouncing Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske after the elected Republican late Monday asked the state’s governor for an “emergency regulation” to allow the tracking of “any individual engaged in ballot harvesting.” CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin says Cegavske’s request comes after the state’s Democratic-led legislature passed a sweeping set of election changes over the coronavirus pandemic, which the secretary blasted, saying it “gave in to partisan interests and gutted an enduring state law that served to protect the integrity of elections.”

Republicans, including President Trump’s campaign, are currently in court suing Cegavske over the recently passed law, including over the so-called “ballot harvesting” provision. Asking to dismiss the case through the state’s attorney general, a Democrat, Cegavske had previously argued in a filing that “existing provisions of Nevada law provide ample deterrents to, and protections against, voter fraud.”

AND IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

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