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Biden says there have been ‘enough debates’ with Sanders

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Biden says there have been ‘enough debates’ with Sanders

WASHINGTON — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders may be ready to debate former Vice President Joe Biden, but the frontrunner and current delegate-leader in the Democratic primary thinks it may be time to move on. 

In a virtual press conference with campaign reporters on Wednesday, Biden responded to Sanders’ latest signal that he’s staying in the race by wanting to participate in an April Democratic debate. A debate has not yet been scheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I think we’ve had enough debates. I think we should get on with this,” Biden said after noting that his focus since stepping off the campaign trail two weeks ago has been devoted to the coronavirus crisis.

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders during a debate in Washington on March 15, 2020.Kevin Lamarque / Reuters file

Biden and Sanders remain as the only two Democratic candidates still vying for the nomination as the campaign trail has come to a halt. While Sanders continues to mull staying in the race, his announcement to debate Biden and organizing investments in New York suggest he will remain a competitor at least through April’s primaries.

On Tuesday, Biden said on MSNBC that he intends to continue to campaign regardless of how long Sanders stays in the race. 

“As I said from the beginning, that’s not for me to decide,” Biden said. “I’ll continue to make the case why I think I could be president and should be president now and make the case for it. It’s in a sense putting all politics aside.”

Brenda Jones announces bid against Rashida Tlaib in 2018 rematch

WASHINGTON — Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib is poised for a rematch against Detroit City Council President and former Rep. Brenda Jones two years after voters briefly sent both women to Congress on the same ballot. 

Jones, who officially announced her bid for Congress on Wednesday, narrowly won the Democratic primary in the special election to replace the late Rep. John Conyers and serve out the rest of his term in 2018. But Tlaib edged her out in the party’s primary for the next full term, which began on 2019, by a similarly small margin. 

With both Democrats cruising through the general election in the deep-blue seat, that meant Jones served in Congress for a few weeks before turning the seat over to Tlaib to start 2019. 

Rashida Tlaib, left, and Brenda Jones speak during a rally in Detroit on Oct. 26, 2018.Paul Sancya / AP file

Jones officially filed paperwork declaring her bid with the Federal Election Commission on March 18, but announced her bid on Wednesday in a video. She said she recorded the video instead of holding a press conference because she wanted to set an example of following the new social distancing policies being championed to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. 

In that video, she addressed the “period of uncertainty” as coronavirus has dramatically changed Americans’ way of life, let along upended the political campaign process

“You cannot live without hope. That’s why my candidacy is based on hope — hope for a better tomorrow, hope for our children, hope for our families, and hope for the hopeless,” Jones said. 

She went on to lay out a “three-pronged” plan for the district if elected: Bringing resources to the district, “uniting the district,”  and focusing on important issues.  

And she pointed to her city council experience as indicative of how she’d serve if elected again to Congress. 

In 2018, there were six total candidates on the Democratic primary ballot running for the full term in Congress, with four on the ballot to serve out Conyers’ partial term. As of Tuesday, Jones and Tlaib are the only two major Democratic candidates running, with a third candidate, Stephen Michael Patterson, having not reported spending or receiving any money so far this cycle. 

Tlaib has become a national name since she took office, partially because of her standing among progressives and work with a group of female freshman Democrats nicknamed “The Squad,” a group that  includes Tlaib as well as New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar .

The group of lawmakers has been a top target for Republicans as, particularly President Trump

Recently, Tlaib has been appearing with Omar and Ocasio-Cortez during livestreamed roundtables with Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders, who they’ve endorsed to be the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, on coronavirus. 

“Rep. Tlaib looks forward to running a strong campaign and winning re-election regardless of who is on the ballot, but at this time she is 100% focused on responding to the coronavirus and getting our communities and residents the resources they need to protect human health and our local economy,” Denzel McCampbell, a Tlaib spokesperson, told NBC by email. 

“Rep. Tlaib is hard at work pushing groundbreaking policies to make direct payments to all Americans to weather this storm, leading legislation to save state and local governments from financial collapse, and preventing utility shutoffs, evictions, and foreclosures.”

Congressional candidates put elections on back burner

WASHINGTON — While coronavirus has shut most of America behind closed doors, congressional candidates are juggling the uncertainty of the situation with the electoral reality.

The guidelines from the White House aimed at curbing the spread of the virus makes it virtually impossible for candidates to fundraise and campaign in the way they normally would. 

