The Department of Justice is sending federal assistance, including FBI and U.S. marshals, to Kenosha, Wisconsin, after two people were killed and another person was injured in a shooting during protests late last night, according to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the White House authorized sending up to 2,000 National Guard from neighboring states and up to 200 law enforcement members, but it’s not clear how many will be sent to Kenosha. Earlier on Wednesday, Antioch, Illinois police announced a 17-year-old accused of Tuesday’s shooting was in custody. Their post did not name the suspect, but the Lake County, Illinois State Attorney’s office said Kyle Rittenhouse was in bond court this morning regarding being a fugitive from justice in Wisconsin. Tuesday night’s shooting was during the third night of protests following the shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was shot several times by police on Sunday in Kenosha. Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, announced Wednesday afternoon that he would send 500 National Guard members to Kenosha. “The governor is continuing to work with other states in facilitating additional National Guard and state patrol support,” his office said in a press release. Evers issued a statement about Tuesday’s shooting saying, “my heart breaks for the families and loved ones of the two individuals who lost their lives and the individual who was injured last night in Kenosha. We as a state are mourning this tragedy.”
Republicans have blasted Evers for not sending enough help to Kenosha on Tuesday to deal with the protests, after the White House said President Trump offered assistance. “The president immediately offered help and he offered assistance to Governor Evers. Unfortunately, Governor Evers did not take him up on that offer last night. That’s what, you know, unfortunately he didn’t. Unfortunately, a couple of people lost their lives. But President Trump renewed the offer today and fortunately Governor Evers did accept the offer,” Republican Senator Ron Johnson said during a meeting with the Wisconsin Republican National Convention delegation. Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos laid blame squarely on Evers for Tuesday’s deadly shooting. “Now we have two people dead,” Vos told WISN radio on Wednesday morning. “That is entirely on Governor Evers’ shoulders because he refused to do what the locals asked for.” Also on Wednesday, Wisconsin Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, the state’s first Black Lieutenant Governor, said militia groups have been ignored for too long. “How many times across this country do you see armed gunmen, protesting, walking into state Capitols, and everybody just thinks it’s OK? People treat that like it’s some kind of normal activity that people are walking around with assault rifles,” Barnes told Democracy Now. “We can’t even act surprised that this happened.”
FROM THE CANDIDATES
Joe Biden made his first on-camera appearance in four days and said the cell phone video capturing the Sunday shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin “made [him] sick.” Biden said in a Twitter video he spoke with Blake’s family and told them “justice must and will be done,” CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson reports. Biden added a warning to some who may be using the ongoing protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin to cause community destruction. “As I said after George Floyd’s murder, protesting brutality is a right and absolutely necessary. But burning down communities is not protest, its needless violence — violence that endangers lives, violence that guts businesses, and shutters businesses that serve the community. That’s wrong,” Biden said. “So let’s unite and heal, do justice, end the violence, and end systemic racism in this country now,” the Democratic nominee added. Biden did not directly mention the shooting Tuesday evening during protests in Kenosha that killed two.
Kamala Harris officially kicked off her campaign schedule one week after accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination for Vice President. During a virtual roundtable called, “Sister to Sister: Mobilizing in Action with Senator Kamala Harris,” she also made her first public remarks on the shooting of Blake. Harris said she and Biden both spoke with Blake’s family early Wednesday and she called the events in Wisconsin, “the most recent tragic example of what we also need to focus on around reforming the criminal justice system and policing in America.” Harris added, “what happened there is so tragic and still represents the two systems of justice in America.” CBS News campaign reporter Tim Perry reports that Harris will also deliver the Democratic Party’s response to President Donald Trump ahead of his Republican National Convention speech Thursday evening where he will officially accept his party’s nomination for a second presidential term. An aide to the Biden-Harris campaign tells Perry, “Senator Harris will lay out Donald Trump’s profound failure of leadership on COVID-19 and the subsequent economic fallout.” The aide added, “Against the backdrop of the RNC, you can expect to hear Sen. Harris draw a clear contrast between the chaotic, failed leadership of Donald Trump and the plan that she and Joe Biden would put in place to contain COVID-19 and protect American families.”
