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Sports From ESPN
Let's run through the week's unsolved (or misunderstood) mysteries, from a touchdown-saving sprint to a quarterback in a major funk.
The Cowboys got blown out -- again. Cam Newton had another rough day. Tom Brady looked great without Antonio Brown. Let's overreact to Week 7.
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his left knee, the Browns announced Monday morning.
Patriots quarterback Cam Newton is approaching this week as if his job is in jeopardy after being pulled early in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 33-6 loss to the 49ers.
ESPN is canceling plans to host eight of its men's college basketball events at the ESPN Wide World of Sports property at Walt Disney World in Orlando, which was the site for the NBA's bubble.
After being ejected Sunday, Washington Football Team linebacker Jon Bostic is not expected to be suspended for his hit on Cowboys QB Andy Dalton, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Falcons running back Todd Gurley lamented his late touchdown that gave the Lions enough time to drive down the field and rally to beat Atlanta on Sunday.
The University of Arizona has been charged with nine alleged rules violations, including five Level I charges, following a multiyear investigation of its men's basketball program, sources confirmed to ESPN on Sunday.
Big Ten overreactions: Michigan's a title contender, Penn State's overrated, Rutgers is decent and moreMonday October 26th, 2020 01:06:19 PM
With the Big Ten's first week in the books, let's look at what questions were answered and what we should, and shouldn't, overreact to from every opening game.
Clemson, Alabama, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State are humming along, and the Big Ten has joined the party in search of a College Football Playoff semifinal spot.
NBA trade season and free agency are nearly upon us. Keep it here for the latest news and updates all offseason long.
Deep in the heart of Texas, Globe Life Field has become the Dodgers' home away from home.
He has not played well in 2020. But the rescheduled trip to Augusta National is coming. Is there enough time to flip the switch for his title defense?
It's two weeks away. Patrick Cantlay is clearly ready. But Tiger and Phil? Who knows? Augusta National in November? We'll see. The Zozo Championship offered some insight, but there's still so much left unanswered.
Since their monster 2018 seasons, Mack and Donald's performances have differed. What happened?
'Way more important than any play I can make': Rams' Jalen Ramsey steps up for Nashville charter schoolMonday October 26th, 2020 04:58:33 PM
With a $1 million donation and continued support, Ramsey has become a hero for the kids at Purpose Prep Academy in his hometown.
Impressive games from rookies Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert highlight the Week 7 fantasy football takeaways from Matt Bowen and Tristan H. Cockcroft.
After years of October frustration, the L.A. ace got to walk off the field with an ovation and with a lead.
Rays left fielder Manny Margot said his attempted steal of home in the fourth inning of Sunday's Game 5 was "100 percent" his decision, adding, "I thought it was a good idea at the time."
We're less than a month from the start of the 2020-21 college basketball season. Kentucky, which received some good transfer news last week, makes a move in our latest ranking.
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A divided Senate is set to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, giving the country a ninth justice Monday as Republicans overpower Democratic opposition to secure President Donald Trump’s nominee the week before Election Day.
Democratic leaders asked Vice President Mike Pence to stay away from presiding over her Senate confirmation due to potential health risks after his aides tested positive for COVID-19. But although Pence isn’t needed to break a tie, the vote would present a dramatic opportunity for him to preside over confirmation of Trump’s third Supreme Court justice.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and his leadership team wrote that not only would Pence’s presence violate Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, “it would also be a violation of common decency and courtesy.”
But Senate Republicans control the chamber and Barrett’s confirmation isn’t in doubt.
The 48-year-old Barrett would secure a conservative court majority for the foreseeable future, potentially opening a new era of rulings on abortion, gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act. A case against the Obama-era health law is scheduled to be heard Nov. 10.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scoffed at the “apocalyptic” warnings from critics that the judicial branch was becoming mired in partisan politics as he defended its transformation under his watch.
“This is something to be really proud of and feel good about,” the Republican leader said Sunday during a rare weekend session.
McConnell said that unlike legislative actions that can be undone by new presidents or lawmakers, “they won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come.”
Schumer, of New York, said the Trump administration’s drive to install Barrett during the coronavirus crisis shows “the Republican Party is willing to ignore the pandemic in order to rush this nominee forward.”
To underscore the potential health risks, Schumer urged his colleagues Sunday not to linger in the chamber but “cast your votes quickly and from a safe distance.” Some GOP senators tested positive for the coronavirus following a Rose Garden event with Trump to announce Barrett’s nomination, but they have since said they have been cleared by their doctors from quarantine. Pence’s office said the vice president tested negative for the virus on Monday.
The confirmation was expected to be the first of a Supreme Court nominee so close to a presidential election. It’s also one of the first high court nominees in recent memory receiving no support from the minority party, a pivot from not long ago when a president’s picks often won wide support.
Barrett presented herself in public testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee as a neutral arbiter and suggested, “It’s not the law of Amy.” But her writings against abortion and a ruling on “Obamacare” show a deeply conservative thinker. She was expected to be seated quickly on the high court.
“She’s a conservative woman who embraces her faith. She’s unabashedly pro-life, but she’s not going to apply ‘the law of Amy’ to all of us,” the Judiciary Committee chairman, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on Fox News Channel.
At the start of Trump’s presidency, McConnell engineered a Senate rules change to allow confirmation by a majority of the 100 senators, rather than the 60-vote threshold traditionally needed to advance high court nominees over objections. It was escalation of a rules change Democrats put in place to advance other court and administrative nominees under President Barack Obama.
On Sunday, the Senate voted 51-48 to begin to bring the process to a vote as senators, mostly Democrats, pulled an all-night session for the final 30 hours of often heated debate. Two Republicans, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, voted against advancing the nominee, and all Democrats who voted were opposed. California Sen. Kamala Harris, the vice presidential nominee, missed the vote while campaigning in Michigan.
Monday’s final tally was expected to grow by one after Murkowski announced her support for the nominee, even as she decried filling the seat in the midst of a heated race for the White House. Murkowski said Saturday she would vote against the procedural steps but ultimately join GOP colleagues in confirming Barrett.
“While I oppose the process that has led us to this point, I do not hold it against her,” Murkowski said.
Collins, who faces a tight reelection fight in Maine, remains the only Republican expected to vote against Trump’s nominee. “My vote does not reflect any conclusion that I have reached about Judge Barrett’s qualifications to serve,” Collins said. “I do not think it is fair nor consistent to have a Senate confirmation vote prior to the election.”
By pushing for Barrett’s ascension so close to the Nov. 3 election, Trump and his Republican allies are counting on a campaign boost, in much the way they believe McConnell’s refusal to allow the Senate to consider Obama’s nominee in February 2016 created excitement for Trump among conservatives and evangelical Christians eager for a Republican president to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Barrett was a professor at Notre Dame Law School when she was tapped by Trump in 2017 for an appeals court opening. Two Democrats joined at that time to confirm her, but none is expected to vote for her now.
Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington, Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina, and Becky Bohrer in Juneau, Alaska, contributed to this report.
President Donald Trump embarked Monday on a final-week charge through nearly a dozen states ahead of the election, overlooking a surge of coronavirus cases in the U.S. and a fresh outbreak in his own White House. His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, is holding far fewer events in an effort to demonstrate that he’s taking the worsening pandemic seriously.
The final days of the campaign are crystalizing the starkly different approaches Trump and Biden have taken to address the worst public health crisis in a century — with risks for each candidate.
“It’s a choice between a Trump boom or a Biden lockdown,” Trump claimed Monday in Pennsylvania.
For Trump, the full-speed-ahead strategy could spread the virus in places that are already setting new records and leave him appearing aloof to the consequences. And if Biden comes up short in the election, his lower-key travel schedule will surely come under scrutiny as a bad choice.
Both men are making points with their travel plans. Trump was holding three events in Pennsylvania alone on Monday, suggesting he’s on defense in a state that he won in 2016 and that will be critical to his reelection. Biden, meanwhile, is demonstrating more confidence with signals that he’s hoping to expand his campaign map.
Though the Democrat was remaining close on Monday to his Wilmington, Delaware, home, on Tuesday he will visit Georgia, a state that hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992. He’s dispatching his running mate, Kamala Harris, later this week to Texas, which hasn’t backed a Democrat for the White House since Jimmy Carter in 1976.
With more than a third of the expected ballots in the election already cast, it could become increasingly challenging for Trump and Biden to reshape the contours of the race. But both men are fighting for any endgame advantage. Biden is leading Trump in most national polls and has an advantage, though narrower, in many key battlegrounds.
While the final week of the campaign is colliding with deepening concerns about the COVID crisis in far-flung parts of the U.S., Trump is anxious for voters to focus on almost anything else. He’s worried that he will lose if the election becomes a referendum on his handling of the pandemic. Biden, meanwhile, is working to ensure the race is just that, hitting Trump on the virus and presenting himself as a safer, more stable alternative.
The stakes were clear this past weekend as the White House became the locus for a second outbreak of the virus in a month. Several close aides to Vice President Mike Pence tested positive, including his chief of staff, Marc Short. Pence, though, was insistent on maintaining his aggressive political calendar, even though he was deemed a “close contact,” claiming the status of an “essential employee.”
Trump was set to receive a boost Monday evening, when the Senate is expected to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, completing the president’s efforts to bring about conservative transformation of the federal bench. But in the closing days of the race, the Trump accomplishment was struggling to break through the renewed virus concerns.
With Election Day just over a week away, average deaths per day across the country are up 10% over the past two weeks, from 721 to nearly 794 as of Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Confirmed infections per day are rising in 47 states, and deaths are up in 34.
The latest national outbreak has provide a potent sign of the divergent approaches the Trump and Biden campaigns have taken to the virus. On Sunday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said that “we’re not going to control the pandemic” and the focus should be on containment and treatment. Trump aims to pack thousands of people, most without face coverings, into rallies across some of the upper Midwestern states bearing the brunt of the surge.
Biden, in a statement, said Meadows’ comments continued with the Trump administration waving “the white flag of defeat” in the face of the virus.
Trump fired back Monday as he arrived in Pennsylvania, saying Biden, with his concerns about the virus spread, has “waved a white flag on life.”
Biden’s team argues the coronavirus is likely to blot out any other issues that might come up in the final days of the campaign — including his recent debate-stage comment in which he affirmed he’d transition away from oil, later walking that back as a transition away from federal subsidies. That strategy appeared to pay off as the outbreak in Pence’s staff refocused the national conversation once again on the pandemic.
Trump and his team, meanwhile, have struggled to settle on a closing message, with the undisciplined candidate increasingly trusting his instincts over his advisers. He’s grasped for dirt on his Democratic rival and used apocalyptic terms to describe a Biden presidency, but Biden has thus far proven more resistant to such attacks than Trump’s 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton.
“You can certainly expect that (Biden) will focus on COVID as it continues to, unfortunately, rise all across the country,” Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in an interview. “It is disrupting people’s lives and people are looking for a leader to put in place plans to get it under control.”
Anticipating a razor-thin Electoral College margin, Trump has an aggressive schedule including a visit Omaha, Nebraska, Tuesday after a Sunday visit to Maine, aiming to lock up one electoral vote in each of the states that award them by congressional district. Trump is scheduled hold a dizzying 11 rallies in the final 48 hours before polls close.
Biden is sitting on more campaign cash than Trump and is putting it to use, blanketing airwaves with a nearly 2-to-1 advantage over the final two weeks. The incessant campaign ads feature both upbeat messages and blistering criticism of Trump’s handling of the pandemic.
It’s part of what Josh Schwerin, the senior strategist for Democratic super PAC Priorities USA, says has helped Biden gain an advantage.
“Those dual messages — continuing to draw a contrast with Trump, but also offering that positive aspirational message, giving people a reason to vote for Biden and not just against Trump — continues to be the best way forward. And we’re seeing it work,” he said.
Democrats have been heartened by their lead in the record numbers of early votes that have been cast across a number of battleground states — though they caution that Republicans are more likely to turn out on Election Day and certain to make up ground.
Four years ago, Clinton also enjoyed a lead in national and some state polls, and Democrats say their complacency doomed their candidate.
Miller reported from Washington and Jaffe reported from Wilmington, Delaware. Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani and Jonathan Lemire in Washington contributed to this report.
President Donald Trump says Mexico is paying for the wall (it isn’t), health care choice for veterans came from him (it didn’t) and his tax cut stands as the biggest in American history (nowhere close).
These are among his touchstones — the falsehoods that span his presidency — and he’s giving them another go in the final days of his relentless campaigning.
He’s got fresher false material, too, claiming “incredible” numbers in the pandemic response despite record infections, rising deaths and a statement from his chief of staff Sunday that the government cannot bring the coronavirus under control. He warned darkly of voting fraud in the Nov. 3 election without offering evidence that malfeasance is in play.
In weekend rallies, Trump also portrayed Democratic rival Joe Biden as the helmsman of a Marxist party who lined his own pockets with $3.5 million via Moscow. This didn’t happen.
A look at rhetoric from the weekend:
TRUMP: “Even without vaccines, we’re rounding the turn. It’s going to be over.” — on C-SPAN, Sunday.
TRUMP: “We’re rounding the turn. It’s going to be over.” — New Hampshire rally Sunday.
TRUMP: “We’re rounding the turn, we’re doing great. Our numbers are incredible.” — North Carolina rally Saturday.
THE FACTS: The numbers have turned harrowing, not “incredible.”
The U.S. set a daily record Friday for new confirmed coronavirus infections and nearly matched it Saturday with 83,178, data published by Johns Hopkins University show. Close to 8.6 million Americans have contracted the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and about 225,000 have died; both totals are the world’s highest. About half the states have seen their highest daily infection numbers so far at some point in October.
“We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, said on CNN. “We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas.” He did not share his boss’ view that the pandemic is turning a corner or that it will, absent a vaccine.
TRUMP on how long he may be immune to reinfection from the coronavirus: “With me it was for four months. If it was anybody else they’d say for life.” — Ohio rally.
TRUMP: “Now it used to be that if you had it, you were immune for life, right? For life. With me, they say I’m immune for four months. In other words, once I got it, the immunity went down from life to four months. I don’t know. They don’t know either.” — North Carolina.
THE FACTS: The only truth in these statements is that “they don’t know.”
Trump is suggesting here that experts are saying he is only immune from reinfection for four months because they don’t like him. But the science of immunity is not about him and the uncertainty is not a conspiracy against him. Public-health authorities don’t have final answerson how long or well people who had COVID-19 are protected from it again.
While there’s evidence that reinfection is unlikely for at least three months even for those with a mild case of COVID-19, very few diseases leave people completely immune for life. Antibodies are only one piece of the body’s defenses, and they naturally wane over time.
TRUMP: “And by the way, Mexico is paying for the wall.” — New Hampshire rally.
TRUMP: “No, they are paying for it. Totally.” — North Carolina rally.
TRUMP: “We got it financed. Mexico will be paying for it because we’re going to charge a fee.”
THE FACTS: The U.S. is paying for it. Mexico isn’t. The Mexican government flatly refused to contribute to extending or reinforcing barriers on U.S. soil — “Not now, not ever,” Enrique Peña Nieto, then Mexico’s president, tweeted in May 2018.
Since the start, Trump has been fishing for ways to make it appear that he was keeping his promise to make Mexico pay for the project at the core of his 2016 campaign. But the money is coming from today’s U.S. taxpayers and the future ones who will inherit the federal debt.
TRUMP: “We passed VA Choice.” — New Hampshire rally.
TRUMP: “The last administration failed our veterans. I reformed the VA, passed VA Choice.” — North Carolina rally.
THE FACTS: He did not get the Choice program passed. President Barack Obama did. Trump expanded it. The program allows veterans to get medical care outside the Veterans Affairs system under certain conditions.
Decision 2020 Coverage
TRUMP on Biden when he was vice president: “So Russia, the mayor of Moscow’s wife, who’s a very wealthy man, she’s a very wealthy woman, retired, gave him three and a half million dollars.” — North Carolina rally.
THE FACTS: No she didn’t.
A Republican congressional report that investigated the Moscow business dealings of Biden’s son, Hunter, pointed to a $3.5 million investment made there to an investment firm linked to Hunter Biden.
The money didn’t go to Joe Biden at all. Nor is there evidence that Hunter Biden pocketed the sum. The GOP report said the money went to the investment firm. And Hunter Biden’s lawyer has said in a statement that his client had no interest in that firm.
TRUMP: “I banned people from China, where it was heavily infected, from coming into a country. Biden was totally against that. He called me xenophobic. And now he goes out and says we should have done it sooner. Well he didn’t want to do it at all.” — North Carolina rally.
THE FACTS: That’s false. Trump never banned travel from China; he restricted it. Biden did not call the travel restrictions xenophobic; he used the term in regard to Trump’s other rhetoric about foreigners. And he did not oppose the restrictions, but rather took no clear position for many weeks, before supporting them.
BIDEN: “I never said I oppose fracking.” — presidential debate Thursday.
TRUMP: “You said it in the tape.” — presidential debate Thursday.
THE FACTS: Trump is correct; Biden said it on tape, telling a Democratic primary debate, “No new fracking.” Trump has been playing Biden’s remark at his own rallies.
A fracking ban wasn’t and still isn’t Biden’s policy, though. Biden’s campaign corrected his remark after the primary debate. Biden would ban new oil and gas permits on federal land only; most oil and gas does not come from those properties. He has said repeatedly he would not ban fracking.
Still, Trump called him out for shaping his stance to suit a more liberal primary audience and argued at his Ohio rally Saturday that Biden in office would be beholden to Democrats who want to ban fossil fuels, people he hyperbolically called “the communists, the Marxists and the left wing extremists.”
TRUMP: “In Nevada, they want to have a thing where you don’t have to have any verification of the signature.” — New Hampshire rally.
THE FACTS: Not true, despite his frequent assertions to the contrary. The state’s existing law requires signature checks on mail ballots. A new law also spells out a process by which election officials are to check a signature against the one in government records.
In Nevada’s June primary, nearly 7,000 ballots were thrown out due to mismatched or missing signatures.
TRUMP: “I say the biggest risk we have are the fake ballots.” — New Hampshire rally.
TRUMP: “If we don’t know the result on Nov. 3, that means — unlike it has always been where you generally find out the election that night or soon — we could be going on forever with this. It’s the craziest thing … and we shouldn’t let it happen.” — New Hampshire rally.
THE FACTS: His statements are overblown.
It’s true that many states are expecting a surge in mail-in voting because of the coronavirus pandemic, which may lead to longer times in vote counting. The U.S. Supreme Court, for instance, will allow Pennsylvania to count mailed-in ballots received up to three days after the election. But there is no evidence to indicate that massive fraud is afoot. Any delay in declaring a winner of the presidential race after Nov. 3 would not in itself be illegal.
Broadly speaking, voter fraud has proved exceedingly rare. The Brennan Center for Justice in 2017 ranked the risk of ballot fraud at 0.00004% to 0.0009%, based on studies of past elections.
In the five states that regularly send ballots to all voters who have registered, there have been no major cases of fraud or difficulty counting the votes.
Even if the election is messy and contested in court, the country will have a president in January — and not have vote counting going on “forever” as he asserts — because the Constitution and federal law ensure it.
TRUMP: “We brought in tremendous numbers of companies … I said to Prime Minister Abe, a great, great gentleman who retired … ’Shinzo, you got to open some factories in Michigan … You’re selling too many cars made in Japan, you got to make them in the U.S.’ He’d say ’Well, I don’t do that … this is done by the private sector …’ I said, ‘You have to do it.’ The next day, they announced five companies were opening up factories.” — New Hampshire rally.
THE FACTS: That’s a made-up story he’s told before.
No Japanese automaker assembly plants have been announced or built in Michigan, let alone in one day, and there are no plans to add any.
There is one manufacturing facility, a joint venture between General Motors and Honda, south of Detroit. It’s the $85 million expansion of an existing facility to make hydrogen fuel cells with about 100 new jobs, according to the Center for Automotive Research, an industry think-tank in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Subaru has a new research center with about 100 new jobs, and Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi and Toyota have announced expansions of research facilities.
These are not new “car plants” run by Japanese automakers and these initiatives did not all materialize in one day.
TRUMP: “We got off that crazy Iran deal, right? The Iran nuclear deal, where Obama gave them $150 billion for the privilege.” — North Carolina rally.
THE FACTS: No, Obama did not give the Iranians $150 billion for signing the multinational deal to constrain their nuclear development. The deal let Iran have access to $150 billion of its own assets that were frozen abroad until Tehran agreed to the terms.
The U.S. made a separate payout to Iran of about $1.8 billion. That was to settle an old debt over military equipment that Iran paid for but never received.
TRUMP: “You know, you got the biggest tax cut in the history of our country. I got it for you.” — North Carolina rally.
THE FACTS: His tax cuts are not close to the biggest in U.S. history.
It’s a $1.5 trillion tax cut over 10 years. As a share of the total economy, a tax cut of that size ranks 12th, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 cut is the biggest, followed by the 1945 rollback of taxes that financed World War II.
Post-Reagan tax cuts also stand among the historically significant: President George W. Bush’s cuts in the early 2000s and Obama’s renewal of them a decade later.
With eight days before Election Day, more people already have cast ballots in this year’s presidential election than voted early or absentee in the 2016 race as the start of in-person early voting in big states led to a surge in turnout in recent days.
The opening of early voting locations in Florida, Texas and elsewhere has piled millions of new votes on top of the mail ballots arriving at election offices as voters try to avoid crowded places on Nov. 3 during the coronavirus pandemic.
The result is a total of 58.6 million ballots cast so far, more than the 58 million that The Associated Press logged as being cast through the mail or at in-person early voting sites in 2016.
Democrats have continued to dominate the initial balloting, but Republicans are narrowing the gap. GOP voters have begun to show up at early in-person voting, a sign that many heeded President Donald Trump’s unfounded warnings about mail-voting fraud.
On Oct. 15, Democratic registrants cast 51% of all ballots reported, compared with 25% from Republicans. On Sunday, Democrats had a slightly smaller lead, 51% to 31%.
The early vote totals, reported by state and local election officials and tracked by the AP, are an imperfect indicator of which party may be leading. The data only shows party registration, not which candidate voters support. Most GOP voters are expected to vote on Election Day.
Analysts said the still sizable Democratic turnout puts extra pressure on the Republican Party to push its voters out in the final week and on Nov. 3. That’s especially clear in closely contested states such as Florida, Nevada and North Carolina.
“This is a glass half-full, glass half-empty situation,” said John Couvillon, a Republican pollster who tracks early voting closely. “They’re showing up more,” he added, but “Republicans need to rapidly narrow that gap.”
More Decision 2020 Coverage
In Florida, for example, Democrats have outvoted Republicans by a 596,000 margin by mail, while Republicans only have a 230,000 edge in person. In Nevada, where Democrats usually dominate in-person early voting but the state decided to send a mail ballot to every voter this year, the GOP has a 42,600 voter edge in-person while Democrats have an 97,500 advantage in mail ballots.
“At some point, Republicans have to vote,” said Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political scientist who tracks early voting on ElectProject.org. “You can’t force everyone through a vote center on Election Day. Are you going to expect all those Republicans to stand in line for eight hours?”
Campaigns typically push their voters to cast ballots early so they can focus scarce resources chasing more marginal voters as the days tick down to Election Day. That usually saves them money on mailers and digital ads — something the cash-strapped Trump campaign would likely want — and minimizes the impact of late surprises that could change the race.
Trump’s campaign has been pushing its voters to cast ballots early, but with limited success, delighting Democrats. “We see the Trump campaign, the RNC (Republican National Committee) and their state parties urging Trump’s supporters to vote by mail while the president’s Twitter account says it’s a fraud,” Tom Bonier, a Democratic data analyst, said on a recent call with reporters. “The Twitter account is going to win every time.”
But Bonier warned that he does not expect a one-sided election. “There are signs of Republicans being engaged,” he said. “We do expect them to come out in very high numbers on Election Day.”
That split in voting behavior — Democrats voting early, Republicans on Election Day — has led some Democrats to worry about Trump declaring victory because early votes are counted last in Rust Belt battlegrounds. But they’re counted swiftly in swing states such as Arizona, Florida and North Carolina, which may balance out which party seems ahead on election night.
Some of the record-setting turnout has led to long lines at early-vote locations, and there have been occasional examples of voters receiving mail ballots that are incorrectly formatted. But on a whole, voting has gone relatively smoothly. With more than one-third of the 150 million ballots that experts predict will be cast in the election, there have been no armed confrontations at polling places or massive disenfranchisement that have worried election experts for months.
One sign of enthusiasm is the large number of new or infrequent voters who have already voted — 25% of the total cast, according to an AP analysis of data from the political data firm L2. Those voters are younger than a typical voter and less likely to be white. So far similar shares of them are registering Democratic and Republican.
They have helped contribute to enormous turnouts in states such as Georgia, where 26.3% of the people who’ve voted are new or infrequent voters, and Texas, which is expected to set turnout record and where 30.5% are new or infrequent voters.
The strong share of new and infrequent voters in the early vote is part of what leads analysts to predict more than 150 million total votes will be cast and possibly the highest turnout in a U.S. presidential election since 1908.
“There’s a huge chunk of voters who didn’t cast ballots in 2016,” Bonier said. “They’re the best sign of intensity at this point.”
Health policy specialists questioned White House officials’ claim that federal rules on essential workers allow Vice President Mike Pence to continue to campaign and not quarantine himself after being exposed to the coronavirus.
Campaigning is not an official duty that might fall under the guidelines meant to ensure that police, first responders and key transportation and food workers can still perform jobs that cannot be done remotely, the health experts said.
A Pence aide said Sunday that the vice president would continue to work and travel, including for campaigning, after his chief of staff, Marc Short, tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday. Short and senior political advisor Marty Obst are among five aides to the vice president who have recently tested positive, NBC News reports.
That usually means isolating oneself for 14 days after exposure in case an infection is developing, to prevent spreading the virus to others.
Pence tested negative on Sunday and decided to keep traveling after consulting White House medical personnel, his aides said.
Pence was holding a rally Sunday in North Carolina, events in Minnesota and Pennsylvania on Monday and more events in North Carolina and South Carolina on Tuesday. The most recent numbers show COVID-19 cases are rising in 75% of the country.
On Sunday, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien told reporters that Pence “is following all the rules” from federal health officials. He called Pence “an essential worker” and said, “essential workers going out and campaigning and voting are about as essential as things we can do as Americans.”
However, the guidelines on essential workers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are aimed at folks like police, first responders and key transportation and food workers.
The Department of Homeland Security spells out16 categories of critical infrastructure workers, including those at military bases, nuclear power sites, courthouses and public works facilities like dams and water plants.
“I don’t see campaigning on the list,” said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice at Johns Hopkins University and former Maryland state health department chief. “Anything that does not have to be done in person and anything not related to his job as vice president would not be considered essential.”
Dr. Thomas Tsai, a health policy specialist at Harvard University, agreed.
Helping to maintain the function of the executive branch of government could be considered critical work, but “we’ve always historically separated campaigning from official duties,” he said.