“The character of our district and neighborhood is one of social interaction. We don’t have large living rooms, homes and yards to spread out,” Suraj Patel, a Democrat who is challenging Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney for her deep-blue, New York City seat, told NBC News. 

Patel told NBC that his entire campaign staff has shifted to remote and digital work, focusing on community service, holding virtual town hall meetings with those affected by the economic slowdown, and releasing policy proposals aimed at recovery. 

Meanwhile, he said his staff has used telephone canvassing software to check in with seniors, delivering supplies and handmade cards across the district. 

Maloney told NBC her campaign shifted quickly to remote work too, suspending its attempts to collect signatures to qualify for the ballot and pledging not to challenge any opponents’ signatures so that they could keep all staff safe. The primary for the seat is on June 23, and New York has not yet announced if any of their primaries will be moved because of coronavirus. 

With her team contacting constituents to keep them informed about the crisis, she said she’s remained “laser-focused on taking action to alleviate the suffering that people are experiencing during the crisis, passing bills that will help everyday Americans get through the challenges of the coming months, and holding the administration accountable.”

Another elected official balancing a run for Congress during the crisis is Republican New York State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis — she represents a coronavirus hotspot and is trying to unseat Democratic Rep. Max Rose in New York’s 11th district. 

But Malliotakis says her priority is no longer her congressional campaign. 

“The campaign’s on the back burner. I’m 100 percent focused on doing my job as an Assembly member, making sure that we do important things that need to be taken care of in Albany,” Malliotakis said. 

She also said this has been a time to work across party lines — she’s been in constant contact with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, as well as Rose too. 

Empty voting booths during a primary election at Madero Middle School in Chicago on March 17, 2020.Joshua Lott / Reuters

“We may be adversaries often times when it comes to policy,” Malliotakis said of Democrats, but noted that in New York, “we are working together really closely.” 

And Rose is on the same page. 

“All I care about is addressing the incredibly serious public health crisis,” Rose told NBC. “Elections be damned, we’ve got lives on the line.” 

Rose added that when it comes to elections, there is “no balance” with campaigning until this pandemic subsides, and that politics has no place in current conversations. 

“Right now, nobody should be talking politics in any way, shape or form. Nobody. Now, the only thing that anybody should be concerned about is saving lives,” Rose said. 

On that front, challenger candidates like Malliotakis are hoping that focusing on their current jobs will end up as their biggest campaigning tool. 

“Quite frankly, if I don’t do a good job in the position that I’m elected right now, I wouldn’t deserve to be elected to Congress,” Malliotakis said. 

Malliotakis’ focus on her current position is similar to that of another state Assemblywoman, Christy Smith in California. Smith and Naval officer Mike Garcia are facing off in the CA-25 special election, currently slated for May 12. 

Smith told NBC in a statement that she is “focused on my work as this community’s public servant, ensuring state response to my local constituents and connecting people with essential information, services, and resources.” She added that she’ll “revisit campaign-related issues” after the crisis is at bay. 

While Garcia doesn’t hold public office, he told NBC he’s prioritizing getting accurate information out to his would-be constituents, primarily through his website, which includes a list of local and small business resources as well as official guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“This coronavirus is a serious challenge. We are taking it seriously,” Garcia said “We have no choice. We have to do it with class, we have to do it with grace.” 

Sanders campaign ramps up virtual organizing ahead of potential New York primary

BURLINGTON, VT — Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has shifted to entirely virtual organizing while Americans socially distance due to the coronavirus outbreak but the campaign put out a release Tuesday touting New York state staffing and volunteer organizing. While some states have moved their primaries due to the outbreak, New York’s Democratic Primary is still set for April 28.

The Sanders campaign says they hosted a volunteer call with thousands of New York supporters this week, signing up more than 1,300 call and text shifts. The campaign is using their proprietary “BERN” app and old-fashioned phone banking, as well as organizing “Digital house parties,” while New Yorkers are holed up at home. 

While the Sanders campaign shifts resources to future states, the campaign continues to say nothing has changed since last week’s statement that the candidate is assessing the status of his campaign and having conversations with supporters on a path forward. 

Sanders has been focused this week on coronavirus, holding multiple campaign live-streams on the topic with experts and congressional colleagues, raising millions for charities involved in coronavirus aid, and releasing a $2 trillion plan of his own. 