Earlier on Wednesday the most powerful congressional Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, joined the Biden campaign briefing and ripped the Republican National Convention. “Donald Trump has made his name in reality TV but this week at the Republican National Convention the Trump campaign is producing sur-reality TV,” Schumer said, “Republicans pretend like Donald Trump has a handle on the virus. Republicans have spent their convention trying to Papier-mâché over reality to cover up the fact that Donald Trump has failed to contain COVID-19.” Asked about Vice President Pence’s job performance ahead of his Thursday evening convention speech, Pelosi replied, “The fact is there is nothing for him to be proud of in terms of his role in fighting the virus. In fact there is evidence to support the fact that he was very slow on the draw, pulled his punch, when he should have been leading with it.”
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
The third night of the Republican National Convention will feature a “heavy emphasis on the American military,” as well as law enforcement and “everyday Americans who make the United States the greatest country in the history of planet Earth,” said Trump Campaign Communications Director Tim Murtaugh. One example of that will be a speech from Chen Guangcheng, a Chinese civil rights activist who fights for women’s rights, land rights, and welfare of the poor. Guangcheng, known as the “barefoot lawyer” and blind from an early age, taught himself law and is a fierce critic of the Chinese Communist Party, reports CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar. Murtaugh said Guangcheng’s speech will be “important for Americans to hear.” Voters across the country will also hear from Vice President Mike Pence who will speak from Fort McHenry in Maryland. Murtaugh said Pence will “deliver a stirring speech honoring what makes America great” while striking “optimistic tones about our future as Americans.” The Vice President will also lay out policy differences and talk about the Trump Administration’s accomplishments during the first four years. Murtaugh said among the topics that Pence will contrast the administration’s position with Joe Biden’s will be on the economy and foreign policy. President Trump, who will give his acceptance speech tomorrow, is expected to participate again during tonight’s events. During last night’s events, President Trump granted a pardon from the White House and watched on as Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf performed a naturalization ceremony. Later on First Lady Melania Trump addressed the 2020 Republican National Convention from the White House Rose Garden.
Under the Hatch Act, federal employees are prohibited from participating in political activities inside federal buildings. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, responsible for enforcing Hatch Act violations, said today that there are certain areas of the White House where the Hatch Act does not limit federal employees from taking part in political activities. “The West Lawn and Rose Garden are two such areas,” the OSC said, adding, “therefore, covered federal employees would not necessarily violate the Hatch Act merely by attending political events in those areas.” That does not answer concerns raised about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who appeared from Jerusalem to make a campaign speech while also on official duty. Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner said in a statement the “OSC takes its job seriously” and has “increased the number of Hatch Act Unit staff to respond to the growing number of complaints typically received during election years.”
Key Trump ally and Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward claimed Tuesday not to know why Arizonan Mary Ann Mendoza was removed from the GOP convention slate hours before she was scheduled to appear, reports CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. Mendoza, an advisory board member for Women for Trump, had been initially been billed as a key speaker on the convention’s second night before The Daily Beast reported on a tweet by her urging followers to read an anti-Semitic QAnon conspiracy theory. “I know that it’s very terrible that her son, a police officer, was killed by somebody who should never have been in our country, who entered illegally. And that needs to be highlighted,” added Ward, speaking on a Trump campaign press call.
ISSUES THAT MATTER
Top federal officials responsible for securing the nation’s election systems said Wednesday that they have no evidence of foreign powers attempting to compromise mail-in voting, undercutting claims by President Trump that voting by mail is susceptible to foreign interference, report CBS News digital assistant managing editor for politics Stefan Becket and CBS News intelligence and national security reporter Olivia Gazis. “We have no information or intelligence that any nation-state threat actor is engaging in any kind of activity to undermine any part of the mail-in vote or ballots,” a senior official from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a conference call with reporters. For months, the president has railed against states that have expanded mail-in voting ahead of November’s elections amid fears about in-person voting during a pandemic. He has insisted, without evidence, that allowing large-scale voting by mail will lead to fraud and open the door to foreign manipulation. “RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS,” he tweeted in June. “IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!” On Wednesday’s call, senior officials from the ODNI, FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) briefed reporters about election security threats and the government’s efforts to protect against them. They spoke on the condition that they not be named. A CISA official said targeting of election infrastructure, such as voting machines, is “in the playbook” for foreign adversaries like Russia, but no effort to date has “inhibited the ability for people to vote or the integrity of the process.” The official said, “We saw it in 2016, we know it’s an option now. We continue to receive reporting from state and local election officials of scanning and probing of election infrastructure as a whole,” and added that the “vast majority of activity has been blocked, and unsuccessful.” Since 2016, the official said, sensors to detect intrusions into election systems have been installed in all 50 states, and “90-plus percent” of votes cast in 2020 are expected to have a record that can be audited. The official declined to make a direct comparison between the level of probing activity that has been detected this year versus 2016, saying the government’s improved visibility now makes such a comparison difficult. “We haven’t seen, to date, a ramp-up in activity targeting election infrastructure over, say, the last few months,” the official said. “Activity level and reporting from states has been relatively consistent.”