The Ebb and Flow of New Coronavirus Cases and Deaths
The graphs below illustrate the distribution of new coronavirus cases and deaths in the U.S. While New York accounted for the lion’s share of new cases and deaths in March and April, its numbers have declined in May as some states have increased. Hover or tap to see new daily cases and deaths across the country. States with the most are ordered top to bottom.
Source: The COVID Tracking Project
Pence also serves as president of the Senate, a largely ceremonial role outlined in the Constitution but one that stands to come into focus Monday.
The Senate was expected to vote Monday evening to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Pence’s vote is unlikely to be needed to break a tie, but his presence was expected for the vote.
If Pence’s official work as vice president was considered essential, the CDC guidelines say he should be closely monitored for COVID-19 symptoms, stay at least 6 feet from others and wear a mask “at all times while in the workplace.”
Lawrence Gostin, a public health expert at Georgetown University school of law, said Pence’s intention to continue campaigning flouts the spirit of the CDC guidelines.
Coronavirus Pandemic Coverage
Sharfstein said Pence “could be putting people at risk” because he’s at high risk of becoming infected.
“He should quarantine in order to protect other people,” Sharfstein said.
Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Aamer Madhani contributed from Washington.
Someone set fire to a ballot drop box in Boston’s Copley Square early Sunday morning, police said, prompting a search for the arson suspect, an FBI investigation and calls for increased security amid ongoing early voting in Massachusetts.
Thirty-five ballots were damaged, and up to 10 of those cannot be counted, according to Massachusetts’ top elections official, Secretary of State William Galvin, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who urged people who used the box Saturday and early Sunday to contact them to get replacement ballots.
“We’re going to insist on prosecuting whoever did this and want them to know they’re going to be apprehended and go to jail,” Galvin said.
The FBI announced it was investigating after Galvin informed them of what appears to be a deliberate attack.
“What happened in the early hours of this morning to the ballot dropbox in Copley Square is a disgrace to democracy, a disrespect to the voters fulfilling their civic duty, and a crime,” Galvin and Walsh said in a statement. “Our first and foremost priority is maintaining the integrity of our elections process and ensuring transparency and trust with our voters, and any effort to undermine or tamper with that process must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Galvin has also directed all local election officials around the commonwealth to increase security of drop boxes by employing drop box guards, utilizing video surveillance, and emptying drop boxes frequently.
“We had expressed previously our concern about drop boxes being in secure locations, I’ve intensified that this afternoon by issuing this directive: if it’s necessary to have police officers in front of drop boxes if they cannot be contained inside a building,” Galvin said.
Boston police say they responded to the area of 700 Boylston Street around 4:10 a.m. where the city’s fire department was already on scene tending to smoke coming from the early voting ballot box outside of the Boston Public Library.
While the ballot box appeared to be on fire, firefighters were unable to determine if the fire was burning inside of the box, police said. Crews extinguished the fire by filling the ballot box with water.
The drop box had last been emptied by the Boston Elections Department at 2:29 p.m. on Saturday, the department said. According to their inventory, there were 122 ballots inside the drop box when it was emptied Sunday morning, 87 of which were legible and able to be processed.
Anyone who used the Copley Square drop box between 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and 4 a.m. on Sunday is urged to contact the Boston Elections Department immediately at 617-635-2211. They recommended using the website www.TrackMyBallotMA.com to see if your ballot was accepted.
Affected voters will be mailed a replacement ballot by the City of Boston and will have the option of casting that replacement ballot or voting in person until 8 p.m. on Election Day.
The ballot drop box at Copley Square did not suffer physical outer damage and continues to be available for voters to deposit their completed ballots.
“It’s really important that everyone gets a chance to put their ballot in so I think to take that away is very shocking,” Aaron Ponce said.
In their statement, Galvin and Walsh urged voters not to be intimidated by attempts to interfere with this election.
“We ask voters not to be intimidated by this bad act, and remain committed to making their voices heard in this and every election,” Walsh and Galvin said.
With federal authorities investigating the incident, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling and FBI Special Agent in Charge Joseph Bonavolonta said in a joint statement Sunday that “it is a top priority of our offices to help maintain the integrity of the election process in Massachusetts by aggressively enforcing federal election laws.”
In their statement, Lelling and Bonavolonta said Massachusetts voters can feel confident in the success of the information sharing protocols that they have established in advance of the 2020 election.
“We remain fully committed to working with these partners to protect our communities as Americans exercise their right to vote,” they wrote.
Lelling and Bonavolonta also said help from the public is vital to their effort, encouraging people to remain vigilant and immediately report any suspicious, election-related activity.
More on Early Voting in Massachusetts
Early voting began last Saturday in Massachusetts, and more than 2 million residents have already cast their ballots in person or by mail.
According to the Secretary of State’s office, 2,209,350 voters have applied to vote by mail or voted early. As of 4 p.m. Sunday, 2,197,310 ballots had been provided and 1,600,525 ballots have been returned. That accounts for over 34% of the registered voters in the state.
In Boston alone, more than 166,000 people applied to vote by mail or voted early. Over 100,500 had returned their ballots as of Sunday.
The Boston Fire Department is asking anyone with information related to this ballot box arson investigation to contact them at 617-343-3324.
Voters in four states from different regions of the country could embrace broad legal marijuana sales on Election Day, and a sweep would highlight how public acceptance of cannabis is cutting across geography, demographics and the nation’s deep political divide.
The Nov. 3 contests in New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota and Montana will shape policies in those states while the battle for control of Congress and the White House could determine whether marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.
Already, most Americans live in states where marijuana is legal in some form and 11 now have fully legalized the drug for adults — Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont. It’s also legal in Washington, D.C.
In conservative Mississippi, voters will consider competing ballot proposals that would legalize medicinal marijuana, which is allowed in 33 states.
Nick Kovacevich, CEO of KushCo Holdings, which supplies packaging, vape hardware and solvents for the industry, called the election “monumental” for the future of marijuana.
New Jersey, in particular, could prove a linchpin in the populous Northeast, leading New York and Pennsylvania toward broad legalization, he said.
“It’s laying out a domino effect … that’s going to unlock the largest area of population behind the West Coast,” Kovacevich said.
The cannabis initiatives will draw voters to the polls who could influence other races, including the tight U.S. Senate battle in Arizona.
In Colorado, one supporter of legal cannabis could lose his seat. Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, who is struggling in an increasingly Democratic state where some in the industry have lost faith in his ability to get things done in Washington.
Despite the spread of legalization in states and a largely hands-off approach under President Donald Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate has blocked cannabis reform, so under federal law marijuana remains illegal and in the same class as heroin or LSD. That has discouraged major banks from doing business with marijuana businesses, which also were left out in the coronavirus relief packages.
“Change doesn’t come from Washington, but to Washington,” said Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “States are sending a clear message to the federal government that their constituencies want to see cannabis legalization.”
The presidential election could also influence federal marijuana policy, though the issue has been largely forgotten in a campaign dominated by the pandemic, health care and the nation’s wounded economy.
Trump’s position remains somewhat opaque. He has said he is inclined to support bipartisan efforts to ease the U.S. ban on marijuana but hasn’t established a clear position on broader legalization. He’s appointed attorneys general who loath marijuana, but his administration has not launched crackdowns against businesses in states where pot is legal.
Joe Biden has said he would decriminalize — but not legalize — the use of marijuana, while expunging all prior cannabis use convictions and ending jail time for drug use alone. But legalization advocates recall with disgust that he was a leading Senate supporter of a 1994 crime bill that sent droves of minor drug offenders to prison.
Even if there are lingering doubts about Biden, the Democratic Party is clearly more welcoming to cannabis reform, especially its progressive wing. Vice presidential nominee and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California has said making pot legal at the federal level is the “smart thing to do.”
Familiar arguments are playing out across the states.
Opponents fear children will be lured into use, roads will become drag strips for stoned drivers and widespread consumption will spike health care costs.
Those backing legalization point out the market is already here, though in many cases still thriving underground, and argue that products should be tested for safety. Legal sales would mean tax money for education and other services, and social-justice issues are also in play, after decades of enforcement during the war on drugs.
An added push this year could come from the virus-damaged economy — states are strapped for cash and legalized cannabis holds out the promise of a tax windfall. One Arizona estimate predicts $255 million a year would eventually flow for state and local governments, in Montana, $50 million.
Despite the pandemic and challenges including heavy taxes and regulation, marijuana sales are climbing. Arcview Market Research/BDSA expects U.S. sales to climb to $16.3 billion this year, up from $12.4 billion in 2019.
In New Jersey, voters are considering a constitutional amendment that would legalize marijuana use for people 21 and over. It’s attracted broad support in voter surveys. If approved, it’s unclear when shops would open. The amendment also subjects cannabis to the state’s sales tax, and lets towns and cities add local taxes.
The Arizona measure known as Proposition 207 would let people 21 and older possess up to an ounce or a smaller quantity of concentrates, allow for sales at licensed retailers and for people to grow their own plants. Retail sales could start in May. State voters narrowly rejected a previous legalization effort in 2016.
If Montana voters approve, sales would start in 2022. Montana passed a medicinal marijuana law in 2004 and updated it in 2016. The proposed law would allow only owners of current medical marijuana businesses to apply for licenses to grow and sell marijuana for the broader marketplace for the first year.
Perhaps no other state epitomizes changing views more than solidly conservative South Dakota, which has some of the country’s strictest drug laws.
The sparsely populated state could become the first to approve medicinal and adult-use marijuana at the same time. However, legalizing broad pot sales would be a jump for a state where lawmakers recently battled for nearly a year to legalize industrial hemp, a non-intoxicating cannabis plant.
Meanwhile, a confusing situation has unfolded in Mississippi, after more than 100,000 registered voters petitioned to put Initiative 65 on the ballot. It would allow patients to use medical marijuana to treat debilitating conditions, as certified by physicians. But legislators put an alternative on the ballot, which sponsors of the original proposal consider an attempt to scuttle their effort.
Hawkins is among those already looking toward 2021, when a new round of states could move toward legalization, including New York and New Mexico.
“There is clearly a tide,” Hawkins said. “We are moving toward a critical mass of states that … will bring about the end of federal prohibition on cannabis.”
Associated Press writers Michael Catalini in Trenton, New Jersey; Bob Christie in Phoenix; Stephen Groves in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Amy Beth Hanson in Helena, Montana; Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson, Mississippi; and Nick Riccardi in Denver contributed.
In a late gambit to win the battleground state of Pennsylvania, President Donald Trump and his GOP allies have intensified attacks on Joe Biden over fracking, hoping to drive a wedge between the former vice president and the white, working-class voters tied to the state’s booming natural gas industry.
That assault is playing out in a barrage of TV ads and conservative and right-wing websites, and is repeated at every Trump rally in the state.
It relies on a series of confusing statements from the former vice president — including remarks on the oil industry from last week’s debate — to claim he intends to “ban” or end national gas extraction, although that is not the Democrat’s official position.
Trump’s fracking play comes as polls show the president is struggling to overtake Biden in Pennsylvania and in need of a boost from the rural and exurban white voters who helped him to a narrow victory in Pennsylvania in 2016.
It also shoots to snap the tightrope that Biden is walking between the Democratic Party’s left wing, which is hostile to fossil fuels, and its bedrock blue-collar union base that is building an expanding network of gas pipelines, power plants and processing facilities in Pennsylvania.
Biden’s climate change plan aims to reach net-zero greenhouse gases emissions by 2050, and does not involve banning fracking, the process formally named hydraulic fracturing that along with horizontal drilling made the United States an oil and gas superpower over the past decade.
He argues that net-zero threshold can be achieved by helping eliminate emissions from natural gas infrastructure, while redirecting federal subsidies for oil and gas to cleaner energies.
“I do rule out banning fracking because … we need other industries to transition to get to ultimately a complete zero-emissions,” Biden said in Thursday night’s debate.
For his part, Trump often ridicules the science behind increasingly urgent warnings for immediate action to stave off the worst of climate damage by cutting fossil fuel emissions.
But Trump’s attacks routinely cite various Biden statements — several made during the Democratic primary campaign — to muddy that position.
In one, Biden told a town hall questioner last year, “We’re going to end fossil fuel.”Biden’s running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, meanwhile endorsed a ban during her own bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.
At a recent Trump’s rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, the president showed the crowd a video of various Biden comments on fracking in a bid to portray Biden as opposed to the process.
And that was days before Trump and Biden tussled over energy during the debate. After Biden noted he wanted to “transition away from the oil industry,” Trump pounced.
“Basically what he is saying is, he is going to destroy the oil industry,” Trump said. “Will you remember that, Texas? Will you remember that, Pennsylvania? Oklahoma? Ohio?”
Trump will return to campaign in Pennsylvania on Monday.
America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC, ran an eight-week ad campaign for TV, the internet and mail over the summer making that claim in a pitch to the hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians who work in the industry, see their businesses benefiting or receive royalties from a well on their land.
Trump’s campaign is running its own ad this fall featuring a fracking technician named “Jen” who says Biden would end fracking and “that would be the end of my job, and thousands of others.” And Great America PAC, which supports Trump, produced an ad calling Biden and Harris “fracking liars.”
The onslaught is reminiscent of Republican efforts to turn union workers away from Democrat Hillary Clinton four years ago. Clinton was hammered for saying “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business” when describing her climate plan, a comment that was used to suggest she had declared war on coal.
Still, most blue-collar unions that work in the gas fields in Pennsylvania have endorsed Biden. He has a long-standing relationship with some of them, and the endorsement is partly a reflection of their support for his infrastructure plan.
One of them — the United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters — repeated Biden’s statement that he wouldn’t ban fracking in a Pittsburgh-themed digital ad that also touted Biden’s support for nuclear power and water infrastructure as new sources of union jobs.
“Joe Biden will be the most pro-union president ever,” the narrator says.
While Biden insists he does not want to ban fracking broadly, he does want to stop issuing new drilling permits on federal lands, which federal agencies say accounts for about 10% of natural gas production and 7% of oil production.
As part of a $2 trillion plan, he also wants to make electricity production free of fossil fuel emissions by 2035 and reach net-zero carbon emissions in the U.S. by 2050 through technologies such as carbon capture sequestration.
Scientists say it is possible to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in the U.S. by 2050 without eliminating the use of fossil fuels.
But Biden’s nearer-term goal of eliminating emissions from power plants is sending a shiver through Pennsylvania’s industry because a growing fleet of natural gas-fired power plants is a big customer.
It’s not clear how many votes are being decided by Trump’s fracking claims in a contest where the vast majority of voters had already made up their minds.
The gas industry has flushed money into some local economies. But it has also inspired a backlash in other communities, most notably in Philadelphia’s suburbs, and, for many voters, it simply doesn’t rank as deciding factor in the race.
Still, in a heavily populated and heavily contested state that Trump won by just over 44,000 votes in 2016, any marginal change, no matter how slight, is significant, campaign strategists say.
Mark McManus, president of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, which has perhaps 2,000 to 2,500 members building a multibillion-dollar ethane refinery near Pittsburgh, said Biden has a record as vice president when the Obama administration “basically fracked our way out of the recession.”
Plus, McManus said he had a frank conversation with Biden about fracking.
“He assured me that organized labor would be at the table, his energy approach would be an all-of-the-above approach and he is absolutely not against fracking,” McManus said.
A Biden backer, U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, a Pittsburgh-area Democrat who has pushed back against the party’s left wing on energy, recalled hearing concerns about Biden’s position on fracking during events at union halls and elsewhere.
But, Lamb said he is satisfied with Biden’s position on fracking and his commitment to blue-collar labor union jobs after three decades of Democrats losing clout among working-class voters in western Pennsylvania.
“He’s picking up ground,” Lamb said. “We’ll see how much he’s picked up, but I’m definitely enthusiastic that he’s out there fighting for it.”
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Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Sunday to advance Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett toward final confirmation despite Democratic objections, just over a week before the presidential election.
Barrett’s confirmation on Monday was hardly in doubt, with majority Republicans mostly united in support behind President Donald Trump’s pick. But Democrats were poised to keep the Senate in session into the night in attempts to stall, arguing that the Nov. 3 election winner should choose the nominee to fill the vacancy left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Republicans are excited by the chance to install a third Trump justice on the court, locking in a conservative majority for years to come. Barrett’s ascent opens up a potential new era of rulings on abortion, gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act. A case against the Obama-era health law scheduled to be heard Nov. 10.
“The Senate is doing the right thing,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, vowing to install Barrett to the court by Monday.
The 51-48 vote launched 30 hours of Senate debate. Two Republicans, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, voted against advancing the nominee, and all Democrats who voted were opposed. California Sen. Kamala Harris, the vice presidential nominee, missed the vote while campaigning in Michigan.
Vice President Mike Pence would typically preside over the coming votes, but after a close aide tested positive for the COVID-19, it was unclear whether he will fulfill his role for the landmark vote.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the Trump administration’s drive to install Barrett during the coronavirus crisis shows “the Republican Party is willing to ignore the pandemic in order to rush this nominee forward.”
The conservative judge picked up the crucial backing Saturday from Murkowski, one of the last GOP holdouts against filling the seat in the midst of a White House election and with more than 50 million people already having voted.
Murkowski said she disliked the rush toward confirmation, but supported Trump’s choice of Barrett for the high court. She said would vote against the procedural steps, but ultimately join GOP colleagues in confirming Barrett. “While I oppose the process that has led us to this point, I do not hold it against her,” Murkowski said.
Now the only Republican expected to vote against Barrett is Collins, who faces a tight reelection in Maine. She has said she won’t vote for the nominee so close to the election.
McConnell, R-Ky., noted the political rancor, but defended his handling of the process. He scoffed at the Democrats’ “horror stories” about the judge’s conservative qualifications.
Barrett, 48, presented herself in public testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee as a neutral arbiter and at one point suggested, “It’s not the law of Amy.” But Barrett’s past writings against abortion and a ruling on “Obamacare” show a deeply conservative thinker.
“She’s a conservative woman who embraces her faith, she’s unabashedly pro-life but she’s not going to apply ‘the law of Amy’ to all of us,” said the committee chairman, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said late Saturday on Fox.
At the start of Trump’s presidency, McConnell engineered a Senate rules change to allow confirmation by a majority of the 100 senators, rather than the 60-vote threshold traditionally needed to advance high court nominees over objections. With a 53-47 GOP majority, Barrett’s confirmation is almost certain.
By pushing for Barrett’s ascension so close to the Nov. 3 election, Trump and his Republican allies are counting on a campaign boost, in much the way they believe McConnell’s refusal to allow the Senate to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee in February 2016 created excitement for Trump among conservatives and evangelical Christians eager for the Republican president to make that nomination after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.
Barrett was a professor at Notre Dame Law School when she was tapped by Trump in 2017 for an appeals court opening. Two Democrats joined at that time to confirm her, but none is expected to vote for her in the days ahead.
Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington, Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina, and Becky Bohrer in Juneau, Alaska contributed to this report.
Theresa Landrum lives in southwest Detroit, where residents complain frequently about dirty air. Tree-shaded neighborhoods with schools, churches and parks lie on either side of an interstate highway and in the shadow of a sprawling oil refinery that belches soot and fumes.
Landrum, a Black retiree from General Motors and a longtime anti-pollution activist, wasn’t impressed when Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler recently pledged $200,000 to promote “community health initiatives” in her section of the city during his blitz of visits to battleground states in the presidential election campaign.
“Is this a joke?” she said. “It would take billions of dollars to fix what is wrong with our environment here. All of a sudden he’s going to throw somebody a grain of sand in a community where people have been poisoned for decades?”
Under President Donald Trump, the EPA has slashed support for some some programs and regulatory protections benefiting disadvantaged communities. His budgets have proposed killing or cutting funds to enforce regulations promoting environmental justice — fair treatment of racial minorities and low-income residents who live near polluting industries and are disproportionately exposed to contamination — although Congress has continued most of the spending.
Now, the agency is portraying itself as a champion of such communities — an initiative skeptics contend is more about wooing Black and Latino support as Trump seeks re-election than protecting their air and water.
Wheeler’s approach amounts to “window dressing” intended to divert the attention of minority voters from the Trump administration’s weak environmental protection record, said Mustafa Santiago Ali, vice president of environmental justice, climate, and community revitalization for the National Wildlife Federation.
Wheeler and other top EPA officials have fanned out nationally in recent months, particularly in swing states such as Michigan, holding news conferences to distribute grants and tout the Trump administration’s record. During his latest Michigan visit Friday, he announced $10.7 million to replace lead service lines in disadvantaged communities in Grand Rapids and Benton Harbor, and educate the public about dangers of lead-tainted drinking water.
Trump’s EPA “has taken meaningful steps to improve the health and environmental conditions for Americans everywhere, especially those in low-income and under-served communities,” Wheeler said Sept. 30 in Traverse City, Michigan, where he announced the $200,000 for Detroit.
The funds will help develop strategies for notifying vulnerable residents more quickly about public health risks, including the coronavirus, EPA said.
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat whose district includes the section of Detroit targeted for the spending, described it as “an insulting drop in the bucket.”
“These grants are a pitiful attempt to distract from the sky high, mounting costs of the Trump EPA’s prioritizing corporate polluters over Black and brown communities,” Tlaib said.
Nine other grants of the same amount were awarded this year for neighborhood and tribal projects. One in Minneapolis will provide education on lead paint dangers, asthma hazards and use of disinfectants to prevent coronavirus. Another will focus on minimizing air and water pollution during wildfires, floods and other disasters at the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians Reservation in California.
In a September speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of EPA’s founding, Wheeler said such efforts would be a focal point of a second Trump term. The agency would promote “community-driven environmentalism” built on restoring polluted industrial sites, better treatment of drinking water tainted with lead or chemicals, and other locally focused actions, he said.
The agency lost sight of its core mission before Trump’s arrival, Wheeler said, focusing excessively on climate change to impress “foreign capitals, over the interests of communities within their own country.”
But critics say the administration’s spending in those communities is undercut by its rollback of environmental regulations and weak enforcement against polluters.
“It’s like a doctor knowing what the root cause of a problem is but saying we’re going to just deal with the symptoms and not focus on a real cure,” said Ali, a former EPA senior adviser who worked on environmental justice for 24 years before resigning less than two months after Trump took office. “If you’re not willing to strengthen existing laws and make sure people are protected, it’s just sugar coating.”
Academic studies have shown low-income and minority communities suffer disproportionately from pollution, partly because so many landfills, factories and other sources are located there. Wheeler acknowledged that in his speech. But he said environmental regulation sometimes makes things worse by, for example, making it hard to build new factories on contaminated sites.
The Trump administration has hampered research identifying unfair burdens on such communities while weakening standards for pollutants that hit them especially hard, such as mercury, ground-level ozone and coal ash contaminants, the Union of Concerned Scientists said in a 2019 report.
Wheeler says “environmental justice is an important concern to the agency, but his agency’s actions aren’t following through with his promise,” said Anita Desikan, a research analyst with the nonprofit advocacy organization.
She also noted EPA’s decision to cut back on enforcing key regulations for polluting industries over the summer — a move Wheeler said was necessary to help businesses take coronavirus precautions.
Wheeler defended EPA’s enforcement record during his September appearance in Michigan. When proposing regulatory rollbacks, he said, the agency has offered replacements that would protect the environment in more cost-effective ways.
Southwest Detroit has been the subject of numerous air pollution and public health studies. The 250-acre Marathon Petroleum Co. refinery reached a proposed settlement with state regulators this summer for 10 air quality violations. The area also has a coal-fired power plant, steel mills and other industrial sites.
An hour’s drive north is Flint, a majority Black city of nearly 100,000 still recovering from lead contamination of its drinking water that prompted $100 million in federal assistance for replacing service lines and other infrastructure. Karen Weaver, who was mayor at the height of the crisis, said the problem might have been avoided if governments had given due regard to environmental justice.
“It seems late to be having this conversation, but of course better late than never,” Weaver said, adding that the city could have used one of the $200,000 grants.
Landrum, the Detroit activist and a member of the Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice, said the Trump administration must do more than provide modest grants and make promises to earn credibility with environmentally degraded communities.
“Environmental racism, systemic racism, exists in Detroit and Michigan and throughout the U.S.,” Landrum said. “But people don’t want to see.”
Associated Press reporter Ellen Knickmeyer in Oklahoma City contributed to this story.
Follow John Flesher on Twitter: @johnflesher
Months of mixed messages, political pressure and public gaffes about COVID-19 have caused morale at the Centers for Disease Control to turn “toxic,” say four current and two former CDC staffers, with one saying the election could be a “tipping point” for a mass exodus if President Donald Trump wins.
“The house is not only on fire,” a veteran CDC staffer who did not want to be named for fear of retribution told NBC News. “We’re standing in ashes.”
Current and former CDC employees tell NBC News that career staffers are still struggling to influence key decisions on the pandemic as new daily COVID cases soar nationwide, but are overruled by Trump appointees when politics intrudes.
Most recently, they said, they wanted to extend the “No Sail” order for cruise ships through February. It had been set to expire four days before the Nov. 3 election. Instead, they say Vice President Pence’s office pushed for the order to expire, which stands to benefit 21,000 cruise industry workers in the swing state of Florida.
A White House official told NBC News that when the CDC proposed an extension to the “no sail” order it seemed “arbitrary” and “they provided no metrics or data as to why.”
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The U.S. Supreme Court has faced a stream of last-minute appeals over election procedures since the spring, and most of the time it has rejected calls to allow less restrictive voting measures despite the pandemic, NBC News reports.
That has generally meant that Republicans prevailed in seeking to block changes that would make it easier to vote, especially in casting mail-in ballots. Of 11 election-related cases filed as emergency appeals since April, Republican interests won in eight.
The court rejected Democratic efforts to lift an age eligibility requirement for mail ballots in Texas, or allow curbside voting and waive the witness requirement for mail ballots in Alabama, or suspend the witness requirement in South Carolina. And it put a hold on lower court orders that would have made it easier to get initiative measures on the ballot in Idaho and Oregon.
“I think a deference to the states is at work here,” said Edward Foley, an expert on election law at Moritz College of law at The Ohio State University.
Voting rights advocates and state officials are on high alert over fears that U.S. polling stations could attract the same strain of partisan violence and civil unrest that erupted on American streets this year, fueled by a deadly pandemic, outrage over police brutality and one of the most contentious elections ever.
Anti-government extremistsand other armed civilians have flocked to protests against racial injustice and COVID-19 lockdowns. Paramilitary group members are accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan’s governor before the election. President Donald Trump encouraged one far-right extremist group to “stand back and stand by” and called for an army of “poll watchers” to keep tabs on polling places.
While gun rights advocates say fears of violence at the polls are unfounded, the toxic political atmosphere and the prospect of armed poll monitors have some worried it will keep voters from the polls and affect the election.
“Just as an American, the fact that we’re having this conversation is absolutely terrifying to me,” said American University professor Kurt Braddock, who researches extremist groups. “It’s a testament to how far the extreme right has come with getting into this conversation and impacting the way that politics get done here.”
Trump has called for an army of “poll watchers” to go to the polls and “watch carefully.” Monitoring the votes at polling places is allowed in most states, but rules vary and it’s not a free-for-all. States have established rules, in part, to avoid any hint that observers will harass or intimidate voters.
