alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.

Election '20

National Democratic super PAC says it will double its spending to $12 million in battle for the Texas House

"National Democratic super PAC says it will double its spending to $12 million in battle for the Texas House" was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

The national Democratic super PAC Forward Majority is doubling its spending to flip the Texas House, bringing its commitment to over $12 million.

The political action committee said in early September that it would drop $6.2 million to help Democrats capture the majority. But in an announcement first shared with The Texas Tribune, Forward Majority said it is now surging its spending to keep up with Republicans in the homestretch of the fight to control the lower chamber ahead of the 2021 redistricting process.

The Republican State Leadership Committee, the chief national GOP group focused on state legislative races, had vowed to top Forward Majority's initial $6.2 million investment, and it raised $5.3 million into a Texas-based account between July 1 and late September. Of that haul, $4.5 million came via GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam.

"The RSLC and Karl Rove aren't going to call the shots in Texas in this election," Forward Majority spokesperson Ben Wexler-Waite said in a statement, alluding to both the national GOP outfit and a state-level PAC with which Rove, the famous party strategist, is working. "Republicans are hemorrhaging millions on Texas state house races because they know their majority is in grave jeopardy and that this is the most important state in the country for redistricting."

Democrats are nine seats away from the majority, and they also have to defend the 12 seats they picked up in 2018. Forward Majority has been exclusively on offense, targeting its original $6.2 million effort at 18 Republican-held seats.

Forward Majority said its spending surge was prompted by millions of dollars in TV ad buys by Republicans in some of the most competitive districts, such as those of Republican Reps. Jeff Leach of Plano, Angie Chen Button of Richardson, Morgan Meyer of Dallas and Sarah Davis of Houston. In two of those districts — Meyer's and Davis' — Forward Majority is teaming up with Everytown for Gun Safety, the national anti-gun violence group, to try to counter increased GOP ad spending.

The ramped-up spending plan by Forward Majority reflects just how fiercely competitive the fight for the majority has become. While Democrats had plenty to boast about on the latest campaign finance reports, Republicans in general had more money to spend heading into late September, and they are getting seven-figure aid in the final weeks from not just the RSLC but also Gov. Greg Abbott's campaign.

"We've long seen several paths to flipping the Texas House and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure Democratic legislative candidates aren't drowned out by millions in special interest money," Wexler-Waite said.

Disclosure: Everytown for Gun Safety has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2020/10/20/texas-house-super-pac/.

The Texas Tribune is proud to celebrate 10 years of exceptional journalism for an exceptional state. Explore the next 10 years with us.

Imagining the unimaginable: A second term for Donald Trump

With the high-water mark of the election just 14 days away, the tragedy of Nov. 8, 2016, haunts me more and more.

Four years ago, nearly everyone, including Donald Trump himself, was convinced Hillary Clinton was all but guaranteed a resounding victory. I remember articles predicting that Clinton would win the entire East Coast, including South Carolina. Later, following the third debate of that campaign season, I distinctly recall watching Steve Schmidt on MSNBC announcing in his dramatic monotone, "Hillary Clinton will be the 45th president of the United States." Election forecasters from Nate Silver to Sabato's Crystal Ball agreed.

None of that happened, of course, for a variety of reasons, including the attack by Russian military intelligence and what I've been calling the "American nervous breakdown." Sixty-two million of our fellow citizens lost track of right and wrong — brainwashed by a daily infusion of propaganda crapped into the world by Russian troll farms and the conservative entertainment complex. Millions of us lost track of why experience and presidential character were important, and the ideals of humility, decency and honor were rejected in favor of immature trolling, and petty vengeance.

And how'd that work out, Trump voters? Our republic is in worse shape today than it's been in a century, perhaps since the Civil War. Hundreds of thousands of us are dead due to Trump's herky-jerky response to a global pandemic. America is a global pariah. The economy is considerably worse than it was four years ago and 40 percent of our nation's grownups continue to be willingly suckered by a maniacal, sociopathic con man.

So sue me for being Captain Scarypants again, but despite the polls showing Joe Biden with a seemingly formidable lead, I'm still greatly concerned that Trump will somehow scam and sue his way to a second term. If he does, what will that mean for the United States?

