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Donald J. Trump White House Page 12
Catherine Garcia, The Week

President Trump is confident in his chances of winning Tuesday's election, several aides and allies told The New York Times, because he is being buoyed by the crowds at his rallies and assured by people close to him that he will win the Electoral College. Still, Trump has shown concern over what will happen to him if he loses, several advisers told the Times, and he expects prosecutors will take a closer look at his business dealings; there are already established investigations into the Trump Organization in New York.

Most of the more than a dozen allies and aides interviewed by the Times said they do believe he will win re-election, but the stars must align in certain areas; for example, the president must pull ahead in Minnesota, Michigan, or Wisconsin, all states where he is trailing behind Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in the polls. more...

By Darragh Roche

Protesters carrying Trump flags picketed Attorney General William Barr's home on Saturday because they believe he isn't doing enough to bring former Vice President Joe Biden to justice.

President Donald Trump has referred to Biden as a criminal and said he and his son, Hunter Biden, are part of an "organized crime family." This is due in part to unsubstantiated allegations about the Bidens' business dealings with foreign countries.

"It's come to this: A neighbor reports that AG William Barr's house in McLean is being picketed by Trump supporters who believe he's not doing enough to lock up Joe Biden," tweeted Glenn Kessler, editor and chief writer for The Washington Post's Fact Checker.

Other social media users also shared photos of the scene, with one picture featuring a white horse. AP journalist Mike Balsamo reported that the Department of Justice had said Barr went out to speak to the picketers. more...

*** Trump is planning to steal the election by denying millions of people their valid votes. ***

Justin Baragona

Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller previewed Team Trump’s strategy for Election Night, suggesting on Sunday morning that counting all legally cast ballots was akin to stealing the election. During an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Miller predicted that Trump would be ahead in the vote counts of several swing states on Tuesday evening and that would give him the necessary number of electoral votes to win the election.

“If you speak with many smart Democrats, they believe that President Trump will be ahead on election night probably getting 280 electors, somewhere in that range. and they’re just going to try to steal it back after the election,” Miller exclaimed. “We believe we'll be over 290 electoral votes on election night. So no matter what they try to do, what kind of hijinks or lawsuits or whatever kind of nonsense they try to pull off, we're still going to have enough electoral votes to get President Trump re-elected.”

Stephanopoulos, meanwhile, didn’t provide any pushback to Miller’s baseless assertion that counting ballots after Election Day is “nonsense” and thievery. Furthermore, some states—such as Pennsylvania—are unable to immediately count mail-in ballots due to state laws. (Mail-in vote totals are expected to be heavily Democratic.) Even some Republicans criticized Miller’s comments that the election should be decided only by votes counted on Tuesday. more...

By John Bowden

President Trump complained on Twitter Sunday night about the FBI investigating videos of a caravan of the president's supporters surrounding and harassing a Biden campaign bus on a Texas highway Friday. "In my opinion, these patriots did nothing wrong. Instead, the FBI & Justice should be investigating the terrorists, anarchists, and agitators of ANTIFA, who run around burning down our Democrat run cities and hurting our people!" the president tweeted.

Biden campaign officials say a caravan of vehicles displaying pro-Trump flags surrounded its bus on Interstate 35 in Texas Friday, yelling obscenities and trying to run it off the road. The campaign official said they slowed the bus to about 20 mph and attempted to stop it in the middle of the highway. A video posted to Twitter showed a white truck hitting a car as it followed the Biden bus. more...

By Morgan Chalfant

President Trump on Sunday denied that he would declare premature victory in the election but signaled that Republicans would mount legal challenges to prevent ballots from being counted after Election Day.

“I think it’s a terrible thing when ballots can be collected after an election. I think it’s a terrible thing when people or states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after the election is over because it can only lead to one thing,” Trump told reporters in Charlotte, N.C., criticizing decisions by the Supreme Court to allow ballots to be received after Election Day in several battleground states.

“I think there is great danger to it, and I think a lot of fraud and misuse can take place,” Trump continued, without providing specific evidence for his claim that extending deadlines for receiving ballots could result in fraud. more..

*** Trump is talking about himself Trump is the snake. ***

By John Bowden

President Trump revived his use of a late left-wing activist's song called "The Snake" during a rally in North Carolina on Sunday while warning supporters his opponent would undo his immigration policies. Trump recited the song's lyrics at his Hickory, N.C., rally.  Trump once regularly recited "The Snake" at his rallies to warn about what he saw as the ills of immigration but the president hasn't used it since February. He said Sunday that supporters had asked him to reprise it.

The piece, originally released in 1963 by singer-songwriter and activist Oscar Brown, is based on an Aesop's fable called "The Farmer and the Viper" and is meant to teach how kindness can be exploited by malicious people. Brown's daughters told CNN in 2017 that they had sent cease-and-desist orders to the Trump campaign urging the president to stop using the lyrics, claiming that he was misconstruing the song's meaning. more...

As a law student, Aaron Parnas says, he witnessed many of his father's encounters with President Trump and his inner circle.

As Rudy Giuliani searched for damaging information on the Bidens in Ukraine, waged shadow diplomatic campaigns in Venezuela and Turkey, and spoke regularly to President Donald Trump about all of it, a 19-year-old law student was quietly watching and soaking it all in. The saga of Lev Parnas, a close former Giuliani associate and fixer, is familiar by now: Parnas helped Giuliani investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s dealings in Ukraine, an endeavor that ultimately led to the president’s impeachment.

Unknown until this week, however, was that Parnas’ son Aaron was present for much of it. And he has now written an eyewitness account of many of the back-channel dealings conducted by Giuliani and a small group of his confidants to help their clients — chief among them the president of the United States.

“I had no intention of writing this book before a few weeks ago,” the younger Parnas, who recently graduated from George Washington University Law School in D.C., said in an interview. “But after I finished the bar exam, I began thinking about how young Republicans and young people in general often feel like they don't have a place in the political system and might not want to vote. So I thought if they were able to see what I saw — maybe it would help them make a decision.” The 153-page memoir, titled “TRUMP FIRST: How the President and his associates turned their backs on me and my family,” traces Parnas’ journey from an enthusiastic Trump supporter in 2016 — he even volunteered for the campaign in Florida — to an eager Biden voter in 2020. more...

By Tia Mitchell - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Patricia Murphy - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Greg Bluestein - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Maya T. Prabhu - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ROME — Floyd County Democrats abruptly canceled plans Sunday to rally for Joe Biden in downtown Rome ahead of President Donald Trump’s event, after an organizer said there were safety concerns over a “large militia presence” drawn to the Republican’s visit. Ruth Demeter, the local party’s chairwoman, said in a statement on its website that the event was canceled “out of an abundance of concern for the health and safety of our citizens."