Some states and groups are preparing for that possibility.
In Minnesota, two advocacy groups have sued after a Tennessee-based company placed ads seeking military veterans to provide armed security at polling places and to provide security after the election to protect businesses and residents from “looting and destruction.”
On Friday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that a team of hundreds of civilians will spread out across the city to report any instance of voter intimidation. Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner opened a hotline that rings directly to his office’s prosecutors, who will send detectives to investigate reports of voter suppression or intimidation.
In Ohio, the League of Women Voters has been recruiting and training “peacekeeper teams” of clergy and social workers to de-escalate any tensions at the polls. So far, 125 people have signed up.
“The thought is that when people see ministers with their clergy collars on, or with their stoles, people who are concerned about violence are more apt to be comforted — and the ones who might perpetrate the violence might maybe pull back little bit,” said the Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith, one of the program trainers.
In Arizona, a coalition of voting rights groups has formed to dispatch volunteers trained to combat voter intimidation and misinformation efforts. The group, Election Protection Arizona, hopes to train 200 people to deploy to polls on Election Day and 100 more to monitor social media.
“Our poll volunteers are there to ensure everyone’s right to vote is protected regardless of who they are voting for,” Muna Hijazi, the group’s organizing director, said during a call with reporters this month.
Federal and state law enforcement officials are expanding preparations for the possibility of widespread unrest at the polls. FBI and local officials in several states have been conducting drills and setting up command centers.
Only six states plus the District of Columbia expressly prohibit carrying a firearm or other deadly weapon to a polling place. Some other states ban carrying a firearm concealed but have no such restrictions on openly carrying a handgun or long gun. Federal law bans firearms at schools, so polling places at those are off limits.
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Concerns about voter intimidation are particularly pronounced in battleground states. In Michigan, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson issued a directive reminding state elections clerks that firearms cannot be openly carried at the polls.
“Fair, free and secure elections are the foundation of our democracy,” Benson said.
Authorities say they foiled a plot by members of two anti-government paramilitary groups to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat. Members of one of the groups, called the Wolverine Watchmen, are accused of planning and training for other violent crimes, such as storming the Michigan Capitol building.
Other self-styled militia groups have shown that they have no qualms about carrying their guns into public spaces, said Braddock, the American University professor.
“It’s one thing for militias to take semi-automatic rifles into the Michigan Statehouse. It’s another thing to take it into a post office where somebody is trying to vote, where there aren’t armed guards and people to protect the electorate,” he said.
During his first debate with Joe Biden, Trump refused to outright condemn the neo-fascist Proud Boys, a group known for street brawling with ideological opponents at political rallies. A day after he told Proud Boys members to“stand back and stand by,” the president tried to walk back those words and said the group’s members should “stand down, let law enforcement do their work.”
Gun rights activists say fears of violence at the polls are unfounded and stoked by a leftist agenda.
“This sounds like a lot of fear-mongering by gun haters. They are always predicting that violence is going to break out. But like Chicken Little, they are always wrong,” said Erich Pratt, senior vice president at Gun Owners of America.
False alarms, like one in Florida, may be inevitable: Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri held a press briefing on Thursday to knock down rumors of voter intimidation in the county. After a uniformed security guard stopped at an early polling site after work to pick up a relative, at least one local TV station reported it as an intimidation effort. Gualtieri said the guard wasn’t part of any campaign and didn’t engage with any voter.
Associated Press writers Julie Carr Smyth, Astrid Galvan and Claudia Lauer contributed to this report.
Republican claims that Democrats would expand the U.S. Supreme Court to undercut the conservative majority if they win the presidency and control of Congress has a familiar ring.
It’s a tactic the GOP already has employed in recent years with state supreme courts when they have controlled all levers of state political power.
Republican governors in Arizona and Georgia have signed bills passed by GOP-dominated legislatures to expand the number of seats on their states’ respective high courts. In Iowa, the Republican governor gained greater leverage over the commission that names judicial nominees.
“The arguments being advanced now by Republican leaders — that this is an affront to separation of powers, that this is a way of delegitimizing courts — those don’t seem to be holding at the state level,” said Marin Levy, a law professor at Duke University who has written about efforts to expand state high courts.
President Donald Trump and the GOP have seized on the issue in the final weeks of the presidential race, arguing that Democratic nominee Joe Biden would push a Democratic Congress to increase the number of seats on the Supreme Court and fill those with liberal justices.
Some on the left have floated the idea in the wake of Republicans’ rush to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to fill the seat of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal icon who died last month.
Biden, for his part, has said he’s not a fan of so-called “court packing,” and it’s far from certain that Democrats can win back the majority in the U.S. Senate.
Arizona’s governor, Republican Doug Ducey, said he opposes adding seats to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“We shouldn’t be changing our institutions,” he told reporters recently.
Yet Ducey signed a bill that did just that at the state level in 2016, expanding the Arizona Supreme Court from five seats to seven. As a result, Ducey has appointed more judges than any other governor in the state’s history.
Ducey said the situations are not the same because Arizona’s system for selecting judges allows him to appoint them only from a list sent to him by a commission that interviews and vets candidates.
Arizona judges also face “retention” elections, a process that is essentially a formality. No state supreme court justice has ever lost a retention election.
“It’s apples and oranges,” Ducey said, comparing the state and federal high courts. “We have a merit selection process in Arizona, and I’m not the one who selects the judges that are put in front of me.”
That same year in Georgia, then-Gov. Nathan Deal signed similar legislation expanding that state’s supreme court from seven to nine seats. Supporters said the move was needed because of the state’s growing population and economy.
But the expansion allowed Deal to leave his conservative mark on the court by appointing a majority of its justices by the time he left office.
Democrats, including then-House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, opposed the expansion. She questioned the need for adding seats without seeing the effects of other changes the Legislature made to the court’s responsibilities.
“To simultaneously increase the size of the court without really understanding the necessity, I find problematic,” Abrams, who two years later narrowly lost a bid for governor, said at the time. “There are political concerns, always, about appointments to the court and the positions that those new justices would take.”
Some of the court-packing efforts at the state level have come in response to controversial court rulings. In 2007, a Republican state senator in the majority-Republican Florida Legislature proposed and later withdrew a proposal to more than double the number of seats on the state Supreme Court after the court struck down a school voucher bill. The legislation said the court’s decision “betrays a lack of respect on the part of the majority for the separation of state powers.”
A Republican lawmaker in Iowa’s Legislature, then controlled by Democrats, proposed expanding the state’s high court in 2009 following a ruling legalizing gay marriage in the state.
Amy Coney Barrett Confirmation Coverage
That effort was unsuccessful, but conservatives in the now majority GOP Iowa Legislature last year upended the way justices are chosen for the court. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law legislation that effectively gave her a majority on the commission that names potential judges and justices.
The change had the backing of the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative group in Washington that has spent millions on ads urging Barrett’s confirmation.
“The people of Iowa want fair justice, so why do trial lawyers carry more weight than you?” the group said in a video backing the changes in Iowa.
The state-level moves are part of a broader, longer-term effort by conservatives to reshape the judiciary. Outside groups have been playing an increasing role in state judicial races in recent years. They accounted for a quarter of all spending in the 2018 state supreme court elections, and in some states outspent the candidates, according to figures compiled by the Brennan Center for Justice.
“There are just so many stories to point to from so many different states of legislators using every tool they have to give themselves and their allies an upper hand in the state’s most important courts,” said Douglas Keith, counsel at the Brennan Center.
Associated Press writer Jonathan J. Cooper contributed to this report.
When a flotilla of pontoon and fishing boats decked out with “Trump 2020” flags cruised past him this summer, Dale Fullenkamp got an idea.
“I figured I don’t have a boat, but I do have a tractor,” he said.
Soon he was leading nearly 300 combines and tractors pulling hay wagons and manure spreaders through the western Ohio village of Fort Recovery, one of many parades nationwide organized by a swell of grassroots supporters for President Donald Trump.
“I’ve never done anything like this before,” said Fullenkamp, a 19-year-old who graduated from high school just last spring. “I thought it’d be just me and my buddies.”
These Trump parades — whether by boat, pickup truck or tractor — have become a show of strength for the president’s supporters and a way to make themselves visible in a year when the coronavirus pandemic has upended traditional campaigning and put a stop to huge arena rallies and picnic fundraisers.
Thousands of cars, minivans and motorcycles on Saturday jammed the interstate circling Cincinnati and many more road rallies were held around the U.S. Another dozen are on tap for the campaign’s final week in Ohio alone.
Campaign strategists and analysts say the parades are a reflection of the president’s populist appeal, but they have varying thoughts on whether they will help his chances of winning.
Some think they’re revealing an underestimated amount of enthusiasm for the president and buoying his fans in the face of polls showing him trailing in many battleground states, while others dismiss the parades as window dressing.
“They are enthusiastic in ways I haven’t seen,” said Pennsylvania-based Republican political strategist Charles Gerow. “These are people who feel they haven’t been taking seriously, and they want to make a strong and visible statement.”
Trump campaign officials say they’ve had almost no involvement in the parades, but they gleefully point out that their Democratic opponents aren’t seeing the same groundswell when it comes to parades for Joe Biden — much like Trump himself likes to mock and contrast the size of his rallies with Biden’s socially distanced gatherings.
Campaign field offices have seen that the parades are bringing in new volunteers to help with get-out-the-vote efforts, said Daniel Lusheck, a spokesman for the Trump campaign in Ohio.
“It’s very organic in nature, but it’s really driving the enthusiasm on the ground,” he said.
Trump, too, has noticed, saying at a rally in Florida this summer that “nobody has seen anything like it, ever. And we have that in many other states with boaters and bikers and everybody.”
Parades and marches in the streets have had a place in American politics since the nation’s earliest days. Once a staple of campaigning in the 1800s, they eventually gave way to more effective ways of reaching the masses.
But campaigns big and small have been challenged to come up with anything clever this year because of the limitations imposed by the pandemic, said Brandon Scholz, a veteran GOP strategist in Wisconsin.
He thinks the parades are good for keeping Trump’s core supporters engaged but doubts they’re driving votes.
Decision 2020 Coverage
And they do get a lot of attention although it’s not always positive — like the time in September when five boats sank during a Trump rally on a lake near Austin, Texas.
David Niven, a University of Cincinnati political scientist, agreed that the parades aren’t about spreading the message as much as they are reassuring the president’s backers with “a sea of Trump flags whether they’re on the road or the river.”
“If this were a normal election year we would have stadium rallies. There’d be so many different outlets for people to express themselves,” he said. “In the world of COVID, it’s bumper stickers, tweets and boat parades.”
There’s definitely a high school pep rally feel to the Trump parades, with participants flying their colors and chanting in unison.
In eastern Tennessee, spectators in mid-October lined a 4-mile stretch of road through the town of Rutledge to cheer dozens of tractors, antique cars, motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles decorated with flags and banners celebrating the conservative cause.
“It was bigger than any Christmas parade we ever had,” said Mike Cameron, Grainger County’s GOP chairman. “And that’s the biggest thing that happens in Rutledge.”
Biden’s supporters have countered with a few car rallies of their own, but his campaign has stayed away from such events to avoid spreading the virus, running an almost entirely virtual strategy of reaching voters. The difference has been notable to Trump’s fans who are hosting and attending the parades.
“It’s really got to deject the other side,” said Blaise Greco, who organized a Trump parade near Hazleton, Pennsylvania, that drew more than 400 cars and motorcycles in early October. “Where’s their enthusiasm? Where’s their flags? Where’s their cars?”
Vice President Mike Pence plans to maintain an aggressive campaign schedule this week despite his exposure to a top aide who tested positive for the coronavirus, the White House said Saturday.
Pence himself tested negative, his office said. Under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, the vice president is considered a “close contact” of his chief of staff, Marc Short, but will not quarantine, said spokesman Devin O’Malley.
O’Malley said Pence decided to maintain his travel schedule “in consultation with the White House Medical Unit” and “in accordance with the CDC guidelines for essential personnel.” Those guidelines require that essential workers exposed to someone with the coronavirus closely monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and wear a mask whenever around other people.
One of Pence’s political advisors, Marty Obst, also tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, NBC News reported Saturday night. Although Obst often travels with the vice president on campaign stops, he hasn’t been around Pence in about a week, a source tells NBC News.
O’Malley said Pence and his wife, Karen, both tested negative on Saturday “and remain in good health.”
President Donald Trump commented on Short early Sunday after his plane landed at Joint Base Andrews, outside Washington. “I did hear about it just now,” he said. “And I think he’s quarantining. Yeah. I did hear about it. He’s going to be fine. But he’s quarantining.”
Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease expert at George Mason University, called Pence’s decision to travel “grossly negligent” regardless of the stated justification that Pence is an essential worker.
“It’s just an insult to everybody who has been working in public health and public health response,” she said. “I also find it really harmful and disrespectful to the people going to the rally” and the people on Pence’s own staff who will accompany him.
Coronavirus Pandemic Coverage
“He needs to be staying home 14 days,” she added. “Campaign events are not essential.”
After a day of campaigning in Florida on Saturday, Pence was seen wearing a mask as he returned to Washington aboard Air Force Two shortly after the news of Short’s diagnosis was made public. He is scheduled to hold a rally on Sunday afternoon in Kinston, NC.
Pence, who has headed the White House coronavirus task force since late February, has repeatedly found himself in an uncomfortable position balancing political concerns with the administration’s handling the pandemic that has killed more than 220,000 Americans. The vice president has advocated mask-wearing and social distancing, but often does not wear one himself and holds large political events where many people do not wear face-coverings.
By virtue of his position as vice president, Pence is considered an essential worker. The White House did not address how Pence’s political activities amounted to essential work.
How Coronavirus Has Grown in Each State
This chart shows the cumulative number of cases per state by number of days since the 500th case.
Source: The COVID Tracking Project
Short’s diagnosis comes weeks after the coronavirus spread through the White House, infecting the president, the first lady, and two dozen other aides, staffers and allies.
Short, Pence’s top aide and one of his closest confidants, did not travel with the vice president on Saturday.
Pence’s handling of his exposure to a confirmed positive case stands in contrast to how Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris responded when a close aide and a member of her campaign plane’s charter crew tested positive for the virus earlier this month. She took several days off the campaign trail citing her desire to act out of an abundance of caution.
White House Outbreak: Tracking Who’s Tested Positive in Trump’s Orbit
Below is a running list of who in President Donald Trump’s orbit has tested positive for COVID-19 so far and those who have not. A positive test does not indicate that the person is still positive, and a negative test does not indicate that an individual is in the clear. These results could be a false negative, which are common in people who’ve been infected with the virus during the first few days after exposure.
Source: NBC News
The one thing most likely to conjure nightmares of the 2016 election night for opponents of President Donald Trump is the Needle.
A graphic on The New York Times’ website, the Needle measured in real time the probability of victory for Trump or Hillary Clinton as votes were counted. Its steady movement triggered anxiety for Clinton supporters, who repeatedly refreshed the page, and elation for Trump fans.
There’s no sign that the Needle will be making a reappearance on Nov. 3, which would be one change in the world of election probability gurus following the unexpected 2016 result. Nate Silver’s influential FiveThirtyEight blog used a number, not a needle, for the same task four years ago but won’t on election night 2020.
Silver said the change had more to do with uncertainties created by the high volume of early voting this year than any failures in 2016.
“I just think people need to be exceptionally careful,” he said.
Silver has been a pioneer in the specialized field of statistic experts who crunch the growing number of public opinion polls to put them in a broader context. Nate Cohn of the Times and his blog The Upshot, is also a leader.
They amplified the shock of 2016 by predicting a high probability of a Clinton victory. Samuel Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium said she had a 93% chance of victory — a call that later led him to eat a cricket live on CNN as penance.
Cohn went into election night saying Clinton had an 85% chance of winning, and that served as the Needle’s baseline. The graphic was a meter, shaped like a half-clock, with outcomes that ranged from a “very likely” Clinton win to the same for Trump.
At 8:02 p.m. Eastern time on election night, the Needle pointed sharply to the left, and a “likely” Clinton win. It moved to the right as results came in. By 10 p.m., the pointer headed into the “toss-up” category and, less than two hours later, was “leaning Trump.”
You know how the story ended.
In later mea culpas, pollsters noted they weren’t far off in predicting Clinton’s advantage in the popular vote. Crucial state polls in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin had been wrong, however, and that was enough for Trump to win the Electoral College.
Silver was more cautious heading into election night; his final forecast gave Clinton a 71% chance of winning and Trump a 29% likelihood. For that, he was criticized by those who couldn’t conceive of a Trump win.
While a 29% chance may not seem like much, Silver notes that a .290 batting average is pretty decent for a Major League baseball player. That’s where the probability experts acknowledge their weakness, in communicating that a Trump victory was not impossible.
Cohn later wrote, “We failed at explaining that an 85% chance is not 100%.”
“We think people should have been better prepared for it,” Silver wrote after the election. “There was a widespread complacency about Clinton’s chances in a way that wasn’t justified by careful analysis of the data and uncertainties surrounding it.”
When the Times announced before the 2020 Democratic primaries that the Needle would return, it provoked an anxious response encapsulated in a Rolling Stone magazine headline: “ The New York Times Needle and the Damage Done.”
But that response has a lot to do with perspective. The newspaper’s readership, like the city itself, is heavily liberal.
“It performed exactly as we had hoped,” Cohn wrote in 2018, “and, frankly, if more readers and journalists were conservative, they would have seen it … as the leading indicator of a thrilling upset.”
The Times didn’t make Cohn or any other editor available for an interview, so the Needle’s fate is shrouded in some mystery. Times media writer Ben Smith quoted a top editor in August as saying the paper was looking at a “range of tools” as alternatives to what Smith described as “the single, predictive needle that offered readers false confidence in 2016.”
The probability experts aren’t shying away from predictions this year. Silver’s site said Saturday its computers had simulated the election 40,000 times, and Democrat Joe Biden won in 87% of them.
The Upshot said Biden would win 357 electoral votes if the polls through Saturday were correct, while Princeton put him at 358 electoral votes — both enough for a comfortable victory.
FiveThirtyEight has consciously given its election forecast a less prominent spot on the website this year, Silver said. That’s not to signal a lack of confidence, but is being done to make it harder for followers to obsess over it.
The election night probability estimate is being replaced by an interactive tool that will allow readers to click and see what it does for the final result if individual states go one way or another.
Wang’s Princeton site has an intriguing “Moneyball” feature that calculates where a person’s vote has the greatest value, based on a state’s population and the closeness of the polls. Currently, he puts voters in Nevada, Arizona and Maine’s 2nd Congressional District at the top.
“Looking back on polling errors is missing the point this year,” Wang said. “The point this year is whether we’re going to have orderly and fair elections.”
Silver said the average person probably had too much confidence in the polls in 2016 and now it has shifted in the other direction. They may be going out of their way to take seriously the chances Trump can win.
“I can’t control what people think,” he said. “I can only control that we’re doing the best work that we possibly can.”
This story has been corrected to show that comments about alternatives to the Needle were in an August column, not a blog post last week, and that Times editors have stopped short of confirming the Needle will not return for the election.
President Donald Trump said he voted Saturday “for a guy named Trump” and called it an “honor” to cast his own ballot in his adopted home state of Florida before he jetted off to campaign in three battleground states, where large crowds awaited even as coronavirus cases are surging to records in the country.
Democrat Joe Biden, pressing the case that Trump doesn’t deserve a second term because of his handling of the pandemic, told a drive-in rally outside Philadelphia that he didn’t “like the idea of all this distance but it’s necessary” for public health reasons.
”We don’t want to become superspreaders,” he said, using a term that has been used to described a Rose Garden event in late September where Trump announced his Supreme Court nominee. More than two dozen people linked to the White House have contracted COVID-19 since that gathering.
Biden, with some help from rock legend Jon Bon Jovi, was courting voters in hotly contested pockets of Pennsylvania that could prove key to deciding the outcome of the race in the state.
Trump, who spent the night at his Mar-a-Lago resort after campaigning Friday in Florida, stopped at an early voting polling site set up at a public library. The president last year switched his official residence from New York to his private Florida club, complaining that New York politicians had treated him badly.
Greeted at the polling site by a crowd of cheering supporters, Trump could have mailed in his ballot, but opted to vote in person. He wore a mask inside, following local rules in place to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
Biden hasn’t voted and is likely do so in person on Election Day, Nov. 3., as Delaware doesn’t offer early voting. Trump, who has made unsubstantiated claims of massive fraud about mail-in voting, gave another plug to in-person voting.
“When you send in your ballot it could never be like that. It could never be secure like that,” said Trump before leaving for his campaign stops.
Rallies were planned for Lumberton, North Carolina, Circleville, Ohio, and Waukesha, Wisconsin, and the president promises to go full throttle over the final 10 days of the campaign even as the number of new daily coronavirus cases continues to climb.
The United States has hit a daily record of coronavirus cases with more than 83,000 reported infections, thousands more than the previous U.S. peak in July. The U.S. death toll has grown to nearly 224,00, according to the tally published by Johns Hopkins University. The total U.S. caseload reported Friday was 83,757, topping the 77,362 cases reported on July 16.
The numbers are an ominous sign the disease still has a firm grip on the nation that has more confirmed virus-related deaths and infections than any other in the world. Many states are reporting a surge of cases and say hospitals are running out of space in areas where the pandemic seemed remote only months ago.
Biden’s first stop was in Bucks County, part of suburban Philadelphia that Hillary Clinton won by a slim margin in the 2016 White House race. He was scheduled to host another rally later Saturday in Luzerne County, a blue-collar area that twice voted for Barack Obama but went overwhelmingly for Trump four years ago. Biden’s campaign said the former vice president will be joined by Bon Jovi, a native of neighboring New Jersey, who will sing at the Luzerne event.
In the Nov. 3 election more than 54 million votes have already been cast, with an additional 100 million or so expected before a winner is declared.
The pandemic has pushed Trump onto the defensive for much of the fall, but for the moment it is Biden’s team that has been forced to explain itself. In the final minutes of Thursday night’s debate, the former vice president said he supports a “transition” away from oil in the U.S. in favor of renewable energy. The campaign released a statement hours later declaring that he would phase out taxpayer subsidies for fossil fuel companies, not the industry altogether.
But Trump, campaigning in Florida, repeatedly seized on the issue.
“That could be one of the biggest mistakes made in presidential debate history,” he gloated at a rally at The Villages, a sprawling retirement community in central Florida, where thousands of people gathered outdoors on a polo field. Most did not wear masks.
While Florida is still logging thousands of new COVID-19 cases daily, audience members stood and sat shoulder-to-shoulder and Make America Great Again hats far outnumbered face coverings. In-person voting in the state began Monday.
As part of his damage control, Biden dispatched running mate Kamala Harris to help clarify his position as she campaigned in swing state Georgia on Friday. He also sought to clarify his position during remarks during in Bucks County.
“Let me be clear, I’m not banning fracking in PA or anywhere else,” Biden said.
As for Biden and oil, while ending the nation’s reliance on fossil fuel is popular among many liberals, the idea could hurt him among working-class voters in swing states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas who depend on the industry, and fracking in particular, to make a living.
Trump’s allies immediately began running new attack ads seizing on the Democrats’ inconsistent answers on energy.
As part of his plan to fight climate change, Biden has said he would ban new gas and oil permits — including fracking — on federal lands only. The vast majority of oil and gas does not come from federal lands.
Decision 2020 Coverage
Weissert reported from Bristol, Pennsylvania, and Madhani from Washington.
Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett won crucial backing Saturday when one of the last Republican holdouts against filling the seat during an election season announced support for President Donald Trump’s pick ahead of a confirmation vote expected Monday.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, declared her support during a rare weekend Senate session as Republicans race to confirm Barrett before Election Day. Senators are set Sunday to push ahead, despite Democratic objections that the winner of the White House on Nov. 3 should make the choice to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Barrett’s nominationalready appeared to have enough votes for confirmation from Senate Republicans who hold the majority in the chamber. But Murkowski’s nod gives her a boost of support. Only one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, is now expected to vote against the conservative judge.
“While I oppose the process that has led us to this point, I do not hold it against her,” Murkowski said.
The fast-track confirmation process is like none other in U.S. history so close to a presidential election. Calling it a “sham,” Democrats mounted procedural hurdles to slow it down. But the minority party has no realistic chance of stopping Barrett’s confirmation, which is set to lock a 6-3 conservative court majority for years to come.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., noted the political rancor, but defended his handling of the process.
“Our recent debates have been heated, but curiously talk of Judge Barrett’s actual credentials or qualifications are hardly featured,” McConnell said. He called her one of the most “impressive” nominees for public office “in a generation.”
Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York warned Republicans the only way to remove the “stain” of their action would be to “withdraw the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett until after the election.”
With the nation experiencing a surge of COVID-19cases, Democrats made several unsuccessful attempts to force the Senate to set aside the judicial fight Saturday and instead consider coronavirus relief legislation, including the House-passed Heroes Act that would pump money into schools, hospitals and jobless benefits and provide other aid.
Majority Republicans turned aside those efforts and kept Barrett’s confirmation on track.
Barrett, 48, presented herself in public testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee as a neutral arbiter of cases on abortion, the Affordable Care Act and presidential power — issues soon confronting the court. At one point she suggested, “It’s not the law of Amy.”
But Barrett’s past writings against abortion and a ruling on the Obama-era health care law show a deeply conservative thinker.
Trump said this week he is hopeful the Supreme Court will undo the health law when the justices take up a challenge Nov. 10.
At the start of Trump’s presidency, McConnell engineered a Senate rules change to allow confirmation by a majority of the 100 senators, rather than the 60-vote threshold traditionally needed to advance high court nominees over objections. With a 53-47 GOP majority, Barrett’s confirmation is almost certain.
Murkowksi noted said she doesn’t believe moving forward a week before “a pitched presidential election — when partisan tensions are running about as high as they could — I don’t think this will help our country become a better version of itself.”
But she said, ”I’ve lost that procedural fight.” She said she will vote against the procedural steps in the days ahead, but ultimately join Republicans in confirming Barrett.
Collins, who faces a tight reelection in Maine, is now the only Republican who has said she won’t vote for the nominee so close to the election.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, acknowledged the partisan nature of the proceedings, but said he could not live with himself if the Senate failed to confirm someone he said was such an exceptional nominee. Graham, R-S.C., called Barrett a “role model” for conservative women and for people strongly held religious beliefs.
By pushing for Barrett’s ascension so close to the Nov. 3 election, Trump and his Republican allies are counting on a campaign boost, in much the way they believe McConnell’s refusal to allow the Senate to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee in February 2016 created excitement for Trump among conservatives and evangelical Christians eager for the Republican president to make that nomination after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.
Barrett was a professor at Notre Dame Law School when she was tapped by Trump in 2017 for an appeals court opening. Two Democrats joined at that time to confirm her, but none is expected to vote for her in the days ahead.
Associated Press writer Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina, and Becky Bohrer in Juneau, Alaska contributed to this report.
