November 17, 2019

President Trump is usually the one hurling insults at former Vice President Joe Biden, but on Sunday he actually defended his potential general election opponent — at least somewhat.

Earlier this week, North Korean state media described Biden as a "rabid dog" who should be "beaten to death with a stick." Trump was late to the news, but when he caught wind of it Sunday morning, it proved to be too much even for him. Trump's defense of Biden wasn't exactly ardent or inspiring, but it's reassuring to learn that he doesn't agree with Pyongyang on this one, despite his normally negative feelings about Biden.

Still, the president made sure everyone knows he still doesn't think highly of Biden. He also got a word in there about how he alone is capable of solving the U.S.-North Korea stalemate, implying that if North Korea waits around for a Democratic candidate like Biden to get elected, there will never be a satisfactory deal. Tim O'Donnell

10:51 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign received a huge boost after he named Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate.

In the 24 hours after Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, made his announcement on Tuesday afternoon, his campaign raised $26 million, with 150,000 first-time donors chipping in. The money really came flooding in during the first hour after he broke the news — those were the best 60 minutes of fundraising his campaign has had so far, Politico reports.

Biden shared the fundraising totals during a virtual event on Wednesday evening, saying, "It's really palpable, the excitement." Prior to joining the ticket, Harris brought in more than $5 million for the Biden campaign by headlining online fundraisers. Catherine Garcia

10:04 p.m.

The Trump administration has decided to take on Big Showerhead.

Under a new proposal from the Department of Energy, the definition of a showerhead would be changed so manufacturers are able to work around the current requirement that no more than 2.5 gallons flow through per minute. "If adopted, this rule would undo the action of the previous administration and return to Congressional intent, allowing Americans — not Washington bureaucrats — to choose what kind of showerheads they have in their homes," Department of Energy spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes told The Hill via email.

The standards are in place in order to save water and reduce energy consumption, but President Trump has gone on the record multiple times saying he is more concerned about how a low-flow showerhead affects his tresses. During an event in July, Trump mused, "Showerheads — you take a shower, the water doesn't come out. You want to wash your hands, the water doesn't come out. So what do you do? You just stand there longer or you take a shower longer? Because my hair — I don't know about you, but it has to be perfect. Perfect." Catherine Garcia

9:00 p.m.

On Wednesday, health officials in the United States reported 1,493 deaths due to the coronavirus, the highest total since mid-May.

According to data compiled by The Washington Post, the nationwide seven-day average of newly reported deaths has been above 1,000 for 17 days in a row, after steadily going up for most of July.

Texas on Wednesday reported 324 new COVID-19 deaths, the state's highest single-day total. Over the last four weeks, the seven-day average death toll has more than tripled in Washington and doubled in Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Georgia, where this week the average daily case count has also been slowly increasing. Catherine Garcia

8:05 p.m.

The State Department's inspector general has found that during his tenure, Ambassador to Britain Woody Johnson has made inappropriate and insensitive comments about religion, race, and sex.

In a report released Wednesday, the office wrote that "offensive or derogatory comments, based on an individual's race, color, sex, or religion, can create an offensive working environment and could potentially rise to a violation of Equal Employment Opportunity laws."

The office also said it found that Johnson's "demanding and hard-driving" management style hurt morale, and if he thought a staffer was being too cautious or resistant to "suggestions about what he felt strongly, he sometimes questioned their intentions or implied that he might have them replaced. This caused staff to grow wary of providing him with their best judgment."

Johnson, the co-owner of the New York Jets, had no diplomatic experience when he took on the role in August 2017. The inspector general's office said it has asked the State Department's Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs to conduct a further review and to take action, but the agency said it doesn't think this is necessary. Catherine Garcia

7:06 p.m.

Gen. Frank McKenzie, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East, shared a stark warning on Wednesday about the Islamic State in Syria.

McKenzie participated in a virtual United States Institute of Peace forum, and said that in parts of western Syria, "conditions are as bad or worse" than they were prior to the terror group's rise in 2014, and "we should all be concerned about that." This region is controlled by the Syrian government, and insurgents there have a degree of freedom to move around. There is barely a U.S. presence in western Syria, McKenzie said, and the United States does not believe the regime will do anything to try to push back against the militants.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, it's been difficult to transfer people out of Syrian refugee camps. One camp, al-Hol in northeastern Syria, has as many as 70,000 inhabitants, and it can be easy to radicalize people in these conditions, McKenzie said. "As young people grow up, we're going to see them again unless we can turn them in a way to make them productive members of society," he added. "We can either deal with this problem now or deal with it exponentially worse a few years down the road." Catherine Garcia

5:48 p.m.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) appeared for the first time as Joe Biden's vice presidential candidate on Wednesday, speaking at an oddly quiet audience-free event in Wilmington, Delaware.

When the former vice president announced Harris as his running mate on Tuesday, he reflected on her relationship with his late son Beau. Harris herself, who worked with Beau when she was California's attorney general and he was Delaware's, used a few of the first moments of her speech to pay tribute to Biden's son. He was the "kind of guy who inspired people to be a better version of themselves," she said, and "when I asked him where'd he get that ... where did this come from, he would always talk about his dad."

After running through plans to revamp the criminal justice system, promote clean energy, and expand access to health care, Harris moved on to criticize President Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic. "This virus has impacted every country. But there's a reason it has hit America worse than any other advanced nation. It's because of Trump's failure to take it seriously from the start," she said. "This is what happens when we elect a guy who just isn't up to the job. Our country is in tatters. And so is our reputation around the world."

Instead of jumping to tamp down on early outbreaks of COVID-19, Harris said, Trump "pushed miracle cures he saw on Fox News." Aside from his coronavirus response, Harris criticized Trump's handling of the economy. "He inherited the longest economic expansion in history from Barack Obama and Joe Biden," she said. "And then, like everything else he inherited, he ran it straight into the ground." Summer Meza

5:33 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), the presumptive Democratic vice presidential nominee, made their first public appearance together as running mates Wednesday, just a day after the Biden campaign announced her selection.

In his introduction, Biden lauded Harris' integrity and credentials, saying he has "no doubt that I picked the right person to join me." But he also found the time to take a shot at President Trump in the process.

It didn't take long for Trump to insult Harris after Tuesday's announcement. When asked about the pick, he called her "the meanest" and "most horrible" senator, taking particular issue with her questioning of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his dramatic confirmation hearing.

But Trump's words left Biden chuckling. The former vice president said "whining" is what the commander-in-chief "does best," and asked, rhetorically, if anyone was "surprised Donald Trump has a problem with a strong woman" like his running mate. Tim O'Donnell

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