POLITICO Playbook PM: Fauci’s good and bad news on the pandemic
Anthony Fauci is sober-minded about what the nation is likely to face from Covid-19 in the months ahead. | J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images
FULL APPROVAL COMETH — Finally, some good news in the Covid-19 realm: Sarah Owermohle and Adam Cancryn report that the FDA could approve the Pfizer vaccine “by early September.”
“An FDA spokesperson declined to provide a specific timetable for the expected approval, but confirmed that the sharp rise in Covid-19 infections driven by the Delta variant spurred the agency to speed its work,” the duo write. “[I]n private, the months-long process has frustrated some administration officials who believe there’s little justification for such a lengthy wait, said two people with knowledge of the matter. The administration is also eager to use the full approval to undercut vaccine skeptics who have argued against getting the shot until the FDA formally endorses it.”
That timeline matches up with what ANTHONY FAUCI told CNN today: that he “hopes” the full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine comes in the “next couple of weeks.”
But Fauci is also sober-minded about what the nation is likely to face from Covid in the months ahead.
— “Remember, just a couple of months ago, we were having about 10,000 cases a day,” Fauci said in a buzzy new interview with Michael Wilner at McClatchy. “I think you’re likely going to wind up somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 cases” per day in the fall.
— Fauci also pointed out that with the length of time it takes people to become fully inoculated after a two-dose regimen, we won’t see the impact for some time. “Even if we vaccinated everyone today, we’re not going to see an effect until the middle to end of September,” he said.
NEW POLL RESULTS — Who is being blamed for the increase in Covid cases throughout the country? According to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, 67% of voters say that unvaccinated Americans bear the blame — a bipartisan supermajority that included 77% of Democrats, 67% of independents and 58% of Republicans.
— 70% of voters claimed they are vaccinated, including 80% of Dems, 64% of independents and 63% of Republicans.
— Some good news for President JOE BIDEN: His approval rating is still clocking in at 52% overall, and 56% of voters approve of his handling of the pandemic. Toplines … Crosstabs
BEGINNING OF THE END OF AN ERA: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted this morning to repeal the 1991 and 2002 authorizations for use of military force in Iraq. Republicans ROB PORTMAN (Ohio), RAND PAUL (Ky.) and sponsor TODD YOUNG (Ind.) joined Democrats in voting for the bill. Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER said he plans to bring it to a floor vote later this year. More from Andrew Desiderio
CUOMO LATEST — “Westchester County DA seeks evidence on Cuomo allegations for potential criminal probe,” CNBC … “Manhattan D.A. to Look Into Cuomo Sexual Harassment Allegations,” Bloomberg
— WaPo’s Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1): “A few things I’ve picked up: Cuomo is unlikely to resign. His people were totally caught off guard by state trooper accusations & were not expecting report to come out yesterday. There is little belief among some of longest advisers that he can survive.”
NOMINATIONS ADVANCING — “Senate panel advances Texans tapped to lead Census Bureau, ICE,” Houston Chronicle: “While San Antonio native ROB SANTOS, Biden’s nominee to lead the Census, advanced easily on a 10-3 vote, Republicans on the committee unanimously opposed Harris County Sheriff ED GONZALEZ’s nomination to lead ICE — a sign Democrats may need to bring in Vice President KAMALA HARRIS to break a tie in the Senate and get him confirmed.”
Good Wednesday afternoon. The Pentagon today identified the officer who was killed Tuesday as GEORGE GONZALEZ, an Army veteran who served in Iraq. More from NBC Washington
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FIVE YEARS AFTER THE 2016 CAMPAIGN — “Trump asks court to end House pursuit of his tax returns from IRS,” CNN: “Former President DONALD TRUMP’s legal team formally stepped into a long-running fight over a U.S. House request for his tax returns, claiming Trump’s financial history is being unfairly pursued for political reasons by Democrats …
“While the pressure is heating up in the House Democrats’ pursuit of Trump’s tax information, the tax returns aren’t likely to be given to Congress anytime soon — and the new filing from Trump will likely prompt several new rounds of legal arguments. The move in court on Wednesday makes Trump a party in the lawsuit. For the past two years, his legal team was essentially on the sidelines as the House fought the case with the executive branch.” The filing
THE ATTEMPT TO SUBVERT THE ELECTION — “Website Run by ‘Dumbest Man on the Internet’ Helped Fuel Trump’s Effort to Cancel Democracy,” by The Daily Beast’s Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley: “The Gateway Pundit’s small role in Trump’s endeavor to weaponize the DOJ against the American electoral process underscores just how easily a discredited far-right media site established a pipeline to the decision-making of the then most powerful person on Earth. It also shows how this one website … managed to play a part in fueling the efforts that brought the country to the brink of democratic rupture.