While much of Washington is twisted in knots over the upcoming election, there’s another contingent already busy trying to figure out how to stage an inauguration for the to-be-determined next president during a pandemic.
Visitors to the U.S. Capitol and the White House can already see preparations underway for the Jan. 20 ceremony, a date set by the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, for whoever emerges as the winner. And low-flying helicopters are swooping around town as part of beefed-up security precautions.
Construction work is taking place with the mindset that it is easier to scale down, if the coronavirus makes that necessary, than to scale up, said Paige Waltz, a spokesperson for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
The committee has voted to hold the inaugural ceremonies on the West Front of the Capitol, a tradition that began under Ronald Reagan. The Architect of the Capitol is busy constructing the inaugural platform from scratch. The platform traditionally holds more than 1,600 people, including the president and vice president, members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, and the outgoing president and vice president. Bleachers above the platform hold 1,000 additional people. The view from the West Front stretches the length of the National Mall, where Americans from around the country gather to catch a glimpse of history.
But in recognition that life has changed as a result of COVID-19, lawmakers are leaving all options on the table when it comes to safety precautions that could be taken. Will attendees be required to wear a mask? Or have their temperatures taken? Or social distance to the extent possible? Such precautions are being discussed, though no final determinations have been made with the ceremony still about three months away.
Waltz said the six-member committee overseeing the inaugural ceremonies is “committed to traditional, inclusive, and safe ceremonies and will continue to monitor the situation and provide information as it comes available.”
After the ceremony, the president and vice president will attend a luncheon in National Statuary Hall that includes speeches, gifts and toasts. The format used today began in 1953 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his wife and 50 other guests of the joint committee dined on creamed chicken, baked ham and potato puffs in the Old Senate Chamber.
Then it’s on to the parade and inaugural balls. A Presidential Inaugural Committee, a nonprofit representing the president-elect, will be organized following the Nov. 3 election. The committee oversees inaugural events held away from the U.S. Capitol.
In the meantime, the National Park Service is preparing for the construction of the reviewing and media stands used by the president-elect, his staff and family for the Presidential Inaugural Parade. It has closed a portion of Lafayette Park and the White House sidewalk to allow construction to begin.
The Nuclear Security Administration, part of the Energy Department, has begun conducting low-altitude helicopter flights around the capital during the daytime. The department said the aircraft contain state-of-the art radiation-sensing technology, and the flights are part of standard preparations to protect public safety.
For the Washington, D.C., metro area, the inauguration has traditionally provided an economic boost as visitors fill local hotels and restaurants. The 2021 inauguration comes at a difficult time for the district. Visitor spending was down 80%, or $6.9 billion, from March 8 to October 10, compared to the same period last year, according to Tourism Economics. That translated to $313 million in lost tax revenue for the District of Columbia.
Many of the region’s restaurants are shuttered, while hotel room demand was down nearly 5 million rooms, or 83%, from the same time period in 2019, according to STR Inc., which tracks the hotel industry.
“Traditionally, a second-term inauguration is not as big as the first, and if we have a new president taking office, numbers are typically larger,” said Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC, the district’s marketing organization. “However, visitation to Washington, D.C., during inauguration will depend on what people are able to do in the city based on COVID-19’s impact this winter, which remains to be seen.”
President Donald Trump and his allies fought for support in pivotal battleground states Friday after a debate performance that gave new hope to anxious Republicans. Democrat Joe Biden, campaigning close to home, tried to clean up a debate misstep while urging voters to stay focused on the president’s inability to control the worsening pandemic.
The surge of activity with just 11 days remaining in the 2020 contest highlighted the candidates’ divergent strategies, styles and policy prescriptions that are shaping the campaign’s closing days. More than 52 million votes have already been cast, with an additional 100 million or so expected before a winner is declared.
The coronavirus pandemic has pushed Trump onto the defensive for much of the fall, but for the moment it is Biden’s team that has been forced to explain itself. In the final minutes of Thursday night’s debate, the former vice president said he supports a “transition” away from oil in the U.S. in favor of renewable energy. The campaign released a statement hours later declaring that he would phase out taxpayer subsidies for fossil fuel companies, not the industry altogether.
But Trump, campaigning in Florida, repeatedly seized on the issue.
“That could be one of the biggest mistakes made in presidential debate history,” he gloated at a rally at The Villages, a sprawling retirement community in Florida, where thousands of people gathered outdoors on a polo field. Most did not wear masks.
Later, in Pensacola, Trump recounted the moment with glee.
“It looked like he made it, it looked like it was going to be OK. He got off the stage, going back to his basement, and then they hit him with the energy question. They hit him with a thing called oil,” he told a sprawling crowd that appeared to be one of the largest of his campaign to date.
While Florida is still logging thousands of new COVID-19 cases daily, audience members stood and sat shoulder-to-shoulder and Make America Great Again hats far outnumbered face coverings. In-person voting in the state began Monday.
As part of his damage control, Biden dispatched running mate Kamala Harris to help clarify his position as she campaigned in swing state Georgia.
“Let’s be really clear about this: Joe Biden is not going to ban fracking,” Harris said, referring to a technique that uses pressurized liquid to extract oil or natural gas. “He is going to deal with the oil subsidies. You know, the president likes to take everything out of context. But let’s be clear, what Joe was talking about was banning subsidies, but he will not ban fracking in America.”
As he campaigned in The Villages, Trump fired an insult at Harris that pointed to her gender, quickly stirring criticism.
“Kamala will not be your first female president,” Trump declared. “Look, we’re not going to be a socialist nation. We’re not going to have a socialist president, especially any female socialist president.”
As for Biden and oil, while ending the nation’s reliance on fossil fuel is popular among many liberals, the idea could hurt him among working-class voters in swing states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas who depend on the industry, and fracking in particular, to make a living.
Trump’s allies immediately began running new attack ads seizing on the Democrats’ inconsistent answers on energy. And Trump played a video at his Pensacola rally that included past comments from Biden and Harris about fracking, which Harris supported banning during her primary campaign.
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As part of his plan to fight climate change, Biden has said he would ban new gas and oil permits — including fracking — on federal lands only. The vast majority of oil and gas does not come from federal lands.
With 29 Electoral College votes, Florida is widely seen as a must-win state for Trump if he wants to win a second term in the White House. While polling here in early October showed Biden with a slight advantage, a more recent poll has the two candidates neck and neck.
Trump told rallygoers he planned to vote while in Florida on Saturday. “Eleven days from now, we are going to win my home state of Florida,” he said.
Trump’s fate in the state is closely tied to his handling of the pandemic, especially among older voters, whose support for him has faded. He and his campaign have spent the last weeks trying to win them back, including Friday, when Trump pledged to protect Social Security and tried to paint Biden in hyperbolic terms.
A Biden election, Trump claimed at one point, “would mean that America’s seniors have no air conditioning during the summer, no heat during the winter and no electricity during peak hours.” Biden has not endorsed anything of the sort.
The pandemic was a major focus of Thursday’s debate and it was the sole focus of Biden’s only public appearance Friday close to his home in Delaware, which is hardly a swing state.
During the debate, Trump rosily predicted that the pandemic, which is escalating in several states, will “go away.” Biden countered that the nation was headed toward “a dark winter.” The former vice president reiterated that theme Friday in Wilmington as he outlined his plans.
Biden vowed to work with Congress to enact a new economic relief package for hard-pressed individuals, businesses and states by the end of January after seeking input from Republican and Democratic governors. He also promised to encourage state leaders to implement mask mandates. Should they refuse, Biden said he would lean on municipal leaders to require universal mask wearing in their communities.
“We’re more than eight months into this crisis, the president still doesn’t have a plan. He’s given up,” Biden charged. “I’m not going to shut down the country. I’m going to shut down the virus.”
Though U.S. cases are soaring and deaths are nearing 224,000, Trump insisted that Biden was being too pessimistic.
“We’re not entering a dark winter,” he insisted. “We’re entering the final turn and approaching the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s how I look at it.”
In fact, infections, hospitalizations and deaths are on the rise across the United States.
The seven-day rolling average for daily new cases in the U.S. rose over the past two weeks from 44,647 on Oct. 8 to 61,141.9 on Oct. 22, and the rolling average for daily new deaths rose over the same period from 710.3 to 762.9, according to data through Thursday from Johns Hopkins University.
Even in the closing days of the race, Biden has maintained a cautious campaign schedule, citing the pandemic, while Trump has been a much more aggressive traveler. And he said he would be campaigning nonstop until Election Day, with as many as five or six rallies in the race’s final day.
Weissert reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writers Kevin Freking and Zeke Miller in Washington and Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed.
The Trump campaign and Nevada Republicans asked a state judge on Friday to stop the count of Las Vegas-area mail-in ballots, alleging that “meaningful observation” of signature-checking is impossible in the state’s biggest and most Democratic-leaning county.
A lawsuit filed in state court less than two weeks before the Nov. 3 election complains that observers haven’t been allowed close enough to workers and machines at the busy vote-counting center to see whether ballots that get second- and third-step validation should be rejected.
Judge James Wilson in Carson City declined to issue an immediate order to stop the count, but scheduled a hearing next Wednesday on the request.
The battle is the latest among court skirmishes across the U.S. amid President Donald Trump’s doubts about issues including voter registration, voter rolls and mail-in ballot deadlines prompted by the pandemic.
“There has been great concern whether the rolls are clean and properly registered voters are the ones receiving ballots, signing them and mailing them back,” Trump for President Nevada co-chairman Adam Laxalt said. “All we want is to be part of the signature verification process and the ability to challenge a mail-in signature.”
Laxalt invoked memories of the legal battle over the 2000 presidential election, which was ultimately decided in mid-December by the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore.
But vote-by-mail “was not really an issue until someone started tweeting about it in a presidential year,” said Amber McReynolds, head of the nonprofit National Vote At Home Institute, which advocates expanded mail balloting.
Trump has repeatedly taken to Twitter to sow doubt about widespread use of mailed ballots, suggesting that it encourages fraud.
“It seems to me that Clark County is not doing anything different from counties in other states,” said McReynolds, a former elections chief in Denver. She said the Las Vegas area is among many now using computers with software to compare signatures before turning ballots with verification questions over to humans.
“Vote-by-mail has been expanded in red and blue states alike without issues,” McReynolds said, including Florida, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Nebraska, Montana, Kentucky, Oregon, California, Georgia, and her home state, Colorado.
The lawsuit alleges Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria failed to get proper approval in April from Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske for his plan to accommodate observers. It seeks a court order to “prohibit … processing and counting ballots until the proper procedures are in place.”
It also complains that a GOP offer to install video monitoring equipment at the Clark County election headquarters was rejected.
Laxalt, a former Nevada attorney general, said in an interview that it appeared that not enough ballots were being rejected.
“It’s hard to believe there’s only a 1% rejection rate,” Laxalt said, citing state election data showing that more than 98% of the 190,000 mailed ballots received to date in Clark County had been accepted as valid. He noted that once a signature is verified, no campaign can challenge that vote.
In 2016, Nevada counties reported that 1.6% of absentee ballots returned were rejected, according to data collected by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Nationally, about 1% of absentee ballots cast were rejected that year.
State Democrats called the lawsuit a “plain and simple” effort to suppress votes in the state’s most diverse county. The U.S. Census puts the Clark County population at more than 31% Hispanic, 13% Black and about 10% Asian American.
In a statement, the party referred to a lawsuit dismissed by a federal judge in September that sought to block a state law enacted under pandemic emergency measures to allow mail-in ballots to be sent to every active registered voter in Nevada. The Legislature, controlled by Democrats, passed the law along party-lines. The Democratic governor signed it in August.
The federal judge in Las Vegas said Republicans and the Trump campaign failed to show how they would be harmed by the law. The ruling was not appealed.
“Throughout this election, Trump and Republicans have resorted to baseless attacks to undermine confidence in Nevada’s election integrity,” the Democratic Party statement said.
Las Vegas-area voter and volunteer count-watcher Fred Kraus is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, which was filed in Nevada’s capital city because the Republican secretary of state is a defendant.
A Cegavske spokeswoman, Jennifer Russell, said she couldn’t comment on an active lawsuit.
Clark County has more than 70% of the nearly 1.75 million active voters in the state. Registered Democrats number more than 504,000, compared with about 351,000 Republicans and 300,000 with no party affiliation.
County registrar Gloria said in an interview before the lawsuit was filed that Las Vegas-area vote processing is safe, fair and nonpartisan, and that observers were being accommodated even amid social distancing rules.
Allowing a party to install and control cameras and keep recordings to itself would be inappropriate, he said, and would violate state law prohibiting public photos or videos at the counting center.
Gloria added that changing operations now would be challenging. Early voting in Nevada began Oct. 17.
Ballots are rejected during every election, even under the best of circumstances, and authorities nationally say problems could be compounded this year as millions of voters cast mail-in ballots for the first time because of election changes forced by the coronavirus.
Some ballots typically go uncounted because they arrive too late in the mail, voters forget to sign them or signatures don’t match the one on file at local election offices.
Large numbers of uncounted ballots could be used to cast doubts about the election.
This story has been corrected to show that the Secretary of State is a defendant, not a plaintiff.
AP reporters Sam Metz in Carson City and Christina Cassidy in Atlanta contributed to this report. Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative, a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues.
President Donald Trump announced Friday that Sudan will start to normalize ties with Israel, making it the third Arab state to do so as part of U.S.-brokered deals in the run-up to Election Day.
The announcement came after the North African nation agreed to put $335 million in an escrow account to be used to compensate American victims of terror attacks. The attacks include the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania by the al-Qaida network while its leader, Osama bin Laden, was living in Sudan. In exchange, Trump notified Congress on Friday of his intent to remove Sudan from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
It was foreign policy achievement for Trump just 11 days before Election Day. Previously, the Trump administration engineered diplomatic pacts between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — the first since Jordan recognized Israel in the 1990s and Egypt in the 1970s.
Trump said at least five other countries want to come into the deal, which is collectively called the Abraham Accords.
The new recognitions of Israel unify Arab nations around their common enemy, Iran. They also upend the traditional Arab strategy of refusing to normalize relations with Israel before an independent Palestinian state is created.
The Palestinians say the recognitions amount to betrayal.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned and rejected the agreement, saying a lasting peace in the region depends on ending the Israeli occupation and creating a Palestinian state. Wasel Abu Yousef, a senior Palestinian official, called the agreement a “stab in the back” of the Palestinian people and their cause. The Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, also condemned the agreement.
Israel said the recognitions signal that the Palestinians have lost their “veto” over regional peace efforts.
Trump invited reporters to the Oval Office while still on the phone with Israeli and Sudanese leaders. Trump said Sudan had demonstrated its commitment in battling terrorism.
“This is one of the great days in the history of Sudan,” Trump said, adding that Israel and Sudan have been in a state of hostilities for decades, even if they had not been in direct conflict.
In a statement released in Jerusalem, Netanyahu noted that in 1967, Khartoum hosted a conference where the Arab League called for no recognition, negotiations or peace with Israel.
“Today, Khartoum is saying yes to peace with Israel, yes to recognition of Israel and yes to normalization with Israel,” Netanyahu said. “This is a new era, an era of true peace — peace that is proceeding and widening with additional Arab countries. Three in the last few weeks.”
He said Israeli and Sudanese teams will meet soon to discuss cooperation in agriculture, trade and other areas. Sudan also is opening its skies to Israeli flights, which will shorten trips to Africa and South America, he said.
In a separate but related development, Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced that Israel had consented to American sales of “advanced weapons” to the UAE. The arms sales was part of the deal the U.S. earlier brokered between the Israel and UAE.
Gantz and Netanyahu said Defense Secretary Mark Esper has assured Israel that the U.S. would maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge. Israel is currently the only country in the Mideast to possess the cutting-edge fighter jets. Gantz’ office refused to identify the weapons, but Trump has said that the UAE is interested in buying F35 warplanes.
The removal of the terror designation opens the door for Sudan’s fragile transitional government to get international loans and aid needed to revive its battered economy and rescue the country’s transition to democracy. A senior U.S. official said Sudan had borrowed the money needed to set up the escrow account for terror victims.
Sudan is on a fragile path to democracy after a popular uprising last year led the military to overthrow the longtime autocrat, Omar al-Bashir. Thousands have protested in the country’s capital Khartoum and other regions in recent days over dire economic conditions.
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok thanked Trump for signing the executive order to remove Sudan from the terrorism list and said in a statement that he hoped to complete the deal in a “timely manner.”
Unmentioned in the joint statement was that Sudan has agreed, according to the senior U.S. official, to designate Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement as a terrorist organization, something that Israel has long sought from its neighbors and others in the international community.
Not everyone in Sudan, however, appears happy with recognizing Israel. Some Islamist politicians, sidelined after the ouster of autocrat Omar al-Bashir, said they expect to receive renewed public support.
“I expect anger. I expect demonstrations,” said Mohammed El Hassan, one of the leaders of al-Bashir’s disbanded National Congress Party. “As Muslims, we stand with the Palestinians. It is not the transitional government’s role to take this kind of decision.”
But others say that normalization is worth the price for Sudan to come off the U.S. terrorism list.
“Because of the economy, Sudanese don’t see this as normalization with Israel but normalization with the international community,” said Osman Mirgany, a prominent Sudanese columnist and editor of the daily al-Tayar. “After years of isolation, we want normal relations.”
The normalization agreement had been in the works for some time but was finalized when Trump’s Mideast peace team, led by Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner and Avi Berkowitz, assistant to the president and special representative for international negotiations, visited the region to mark the first commercial flight between Israel and Bahrain and then went on to the United Arab Emirates, according to U.S. officials.
The officials were not authorized to discuss the announcement and spoke only on condition of anonymity.
Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire in Washington, Josef Federman in Jerusalem and Isabel DeBre in Dubai contributed to this report.
President Donald Trump’s and Democratic rival Joe Biden’s campaigns are assembling armies of powerful lawyers for the possibility that the race for the White House is decided not at the ballot box but in court.
They have been engaging in a lawyer’s version of tabletop war games, churning out draft pleadings, briefs and memos to cover scenarios that read like the stuff of a law school hypothetical more than a real-life case in a democracy.
Attorneys for the Republicans and the Democrats are already clashing in courts across the U.S. over mailed-in ballot deadlines and other issues brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. And as Trump tries to sow doubt in the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 election, both sides have built massive legal operations readying for a bitterly disputed race that lands at the Supreme Court
“We’ve been preparing for this for well over a year,” Republican National Committee Chief Counsel Justin Riemer told The Associated Press. “We’ve been working with the campaign on our strategy for recount preparation, for Election Day operations and our litigation strategy.”
On the Democratic side, the Biden campaign’s election protection program includes a special national litigation team involving hundreds of lawyers led by Walter Dellinger, acting solicitor general in the Clinton administration, and Donald Verrilli, a solicitor general under President Barack Obama, among others. Bob Bauer, a former White House counsel to Obama, and Biden campaign general counsel Dana Remus are focused on protecting the rights of voters, who have been enduring long lines at polling places around the country on the belief that the presidential election will be decided by their ballots.
Both sides are informed by the experience of the 2000 election, which was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore. But this year, because Trump has pushed unsubstantiated claims about the potential for voter fraud with increased voting by mail, sowing doubt about the integrity of the result, lawyers are preparing for a return trip before the high court.
And, in an extraordinary twist, the president has pushed for his nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, to be seated as soon as possible if she is confirmed as expected on Monday, saying it’s important to have a ninth justice to decide any election disputes.
The race is already thought to be the most litigated in American history, with some 260 lawsuits arising from the coronavirus by one tally.
Behind the scenes, Trump and Republicans have been putting together a legal team that includes Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s lead attorneys during the impeachment trial and the special counsel’s Russia investigation and an experienced litigator before the Supreme Court. Republicans have hired dozens of attorneys and retained prominent national firms to challenge Democratic efforts to expand ballot access in key battleground states.
Thousands of volunteer lawyers are prepared to assist with Election Day operations and poll watching and other issues, Riemer said. A group called Lawyers for Trump, whose advisory board includes Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, is recruiting retired lawyers and law students. Jones Day is among the prominent global law firms expected to play a role. Attorney Will Consovoy, who has represented Trump in such cases as his long-running fight to prevent a top New York prosecutor from getting his tax returns, is also likely to be a key player in any election legal fights.
Riemer said it’s not as though the party is going to call up a random attorney on Election Day and say, “Hey, are you busy? Do you want to litigate a recount?”
That’s close to what happened in 2000. Barry Richard, who represented Bush in the 2000 Florida recount, got a call the morning after the election asking if he could help and had to scramble to quickly pull a team together, he said.
“Things were much different then. We had no history of candidates lawyering up for presidential elections, so everything hit the fan the night of election night,” Richard said.
Another team that’s fighting voter access issues in courts across the country is headed by well-known election lawyer Marc Elias of the law firm Perkins Coie, who is prominent in Democratic circles and has become a bête noire of Republicans.
“When Democrats want to tilt elections in their favor outside the ballot box, who do they call? Marc Elias and Perkins Coie,” an RNC website says.
Republicans accuse Elias and Democrats of trying to use the coronavirus pandemic to rig the election by doing away with safeguards against fraud.
Elias and his team at have filed lawsuits seeking to force states to extend mailed-in ballot collection deadlines and other things. In one case, the Supreme Court this week allowed Pennsylvania to count mailed-in ballots received up to three days after the Nov. 3 election, rejecting a Republican bid to block the extension.
Elias has long been the public face of Democratic legal contests, serving as general counsel to Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016 and John Kerry’s in 2004. He pushes regular updates about developments in his lawsuits to nearly 150,000 followers on Twitter, as well as guidance for voting and the occasional jibe at the president and his Republican counterparts.
“Being called a ‘partisan hack’ by a lawyer for Donald Trump is a badge of honor I will wear proudly for a lifetime,” he wrote in a tweet this week.
But lawyers on both sides say they are preparing to be ready for much more than a fight on Twitter.
Richer reported from Boston.
AP’s Advance Voting guide brings you the facts about voting early, by mail or absentee from each state: https://interactives.ap.org/advance-voting-2020/.
With long waits making headlines during early voting across the country, professional sports venues have emerged as bright spots, repurposing huge spaces mostly devoid of fans into efficient and relatively safe polling places.
Featuring rows and rows of voting machines, ample space for social distancing and staff accustomed to large crowds, these mega voting sites are proving attractive to voters looking for the best way to cast their ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“This was an amazing, fantastic experience,” Jen Cox said after voting at State Farm Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks. Other voters leaving the arena and posting on social media shared that sentiment.
The Hawks were the first NBA team to commit their arena for early voting. They contacted Fulton County officials in June after long lines plagued the state’s primary election and protests over the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis roiled the streets around the arena.
“In my mind, protests are great, but protests leading to action, leading to solutions and change is better,” Hawks CEO Steve Koonin said.
Since then, 20 more NBA teams signed on to host voting or other election-related activities — including voter registration and poll worker training — in their arenas or practice facilities. Some of those commitments came after NBA players protesting racial injustice and police brutality halted the playoffs for three days in August, and the league agreed to a plan that includes encouraging voting this fall.
In a normal year, the NBA’s regular season would be starting right about now. But the coronavirus outbreak that has altered voting procedures during the presidential election also has delayed the season and left arenas sitting empty. Opening them to voters seemed a natural fit.
“We’re going to have thousands every day between now and Election Day voting in NBA arenas,” said Kathy Behrens, the league’s social responsibility and player programs president. “It feels good to be able to play such a vital role during this pandemic so people can vote safely and easily.”
The NFL, NHL and MLB also are getting involved. Half the NFL’s 32 teams are making their facilities available following offseason conversations commissioner Roger Goodell had with players about ways to leverage the league’s power against social injustice.
Vivek Ranadivé, owner of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, was instrumental in a “Rally the Vote” effort bringing together dozens of professional sports teams to encourage participation. Voters will be able to register and cast ballots at the Kings’ Golden 1 Center, blocks from California’s Capitol, starting 11 days before the Nov. 3 election.
“I wanted to make voting as easy as ordering an Uber,” he said.
After waiting five hours “in the heat and then the rain” to vote in Georgia’s primary in June, Cox decided to vote early in the general election. Lines at polling places near her home in suburban Roswell were consistently long, so she drove 20 miles south to downtown Atlanta.
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“I had heard great things about the way the Atlanta Hawks staff was running the arena, and it was by far the easiest and safest and best way I’ve voted since the pandemic began,” she said.
There are 30 early voting locations scattered around Fulton County, which stretches 70 miles north to south. But with 60 check-in stations and 300 voting machines, the arena may be the best option for many, county elections director Rick Barron told reporters.
“Voters will probably save time by going to State Farm, driving from wherever they are,” he said, while noting there is a transit station right next to the arena.
A glitch with the electronic pollbooks used to activate the cards that go into the voting machines caused a backup at the arena the day it opened, but it was cleared quickly and nearly 3,000 people voted there that day, Barron said.
Voters in Dallas have enthusiastically embraced the arena experience.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban retweeted a message that said the American Airlines Center was “the coolest polling place I’ve ever voted in.” Cuban added that there are 60 polling stations set up inside.
The next day, he tweeted a photo of voting machines in the arena’s concourse, calling it “Democracy in action.”
In Detroit, the training facility for the NBA’s Pistons and Ford Field, where the NFL’s Lions play, will provide socially distant spaces for receiving boards to double check ballots after they are counted at precincts. Pistons Vice Chairman Arn Tellem said helping with this year’s election is important because the only way to bring about change is to vote.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, whose district includes parts of Detroit, said it’s appropriate for taxpayer-funded sports facilities to play this role.
“We did subsidize the building, so of course they should be using them for public good,” Tlaib said.
Florida has early voting at venues used by the NBA’s Orlando Magic, the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning and the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
When he went to vote on Monday, Anton Versch, 30, said he was surprised to see Magic coach Steve Clifford assisting poll workers inside the Amway Center. There were no lines and voters were in and out quickly.
“I felt like I was a player. I just had to make the right decisions,” Versch said.
Not every team request was approved. Miami-Dade County rejected an offer from the Miami Heat, saying they wanted only sites that can be used in the future and, in most years, the NBA and early voting seasons overlap.
In Milwaukee, election officials scrapped plans to use the Bucks basketball and Brewers baseball stadiums as early voting locations, citing concerns about legal challenges, since they would have been designated later than required by state law.
The pandemic has created a new need for socially distanced voting locations, as well as a unique opportunity with venues idled after games and other events were canceled. But Behrens said the NBA plans to continue promoting voting once it’s over.
“We don’t think there’s anything more American than encouraging people to participate in the process,” she said.
Lage reported from Detroit. Associated Press writers Janie McCauley in San Francisco; Mike Schneider in Orlando, Florida; and Terry Spencer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, contributed to this report.
From tribal lands in Arizona and New Mexico to storm-battered Louisiana, census workers who go door to door were unable to reach all the households they needed for a complete tally of the U.S. population, a count that ended abruptly last week after a Supreme Court ruling.
Community activists, statisticians and civil rights groups say racial and ethnic minorities are historically undercounted, and shortcomings in the 2020 census could set the course of life in their communities for years to come.