“We have been informed that a large militia presence is expected in Rome today due to Trump’s visit," she said, hours before Trump’s arrival. "Additionally, we are not able to secure police presence for our event because of the airport rally.” Instead, the Democratic Party of Georgia moved the event to Zoom where local Democrats talked about what they considered the dangers of another Trump term in office, especially in light of the still-raging coronavirus pandemic. more...

By Josh Campbell, CNN

Washington (CNN) The FBI is investigating the alleged harassment of a Joe Biden campaign bus last week by motorists displaying Trump 2020 flags, an FBI spokesperson confirmed Sunday. "FBI San Antonio is aware of the incident and investigating," FBI spokesperson Michelle Lee told CNN. The incident took place in Texas on Friday as the campaign bus was traveling from San Antonio to Austin as part of a push to urge Biden supporters to cast their ballots on the state's last day of early voting. A Biden campaign official described the motorists' actions as an attempt to slow down the bus and run it off the road. People in vehicles that were part of a "Trump Train" began yelling profanities and obscenities and then blockaded the entire Biden entourage, according to a source familiar with the incident.

At one point they slowed the tour bus to roughly 20 mph on Interstate 35, the campaign official said. The vehicles slowed down to try to stop the bus in the middle of the highway. The source said there were nearly 100 vehicles around the campaign bus. Biden staffers were rattled by the event, the source said, though no one was hurt. Neither Biden nor his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, were on the bus. Multiple sources told CNN that Wendy Davis, a former state senator who is challenging Republican Rep. Chip Roy for Texas' 21st Congressional District, was on the bus. Davis' campaign declined to comment to CNN on Saturday. more...

Cars and trucks carrying Trump 2020 flags swamped freeways from New Jersey to Texas on Sunday as supporters posted #TrumpTrain videos on Twitter.
Patricia Kelly Yeo

In a show of support of questionable political value, pro-Trump demonstrators clogged freeways Sunday across the country, from blue states like New Jersey, New York, and Washington state, to red-leaning Texas and purple Arizona. “WHOOO! We shut it down baby! We shut it down!” says one pro-Trump videographer as he pans the camera nearly 360 degrees, showing viewers the group of cars that had brought traffic to a complete standstill along the northbound Garden State Parkway in New Jersey.

In a show of support of questionable political value, pro-Trump demonstrators clogged freeways Sunday across the country, from blue states like New Jersey, New York, and Washington state, to red-leaning Texas and purple Arizona. “WHOOO! We shut it down baby! We shut it down!” says one pro-Trump videographer as he pans the camera nearly 360 degrees, showing viewers the group of cars that had brought traffic to a complete standstill along the northbound Garden State Parkway in New Jersey. more...

*** Is Trump going to steal the election? ***

The president is said to have told sources he will declare himself the winner if it looks like he's “ahead.”
By Léonie Chao-Fong

Donald Trump plans to declare victory over the US presidential election even before the results are called, according to reports. Trump has reportedly told sources that he will walk up to the podium on the night of Nov 3 and announce himself as the winner if it looks like he’s “ahead”. The American news site Axios has cited three anonymous sources and claimed the incumbent president has spoken privately through the scenario “in some detail” in the past few weeks.

The report says: “Trump has privately talked through this scenario in some detail in the last few weeks, describing plans to walk up to a podium on election night and declare he has won. “For this to happen, his allies expect he would need to either win or have commanding leads in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Iowa, Arizona and Georgia.” It is entirely possible that the results of this year’s election will not be known on the election day itself. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, far more people are casting mail-in and absentee ballots than in any previous election. In some states, those ballots cannot be opened, processed or counted until election day. As a result, results in some key swing states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, will not and cannot be projected by the end of Election Day. more...

*** Trump was projecting what he was going to do to win when he claimed voter fraud and rigged election. ***

First, make it illegal to count votes quickly. Second, paint the slow count as suspicious.
By Matthew Yglesias

Behind in the polls, Republicans are becoming increasingly blunt about their plan to win the election: don’t let everyone’s votes be counted. As Astead Herndon and Annie Karnie reported for the the New York Times Saturday evening: “Trump advisers said their best hope was if the president wins Ohio and Florida is too close to call early in the night, depriving Mr. Biden a swift victory and giving Mr. Trump the room to undermine the validity of uncounted mail-in ballots in the days after.”

This is a very plausible scenario. As Vox’s Andrew Prokop has explained, due to differences in local election law, “the general expectation is that Florida, North Carolina, and Arizona are in a good place to count most of their votes on election night or soon afterward” but “Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan — the trio of states that clinched Trump’s victory in 2016 — are a different story.”

Current polls show Biden leading in all six states. But his leads are narrower in the fast-counting states than in the slow-counting states, so if Trump does moderately better than polls currently suggest, he could win the fast-counting states on election night and wage battle in the courts to try to prevent the slow-counting from fully tallying their votes.

It’s a long-shot effort, but the only reason it’s on the table at all is that the GOP-controlled legislatures in those three states have deliberately acted to keep the vote count slow. So there’s indication Trump may have party support if he tries to undermine the counting. Meanwhile, other actions over the weekend from North Carolina to Texas reveal a Republican Party that is broadly committed to using roadblocks to voting as a strategy for victory. more...

AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/CNN) — After documented reports of pro-Donald Trump supporters following, surrounding and allegedly threatening a Joe Biden-Kamala Harris campaign bus in Texas, Saturday night the President appeared to embrace the actions of his supporters.

Trump tweeted a video of the caravan surrounding the Biden bus with the caption, “I LOVE TEXAS!” Biden spokesman Bill Russo responded to Trump’s tweet by pointing to reports that Trump’s campaign was not prepared to shuttle attendees who had been bused to a rally at a Pennsylvania airport back afterward, leading to a chaotic situation with his supporters walking across roads to cars parked miles away. “For the second time in a week your campaign has left your supporters stranded in the cold with no transportation at one of your superspreader rallies,” Russo said on Twitter. “Maybe you should spend more time worried about those buses than ours.” more...


President Trump posted video Saturday night of his supporters surrounding a Biden-Harris campaign bus with the comment, "I LOVE TEXAS!" in a tweet Democrats called "reckless." Why it matters: Democratic officials and witnesses said the pro-Trump vehicles attempted to "force" the Biden-Harris campaign bus "off the road" in the incident on Friday, per the New York Times. The incident comes amid heightened concerns of Election Day and post-election violence, which has prompted officials in some cities and states to take unprecedented measures to prepare.

