POLITICO Playbook: House plans its comeback

NEW … THE HOUSE IS CONSIDERING RETURNING the week of Aug. 24 to hold hearings on the United States Postal Service, and may also vote on an economic package, multiple Democratic sources told us this morning. This comes as the USPS is in a state of turmoil, telling states it could not deliver ballots in time for the Nov. 3 election. House Democrats will hold a caucus call on Monday to discuss the plans. The exact timing is up in the air — they have discussed late this week, or the week of Aug. 24. Heather Caygle, John Bresnahan and Sarah Ferris with more on the inter-caucus dynamicsNew statement from Dem leaders on the need for hearings

JAKE TAPPER had MARK MEADOWS on CNN’S “STATE OF THE UNION”: TAPPER: “Well, let me ask you a question. Would the president support a stand-alone bill to fund the post office, to fund the Postal Service? Because, if there are these considerations, if there are these concerns about whether or not it’s going to work, then it would seem that more funding would help, as opposed to taking sorting machines offline, so that it will be more difficult to do mail?

MEADOWS: “Well, there — there’s no sorting machines that are going offline between now and the election. That’s — that’s something that my Democrat friends are trying to do to stoke fear out there. That’s not happening. I can tell you that the sorting machines — listen, the volume of first-class mail that they have at the postal system right now, we haven’t seen that volume since I was 17 years old. It’s not a volume problem.

“What this is, is a political narrative by my Democrat colleagues. And so, listen, we have got a lot of people that are hurting out there. And this voting issue is key. If the Democrats feel like this is a big issue — and I talked to some of the more moderate Democrats and a few progressives as well — if this is a big deal, let’s put it with a stimulus check to go to Americans. Let’s — let’s put it with enhanced unemployment extension. Let’s put it with small business reform in terms of the PPP and extending that. Let’s get that. Will the president sign that? Yes, he will sign that. And I’m certain … that whether it’s $10 billion or $25 billion or something in between, we can do that. “

STEVE CORTES, a TRUMP campaign spokesman, told CHRIS WALLACE on “FOX NEWS SUNDAY” that, in fact, the president is willing to strike a deal to give $25 billion to the USPS — this is dizzying because it’s the opposite of what the White House said all week this week. “He was asked, would he go all the way up to the $25 billion that the Democrats want and he said, yes, if they come back to the table with the tax cuts that the president wants for American workers and the relief he wants for those who are jobless and still looking. So, I mean, that answers your question. He said yes, he’s willing to make that deal.”

SNEAK PEEK … THE PRESIDENT’S WEEK: Monday: President DONALD TRUMP will travel to Mankato, Minn., and Oshkosh, Wis. Tuesday: THE PRESIDENT will sign a declaration declaring Aug. 2020 as “National Suffrage Month.” He’ll also travel to Yuma, Ariz., to visit and speak about the border. Thursday: TRUMP will host the prime minister of Iraq at the White House, and then will travel to Old Forge, Pa.

CHUCK TODD had SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vt.) on NBC’S “MEET THE PRESS”: TODD: “I think the question now is what does Congress do? What can you do? The House is — you’re hearing some word that House Democratic leadership is thinking about bringing the House back early to deal directly with this postal service crisis. Do you think that’s a good idea? And do you want to see Sen. Mitch McConnell do the same thing?”

SANDERS: “Absolutely. No, I think what the Democratic leadership in the House, Nancy Pelosi and others are talking about it’s exactly right. This, again, is not a debate about the postal service alone, that’s important. This is about the future of American democracy, and whether people have a right to participate. Chuck, just last week, earlier this week here in Vermont, we had our primaries.

“We had the largest voter turnout in primaries in Vermont history. Most of the people voted by mail-in ballots. It worked just fine. We could do this in every state in this country. So I would urge Speaker Pelosi to bring back the House. We will do everything that we can to get McConnell to bring back the Senate. This is a crisis for American democracy, we’ve got to act and act now.”

WAPO’S PHIL RUCKER, JOSH DAWSEY and ASHLEY PARKER: “Tracing Trump’s Postal Service obsession — from ’loser’ to ’scam’ to ’rigged election’”: “Soon after taking office in 2017, President Trump seized on the U.S. Postal Service as an emblem of the bloated bureaucracy. “A loser,” he repeatedly labeled one of America’s most beloved public institutions, according to aides who discussed the matter with him.

“Allies coddled Trump by telling him the reason he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016 was widespread mail-in balloting fraud — a conspiracy theory for which there is no evidence — and the president’s postal outrage coarsened further.