The count determines the number of congressional seats each state gets, where roads and bridges are built, how schools and health care facilities are funded, and how $1.5 trillion in federal resources are allocated annually.
“An undercount in our community means schools are overcrowded, hospitals are overcrowded, roads are congested,” said John Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
The census ended last week after the Supreme Court sided with President Donald Trump’s administration and suspended a lower court order allowing the head count to continue through Oct. 31.
The U.S. Census Bureau says that overall, it reached more than 99.9% of the nation’s households, but in a nation of 330 million people, the remaining .1% represents hundreds of thousands of uncounted residents. And in small cities, even handfuls of undercounted residents can make a big difference in the resources the communities receive and the power they wield.
Also, a high percentage of households reached does not necessarily translate to an accurate count: The data’s quality depends on how it was obtained. The most accurate information comes from people who “self-respond” to the census questionnaire online, by phone or mail. Census officials say 67% of the people counted in the 2020 census responded that way.
In any case, census takers, who go door to door, fell short of reaching all the households that hadn’t filled out the census form in many pockets of the country.
In large parts of Louisiana, which was battered by two hurricanes, census takers didn’t even hit 94% of the households they needed to reach. In Window Rock, the capital of the Navajo Nation on the Arizona-New Mexico border that was ravaged by COVID-19, census takers only reached 98.9%.
According to the Census Bureau, census takers reached 99.9% of the households they needed to contact in most of the 248 census areas the bureau designated across the U.S. They fell short of 99.9% in Quincy, Massachusetts; New Haven, Connecticut; Asheville, North Carolina; Jackson, Mississippi; Providence, Rhode Island, and Manhattan, where neighborhoods emptied out in the spring because of the coronavirus.
Rhode Island is one of about 10 states projected to lose a congressional seat, based on anticipated state population figures in the 2020 census. It could take as few as 30,000 overlooked people for the nation’s physically smallest state to revert back to having a single House district, said John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, a nonprofit watchdog.
The early conclusion of the census “is really going to stymie our efforts, not only to maintain that second district but also to have fair representation in our state legislature,” Marion said.
Jackson, Mississippi, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba blamed the coronavirus, which curtailed in-person outreach efforts that could have made a difference in hard-to-count neighborhoods. The mayor isn’t sure having an extra two weeks would have made a huge difference, but he says not having a complete count is significant: Jackson loses $1,000 each year for every person not counted.
“All of this has long-term implications for city planning, for how we address our needs, and for ensuring that we are fairly represented in the state house and in Congress,” Lumumba said.
There are also concerns about the quality of the data obtained. The second-most accurate information after self-responses comes from household members being interviewed by census takers. When census takers can’t reach someone at home, they turn to less-accurate information from neighbors, landlords and administrative records, the latter of which have been in widespread use for the first time this year. Information was obtained by these methods for almost 40% of the census takers’ caseload, according to the Census Bureau.
“Do not be fooled by the Census Bureau’s 99% myth. If there was ever fake news, this is it,” said Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, one of the civil rights groups that challenged the Trump administration’s census schedule in court.
Census Bureau director Steven Dillingham said Monday that a first look at the data collection operation indicates “an extremely successful execution.” He noted that the 67% self-response rate this year was higher than the 66.5% reached during the 2010 census.
How much time the Census Bureau has to crunch the numbers is still being fought in courts and in Congress. Civil rights groups and others are pushing Congress to extend the bureau’s deadline for turning in apportionment numbers for congressional seats from Dec. 31 to the end of next April.
The Trump administration said the Census Bureau needed to end the count early to meet the Dec. 31 deadline. But top officials at the Census Bureau said as recently as July that it would still be impossible to process all of the data by the end of the year. They’ve since changed their tune, and on Wednesday said in a conference call with the news media that the deadline can be met by working around the clock and with technological advances in computer processing.
In areas that were not counted, Census Bureau officials said they will use a statistical technique called imputation, which uses the characteristics and size of neighboring households to fill in the gaps of homes with missing data.
Groups suing the administration over the timetables said the deadline for turning in apportionment numbers was moved up to accommodate an order from Trump to exclude people in the U.S. illegally from the numbers used to divvy up congressional seats among the states. Sticking to a Dec. 31 deadline ensures that data processing remains under the administration’s control, regardless of who wins the presidential election.
A panel of federal judges in New York ruled that Trump’s order was unlawful, but the administration has appealed to the Supreme Court.A second panel of federal judges in California on Thursday ruled that the order was also unconstitutional, and the Trump administration on Friday said it planned to appeal.
“This census isn’t over,” Morial said. “We will continue to fight in the courts, Congress and the court of public opinion.”
Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP.
The second and final presidential debate, it turns out, was actually a debate — a brief interlude of normalcy in an otherwise highly abnormal year, and a reprieve for voters turned off by the candidates’ noxious first faceoff.
President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden spent 90 minutes Thursday sparring over their approach to the coronavirus pandemic, the future of the nation’s health insurance system and who is best positioned to de-escalate nuclear tensions with North Korea. There were heated clashes, but far fewer of the angry interruptions and crosstalk that made the opening debate nearly unwatchable.
A mute button mandated by the debate commission helped enforce decorum, clearing the way for Trump and Biden to make their closing arguments to the nation less than two weeks from Election Day. Both men have argued with pride throughout the campaign that there is little overlap between their visions for America, and that was abundantly clear in Thursday’s debate.
It was the president more so than Biden who entered the night needing to spark a shift in the race, given the public polls that have for weeks showed him trailing both nationally and in some key battleground states. But with nearly 50 million ballots already cast through advance voting, and views of the president long ago hardened among most voters, it appeared unlikely that a more civilized debate alone would significantly recalibrate the contest.
Trump has struggled throughout the year to shift the political terrain, unable to convince Americans that they should look past a coronavirus pandemic that has killed 225,000 Americans and infected more than 8 million. Instead, he’s been saddled by sharply negative assessments of his handling of the public health crisis, including his own COVID-19 illness earlier this month. Trump was briefly hospitalized, then quickly returned to the campaign trail for rallies that feature little mask-wearing and no attempts at social distancing.
Trump, who was the chief interrupter and aggressor in the first debate, insisted in Thursday’s debate that the country needed to “learn to live” with the virus and suggested his rival would damage the economy by taking drastic steps to shut down the country. Biden warned of a “dark winter” to come, with cases already on the rise in the U.S. as the weather cools and more activities move indoors, where the virus spreads faster.
“Anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States,” Biden said. “I will end this. I will make sure we have a plan.”
Some of Trump’s advisers and allies had urged him in the lead-up to the debate to take a more traditional approach, focusing less on badgering Biden and more on drawing his rival out on their policy contrasts. Few had expected he would actually abide by that advice.
And though Trump was more measured than in the first contest, his more controversial impulses indeed flared at times. His answers were often filled with falsehoods, from his descriptions of initial COVID-19 death projections to his statements about the risks wind turbines pose to birds. He also made repeated references to unverified corruption allegations against Biden’s son Hunter for business dealings in Ukraine and China.
Trump’s campaign signaled in recent days that it planned to make the charges against the younger Biden a centerpiece of their closing argument to voters. In the hours before the debate, the campaign orchestrated a media appearance for a man who claims to have been one of Hunter Biden’s business partners — an attempt to create the kind of made-for-TV drama that worked for Trump in his 2016 race against Hillary Clinton.
But Biden isn’t Clinton, a candidate whose own negative standing with many Americans rivaled Trump’s, and the Trump campaign’s efforts to cast him as a corrupt and money-hungry politician don’t appear to be resonate widely outside of Trump’s base.
If anything, Trump’s attempts to push the allegations in front of a wider audience in Thursday’s debate only appeared at times to ricochet back to him. After the president claimed without evidence that Biden has received money from foreign governments, the former vice president noted that his finances are detailed in more than 20 years of tax records he has made public. Trump has repeatedly refused to release his taxes, insisting he can’t do so while he is under an audit by the Internal Revenue Service.
For some frustrated Republicans, the exchanges over Hunter Biden were a prime example of what has put Trump at risk of defeat in November: a campaign that still appears to be grasping for a clear message and approach to taking on the Democratic challenger with just a handful of days before the election.
“Throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks was a fine strategy six months ago, but they’re still doing it twelve days from the election with 40 million votes already cast,” said Erick Erickson, a conservative writer.
The real number of votes cast is even higher: By the time Trump and Biden took the debate stage, more than 47 million people had already cast ballots.
Here are some of the key exchanges between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden during Thursday’s final presidential debate:
Racism in America
Biden was asked if he could understand why parents of children of color are afraid their child may be unfairly targeted by authorities.
“I never had to tell my daughter, if she’s pulled over … put both hands on top of the wheel and don’t reach for the glovebox because someone may shoot you. But a Black parent, no matter how wealthy or how poor they are, has to teach their child,” Biden said.
Biden said that although the United States had made progress, institutional racism exists.
The country, according to Biden, is missing the mark on part of the Declaration of Independence – the second paragraph that reads: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
“We have never, ever lived up to it, but we’ve constantly been moving the needle further and further to inclusion, not exclusion,” Biden said before criticizing Trump. “This is the first president to come along and say ‘That’s the end of that. We’re not going to do that anymore.'”
Trump was asked to speak to the parents of children of color who fear for their children’s lives. He started by attacking Biden, saying that Biden after decades in office has never supported the Black community.
“Nobody has done more for the Black community than Donald Trump, and if you look — with the exception of Abraham Lincoln, possible exception, but the exception of Abraham Lincoln — nobody has done what I’ve done,” Trump said.
Trump said some of the biggest beneficiaries of his administration’s investments and economy are Black and Hispanic communities, adding he also strongly supported HBCUs.
Trump Launches Accusations
Prior to the debate, Trump said he would talk about Biden’s son, Hunter, and he did.
Trump accused the Bidens of corruption and of making money from their international relationships. In doing so, the president often blurred the line between father and son. He referenced material given to the New York Post, supposedly from a laptop belonging to Hunter, that was passed on by Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
“If this is true, then he’s a corrupt politician,” Trump said.
There is no evidence that the theories Trump referenced are true.
Trump never said exactly what the former vice president or his son were supposed to have done, and for viewers who have not followed the unsubstantiated accusations, the debate exchanges could have been difficult to follow.
Biden, who raised Giuliani’s name preemptively, insisted that he had always behaved ethically. He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing by him or his son in relation to his work as vice president. And during Thursday’s debate, Biden reminded viewers that it was Trump who was impeached over his attempts to force Ukraine to investigate him.
Trump’s allies have hoped that the attacks on Hunter would serve as this campaign’s so-called “October surprise,” much as the release of Hillary Clinton’s emails did four years ago. But even a Republican-led Congressional investigation found no wrong-doing by Biden.
“Every single person said I did my job impeccably,” Biden said.
Muted Microphones Prove Effective
Compared to the chaotic first debate, both candidates covered a wide range of topics in a more substantive way — thanks in part to fewer interruptions as microphones were muted for their initial responses.
As one candidate got two minutes to answer a question, the microphone of the other was muted.
Both Trump and Biden mostly followed the rules during the night, allowing the debate to advance.
More Election Coverage:
At the end, Biden had interrupted 25 times and Trump interrupted 24 times, according to NBC News.
However, there was a lot of crosstalk in which the candidates insisted they respond to the last comment made by their opponent — forcing NBC News’ Kristen Welker, who served as the moderator, to reverse her attempts to move on to other topics.
In the first debate, interruptions became so intrusive that moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News said, “I think the country would be better served if we allow both people to speak with fewer interruptions.”
Immigrant Family Separation
Trump was asked about the more than 500 children separated from their parents whom the Trump administration cannot find.
“The children are brought here by coyotes and lots of bad people,” Trump said.
But the question was about reuniting families, and Welker persisted as Trump accused the Obama administration of keeping migrant children in cages.
Steering back to Welker’s question, Biden countered Trump, saying the children were not brought in by coyotes, but by their parents.
“Their kids were ripped from their arms and separated,” Biden said. “It’s criminal. It’s criminal.”
Trump brought up cages again and said of the children, “They are so well taken care of.”
Trump did not explain how his administration would reunite the families.
The Future of Health Care
Trump repeated his often-made claim that he would create a better health care plan than Obamacare that will protect people who have pre-existing conditions.
Trump has never revealed a new health care plan, though he has repeatedly said he would, including during the 2016 campaign.
His statement comes as the Trump administration is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to declare Obamacare unconstitutional.
“Obamacare is no good,” he said.
When Trump accused Biden of wanting to eliminate private insurance, Biden rejected the claim. He said he favors Obamacare with a public option, and those who want to remain on private insurance would be able to. He said he would reduce premiums and drug prices.
As Trump kept trying to define Biden by other Democrats’ plans, Biden jumped in.
“He’s running against Joe Biden,” he said of Trump.
Messages of Unity
Trump has unreservedly launched attacks against the Democratic Party and Democratic state and local governments throughout the election cycle.
Though that rhetoric remained in the final debate, Trump said he has helped even those who oppose him because his administration’s economy benefited all Americans, particularly marginalized communities of color.
“Success is going to bring us together. We are on the road to success,” Trump said.
Biden’s message of unity was broader and echoed former President Barack Obama’s Democratic National Convention keynote address in 2004 in which he said, “There is not a liberal America or a conservative America, there is the United States of America.”
Obama also delivered a similar message in 2012 as part of his campaign.
On the debate stage, Biden expanded on his promise that he would be a president to all Americans.
Biden said he would “represent all of you: whether you voted for me or against me.”
“What is on the ballot here is the character of this country: decency, honor, respect, treating people with dignity, making sure that everyone has an even chance, and I’m going to make sure you get that,” Biden said.
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What to Know
The Trump campaign has been videotaping people as they deposit ballots in drop boxes in Philadelphia in what it says is an attempt to catch violations, surveillance that the battleground state’s Democratic attorney general suggested could amount to illegal intimidation.
The campaign acknowledged the taping in a letter from a lawyer that complained it had caught voters on video illegally depositing multiple ballots. City elections officials responded they could not confirm the activity was inappropriate under Pennsylvania law.
Linda Kerns, the lawyer for the Trump campaign — which has already sued to ban the use of drop boxes — wrote to city election officials last week to request that they end the use of “unmanned drop boxes.” The New York Times first reported the development Thursday.
Philadelphia and many other heavily populated counties in Pennsylvania are using drop boxes to help collect an avalanche of mail ballots under a year-old law greatly expanding such voting.
Kerns wrote that video taken by a campaign representative shows three people dropping off as many as three ballots in a limited time period Oct. 14.
Pennsylvania law, in most cases, requires voters to deliver their own mail-in ballots, Kerns wrote, although it makes an exception for voters with disabilities.
Kerns suggested the images amount to “blatant violations” of state election law and said the campaign would sue, unless the city’s election office “commits to remedy this problem immediately.”
She asked for copies of city surveillance video at City Hall, for a list of voters who dropped ballots in the Philadelphia City Hall drop box on Oct. 14, and that the ballots be set aside “until an investigation can determine whether the ballots were personally delivered” by the voter.
In a response, a city lawyer, Benjamin Field, wrote Monday to Kerns to reject her assumption that the law was violated. Third-party delivery is permitted in certain circumstances, he wrote.
Though the city had forwarded the campaign’s information to the district attorney’s office, Field said, the elections office does not track whose ballots are dropped into particular drop boxes.
In a statement, the office of District Attorney Larry Krasner, a Democrat, said it is committed to investigating “any and all” allegations of voter intimidation and harassment. The office of the state attorney general, Democrat Josh Shapiro, warned in a statement that videotaping voters at drop boxes could be construed as illegal voter intimidation.
In any case, Shapiro’s office said, Trump’s campaign had provided similar photos and videos in a lawsuit in federal court in its effort to ban drop boxes. A judge threw out the case.
In another development in President Donald Trump’s battle with Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden for Pennsylvania’s key 20 electoral votes, a lawsuit filed Thursday challenged a court-ordered extension of the deadline to receive mailed presidential ballots.
Plaintiffs — including four registered voters from Somerset County and a Republican congressional candidate — asked a federal judge in Pittsburgh to block the deadline extension in the presidential battleground state from going into effect.
The state Supreme Court last month ordered county election officials to receive and count mailed-in ballots that arrive up to three days after the Nov. 3 election, until Nov. 6, even if they don’t have a clear postmark, as long as there is no proof it was mailed after the polls closed.
Thursday’s lawsuit came 12 days before the election and three days after the U.S. Supreme Court, divided 4-4, rejected a Republican plea making a slightly different argument than Thursday’s lawsuit.
The new lawsuit said the court’s deadline extension and the lack of a postmark requirement “will allow for late and otherwise unlawful ballots to be counted.”
That is unconstitutionally unfair to in-person voters and exceeded the court’s authority by exercising a power that is constitutionally vested in Congress and the Legislature, it said.
With the plaintiffs seeking expedited consideration, the new argument could theoretically arrive at the U.S. Supreme Court after Trump’s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, is sworn in, providing a tie-breaking vote before the election.
Most states make Election Day the deadline, but more than 20 states have a post-Election Day deadline.
Several lawsuits — including another filed against Philadelphia by Trump’s campaign — are currently being fought over how Pennsylvania’s election is being conducted. The wave of court cases has prompted concerns that the presidential vote count will be heavily litigated and dragged out for weeks.
With about 2.9 million mail-in ballots requested so far, registered Democrats have requested about 1.1 million more mail-in ballots than Republicans, or 1.8 million to 700,000, according to state data.
The facts took a hit right out of the gate Thursday night.
President Donald Trump’s first line of the night, about COVID-19 deaths, was false and set the tone as he and Democratic rival Joe Biden unleashed a torrent of claims in their last presidential debate.
Trump misrepresented the reality of the pandemic in myriad and familiar ways, insisting against obvious reality that the pandemic is drawing to a close. He also boasted about “clean” facilities at the border for migrant children, ignoring the filthy conditions under which they were held in 2018.
Biden, at times, was selective on the coronavirus and other matters, at one point stating that no one under Obamacare lost private health coverage. Millions did.
A look at how some of the statements on the stage in Nashville, Tennessee, compared with the facts:
TRUMP: “We’re rounding the turn. We’re rounding the corner. It’s going away.”
THE FACTS: No, the coronavirus isn’t going away. It’s coming back. New cases are on the rise toward their summer peak. Deaths have also been increasing.
According to data through Oct. 21 from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases in the U.S. rose over the past two weeks from over 42,300 on Oct. 7 to nearly 60,000 on Oct. 21.
In that time the seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths in the U.S. rose from 695 to 757.
On Thursday, the U.S. set a single-day record for new coronavirus cases with 77,640 reported infections nationwide, topping the previous record of 75,723 set on July 29, according to a an NBC News tally.
TRUMP: “All he does is talk about shutdowns. But forget about him. His Democrat governors Cuomo in New York, you look at what’s going on in California, you look at Pennsylvania, North Carolina. Democrats — Democrats all. They’re shut down so tight, and they’re dying.”
BIDEN: “Look at the states that are having such a spike in the coronavirus. They’re the red states. They’re the states in the Midwest or the states in the Upper Midwest. That’s where the spike is occurring significantly.”
THE FACTS: Neither of them is right. Coronavirus isn’t a red-state problem or a blue-state problem. It’s a public health problem that affects people no matter where they live or what their politics are.
Some Republican-led states that were quick to reopen saw a surge of virus cases in the summer and are still struggling to get their transmission rates down. Florida’s test positivity rate is about 12% currently, a level indicating widespread transmission. South Dakota is approaching 35%.
Democratic-led states like New York that were hit hard in the initial wave closed down and got their virus transmission rates down to very low levels. But they’re now seeing rebounds in certain local communities, prompting them to target renewed restrictions.
Nevada and Pennsylvania are two states with Democratic governors and high transmission rates at currently 20% and 10% respectively, based on a 14-day trend.
TRUMP on the toll of COVID-19 in the U.S.: “So as you know 2.2 million people, modeled out, were expected to die.”
THE FACTS: This was his first line in the debate, and it is false. The U.S. death toll from the pandemic was not expected to be that high.
Such an extreme projection was merely a baseline if nothing at all were done to fight the pandemic. Doing nothing was never an option and public-health authorities did not expect over 2 million deaths.
Trump often cites the number to put the reality of more than 220,000 deaths in a better light and to attempt to take credit for reducing projected mortality.
At an April 1 briefing, when Trump and his officials discussed an actual projection of 100,000 to 240,000 deaths, the president held out hope of keeping deaths under 100,000. “I think we’re doing better than that.” He has repeatedly moved the goal posts to make the massive mortality and infection numbers look better.
TRUMP, speaking about children who were separated from parents at the U.S.-Mexico border: “They are so well taken care of; they’re in facilities that are so clean.”
THE FACTS: Not so.
At the height of the family separations in 2018, Border Patrol facilities were cramped well beyond capacity with migrants who were kept in squalid conditions, according to watchdog reports and the lawyers responsible for a federal settlement that governs how children are cared for in immigration custody. Long-term facilities for adults and children were at capacity, meaning the administration held people in the small border stations for much longer than the 72 hours normally allowed by law.
The stations are hardly meant for long-term care. Children were not provided hot meals and families slept on the floor on top of Mylar blankets. Flu and sickness ran rampant, and hundreds of small children were kept together without adequate care.
TRUMP, on immigrants who are released from custody in the U.S. to wait out their cases being allowed to stay: “They say they come back, less than 1% of the people come back. We have to send … Border Patrol out to find them.”
THE FACTS: That’s false. There are far fewer no-shows for immigration hearings among those who are released pending their cases. According to Justice Department Statistics, a majority come back for their hearings.
BIDEN: “Not one single person with private insurance would lose their insurance under my plan, nor did they under Obamacare, they did not lose their insurance, unless they chose they wanted to go to something else.”
THE FACTS: He’s wrong about Obamacare.
Then-President Barack Obama promised if you liked your health insurance, you could keep it under his Affordable Care Act, but that’s not what happened for some.
When Obamacare took effect in 2014, several million people lost individual health insurance plans that no longer met minimum standards established by the law. A backlash forced the White House to offer a work-around, but the political damage was done.
Health insurance is such a complicated area that almost any action has the potential for unintended consequences.
TRUMP: The Paris accord meant “we were going to have to spend trillions of dollars…. They did a great disservice. They were going to take away our business.”
THE FACTS: The Paris accord, an international agreement that aims to halt the rise in global temperatures, is based on voluntary emission reductions. No nation was forced to do anything.
BIDEN: “He says about the Poor Boys, last time we were on a stage here, said — I told them to stand down and stand ready. Come on. This guy has a dog whistle as big as a fog horn.”
THE FACTS: That is not exactly what Trump said and that is not the name of the neo-fascist group.
During the last debate, Trump was asked if he would condemn white supremacist and militia groups that have shown up at some protests in the U.S. He said, “Give me a name” and Biden chimed in by saying, “Proud Boys,” a reference to the far-right extremist group that has shown up at protests in the Pacific Northwest.
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said. He did not tell them to “stand ready,” though it’s debatable whether there is a material difference.
TRUMP on his taxes: “They keep talking about $750, which I think is a filing fee. … Tens of millions of dollars (in income taxes) I prepaid.” On his China bank account: “I was a businessman in 2013 and I closed the account in 2015.”
THE FACTS: Trump is not being honest about his taxes.
Reporting by The New York Times, which obtained his tax records, contradicts his claims.
The IRS does not charge taxpayers a filing fee, though tax preparation services do. The $750 that Trump paid in 2016 and 2017 in the income taxes was to the federal government, not a tax preparation service.
It’s not clear what Trump is talking about with regard to prepaying his taxes, but what matters is what he ultimately owed the government. Americans often have their income tax payments deducted from their paychecks. The Times reported that Trump, starting in 2010, claimed and received an income tax refund that totaled $72.9 million, which was at the core of an ongoing audit by the IRS. The Times said a ruling against Trump could cost him $100 million or more.
Nor did Trump close his Chinese bank account, according to Alan Garten, a lawyer for Trump’s company. He told the Times that the account remains open, though the company’s office in China has been inactive since 2015.
TRUMP: “Joe got $3.5 (million) from Russia. And it came through Putin because he was very friendly with the former mayor of Moscow, and it was the the mayor of Moscow’s wife. … Your family got $3.5 million. Someday you’re going to have to explain why.”
THE FACTS: There is no evidence of this. Trump is falsely characterizing a recent report by Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who investigated Biden’s son, Hunter, and his business dealings in Ukraine.
The report did not allege that Joe Biden himself got $3.5 million or that Russia President Vladimir Putin had anything to do with such a payment. Nor does the report allege that Hunter Biden pocketed the money himself. The report said the sum went instead to an investment firm he co-founded. Hunter Biden’s lawyer has said in a statement to reporters that his client had no interest in and was not a founder of the firm.
Associated Press writers Colleen Long, Eric Tucker, Josh Boak, Stephen Braun, Michael Balsamo, Amanda Seitz and David Klepper contributed to this report.
For the second time in two months, a panel of federal judges on Thursday blocked President Donald Trump’s effort to exclude people in the U.S. illegally from being counted during the process of divvying up congressional seats by state.
The decision from a panel of three district judges in California went further than last month’s ruling by a panel of three federal judges in New York by saying that Trump’s order in July not only was unlawful but also violated the Constitution. The New York judges ignored the question of the order’s constitutionality and just said it was unlawful.
“The Constitution’s text, drafting history, 230 years of historical practice, and Supreme Court case law all support the conclusion that apportionment must be based on all persons residing in each state, including undocumented immigrants,” the judges in California wrote.
The Trump administration has appealed the New York decision to the Supreme Court, and the nation’s high court agreed to hear the case next month.
Other challenges to Trump’s order are pending in Maryland, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.
The Department of Justice, which is representing the Trump administration, didn’t immediately respond to an email inquiry Thursday.
The case was heard before a panel of three district judges since it deals with how many congressional seats each state gets based on population figures from the once-a-decade census — a process known as apportionment. Any appeal can bypass an appellate court and go straight to the Supreme Court.
One of the judges on the panel, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, in a separate case last month stopped the Trump administration from finishing the census at the end of September. She said the count to go on for another month through October. Department of Justice attorneys appealed to the Supreme Court, which last week allowed the Trump administration to end the census.
During arguments earlier this month, Trump administration attorneys told the judges that any challenge to Trump’s order was premature and should wait until the apportionment numbers are turned in at year’s end.
The Census Bureau has yet to make public its method for determining the citizenship status of every U.S. resident, as requested in another order issued by Trump last year after the Supreme Court blocked his administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. During a news conference on Wednesday, bureau officials refused to answer whether carrying out the order on apportionment was feasible at this point.
In the order, Trump said that allowing people in the country illegally to be counted for apportionment undermines the principles of representative democracy.
The federal judges in California sided with a coalition of individuals and governments that had sued the Trump administration, arguing the order discriminates against people based on race, ethnicity, and national origin. The coalition included the state of California; the cities of Los Angeles, Oakland and San Jose in California; and the counties that are home to Houston and Seattle.