With Trump, there's no way to know precisely what he'll do from moment to moment, much less next year or four years from now. As we've witnessed, his thing is to jump from childish vendetta to childish vendetta, and one transactional blunder after another. His actions, as always, will depend greatly on how whiny and victimized he feels. And he's always whining.

Even though there's no time-traveling DeLorean that enables us to forecast what another four years of the Trump crisis will look like, I can think of five specific things that will absolutely happen.

Trump will prosecute dissidents. He's already started with the Black Lives Matter protesters earlier this year, but now he has a real taste for it. No matter what, Trump will sue to have vote-by-mail ballots thrown out, and will appeal any adverse decisions all the way to the Supreme Court. In the process of doing so, protests will likely erupt, giving Trump his first post-election opportunity to order his secret police to gas, shoot and arrest protesters. He's already threatened to do exactly this, telling his loyalists, "Our country is gonna change. We're not gonna allow [more anti-Trump protests] to happen." Last week Trump bragged about what looked an awful lot like the extrajudicial murder of an American citizen by U.S. marshals in Washington state. Expect much more of that. As Michael Cohen wrote in his book, "Trump never actually jokes."

Conservatives will own the Supreme Court for a generation. Unless something emerges that forces her to withdraw, it looks like Amy Coney Barrett will be confirmed, giving conservatives on the high court a clear majority of 6-3. Meanwhile, Stephen Breyer, one of the three remaining Democratic appointees, is 82 years old, so it's reasonable to assume he'll retire or pass away within the next four years. Trump will name his replacement, leaving Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor as the last remaining liberals. If Clarence Thomas or Sam Alito decides to retire, Trump could add another justice or two, extending conservative control for 25 more years, and the ideological regression of America will be turbo-boosted to "ludicrous speed."

The pandemic will continue for years, not months. Trump has no intention of doing what's right. He never has. His genocidal "herd immunity" plan will continue to infect millions, while the CDC will be neutralized. In terms of a vaccine, if the scientists vouch for it, Trumpers won't take it, and if Trump vouches for it, everyone else will refuse to take it. As long as Trump is president, we'll be dealing with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future. I have no idea how our society can endure given all that, and my worst fear is that we'll have no choice but to live with the ongoing threat of infection and death.

The best approach? Assume the worst. He's given us no reason to assume otherwise. I fear he'll attempt to establish himself as the American Putin, maybe creating a new title and post for himself so he can remain in power, while juggernauting through the last roadblocks toward a full-on kleptocracy. Suffice it to say there are untold hazards ahead, with each hammer-blow further stripping away our constitutional system until America more closely resembles Russia — dismal, depressed and undemocratic.

I hope I'm wrong about all of this. But based on what we know about Donald Trump, as well as the sinister end-of-days cranks helping him along, I can't in good faith trust that things will transpire normally. We've got a Pandora's Box full of reasons to believe our country has been seized by villains who don't care whether the entire system is crushed under Trump's ponderous bulk. Given everything that's happened, I worry that they've covered their bases with election-stealing contingencies that include shenanigans we haven't even considered yet. After the shock of election night four years ago, I'm not willing to take anything for granted, including the polls.

There is also reason to believe an unprecedented coalition of American voters will successfully oust Trump, while perhaps humiliating him and his idiocratic movement back to the permanent margins of our politics. This has to be the result of the election. After all, the choice is either a decent, experienced man (who you might disagree with on policy) or a shrieking, saucer-eyed con artist who dry-heaves lies and incarcerates children while bragging to his cult about murdering American citizens. There are 14 days left to make sure it's not the latter outcome. If everything works out the way it should, I'll be thrilled to retract everything I wrote today. Please, America — make me do it.

Suburban women are on a mission to save America — and it may not stop at ousting Trump

rom politically apathetic to pants on fire urgency, Lori Goldman of Troy, Michigan, is among the ranks of suburban women who have felt called to duty by the existential threat to America that is Donald Trump.

Dressed in yoga pants and sneakers and whizzing through suburban streets on the state's east side to leave no door unknocked, Goldman has taken on the very mantra that many Democratic strategists have employed to help fight the complacency that some believe led to Hillary Clinton's defeat in 2016.