Driving the news: Videos of the incident show several trucks bearing Trump flags and signs surround the bus as it headed from San Antonio to Austin on Interstate 35, per NYT. "These Trump supporters, many of whom were armed, surrounded the bus on the interstate and attempted to drive it off the road," tweeted historian Eric Cervini, who said he traveled to Texas to help with the Biden-Harris campaign. The vehicles "ended up hitting a staffer’s car," Cervini added. Trump supporters also "followed the Biden bus throughout central Texas to intimidate Biden supporters," Travis County Democratic Party Chair Katie Naranjo said in a Twitter post. "They ran into a person's car, yelling curse words and threats. Don't let bullies win, vote." more...

Trump says he’s the “best president” for African Americans. Is that really true?

Lil Wayne set social media ablaze Thursday when the self-proclaimed “best rapper alive” revealed meeting privately with President Donald Trump, joining the pantheon of past-their prime Black male rap stars — Ice Cube and 50 Cent — in embracing the president. “Just had a great meeting with @realdonaldtrump @potus besides what he’s done so far with criminal reform, the platinum plan is going to give the community real ownership,” he tweeted alongside a now-viral photo of the rapper and the president side by side, smiling and offering a thumbs up.

Tens of millions of Americans had already voted early in the presidential election before Lil Wayne’s tweet, which garnered more than 468,000 likes. But the fact that the vulnerable incumbent met with the rapper in the final week of the election -- and the extensive media coverage of their encounter -- are clear reminders that race is also on the ballot. Trump famously asked Black voters what they had to lose by supporting him in 2016. A tumultuous four years in the White House provides answers.

The president frequently touts a record-low Black unemployment rate, funding for historically Black colleges and universities, opportunity zones and criminal justice reform as evidence of what he’s done for African Americans. But the wins Trump claims come with a combination of caveats and skepticism, according to policy experts. They also ignore the ways his policies are furthering racial segregation, not to mention stoking racial divisions and violence.

For example, Trump’s “Platinum Plan” for Black Americans is only two pages, a fraction of former Vice President Joe Biden’s “Lift Every Voice” plan. The president’s outline includes four pillars and several promises over the next four years, like safe urban neighborhoods with the highest policing standards (Black people live in rural and suburban areas, too). more...

A. B. Man III

Trump likes to brag about what a good job he has done about the coronavirus he likes to tell us how he stopped it from coming in from China with his travel ban but somehow manages to forget to tell you about the 40,000 who came from China during his travel ban. He also forgets to tell you about the cases that came in from Europe that infected New York and the east coast or how deadly the coronavirus is. Trump knew early on how deadly the coronavirus but has said he wanted to downplay it; you do not down play something that can kill people doing so puts people’s lives at risk. People cannot and will not take the appropriate safety precaution if they do not how deadly the coronavirus is.

The ideal that Trump wanted to down play the coronavirus because he did not want to start panic is almost laughable if it was not so said, when you consider daily he scares people with his talk about the protesters and how Antifa and the protesters are coming for you. Other counties around the world were honest with their people and it did not cause a panic in those counties. Trump could have saved a lot of lives if had told the America people the truth this is a bad one you need to wear mask and social distance from each other. How many people would be alive today if he had been honest with the American people?

Currently 7,990,457 Americans have the coronavirus and 219,693 have died in six months from the coronavirus, because of Trump’s inaction, maybe in America we should call the Trump Flu. Most of the Americans who have died may have lived if not for Trump’s inaction. We do not know how many more Americas will die from the Trump Flu but most of them would have lived if not for Trump’s inaction. Trump knew the dangers of the Trump Flu his inactions caused the needles deaths of most of the 219,693. We do not know full total number of people who have died from the Trump Flu or how many more Americans will die because of Trumps inaction.

Instead of being honest with the American people, he continues to be dishonest about how deadly it is by telling the American people that it is no deadly that the flu and that is not true. The flu killed 37,000 people in 2019; the Trump Flu has killed 219,693 in six months, nearly six times as many people died in half the time, that is nowhere like the flu.

Trump should be charged with homicide because he knew how deadly the Trump Flu was and did not tell the America people and to this day, he has not come out and told the truth to the America people. In addition, Trump and his campaign went around the country infecting people including themselves at his campaign events, Herman Cain died shortly after attending a Trump event. We do not know how many people have gotten the Trump Flu or died from it by attending a Trump event, but it was reckless for Trump to put people at risk without telling them how high deadly the Trump Flu and not taking the appropriate precaution such as mask and social distancing to protect the people at his events.

Maybe we were expecting too much of Trump to think he could or would protect us from the Trump Flu, considering Trump could not or rather would not protect himself, his family, his staff the White House, his supporters or the American people from the Trump Flu obviously he is not up to the job. The America people need to fire Donald J. Trump, we need to vote him out of office before he kills more Americans and does even more damage to our institutions and our democracy.

*** Trump is once again using our tax dollars for his reelection campaign. ***

By David Nakamura and Paul Sonne

In the final days of the 2020 election season, President Trump has featured his White House press secretary as a star at his campaign rallies, where she has triumphantly joined him onstage. Trump’s daughter Ivanka, a senior White House adviser, has stumped for him and on Saturday posted a stylized photo with uniformed law enforcement officers in Wisconsin, a key battleground.

His top aides, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser Robert O’Brien, have found pressing official business in a number of swing states, traveling there on taxpayer money. And Trump is considering shifting his election night viewing party from the Trump International Hotel to the White House — a move that could help him skirt the local D.C. government’s coronavirus restrictions while also overriding long-standing norms from both political parties to refrain from overt campaigning at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. more...

A second-term Trump administration is considering expelling Cabinet members who have crossed the president, refused to mount investigations he has demanded or contradicted him on coronavirus.

President Donald Trump and his top aides are planning a huge overhaul of his Cabinet if he wins a second term, scuttling officials in key health-related and intelligence jobs who Trump views as disloyal, slow-acting or naysayers. The shift would amount to a purge of any Cabinet member who has crossed the president, refused to mount investigations he has demanded, or urged him to take a different, more strict tack on the coronavirus response.

The evictions could run the gamut from senior health officials to much of the national security leadership. Already, the White House and administration officials have started to vet names of health care experts who could take over the agencies running many elements of the government’s pandemic response and overseeing the country’s health insurance system, according to two Republicans close to the White House. And the president is eying a remake of leadership at the FBI, CIA and Pentagon, exasperated with what he perceives as unwillingness to investigate his preferred subjects or take on the government’s “deep state.”

This personnel overhaul of the Trump Cabinet at the start of a second term would mirror the turnover his administration has already experienced during his first four years. Of the 23 Cabinet-level posts in the Trump White House, only seven officials lasted all four years. Many, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, had public and contentious departures. And it would represent a fully unencumbered Trump, no longer constrained by political considerations or pushback from Congress. more...