The ruling reinforces that regardless of legal status, “the millions of undocumented immigrants who live, work, attend school, and raise their children in our communities are inhabitants of this country and must under the Constitution be counted,” said Rick Bress, an attorney for the plaintiffs.
The judges on Thursday prohibited the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, from sending to the president any information about the number of residents living illegally in each state that could be used to exclude them from the apportionment count.
Excluding those residents could cost states such as California and Texas congressional seats and federal funding, the judges said.
Besides deciding how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets, the census determines the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal spending annually.
“Here, it is clear who would be harmed by the exclusion of undocumented immigrants,” the judges wrote.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hailed Thursday’s court decision as a “victory for justice.”
“The Census is a pillar of our democracy, enshrined by our Founders to ensure that all people who live in the America, regardless of citizenship, are equally counted and represented,” Pelosi said in a statement.
She added: “The Trump Administration’s shameful, years-long anti-immigrant attacks are designed to inject fear and uncertainty into vulnerable communities, and to cause traditionally undercounted communities to be even further underrepresented and left behind. The House of Representatives will continue to fight in the Courts and in Congress to ensure a fair and accurate Census.”
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A federal judge on Thursday urged the Trump administration to do more to help court-appointed researchers find hundreds of parents who were separated from their children after they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border beginning in 2017.
A court filing revealed this week that researchers have been unable to track down the parents of 545 children — a number much larger than previously known and that drew outcry. Most of the parents were deported to their Central American homelands, and their children were placed with sponsors in the U.S., often relatives.
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw refrained from issuing an order during a hearing in San Diego and instead asked Justice Department attorneys to explore ways the administration can make it easier to find the parents.
Attempts to find families separated from their children have been underway since Sabraw ordered the government in 2018 to end the much-criticized practice under its “zero tolerance” policy for people who cross the border illegally.
Sabraw initially ordered the government to reunite more than 2,700 children with their families, believing that to be the total number who were separated. But it was later discovered an additional 1,556 children were taken from their parents going back to summer 2017, including the 545 kids who are still separated.
Attorney Lee Gelernt of the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued over the practice, said the government could provide funding for the search, which now is being conducted by a handful of human rights defenders in Central America.
When the issue was originally brought to their attention, U.S. officials were not interested in looking for the parents, he said, but that changed when outcry spread about the number of parents deported without their children.
“In light of the backlash, the government is now claiming it wants to assist us in finding these families,” Gelernt said.
The administration’s foot-dragging has made it even tougher to find the parents because of how much time has passed, he said.
Coronavirus restrictions prevented researchers from going into many areas from March until August, but as those measures ease up, researchers hope to make more progress in coming weeks.
U.S. authorities have provided telephone numbers for 1,030 children to a court-appointed steering committee, which tracked down the parents of 485 of those children.
The committee has advertised toll-free phone numbers in Spanish on billboards and other places in Central America to reach families.
Volunteers have searched for their parents by going door to door in Guatemala and Honduras and combing public records, the ACLU said in a court filing.
The judge called for an update on Dec. 2 and set another hearing for Dec. 4 to discuss the progress.
“This, of course, is the most significant piece remaining” in terms of the family separations, Sabraw said.
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said the government needs to allow parents deported without their children to come back to the U.S. and give them a chance to become legal permanent residents and eventually citizens.
Just nine parents separated from their children were allowed back in January.
Castro also called for a special committee, perhaps in the form of a human rights commission, to investigate the harm done through the mass separation of families in 2017 and 2018.
“This was coordinated cruelty, coordinated abuse, at the highest and the lowest levels of the American government,” Castro said.
Associated Press writer Nomaan Merchant in Houston contributed to this report.
U.S. officials said Thursday that Russian hackers have targeted the networks of dozens of state and local governments in the United States in recent days, stealing data from at least two servers. The warning, less than two weeks before the election, amplified fears of the potential for tampering with the vote and undermining confidence in the results.
The advisory from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency describes an onslaught of recent activity by a Russian state-sponsored hacking group against a broad range of networks, some of which were successfully compromised. The alert functions as a reminder of Russia’s potent capabilities and ongoing interference in the election even as U.S. officials publicly called out Iran on Wednesday night.
The advisory does not identify by name or location those who were targeted, but officials say they have no information that any election or government operations have been affected or that the integrity of elections data has been compromised.
“However, the actor may be seeking access to obtain future disruption options, to influence U.S. policies and actions, or to delegitimize (state and local) government entities,” the advisory said.
U.S. officials have repeatedly said it would be extremely difficult for hackers to alter vote tallies in a meaningful way, but they have warned about other methods of interference that could disrupt the election, including cyberattacks on networks meant to impede the voting process. The interference could continue during or after the tallying of ballots if Russians produce spoofed websites or fake content meant to confuse voters about election results and lead them to doubt the legitimacy of the outcome.
A broad concern, particularly at the local government level, has been that hackers could infiltrate a county network and then work their way over to election-related systems unless certain defenses, such as firewalls, are in place. This is especially true for smaller counties that don’t have as much money and IT support as their bigger counterparts to fund security upgrades.
Officials have nonetheless sought to stress the integrity of the vote, with FBI Director Christopher Wray saying Wednesday, “You should be confident that your vote counts. Early, unverified claims to the contrary should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.”
On Thursday, Chris Krebs, the head of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said officials don’t have reason to believe that hackers were looking for election infrastructure or election-related information, and aren’t aware of any activity “that would allow them to come anywhere near a vote.” He said the alert was issued in regard to the scanning of county networks for vulnerabilities, not specifically to the targeting of elections.
“The election-related risk is the fact that they were in or touching an election system,” he said.
The threat from the Kremlin was mentioned but not especially emphasized during a hastily called news conference on Wednesday night, when officials said Russia and Iran had obtained voting registration information — though such data is sometimes easily accessible. But most of the focus was on Iran, which officials linked to a series of menacing but fake emails that purported to be from a far-right group and were aimed at intimidating voters in multiple battleground states.
John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, said the operation was aimed at harming President Donald Trump, though he didn’t elaborate on how.
On Thursday, the Treasury Department announced sanctions against five Iranian entities, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, for attempting to influence U.S. elections.
Despite Iran’s activities, Russia is widely regarded in the cybersecurity community as the bigger threat to the election. The U.S. has said that Russia, which interfered in the 2016 election by hacking Democratic email accounts and through a covert social media effort, is interfering again this year in part through a concerted effort to denigrate Trump’s Democratic opponent, Joe Biden.
U.S. officials attribute the recent activity to a state-sponsored hacking group variously known as DragonFly and Energetic Bear in the cybersecurity community. The group appears to have been in operation since at least 2011 and is known to have engaged in cyberespionage on energy companies and power grid operators in the U.S. and Europe, as well as on defense and aviation companies. Aviation networks are among the entities that officials say were recently targeted, according to Thursday’s advisory.
Decision 2020 Coverage
According to the advisory, the hackers have obtained user and administrator credentials to enter the networks and moved laterally inside to locate what they felt would be “high-value” information to steal. In at least one breach, officials say, the hackers accessed documents related to network configurations and passwords, IT instructions and vendors and purchasing information.
As of October 1, the advisory said, the hackers have exfiltrated data from at least two servers.
John Hultquist, the director of threat intelligence at FireEye, said Energetic Bear moved to the top of his worry list when the cybersecurity firm observed it breaking into state and local governments in the U.S. that administer elections, due to it having targeted election systems in 2019.
Hultquist said he does not think Energetic Bear has the ability to directly affect the U.S. vote but fears it could disrupt local and state government networks proximate to the systems that process votes.
“The disruption may have little effect on the outcome. It may be entirely insignificant to the outcome — but it could be perceived as proof that the election outcome is in question,” he said. “Just by getting access to these systems they may be preying on fears of the insecurity of the election.”
Associated Press writer Frank Bajak in Boston, Christina A. Cassidy in Atlanta and Ben Fox in Washington contributed to this report.
After months of doing mostly virtual events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden returned to in-person events with small, socially distanced crowds in September. He’s kept up his travel in October.
We reviewed Biden’s speeches on the stump between Oct. 12 and 16. He held six events over three days in swing states: two in Ohio, two in Florida and two more in Michigan. All combined, he spoke for almost two hours and 46 minutes, or less than 30 minutes per speech. His shortest speech (in Detroit) was about 19 minutes, and his longest (in Cincinnati) was more than 34 minutes.
Here, we’ve compiled his false, misleading or exaggerated claims from those speeches.
(We published a similar story looking at statements made by President Donald Trump during his stump speeches over the same period.)
In two of his speeches, Biden misleadingly focused on only part of past comments Trump has made about the payroll tax that funds Social Security, as well as only part of a government analysis of hypothetical legislation eliminating that tax.
“We’ve seen his pledge, quote, ‘to terminate the tax dedicated to financing Social Security,’” Biden said in Toledo, Ohio. “You know what the actuary at the Social Security department said? If it goes through … it will actually bankrupt, bankrupt Social Security by the middle of 2023.”
In an Aug. 24 letter, the Social Security Administration’s chief actuary said eliminating the Social Security payroll tax without providing an alternative source of funding would deplete the trust fund for retirement benefits by 2023, “with no ability to pay” benefits after that year. But that’s not what Trump has proposed, as we’ve written before.
On multiple occasions in August, the president said if he wins reelection he would look at “ending” or “terminating the payroll tax.” However, White House and Trump campaign officials said the president only wants Congress to forgive a four-month Social Security payroll tax holiday for employees that he authorized that month. Congress could transfer money from the government’s general fund to make up the lost tax revenue, Trump said.
Even when Trump said he was “going to terminate the payroll tax,” as he did in an Aug. 12 press conference, he said the money to pay benefits would instead come from general revenues. In the Aug. 24 letter, the chief actuary said a law with that stipulation would leave the Social Security program “essentially unaffected.”
One of Biden’s most frequent claims was that if Trump gets his way, and the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act in an upcoming case, protections for more than 100 million people with preexisting health conditions would be jeopardized.
“[I]t’s all about wiping out the Affordable Care Act, which has been an obsession for this president since he became president,” Biden said in Cincinnati. “That’s going to take away preexisting conditions coverage for a hundred-plus million Americans.”
The 100 million figure is an estimate of how many Americans not on Medicare or Medicaid have preexisting conditions. The ACA instituted sweeping protections for those with preexisting conditions, prohibiting insurers in all markets from denying coverage or charging more based on health status. But only those seeking coverage on the individual or nongroup market would immediately be at risk of being denied insurance.
Even without the ACA, employer plans couldn’t deny issuing a policy — and could only decline coverage for some preexisting conditions for a limited period if a new employee had a lapse in coverage.
As of 2018, nearly 20 million people, or about 6% of the U.S. population, got coverage on the individual market, where those without employer or public insurance buy plans.
Also in Cincinnati, Biden blamed Trump for millions already losing health insurance during the pandemic. “Because of his mishandling the economy and COVID … 10 million people have already lost their employer-based health insurance, 10 million,” Biden said.
As we’ve written, the Urban Institute did estimate that 10.1 million people were expected to lose their employer-based health insurance during the COVID-19 recession. But Biden neglected to mention that study also said that most would regain insurance from another source, leaving 3.5 million uninsured.
In his Southfield, Michigan, speech, while stressing the need to wear face coverings during the pandemic, Biden said of Trump: “It’s estimated by his own folks, if we just wore masks nationally, almost 100,000 lives would be saved in the next few months. His own director of CDC said while we’re waiting for a vaccine, even if we had a vaccine, this [mask] will prevent more deaths between now and the end of January than a vaccine would.”
As we’ve noted before, 100,000-plus preventable deaths was a projection from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation — not the Trump administration. On Sept. 3, IHME said increased face mask use in the U.S. could save 122,000 lives between early September and Jan. 1, 2021. As of Oct. 15, IHME said with almost universal face mask use, 74,000 lives could be saved from then until Feb. 1, 2021.
Also, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield did tell senators in congressional testimony in mid-September that face masks currently “are the most important, powerful public health tool we have” against COVID-19.
“I will continue to appeal for all Americans, all individuals in our country, to embrace these face coverings,” Redfield said. “I have said it, if we did it for six, eight, 10, 12 weeks we would bring this pandemic under control. … We have clear scientific evidence they work and they are our best defense.”
As far as comparing face masks and a vaccine, Redfield didn’t definitively say the former would save more lives — although he said masks may offer more protection. “I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine,” Redfield told the Senate panel.
He later clarified his remarks on Twitter. “I 100% believe in the importance of vaccines and the importance in particular of a #COVID19 vaccine. A COVID-19 vaccine is the thing that will get Americans back to normal everyday life,” he wrote. “The best defense we currently have against this virus are the important mitigation efforts of wearing a mask, washing your hands, social distancing and being careful about crowds. #COVID19.”
As he frequently does, Biden misquoted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s response to Democratic attempts to help cities and states that have lost revenue as a result of the pandemic.
“But you know what Mitch McConnell said recently about helping the states and cities. He said, quote, ‘Let them go bankrupt,’” Biden claimed in his Toledo speech. But, as we’ve written, McConnell said bankruptcy should be a legal option for states facing money woes unrelated to the coronavirus, such as debt due to pension programs.
In an April 22 radio interview, McConnell said: “I would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route,” when asked about states with budgetary woes predating the pandemic. The Republican senator made clear in subsequent interviews that he was saying bankruptcy should be “an option” to “fix age-old problems” in states “wholly unrelated” to the coronavirus pandemic. “I wasn’t saying they had to take bankruptcy,” he said in an April 27 Fox News Radio interview. “I think it’s just an option to be looked at, that unfortunately states don’t have that option now, cities do.”
Ivy League Presidents
Biden, who graduated from the University of Delaware and Syracuse Law School, sometimes tells the story that, if elected, he would be the first non-Ivy League president in U.S. history or, as he said more recently, at least the first in 80 or 90 years. But it’s not true.
In Toledo, Biden said he has a “little bit of a chip on my shoulder about guys like him,” referring to Trump, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance. “I read some stories after I got the nomination that quote, ‘If Biden gets elected, he’ll be the first non-Ivy League school graduate to get elected in … 80 or 90 years,’” Biden said. “But folks, since when can someone who went to a state university not be qualified to be president?”
It’s true that the last five presidents earned degrees from Ivy League schools. But Ronald Reagan went to Eureka College. Jimmy Carter graduated from the United States Naval Academy. Richard Nixon graduated from Whittier College and Duke University Law School. If Biden would win, he would be the first non-Ivy League president in 32 years.
At one of his two Michigan events, Biden recalled how, “over the objections of many, we stepped in and rescued the automobile industry,” referring to himself and former President Barack Obama.
The Obama administration can claim credit for helping to resuscitate the auto industry after the 2008 economic crisis. However, as we’ve explained, the rescue effort began on Dec. 19, 2008, when then-President George W. Bush announced his administration would provide General Motors and Chrysler with $13.4 billion in loans under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, plus an additional $4 billion to GM after Congress approved releasing the second half of TARP funds. As part of the deal, the automakers were required to come up with a long-term viability plan by March 31, 2009.
The companies’ viability plans were ultimately rejected on March 30, 2009, by Obama, who later announced an agreement on a restructuring plan for Chrysler and GM on April 30 and June 1, respectively. As a result, the automakers filed for bankruptcy, restructured their companies and got more federal assistance. In total, the Treasury Department invested about $80 billion in the auto industry and ended up getting back all but $9.3 billion of that amount.
In nearly all of his stump speeches, Biden mentioned his late son, Beau Biden, who died of brain cancer in 2015. But in his remarks in Pembroke Pines, Florida, Biden falsely suggested that Beau was the only “foreigner” to have his own monument and highway in Kosovo.
“My son volunteered to go to Iraq for a year,” Biden said of Beau, who served in the Delaware Army National Guard. “Before that, he had been in Kosovo for eight months. Best of my knowledge, the only foreigner who has a war monument and a major highway in that country named after him for his contribution to helping them set up their criminal justice system.”
In 2016, the Kosovo government did unveil a statue dedicated to Beau, “who worked in Kosovo after the 1998-99 war ended, helping train local prosecutors and judges for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe,” according to Reuters. The country also renamed a highway leading to an American military base after him as well. But he’s not the only American to receive such an honor.
As Time magazine wrote: “The ethnically Albanian and predominantly Muslim statelet at the southern-most tip of what was once Yugoslavia is perhaps the most pro-American country in the world. Its capital, Pristina, has boulevards named for presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush (spelled Xhorxh Bush) and a street named for Bob Dole. It also features an 11-foot tall statue of Clinton.” The statue of Clinton was revealed in 2009.
Reuters said: “Clinton, as leader of the NATO alliance, is seen as the man who decided to bomb Serbia to force the late strongman Slobodan Milosevic to withdraw his forces from Kosovo, effectively handing victory to the Kosovo Liberation Army.”
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We reviewed all of President Donald Trump’s speeches at campaign rallies over five days, from Oct. 12 to Oct. 16. There were six speeches and combined, Trump spoke for more than eight hours, averaging about one hour and 20 minutes per speech.
Below is a compilation of 46 of the false and misleading claims he made; Trump often repeated those claims at multiple rallies. We have organized them by subject matter.
Trump spoke in Sanford, Florida, on Oct. 12, his first rally since recovering from COVID-19. It was the shortest of the five speeches, at just over an hour. The following night, the Republican nominee spoke in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, followed by an Oct. 14 rally in Des Moines, Iowa, then Greenville, North Carolina, on Oct. 15. He finished up the week with two rallies: one in Ocala, Florida, and another in Macon, Georgia, on Oct. 16.
(We published a similar story looking at the false or misleading statements made by former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, during his stump speeches over the same period. Readers will likely observe that we wrote about fewer claims from Biden. We would note that while Biden held six rallies — the same as Trump — he spoke for a total of only two hours and 46 minutes. Trump spoke nearly three times longer than Biden.)
#1: Not ‘Rounding the Turn’ on COVID-19
As he did in his Oct. 15 town hall, the president baselessly claimed in his Pennsylvania and North Carolina rallies that the U.S. is “rounding the turn” on the coronavirus pandemic. That’s at odds with the available data showing an increase in COVID-19 cases and with expert assessments of the situation.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN on Oct. 12 that the U.S. is “on a trajectory of getting worse” and recommended that the public continue to practice simple public health measures, including physical distancing, wearing masks and avoiding crowds.
As of Oct. 18, the seven-day average of new cases is topping 55,000 a day, up from a still-high low of around 34,000 in mid-September. The COVID Tracking Project, which is responsible for tabulating those figures, concluded that a “third surge” is underway. A Johns Hopkins University analysis similarly shows that cases are on the rise in many states, particularly in the upper Midwest.
#2: ‘Unscientific Lockdowns’
At three different rallies, Trump misleadingly claimed that Biden would “annihilate” the economy with a “draconian unscientific lockdown.” Trump is referring to a comment Biden made in an ABC News interview with David Muir on Aug. 21, but contrary to supporting an “unscientific lockdown,” Biden said he would “listen to the scientists” if they recommended another shutdown. “So if the scientists say shut it down?” Muir asked. “I would shut it down, I would listen to the scientists,” Biden said. He has since emphasized that he doesn’t think a lockdown would be necessary.
#3: Travel Restrictions
“But when I locked down China, he thought it was a terrible thing,” Trump said. “He called me xenophobic, right? When I locked down China, which was in January, months earlier than what he said. Then ultimately, he admitted I’m right, but then he said, oh, he should’ve acted faster. Well, this was months later, then, he says I should have acted fast. Nobody acted fast like I did.” There are several false claims in this statement.
For starters, as we have written repeatedly, Trump did not “lock down” travel from China. There were exceptions for American citizens and permanent residents, as well as their family members, meaning that tens of thousands of people flew directly from China to the U.S. in the months after the restrictions were enacted.
As for Biden, the former vice president made this statement on the same day that the president announced the travel restrictions on Jan. 31: “This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia – hysterical xenophobia – and fearmongering to lead the way instead of science.” Trump cites it as evidence that Biden opposed his decision to impose travel restrictions on China. But the Biden campaign on April 3 said Biden supported the travel restrictions, and that the xenophobia comment was unrelated to them.
And finally, contrary to Trump’s claim that “nobody acted fast like I did” with travel restrictions on China, a country-by-country analysis by Think Global Health, a project of the Council on Foreign Relations, shows that 36 countries imposed travel restrictions, including the U.S., by Feb. 2.
#4: Face Masks
Trump misstated the findings of a study on COVID-19, saying, “Did you see, the CDC? That 85% of the people wearing the mask catch it, okay?” The day before the speech, the CDC released a tweet directly contradicting the president’s claim, saying, “the interpretation that more mask-wearers are getting infected compared to non-mask wearers is incorrect.”
The major finding of the CDC study, released Sept. 11, was that people in the survey with COVID-19 were twice as likely to have eaten at a restaurant, and that eating in restaurants or drinking in bars might be a higher risk activity. The report also found that people in the study with and without COVID-19 reported high levels of mask wearing in public. Among the approximately 150 COVID-19 patients in the study, 85% reported they “always” or “often” wore a face mask in the 14 days before illness onset. The CDC tweeted on Oct. 14, “Much evidence shows wearing masks in public reduces transmission by blocking exhaled respiratory droplets.”
#5: Fauci’s Not a Democrat
Trump wrongly said of Fauci, “He’s a Democrat, everybody knows that.” The longtime NIAID director told CNN he is not registered with any political party, which we confirmed through District of Columbia voter registration records. And as CNN noted, Fauci has “served in his current role under Democratic and Republican U.S. presidents going back to the Reagan administration.”
#6: Misquoting Fauci
Trump misquoted Fauci, claiming that Fauci said of the coronavirus, “This is not a threat. This is not a problem. Don’t worry about it.” As we have written, Fauci said in a Feb. 29 interview on NBC’s “Today” show that “right now at this moment” the risk was “low” and there was “no need” for people “to change anything that you’re doing on a day-by-day basis.” But he added that “this could change,” that people needed to be wary of “community spread,” and that it could develop into a “major outbreak.”
#7: COVID-19 Immunity
Following his COVID-19 diagnosis and release from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the president claimed to be immune to the virus, adding in a colorful twist that he could now kiss everyone in the audience. He also incorrectly suggested that after he contracted the disease, people then said immunity lasted only a few months, rather than being lifelong. Scientists don’t know how long immunity might last, as we’ve written, but experts never thought it would be lifelong, as no other human coronavirus infection provides such durable immunity. Current data suggest most people are protected against reinfection for at least several months, but how much longer that likely immunity extends is still unclear.
It’s impossible to know whether Trump has immunity. It’s possible that the experimental antibody cocktail he received to treat his COVID-19 prevented him from mounting his own antibody response — and that he could become susceptible again more quickly than most other COVID-19 patients. In any case, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions against acting as though someone is immune. The agency recommends that even those who have had COVID-19 continue to take steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including hand washing, mask wearing and physical distancing.
#8: ‘Saved’ Millions of Lives
In multiple rally appearances, Trump claimed that the original estimate for the number of American lives lost to the coronavirus pandemic was 2.2 million — a reference to an Imperial College London report from March — and that his administration has therefore saved “millions” of lives. But as we’ve explained before, the 2.2 million figure was a projection for what could happen in “the (unlikely) absence of any control measures or spontaneous changes in individual behaviour.” It therefore was never meant to be taken as a literal yardstick of a country’s performance.
In speaking about the 2 million lives during his Macon, Georgia, rally, Trump also falsely claimed that the U.S. death toll was good compared with other countries. “We’re over 200,000, that’s terrible,” he said of confirmed COVID-19 deaths. “But compared to other nations, it’s amazing what we’ve been able to do.” The U.S.’s record is in fact quite poor. According to figures assembled by Johns Hopkins University as of Oct. 21, America has the 11th highest per capita COVID-19 death rate out of nearly 170 nations.
#9: Availability of COVID-19 ‘Cures’
As he has before, the president incorrectly referred to the experimental antibody cocktail he received to treat COVID-19 as a “cure” — and suggested that it would soon be available to everyone.
“If you look at what we’re doing with therapeutics and frankly, cures, we’ve made tremendous progress,” Trump said to supporters in Florida. “And I said to my people, we are going to take whatever the hell they gave me and we’re going to distribute it around to hospitals and everyone’s going to have the same damn thing.”
The antibody drug Trump was given, which is made by the biotech company Regeneron, is still in clinical trials, and has not yet been shown to be effective against the coronavirus. While the preliminary results are promising and the company has submitted an application for emergency use authorization, the Food and Drug Administration has yet to make a determination on the drug, so access remains limited to those participating in the trials and to select individuals through its compassionate use program.
Experts are concerned that if antibody drugs do get the green light from the FDA that there will not be enough supply to satisfy demand, which could easily reach more than 200,000 doses a month in the U.S. alone. Regeneron said on Oct. 7 that it has enough doses to treat “approximately 50,000 patients” and expects to have enough for 250,000 more “within the next few months.” Eli Lilly is making a similar product and expects to have 100,000 doses of its single antibody therapy in October, although the National Institutes of Health paused its trial because of potential safety concerns.
#10: Declining Fatality Rate
In three rallies, Trump touted America’s declining COVID-19 case fatality rate, attributing the large drop to improvements in treatments. “You know, we’re 90% better now than we were six, seven months ago in terms of a cure for people that get really sick,” the president said in Florida, later using similar percentages in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. “We pioneered all of these incredible therapies and reduced the fatality rate 80, think of it, 85%,” he said in North Carolina.
The president’s figures mostly check out, but there is no “cure” for COVID-19 and the treatments he cites are only a part of the reason. According to a CDC dataset that was last updated on Sept. 30, 7.5% of people with probable and suspected COVID-19 cases died in April, which fell to 1.29% in August and 0.9% in September. That’s a decline of 83% and 88%, respectively, after four and five months. (The figures could still change, as people diagnosed last month could still be battling the virus — and the data are also not entirely complete, with many missing or unknown values.)
But the case fatality rate, which refers to the percentage of people who died from the coronavirus among the confirmed cases, hasn’t fallen only because of better treatment. As we explained last month, because the metric is highly dependent on how many and which cases are identified, experts say part — if not most — of the decline can be explained by increased testing and a shift toward younger people catching the coronavirus.
“More effective medical management may be playing a role in the falling case fatality rate in the US, but I suspect this improvement has been small relative to the large decrease,” University of Pennsylvania infectious disease fellow Dr. Aaron Richterman told us.
#11: China Stopped Virus Spread in China
Trump claimed that “China stopped it [the virus] from going into the rest of China, but they didn’t stop it from coming out and going to Europe and the United States and the rest of the world, 188 countries.” But China did not stop the coronavirus from spreading from Wuhan, where it originated, to other parts of China.
The number of reported cases and deaths in China’s major cities outside Wuhan have been far lower than the numbers in many European and American cities, but China also took extreme measures to slow the spread of the disease that the U.S. did not. In the past, Trump has wrongly speculated that China stopped flights from Wuhan to the rest of China while continuing to allow flights from Wuhan all over the world, including to the U.S. But as we wrote, that’s not accurate, either.