Biden edges out Trump in new national poll

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden holds a narrow three-point lead on President Trump in a new national presidential race poll from Monmouth University. Forty-eight percent of registered voters prefer Biden, while 45 percent prefer the president — however that lands within the poll’s margin of error. The poll did not release data on how Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders fared in a general election stand-off with Trump. 

The picture changed slightly when the poll shifted to key state voters. According to the poll, 50 percent of voters in 300 “swing counties” — counties in which less than 10 points separated Trump and 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — back Biden while just 41 percent support the president. Trump and the leading Democratic candidate essentially split the current vote for Independents — Trump edges out with 45 percent, and Biden garners 44 percent. 

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks March 12, 2020, in Wilmington, Del.Matt Rourke / AP file

While the possible general election contest is extremely close, some key questions could end up affecting whether voters change their allegiances. Twenty-five percent of registered voters said their current financial situation was best described as “struggling”, and just 12 percent of registered voters said their financial status was improving. That could magnify as the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has some experts saying unemployment could reach 20 percent in a worse-case scenario situation. 

However, it’s not clear that Americans blame the Trump administration for their financial situations. Fifty-two percent of registered voters said the federal government had “no real impact” on their finances, and 29 percent said the government “helped” their financial situation. The Monmouth University poll was conducted between March 18 and March 22. 

Both candidates have also seen upticks in their favorability since February. Forty-six of registered voters view President Trump either very or somewhat favorably, up two points since February, and 43 percent of registered voters view Biden very or somewhat favorably, up three points from the last poll. 

Trump re-elect effort campaigns virtually as coronavirus outbreak pauses normal voter interaction

WASHINGTON – Since the coronavirus pandemic has essentially brought the 2020 race to a halt, President Trump’s campaign and Republican National Committee have pivoted to a fully virtual outreach plan as millions of voters are confined to their homes. 

On Saturday, the Trump re-election effort made a record 1.5 million calls, marking the first time this kind of voter contact has been done purely remotely by the party, according to the RNC. Volunteers highlighted the administration’s response to the current health crisis, while encouraging supporters to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for their own safety.

“With our ability to engage with voters virtually and digitally, Trump Victory is not missing a beat, and we continue to be full steam ahead to November,” RNC Chief of Staff Richard Walters told NBC News in a statement.

After President Trump announced strict new social distancing rules last week, the campaign and RNC had to convert all their in-person campaign events into virtual interactions, including fundraisers. Earlier this month, the campaign had to postpone several high-profile surrogate events, including a multi-day, high-dollar swing for Ivanka Trump and a California trip for first lady Melania Trump.

President Donald Trump arrives to a rally in Sunrise, Fla., on Nov. 26, 2019.Brynn Anderson / AP file

Since then, Trump Victory – the joint operation between the campaign and the RNC – has held hundreds of volunteer trainings in virtual settings, including using an application called “Trump Talk.” Nearly 50,000 people signed up to use it and make calls from the comfort of their own homes in the last week alone, the RNC said.  

This past weekend, during a designated “day of action,” volunteers were provided with scripts that touted the president’s “bold leadership” on the coronavirus that has infected more than 46,000 people in the country and left at least 561 dead, according to data from Johns Hopkins as of Tuesday morning. They were instructed to highlight the “unprecedented, comprehensive, and aggressive whole of America approach,” as the administration faced some criticism from medical professionals that not enough was being done to combat the virus. 

To that point, the talking points included that Trump took “quick and decisive action” back in January to restrict entry into the U.S. from foreign nationals who had visited China. If voters didn’t answer, they were left with a voicemail from senior adviser Lara Trump which included information about “how to help slow the spread” of the deadly respiratory illness.

That messaging comes as a Democratic super PAC is launching ads that criticize Trump’s response to the virus, arguing that he did not take the virus seriously enough. 

The major societal changes that have forced millions to work from home in recent days has also contributed to a surge in online traffic for GOP websites such as Vote.GOP and TrumpVictory.com, nearly doubling their normal visitors, per the RNC. The campaign has also directed supporters to go to ArmyforTrump.com, a tool that allows volunteers to sign up for various outreach opportunities and become “digital activists.”

So far this cycle, Trump Victory has outpaced its 2016 and 2018 voters contacts, boasting 9 million to date. The number of calls made on Saturday alone was bigger than any total week of calls made ahead of the last midterm elections, the group highlighted. 