Patricia Kelly Yeo

Scott Atlas, President Trump’s favorite coronavirus adviser, has apologized for a Saturday night appearance on RT, the Kremlin-funded TV network. On Sunday, Atlas, a neuroradiologist with no background in infectious diseases, issued an apology via Twitter claiming he was unaware the network was a registered foreign agent. “I regret doing the interview and apologize for allowing myself to be taken advantage of,” Atlas said. On Sunday, CNN’s Jim Acosta reported that a senior White House official told him the White House did not approve or clear Atlas’ RT appearance. In his interview with Russian state media, Atlas blasted COVID-19 lockdowns, saying top-down orders were an “epic failure of public policy by people who refuse to accept they were wrong” and that public health leaders have killed people through shutdown policies, despite numerous studies contradicting this claim. more...

Scott Atlas also made a point to complain about criticism he’s faced for his coronavirus guidance, calling it a “sad statement” that the media “destroyed” him.
Allison Quinn

Trump’s favorite COVID-19 adviser appeared on Russia’s state-controlled RT network late Saturday to declare the coronavirus pandemic mostly under control and insist that it’s actually lockdowns that are “killing people.” Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist, was introduced on RT’s Going Underground as “one of the only two men the U.S. president apparently listens to on the pandemic.”

He conceded that COVID-19 has been “deadly” and stressed that “there’s no understating that.” But he went on to state that many lives had also been “lost from the policy of shutdowns,” which he described as an “epic failure of public policy by people who refuse to accept they were wrong.”

“The public health leadership… They’re killing people with their fear-inducing shutdown policies,” he said, without specifying who he was referring to. Contrary to his claims, studies have actually shown that tens of thousands of lives could have been saved with earlier lockdowns. Atlas went on to complain about the criticism he has faced since joining the president’s task force after Trump saw him on Fox News echoing many of his own ideas about the virus. more...

By The Visual Journalism Team

Donald Trump is a man who prefers plain speaking to the language of diplomacy. During his four years in office, the US president has upended relationships with previously solid US allies, forged surprising new friendships and tweeted about it all - a lot. We've taken a look at the countries he's mentioned most on Twitter to pick out his most notable statements and give an overview of where US relations stand as we approach the election on 3 November. more...

‘well beyond safe limits’ - Dozens of pickup trucks, many with Trump flags, surrounded a Biden campaign bus as it traveled from San Antonio to Austin.
Kelly Weill

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign canceled a Friday event in Austin, Texas, after harassment from a pro-Trump contingent. Texas has emerged as a battleground state in Tuesday’s presidential election, with polls showing the typically Republican stronghold now only marginally favoring President Donald Trump. The Biden campaign scheduled a Friday event in the state, in a bid to drum up last-minute support.

But when the Biden campaign bus drove to Austin, it was greeted by a blockade of pro-Trump demonstrators, leading to what one Texas House representative described as an escalation “well beyond safe limits.” The cancelation comes amid national anxiety about voter intimidation, a tactic the Trump campaign has implicitly endorsed.

Historian Dr. Eric Cervini was driving to help with the Biden campaign stop when he filmed a line of pickup trucks along the highway, many of them flying Trump flags. The drivers were “waiting to ambush the Biden/Harris campaign bus as it traveled from San Antonio to Austin,” Cervini tweeted. “These Trump supporters, many of whom were armed, surrounded the bus on the interstate and attempted to drive it off the road,” he alleged. “They outnumbered police 50-1, and they ended up hitting a staffer’s car.” more...

By The Associated Press

Expect to see a lot more of the same if there’s a second Trump administration.

President Donald Trump has consistently pointed to tax cuts and regulatory relief as key successes of his first four years in office. He has repeatedly pushed for the end of the Obama-era health law but has yet to deliver a plan to replace it. And he has spent most of this year defending his response to the coronavirus pandemic while fighting openly with scientists and medical experts about vaccines, treatments and more. If he gets another four years in office, there’s no indication of any big policy shift. A glimpse at how a second Trump term might look:

Low unemployment and a soaring stock market were Trump’s calling cards before the pandemic. While the stock market clawed its way back after cratering in the early weeks of the crisis, unemployment stands at 7.9%, and the nearly 10 million jobs that remain lost since the pandemic began exceed the number that the nation shed during the entire 2008-09 Great Recession.

And by Friday, Wall Street had closed out another punishing week with the S&P 500 posting its first back-to-back monthly loss since the pandemic first gripped the economy in March. Much of the market’s focus has been on what’s to come for the economy when coronavirus counts are rising at troubling rates across Europe and the United States. more...

Heard on Weekend Edition Saturday
Brian Naylor

The Trump administration has issued a new executive order that would fundamentally restructure the federal work force, making it easier for the government to fire thousands of federal workers, while also allowing political and other considerations to affect hiring. The executive order, issued last week, would affect the professional employees who are in policy-making positions at the very top of the civil service — people like lawyers and scientists who are are not political appointees, but serve from administration to administration regardless of which party controls the White House.

The president's order changes that, creating a new category for them — "Schedule F" — and taking away their civil service protections. In a statement that accompanied the order, the White House took aim at those protections, saying they make it too difficult for agency heads to remove "poor performers." Without the protections, the employees can be more easily replaced. Rachel Greszler, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, which supports the order, says it's "a common sense change" to address a lack of accountability in the federal government. more...

By Bill McCarthy

The U.S. reported roughly 1,000 new coronavirus deaths on Oct. 29, the day that Donald Trump falsely claimed the number of deaths was down to “almost nothing.” Trump cited an Instagram post based on provisional death counts from the CDC. The CDC says such data is “incomplete” and “will likely not include all deaths that occurred during a given time period, especially for the more recent time periods.” The U.S. has reported over 229,000 coronavirus deaths to date, the most in the world. The CDC continues to find “excess deaths” above what would normally be expected. more...

Analysis: Trump complains the media isn't reporting on Hunter Biden's emails. But NBC News met obstacles, including Rudy Giuliani, when it tried.
By Ken Dilanian and Tom Winter

The complaints from President Donald Trump and his allies have been growing louder as the election approaches: Why isn’t the mainstream media covering the Hunter Biden laptop story? Trump and his allies say there is evidence of corruption in emails and documents allegedly found on a laptop belonging to Democrat Joe Biden’s son. They say those and other documents show that Hunter Biden used his father’s influence to enrich himself through business deals in Ukraine and China, and that his father not only facilitated that, but may have benefited financially.

But the Wall Street Journal and Fox News — among the only news organizations that have been given access to key documents — found that the emails and other records don’t make that case. Leaving aside the many questions about their provenance, the materials offered no evidence that Joe Biden played any role in his son’s dealings in China, let alone profited from them, both news organizations concluded.

