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July 24 2016 3:18 PM

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to Endorse Hillary Clinton During Primetime Convention Speech

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will endorse Hillary Clinton during a primetime speech at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night. While Bloomberg has made it known he is against Donald Trump’s candidacy, so much so that he cited potentially splitting the vote and enabling a Trump presidency as the primary reason he chose not to launch an independent White House bid of his own, the appearance at the DNC comes as a surprise, in that Bloomberg left the party in 2000. He ran for mayor as a Republican and later registered as an independent.

Here’s more on the move from the New York Times:

[The endorsement] reflects Mr. Bloomberg’s increasing dismay about the rise of Donald J. Trump and a determination to see that the Republican nominee is defeated … Mr. Bloomberg, who has been sharply critical of Mr. Trump’s views on immigration and the economy, may fortify Mrs. Clinton’s appeal to the political center. And with the Republican nominee basing his campaign on his background as a businessman, Mr. Bloomberg, a billionaire media executive and philanthropist, may help counter the Trump sales pitch.
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Howard Wolfson, a Bloomberg adviser, told the Times that the endorsement has been several weeks in the making, and the former mayor was enticed by the offer to give an address that reflected his political beliefs, rather than strict Democratic Party doctrine. Bloomberg is scheduled to appear on Wednesday evening along with President Obama and Vice President Biden.

July 24 2016 2:32 PM

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Will Resign as DNC Chair After the Convention

Update, 4:10 p.m.: DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz says she will step down following the convention.

Original Post: Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is out as chair of next week’s Democratic convention in the wake of leaked DNC emails that appear to show the party was partial to a Clinton nomination. The embattled party head “will not have a major speaking role or preside over daily convention proceedings this week,” according to CNN. The party chair is usually highly visible at either party’s convention; GOP head Reince Priebus was a consistent presence onstage during last week’s Republican National Convention. Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio has been tapped to handle the day-to-day procedural operations of the Democrats’ convention, according to CNN.

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The Florida congresswoman has faced criticism throughout the nominating process, largely from supporters of Bernie Sanders, who accused the party of favoring a Clinton nomination. Wasserman Schultz served as campaign co-chair for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 run. Sanders has been critical of Wasserman Schultz’s tenure and again called for her resignation on Sunday. The move to reduce Wasserman Schultz’s visibility comes on the eve of the convention and is an apparent attempt to keep the proceedings from running off the rails.

July 24 2016 12:52 PM

Trump Adviser and Onetime VP Contender Retweets Anti-Semitic Comment, Later Takes It Back

Team Trump clearly has support from the fringes of society—you know, your white supremacists and anti-Semites. As if that weren’t a big enough problem, Trump and his supporters and surrogates continue to give a platform to such views, particularly on social media. On Sunday, it was retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s turn. The former Obama administration official turned Trump adviser and one-time dark-horse VP pick, retweeted this clearly anti-Semitic remark.

I mean, what to even say about that tweet? Flynn later tweeted an apology, but it’s not like Flynn is new to the medium; he’s been on Twitter since January 2011 and has fired off more than 1,000 tweets since then. The video in question in the retweet was of a Clinton campaign official talking about whether Russia is attempting to influence the U.S. election. Russian hackers were responsible for an embarrassing hack of the DNC.

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July 24 2016 12:17 PM

IOC Decides Against Blanket Olympic Ban for Russia Despite Widespread, State-Run Doping

The International Olympic Committee ruled Sunday that Russian athletes will be able to compete in the Rio Olympics next month, despite evidence of a widespread, state-run doping program. While not imposing a blanket ban on all Russian athletes, the IOC decision lays out specific, more stringent criteria for the roughly 400 Russians scheduled to participate in Rio. The decision about whether individual Russian athletes will be eligible to compete is being left to each sport’s governing body.

In May, Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia’s anti-doping lab, confessed to the New York Times that the country was engaged in a well-planned, state-run doping program. Rodchenkov “shared spreadsheets of the athletes who participated in it and the recipe of the three-drug cocktail of steroids and liquor he had devised for them ahead of the 2012 Summer Games in London,” according to the Times. Last week, a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency determined that Russia’s sports ministry “directed, controlled and oversaw” the altering of athletes’ urine samples. Russian officials have vehemently denied the allegations, with Vladimir Putin labeling them the work of Western, anti-Russian forces.

