What to Know in Washington: Biden Attacks Trump as Midterms Near

  • Biden goes on offense as Democrats ditch appearance
  • Colorado’s new 8th district House race could be bellwether

President Joe Biden accused former President Donald Trump of “dismissing and ignoring the forgotten people he promised to help” in a unusually blunt attack on Wednesday, indicating that the White House may be trying to turn the midterm elections into a referendum on his predecessor.

Biden, at an event in Cleveland, slammed Trump repeatedly during his remarks unveiling new regulations governing assistance intended to bolster multi-employer pension plans. He said the former president kept Republican lawmakers from voting for the legislation that funded the program.

Trump, Biden told assembled union workers, “didn’t have a commitment to you.”

President Joe Biden Wednesday in Cleveland, Ohio.

The president has largely avoided addressing his predecessor by name, and in previous speeches had obliquely attacked Republican congressional candidates as “ultra MAGA” — a reference to Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan — without mentioning him directly.

But on Wednesday, Biden repeatedly called Trump out by name, even joking as a mobile phone rang that the former president was calling to complain. The president also criticized Republican senators, saying Lindsey Graham (S.C.) had a plan to cut Social Security, while Rick Scott (Fla.) had proposed a “shameful” plan that would require Congress to reauthorize programs like Medicare and Social Security every five years. Read more from Jordan Fabian and Justin Sink.

When Biden visited Ohio Wednesday, the top Democrats seeking statewide office in November both had other places to be.

Democratic Senate hopeful Tim Ryan and gubernatorial aspirant Nan Whaley’s decisions to steer clear of the president in a state Biden lost by more than 8 percentage points in 2020 exposes a gap between how the White House views Biden’s political clout and the view for candidates on the ground.

“There are no accidents when it comes to campaigns,” said Nathan Gonzales, editor of the non-partisan analysis publication Inside Elections. “The bottom line is that if President Biden was politically more popular that you would see more candidates wanting to appear with him.”

It wasn’t a first for Biden, who has visited Ohio six times as president. Akayla Gardner and Jordan Fabian have more.

On Lawmakers’ Agendas

Companies including Alphabet’s Google and Microsoft are pushing the Senate to advance House-passed legislation meant to boost the transparency of government demands for user emails, phone records, and other digital data. The bipartisan bill seeks to limit the use of non-disclosure orders that government prosecutors often issue to prevent companies from telling their users about requests for such data made under the Stored Communications Act. Andrea Vittorio has the story.

The diversity and competitiveness of Colorado’s new 8th District has it primed to serve as a key House race in congressional midterms this year and beyond. Candidates and outside groups are planning to spend millions of dollars appealing to the district, which includes large suburban and Hispanic communities coveted by both parties looking to control the Congress next year.

“I could see this as a bellwether, both nationally and in Colorado,” said Doug Friednash, who was chief of staff to Sen. John Hickenlooper (D) when he was governor, and who heads the state and local government relations department at the lobbying and law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. Read more from Zach C. Cohen and Greg Giroux.

Around the Administration


The Transportation Department is awarding nearly $1 billion to expand airport terminals across the country as the Biden administration and air carriers have been plagued by recent flight disruptions. The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday that 85 US airports will receive millions of dollars each from the infrastructure law to upgrade their terminals by expanding capacity, as well as making them more accessible and sustainable. Airports in Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Washington’s Dulles International Airport are among those set to receive money for projects. Read more from Lillianna Byington.

One of Biden’s top aides, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield, plans to leave the administration in coming weeks — joining a raft of other departures ahead of the November midterms. In addition to serving in the White House, Bedingfield worked as the deputy campaign manager for communications on Biden’s 2020 campaign and as his communications director when he served as the vice president. Read more on her tenure from Nancy Cook.

The Biden administration for now can’t revive an immigration enforcement policy that focuses on detaining and deporting individuals deemed public safety and security threats, after a federal appeals court on Wednesday refused to pause a lower court’s order. The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied the Department of Homeland Security’s request to freeze a district court’s June order striking down the immigration enforcement priorities. DHS sidelined its policy weeks ago in response to the ruling but is pursuing an appeal. Read more from Ellen M. Gilmer.

Crypto Holders Banned from Writing Rules on US Digital Assets: US officials holding cryptocurrencies and stablecoins directly as personal investments will generally be barred from advising Biden on how to oversee the digital currency, the government’s ethics chief said. The directive, issued Tuesday by the US Office of Government Ethics, disqualifies federal employees from working on any regulation that could influence the value of their digital currencies. Mutual-fund holders with less than $50,000 invested in the sector will be allowed to help write the rules, so long as the fund’s primary goal isn’t to invest in cryptocurrency, the advisory said. Courtney Rozen has more on the effort.

Drug Price War Gets Agency Buy-Ins as Senate Democrats Push Plan: Biden administration officials Wednesday committed to curbing patent practices associated with high drug costs, a move that comes as Senate Democrats push ahead with a plan to lower pharmaceutical prices. The US Patent and Trademark Office will be on the lookout for drugmakers trying to secure intellectual property protections on “incremental, obvious changes to existing drugs” that “unjustifiably delay generic competition,” according to a blog jointly penned by leaders from the PTO and Food and Drug Administration. Ian Lopez covers the latest in Democrats’ effort to tackle prices.

This year the Federal Trade Commission is set to start revising its so-called Green Guides, in what will likely be a years-long process. Although the guidance doesn’t carry the weight of regulation, making false environmental claims has proved costly for companies: Walmart and Kohl’s agreed in April to pay a combined $5.5 million in penalties for falsely marketing rayon textile products as bamboo, following FTC complaints. Read more from Saijel Kishan.

FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Western companies that China aims to “ransack” their intellectual property so it can eventually dominate key industries, escalating a dispute between the world’s two largest economies over hacking. Read more.

The US may seek to forge agreements with like-minded countries on Ukraine during the G-20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Bali, a senior state department official said Thursday, a sign Washington is lowering expectations for the event as China avoids taking a clear stance on the invasion. Read more from Iain Marlow.

  • China asked the US to refrain from introducing any new trade measures amid reports that the Biden administration is weighing a new investigation into Chinese subsidies. Read more.

What Else to Know

Boris Johnson plans to resign as UK prime minister, according to two officials familiar with his thinking, bringing the curtain down on a tempestuous three years in office marred by a succession of scandals that culminated in the rebellion of his own cabinet and parliamentary group. Alex Morales and Emily Ashton have the latest.

Clifford Alexander, a pioneering attorney who forcefully championed civil rights as a presidential adviser and in private practice, taught his son that lawyers “can use their power” to make a difference. “People come to lawyers and they’ve got a problem they want, and need, to be solved,” Mark Alexander said in an interview about his father who died July 3 at his Manhattan home at 88. “And there’s a nobility to that.” Maia Spoto has more.

Mass shooting events like the one that happened July 4 near Chicago typically set off an-all-too-common chain of procedures at tech companies: unearth the attacker’s online presence, capture possibly incriminating posts and quickly shut their accounts. As frequent as this protocol has become, the companies are still not fast enough to prevent a dangerous knock-on effect of the violence. Read more from Davey Alba and Cecilia D’Anastasio.

  • Police averted a potential mass shooting planned for a July 4 celebration in Richmond, officials said Wednesday. A “hero citizen” reported a tip to police after overhearing a conversation about a mass shooting in the works, Chief of Police Gerald Smith said in a press conference. Read more from Emma Kinery.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michaela Ross in Washington at mross@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Giuseppe Macri at gmacri@bgov.com