As to Ukraine, a single email published by the New York Post suggests Joe Biden may have had a meeting with a representative of a Ukrainian company that employed his son. Trump and his allies alleged that means Joe Biden has lied when he said he never discussed his son’s business roles. The Biden campaign denies the meeting happened. more...

Trump may try to steal the election. Americans may have to take to the streets.
An expert on nonviolent civil resistance talks about when protests work, how they work, and when they become necessary.
By Sean Illing

President Trump has repeatedly challenged the legitimacy of the 2020 election, and he just had his third Supreme Court justice confirmed after saying he may need the Court to settle a disputed outcome. A Supreme Court decision this week on mail-in ballots in Wisconsin has raised worries among Democrats and analysts that the Court will do just that in Trump’s favor. And going back all the way to 2016, Trump has hinted that his supporters (“Second Amendment people”) might resort to violence if things go the wrong way.

These developments, and Trump’s general predisposition to authoritarianism, raise an important question: What should Americans do if he loses the election and refuses to accept the results? Political analysts have already raised the prospect of mass protests erupting in the event of a contested election. But when to take the streets isn’t just a question for liberal activists. Even David Brooks, no radical, has suggested the US might need a “sustained campaign of civic action” to “rally the majority that wants to preserve democracy.”

For better or worse, this is where we are as a country. And the possibility that we might need a wave of nonviolent civil resistance leads to another question: When would people actually know that it’s time to take to the streets? The closer we get to November 3, the more urgent this question becomes. To help me think through this, I reached out to Harvard political scientist Erica Chenoweth. An expert on nonviolent civil resistance, Chenoweth has studied mass movements for years, both domestically and globally. I asked them why they work and why they fail, how we’ll know we’ve reached the point for mass protests in November, and what happens if we’re facing the very real prospect of civil conflict. more...

Facing Gap in Pennsylvania, Trump Camp Tries to Make Voting Harder
Trailing in the polls, President Trump and his campaign are pursuing a three-pronged strategy that would effectively suppress the mail-in vote in the critical state of Pennsylvania.
By Nick Corasaniti and Danny Hakim

PHILADELPHIA — President Trump’s campaign in the crucial battleground of Pennsylvania is pursuing a three-pronged strategy that would effectively suppress mail-in votes in the state, moving to stop the processing of absentee votes before Election Day, pushing to limit how late mail-in ballots can be accepted and intimidating Pennsylvanians trying to vote early.

Election officials and Democrats in Pennsylvania say that the Trump effort is now in full swing after a monthslong push by the president’s campaign and Republican allies to undermine faith in the electoral process in a state seen as one of the election’s most pivotal, where Mr. Trump trails Joseph R. Biden Jr. by about six percentage points, according to The Upshot’s polling average.

Mail-in votes in Pennsylvania and other swing states are expected to skew heavily toward Democrats. The state is one of a handful in which, by law, mail-in votes cannot be counted until Election Day, and the Trump campaign has leaned on Republican allies who control the Legislature to prevent state election officials from bending those rules to accommodate a pandemic-driven avalanche of absentee ballots, as many other states have already done.

At the same time, the campaign has pushed litigation to curtail how late mail-in votes can be accepted, as part of a flurry of lawsuits in local, state and federal courts challenging myriad voting rules and procedures. On Wednesday evening, the Supreme Court refused to hear a fast-tracked plea from Pennsylvania Republicans to block a three-day extension of the deadline for receiving absentee ballots. But Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat who is Pennsylvania’s secretary of state, advised counties to segregate ballots received after 8 p.m. on Election Day, as the issue remains before the court. more...

The acknowledgment comes as Trump has softened his promise on the campaign trail in recent weeks.

A top White House adviser on Friday called President Donald Trump’s long-shot pledge to have a coronavirus vaccine by Nov. 3 “kind of an arbitrary deadline,” as Election Day prepares to come and go with no shot having even applied for approval yet. “We’ve got nearly half a dozen vaccines that are in Phase Three clinical trials, which is record time to get it there for a novel virus like we’re dealing with,” White House strategic communications director Alyssa Farah told reporters. “We’re still highly confident we’ll have one by the end of the year and be prepared to deploy it to a hundred million Americans.”

“His goal has never — Election Day is kind of an arbitrary deadline,” she added. The acknowledgment comes as Trump has softened his promise — which always appeared improbable and politically motivated — on the campaign trail in recent weeks. Trump’s rosy vaccine timeline has been undercut repeatedly by his administration’s health officials, who have said that even with researchers working at a historic pace, it could be well into 2021 before a vaccine is widely available to Americans. Democrats, meanwhile, have expressed fears that the Trump administration would rush to approve a vaccine that had not been proved safe or effective for political purposes, though the Trump administration has repeatedly sought to assure that any vaccine would need to meet independent safety and efficacy standards before its approval. Still, the public concern prompted vaccine-makers to issue an unusual joint pledge last month. more...

By Rebecca Speare-Cole

A fire truck sprayed water over crowds of Donald Trump supporters at his rally in Tampa, Florida, where several people hospitalized due to the intense heat. Crowds of supporters braced the 87-degree sun to wait for the president to arrive at the Raymond James Stadium. Trump then spoke for nearly an hour at the outdoor rally, gearing up for the election in just four days. To help keep the crowd cool, rallygoers were sprayed with water by a fire truck at the rear of the crowd. Pictures show a huge column of water being pumped over Trump supporters who were mainly mask-less, according to NBC News. more...

Will Feuer

Donald Trump Jr. downplayed the coronavirus outbreak Thursday night, saying that the number of new Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. is “almost nothing,” even as about 800 people in the country continue to die from the disease everyday. The U.S. reported 971 new Covid-19 deaths on Thursday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Over the past seven days, more than 800 people have died from the disease, on average, every day, up 14% compared with two weeks ago, according to a CNBC analysis of Hopkins data.

That’s a much lower number of daily deaths than the country saw in the spring, when the U.S. reported more than 2,600 deaths in a single day. While daily new deaths have remained relatively flat in recent weeks, the number is trending upward. Average daily new deaths in the U.S. have not fallen consistently below 700 per day since July, Hopkins data shows.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its forecast of Covid-19 deaths earlier this week. It now projects “an uncertain trend in new COVID-19 deaths reported over the next four weeks and predicts that 3,900 to 10,000 new deaths will likely be reported during the week ending November 21, 2020.” “The reality is this: If you look, I put it up on my Instagram a couple days ago, because I went through the CDC data, because I kept hearing about new infections,” Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, said on Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s show.

“But I was like, ‘Well, why aren’t they talking about deaths?’ Oh, oh, because the number is almost nothing,” he said. “Because we’ve gotten control of this and we understand how it works. They have the therapeutics to be able to deal with this.” Scientists and doctors have made a number of clinical advances that have cut the likelihood of someone diagnosed with Covid-19 will die. The antiviral drug remdesivir from Gilead has been found to cut the time of hospitalization for severely sick Covid-19 patients and the steroid dexamethasone has been shown to reduce the risk of death. more...