"We take nothing for granted," she told her canvassing partner, according to the Associated Press. "They say Joe Biden is ahead. Nope. We work like Biden is behind 20 points in every state."

These suburban women stories are everywhere now and they tell a similar tale of mostly white suburban women—some of whom voted Trump in 2016 and others of whom did not—feeling called to effect a different outcome for themselves, for their family, for other families, and for the nation in 2020.

Goldman founded the group Fems for Dems in early 2016 with an email to a few hundred of her friends. Now the group boasts nearly 9,000 members. She may drink Aperol spritzers and have her sights trained on the tony Detroit suburbs of Michigan's Oakland County, but make no mistake—she's taking no prisoners.

"I hate the saying, 'When they go low, we go high.' That's loser talk," she says. "You can be right all day, but if you're not winning, what's the point?"

Clinton actually did win Oakland County by about eight points in 2016, but she did so by fewer points than Barack Obama in 2012. The difference in their win margins alone could have cut Trump's 10,700-vote triumph in the state by half, according to the AP.

Two years later, Democratic gubernatorial candidate and now-governor Gretchen Whitmer doubled Clinton's margin in the county, while Democrat Elissa Slotkin unseated a GOP incumbent to represent the district. And while Goldman has successfully grown her group of "dumpy, middle-aged housewives" as she once called them, she is simultaneously dismayed by how fatigued many of her members grown by the daily the churn of Trump crazy.

"Our house is on fire," Goldman says.

Portraits of transformation like that of Goldman abound in these stories. And some of those transitions include a more comprehensive outlook on what their vote means for the nation rather than just their own self interests.

Kate Rabinovitch of Westerville, Ohio, reluctantly voted for Trump in 2016 and now spends all her in-between moments texting with friends and family and generating social media posts to turn the tide against him.

Rabinovitch, who has a 4-year-old son, has many objections to Trump, but she also pinpointed the killing of George Floyd as a seminal moment for her. Before February, she said, racism wasn't a key issue for her. But watching that video really impressed upon her the structural racism that continues to plague the country.

"I have to think of everybody," Rabinovitch told The New York Times. "So if I'm voting against Donald Trump, that's not a vote for me or a vote for my son. That's a vote for everyone. Everyone's sons."

Ohio-based Katie Paris founded Red, Wine, and Blue, an all-female team of suburbanites working to organize suburban women for Ohio Democrats. The Times describes Paris' political ethos as one part Obama strategist David Plouffe, one part psychological researcher Brené Brown—a combination of clear-eyed data analysis and vulnerable peer conversations. She also specifically feels the pull of white women needing to do their part to turn the country around.

"We can't leave this all on Black voters to carry all the weight in Ohio," said Paris, who is white. "It's going to take all of us."

And while all these women are making an immediate push to oust Trump, many of them also seem committed to a longer haul vision of transforming the country—or at least a sustained change in their own political alignments that could create long-term trouble for Republicans.

"I cannot imagine a Republican candidate that I would rally behind," says Ohioan Hannah Dasgupta, a young mother of two who grew up in a conservative home. "Wow, that's mind-blowing to think about. That's a huge departure."

'See you in court' money: Biden’s campaign has ‘pre-funded’ a massive legal budget

With Republicans engaging in a variety of voter suppression tactics and President Donald Trump refusing to commit to accepting the election results if they favor former Vice President Joe Biden, the Biden campaign is expecting multiple legal battles after election day. And an important part of the campaign's budget, journalists Scott Bixby and Hanna Trudo emphasize in an article published by the Daily Beast on October 20, is its legal budget.

Bixby and Trudo note that Biden's campaign entered "the final full month before the election with a record $432 million in cash on hand" — a figure the Beast attributes to a statement by campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon. Biden's campaign, according to the Beast reporters, "could suspend fundraising entirely and drop more than $20 million a day, every day, until the election without bouncing a single check."

Bixby and Trudo explain, "According to top-level donors and an ambitious schedule of upcoming fundraisers, there's no plan to slow down — just in case the trove of 'fuck you' money needs to become 'see you in court' money…. The campaign is still leaning hard on its donor network, explicitly pointing ahead to its potential need to fund legal battles in multiple states following the election."

