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FBI Director: Russia Is Intervening In 2020 Election To 'Denigrate Vice President Biden'

FBI Director Christopher Wray testified in Congress on Thursday that his agency and other U.S. intelligence officials are observing "very active efforts by the Russians to influence our elections" in an effort to "denigrate Vice President Biden."

The intelligence community previously determined that Russia had made such efforts during the 2016 presidential election as part of a campaign to assist Donald Trump. Trump has consistently downplayed and disputed those findings.

On Tuesday, Trump told reporters that he believes "the massive mail-in ballot" is "much more dangerous" than Russian election interference. Millions plan to vote by mail because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed nearly 200,000 Americans on Trump's watch.

From a Sept. 17 hearing of the House Committee on Homeland Security:

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Can you tell me if, as of this date, you have information that Russia is trying to influence the election for 2020?
CHRISTOPHER WRAY: Yes, I think the intelligence community's consensus is that Russia continues to try to influence our election, primarily through what we would call malign foreign influence, as opposed to what we saw in 2016 where there was also an effort to target election infrastructure, you know, cybertargeting? We have not seen that second part, yet, this year or this cycle.
But we certainly have seen very active, very active efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020 through what I would call more the malign foreign influence side of things: social media, use of proxies, state media, online journals, etc., an effort to both sow divisiveness and discord and, and I think the intelligence community has assessed this publicly, to primarily, to denigrate Vice President Biden and what the Russians see as kind of an anti-Russian establishment, that's essentially what we're seeing in 2020.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

WATCH: Despite Blatant Lying, Kushner Says Trump ‘Very Forthcoming’ On Virus Danger

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, who is also Donald Trump's son-in-law, said on Tuesday that Trump had been "very forthcoming" on the virus, despite admitting in February he downplayed the threat.

Kushner also criticized "governors" and "the media" for being "hysterical" about the administration's response to the coronavirus, which has so far killed more than 194,300 Americans to date.

Trump told reporter Bob Woodward in February that he was actively downplaying the threat of the virus, even while he was aware that it was extremely deadly and airborne.

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‘Cheerleader’ Trump Tries To Talk His Way Past Woodward Revelations

Donald Trump is defending his decision to downplay the coronavirus outbreak, telling reporters his deception occurred because he is a "cheerleader for this country."

"I love our country and I don't want people to be frightened, I don't want to create panic," Trump said on Wednesday. "We don't want to instill panic, we don't want to jump up and down and start shouting that we have a problem that is a tremendous problem, scare everybody."

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WATCH: Fox Analyst Says Trump Tossed Campaign Funds ‘Into Wood Chipper’

Fox News politics editor Chris Stirewalt on Tuesday called the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by Donald Trump's reelection campaign "jaw-dropping."

Stirewalt said that news that Trump had squandered $800 million of the $1.1 billion in donations the campaign has accumulated was akin to putting the money "into this wood chipper."

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DeVos Blames ‘Coordinated Effort’ For Parental Fear Of Reopened Schools

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Thursday claimed that the precipitous drop in support among parents for in-person schooling during the pandemic is the result of a "coordinated effort" to convince parents not to send their kids back to school.

The results of a Gallup poll released on Aug. 3 showed support for in-person schooling down to 36 percent, a drop of 20 percentage points from the previous month. The same poll showed an increase of 21 percentage points for remote learning.

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Rep. Kinzinger Says Trump Wants Jobless Relief Because ‘He Has An Election’

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) complained on Thursday that Donald Trump was motivated by an "election in November," and that is making it difficult for Republicans to be unified in negotiations over virus relief.

Speaking to the Guy Benson Show for a radio interview, Kinzinger said, because of Trump, Republicans may concede to Democrats and pass something because "the pressure's too great."

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Nevada Can’t Use Mail Ballots, Says Trump, Because It’s ‘Very Political’ — And Democratic

Donald Trump said on Wednesday that Nevada should not be allowed to proceed with mail-in voting because "it's a very political state and the governor happens to be a Democrat."

Trump's campaign sued the state on Tuesday, opposing a recent expansion of mail-in voting there in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The state's June primary was held almost entirely by mail without incident.

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‘Hell, Hug ‘Em!’ Gov. DeSantis Dismisses Social Distancing For Elderly

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday urged people to hug the elderly despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

DeSantis said that as long as people are wearing personal protective equipment, he sees no reason not to hug people when visiting.

"Look, I'm comfortable with the PPE," the Republican governor said. "Hell, hug 'em! I mean, come on." He added that maintaining social distancing of six feet during visits — as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — seems unnecessary because it's "a reminder that it's still not normal."

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Trump HHS Official Claims Reporters ‘Don’t Want A Vaccine’

Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Michael Caputo claimed baselessly this week that reporters covering the Trump administration "don't want" a coronavirus vaccine.

"I'm telling you that there are members of the press that don't want [it]. And you see that in the coverage, I think, of Operation Warp Speed," said Caputo, referring to the government's partnership with private businesses to ensure rapid development and distribution of a coronavirus vaccine.