Though fundraising in March may be hampered by the pandemic’s restrictions, the re-elect effort raked in $87 million in February and has more than $231 million in the bank.

Dem super PAC launches ads hitting Trump on coronavirus response

WASHINGTON — Priorities USA Action, the biggest Democratic super PAC working to deny President Trump re-election, is out with a new ad campaign that criticizes the president’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. 

The group released two television ads Monday — one on coronavirus and one aimed at contrasting Trump with former Vice President Joe Biden, who is leading the Democratic primary race. 

The first spot includes various comments of President Trump talking about the virus over a span of months run one after another as a graphic shows the number of coronavirus cases in America rising exponentially. 

“The coronavirus…this is their new hoax…we have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China…One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear…When you have 15 people…and within a couple of days, it’s going to be close to down to zero,” Trump can be heard saying in those spliced-together comments.

The spot then ends with video of Trump telling reporters on March 13 that “I don’t take responsibility at all” when asked about the delays in testing.

The second television spots paints a dismal picture of the current situation, “Thousands infected, an economy in free fall, and government unprepared,” before showing that same clip of Trump saying he doesn’t take responsibility for the test-kit shortage. 

The ad then shows Biden’s address on coronavirus from earlier this month, where he said “I can promise you this: When I’m president, we will be better prepared, respond better, we’ll lead with science.” 

Priorities also unveiled two digital ads along similar lines

The Trump administration, his campaign and his allies have been on the defensive as to its response to the coronavirus pandemic in recent weeks, arguing that the administration has taken action that has stopped the pandemic from getting worse.

They’ve also accused Democrats of misrepresenting at least one comment, arguing that he said “this is their new hoax” in referring to Democratic criticism of his administration’s coronavirus response, not about the virus itself. 

Priorities will run the first TV ad that solely criticizes Trump as part of a $6 million TV and digital campaign across Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — the Biden contrast ad could also hit the airwaves after that ad runs, but the timing for that is not clear. The two digital ads will begin running online starting Tuesday. 

The group has said it plans to spend $150 million before the Democratic convention, much of it on the airwaves. 

“From the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Donald Trump has repeatedly misled the American people and exposed us to unnecessary danger. His failure to lead continues to have real life and death consequences as hospitals, local and state governments, small businesses, and millions of Americans are left without the tools and information they need,” Priorities USA Chairman Guy Cecil said in a statement.

“Tens of thousands of people are sick, hundreds have already died, and millions are losing their jobs. We simply cannot allow Donald Trump to continue to lie and spread misinformation unchecked.”

Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director, criticized the Priorities ads in a statement to NBC News. 

“It used to be that Americans faced national adversity with unity, but Joe Biden and his allies have abandoned that principle in favor of rank, despicable politics. They offer nothing but partisan sniping from the sidelines and seek to undermine the federal response to the crisis by misinforming and frightening people,” he said.

“All Joe Biden knows about handling a public health crisis is that the Obama White House had to apologize for his irresponsible remarks during the swine flu outbreak in 2009. Americans can see that President Trump is out front and leading this nation and is the clear choice to see us through the crisis.”

UPDATE: On Wednesday, the Trump campaign said it sent television stations cease and desist letters calling on the stations to stop running the ad, arguing that the “hoax” comment from Trump was falsely represented in the ad. 

Bloomberg campaign faces potential class action lawsuit for layoffs

WASHINGTON — Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign is facing a potential class action lawsuit for allegedly promising jobs through November to more than a thousand campaign staffers and then laying them off last week.

A former field organizer, Donna Wood, filed the suit today in U.S. District Court, in the southern district of New York, on behalf of herself and others seeking to get it certified by the court as a class action.

NBC News first reported in January that Bloomberg was planning to fund a major campaign effort through November and was committing to pay staff through then, even if he lost the nomination. But Bloomberg reversed course last week and laid off his entire staff. He instead transferred $18 million to the Democratic National Committee and told laid off staffers to fill out a Google form if they were interested in entering a competitive hiring process for a DNC job. The staffers will stop receiving paychecks in the first week of April, and will stop receiving health care benefits at the end of April. 