One of the Beast's sources, described by Bixby and Trudo as a "top-level" Democratic donor, told the online publication that Biden's campaign has "pre-funded" the legal costs it anticipates. The campaign, according to the reporters, is setting aside money for legal fees because of "lingering anxieties that President Donald Trump will make good on his public statements implying that he may refuse to accept election results if he loses, which could trigger court fights in multiple states and appellate courts — the kind of legal battle that could get very expensive very quickly."

"Even if the election is wrapped up more tidily than Trump's warnings indicate," the Beast reporters point out, "legal fights over ballot access have already begun in states around the country. In Michigan alone, a court case seeking to extend the deadline for counting absentee ballots beyond 8 p.m. on Election Day seems destined for the (Michigan) Supreme Court after a state appeals court ruled, on Friday, that the extension — the result of a Democratic suit seeking to curb limits on mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic — was unnecessary."

Michael Gwin, a spokesman for Biden's campaign, told the Beast, "The Biden campaign has assembled the biggest voter protection program in history to ensure the election runs smoothly and to combat any attempt by Donald Trump to create fear and confusion with our voting system, or interfere in the democratic process. We're confident that we'll have free and fair elections this November, and that voters will decisively reject Donald Trump's erratic, divisive and failed leadership at the ballot box."

Richard H. Pildes, who teaches constitutional law at New York University Law School, observed that these days, large legal budgets are normal for political campaigns.

Pildes told the Beast, "Campaigns these days do typically set up separate funds for recounts and election contests for possible post-election litigation. The reason is that under federal election law, a campaign can raise contributions to these funds from donors who have already maxed out their contributions to the campaigns."

50+ intel experts say Hunter Biden e-mail story has all the marks of ‘Russian involvement’

Supporters of President Donald Trump are hoping that e-mails found on a laptop allegedly belonging to former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, will be the "October surprise" that derails the older Biden's presidential campaign. The New York Post, owned by Fox News' Rupert Murdoch, published that story after receiving an alleged copy of Hunter Biden's hard drive from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — and more than 50 intelligence officials, according to Politico's Natasha Bertrand, have signed a letter saying that the story has the markings of a Kremlin propaganda operation.

Bertrand explains, "While the letter's signatories presented no new evidence, they said their national security experience had made them 'deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case' and cited several elements of the story that suggested the Kremlin's hand at work.'"

Intel experts who signed the letter range from Russ Travers, who served as acting director for the National Counterterrorism Center, to Rick Ledgett, former deputy director of the National Security Agency. Former Central Intelligence Agency directors or acting directors who signed the letter include John O. Brennan, Leon Panetta, Gen. Michael Hayden, John McLaughlin and Michael Morell.

The letter reads, "If we are right, this is Russia trying to influence how Americans vote in this election — and we believe strongly that Americans need to be aware of this."

The intel experts also said, "We want to emphasize that we do not know if the e-mails, provided to the New York Post by President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, are genuine or not — and that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement… (But) there are a number of factors that make us suspicious of Russian involvement…. Such an operation would be consistent with Russian objectives, as outlined publicly and recently by the intelligence community, to create political chaos in the United States and to deepen political divisions here — but also, to undermine the candidacy of former Vice President Biden and thereby help the candidacy of President Trump."

Top special operations commander who oversaw Bin Laden raid endorses Biden in scathing op-ed denouncing Trump

Retired four-star Adm. William McRaven just delivered the latest blow to President Donald Trump's campaign as he revealed he cast his vote for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

In a piece published by The Wall Street Journal on Monday, McRaven who spearheaded the 2011 raid that led to the death of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, admitted that he is a conservative but also noted his support of multiple key issues regarding systemic racism and immigration.

"This week I went to the polls in Texas," wrote McRaven "Truth be told, I am a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, small-government, strong-defense and a national-anthem-standing conservative."

He added, "But, I also believe that black lives matter, that the Dreamers deserve a path to citizenship, that diversity and inclusion are essential to our national success, that education is the great equalizer, that climate change is real and that the First Amendment is the cornerstone of our democracy. Most important, I believe that America must lead in the world with courage, conviction and a sense of honor and humility."