Arizona’s Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, says the state plans to continue their effort to boost participation in the state’s vote-by-mail system ahead of the general election. Before Arizona’s primary, Hobbs and local counties had proactively mailed forms to join the state’s Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) to registered voters not enrolled for such mail balloting. CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin says now they are planning to repeat the PEVL mailings with more counties, in a bid to buoy postal turnout for a state where some 78.8% of voters already mailed in their ballots in 2018.
Libertarians in New Mexico say they are skeptical of claims by state Republican chairman Steve Pearce that the president could flip the state with their support. Though Hillary Clinton won New Mexico by more than 8 points over the president in 2016, more than 9 percent of the state supported former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, a Libertarian. “I see no evidence of this effort at all. That article was a complete shock to me,” Chris Luchini, chair of the Libertarian Party of New Mexico, told CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. Luchini voiced skepticism the president could win over Johnson’s supporters, saying the party believed a majority of the voters had actually come out of traditional Democrats in the state. Asked about the effort, Pearce said the president’s campaign has invested “unprecedented” resources in reaching Libertarian, Hispanic, and Native American voters in their bid to flip New Mexico. “I’ve got 50 full-time employees, we’re moving towards 100. We have radio ads running right now on all the Hispanic stations in the state,” Pearce tells CBS News, saying Trump Victory is working on “hiring full-time door knockers” in New Mexico. “As long as the resources are coming in here, I believe that the president’s going to win New Mexico,” he added later.
IN THE SENATE
Reverend Raphael Warnock released his second television ad on Wednesday in his Senate campaign for this fall’s special election in Georgia, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson and CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell. The ad called, “Counseled,” focuses on his work in the church counseling families through hardships like those experienced as a result of COVID-19 and violence within communities. Warnock is the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the church Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. attended in Atlanta. Warnock is running in the Special Election for the seat Governor Brian Kemp appointed businesswoman Kelly Loeffler to, following Senator Johnny Isakson’s retirement. It’s a special election, so there isn’t a primary. The candidates include Republican incumbent Loeffler, Republican U.S. Representative Doug Collins, Warnock, and Democrat Matt Lieberman. If no candidate crosses the 50% threshold, the top two will advance to a runoff in January. Loeffler’s campaign released an ad Tuesday during the week of the Republican National Convention called, “The Most Conservative,” touting endorsements from Mr. Trump and the National Right to Life. Earlier this month, the Democratic Party of Georgia filed a complaint against Collins alleging that his campaign has repeatedly violated House rules by using footage from the U.S. House of Representatives floor for political purposes.
IN THE HOUSE
Two recent House primary victories have given the fringe QAnon movement, a network of conspiracy theorists and extremists, a potential gateway to mainstream politics, reports CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. QAnon adherents baselessly believe there is a cabal of pedophiles and Democratic politicians running a child sex trafficking ring and secretly controlling America — and that Mr. Trump is destined to expose them. The FBI considers QAnon a “domestic terrorist threat,” writing in an August 2019 letter fringe conspiracy movements like QAnon “encourage the targeting of specific people, places, and organizations… increasing the likelihood of violence against these targets.” Mr. Trump was already aware of QAnon, though, as he indicated in late August. “I’ve heard these are people that love our country… so I don’t know really anything about it, other than they do supposedly like me,” he said. While Mr. Trump has so far avoided disavowing QAnon, Pence and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have tried to steer it away from the party. On Fox News, McCarthy said there’s “no place” for QAnon in the GOP. On CBS This Morning, Pence dismissed the movement “out of hand.” But one speaker in this week’s Republican National Convention, Mary Ann Mendoza, was pulled from Tuesday’s lineup after retweeting a thread containing an anti-Semitic QAnon conspiracy theory. Marjorie Taylor Greene is a QAnon supporter who won her primary runoff, and after her victory, Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois posted a video addressing QAnon, saying that “denouncing conspiracies shouldn’t be the exception. They really should be the rule.” Greene and another candidate that has links to QAnon, Lauren Boebert, were both invited to attend Trump’s RNC speech on Thursday. When asked on MSNBC if Greene would be disinvited, Trump Campaign Communications Director Tim Murtaugh dismissed the question. He added QAnon “is not something that we deal with here in the campaign. It’s not something we ever think about.”
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