Michael Bloomberg departs after addressing supporters at his Super Tuesday night rally in West Palm Beach, Fla., on March 3, 2020.Marco Bello / Reuters

“The Bloomberg campaign had represented to folks they were going to keep people on through November, regardless of his candidacy, which is one of the reasons we think he attracted such talent,” Sally Abrahamson of Outten & Golden LLP, one of the attorneys on the case, told NBC News. “He’s terminating, we believe, over 1,000 people at a time when we believe unemployment is likely going to be 20 or 30 percent, and they’re going to lose their health care.”

The Bloomberg campaign responded by saying that their staffers received severance and extended health care, while other campaigns didn’t give those benefits.

“This campaign paid its staff wages and benefits that were much more generous than any other campaign this year. Staff worked 39 days on average, but they were also given several weeks of severance and health care through March, something no other campaign did this year,” a Bloomberg campaign spokesperson said. “Given the current crisis, a fund is being created to ensure that all staff receive health care through April, which no other campaign has done. And many field staff will go on to work for the DNC in battleground states, in part because the campaign made the largest monetary transfer to the DNC from a presidential campaign in history to support the DNC’s organizing efforts.” 

NBC News obtained a copy of an interview script that was used by the Bloomberg campaign to evaluate potential hires for the campaign. Among the talking points listed under “At a Glance” is “Employment through November 2020 with Team Bloomberg.” 

The lawsuit has three components: unpaid overtime compensation for field organizers who would have to pro-actively join the case — attorneys involved in the case tell NBC they are talking to “dozens” of potential  claimants, alleged fraudulent inducement and breach of contract, allegedly suffered by those who were promised jobs through November, and it seeks the compensation they would have received through November. 

If the case is certified as a class action, it will move forward on behalf of everyone who falls into that category unless they opt-out of the class action.

The Affordable Care Act is turning 10. Where does the landmark law go next?

WASHINGTON — The Affordable Care Act is turning 10 this week, and it’s still in the news and still facing an existential threat from Republican critics even as some of its benefits have become widely accepted.

Among the ACA’s core features: It barred insurers from turning away customers or charging more based on pre-existing conditions, created a new subsidized market for individual private insurance, expanded Medicaid to higher income workers, eliminated lifetime and annual caps on benefits and allowed young adults to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26. 

In many ways, the 2020 election has been a debate about its legacy. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders ran on moving all Americans to a Medicare for All system, rather than private insurance, while former Vice President Joe Biden has argued building on the ACA to make its benefits more generous.

On the Republican side, President Trump is backing a lawsuit to overturn the law in its entirety, which the Supreme Court is set to hear this Fall. He reiterated his support for that effort over the weekend, saying it would allow him to “get rid of the bad health care and put in a great health care” even as the country deals with the coronavirus pandemic with a health care system tied to the ACA.

The White House has not announced a detailed replacement plan for the law, and Biden asked Trump and Republican state officials on Monday to drop the lawsuit.

Former Montana Sen. Max Baucus, who shepherded the ACA as chair of the Senate Finance Committee said the law was a “good start” toward universal coverage. The law reduced the number of uninsured by about 20 million people after its implementation, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

President Barack Obama is applauded after signing the Affordable Care Act in the East Room of the White House on March 23, 2010.Win McNamee / Getty Images file

But that number has ticked up under President Trump and the health care system still faces rising costs for hospitals and drugs. That unsteadiness has led Baucus to embrace a single-payer health care system. 

“I felt at the time we were not ready for single payer,” Baucus told NBC News. “But down the road we’re going to move in that direction. Why? Because our current system, even under the legislation that passed, is still too inefficient. Too many dollars are being spent that don’t provide health care.”

While Baucus may agree with Sanders on the broad policy direction, he thinks Biden would be best to shepherd the next health care goal through because the next Democratic administration must seek common ground with Republicans. 

“We should try extremely hard for it to be nonpartisan and maybe begin with smaller steps at first,” he said. “Otherwise if you jam something down somebody’s throat, it’s not durable. The other side will try to figure out how to submarine it or undermine it as they did with the ACA.”

There are some signs that the law is becoming more entrenched. The GOP faced a backlash in 2017 when they tried unsuccessfully to partially repeal the law and scale back its benefits. And, while still divided along partisan lines, the latest NBC/WSJ poll found the ACA with its highest net rating: 42 percent of registered voters believe it was a good idea, versus 35 percent who say it was a bad idea.

But the ACA has struggled to meet some of its goals and the way it’s been implemented isn’t the same as supporters envisioned when it was passed.

