The Hill's Campaign Report: US officials say Russia, China are looking to sow discord in election

The Hill's Campaign Report: US officials say Russia, China are looking to sow discord in election
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Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, your daily rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We’re Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here’s what we’re watching today on the campaign trail. 

LEADING THE DAY: Russia Redux

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Some breaking news from The Hill’s Olivia Beavers…

The top U.S. counterintelligence official on Friday said Russia, China and Iran are seeking to sow discord in the U.S. elections in an effort to “undermine the American people’s confidence in our democratic process."

Here’s how William Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, views the threats:

Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election GOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power McConnell pushes back on Trump: 'There will be an orderly transition' MORE (R-Fla.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerFBI director casts doubt on concerns over mail-in voting fraud Democrats call for declassifying election threats after briefing by Trump officials It's time to upgrade benefits MORE (D-Va.), the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, released a joint statement saying they, "encourage political leaders on all sides to refrain from weaponizing intelligence matters for political gain." 

If this all sounds too familiar, you will recall that the intelligence community concluded that Russia sought to interfere in the last presidential election through cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns aimed at damaging Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Trump furor stokes fears of unrest Bloomberg rolls out M ad buy to boost Biden in Florida Hillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close MORE.

That led to Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s special counsel investigation, one of the most polarizing and divisive episodes in modern political history.

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VEEPSTAKES UPDATE:

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has officially blown past his own self-imposed deadline to announce a running mate.

The former vice president said the pick was coming this week, but it's close to 5 p.m. Friday and the veepstakes still appears to be in a flux.

That’s not necessarily anything for Democrats to be alarmed about. Running mate announcements have come much later in the cycle and the hold-up appears to be driven by the nominee’s desire to be deliberate and to get it right.

Biden’s campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon told us this week on a phone call about the campaign’s paid media strategy that “the process is underway and Joe Biden will have an announcement on his running mate when he’s ready to make one.”

We can tell you from reporting done by our own Amie Parnes that there is a top tier of contenders: 

Several others are still very much in contention, including Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOvernight Defense: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon's use of COVID-19 funds On The Money: Half of states deplete funds for Trump's 0 unemployment expansion | EU appealing ruling in Apple tax case | House Democrats include more aid for airlines in coronavirus package Warren, Khanna request IG investigation into Pentagon's use of coronavirus funds MORE (D-Mass.) and Michigan Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerCoronavirus lockdowns work Michigan resident puts toilet on front lawn with sign 'Place mail in ballots here' Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election MORE (D).

We know it’s definitely going to be a woman. It will likely be a woman of color. Maybe we’ll find out next week?

A CLOUDY ECONOMIC FORECAST FOR THE HOME STRETCH:

On the jobs front, the economy added 1.8 million jobs in July, sending the unemployment rate falling to 10.2 percent. But last month’s gains were slowed due to the recent surges in coronavirus cases. This does not bode well for Trump, who has been pushing for the economy to reopen amid the pandemic. The recent surges in positive cases are happening in states that opened early like Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisOvernight Health Care: New wave of COVID-19 cases builds in US | Florida to lift all coronavirus restrictions on restaurants, bars | Trump stirs questions with 0 drug coupon plan On The Money: Half of states deplete funds for Trump's 0 unemployment expansion | EU appealing ruling in Apple tax case | House Democrats include more aid for airlines in coronavirus package Florida to lift all COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants, bars MORE (R) has taken numerous cues from the White House on reopening.  

YEEZY:

What exactly is Kanye WestKanye Omari WestJuan Williams: Democrats need to bury their divisions Court keeps Kanye West off Virginia ballot Twitter removes Kanye West tweet suggesting followers harass journalist MORE up to? 

That’s what Democrats want to know, as they grow uneasy about the rapper’s quixotic presidential bid.

In some cases, West’s effort has been aided by political operatives with apparent ties to GOP politics, leading some to conclude that he’s trying to draw Black voters away from Biden to help Trump get reelected. 

House Majority Whip James Clybrun (D-S.C.) has noticed. He told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC:

"I don't think there's any question about that. We saw what was going on in Wisconsin where he was getting help getting on the ballot. But African Americans, most especially, know what this campaign is all about." 

 

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DEBATES ABOUT DEBATES:

Safety concerns over the upcoming presidential debates are emerging as planning takes place for the first forum at Case Western University in Cleveland. Health experts are recommending a number of precautions, including mandating masks, shorter debate times, and even virtual components to the forums. But the Trump campaign is chomping at the bit to get to the president to the debate stage, raising questions as to what format and style the campaigns will agree to with precautions put in place. The Hill’s Julia Manchester has more.

 

MAKING NICE:

Remember all that tension and strife between progressives and mainstream Democrats during the primary? 

Max Greenwood reports on a super PAC run by former aides to Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Sanders tells Maher 'there will be a number of plans' to remove Trump if he loses Sirota reacts to report of harassment, doxing by Harris supporters MORE (I-Vt.) is preparing to launch its first TV spot aimed at boosting Biden among progressives who remain reluctant to support him. 

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IS NUNES IN TROUBLE?

In California, Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesOvernight Defense: Stopgap spending measure awaits Senate vote | Trump nominates former Nunes aide for intelligence community watchdog | Trump extends ban on racial discrimination training to contractors, military Trump nominates former Nunes aide to serve as intel community inspector general Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election MORE’s opponent, Phil Arballo, is setting his hopes on shifting demographics in the state’s 22nd congressional district, a factor that has played a role in the ousting of a number of other Republican lawmakers, The Hill’s Rafael Bernal reports.

 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

We’re 10 days away from the beginning of the Democratic National Convention, 17 days from the beginning of the Republican National Convention, 53 days from the first presidential debate and 88 days out from Election Day.