September 10, 2019

A Russian official recruited by the CIA was key to U.S. intelligence being able to conclude that Russian President Vladimir Putin orchestrated the interference in the 2016 presidential election and ordered the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, The New York Times reports.

CNN reported Monday that the informant was extracted from Russia in 2017, partly because of the cavalier way President Trump handles sensitive intelligence. The source was recruited by the CIA decades ago, when he or she had a midlevel position, current and former U.S. officials told the Times. This person eventually landed a job that gave them access to the highest level at the Kremlin, and while they were not part of Putin's inner circle, they did see him regularly.

This person was one of the CIA's most important sources, officials told the Times, and it was imperative to people like former CIA Director John Brennan the informant's identity be kept under wraps (the Times did not learn the informant's name or where they now live). As more reports came out about Russian interference in the 2016 election, it became clear to intelligence officials that the news media was starting to catch on that the source was high up in the Kremlin, the Times reports. The CIA offered to extract the source, but he or she rejected the offer, saying they wanted to stay put for their family.

This in turn made some at the CIA worry that the informant was a double agent, but after the informant was approached for a second time, they agreed to leave Moscow, the Times reports. Now that this person is gone, intelligence officials do not have a reliable source feeding them information, and are not as plugged in to the steps Russia is taking to interfere in the 2020 election, officials said. Read more about the informant and the ways U.S. intelligence ensured the source's intel was legitimate at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

6:17 p.m.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows seems to have developed a strong rapport with President Trump, who has mostly bestowed effusive praise on the former congressman. But those sentiments aren't shared by many Trump administration staffers and re-election campaign officials, The Washington Post reports.

Per the Post, his critics think he's been ineffective when it comes to executing his actual job requirements and instead serves more as a political adviser to and confidant of the president. One example of that apparent ineffectiveness occurred during Trump's hospitalization after he was diagnosed with COVID-19. Four anonymous administration officials told the Post Meadows failed to communicate anything to staff about the president's condition for several days.

He also reportedly failed to provide logistical details at the time, such as if the West Wing would partially close amid the outbreak and whether people should work from home; what precautions were in place to curb the spread; and even how many other staffers had contracted the virus themselves. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

5:10 p.m.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has taken a step toward revealing his Supreme Court plans.

The last-minute nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court has raised allegations from Democrats that Republicans are unfairly gaming the system. It has also led some Democrats to suggest Biden either expand and pack the court with liberal justices if he's elected, or adopt term limits to replace the current lifetime appointments.

Biden has so far refused to give a decisive answer on how he'll handle the courts if he wins next week's election. But on Monday, Biden did reveal a bit of his plan, saying "it's a lifetime appointment. I'm not going to attempt to change that at all."

Last month, three Democrats in the House introduced a bill to instill 18-year term limits on Supreme Court justices, granting presidents two nominees during each of their terms. Biden has brushed off questions about whether he will support expanding and packing the court, saying he'll give an answer when the election is over. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:27 p.m.

There's been a lot of debate over who should be regarded as President Trump's most accurate historical parallel, and New York's Jonathan Chait suggested Monday that former President Herbert Hoover may be the most apt comparison, at least right now.

Hoover was in office in 1929 when the stock market crashed, ushering in the Great Depression, and his reaction to the economic catastrophe was similar to Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic, Chait argues.

Just as Trump has tried to assure Americans the virus will dissipate and the country has things under control, Hoover expressed unwarranted optimism that the depression was over years before the situation improved. But what really binds the two, Chait writes, is their reliance on markets to solve their respective issues. Hoover believed the economy would rebound as consumer confidence grew, and therefore he remained a proponent of maintaining the "fiscal soundness of the monetary supply and the federal budget."

Trump, on the other hand, has flirted with spending big to keep things afloat economically during the crisis, Chait notes, but he argues the president ultimately failed to "reclaim his populist identity" and gave into the GOP's "anti-spending impulse" heading into the election. Chait anticipates the Republican Party will blame Trump's "erratic and undisciplined personal behavior" if he fails to win his re-election bid, but he also said the president "sacrificed himself on the Hooverite altar of laissez-faire" economics. Read Chait's full argument at New York. Tim O'Donnell

3:45 p.m.