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Trump Maligns ‘Bad States And Bad Cities’ Governed By Democrats

Donald Trump on Monday described states with Democratic governors as "very bad states."

During a meeting with tech workers at the White House, during which Trump signed an executive order on hiring "American," Trump claimed that Democrats had run "some very bad states" and "very bad cities," adding that he didn't want to reward any of them with relief funding for supposedly "doing a bad job" on their coronavirus response.

Cases have spiked in a number of states, including those run by Republicans, in recent weeks.

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White House Blames Democrats, But Republicans Ignored Relief Bill Passed Last May

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows claimed on Friday that Democrats are responsible for Congress's failure to pass a new COVID-19 financial relief package.

But Democrats in the House passed a relief Bill in May, while Donald Trump and Senate Republicans have been unable to reach an agreement.

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Trump Doesn't Comprehend That Absentee Ballots Are Mail Ballots

A reporter on Friday tried to explain to Donald Trump that absentee ballots are the same as mail-in ballots, which he has repeatedly and inaccurately attacked as fraudulent.

Trump continued to make a false distinction between the two, describing absentee ballots as "secure" and mail-in ballots as a "disaster." Trump, his daughter Ivanka, and several others within his inner circle have voted by mail using absentee ballots, as does much of the military.

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Biden Tells Americans To Ignore Trump, Heed Public Health Experts

Republicans, led by Donald Trump, have been pushing for schools to reopen this fall, even as concerns about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic remain high.

More recently, Trump, along with several high-profile conservatives, began boosting the profile of a Houston-based pediatrician and minister who claimed, according to the Daily Beast, that she had "successfully treated hundreds of patients with hydroxychloroquine," an unproven drug that Trump has repeatedly pushed as a cure for COVID-19 — an attempt to undermine health officials who say sending kids back to school so soon is unwise or dangerous.

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WATCH: Barr Claims He Never Reads Trump Tweets — Despite His Public Complaint About Them

Attorney General William Barr testified to Congress on Tuesday that he does not read Donald Trump's tweets.

But in February, Barr criticized Trump for tweeting about Department of Justice issues, making it clear he does read the tweets.

"I think it's time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases," Barr told ABC News, referring to Trump. Barr also said Trump's tweets "make it impossible for me to do my job."

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Trump Campaign Claims ’Twitter Polls’ Should Bolster Confidence

Jenna Ellis, senior legal adviser for Donald Trump's reelection campaign, cited unscientific "Twitter polls" as evidence that Trump is "doing incredibly well" against Joe Biden.

Twitter polls can be answered by any user on the social media service at random and can't be relied on to accurately assessing public opinion.

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Trump Campaign Derides 'Fake' Fox News Poll That Shows Biden Ahead

Trump campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley on Friday called polling from Fox News showing Donald Trump behind Joe Biden "fake," prompting a quick rebuke from Fox host Brian Kilmeade.

Gidley alleged that Fox's pollsters "oversample Democrats," echoing allegations made by Trump, his administration, and his reelection campaign.

"I know the people who do the polls. They don't do a fake, they do a really good job," replied Kilmeade.The exchange was unusual, as the conservative Fox News continues to be one of Trump's most stalwart allies.

Recent polling by Fox has shown Joe Biden with an 8-point national lead over Trump among registered voters. Fox's polling also shows Biden ahead of Trump in key swing states such as Michigan, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. Fox's polls are in line with other national polls showing a consistent Biden lead.

From the July 24 edition of Fox & Friends:

HOGAN GIDLEY: You touched on some polls. Most of those are fake, I'll be honest, they oversample Democrats.

But let's also talk about another instance here. We've had more than 1.1 billion views across our social media platforms for Donald Trump. He's not even really on those social media platforms all that much. Joe Biden, however, comes out the other day for a Q-and-A, he promotes it, he's on camera, and he has 19 people watching it at one time. I think 17 of those were network news anchors and reporters just trying to figure out how to donate. The other two were staffers.

The fact is, the enthusiasm, the excitement is all on our side, and we know this. Our supporters will stand through rain, sleet, snow, hail, and crawl across broken glass to vote for Donald Trump. Joe Biden's supporters won't even click on a link to watch him do a Q-and-A. It's absolutely embarrassing. We have the momentum, we know we're going to do well in November.

BRIAN KILMEADE, Fox News: I just, I say, I know the people who do the polls. They don't do a fake, they do a really good job. They might not be accurate in the end, I don't know, but they do a great job —

GIDLEY: Well doesn't accuracy determine – I know the people are great, but doesn't the accuracy determine how great it is?

KILMEADE: I'm not saying they're Nostradamus, but I'm just saying their math, and they're professionals, so I just – don't call the Fox News pollsters fake.

GIDLEY: Of course. Well, the methodology's flawed, at the very least, how's that?


Kellyanne Tries To Absolve Trump And Blame Governors For Reopening ’Too Early’

White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway claimed on Wednesday that states reopened "a little too quickly."

Conway also defended Trump, saying it was a "false rumor" that he said he would be "in charge of" reopening the states.

But that is almost exactly what Trump said in April as he pushed reopening.

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