Jesse Lee and Will Ragland

In President Donald Trump's final debate with former Vice President Joe Biden, he tried to conjure up one of his core arguments from 2016: that he is an outsider, while Biden is a "corrupt politician." The argument rested on conspiracy theories about Biden's family that were barely comprehensible. But after almost four years of Trump's presidency, we don't need elaborate fever dreams to know that he has become the ultimate corrupt Washington politician.

Trump promised to "drain the swamp" in 2016 and rid the system of lobbyist and big money influence. Yet his administration hired more than 280 ex-lobbyists, filling one out of every 14 political appointments, in its first three years, and Trump has appointed at least 10 ex-lobbyists to his Cabinet—double the amount Obama did in two terms. more...

New details of the Justice Department’s handling of the accusations against Halkbank reveal how Turkey’s leader pressured the president, prompting concern from top White House aides.
By Eric Lipton and Benjamin Weiser

WASHINGTON — ​Geoffrey S. Berman was outraged. The top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, Mr. Berman had traveled to Washington in June 2019 to discuss a particularly delicate case with Attorney General William P. Barr and some of his top aides: a criminal investigation into Halkbank, a state-owned Turkish bank suspected of violating U.S. sanctions law by funneling billions of dollars of gold and cash to Iran.

For months, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey had been pressing President Trump to quash the investigation, which threatened not only the bank but potentially members of Mr. Erdogan’s family and political party. When Mr. Berman sat down with Mr. Barr, he was stunned to be presented with a settlement proposal that would give Mr. Erdogan a key concession.

Mr. Barr pressed Mr. Berman to allow the bank to avoid an indictment by paying a fine and acknowledging some wrongdoing. In addition, the Justice Department would agree to end investigations and criminal cases involving Turkish and bank officials who were allied with Mr. Erdogan and suspected of participating in the sanctions-busting scheme. more...

By Paul LeBlanc, CNN

Washington (CNN) A former Trump campaign official excoriated President Donald Trump's reelection bid Wednesday, insisting that his team has "worked very much against free speech and democracy." Jessica Denson, who worked on Trump's 2016 campaign as the Hispanic engagement director, told CNN's Jake Tapper on "The Lead" that she has seen the President's 2020 campaign "go out brandishing a Bible and an American flag and claiming that they have anything to do with freedom, but I've lived first-hand that they have nothing to do with freedom."

"They have worked very much against free speech and democracy," she said. Denson's comments built upon her rebuke of the President in an advertisement released earlier Wednesday for "Republican Voters Against Trump," in which she endorses Democratic nominee Joe Biden. In the video, she casts Trump's first White House run as "a vile, self-serving branding exercise for one man and his family." more...

A 64-page document that was later disseminated by close associates of President Donald Trump appears to be the work of a fake "intelligence firm."
By Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny

One month before a purported leak of files from Hunter Biden's laptop, a fake "intelligence" document about him went viral on the right-wing internet, asserting an elaborate conspiracy theory involving former Vice President Joe Biden's son and business in China. The document, a 64-page composition that was later disseminated by close associates of President Donald Trump, appears to be the work of a fake "intelligence firm" called Typhoon Investigations, according to researchers and public documents.

The author of the document, a self-identified Swiss security analyst named Martin Aspen, is a fabricated identity, according to analysis by disinformation researchers, who also concluded that Aspen's profile picture was created with an artificial intelligence face generator. The intelligence firm that Aspen lists as his previous employer said that no one by that name had ever worked for the company and that no one by that name lives in Switzerland, according to public records and social media searches. One of the original posters of the document, a blogger and professor named Christopher Balding, took credit for writing parts of it when asked about it and said Aspen does not exist. more...

*** Trump is trying to use your taxes dollars for his reelection campaign. ***

Will Feuer

Performer Marc Anthony wanted the Trump administration to agree — in writing — that it wouldn’t use his comments for a public service campaign on the coronavirus to be used for President Donald Trump’s reelection. Actor Dennis Quaid and singers CeCe Winans and Shulem Lemmer taped their PSAs before withdrawing their consent to participate. Rapper Ludacris, actress Betty White, Britney Spears, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah, among others, all turned them down.

The Department of Health and Human Services paid a contractor to vet 274 celebrities for their views on everything from gay marriage to abortion rights as part of a $265 million public service campaign on the coronavirus, top House Democrats said in a new letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar. The ad campaign was designed to advance Trump’s “partisan political agenda” ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election and may have violated federal contracting law, according to the joint inquiry by three key House panels. Newly released documents and emails between a contractor for HHS and agency officials shed light on the extent to which political interference shaped the public health campaign.

The inquiry found that Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign official who was appointed this summer to ensure HHS’ coronavirus strategy was in line with the White House, sought to intervene directly in communications between agency contractors and employees. The work on the project continued even after HHS announced that Caputo was taking a 60-day leave of absence. more...

By Reed Richardson

The spread of coronavirus grew by an additional 1,500 cases across the Midwest in the weeks after President Donald Trump’s — mostly maskless and non-socially distanced — campaign rallies. That’s according to an analysis from USA Today, which tracked Covid outbreaks at nearly three dozen of the president’s rallies since mid-August. It found that, in five counties, cases in the two weeks following a rally grew at a rate noticeably faster than the average rise in the two weeks before. In the remainder of examples, cases did not grow appreciably faster than before Trump’s campaign event. more...

By Matt Egan, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business)The pandemic crashed the American economy into a $2 trillion hole. A sizzling summer rebound got the economy about two-thirds of the way back. Now comes the hard part. There's much to celebrate about Thursday's GDP report, which showed the US economy grew at a record annualized rate of 33.1% during the third quarter. It's evidence of the powerful one-two punch of fiscal stimulus and easy money from the Federal Reserve. And it reflects the reopening of much of the US economy.

Unfortunately, there are real obstacles going forward that will slow the recovery, perhaps severely. Some economists even fear the economy will begin shrinking again, setting off a double-dip recession. Surging coronavirus infections will slow growth this fall and winter. Hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, airlines and other hard-hit businesses can't fully recover when the pandemic is worsening. more...

Will Feuer

Performer Marc Anthony wanted the Trump administration to agree — in writing — that it wouldn’t use his comments for a public service campaign on the coronavirus to be used for President Donald Trump’s reelection. Actor Dennis Quaid and singers CeCe Winans and Shulem Lemmer taped their PSAs before withdrawing their consent to participate. Rapper Ludacris, actress Betty White, Britney Spears, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah, among others, all turned them down.