“Then Trump complained to senior White House advisers that Jeff Bezos — a presidential foe in part because he owns The Washington Post, whose news coverage the president thought was unfair and too tough on him — was ’getting rich’ because Amazon had been ’ripping off’ the Postal Service with a “sweetheart deal” to ship millions of its packages, one of them recalled. They explained that this was not true and that the Postal Service actually benefited from Amazon’s business, the adviser added, but the president railed for months about what he described as a ’scam.’

“And now Trump has fixated again on the Postal Service, this time trying to make it a tool in his reelection campaign by slowing mail service, blocking an emergency infusion of federal funds and challenging the integrity of mail-in balloting. The president acknowledged last week that his opposition is rooted in his desire to restrict how many Americans can vote by mail.

— SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER (D-N.Y.) will hold a news conference today at 11:30 in NYC to discuss the postal service.

THE PRESIDENT’S BROTHER DEAD AT 71 … NYT’S ANNIE KARNI: “Robert S. Trump, the younger brother of President Trump, died on Saturday night in Manhattan. He was 71. The White House, which announced his death, at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, did not give a cause.

“’He was not just my brother, he was my best friend,’ the president said in a statement. ’He will be greatly missed, but we will meet again.’ Robert Trump, who took blood thinners, had experienced brain bleeds, which began after a recent fall, according to a family friend. President Trump went to Manhattan on Friday to see his brother at the hospital.

“On Saturday, when Robert Trump was not expected to live much longer, the president called into the hospital from his Bedminster, N.J., golf club. He shortly held a news conference but did not mention his brother’s health. Friends who spoke to him said he was downcast.”

— @JoeBiden: “Mr. President, Jill and I are sad to learn of your younger brother Robert’s passing. I know the tremendous pain of losing a loved one — and I know how important family is in moments like these. I hope you know that our prayers are with you all.”

— @KamalaHarris: “Doug and I join the Biden family in sending our deepest condolences and prayers to the entire Trump family during this difficult time. Losing a loved one is never easy but know that we are thinking of you.”

WHAT AMERICA IS READING … THE NATION’S FRONT PAGES: San Francisco Chronicle: “Harris’ influences: mother, Berkeley”Wilmington News Journal: “All eyes turn to Delaware as Biden accepts nomination” Miami Herald: “’Herd immunity’ in Miami-Dade could be slowing virus spread”Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “While Trump slumps in Ga., Dems press to go on offense” Detroit Free Press: “Biden invite stuns autoworker”

Star Tribune: “No majority for Mpls. police force cuts” Charlotte Observer: “Trump, Biden tied in NC heading into conventions”


INTERESTING GRAPHIC in the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS depicting Covid cases in California versus New York.

Good Sunday morning.

DEMOCRATS will have a group of up-and-coming figures keynote their convention TUESDAY NIGHT: Stacey Abrams, Tennessee State Sen. Raumesh Akbari, Rep. Colin Allred (Texas), Rep. Brendan Boyle (Pa.), Nevada State Sen. Yvanna Cancela, former Ohio State Rep. Kathleen Clyde, Florida Ag Commissioner Nikki Fried, Long Beach, Calif., Mayor Robert Garcia, Pennsylvania State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, South Carolina State Sen. Marlon Kimpson, Rep. Conor Lamb (Pa.), Michigan State Rep. Mari Manoogian, Texas State Rep. Victoria Neave, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Georgia State Rep. Sam Park, New Hampshire State Rep. Denny Ruprecht and Birmingham, Ala., Mayor Randall Woodfin. (h/t Bloomberg’s JEN EPSTEIN, who had this first)

L.A. TIMES’ JANET HOOK: “Biden the dealmaker: Can his approach work in a polarized post-Trump America?”: “Biden offers his 40 years of experience as a senator and vice president — his relationships, his institutional knowledge, his dealmaking prowess — as the antidote to the chaos created by a brash outsider. …

“But a huge question hangs over that political pitch: Do the political skills Biden honed in pre-Trump America remain relevant to the bruised, battered and deeply divided America of today?

“Biden acknowledged the issue at a recent news briefing. ’It’s going to be a lot harder,’ he conceded. ’Things have changed, a lot harder.’ If Biden wins in November, his hopes of re-creating a more conciliatory era will likely slam quickly into demands within his own party for more radical change on issues like police reform and voting rights and the entrenched tactics of resistance, delay and obstruction that Republicans honed during Obama’s two terms.

“If Democrats take control of the Senate, the pressure will build to abolish the filibuster — a defining tradition in the Senate that Biden reveres — if that’s what it takes to get their agenda past GOP opposition. Obama recently used the occasion of the funeral for Rep. John Lewis, a hero to many Democrats, to call for abolishing the filibuster if needed.”