#12 WHO and Lockdowns
Trump falsely claimed in two rallies that the World Health Organization said “Trump was right” about lockdowns. “They said Trump was right,” the president said of the WHO while in Pennsylvania. “They said you can’t make the cure worse than the problem itself. I’ve been saying that for a long time.”
The president is referring to recent statements from two WHO officials who advised against implementing national lockdowns whenever possible. But as we’ve explained, the U.N. health agency has never recommended lockdowns as the primary strategy to control the virus — although it recognizes that in some cases they may be needed. Moreover, neither WHO representative specifically referenced Trump.
#13: States Not Closed
Trump falsely claimed that the state of Michigan is closed and attacked the state’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer. At a rally in Greenville, North Carolina, Trump said, “But we’ve been suing a lot of people and we just won in Michigan against … what she did was terrible. I mean, she did … It’s like a prison warden. So Michigan, we won on a constitutional basis to have to open it up. You got to open this one up.” In fact, Whitmer, a frequent target of Trump, on June 1 lifted the state’s stay-at-home order, which the governor issued in March to combat the spread of COVID-19. As we have written, when Trump said “the whole state is closed,” the vast majority of Michigan’s businesses are open with some restrictions, as are churches and schools, although some of the latter are teaching remotely.
The situation in Michigan was complicated on Oct. 2 when the Michigan Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the 1945 law that Whitmer had relied on in issuing her emergency orders on COVID-19. In the wake of the ruling, the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, citing authority not covered by the state Supreme Court ruling, issued an emergency order replicating several aspects of Whitmer’s orders. They include requiring wearing masks at indoor and outdoor gatherings; limiting the size of crowds at indoor and outdoor gatherings, with some exceptions; and requiring bars to close indoor common areas.
Trump has also singled out Pennsylvania, as he did in his speech in Georgia, falsely claiming the state is still closed. “Pennsylvania, they got to open this state,” Trump said. In fact, Pennsylvania has been largely open since July 3, when all counties in the state entered the green phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s reopening plan. There are some restrictions: For example, indoor dining at restaurants is limited to 50% of capacity. As for schools, state guidance allows local districts to decide whether to utilize in-person or remote learning or a mixture of both, depending on local conditions.
#14: ‘Greatest Economy’
Trump repeatedly claimed that the United States “had the greatest economy in the history of the world” before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. But that is not the case. As we have written many times, the economy has gone through many periods of more robust growth than it has under the Trump administration. The real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product, or GDP, grew 2.2% last year — down from 3% in 2018, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. It grew faster — 3.1% — in 2015, which was Obama’s best year. Over the last 39 years — dating to Ronald Reagan’s presidency — the nation’s real economic growth has exceeded Trump’s peak year of 3% 17 times.
#15: Coal Miners
In Pennsylvania, Trump falsely told the crowd: “But we’re putting our great coal miners back to work.” Coal mining jobs have declined by 6,400, or nearly 13%, during Trump’s time in office. Nearly 600 mining jobs were lost in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic, with lower natural gas prices one of the factors affecting the industry.
#16 Auto Plants
Trump has frequently exaggerated his success in attracting new auto plants to Michigan. At a rally in Macon, Georgia, Trump said, “A poll just came out … we’re up in Michigan. You know why? Because they had no car companies, they had no plants, they had no nothing for 44 years. And they’re building plants all over the state of Michigan because of me. And they’re coming in from Japan and they’re coming in from Germany. They’re building plants all over and expanding plants.”
As for the 44 years, that’s incorrect. As we have written, General Motors built a light vehicle assembly plant in Lansing Delta Township, completed in 2006. And auto plants are not popping up all over the state. Take Japan. Trump previously said that Japan had committed to build five new auto plants in the state. But as we have written, there have been five new investments, not plants. One of them is a manufacturing facility, but for fuel cells, not an auto assembly plant. In fact, the Michigan investments during his time in office are less than what Japanese companies had invested in the three prior years in 2014 to 2016, according to Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor & economics at the Center for Automotive Research.
As for polls, the average of polls for Michigan at Real Clear Politics shows Biden up by 7.2 points.
#17: Manufacturing Jobs
Trump gave a misleading picture of how the number of manufacturing jobs has changed under his administration. At his rally in Johnstown, the president said, “We added nearly 600,000 manufacturing jobs and we added 15,000 factories, and Obama said ‘You’ll never produce manufacturing jobs.’ Remember? You need a magic wand. Well, we found the magic wand.”
Actually, the number of manufacturing jobs has declined under Trump, due to the COVID-19 pandemic-induced recession. As we have written, the country added 475,000 manufacturing jobs — not the 600,000 cited by Trump — during his first three years in office. But this year the number has declined sharply, and as of September there were 164,000 fewer manufacturing jobs than when Trump took office — something the president didn’t mention at his rally.
#18: Biden Tax Plan
Trump wrongly claimed that Biden says he wants to “terminate all of the Trump tax cuts. Well, that’s $2,000 plus child tax credits, plus all of the other things. You’re talking about $6,000, $7,000, $8,000 a year.” Biden has not said he will terminate all of the Trump tax cuts, only the cuts for those making more than $400,000 a year.
The most recent estimate (issued Oct. 15) by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, for example, calculates that the net result of all Biden’s tax proposals would be, on average, an increase in after-tax income (in effect, a tax cut) for the bottom 80% of households, with the top one-tenth of 1% of earners bearing 70% of Biden’s proposed tax increases.
And contrary to Trump’s claim that Biden would eliminate the child tax credits contained in the Trump tax cuts, he is proposing to expand them during the pandemic. Biden also proposes to expand child care tax credits up to $8,000 for low-and middle-income families.
#19: Private Insurance
Trump claimed Biden would “outlaw the private health insurance plans of over 180 million Americans who love those plans.” Biden doesn’t support eliminating private insurance in favor of a single-payer health care system, as Trump suggested. Biden’s plan includes a Medicare-style public option as a choice, but also increases tax credits for individuals purchasing their own insurance.
“Instead of starting from scratch and getting rid of private insurance, he has a plan to build on the Affordable Care Act by giving Americans more choice, reducing health care costs, and making our health care system less complex to navigate,” the plan says.
Trump falsely claimed in several rallies that Biden would “confiscate your guns” and “get rid of your Second Amendment.” Biden has advocated a ban on the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines for ammunition — not a ban on all guns — and he has said he wouldn’t confiscate assault weapons or high-capacity magazines that had already been purchased legally. As we’ve written before, Biden’s platform on gun control says he would give those currently in possession of either a choice: sell the weapons to the government, or register them under the National Firearms Act.
#21: Biden and Law Enforcement
In Sanford, Florida, Trump claimed that during the first presidential debate he said to Biden, “‘Say the words, law enforcement, just say it.’ Couldn’t do it. He couldn’t say it.” That’s wrong. After Trump urged Biden to say “law enforcement,” debate moderator Chris Wallace turned to his next question, about race, and Biden said the words “law enforcement” in his answer.
“There’s systemic injustice in this country. In education, in work and in law enforcement and the way in which it’s enforced. But look, the vast majority of police officers are good, decent, honorable men and women,” Biden said. “They risk their lives every day to take care of us. But there are some bad apples. And when they occur, when they find them, they have to be sorted out. They have to be held accountable.”
In Pennsylvania, Trump changed the claim to say he asked Biden to “‘say the words law and order. Say it, Joe. Say it.’ He couldn’t do it.” In the debate, Trump also accused Biden of not wanting “to say anything about law and order” and later said, “Are you in favor of law and order?” Biden said those words, too, responding, “I’m in favor of law, you following it. … Law and order with justice, where people get treated fairly.” In his rally, Trump mocked the inclusion of “justice,” saying: “Then I think at the end, didn’t he say like law, and order, and safety, and justice, and you know, all the stuff.”
#22: Charter Schools
In Florida, Trump claimed of Biden, “He’ll ban charter schools.” As we have written, Biden opposes federal funding for schools managed by for-profit companies, which make up only about 10% of charter schools, according to a researcher for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. And while Biden opposes vouchers for private school tuition — the ultimate in school choice for some — he does not oppose students choosing between public schools, magnet schools and high-performing charter schools.
#23: Restoring Order in Minneapolis
Trump has falsely taken credit for restoring order in Minneapolis in the face of violent protests in May following the death of George Floyd in police custody. “Remember Minneapolis was burning down, day after day and I’d called, let us come in, let us come in, and anyway, they finally came in,” Trump said. “How long did it take? About a half an hour. Remember the beautiful scene?”
In fact, as we have written, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey requested National Guard support on May 27, the second day of demonstrations. National Guard support was authorized by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz in an executive order May 28, and troops began arriving in Minneapolis later that day. That night the Minnesota National Guard tweeted that it had “activated more than 500 soldiers to St. Paul, Minneapolis and surrounding communities.” No calls from Trump were necessary. The local officials acted on their own and promptly to summon help.
#24: Highway Approvals
Trump falsely claimed that “it used to take 18, 17, 20, 21, it would take years and years, 21 years to get a highway approved. … We have that down now to two years and probably one.” Trump signed an executive order in August 2017 setting a “goal of completing all Federal environmental reviews and authorization decisions for major infrastructure projects within 2 years.” But that hasn’t been achieved. As we wrote when Trump made a similar claim during the Republican National Convention in August, according to the latest statistics from the Federal Highway Administration, it took a median of 3.83 years in fiscal 2019 for projects requiring environmental impact statements to complete the process required by the National Environmental Policy Act. That’s the same or a bit longer than it took during the last five years of the Obama administration.
Although there have been outliers, the median wait time to get permit approval has never been nearly as high as the president claimed. According to Federal Highway Administration data, after the method for tracking wait times was revised starting in fiscal 2012, the median wait time during the last five years of the Obama administration was 43.6 months, or 3.63 years. That median time has not been trimmed during the Trump years. The median wait time was 46 months in fiscal 2017, 47 months in fiscal 2018 and 46 months in 2019.
#25: The Suburbs
Addressing Pennsylvania supporters, Trump implored suburban women to like him because he “ended … the rule that made the zoning so impossible that you had to destroy your communities” and “brought crime to the suburbs.” He said, “I don’t want to build low-income housing next to your house.”
In July, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced it will end a 2015 HUD rule on “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.” But experts told us the rule didn’t mandate low-income housing or rezoning, as Trump has claimed or suggested. In the published rule, HUD made clear it “does not impose any land use decisions or zoning laws on any local government.” The rule changed the way jurisdictions that receive HUD funding develop and report plans to address fair housing issues in their communities.
#26: Veterans Choice
For two years, Trump has been spreading a bogus tale that he was responsible for enacting legislation to create the Veterans Choice program, when, in fact, that legislation was signed by Obama in 2014. Trump did so again at all five rallies last week, claiming in Pennsylvania, “For our great vets. We passed VA choice and VA accountability. Nobody thought would ever get that done.” In the past, the president has even claimed the program — which allows veterans to receive care from non-VA health care providers if they were unable to get timely appointments or faced long travel to VA facilities — was his idea, calling it “the greatest idea I think I’ve ever had.” The Veterans Choice legislation passed easily in August 2014, with overwhelming bipartisan majorities. Only eight lawmakers in Congress opposed the final bill. Trump has signed legislation to continue the program and to expand eligibility for its services.
#27: Biden and Social Security
At all five rallies, Trump argued that “Biden’s agenda would be a catastrophe for seniors,” claiming, “Biden tried to cut Social Security and Medicare” for years, but “nobody remembers that.”
We took a deep dive into Biden’s history on Social Security when, during the Democratic primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders accused Biden of saying “on many occasions we should cut Social Security.” In 1984, when Ronald Reagan was president, then-Sen. Biden co-sponsored a Senate bill (along with Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley and others) seeking a one-year, across-the-board freeze on defense and domestic spending as a way to reduce budget deficits. It would have eliminated cost-of-living increases for one year for Social Security and Medicare. It failed. And as we wrote, on other occasions in the past, Biden has been willing in budget negotiations with Republicans to at least consider things such as raising the age of eligibility or recalculating cost-of-living increases for Social Security.
But that’s not what Biden is proposing now. In his 2020 campaign, Biden has proposed a plan that would increase revenue for Social Security by eliminating the payroll tax cap and expand benefits for some of the oldest seniors. A recent analysis of Biden’s plan for Social Security by the Urban Institute concluded, “If enacted, Biden’s proposals would improve financial security for many older adults and people with disabilities and close about a quarter of Social Security’s long-term financial shortfall.”
#28: ‘Defunding’ Police
Trump put a new twist on his false claim that Biden wants to “defund” the police, saying instead that “Joe Biden and the Democrat socialists will … dismantle your police departments.” Despite the frequency of this claim, Biden has repeatedly said he doesn’t support that. “While I do not believe federal dollars should go to police departments violating people’s rights or turning to violence as the first resort, I do not support defunding police,” the former vice president said in a June 10 op-ed. “The better answer is to give police departments the resources they need to implement meaningful reforms, and to condition other federal dollars on completing those reforms.” A campaign spokesman also told us Biden supports more funding for police for initiatives to strengthen community relationships and for body-worn cameras.
#29: Biden and Puerto Rico Pharmaceutical Companies
Trump repeatedly has made exaggerated claims about Biden and the Puerto Rican pharmaceutical manufacturing industry, claiming variously that Biden “shut down” the industry or “voted to obliterate” it. In 1996, Biden, then a senator, joined all of the Democrats who voted and a majority of Republicans, who controlled the Senate at the time, in approving a wide-ranging bill focused largely on small businesses. As we have written, it is true that the legislation phased out a tax exemption for companies manufacturing products in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories.
Loss of the exemption did impel many pharmaceutical companies to move their operations off of the island, costing Puerto Rico many jobs. But the island’s drug manufacturing industry has not been “shut down.” According to the Food and Drug Administration, in 2016 about 30% of Puerto Rico’s gross domestic product consisted of drug and medical device manufacturing, and 8% of U.S. pharmaceutical expenditures were for products manufactured in Puerto Rico. A Senate Finance Committee report issued that same year found that the impact of the legislation has been exaggerated. The island is currently home to 49 pharmaceutical plants, according to the Puerto Rican government.
#30: Support From Women
As he has numerous times in the past, Trump inflated the support he received from women in the 2016 election. At one rally, Trump said prognosticators who predicted he would “do terribly with women” were proven wrong. “I did great with women,” he said. At another rally, Trump hit the same theme, saying, “Four years ago, they said women will never vote for him. I said, ‘Why, am I so bad?’ They said, ‘The women will never vote.’ Then I got 52%,” Trump said. That’s wrong. Trump got only 41% of the female vote, according to the exit polls. Trump received 52% of the white women vote. But Trump received much lower percentages from minority groups, including Black women (4%), Latino women (25%) and other races (31%).
#31: Energy Independence
While talking about American energy in Pennsylvania, the second largest state producer of natural gas, Trump said that “we are now energy independent, first time ever.” U.S. domestic energy production did exceed its energy consumption in 2019, which is one way to define energy independence. But that wasn’t the first time that happened. The Energy Information Administration said it was the first time the U.S. produced more energy than it consumed since 1957. EIA also said U.S. energy exports exceeded its energy imports from foreign sources in 2019. That was the first time since 1952 that the U.S. was a net energy exporter, which is considered to be another type of energy independence.
Trump claimed a Biden-Harris administration will “shut down American energy” and “shut down fracking.” At times during the Democratic primary, Biden did tell environmental activists and protesters that he would “end” or “get rid of fossil fuels.” But the climate change plan Biden has proposed doesn’t include a full ban on either fossil fuels or fracking, a drilling technique used to extract oil and natural gas from rock formations.
The Biden plan says he’d ban “new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters.” That wouldn’t prohibit fracking under existing permits or in non-federal areas — where most crude oil and natural gas is produced. Biden and Harris have said multiple times that Biden won’t ban fracking. Biden does call for America to use less energy from fossil fuels, but his goal is net-zero emissions by 2050. That means emissions from fossil fuels could continue, as long as certain methods are used to sequester or remove those emissions from the atmosphere, resulting in no net addition.
#33: ‘Clean Coal’
At his Pennsylvania rally, Trump inaccurately suggested that all coal was “clean,” saying of the Democrats: “They hate coal. They hate clean, beautiful coal. I see what they do with coal now.”
As we’ve noted before, coal itself is not “clean,” although there are technologies that can make coal cleaner to burn. The only technique that substantially lowers coal’s carbon dioxide emissions is carbon capture and sequestration (or storage), or CCS. The method prevents CO2 from being released into the atmosphere, but the technology is expensive and is not yet widespread. According to the International Energy Agency, as of June 2020, there are only two operational commercial coal CCS plants in the world — the same as in 2018, when we addressed this topic. One is in the U.S., which means even if the plant runs at its maximum 240 megawatt capacity, “clean coal” accounts for only 0.1% of America’s coal-fired electricity generating capacity.
#34: Open Borders
In Sanford, Florida, Trump wrongly claimed Biden put forward “a plan to eliminate U.S. borders. Oh, that’s wonderful. Where’s our border? We don’t have one, just come in, everybody. Come on in, come on in, everybody. If you’re a murderer, if you’re a rapist, if you’re very, very sick with a disease that can spread all over, just come on in.”
As we have reported, that is not the case. There’s no doubt Biden supports a less restrictive immigration policy than the one championed by Trump. But that’s not the same as eliminating the border. “I’m going to make sure that we have border protection, but it’s going to be based on making sure that we use high-tech capacity to deal with it. And at the ports of entry — that’s where all the bad stuff is happening,” Biden said in an interview on Aug. 5. Specifically, people applying for legal immigration to the U.S. are inadmissible if they have been convicted of violent crimes, such as rape and murder, and that was true under Obama as it is under Trump. As for Trump’s claim that Biden would let in diseased people, we have written there is no evidence to back Trump’s previous assertions that Mexicans have caused a spike in coronavirus cases in pockets of the U.S.
#35: Border Wall
At his rally in Pennsylvania, Trump claimed that one of his signature promises of the 2016 election — a border wall along the Southern border — “is almost built.” Trump said it “is up to 392 miles. It’s almost built.” At other rallies, he put the total miles at over 400. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 371 miles of barriers have been erected as of Oct. 19. But according to the latest data provided to us by CBP, only 15 miles of that is new primary fencing where none previously existed. Whether that fencing meets the definition of the wall that Trump promised as a candidate, we would note that before and after the election Trump has frequently talked about the need for more new wall because immigrants simply go around the existing wall.
As for Trump’s frequent campaign promise in 2016 that Mexico would pay for the wall, Trump claimed in Pennsylvania that “Mexico is paying for the wall by the way, you know that. … We’re putting a charge on where the cars go through and it will more than pay for the wall.” Trump mentioned a border toll in August, adding to a long list of ways Trump has dubiously claimed that Mexico will pay for the wall. But to be clear, no such toll currently exists.
#36: Deporting Criminals
Trump wrongly claimed that Biden would “release criminal aliens,” adding specifically in Sanford, Florida that Biden’s position is, “If you’re a murderer, if you’re a rapist … just come on in.” Instead of releasing “criminal aliens,” Biden has pledged to halt deportations for 100 days and deport only felons after that. “Biden will direct enforcement efforts toward threats to public safety and national security, while ensuring that individuals are treated with the due process to which they are entitled and their human rights are protected,” his campaign website says.
#37: Catch and Release
Trump made false claims about so-called “catch-and release” for those crossing the border illegally. “My opponent has put forward a radical plan to eliminate U.S. borders by implementing catch and release programs,” he said in Pennsylvania. “You know what catch and release is? You catch a murderer, you catch a rapist coming across our border, and you release him. … And you say, ‘I’m sorry. Three years from now, please come back for a court case.’ Nobody comes back.” That’s not what Biden has called for, and actually, Trump administration officials have said about 50% of those released pending immigration hearings appear in court. Immigration experts say the figure is higher.
As we’ve written, Biden’s plan calls for ending “prolonged detention” for those who cross the border illegally and instead using “proven alternatives to detention and non-profit case management programs, which support migrants as they navigate their legal obligations” as “the best way to ensure that they attend all required immigration appointments.” He also supports an end to for-profit detention centers. In terms of prosecuting illegal border-crossers, policy recommendations from Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders call for scrapping the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which criminally prosecuted all unauthorized border-crossers and separated families, and focusing on prosecuting “human traffickers, smugglers” and other serious criminals.
#38: Health Care for Immigrants
Trump wrongly claimed that Biden “raised his hand” in support of “free health care for illegal aliens.” On health care, Biden has said those who are now in the country illegally should be able to buy insurance, without any subsidies — not get it for “free” — on the Affordable Care Act exchanges, as we’ve written before. The Biden-Sanders task force also “recommends extending Affordable Care Act coverage to DACA recipients.” Those are the so-called Dreamers, who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children by their parents.
Trump’s comment about Biden raising his hand refers to a June 2019 Democratic debate in which all of the candidates, including Biden, raised their hands when asked, “Raise your hand if your government plan would provide coverage for undocumented immigrants.” But the question didn’t say anything about “free” coverage, and Biden has since explained his position. About a week after that debate, he told CNN: “I think undocumented people need to have a means by which they can be covered when they’re sick,” mentioning building more clinics. “In an emergency, they should have health care. Everybody should.” Trump also claimed this “health care for the illegal aliens” would end up “decimating Medicare and destroying your Social Security.” But again, Biden has said immigrants living in the U.S. illegally should be able to buy plans, not get them for free.
#39: Nobel Peace Prize
As he often does, Trump touted the fact that he has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, and lamented that the media coverage he has received for that honor is dwarfed by the press President Barack Obama got in 2009. In Pennsylvania, Trump claimed, “I got nominated for three Nobel Peace prizes” but “the press didn’t cover it.” Trump made the same claim in Sanford, Florida, adding, “Remember when Obama got it right at the beginning. … It was the biggest story you’ve ever seen.”
Trump wasn’t nominated for three Nobel Prizes; he was nominated by three people for the same prize. And it’s not the big deal Trump makes it out to be. There were 318 candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020 — 211 individuals and 107 organizations. On its website, the Nobel committee warns not to attach too much importance to a nomination, stating, “Any person or organization can be nominated by anyone eligible to nominate,” the committee states. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has no input into submissions, though it decides who actually wins the prize. “To simply be nominated is therefore not an endorsement or extended honour to imply affiliation with the Nobel Peace Prize or its related institutions,” the committee states. Obama did get a lot of press in 2009 — not for his nomination, which was largely ignored — but for actually winning the prize. Trump did not win it.
#40: Iran Nuclear Deal
Trump has claimed repeatedly that, as part of the Iran nuclear deal, the U.S. gave Iran “$150 billion, $1.8 billion in cash for nothing.” As we have written, the nuclear deal with Iran did lift a freeze on Iran’s assets that were held largely in foreign, not U.S., banks. And, to be clear, that money belonged to Iran. Secondly, $150 billion is a high-end estimate. The U.S. Treasury Department estimated the number at about $50 billion in “usable liquid assets.”
The $1.8 billion in cash that Trump mentioned is from an unrelated settlement reached by the Obama administration to resolve a dispute that dates to 1979, when Iran paid the U.S. $400 million for military equipment it never received. The U.S. refused to provide the equipment after the Shah of Iran was overthrown in 1979. The U.S. agreed in 2016 to pay $1.7 billion to settle a claim Iran had filed against the U.S. in an international tribunal in The Hague.
#41: Russia Investigation
Trump repeatedly claimed that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election was “a fake witch hunt,” and falsely accused the Obama administration of “spying on our campaign.” As we have written, there was ample evidence to justify opening an investigation, and the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General report on the origins of the investigation found no evidence of illegal “spying” — either before or after the FBI opened the investigation.
That report, which was released in December 2019, said the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation July 31, 2016, into whether individuals associated with the Trump campaign were coordinating with the Russian government based on information from a “Friendly Foreign Government.” George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, told the foreign official that “the Trump team had received some kind of suggestion from Russia that it could assist … with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Mrs. [Hillary] Clinton,” the report said.
The special counsel’s report found that Russian government agents carried out an extensive social media campaign and hacking operation designed to damage Clinton’s campaign and help elect Trump. In an op-ed after issuing his report, Mueller called Russia’s actions “a threat to America’s democracy” and said it was “critical that they be investigated and understood.” Likewise, the inspector general concluded that the investigation “was opened for an authorized investigative purpose and with sufficient factual predication.” So it was hardly a “witch hunt,” even if the investigation “did not establish that the Campaign coordinated or conspired with the Russian government in its election-interference activities,” as Mueller’s report said.
As for spying, the inspector general report said: “We did not find any documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBl’s decision to conduct these operations. Additionally, we found no evidence that the FBI attempted to place any CHSs [confidential human sources] within the Trump campaign, recruit members of the Trump campaign as CHSs, or task CHSs to report on the Trump campaign.”
Trump falsely claimed he “raised $130 billion a year from other countries” in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization “that weren’t paying their bills.” “And that goes up to $410 billion,” he said. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Canada and European NATO allies are estimated to have increased their collective defense spending by $130 billion from 2016 to 2020 — not per year. And $400 billion is how much more they are projected to spend combined by the end of 2024 — not annually. What those nations spend is not a “bill” or direct payment to NATO, but rather their own defense spending.
Trump repeatedly embellished his administration’s record on dealing with ISIS and falsely portrayed the performance of the Obama administration. In one example, on Oct. 13, he said, “we took down 100% of the ISIS caliphate. And when I took over, that caliphate was all over the place. It was a mess.” As we have written, according to figures provided by Trump’s own administration, about half of the territory held by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, had been regained under Obama. In a Dec. 21, 2017, briefing, Brett McGurk, then-special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter ISIS, said that about 98% of the Islamic State land had been recovered by coalition forces, and 50% of that recovery had happened in 2017.
Personal Attacks on Biden
In the final weeks of the campaign, Trump has used his rallies — as he did in Iowa — to revive a false narrative that Biden “went to Ukraine and threatened to withhold $1 billion in aid if they did not fire the prosecutor that was investigating his son and the company that his son worked for.”
As we have reported more than once, Biden traveled to Kyiv as vice president and warned Ukraine’s then-president, Petro Poroshenko, that the U.S. would withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees until Ukraine removed its prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin. But Biden didn’t go rogue, and it wasn’t a “quid pro quo,” as Trump often has claimed. Biden was carrying out the Obama administration’s policy to address corruption in Ukraine. The international community and anti-corruption advocates in Ukraine were also calling for Shokin to be removed from office for his failure to prosecute corruption.
At the time, Biden’s son, Hunter, was a board member for the Burisma Group, one of the biggest private gas companies in Ukraine. But there is no evidence that Hunter Biden was being investigated at the time of Shokin’s removal, which came a few months after Joe Biden visited Kyiv on Dec. 9, 2015, and dangled the prospect of future U.S. aid if the country rid itself of the “cancer of corruption.” Yuriy Lutsenko, who served as Ukraine’s top prosecutor from 2016 to 2019, told Bloomberg News that Mykola Zlochevsky, who ran Burisma, and others were being investigated in 2014 for an alleged money-laundering transaction in 2013 that had occurred before Hunter Biden joined the board in mid-2014.