The law’s regulations on insurers and lack of subsidies for customers making over 400 percent of the federal poverty limit have left many middle and upper income Americans facing premiums that are high or unaffordable.

“If they can’t get coverage through their job, those individuals’ premiums have skyrocketed,” said Avik Roy, founder of The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity and critic of the law. “It could have been done in a much more effective way that guaranteed coverage for people who were sick, but also made it more affordable to people who are healthy.” 

The law has also changed over the years. President Trump’s 2017 tax bill zeroed out the ACA’s individual mandate — which penalized people for going without insurance. And some sources of funding, like a tax on more generous employer plans, have been eliminated.

The Supreme Court ruled that states had to voluntarily participate in its expansion of Medicaid, but 14 states haven’t. The Trump administration has also expanded access to insurance options outside of the law’s regulations, including plans that factor in pre-existing conditions. 

Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services Secretary under President Obama, told NBC News the law had been undermined but believes its legacy is secure. 

“The country has moved to a place where there is a vast majority of people who feel health care is a right,” she said. “I don’t think that was a given 10 years ago and it’s not just in the Democratic Party. People may have a different idea how to get there, but it’s a basic premise that people support.”

Biden ally Larry Rasky passes away at 69

WASHINGTON —Larry Rasky, a close ally of former Vice President Joe Biden who played a key role in the super PAC that boosted Biden during the Democratic presidential primary, has died. 

Rasky’s eponymous public relations firm confirmed his death in a brief statement on Sunday. 

“Larry was a giant in so many ways, not just professionally but personally. He loved and was loved by so many. He always treated the company like a family and we are all shocked and saddened by the news of his passing. He has left an indelible imprint on everyone he touched and the company that bears his name will go on in his spirit,” the statement from Rasky Partners read. 

He was 69 years old, according to the Boston Globe. The paper said the cause of death was not yet known. 

Rasky was a longtime public relations professional who worked with a lanundry list of Democratic politicians — including Biden, then-Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey (who is now a senator), former Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and President Jimmy Carter. 

Having worked as Biden’s press secretary during his 1988 presidential bid, he served as Biden’s communications director during his 2008 presidential campaign. 

This cycle, he served as the treasurer to Unite the Country, the super PAC backing Biden. 

Biden remembered Rasky during an interview with the Globe as a “real friend” who gave him “confidence.” 

“He was also generous and sharp and he just had a spirit about him. His passion for politics was amazing,” Biden told the paper. 

“No matter how down I was going into something, that ridiculous laugh of his would always make a difference. He always knew when to kid and when not to kid.”

“I think the reason people loved him was his deep loyalty to his friends and the causes he believes in,” Markey told the Globe. “It’s something that just drew people to him, and it’s why so many people are missing him today.”

Others shared their memories of Rasky on Twitter as the news broke Sunday. 

Sanders wins big in Democrats Abroad primary, party says

WASHINGTON — Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders has won the Democrats Abroad presidential primary, the contest held by Americans living overseas, according to results announced Monday 

Julia Bryan, the group’s global chair, shared those results on a Monday morning video conference in part due to the coronavirus outbreak that has paralyzed the world. 

She said that Sanders won 57.9 percent of the almost 40,000 ballots, with former Vice President Joe Biden following with 22.7 percent and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren winning 14.3 percent. 

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally in Los Angeles on March 1, 2020.David McNew / Getty Images

“We saw a 15 percent increase in voter participation over our 2016 primary number,” Bryan said on the call. 

“It’s particularly impressive considering the challenges we had with the virus shutting down so many of our centers.”

She added that raw voter turnout was the highest in the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, France and Mexico.

NBC’s Decision Desk has projected Sanders’ victory but has not yet allocated Democratic National Convention delegates based on those results. But Bryan said that per the Democrats Abroad rules, Sanders would receive nine delegates and Biden four based on the results. 

Not including the Democrats Abroad result, the Decision Desk projects Biden has won 1,165 delegates so far to Sanders’ 851. 



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Sturgeon's independence bid will 'FADE OUT' by Scottish election -Tory leader unveils plan

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A NEW approach to handling could Scottish independence could see the concept just “fade away” into the background, the new leader of the Scottish Tories said yesterday.

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China wants Trump defeated, Russia is sabotaging Biden

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WASHINGTON — Kremlin-linked operatives are trying to boost President Donald Trump’s candidacy while China wants to see him defeated, the top U.S. counterintelligence official said Friday in a strikingly detailed update on American intelligence assessments about foreign preferences in the upcoming presidential election.