He went on to explain why he opted to vote for Biden in the upcoming election. Spinning the president's slogan, "Make America Great Again," McRaven admitted he believes Biden will "Make America Lead Again," McRaven warned that he believes "the world no longer looks up to America" and "without American leadership the world will indeed be transformed, just not in the way we hope."

"They have been witness to our dismissiveness, our lack of respect and our transactional approach to global issues. They have seen us tear up our treaties, leave our allies on the battlefield and cozy up to despots and dictators," McRaven wrote. "They have seen our incompetence in handling the pandemic and the wildfires. They have seen us struggle with social injustice. They no longer think we can lead, because they have seen an ineptness and a disdain for civility that is beyond anything in their memory."

McRaven also noted the characteristics needed for an American president to move the country forward.

He wrote, "We need a leader of integrity whose decency and sense of respect reflects the values we expect from our president. We need a president for all Americans, not just half of America."

Trump and Biden face deadlocked race in North Carolina as election day approaches

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden are deadlocked in a tight race for the state of North Carolina as Election Day approaches.

According to The Washington Post, national poll results suggest Biden has just a 1 percent lead over Trump with 49 percent to the president's 48 percent. Libertarian presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen and Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins reportedly account for just 1 percent of the vote. Among likely registered voters in the upcoming election, Biden is 48 percent while Trump appears to be at 46 percent and the third-party candidates account for the other 3 percent of the vote.

The latest poll results come as both candidates travel to critical key states in hopes of swinging the election in their favor. However, their campaign styles are nearly as different as their political views. As Trump delivered a speech before hundreds of rallygoers in Nevada over the weekend, Biden hit the campaign trail for a significantly smaller appearance in Durham, N.C.

During Biden's visit to Durham, he discussed a number of critical topics including Medicare, coronavirus, and of course, Trump. As North Carolina reported more than 2,000 cases in a single day, Biden also stressed the importance of the upcoming election, deeming it the "most important election of our lifetime."

"The very soul of our nation is at stake," Biden told the crowd. "It's go time. This is the most important election of our lifetime."

He added, "The president has known how bad this virus would be since January and he hid it from you. His excuse is that he didn't want Americans to panic. Americans don't panic. Donald Trump panics."

Trump has taken a more defensive stance in his rallies by focusing on verbal attacks, and taking personal and professional jabs at his opponent. Despite contracting COVID-19, the president continues to disregard masks and social distancing, potentially exposing his supporters to the virus.

Trump is also expected to travel to Gastonia, N.C., on Wednesday.

Cash-strapped Trump campaign in danger of having lawsuits thrown out over unpaid legal bills: report

According to a report from Politico, Donald Trump's cash-strapped campaign is frantically attempting to collect settlements in legal disputes because it needs the money to fund other lawsuits that are in danger of being dismissed.

Noting that the campaign of the embattled president is pressing Omarosa Manigault Newman to make a delinquent $52,000 payment for writing an unauthorized book about White House doings, the report explains the money is desperately needed.

According to the report, the campaign is currently engaged in a "flurry of legal actions" in the days before the election which is an indication that money is tight.

Pointing out that Trump's people had previously pushed to collect $1 million from Manigault Newman, Politico reports the campaign is under the gun to keep itself funded.

"At one point, Trump's attorneys suggested Newman pay for a nearly $1 million ad campaign "to counteract the long-term adverse effects" of her remarks," the report states. "Yet the campaign has thus far stiffed the arbitrator assigned to mediate the case, according to a letter sent to the parties in the case. If Trump's attorneys don't pay the outstanding bill by next week, the case could be tossed out."

The Omarosa lawsuit is just the tip of the iceberg of lawsuits that the campaign is involved in with Politico reporting, "The campaign is helping fight accusations Trump harassed and sexually assaulted women. It's helping keep documents about his business deals hidden. Other cases are proactive, such as attempts to enforce nondisclosure agreements and to punish media companies the campaign accuses of defamation. And it is responding to lawsuits from people who say they were assaulted at Trump events, including one from a Missouri man who claimed he was arrested after laughing at a MAGA rally."