VERY INTERESTING … JOHN HARRIS and HOLLY OTTERBEIN invited NEERA TANDEN, JAMAAL BOWMAN, Rep. CONOR LAMB (D-Pa.) and FAIZ SHAKIR “to hash out just what the party’s voters want now, what they expect from Joe Biden and whether the group can find ways to pull in the same direction.”

NOEM TO TRUMP: THANKS BUT NO THANKS! … WAPO’S TONY ROMM: “South Dakota declines to boost unemployment payments under Trump’s order”: “An order signed by President Trump to boost unemployed workers’ weekly benefits will not deliver any new aid to South Dakota, where Republican Gov. Kristi L. Noem appeared to become the first state leader to decline the heightened federal support.

“Noem, one of Trump’s most vocal allies, said South Dakota did not need to accept the additional federal jobless aid because workers in the state are being rehired, and its economy is on the mend, even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage across the United States.”

NYT’S REID EPSTEIN in Mount Lebanon, Pa.: “Conor Lamb Found a Way to Win in Trump Country. Can Biden Follow His Path?”: “Mr. Lamb’s victory showed Democrats how to prevail in Republican territory during the Trump era: focus on kichen-table issues; inspire defections from college-educated suburban voters — especially women — who had been core Republican voters for decades; and offer conservative-leaning voters a sober, reassuring alternative to a chaotic president.”

CHRIS CADELAGO in Wilmington and NATASHA KORECKI: “Harris pays early dividends for Biden campaign”: “When Biden spoke on a campus here earlier this summer, the parking lot was near-empty, and the only activity was a few reporters waiting to have their temperature taken. But a day after Harris was announced, the same high school parking lot was jammed with cars. Supporters with custom signs and Biden and Harris t-shirts ringed the sidewalk with iPhone cameras to catch their first glances of the tandem that will take on Donald Trump.

“In interviews, more than a dozen people close to the Biden and Harris operations, as well as elected officials and campaign aides sketched out how the ticket is coming together and how it will be deployed in the final 79-day sprint to the election. Much of the early focus has been on preparing and integrating the candidates and reintroducing Harris at events alongside Biden.

“In the days after this week’s convention, the two are expected to sit down for their first extended TV interview together. People close to the campaign said they are planning for Harris to keep to a similar travel scheduled as Biden, though it hinges on whether the coronavirus abates.

JASON MILLER to GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS on ABC’S “THIS WEEK”: MILLER: Thirty years ago, George, you had a great slogan, it’s the economy, stupid. That was one of the greatest in all-time history. Now what Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris are trying to say is, hey, stupid, I want to raise your taxes. That’s the wrong message to be sending as we’re coming out of this COVID recovery. And I wish the media would catch on to the fact that Democrats are just playing a shell game here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: “Well, right now — you said there, they’re limping into the convention, but the national polling average, it has him up about eight points over President Trump right now.”

MILLER: “We’re actually in a better place than we were four years ago, so I like it.”

TV TONIGHT: MSNBC: “Kasie DC”: Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) … Katie Hill … Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer … Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) … Valerie Jarrett … Tom Perez.

THE PRESIDENT’S SUNDAY: THE PRESIDENT will leave Bedminster for D.C. at 4 p.m. He is expected back at the White House at 5:25 p.m.

NYT, A1: DAVID HALBFINGER in Jerusalem and RONEN BERGMAN in Tel Aviv: “Shifting Dynamics of the Mideast Pushed Israel and U.A.E. Together”

GREAT STORY … DAN NEWHOUSER in MINNESOTA REFORMER: “Congressman spent tax dollars on vendor owned by a member of his staff”: “U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn likes to boast on mail he sends to his constituents that his postcards are, “Proudly printed in Minnesota!’

“What the Minnesota Republican fails to mention, though, is he paid a Texas-based company owned by one of his staff members more than $100,000 of taxpayer money to do some of that printing — a business relationship Congressional ethics experts say is a clear violation of government ethics rules.

“Hagedorn also paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for printing to a separate, mysterious company that has existed for less than a year and seems to have gone to great lengths to conceal its ownership, according to publicly available Congressional spending records and business registration filings.

“Both Hagedorn’s office and that company, Abernathy West LLC, did not respond to multiple requests asking who owns the business.

“On Friday — just more than a week after the Minnesota Reformer asked the office about the transactions — Hagedorn fired his chief of staff, Peter Su, over concerns about ’irregular spending,’ according to the Daily Caller. Hagedorn’s spokesman and interim chief of staff did not respond to requests asking to confirm the report. Su did not respond to a LinkedIn message seeking comment.”

N.Y. MAG COVER STORY … OLIVIA NUZZI: “The Most Tremendous Reelection Campaign in American History Ever: Inside the chaotic, desperate, last-minute Trump 2020 reboot.”

Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at [email protected].

IN MEMORIAM — “Former Illinois Gov. James R. Thompson dies at age 84. A Republican from Chicago, ’Big Jim’ served 4 terms,” by the Chicago Tribune’s Rosemary Sobol: “He was considered a moderate Republican who pushed through the ambitious Build Illinois program, a $2.3 billion five-year project to rebuild the state’s infrastructure. He also created the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. The Helmut Jahn-designed state government building in the Loop, originally called the State of Illinois Center, was later named after him.

“In 1988, Thompson worked with lawmakers to put together the deal to get the White Sox a new stadium and prevent a potential move to Florida. The plan was passed in the waning hours of a legislative session. … Thompson seriously considered running for president in 1980, and he was said to be among those whom George H.W. Bush thought of as possible running mates in 1988.” Tribune

ENGAGED — Elaina Plott, a national political reporter at the NYT, and Mike Calabro, an engineer at Booz Allen Hamilton, got engaged Thursday at the Timber Cove Resort in Jenner, Calif. They met in October 2018 in the line for skee ball at Players Club on 14th Street. Pic

— Molly Nuñez, account director at BerlinRosen and a DNC, Kyrsten Sinema, Hillary Clinton and Muriel Bowser alum, and Matt Bisgyer, senior associate at Energy Impact Partners, got engaged Friday in Ocean City, Md. The couple met at Washington University in St. Louis and started dating more than eight years ago. Pic Another pic

WEDDINGS — Corena Sharp and Mark Olson, via NYT: “[She is] a marketing assistant in the State Department’s recruitment office for foreign service positions. … [He] is now in his second year studying environmental science at George Mason University … The two had planned a ceremony at the Woodinville Lavender, a wedding venue in Redmond, Wash., and, despite the coronavirus pandemic, they kept their date. With just 12 people attending, the couple were married there on July 25.”

— Marisol Orihuela and Mark Roland, via NYT: “[She is] a clinical associate professor of law at Yale, where she co-directs two legal clinics. … [He is] a program director for global education at Results for Development, an international development research and policy center in Washington. … On Aug. 8, the two were married at Yale’s Roman Catholic Chapel of St. Thomas More.”

WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Casey Enders, CEO of Unlocking Potential, a foundation started by Carly Fiorina, and Stuart Skeates, an engagement manager at McKinsey, welcomed Georgina “Georgie” Grace Skates. Instapics

BIRTHDAYS: Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) is 54 … Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) is 72 … Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) is 57 … Josh Bolten, president and CEO of the Business Roundtable, is 66 … Jen Cytryn of the White House … POLITICO’s Michael Grunwald and Dominick Pierre … McKenzie Barbknecht, DOT press secretary … Ramesh Ponnuru is 46 … Jack Quinn, partner in the government and regulatory practice at Manatt … Chris Moody … Tom Lopach, president and CEO at the Voter Participation Center … Robin Ahnen … Linda Honold … Lisa Graves (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) … Erin Casey French … Axios’ Danielle Jones … FWD.us’ Chris Golden … Tyler Grimm … Dave DenHerder, partner at FP1 Strategies, is 48 … Steve Abbott is 58 … Neil McKiernan … Charles Brittingham … Tom Anfinson is 79 … Taylor Reveley, president of Longwood University … Rick Chessen, SVP for legal and regulatory policy at NCTA … economist Adam Hersh … Karly Moen … Michael K. Lavers … Seth Colton … Jane Elizabeth …

… Justin (JP) Griffin, managing director of the USC Election Cybersecurity Initiative … Stacey Daniels, assistant director of ICE’s public affairs office … Jim Hall, VP of government relations for Options Clearing Corporation (h/t Mitchell Rivard) … Sol Levine … Bloomberg’s Ben Brody … Kate Dolgenos … Edelman’s Tyson Greaves … Grant Rumley … Abe Adams, Targeted Victory managing partner … Ellen Weissfeld … Marshall Cohen … POLITICO Europe’s Paul Taylor … former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.) is 73 … Steve Demby (h/t Maria Miller) … Matt Silverstein … Allison Brenner … Kenneth Ryan James … former Rep. Dick Zimmer (R-N.J.) is 76 … former Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.) is 61 … former Rep. Gary Myers (R-Pa.) is 83 … Tricia Moffatt … Matt Spence, managing director at Guggenheim Partners … Julia Haslanger … Kourtney Geers … Dean Thompson … Rafael Viturro … Julie Young … Devont’e Kurt Watson … Jon Lipshutz … Dave Jacobson … Meg Sullivan of Ballast Research … Harrison Roday

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