The Department of Health and Human Services paid a contractor to vet 274 celebrities for their views on everything from gay marriage to abortion rights as part of a $265 million public service campaign on the coronavirus, top House Democrats said in a new letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar. The ad campaign was designed to advance Trump’s “partisan political agenda” ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election and may have violated federal contracting law, according to the joint inquiry by three key House panels. Newly released documents and emails between a contractor for HHS and agency officials shed light on the extent to which political interference shaped the public health campaign. more...

Orion Rummler

In September, Health and Human Services spokesperson Michael Caputo privately pitched one branch of the agency's $250 million coronavirus ad campaign with the theme: "Helping the President will Help the Country," according to documents released by House Democrats on the Oversight Committee on Thursday. Why it matters: These are the latest documents that suggest the deep politicization of the Trump administration's coronavirus response.

   Context: Caputo, a former member of the Trump campaign with no scientific background, reportedly accused career government scientists of "sedition" in September and said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a “resistance unit” that's trying to undermine Trump, per the New York Times.
   Politico first detailed the agency's $250 million contract to a communications firm to "defeat despair and inspire hope" about the coronavirus pandemic.

Details: In a Sept. 15 meeting with subcontractor Burson Cohn & Wolfe and Atlas Research, which received a separate $15 million contract with HHS, Caputo pushed to title the agency's coronavirus ad campaign "Helping the President will Help the Country." Caputo "attempted to insert himself into the process for reviewing public service announcements (PSAs)," the committee says — which "eventually provoked FDA career staff to warn contractors against compliance with his unauthorized and unethical interference." more...

By Celine Castronuovo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s wife and son reportedly sent personal requests to department officials, according to hundreds of pages of emails recently obtained by NBC News.  The emails come as both Congress and the Office of Special Counsel are currently overseeing investigations into allegations of personal misuse of government resources by the secretary and his wife.

While emails previously obtained by McClatchy indicated that Mike Pompeo’s wife, Susan Pompeo, asked top State Department staffers to work the week of Christmas in order to finish their personal holiday cards, the new emails obtained by NBC reportedly show additional cases when Susan Pompeo instructed staff to complete personal tasks.

The emails also now tie Mike Pompeo’s son, Nick Pompeo, to concerns that the Pompeo family has repeatedly blurred the lines between official government matters and personal affairs. NBC obtained the emails in response to a pending lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act, with NBC requesting documents involving Susan Pompeo’s personal email last November. more...

The party noticed the suspicious activity on Oct. 22.

Hackers stole $2.3 million from the Wisconsin Republican Party's account that was being used to help reelect President Donald Trump in the key battleground state, the party's chairman told The Associated Press on Thursday. The party noticed the suspicious activity on Oct. 22 and contacted the FBI on Friday, said Republican Party Chairman Andrew Hitt. more...

‘The 45th President’: One in a series looking back at the Trump presidency
By Lisa Rein, Tom Hamburger, Juliet Eilperin and Andrew Freedman

Early in the new administration, the White House wanted a big win for President Trump on one of his top campaign promises — getting rid of poor performers at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Scott Foster got the order from his boss, a senior political appointee: Draw up a list of underachievers and give “your best 10” so the president could announce their firing at a signing ceremony for a law allowing fast dismissals at VA.

Foster, a seasoned personnel official, balked. The employees still had the right to due process, he argued. Within weeks, his boss tried to sack him. It was one of the first shots in what became an unwavering four-year war on the civil servants who have operated as the backbone of the federal government for more than a century. Career employees from diplomats to budget analysts have come under siege as they carry out the laws of Congress, attacked by a president with no government experience and portrayed as a “deep state” trying to undermine him.

Trump has targeted high-profile figures such as Anthony S. Fauci, a government scientist who has advised six presidents and whose dire warnings about the coronavirus pandemic angered him. He ridiculed Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the decorated Iraq War veteran and Ukraine expert on the National Security Council staff who testified in the inquiry that led to Trump’s impeachment — then he ordered him marched out of his office with his twin brother, another career military officer. Vindman retired in July after what his attorney called a campaign of White House intimidation and retaliation. more...

Documents reveal how political considerations shaped planning for a taxpayer-funded ad blitz to 'defeat despair' over Covid-19.

The Trump appointee who steered a $300 million taxpayer-funded ad campaign to "defeat despair" about the coronavirus privately pitched a different theme last month: "Helping the President will Help the Country." That proposal, which came in a meeting between Trump administration officials and campaign contractors, is among documents obtained by the House Oversight Committee that further illustrate how political considerations shaped the massive campaign as officials rushed to get public service announcements on the air before Election Day. The committee shared the documents with POLITICO, which first detailed the campaign in a series of reports last month.

For instance, contractors vetted at least 274 potential celebrity contributors for their stances on gay rights, gun control and the 2016 election before allowing them to participate in the campaign. One promised public service announcement, which would have also featured infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, was nixed because the celebrity who was set to participate with Fauci had been critical of President Donald Trump, according to documents. The official overseeing the campaign — Michael Caputo, who Trump personally tapped as the health department’s top spokesperson — also sought to overrule the career civil servants assigned to the campaign, directly urging contractors to rush production of ads with celebrities like Trump-supporting actor Antonio Sabato, Jr.

“We must film them ASAP — we need content in the can now,” Caputo wrote in an email to contractors on Sept. 13, three days before he took a medical leave from the health department. A federal official subsequently removed Caputo from the email chain and reiterated that only two career civil servants on the chain could provide “actionable direction” to the contractors on how to proceed.  Caputo also pitched the idea of framing the ad campaign around helping the president. He made the suggestion in a meeting with communications firm Burson Cohn & Wolfe, positioning it as an effort to encourage Trump’s base to buy into public health concepts like wearing masks, according to notes dated Sept. 17 and provided to the committee. “Caputo speaks in ‘taglines,’ and high level concepts,” the contractors noted. more...

The intelligence chief went slightly further than the talking points shared with other agencies.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe went off script when he alleged during a press conference last week that Iran was sending intimidating emails to Americans in order to “damage President Trump,” according to two senior administration officials with knowledge of the episode. The reference to Trump was not in Ratcliffe’s prepared remarks about the foreign election interference, as shown to and signed off by FBI Director Chris Wray and senior DHS official Chris Krebs, the director of the department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency.

Wray and Krebs stood behind Ratcliffe as he addressed the public, supportive of the general intention to alert voters to a malicious influence operation. But they were surprised by Ractliffe’s political aside, which had not appeared in the prepared text, the officials said. The press conference centered around menacing emails that had been sent to Democratic voters warning them to vote for Trump “or we will come after you.”