Bill Evanina, a former FBI agent who is leading election security efforts at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, provided new information about what U.S. intelligence analysts have determined regarding the election interference goals of China, Russia and Iran.

Evanina said the Russians, in a reprise of the 2016 presidential election, were once again trying to help Trump by sabotaging his opponent.

President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16, 2018.Kevin Lamarque / Reuters file

“We assess that Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia ‘establishment,'” Evanina said, adding that a pro-Russia Ukrainian parliamentarian, Andriy Derkach “is spreading claims about corruption — including through publicizing leaked phone calls — to undermine former Vice President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party.”

Evanina added that “some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television.”

Derkach has met with Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to discuss his claims about Biden, and a Republican senator, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, has sought to draw attention to those claims in congressional inquiries.

The statement by Evanina marks the most detailed assessment yet by a Trump appointee of Russian activities designed to damage Trump’s opponent and boost his election prospects. Trump has dismissed the idea that Russia tried to help him, and at times has questioned whether Russia intervened in the 2016 election at all.

In a statement, National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot said, “As the President has said, the United States will not tolerate foreign interference in our electoral processes and will respond to malicious foreign threats that target our democratic institutions.”

“President Trump and this Administration continue to demonstrate an enduring commitment to protecting the integrity of United States elections. The United States is working to identify and disrupt foreign influence efforts targeting our political system, including efforts designed to suppress voter turnout or undermine public confidence in the integrity of our elections.”

The Trump campaign also responded to the release of the intelligence assessment. “We don’t need or want foreign interference, and President Trump will beat Joe Biden fair and square,” said the campaign. “The intelligence community’s assessment that both China and Iran are trying to stop President Trump’s re-election is concerning, but clearly because he has held them accountable after years of coddling by politicians like Joe Biden.”

Evanina wrote that China, which intelligence officials say does not interfere as actively or as purposely as Russia, “prefers that President Trump — whom Beijing sees as unpredictable — does not win reelection.”

“China has been expanding its influence efforts ahead of November 2020 to shape the policy environment in the United States, pressure political figures it views as opposed to China’s interests, and deflect and counter criticism of China,” Evanina added.

Iran, he said, “seeks to undermine U.S. democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country in advance of the 2020 elections.”

Iran will do so, he said, by “spreading disinformation on social media and recirculating anti-U.S. content. Tehran’s motivation to conduct such activities is, in part, driven by a perception that President Trump’s reelection would result in a continuation of U.S. pressure on Iran in an effort to foment regime change.”

Evanina’s statement did not describe Russia and China’s activities in similar detail.

As a general matter, he said, foreign governments “will continue to use covert and overt influence measures in their attempts to sway U.S. voters’ preferences and perspectives, shift U.S. policies, increase discord in the United States, and undermine the American people’s confidence in our democratic process.”

These campaigns “may also seek to compromise our election infrastructure for a range of possible purposes, such as interfering with the voting process, stealing sensitive data, or calling into question the validity of the election results,” he added, but “it would be difficult for our adversaries to interfere with or manipulate voting results at scale.”

The heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a bipartisan statement praising Evanina’s disclosures. That was in contrast to the reaction to a far less detailed statement Evanina released last month, after which Democrats accused him of underplaying the threat from Russia.

“NCSC Director Evanina’s statement today builds on and provides additional context to his previous statement two weeks ago,” said the statement from acting chairman Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and vice chairman Mark Warner, D-Va. “We thank him for providing this additional information to the American people, and we look forward to his continued engagement, along with other members of the Intelligence Community and the Administration, with the public over the next 87 days.”

Rubio and Warner added: “Evanina’s statement highlights some of the serious and ongoing threats to our election from China, Russia, and Iran. Everyone — from the voting public, local officials, and members of Congress — needs to be aware of these threats. And all of us should endeavor to prevent outside actors from being able to interfere in our elections, influence our politics, and undermine confidence in our democratic institutions.”

Peter Alexander contributed.



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Jeremy Corbyn's downfall plotted by OWN party claims Labour senior adviser

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JEREMY CORBYN’s dramatic downfall was plotted from within the Labour Party, a former adviser has sensationally alleged – claiming the efforts of a group of staffers prevented the Opposition from outright winning the general election in 2017.

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