Those lawsuits won't go away after the election with one Washington attorney saying the president is facing massive legal bills.

"Even if he loses the election, very little actually ends once Trump leaves the White House in January 2021," explained Bradley Moss, a Washington lawyer who defended one of Trump's targets. "Litigation Trump has personally brought under his own name or through the campaign, whether it be protecting his tax returns or suing Omarosa, will continue for however long there is money to pay the lawyers."

According to the report, lawyers may be wary of continuing their representation of the president once he is out of office because of his extensive history of stiffing people he owes money to.

"Private contractors, bartenders, painters, real estate brokers and others have all claimed that Trump didn't adequately compensate them for their work before he was sworn into office. More recently, Trump has been accused of failing to pay local officials who provide thousands of dollars' in security assistance to the president's campaign during rallies," the report states before highlight the president's money woes with, "The Trump campaign's financial outlook is also faltering in the election's final weeks. Trump has fallen behind Biden on fundraising. In August, Democrats for the first time outraised Republicans by a staggering $154 million, eroding the president's longstanding cash-on-hand advantage. The pattern repeated itself in September, when Biden raised $383 million to Trump's $247.8 million."

You can read more here.

Pompeo facing investigation after alluding to the possible release of Clinton emails 'before election day'

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is at the helm of an investigation and the Office of Special Counsel will determine if he illegally used his position to bolster politics on behalf of President Donald Trump.

The investigation into Pompeo was sparked from a Fox News interview conducted in early October where he teased about the release of emails connected to former secretary and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton "before the election," per Politico.

"We've got the emails, we're getting them out. We're going to get all this information out so the American people can see it," Pompeo told Fox News's Dana Perino during the interview. "We're doing it as fast as we can. I certainly think there'll be more to see before the election."

During that interview, Pompeo responded to pressure and criticism from Trump who had also discussed the Clinton emails that same day when he said: "They're in the State Department, but Mike Pompeo has been unable to get them out, which is very sad, actually. I'm not happy about him for that reason. He was unable to get them out. I don't know why. You're running the State Department, you get them out."

Pompeo insisted the release will come before the election, raising questions about whether or not he could be violating the Hatch Act, which "limits certain political activities of federal employees, as well as some state, D.C., and local government employees who work in connection with federally funded programs," according to the Office of Special Counsel's website.

"The law's purposes are to ensure that federal programs are administered in a nonpartisan fashion, to protect federal employees from political coercion in the workplace, and to ensure that federal employees are advanced based on merit and not based on political affiliation."

In a letter dated Friday, October 16, the watchdog group American Oversight expressed concern about Pompeo's remarks with Election Day just two weeks away. According to the group, Pompeo's remark "warrants an investigation of whether Secretary Pompeo has given directives or orders to State employees in violation of the Hatch Act."

Now, Pompeo is denying any possibility that he would illegally politicize his office. When asked whether he would release Clinton-related emails so close to the upcoming election date, he said: "Releasing emails for the sake of transparency can't possibly be a violation of the Hatch Act. That's a ridiculous question."

Trump’s inner circle ‘furious’ with FBI’s Wray for undercutting Biden smear: report

According to a report from Politico, high-ranking members of Donald Trump's administration are "furious" with FBI Director Christopher Wray for siding with the intelligence community and calling recent revelations about former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter part of a Russian disinformation campaign.

As the New York Post story about the Democratic presidential nominee's son continues to fall apart — with even Fox News reportedly passing on it before Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani took it to the Post — Wray, who has had a strained relationship with the president is allowing his department to investigate Russia instead of the Biden's.

That, in turn, has angered White House officials looking for a helping hand to help out the president's cratering re-election campaign.

According to Politico, "Trump's inner circle was already furious at Wray for echoing the intelligence community's finding that Russia is acting to damage Biden's candidacy, as well as his description of antifa as 'an ideology' rather than an organized entity. Now, they're ratcheting up calls for Trump to fire his handpicked director."

The report goes on to note that Republicans had been hoping that Wray would open up a full-scale investigation into the sketchy accusations based upon unverified information reportedly found on the younger Biden's laptop computer.