“[D]uring the final weeks of his presidency, administration officials saw Trump on multiple occasions holding printed-out pages of Gateway Pundit articles in the White House, sometimes in the Oval Office. [A] former senior official recalled one instance when Trump handed them a page printed from the website, which nonsensically alleged massive pro-Biden fraud, and told the official to find out more and to do something about it.”
DOJ DETAILS — “How a tiny legal office inside the Justice Department is tormenting Trumpworld,” by Insider’s Ryan Barber: “[T]he Justice Department has in recent months escalated its enforcement efforts, mostly notably with investigations and prosecutions of prominent Trumpworld figures suspected of monetizing their access to Trump’s administration by working illegally for foreign governments and other overseas powers. …
“[Former FARA chief BRANDON] VAN GRACK, now a partner at the law firm Morrison & Foerster, told Insider that the Justice Department’s approach to foreign influence had featured ‘a little bit of everything.’ ‘There are prominent criminal cases moving forward, significant criminal cases being charged, and unprecedented resources and personnel being dedicated to it,’ he said. ‘From all directions, FARA is being enforced like never before.’”
LATEST TIMELINE — CNN’s Manu Raju (@mkraju): “[South Dakota Sen.] JOHN THUNE told me that Rs haven’t decided yet if they’d agree to cut off debate on Saturday and move infrastructure bill to a final vote. He said it’d depend ‘if everybody feels like they’ve had amendment votes,’ noting GOP leaders would take the temperature of the conference.”
WATCH: Progressives are angsty over the bipartisan infrastructure bill: The Biden White House has been trying to keep both progressives and moderates happy, and they’ve done a pretty good job of it, until now. Ryan and transportation reporter Tanya Snyder discuss why his progressive base is upset with the new bipartisan infrastructure bill.
BOOM TIMES ON K STREET — “Prospect of massive economic packages unleashes lobbying bonanza in Washington,” by WaPo’s Tony Romm and Yeganeh Torbati: “Nearly 2,000 companies and organizations have lobbied Congress and the administration this year in an attempt to influence the contours of major new infrastructure spending, an effort that is sure to intensify … according to an analysis from the Center for Responsive Politics … Those groups collectively have spent more than $426 million in their lobbying efforts, which includes trying to sway lawmakers and regulators on far more than just infrastructure …
“The activity reflects a dramatic uptick from the same period one year ago … A push publicly and privately by conservative advocacy groups including FreedomWorks ultimately helped prompt a bipartisan group of senators to halt efforts to increase new funding for the Internal Revenue Service. … This year alone, more than 260 companies and other entities large and small have hired new lobbying firms in Washington specifically on infrastructure.”
THE EVICTION MORATORIUM
Schumer applauded Rep. CORI BUSH (D-Mo.) on the Senate floor this morning for her leadership in getting the moratorium: “She took her passion and converted it into effective action. Salute to her. It’s a moment of history that shows when you persist, you can get things done.” The video
TOO LITTLE TOO LATE? — “Last-minute eviction ban extension fuels confusion and is too late for some,” by WaPo’s Hamza Shaban, Abha Bhattarai and Marissa Lang: “[S]ome renters have already been evicted or could still be evicted in the next few days if they don’t live in a county covered by the new eviction ban. …
“The ban is good news for renters behind on payments throughout much of Florida, the West Coast and the South … But the moratorium creates new geographic boundaries for evictions, sending some renters searching their county’s level of community spread. … Housing advocates cheered news of an extension, even if it was narrower than they hoped.”
THE WHITE HOUSE
TOP-ED — “Biden’s Honeymoon Is Over, and He Knows It,” by NYT’s Thomas Edsall: “In the end, much of the dynamism that powers today’s political competition comes back to — or down to — racial and cultural conflict. Can Biden find a redistributive workaround — and protect voting rights at the same time? The fate of the Democratic Party depends on it.”
IMMIGRATION FILES — “Some 100,000 Green Cards at Risk of Going to Waste in Covid-19 Backlog,” by WSJ’s Michelle Hackman: “The situation complicates what has already been a yearslong wait for many of the 1.2 million immigrants — most of them Indians working in the tech sector — who have been waiting in line to become permanent residents in the U.S. and are watching a prime opportunity to win a green card slip away.
“U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency primarily in charge of legal immigration, started off its fiscal year in October 2020 with 120,000 more green cards than the 140,000 it typically hands out, a prospect that promised to put a meaningful dent in the yearslong backlog. But with less than two months left in the fiscal year, it is far from reaching that goal. … Any green cards that aren’t rewarded by the end of September will expire.”
INTERVIEW OF THE DAY — Rep. JULIA LETLOW (R-La.) sat down with “CBS This Morning” to talk about the death of her late husband, Rep.-elect LUKE LETLOW, from Covid-19 and to urge Americans to get vaccinated. It’s worth a watch.