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Calls to sanction the Russian Olympic team have grown louder over the past three months with the Rio Games set to open on Aug. 5. In advance of Sunday’s decision from the IOC, some individual governing bodies, including those that sanction track and field and weightlifting, imposed bans on Russian athletes.

It’s not completely clear what the new criteria laid down for Russian athletes will mean for the country’s Olympic delegation. The governing bodies for each of the 28 Olympic sports “should carry out an individual analysis of each athlete’s anti-doping record, taking into account only reliable adequate international tests, and the specificities of the athlete’s sport and its rules, in order to ensure a level playing field,” according to the IOC. With the Olympics starting in less than two weeks, the process of clearing an athlete remains murky. The new criteria, however amorphous, will likely reduce the number of Russian athletes competing in Rio.

One Russian athlete who won’t be in Rio is Yuliya Stepanova. The 800-meter runner served as a whistleblower, revealing some of the machinery of the Russian doping system. On account of the information she revealed, the governing body of track and field had decided to allow her to compete in the Olympics as an “independent neutral athlete.” The IOC has now reversed that decision.

The head of the U.S. anti-doping body, Travis Tygart, has criticized the IOC decision: “The IOC has stated before that they believe anti-doping should be wholly independent, and that is in part why it is so frustrating that in this incredibly important moment, they would pass the baton to sports federations who may lack the adequate expertise or collective will to appropriately address the situation within the short window prior to the Games. The conflict of interest is glaring.”

July 23 2016 5:43 PM

Clinton-Kaine Debut Was Notable for Being What the RNC Was Not—Optimistic and Orderly

The Clinton-Kaine ticket officially went live on Saturday afternoon in Florida with the campaign’s formal introduction of Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as Clinton’s choice for VP. The event was largely an exercise in political stagecraft, but coming on the heels of the Republican convention, the appearance of order was noticeable, if only because of its stark contrast to the aura of chaos that accompanies Donald Trump. Clinton teed up Kaine as an opener and then got out of the way. Something Trump struggled doing during his rollout of Mike Pence as his running mate.

For his part, Kaine did what he needed to do in his first appearance on the 2016 campaign trail. As expected, his remarks were heavy on bio, and while there was some Trump-bashing red meat, Kaine’s entire speech was most notable for its sunny tone. The southern senator’s conversational style on the stump isn’t going to whip even the most excitable Democrat into a frothy fervor, but his earnest demeanor and unforced plainspokenness radiate a sort of Dad-positivism.

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There are obviously many factors that go into selecting a VP—from electoral math to politics—but if vice presidents are largely cosmetic additions to the ticket, Kaine’s biggest impact on the race may end up being how effectively he is able to act as a mood booster. The Republican Party is noticeably in an anti mood at the moment, particularly at the top of the ticket, and Team Clinton is clearly betting that will fatigue voters by November.

July 23 2016 1:32 PM

ISIS Claims Responsibility for Suicide Bombing Attack Killing Dozens in Kabul

ISIS has claimed responsibility for two explosions at a peaceful demonstration in Afghanistan Saturday that killed dozens of people and wounded hundreds more. The Afghan government said at least 80 people were killed and 231 injured by a pair of suicide bombers who detonated explosives in the middle of a march by Afghanistan's minority Hazara community in Kabul. The Hazaras are largely Shiite Muslim and considered apostates by ISIS.

Thousands of Hazara, the country’s third-largest minority community, were in the capital to put pressure on the Afghan government to route a planned electricity transmission line through Hazara communities in central Afghanistan. “Graphic television footage from the site of the attack showed many dead bodies lying on the bloodied road,” Reuters reports. “The attack succeeded despite tight security which saw much of the city center sealed off with stacks of shipping containers and other obstacles and helicopters patrolling overhead.”

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“Afghan security officials said that while Kabul remained under constant insurgent threat, they had no prior intelligence on a particular threat to the protest,” the New York Times reports. “Saturday’s attack puts further pressure on President Ashraf Ghani’s struggling government.” The Taliban publicly condemned the attack.

