(CNN)California Democratic Rep. Katie Porter has turned the details-heavy cross-exam of witnesses on Capitol Hill into high art. (Read more about her here.) She asks very specific, simple, but in-the-weeds questions. If you’re a witness, you’re going to wish you could answer them.

On Monday, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy could not. Porter got him to admit he does know the cost of a stamp, but he doesn’t know much else about the cost of mailing packages. And he didn’t know how many Americans voted by mail in 2016. Porter made her point by tying DeJoy’s lack of specific knowledge together: “I’m glad you know the price of a stamp,” she said, “but I’m concerned about your understanding of this agency. And I’m particularly concerned about it because you started taking very decisive action when you became postmaster general. You started directing the unplugging and destroying of machines, the changing of employee procedures and locking of collection boxes.”DeJoy said he didn’t personally order those actions. And he didn’t know who did, which is not a good look.DeJoy defended his actions as postmaster general and said that while he had paused systemic changes until after the election, he would not be allowing letter sorting machines to be reinstalled to deal with an expected crush of mail-in ballots. Read MoreJeremy Herb wrote about the hearing for CNN: Republicans accused Democrats of manufacturing a political crisis with the mail to help the party politically, arguing the Postal Service’s fiscal woes are a long-running problem and DeJoy is trying to address them. Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, charged that Democrats had “fabricated a baseless conspiracy theory.”More news on voting:Democratic groups launch $7.5 million campaign to encourage voting by mailPresident Donald Trump’s campaign is working to counter his message on mail-in votingTwitter hits Trump for misleading health claims that could dissuade voters Trump’s ever-growing list of enemies and what people say when they’re secretly recordedCNN’s Kevin Liptak took the recordings of Trump’s sister Maryanne Trump Barry privately disparaging him and put that betrayal alongside the very long list of people who have turned on Trump. While it seems obvious that a lot of former loyalists have turned on Trump, it’s really stunning when you put it all together in one place. The list includes family. Friends. National security professionals. Here’s what Kevin wrote:His sister described him as a liar and fake. A former senior official at the Department of Homeland Security deemed him a woeful danger to the country. A prominent friend with a prime-time slot on Fox News has called him “crazy,” according to a new book about the network.His onetime national security adviser wrote in his own book he cares little about human rights. A former Pentagon chief called him “the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people.” Those sentiments were endorsed by a former chief of staff. A former secretary of state declared him “undisciplined.”Another onetime national security adviser called his attempts to solicit foreign assistance in the election unacceptable. A Homeland Security adviser has called some of his actions “deeply disturbing.” A short-lived communications chief has questioned his mental state. A former aide and reality show contestant called him racist.The litany of people who know and have worked alongside Trump — but who now question his fitness for the job — seems ever-expanding, a roster that now includes a member of his immediate family as well as an unusually large number of national security officials who departed the administration in its first three years. For a President who prizes loyalty above nearly any other attribute — but who isn’t necessarily known for returning in kind — the defections from officials and confidants who knew him well are a blow not only politically but personally.Secret recordings are ugly business. The release of the recordings by niece Mary Trump is, to me, distasteful. If someone wants to cast aspersions, they should have that choice. But once “secret recording” goes in front of something, it becomes that much more irresistible to people.Who are these people? Also, I have never secretly recorded anyone. I don’t know that I’ve ever been secretly recorded. I don’t understand the type of family and professional world where people secretly record each other, but that’s where Trump lives. So his niece recorded his sister, trying to get her to admit the size of the family estate had been undervalued during a settlement. Trump’s paranoia about recording runs deep. His lawyer recorded him talking about the hush money payments to the women alleging in 2016 he’d had affairs with them.But Trump once alleged he’d secretly recorded his conversations with his former FBI director, although it turned out he hadn’t. (“Lordy, I hope there are tapes.”) And Trump’s been obsessed with the unfounded allegation that former President Barack Obama had him recorded.The day Washington burnedOn August 24, 1814, Washington literally burned. British troops, after a victory in Bladensburg, Maryland, invaded the capital city. Dolley Madison had fled the White House the night before, and she chose to rescue a massive, iconic painting of George Washington on her way out the White House door. British troops ate on White House china before burning the place down, along with the Capitol building.The next day, however, 30 of them died in an accident with some barrels of gunpowder and a freak storm — some reports describe it a a tornado that ripped roofs off buildings — claimed more lives. Reading about it at the Constitution Center website, it almost sounded like a derecho. They quickly moved on in an attempt to take Baltimore. It was ultimately unsuccessful, but that later battle, at Ft. McHenry, was the inspiration for Francis Scott Key’s Star Spangled Banner. Vice President Mike Pence will give an address from Ft. McHenry as part of the Republican National Convention this week. Back in 2018, Trump, then threatening tariffs for national security reasons, made a semi-joke with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when he reportedly said, justifying the national security concerns, “Hey, didn’t you guys burn down the White House?” They hadn’t. It was the British. Now both the US and Canada have imposed travel restrictions as part of their response to the coronavirus, pushing the two countries further apart than they’ve ever been.There’s a cartoon of the burning of Washington from the Library of Congress on the White House Historical Association website, the larger-than-life Gilbert Stuart painting from the National Portrait Gallery, and a print by A Bubbett of Dolley Madison rescuing it. See them here. (And let me know in the comments there if there’s something about which you’d like to see a history post.)

Source Link:
https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/25/politics/what-matters-august-24/index.html

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