#45: Biden’s Income
Trump wrongly claimed that while Biden “live[d] on a politician’s salary for his whole life … he lives in beautiful houses all over the place” and must be “corrupt” to afford such a lifestyle. In August 2019, Forbes estimated that Biden and his wife, Jill, were worth $9 million. The magazine said their wealth included two Delaware homes valued at $4 million combined (including a vacation house in Rehoboth, Delaware), cash and investments worth around $4 million, and a federal pension worth more than $1 million.
But there is no evidence Biden earned money through any kind of corruption. Rather, he has had some lucrative years in the private sector after serving in the Senate and as vice president. Forbes said Biden received $2.4 million in speaking fees and $1.8 million from book tour events. It also said he brought in $775,000 from the University of Pennsylvania, where he is the Benjamin Franklin professor of practice and where he heads the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy & Global Engagement. It said Jill Biden added $700,000 in speaking fees. The Washington Post detailed Biden’s post-government income in a June 2019 story on how he “reaped millions in income since leaving the vice presidency.”
#46: Biden ‘Abandoned’ Scranton
Trying to dissuade Pennsylvania voters from supporting Biden, who was born in the state, Trump said, “They say he was born in Scranton, but he left. He left. He abandoned you.” Biden’s family did move from Scranton to Delaware in 1953, when he was around 10 or 11 years old. Delaware is the state Biden represented in the U.S. Senate for 36 years, and it’s where he has lived even longer. But even after Biden’s family moved, he continued to have a relationship with the city and state where he was born. In a 2010 GQ interview, Biden said: “I go back a lot. For the last thirty-five years, any time Scranton needs something… I don’t know how to say no to them. For real. I really don’t. You know, it’s still home.”
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The GOP push against Facebook and Twitter accelerated Thursday after Republican senators threatened the CEOs of the social media companies with subpoenas to force them to address accusations of censorship in the closing weeks of the presidential campaign.
With Democrats boycotting the hearing, the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee voted to authorize the legal orders if Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey did not agree to testify voluntarily.
The committee wants to hear from them about “the suppression and/or censorship of two news articles from the New York Post,” according to the subpoena document. Senators also want information from the executives about their companies’ policies for moderating content “that may interfere” with federal elections.
Representatives of Facebook and Twitter declined comment.
The urgency ratcheted higher Thursday as U.S. officials said Russian hackers have targeted the networks of dozens of state and local governments in recent days, stealing data from at least two servers. The revelation was certain to stoke fears that Americans’ confidence in the Nov. 3 election results could be undermined.
Russia backed President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign through hacking of Democratic emails and a covert social media campaign. Facebook became an unwitting conduit for misinformation and election disruption.
Facebook and Twitter acted last week to limit the online dissemination and sharing of an unverified political story from the conservative-leaning New York Post that targeted Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The story, which other publications have not confirmed, cited unverified emails from Biden’s son Hunter that were reportedly disclosed by Trump’s allies.
One email purported to show a top adviser for Burisma, the Ukraine gas company where Hunter Biden held a board seat, thanking Biden for giving him an opportunity to meet the elder Biden, who was vice president at the time.
Trump’s campaign seized on the report, though the account raised more questions than answers, including whether emails at the center of the story were hacked or fabricated. The FBI is investigating whether the emails are part of a foreign influence operation.
It was the first time in recent memory that the two social media platforms enforced rules against misinformation on a story from a mainstream media publication.
With the election looming, Facebook and Twitter have scrambled to stem the tide of material seen as potentially inciting violence and spreading disinformation and baseless conspiracy theories. Facebook has expanded its restrictions on political advertising, including new bans on messages claiming widespread voter fraud. Trump has raised the prospect of mass fraud in the vote-by-mail process.
The companies also have wrestled with how strongly they should intervene in speech on their platforms.
With Trump leading the way, conservatives have stepped up their claims that Facebook, Twitter and Google, which owns YouTube, are biased, charging without evidence Silicon Valley’s social media platforms are deliberately suppressing conservative views.
The Justice Department has asked Congress to roll back long-held legal protections for online platforms. The proposed changes would strip some of the bedrock protections that have generally shielded the companies from legal responsibility for what people post on their platforms.
Trump signed an executive order this year challenging the protections from lawsuits under a 1996 telecommunications law that has served as the foundation for unfettered speech on the internet.
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation, on a bipartisan vote, recently authorized subpoenas for Zuckerberg, Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai. The three have agreed to testify for a hearing planned for next week.
Democrats have focused their criticism of social media mainly on hate speech, misinformation and other content that they say can incite violence or keep people from voting. They have criticized the CEOs for failing to police content, focusing on the platforms’ role in hate crimes and the rise of white nationalism in the United States.
In 2017, following the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, tech giants began banning extremist groups and individuals espousing white supremacist views and support for violence. Facebook extended the ban to white nationalists.
From both political parties, the companies have come under increasing scrutiny in Washington and from state attorneys general over issues of competition, consumer privacy and hate speech.
On Tuesday, the Justice Department filed a landmark antitrust case against Google, accusing it of abusing its dominance in online search and advertising to boost profits. It was the government’s most significant attempt to protect competition since the groundbreaking case against Microsoft more than 20 years ago.
Facebook, Amazon and Apple also have been targets of antitrust investigations by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission.
President Donald Trump on Thursday posted his unfiltered interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Facebook ahead of the show’s Sunday broadcast.
The footage, recorded and released by the White House, shows Trump growing increasingly prickly as anchor Lesley Stahl presses him on the coronavirus pandemic, his slipping support with suburban women, the lack of masks at his rallies, and the “Obamacare” replacement plan he has long promised but failed to unveil.
Trump tweeted the 38-minute video with the Facebook link: “Look at the bias, hatred and rudeness on behalf of 60 Minutes and CBS.” And he again preemptively criticized NBC News’ Kristen Welker, the moderator of Thursday’s final presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee.
The “60 Minutes” interview starts on a tense footing as Stahl asks the Republican president, “Are you ready for some tough questions?” It only grows more testy.
During the interview he complains repeatedly that Stahl did not ask tough questions of Democratic nominee Joe Biden, to which Stahl responds she did not interview Biden.
Trump also accused Stahl of ignoring stories published in a New York tabloid resurrecting unfounded claims about Biden and the business dealings of his son, Hunter Biden, in Ukraine. Stahl notes that the origins of the story trace back to Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who has pushed the idea that Ukraine was trying to interfere with the 2016 election and that the younger Biden may have enriched himself by selling his access to his father, and former Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon.
The Washington Post reported last week that national security adviser Robert O’Brien had warned Trump that information Giuliani brought back from Ukraine should be considered contaminated by Russia, but that Trump brushed off the warning.
As Trump continued to throw unsubstantiated allegations at Biden and former President Barack Obama, Stahl tried to explain: “This is ‘60 Minutes’ and we can’t put on things we can’t verify.”
But Trump continued to accuse the media of being too soft on his Democratic rival.
“Leslie, you’re discrediting yourself,” he said.
As Stahl comments at one point that Trump is offering attack after attack, Trump responds: “It’s not attack, it’s defense. It’s defense against attacks.”
“I’m defending myself and I’m defending the institute of the presidency,” he said.
The president abruptly ended the interview with Stahl before a scheduled walk-and-talk with the president and vice president.
“I think we have enough of an interview here,” Trump said.
CBS News said earlier this week that the White House asked to tape the interview “for archival purposes only.” In a statement Thursday, the network called the White House’s “unprecedented decision to disregard their agreement with CBS News and release their footage will not deter ’60 Minutes’ from providing its full, fair and contextual reporting which presidents have participated in for decades.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris are expected to be featured in the same episode with CBS News host Norah O’Donnell.
The second and final debate between President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival former Vice President Joe Biden gave voters one last chance to see the candidates face off before the general election.
The showdown Thursday included new microphone-muting rules. Check out the blog below to see how the night unfolded.
Follow our live coverage:
After meeting last month in perhaps the most chaotic debate in modern history, President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, will take the stage Thursday to give it another go.
The bar to improve upon their last prime-time meeting is low: Their first debate was punctuated by frequent interruptions, mostly from Trump, leaving the two men talking over each other and Biden eventually telling the president to “shut up.” A planned second debate didn’t happen after the Republican president was diagnosed with the coronavirus and refused to participate in a virtual format. Biden and Trump instead participated in dueling town halls on competing television networks.
Here’s what to know about the last presidential debate of 2020.
WHEN AND WHERE IS TONIGHT’S DEBATE?
The final matchup scheduled between Trump and Biden will take place at 9 p.m. ET at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
HOW TO WATCH THE DEBATE
It can be seen live on all the major TV networks, including ABC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, Fox, Noticias Telemundo, MSNBC and NBC, and many of the major networks will offer it on their apps. People can also watch via subscription streaming services like Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV and FuboTV and on YouTube.
NBC News and MSNBC will both begin special coverage at 8 p.m. ET.
NBC News NOW will provide free debate coverage beginning at 7 p.m. ET, available to stream live and on demand across OTT platforms, including Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service.
You can also watch the event live online here along with our debate live blog for real-time news, analysis and fact-checking.
WHO IS MODERATING?
NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker will moderate. Welker co-anchored a Democratic debate in 2019 with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Andrea Mitchell. She will be the first Black woman to serve as the moderator of a presidential debate since Carole Simpson in 1992.
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WHAT ARE THE MICROPHONE-MUTING RULES?
After viewers of the last presidential debate bemoaned the moderator’s inability to cut off the candidates’ microphones, the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced that each candidate’s microphone will be turned off while his opponent answers an initial question on each debate topic.
After those initial replies, the microphones will stay on during open discussion, leaving it likely there will still be lots of crosstalk during rebuttals.
WHAT CORONAVIRUS SAFETY MEASURES WILL BE IN PLACE?
The candidates will again skip the traditional handshake before the debate starts, the commission said. Trump, Biden and moderator Welker won’t be wearing masks on stage, but audience members will be required to.
The Commission on Presidential Debates’ co-chair Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr., confirmed that two plexiglass barriers have been placed between each candidate’s lecterns on stage and will remain in place “at the recommendation of the commission’s medical advisors.”
Fahrenkopf also said that in addition to the mask requirement, anyone who enters the debate hall has to test negative for coronavirus and that CPD is working with each campaign to confirm their test results. He did not provide further details on how audience members need to show or prove their negative test results to CPD or the debate’s medical advisors.
The Biden campaign said on Thursday that he was tested for the coronavirus ahead of tonight’s debate and his results came back negative.
“Vice President Biden underwent PCR testing for COVID-19 today and COVID-19 was not detected,” the campaign said in a statement.
Members of the Trump family ignored the mask mandate at the first debate; two days later the president and first lady announced they’d tested positive for the coronavirus. Trump was hospitalized for several days but has since cast the virus and his own infection in positive terms. He has resumed holding large campaign rallies and has attacked the government’s top infectious-disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Biden, who has portrayed the Trump administration’s response as an abject failure, has taken a much more cautious approach. He regularly wears a mask, holds small in-person campaign events and releases his COVID-19 test results, which have been negative. Look for them to focus on personal choices as much as their differing policy plans.
WHAT IS THE DEBATE FORMAT?
The 90-minute debate will be divided into six 15-minute segments, each on a topic selected by Welker. The six topics will be: fighting COVID-19; American families; race in America; climate change; national security; and leadership.
WHAT TO EXPECT TO HEAR FROM THE CANDIDATES
The president for months has been making accusations of corruption against Biden and has lately intensified his focus on unverified claims about Biden’s son Hunter. During the last debate, the president did not shy away from bringing up Biden’s family, targeting the former vice president’s son for his history of substance misuse, and attacked Biden’s intelligence.
Biden aides anticipate Trump will again level searing personal attacks during the debate. The Democrat is expected to try to redirect to his core argument that Trump is unfit for the job.
Trump’s Past Comments on Race
Following a summer marked by protests across the country over racial injustice, Trump has repeatedly portrayed himself as a greater champion for Black Americans than Biden is while emphasizing a law-and-order theme. But during the last debate, Trump gave a reluctant answer when asked if he would condemn white supremacists, and he refused to outright condemn a far-right fascist group, instead telling them to “ stand back and stand by.”
Biden, who frequently acknowledges systemic racism, has accused the president of encouraging a rise of white supremacy and armed militias and cites Trump’s comments that there were “very fine people” on both sides of a 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, as the impetus for his presidential run.
Look for the Democrat to continue hitting those themes while Trump casts Biden as responsible for helping send millions of Black Americans to prison with a 1994 crime law when Biden was a senator.
Differing Views on Leadership and National Security
Look for Trump to continue promoting his “America First” policies, which have pulled the U.S. out of multilateral agreements that he maintains were not in the country’s interests. He’s also likely to highlight construction of more than 200 miles of his promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and recently brokered deals normalizing relations between Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates and Israel.
Biden has accused the president of alienating long-standing U.S. allies. Expect him to focus on Trump’s efforts to sustain a relationship with Vladimir Putin’s Russia despite warnings from U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and allegations that Russia offered secret bounties for American deaths in Afghanistan.
And while immigration isn’t among the featured topics expected during the debate, but look to whether Biden seeks to raise the issue on the heels of a report this week that court-appointed lawyers have been unable to find the parents of 545 children separated at the U.S.-Mexico border early in the Trump administration. Biden has repeatedly slammed Trump’s immigration policies, something that Trump featured prominently in his 2016 campaign.
Associated Press writers Michelle L. Price and Bill Barrow contributed to this report.
Former Vice President Joe Biden said he won’t rule out studying the addition of members to the U.S. Supreme Court as part of a commission he plans to appoint to look at court reforms if he’s elected.
In an excerpt of his interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” recorded Monday but not yet aired, Biden was asked by anchor Norah O’Donnell if the commission would study whether to pack the court. Biden said the commission’s charge would “go well beyond packing.”
“There’s a number of alternatives that are — go well beyond packing,” Biden said. “The last thing we need to do is turn the Supreme Court into just a political football, whoever has the most votes gets whatever they want. Presidents come and go. Supreme Court justices stay for generations.”
The Democratic nominee for president said the U.S. court system is “getting out of whack” and he would give a bipartisan commission of constitutional scholars, both Republican and Democrats, liberal and conservative, 180 days to debate the issues and make recommendations for reforms.
Biden said last week he was “not a fan” of the idea of adding justices to the court to balance it ideologically. He said he would answer the question of whether he planned to support it before the final presidential debate, scheduled for Thursday in Nashville, Tennessee.
Questions of whether Biden would support court-packing have emerged since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death on Sept. 18 and the Republican-controlled Senate’s move forward with Judiciary Committee hearings on President Donald Trump’s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, before the Nov. 3 election.
Republicans on the panel powered past a Democratic boycott Thursday to advance Barrett’s nomination to the full Senate, keeping the 48-year-old federal judge on track for confirmation before Election Day.
Barrett’s confirmation could cement a 6-3 conservative majority on the court for years to come. The shift from Ginsburg to the conservative appeals court judge from Indiana would be the most pronounced ideological change on the court in 30 years.
Barrett is the most open opponent of abortion nominated to the Supreme Court in decades — Republicans called her a “pro-life” judge during her confirmation hearings — and she could tilt the balance on that issue and many others.
In a separate interview taped at the White House on Tuesday, President Donald Trump abruptly ended his one-on-one with Lesley Stahl and threatened to release a behind-the-scenes recording before the shows Sunday airtime.
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New York City took legal action Thursday to stop the Trump Administration from withholding funding for cities that the Justice Department designated as “anarchist jurisdictions.”
The designation, applied in late September to NYC, Portland and Seattle, imperils billions of dollars in federal funding for the cash-strapped city.
“We’re bringing this action because they have taken concrete steps – they have actually taken this ‘anarchist’ designation and started to include it in applications for federal grants,” NYC Corporation Counsel James Johnson said at a Thursday morning news conference.
The lawsuit pulls no punches from the very first word.
“In an act offensive to both the Constitution and common sense, President Trump has called on the Attorney General to formally identify certain American cities as ‘anarchist jurisdictions’—an oxymoronic designation without precedent in American jurisprudence—and has activated the entire federal bureaucracy to preclude such jurisdictions from receiving federal funds,” the 51-page complaint filed in Seattle reads.
The lawsuit goes on to ridicule the designation, calling the president’s action “offensive to both the Constitution and common sense” — while also noting that the consequences of withholding federal money during a pandemic are “deadly serious.”
“I said weeks ago if the Trump administration persisted in trying to illegally take away funding from New York City we would take them to court, and we will beat them in court,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday.
He said the administration’s move overstepped its authority, was arbitrary and capricious and violated cities’ rights to police their streets and allocate their budgets.
Johnson said up to $12 billion in funds were possibly at risk.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, argues that unless Congress says otherwise, the president can’t add conditions to money Congress has appropriated. The cities say the designation was arbitrary and capricious, and based on vague and subjective factors. The lawsuit also alleges that the administration violated due process rights and the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which specifies that powers not given to the federal government — such as local policing authority — are reserved for the states.
“It is the Defendants, not the Cities, who are engaging in lawless behavior and threatening the democratic order established by the Framers,” the lawsuit said.
In one example cited in the lawsuit, the Federal Transit Administration announced this month that it will consider applications for a current COVID-19 public transportation research grant “in accordance” with the anarchist memo.
The Justice Department said the three cities were designated as “anarchist” jurisdictions because they met criteria including “whether a jurisdiction forbids the police force from intervening to restore order amid widespread or sustained violence or destruction” and whether the city “disempowers or defunds police departments.”
For New York City, Attorney General William Barr cited “increased unrest, gun violence, and property damage” as the City Council cut $1 billion from the police department’s budget for next year.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
President Trump issued an order Sept. 2 giving the director of the Office of Management and Budget 30 days to issue guidance to federal agencies on restricting eligibility for federal grants for the cities on a prospective DOJ list.
Such grants make up a huge portion of NYC’s already strapped annual budget.
In justifying its decision, the DOJ cited New York City’s rising gun violence, cuts to the NYPD’s budget, and moves by various district attorneys not to prosecute charges related to protests earlier this summer.
Read the lawsuit below or click here to open in a new window.
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The old civil rights worker was sure the struggle would be over by now.
He’d fought so hard back in the ’60s. He’d seen the wreckage of burned churches, and the injuries of people who had been beaten. He’d seen men in white hoods. At its worst, he’d mourned three young men who were fighting for Black Mississippians to gain the right to vote, and who were kidnapped and executed on a country road just north of here.
But Charles Johnson, sitting inside the neat brick church in Meridian where he’s been pastor for over 60 years, worries that Mississippi is drifting into its past.
“I would never have thought we’d be where we’re at now, with Blacks still fighting for the vote,” said Johnson, 83, who was close to two of the murdered men, especially the New Yorker everyone called Mickey. “I would have never believed it.”
The opposition to Black voters in Mississippi has changed since the 1960s, but it hasn’t ended. There are no poll taxes anymore, no tests on the state constitution. But on the eve of the most divisive presidential election in decades, voters face obstacles such as state-mandated ID laws that mostly affect poor and minority communities and the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of former prisoners.
By at least one measure, it’s harder to vote in Mississippi than any other state. And despite Mississippi having the largest percentage of Black people of any state in the nation, a Jim Crow-era election law has ensured a Black person hasn’t been elected to statewide office in 130 years. After years of being shut out of state races, Democrats hope mobilizing Black voters and recruiting Black candidates can eventually give them a path back to relevance in one of the reddest of red states.
But sometimes, it can seem that voting rights in Mississippi are like its small towns and dirt roads, which can appear frozen in the past.
This story was produced with the support of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
Decades after the murders, the narrow county road where they happened still turns pitch black after dark. Pine forests press in from both sides. The only light comes from a couple distant houses and the ocean of stars overhead.
One night in early October we stopped the car along the road and I stepped out. The songs of crickets filled the air. In the distance, I could hear the occasional truck driving past on Highway 19.
The killers who traveled that road in 1964 were local men – Ku Klux Klan members, a deputy sheriff, a few others. The victims were three young civil rights workers – the oldest just 24 – who had joined a mass campaign that over the coming years helped bring voting rights to Black Mississippi. The men, one Black and two white, were shot at close range. Their bodies were found in an earthen dam 44 days later.
Today, with the presidential election weeks away, three of us on a reporting trip across America wanted to see what things were like in a state where the simple act of voting was impossible for nearly every Black person well into the 1960s. In a year when America has been marked by so many convulsions – a pandemic, an economic crisis, countless protests for racial justice, a virulent political divide – the road trip has been a way to look more deeply at a country struggling to define itself.
We came to Mississippi because what happened here in 1964 was also about elections, and because of the three men murdered on that little road outside the little town of Philadelphia.
The case grabbed attention all the way to the White House. Along with such seminal events as the 1963 murder in Mississippi of Black civil rights activist Medgar Evers, it helped lead to the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibited racial discrimination in voting.
Eventually, so much changed for Black voters in Mississippi.
And yet so much didn’t.
Today, voters in Mississippi face a series of government-created barriers that make it, according to a study in the Election Law Journal in 2018, far and away the most difficult state in which to vote.
Mississippi has broad restrictions on absentee voting, no early voting or online registration, absentee ballots that must be witnessed by notaries and voter ID laws that overwhelmingly affect the poor and minorities, since they are less likely to have state-approved identification. The restrictions have grown even tighter since a 2013 Supreme Court decision blocked many voting rights protections.
“Anything that increases the ‘costs’ of voting – the time it takes, the effort it takes – that tends to decrease voter turnout,” said Conor Dowling, a professor of political science at the University of Mississippi. “And there is evidence that some of these burdens are disproportionately felt by minority voters.”
Mississippi also has widespread poverty. Nearly one-third of Black people here live below the poverty line, more than double the rate for white people, which means taking a day off work to vote can be too expensive.
Then there are the felony voting restrictions, which in Mississippi have disenfranchised almost 16% of the Black population, researchers say — compared to just 5% in nearby Missouri, another deeply Republican state. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Mississippi’s restrictions a holdover from an old state constitution designed specifically to disenfranchise Black voters.
Demarkio Pritchett, who said he was convicted as a teenager of drug possession “and some other stuff,” understands that.
A lanky 29-year-old Black man now out of prison, he lives with his grandmother in Jackson, the state capital, in a poor neighborhood of battered houses with peeling paint, small well-kept homes and empty lots overgrown with trees and kudzu. His grandmother’s house, which manages to be both neat and battered, has an election sign out front for Mike Espy, a Black Democrat running for the U.S. Senate.
Democrats here see hope in candidates like Espy, a former congressman and the first Black Agriculture Secretary, who is focused on registering Black voters. Their long-term strategy hinges on mobilizing Black voters and recruiting Black candidates.
Pritchett’s grandmother is zealous about voting. But her grandson can’t vote in Mississippi for the rest of his life. Anyone convicted here of one of 22 crimes, from murder to felony shoplifting, has their voting rights permanently revoked. Pritchett’s only chance: getting a pardon from the governor, or convincing two-thirds of the state’s lawmakers to pass a bill written just for him.
“I want to vote, but they make it so I can’t,” he said, sitting on the front porch with a friend on a recent afternoon. “We just can’t beat the government. We just can’t.”
Distrust of the government runs deep in the Black community in Mississippi, where harsh voter suppression tactics – voting fees, tests on the state constitution, even guessing the number of beans in a jar – kept all but about 6% of Black residents from voting into the 1960s. A Black person who even tried to register to vote could find themselves fired from their job and evicted from their home.
As a result, Black politicians have long been fighting an apathy born of generations of frustration.
Anthony Boggan sometimes votes, but is sitting it out this year, disgusted at the choices.
“They’re all going to tell you the same thing,” he said. “Anything to get elected.”
A 49-year-old Black Jackson resident with a small moving company, Boggan likes how the economy boomed during the Trump years, but can’t bring himself to vote for a man known for his insults and name-calling.
“He’s a butthole,” Boggan said, as a group of Black friends, including one who planned to vote for Trump, laughed and nodded in agreement. “Everybody knows he’s a butthole.”
As for Biden: He and Trump both “got dementia,” Boggan said, and he hates how the former vice president tries to curry favor in the Black community.
“Why does everything he says got to be about the Black? ‘I did more of this for the Black. I’m going to do all of this for the Black,’” he said, angrily mimicking Biden. “Just have them do all this for the American people!”
One man in the group, which was doing construction on a friend’s house on a recent morning, simply refuses to vote.
“Most of the presidents that got in there, they lied all the way,” said Clyde Lewis, a 59-year-old mechanic. “They hurt us more than they help us.”
That kind of talk is painful for Kim Houston.
“Sometimes I think we beat ourselves,” said Houston, the president of the Meridian City Council, the frustration clear in her voice. “There’s this mindset that (voting) doesn’t matter, that nothing is going to change, that the election system is rigged.”
It adds up to a state where plenty of Black people have reached office – by some estimates it has the highest number of Black officials in the country – but many of them are local: mayors, city council members, city officials.
With those officials came significant infrastructure improvements, such as roads paved in Black neighborhoods and sewage systems installed that allowed Black homeowners to finally abandon their outhouses. But in Mississippi, a Black politician can rise only so high, they say, and are kept from those statewide offices.
“When it comes to the positions that really matter, we’re not sitting at that table,” said Houston, a Black woman who also runs an insurance company.
This is why people like Houston, Johnson and countless pastors and activists push so hard to get more Black people to the polls.
Black registration and turnout rates are actually reasonably high in Mississippi. In 2016, for example, 81% of Black Mississippians were registered and 69% turned out to vote.
Roshunda Osby is one of those voters. A 37-year-old certified nursing assistant, she goes to the polls in every election, she said, including local ones.
“If you don’t get out and vote you shouldn’t even have an opinion about what’s going on,” said Osby, who detests Trump for his racism.
“I don’t know much about Joe Biden, but we only have two options, and he’s going to be the better candidate than Trump,” she said, sighing.
Black women are, in many ways, the electoral bedrock of the Democratic Party, a fiercely partisan community known for turning out in force.
But Black women are not enough in a state where politics and race are so tightly interwoven. Mississippi, which is 38% Black, has very few Black Republican voters and relatively few white Democratic voters.
“It almost doesn’t matter if (Black voter turnout rates) are comparable to other states,” said Dowling, the political science professor. “It’s not enough for them to win elections unless it gets better.”
Johnson, the civil rights worker, remembers well how things used to be in Mississippi.
Mississippi could seem like a different country in the years leading up to the civil rights movement. It was far poorer than most of America, it barely bothered to fund some Black schools, it openly treated Black people as third-class citizens.
And Mississippi fought bitterly to deny the vote to Black residents, fearing their numbers would give them political power.
The racism was not subtle.
“I call on every red-blooded white man to use any means to keep the (Black people) away from the polls,” Mississippi Sen. Theodore Bilbo told a group of supporters during his 1946 election campaign, using a virulently racist term. “If you don’t understand what that means you are just plain dumb.”
Johnson was repeatedly refused the right to register to vote. But his anger pushed him to try again and again.
“It made me feel like whatever they try, I was going to knock it down,” he said.
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