July 23 2016 12:27 PM

German Officials Say Munich Attack Was a “Classic Shooting Rampage;” Rule Out Terror Links

German police have labeled the deadly attack in Munich Friday a “classic shooting rampage,” but have all but ruled out terrorism links as motivation for the shooting spree outside the Olympia-Einkaufszentrum shopping mall. The 18-year-old German shooter of Iranian descent killed nine people, most of them teenagers, and injured 27 others before taking his own life. He was found dead with 300 bullets in his backpack along with a pistol.

The teenage gunman was indentified as Ali Sonboly and appeared to suffer from mental health issues, according to German authorities. The attack was premeditated, as the young man sent Facebook messages from a young woman’s account attempting to lure people to McDonald’s Friday afternoon. At around 6 p.m. Sonboly opened fire at the fast-food restaurant.

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During a search of Sonboly’s room, police found a book about school shootings called Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters. The shooting took place five years to the day of Anders Breivik mass shooting in Norway. Also, according to ABC News, “the shopping mall where the shooting took place is located in what was the Olympic Village for the 1972 Munich Olympics, during which 11 Israeli athletes were taken hostage and killed along with a German policeman.” Police say Sonboly had undergone psychiatric treatment in the past; classmates told the Guardian Sonboly was bullied in school.

The shooting played out over more than three terrifying hours in the Bavarian city; the city’s public transport system was shut down as police tried to identify the attacker. Sonboly’s body was found around 9:30 p.m. The country was already on high alert after an axe attack on a train earlier this week.

July 22 2016 8:15 PM

It’s Official: Hillary Clinton Picks Tim Kaine as Running Mate

The pick is in: Hillary Clinton has selected Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate.

The Clinton camp had teased the announcement all day—promising supporters they’d learn the news via text message or social media—but in the end, they ultimately leaked the news to major media outlets moments before making it official on Twitter.

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Timing aside, the pick was the opposite of a surprise. Kaine, a former governor, had long been considered to be at the top of Clinton’s wish list, and while a few other bolder names popped up this year—Elizabeth Warren chief among them—he was always the favorite to win the job. It also didn’t hurt that the last previous Democratic presidents effectively served as Kaine’s job references.

Kaine's selection was being hailed as a safe, do-no-harm pick by the Beltway set even before it became official, and in many ways it is, since Kaine plugs so neatly into Clinton's existing steady-hand pitch to voters. He sits on the Senate’s Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, giving him the national security experience and foreign policy chops that Clinton already has but has suggested she wants more of on the ticket. His time in the Virginia governor’s mansion—and, to a much lesser degree, as mayor of Richmond—gives him the executive experience that will allow Democrats to argue that he’d be able to step in and lead the country if it ever came down to it. And—let’s be frank—he’s also an older white dude, which won’t add to the already historic nature of a female-led ticket but simultaneously won’t risk further upsetting the not-insignificant slice of American voters who are terrible.

Added bonuses for Democrats: Kaine’s selection won’t hurt their chances of retaking the Senate this fall. If Clinton wins in November, Kaine’s successor in the chamber will be chosen by the state’s Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe. The same couldn’t be said for Warren, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, or Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, all of whom would have had their vacated seats filled by a designee of a GOP governor. And at 58, Kaine is still young enough where his age theoretically wouldn’t be an issue in 2024.

He also speaks Spanish fluently, a skill that will come in handy as Democrats attempt to win over Hispanics (though his fellow short-listers Labor Secretary Tom Perez and HUD Secretary Julian Castro would have offered more in the way of appeal on that front). Furthermore, a VP debate between Kaine and Trump's pick, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, will feel about as far away from must-see-TV as possible for many voters, which should allow the Clinton camp to keep the focus where they want it: on Trump.

