The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Hacks, Money, and Russian Trolls

Ninety-nine potential election-interference problems for the 2020 U.S. presidential election—and a hack is one. Plus: What another Joe Biden slip of the tongue reveals.

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What We’re Following Today

It’s Friday, August 9.

‣ President Donald Trump said he plans to name Joseph Maguire, the current director of the National Counterterrorism Center, to be the new acting director of national intelligence, after announcing the resignation of Sue Gordon, the No. 2 federal intelligence official.

‣ Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seemed to indicate he’d be willing to put gun-control legislation at the top of the agenda when Congress reconvenes next month.

Here’s what else we’re watching.

It’s the Economy: Most Americans aren’t happy with President Trump’s signature $1.5 trillion tax cut—and while the economy is booming, growth has slowed. But the tax cuts aren’t the problem, the conservative activist Grover Norquist argues—a trade war with China and tariffs on Canada and the European Union are the culprits. Read his full conversation with Russell Berman.

A Rock and a Hard Place: After back-to-back mass shootings, President Trump took to the bully pulpit (on Twitter and elsewhere) to voice support for background checks and “red-flag” laws, which would allow guns to be temporarily withheld from people deemed a danger to themselves or others. But he may flinch—as he did after the Parkland, Florida, shooting—and even his own aides doubt Trump will follow through, Berman, Peter Nicholas, and Elaina Plott report.

+ Shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, only further emphasize that assault weapons are weapons of war, not tools of sport, and should be banned, Admiral Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, argues.

Hacks, Money, Lies: Buried in the seven hours of testimony former Special Counsel Robert Mueller gave to Congress last month was a line about Russian interference that Mueller likely hoped would jolt lawmakers, the news media, and American people alike: “They’re doing it as we sit here.” More than 450 days out from the 2020 U.S. presidential election, foreign interference remains a likely threat. Uri Friedman demystifies all the ways a new attack might play out: dark money, disinformation on social media, and the “hack and leak.”

Gaffe Track: “We have this notion that somehow if you’re poor, you cannot do it. Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.” Who said it? The 2020 candidate Joe Biden, letting slip a sociological assumption yesterday at the Asian and Latino Commission in Des Moines, Iowa. He’s not alone in these assumptions, John McWhorter writes.


(Brian Snyder / Reuters)

The Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Andrew Yang arrives at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines.

Ideas From The Atlantic

Anger Is the Ethic of the Moment. Campaign-Trail Language Is Reflecting That. (Megan Garber)
“It wasn’t that long ago that distance and detachment were considered assets in leaders—such that, for example, a front-runner on the campaign trail could see his chances for election effectively evaporated by a single, unhinged scream. ” → Read on.

Dismantling Tucker Carlson’s White-Supremacy Argument (Conor Friedersdorf)
“Carlson betrayed the trust of his viewers, eliding facts in a way that could stoke the very divisions he accused others of sowing.” → Read on.

The Media Erased Latinos From the Story (Lulu Garcia-Navarro)
“The attack in El Paso left 22 dead. Most were Latinos, some of whom were Mexican citizens. It followed a sustained and deliberate campaign by the Trump administration to demonize immigrants. Journalists should report on that. We should contextualize it. But that is only the beginning of our work.” → Read on.

What Else We’re Reading

How San Francisco’s wealthiest families launched Kamala Harris (Michael Kruse, Politico)

‘Invasion.’ ‘Killers.’ How Donald Trump describes immigrants at his campaign rallies. (John Fritze, USA Today)

Is it possible to stop a mass shooting before it happens? (Andrea Stanley, Cosmopolitan) (🔒Paywall)

Here’s how kids in El Paso are talking about the mass shooting: ‘I was screaming bad’ (Brianna Sacks, BuzzFeed News)

About us: This newsletter is a daily effort from The Atlantic’s politics writer Elaine Godfrey, with help from Christian Paz. It’s edited by Shan Wang.

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