For his part, Wary is reportedly loath to enter the fray with an eye on the election just two weeks away, and his own future uncertain.

"Other congressional and law enforcement sources noted that Trump might lack the leverage to bend Wray — who, like past FBI directors, was appointed to serve a 10-year term, a setup designed to insulate the bureau from politics — to his will," the report states. "A public offensive against Biden by the FBI would doom Wray's chances of remaining atop the bureau in a potential Biden administration. Wray, they say, would have no incentive to burn the rulebook in order to score a point for Trump, particularly when he enjoys relatively bipartisan support in the Capitol."

According to those who know Wray, he is unlikely to take the president's side this time.

"Chris does not need my advice," explained Chuck Rosenberg, a former FBI chief of staff. "He is smart and thoughtful and principled and has the best interests of the FBI and the nation in mind."

You can read more here.

Trump's final ad buy betrays just how broke his campaign really is

On a call Monday, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien revealed the campaign's total ad buy for the last two weeks of the presidential race would be a whopping a paltry $55 million ... split between no fewer than 11 states.

Um, just wow. And that's not only the Trump campaign, it represents coordinated spending with the Republican National Committee (RNC) too. Far from being a muscular way to close out the race, it feels more like a cry for help. By comparison, Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon said last week that she still anticipates raising another $234 million through the election.

The 11 states included on the target list for both entities are: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maine-2, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.


According to an Axios article last week, Stepien views Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and Maine's 2nd district as the foundation of their path to 270—in other words, must gets. In fact, the article quoted Stepien calling that line up the "easy part," but apparently not so easy that they're forgoing dropping money in all four supposed gimmes.

As New York Times journalist Shane Goldmacher, who was on the call, noted, "On the one hand, Stepien says he is 'certain' that they are winning Ohio and Iowa. On the other hand, he announces the campaign will be up with ads in those two states in final two weeks." Go figure.

One state the Trump campaign appears to have finally given up on altogether is Minnesota. Earlier on Monday, the Trump camp had announced cancelling ad buys in several Midwestern states even as they were preparing to reinvest in some of them through this coordinated ad buy with the RNC. But Minnesota, which has pretty much always been a pipe dream for Team Trump, was dropped altogether.

Even before this final Trump ad buy in the closing weeks, Biden's ad spending had outpaced Trump's by a 2-to-1 ratio for months, according to The New York Times. In a review of the two campaigns' spending in 10 battleground states, the only state where Trump outspent Biden was Georgia—which doesn't exactly jibe with that state's inclusion in Stepien's so-called "easy" list.

Biden's spending strategy has clearly centered on the Midwest. "His dominance is most pronounced in three critical swing states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — where he spent about $53 million to Mr. Trump's $17 million over the past month largely on ads assailing the president's handling of the virus as well as the economy and taxes," writes the Times.

And while Trump initially enjoyed a digital ad advantage in the early part of the campaign, Biden has steadily closed that gap in recent months, achieving near parity in the last 30 days at $50 million for each ad campaign on Google and Facebook, according to the Times.

What is perhaps most interesting in these final weeks is just how small Trump is playing even as Team Biden has played very big—and not just in terms of overall spending. As this Politico piece explains, the Biden campaign has seen so many paths to 270 open up that in some cases they realized it would be more cost effective to make national buys rather than spending astronomical amounts in smaller battleground markets. It's a worth a read.

Under normal circumstances, most campaigns at this point would be making buys to leverage their position in 10 or even fewer states. But the Biden campaign realized that making some national buys through the networks would actually cost only slightly more, for instance, than purchasing air time in states with major Senate races like Arizona, North Carolina, and Georgia, where pricing had gone through the roof. The big upside of the national buys was that they had the advantage of not only reaching the desired markets in key battlegrounds but also establishing a Biden presence in states that were newly on the radar, like Texas.

"We are looking at a very wide map right now," Becca Siegel, the Biden campaign's chief analytics officer, said. "Normally at this stage of the campaign, we would be narrowing in. But at this stage of the campaign, we have a lot of pathways that have opened up."

So as Trump closes out with a whimper, Biden is heading out with a roar, and his sizable cash advantage has made all that possible.