Who won’t like the pick? Bernie Sanders fans and other like-minded progressives! Kaine is a Clinton-style centrist who served as the head of the Democratic National Committee, aka the very "establishment" that many Sanders supporters believe rigged this year’s primary in Hillary’s favor. They also won’t be thrilled to learn about Kaine’s relative friendliness toward Wall Street and his unabashed love of free trade. Even before the pick was official, some on the left were already voicing their frustration. “Hillary Clinton’s vice-presidential pick will be seen by many as a proxy for how she will govern—boldly, or cautiously?” Stephanie Taylor, a co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, told the New York Times, leaving little doubt which of those two words she'd associate with the selection of Kaine. The Virginia Democrat's views on abortion could also be a touchy subject for some on the left. He’s generally pro-choice but, as an observant Catholic, he’s personally opposed to abortion, leaving him behind the liberal trend line on that issue.

By selecting Kaine, Clinton is banking on the fact that, faced with the prospect of a President Trump, progressives will have no other choice but to vote for her this fall. Instead, this pick can be seen as a play for moderates and Republican-leaning voters who remain skeptical—or flat out terrified—of Trump, but might have been turned off by seeing a fiery progressive (and woman) like Warren as Clinton’s No. 2.

Still: History suggests that running mate selections have, at most, a limited impact on the election’s ultimate outcome, so it would be a mistake to make too much of how Kaine will influence the race. Presidential elections are decided at the top of the ticket, and it’s hard to imagine there are a whole lot of voters out there who remain on the fence about the two most disliked presidential candidates in modern history but will instead somehow make up their minds after meeting Tim Kaine, a man who wears the word “boring” as a badge of honor.

July 22 2016 4:54 PM

This Week’s Conservative Pundit Tracker: Resigned to Trump Edition

Each week we’re publishing a new chart showing where our group of 25 right-wing pundits stand on the question of Trump, and you’ll be able to look back at past weeks to see if minds are changing. Our categories are “Voting Trump,” “Voting Clinton,” “Not Voting,” “Someone Else,” and “Inscrutable.” Someone else means either a third party candidate or a write-in. Inscrutable includes pundits who have voiced opposition to both Trump and Clinton, but are otherwise undecided, and those who are sharply critical of Trump but haven’t stated a preferred alternative. Click on a pundit’s head to see what he or she has said about the election this week. (If someone doesn’t write or speak or tweet—crazy, but possible—in a given week, we’ll assume they are “thinking…” Also: We are scouring the internet obsessively, but it’s a big place and it’s possible someone will say something that we miss. We are confident you’ll let us know in comments if so!)

Will the Inscrutables pull it together come November? Will anyone else jump on the Hillary train? Will more pundits coalesce around a third-party candidate? Or will everyone eventually fall into line for Trump between now and Election Day? Keep an eye on this weekly tracker to find out.

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The Republican National Convention kicked off, and then proceeded to not burn down the party in Cleveland this week. On Monday, a last-ditch attempt to give voice to the anti-Trump faction of the GOP created a modicum of chaos until Rep. Steve Womack pretended that an extremely close voice vote to accept the convention rules was not close at all.

On Wednesday, Ted Cruz’s spirited non-endorsement of Donald Trump—“Don’t stay home in November; stand and speak and vote your conscience”—offered one last bright spot for disaffected conservatives and completely overshadowed a boring speech by VP pick Mike Pence.

But other than that, the convention was the slightly messy, totally brassy, substance-free coronation that you would expect when a party nominates a gauche reality-show billionaire for the presidency.

In a break from tradition, Trump appeared every night—either in person or via video. As America wondered how he would top his rock-star entrance from Monday, he walked onto the stage Thursday to accept the nomination and talked for more than an hour, delivering a pessimistic, fearmongering, bleak picture of the country he purportedly wants to lead.

Our conservative pundits, not surprisingly, had mixed emotions throughout the week. Max Boot spoke eloquently on behalf of the Never Trump-ers.

But Trump supporter Hugh Hewitt noted, probably correctly, that Trump reached his intended audience with his speech.

More than anything else, the convention showed that despite some dissent the GOP is, for now at least, Donald Trump’s party. Our pro-Trump pundits see him as the less-bad alternative to Hillary. And our anti-Trump pundits are grudgingly acknowledging the reality of Trump without demonstrating any willingness to endorse him yet. So, no movement this week.

Now, on to the tracker.

July 22 2016 4:10 PM

The Friday Slatest Newsletter

Today’s biggest stories:

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Have a good weekend out there.

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