Black Americans have been overwhelmingly hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. That's even more true for Black health care workers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data Monday revealing about one in every 16 Americans hospitalized with COVID-19 have been health care personnel. Even though just 10 percent of all American nurses and 5 percent of doctors are Black, more than half of those hospitalized health care workers have been Black.

The CDC data also reveals that of those health care workers who were hospitalized coronavirus, more than a third were nurses. Around three quarters of those hospitalized were under age 57, calling into question claims that COVID-19 is harmless for younger people.

Black Americans, who make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, are 4.7 times more likely than whites to be hospitalized with COVID-19, CDC data from August showed. They're also twice as likely to die of the virus than white Americans, and have the highest chance of any racial or ethnic group of dying of the coronavirus. That's likely due to health care and economic inequities that have hurt Black Americans for decades. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:33 p.m.

With just over a week to go until Election Day, Twitter has rolled out a new feature to combat voting misinformation on its platform.

The company on Monday launched new messages that will appear on the top of users' news feeds, which Twitter is referring to as "pre-bunks," NBC News reports. As the name suggests, the idea is to pre-emptively debunk inaccurate voting information that users may come across, as opposed to responding to specific posts.

A message that rolled out on Monday warned users that they "might encounter misleading information about voting by mail" but that "election experts confirm that voting by mail is safe and secure, even with an increase in mail-in ballots." Users can click a button to find out more. This is the first such message Twitter is rolling out, and the next one set to launch on Wednesday will be about "the timing of election results," NBC News says.

This is the latest step Twitter is taking ahead of the election after earlier this month announcing it would be adding "additional warnings and restrictions" to certain tweets containing misleading information, as well as urging users to quote-tweet rather than retweet and slowing down "how quickly tweets from accounts and topics you don't follow can reach you." Twitter has also said that it will label tweets "that falsely claim a win for any candidate" in the election.

Facebook has similarly announced some pre-election measures, such as its decision not to accept new political ads in the week before Election Day. Facebook, according to The Wall Street Journal, is also discussing the possibility of having to roll out "emergency measures" and slow "the spread of viral content" in the case of "dire circumstances, such as election-related violence." Brendan Morrow

3:11 p.m.

Jason Lewis, the Republican candidate challenging incumbent Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) for her seat in the upper chamber, underwent "successful and minimally invasive" emergency surgery Monday.

Lewis, a one-term congressman whose 2018 re-election bid failed, was rushed into surgery after he was diagnosed with a severe internal hernia. His campaign said the condition was potentially life-threatening if not treated quickly. Fortunately it was, and Lewis' campaign manager, Tom Syzmanski, said doctors anticipate he could be released from the hospital within the next few days.

Smith, who polls suggest is favored to win the race, sent a tweet out wishing Lewis "a successful surgery and speedy recovery" earlier in the day. Read more at The Associated Press and The Hill. Tim O'Donnell

2:30 p.m.

Hillary Clinton has no plans to come out of the woods.

With Election Day less than a week away, the Clinton is doing everything she can to stop Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris from repeating her fate. But in contrast to a common motivation for boosting a campaign, Clinton wants no role in a potential Biden presidency, she told The New York Times' Kara Swisher in a podcast aired Monday.

Throughout this election, Clinton has stayed out of ads and the public eye for the Democratic party — probably wisely, considering how contentious the 2016 election was. She's instead focusing on fundraising events for Biden, as well as Democratic House and Senate races. And she's convinced it will pay off, to the point that she won't even "entertain the idea" of Trump winning again. "It makes me literally sick to my stomach to think that we'd have four more years of this abuse and destruction of our institutions, and damaging of our norms and our values, and lessening of our leadership, and the list goes on," Clinton said.

Clinton's vision of a Biden/Harris administration is clearer. She'll be happy to "answer any questions they have" and "provide any information that they need," Clinton said — generally to act as an outside "counselor," as Swisher put it. But "No, I don’t want a job" within the administration, Clinton said. "I just want to be able to exhale." Read Clinton's whole interview at The New York Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

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