BEYOND THE BELTWAY
CALIFORNIA CASH RACE — “Newsom and his allies raise tens of millions more than recall backers and GOP candidates,” by L.A. Times’ Seema Mehta and Maloy Moore: “Gov. GAVIN NEWSOM and his allies have raised more than $51 million to fight the attempt to recall him, more than twice as much as every major Republican candidate and pro-recall committee combined, according to new fundraising disclosure reports. …
“Among Republicans, businessman JOHN COX has raised the most money, $8.8 million, in his 2021 and 2022 gubernatorial accounts … [including] $7.6 million of his own money. … [Former San Diego Mayor KEVIN] FAULCONER has raised $3.4 million in his 2021 and 2022 accounts, the next largest amount. He is viewed as the establishment favorite. But he raised that sum over six months, while new contestant [LARRY] ELDER raised more than $1 million in the three weeks after he declared his candidacy. Olympian-turned-reality-television star CAITLYN JENNER … reported bringing in a little more than $750,000.”
AMERICA AND THE WORLD
THE REVERSE BORDER CROSSING — “Mexico to sue U.S.-based gunmakers over flow of arms across border,” by WaPo’s Mary Beth Sheridan in Mexico City: “The unusual suit is expected to be filed in U.S. federal court in Boston, since some of the manufacturers are headquartered in Massachusetts … The suit — which seeks unspecified financial compensation from the companies — does not target the U.S. government.
“Mexican authorities believe U.S.-made weapons have fueled the explosive violence that has transformed parts of the country over the past decade. … A federal law that took effect in 2005 shields gun manufacturers from most civil liability claims, making it difficult for lawsuits like Mexico’s to succeed.”
RISING THREAT — “The Soleimani Assassination Was Supposed to Weaken Iraqi Militias. Instead, They’re Flexing Their Muscles,” by Simona Foltyn in Baghdad for POLITICO Magazine: “Since the assassinations of [QASSEM] SOLEIMANI and [ABU MAHDI AL-]MOHANDIS, Iran-backed militias within the [Popular Mobilization Forces] have mobilized to avenge their leaders’ deaths and found more sophisticated ways to target the increasingly besieged U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq …
“These shifts suggest that the assassinations, which the Trump administration claimed would establish ‘real deterrence’ against the militias, have failed to prevent further attacks on U.S. troops. Instead, the strike plunged Iraq into a fresh cycle of instability as the militias intensified and broadened their operations, while also consolidating their grip on power within the loose grouping of the PMF. … The fallout has laid bare the limitations of Iraqi security forces to keep the increasingly powerful and well-resourced militias in check as the United States downsizes its military presence in Iraq.”
PULLOUT FALLOUT — “Blast in Afghan capital as Taliban claim attack on minister’s compound,” Reuters: “An explosion near the office of Afghanistan’s main security agency wounded three people on Wednesday, hours after a bomb and gun attack on a minister’s compound brought surging Taliban violence to the capital. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the late Tuesday attack on the home of acting Defence Minister BISMILLAH MOHAMMADI. … [A]t least eight civilians were killed and 20 wounded.”
NEW PLAYER ON THE SCENE — “Buzzy media startup Puck launches in beta,” by Axios’ Sara Fischer: “The company debuted its landing page, puck.news, on Wednesday, and will officially launch its website in September. … The outlet has hired several big-name reporters ahead of its launch, all of which are considered founding partners at the company.
“That includes DYLAN BYERS as a senior correspondent … Byers was most recently a senior media correspondent for NBC News. … The company also hired Politico White House correspondent TINA NGUYEN as a Washington correspondent. … The company, which plans to mostly make money from paid memberships, is rolling out two tiers for paid memberships ahead of its September launch.” The landing page
THE BEHEMOTH GROWS — “The New York Times Reaches 8 Million Subscriptions,” by NYT’s Edmund Lee: “[It] expects to add as many this year as it did in 2019, when President Donald J. Trump dominated headlines and a pandemic had yet to melt the global economy. The company estimates that it will have 8.5 million paid print and digital subscriptions by the end of 2021. … The Times Company reported modest growth in the April-to-June quarter — typically its weakest.”
AWARDS SEASON — NBC’s LESTER HOLT will be the 49th recipient of the National Press Club’s Fourth Estate Award at an Oct. 20 gala. Announcement
TRANSITIONS — Brian Egan is now director for governmental affairs for the National Association of Bond Lawyers. He most recently was policy director for the National Association of State Treasurers, and is a National League of Cities alum. … Madeline Gale is joining the International Franchise Association as government relations coordinator. She previously was director of operations for Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.).
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Jeffrey Last, health care legislative assistant for Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Emily Last, a funeral director in Annapolis, recently welcomed Frances Rose “Francie” Last. Pic … Another pic
BONUS BIRTHDAY: Rokk Solutions’ Varuna Bhatia