Ratcliffe attributed the emails to Iran but said they were “designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest, and damage President Trump,” raising immediate questions about how threatening Democrats to vote for Trump could be aimed at damaging the president’s re-election bid — and how the intelligence community had made that determination within 24 hours of the messages. Ractliffe also contrasted Iran’s actions with those of Russia, adding, “although we have not seen the same actions from Russia, we are aware that they have obtained some voter information just as they did in 2016.” more...

By Ben Mathis-Lilley

Donald Trump held a rally Tuesday night at Omaha, Nebraska’s Eppley Airfield that attracted somewhere between 6,000 people (the Omaha World-Herald’s estimate) and 29,000 people (Trump’s personal estimate, LOL). When the event ended at 9 p.m., the temperature was just above 30 degrees. Because of traffic and/or a shortage of buses, hundreds of attendees were stranded at the airport, some until 12:40 a.m., waiting to be shuttled back to their cars.

A Twitter account that follows Omaha emergency-services radio traffic conveyed chatter indicating that several people at the airport had to be treated for exposure to the cold; authorities say six or seven attendees were taken to the hospital, though not all those cases were necessarily related to the weather. Regardless of temperature issues, rallygoers were also at risk of contracting the coronavirus: Eastern Nebraska is home to some of the hottest COVID hot spots in the country, and photos from the event show that the crowd, which included many people who were not wearing masks, was packed tightly together.

Such levels of risk are pervasive at almost all of the president’s rallies. An article published last week by USA Today noted that countywide rates of coronavirus infection increased, by varying amounts, after five recent Trump 2020 events in the Midwest. Other rallies, while they may not be correlated with subsequent accelerations of viral spread, have been held in areas of Iowa, Wisconsin, and elsewhere that had—and still have—some of the worst caseloads and hospitalization counts in the country.

Events in these areas will continue to be held by the president and his surrogates at a furious rate until the election. Pressed by a CNN anchor on Wednesday about Mike Pence scheduling a rally in Marathon County, Wisconsin, even as hospital beds are running short there, Trump 2020 spokesman Hogan Gidley defended the campaign by arguing that “the vice president has the best doctors in the world around him,” which rather tellingly missed the point of the question. Gidley also declared that “the American people have the right under the First Amendment to peaceably assemble.” So: The person who matters will be fine, and the rest of you can technically do whatever you want. Therefore, it’s not a problem! more...

By Jeff Zeleny, CNN

Omaha, Nebraska (CNN)When President Donald Trump left Omaha on Tuesday, thousands watched and cheered in the frigid air as Air Force One took off into the night sky. But for these loyal supporters, their experience at the Trump rally was far from over. For the next several hours, hundreds and hundreds of people who attended the rally were stranded, as a chaotic scene unfolded on dark roads on a remote stretch near the Omaha airport. They waited for buses that didn't arrive, unable to reach the site because of a clogged two-lane road.

Many people started walking to their cars, parked three or four miles away, which blocked the roads even further. Several medics were seen by CNN giving attention to people in the bone-chilling evening air. The temperature was right at freezing, but wind chills were far lower.
Earlier in the night, the President commented on the weather.

"I mean, I'm standing here freezing. I ask you one little favor: get the hell out and vote," Trump said to cheers from the crowd. "The great red wave. At least you're down there with each other. I'm all up here and that wind is blowing." After the rally, police officers tried to control the scene, but struggled to bring order to the pandemonium. There were no campaign advance teams in sight. One local advance volunteer said they were given no instructions how to get supporters back onto the buses. "We need at least 30 more buses," an Omaha police officer said, shaking his head. more...

"Who are these folks? What history books do they read?” Obama said during a rally for Biden.

Former President Barack Obama laced into Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and senior adviser of President Donald Trump, after Kushner invoked a racist trope by implying that the lack of racial equality in the U.S. is due in part to a lack of motivation among Black Americans. Kushner made the comments during an interview on “Fox & Friends” on Monday morning during which he also referred to raising concerns about racial inequality as “complaining” and suggested that those who protested systemic racism over the summer were more interested in “virtue signaling” than solving those issues.

"The thing we've seen in the Black community, which is mostly Democrat,” Kushner argued, “is that President Trump's policies are the policies that can help people break out of the problems that they're complaining about, but he can't want them to be successful more than they want to be successful." At a drive-in campaign rally in Orlando for former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday, Obama tore into Kushner and his father-in-law for their insistence that Trump is a better president for Black voters.

Throughout his reelection campaign, the president has sought to make inroads with Black voters in hopes that even a modest improvement in his margins could make a difference in a close race with Biden. Trump often highlights the Black unemployment rate under his administration, a figure that began a downward climb during Obama’s presidency and reached historic lows under Trump, but has been slower to rebound in the coronavirus-induced recession. more...

By Jake Tapper and Jeremy Herb, CNN

Washington (CNN)The anonymous senior Trump administration official who wrote a 2018 New York Times op-ed and a subsequent book critical of President Donald Trump is Miles Taylor, he revealed in a statement to CNN on Wednesday. Taylor, who was chief of staff to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, wrote a lengthy statement explaining why he penned the 2018 op-ed declaring he was part of the "resistance" inside the Trump administration working to thwart Trump's worst inclinations. Taylor said that he wanted to force Trump to respond to the charges he was leveling without the ability to attack the messenger specifically. Trump called the op-ed treasonous.

"Much has been made of the fact that these writings were published anonymously. The decision wasn't easy, I wrestled with it, and I understand why some people consider it questionable to levy such serious charges against a sitting President under the cover of anonymity. But my reasoning was straightforward, and I stand by it," Taylor wrote. "Issuing my critiques without attribution forced the President to answer them directly on their merits or not at all, rather than creating distractions through petty insults and name-calling," Taylor added. "I wanted the attention to be on the arguments themselves." Taylor joined CNN as a contributor in September 2020.

He had previously denied that he was "Anonymous." Asked in August by CNN's Anderson Cooper if he had written the op-ed and book, Taylor said, "I wear a mask for two things, Anderson: Halloweens and pandemics. So no." Taylor's statement answers one of the biggest mysteries of Trump's presidency. Trump responded furiously to the op-ed when it was written in 2018, and urged then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate the matter. There was an internal hunt at the White House to uncover the identity of the author, and it spawned months of parlor games in Washington guessing at who was behind the op-ed through the speech patterns and phrases used. A year later, Taylor released the anonymously authored book titled, "A Warning," which included new details critical of the President from inside the Trump administration. He wrote that members of Trump's team considered sabotaging him to prompt Trump to resign, and that many administration officials kept their own letters of resignation in their desks or on their laptops. more...

By Samantha Lock

Backers of President Donald Trump were left stranded overnight, with several taken to hospital for hypothermia after an Omaha campaign rally ended in chaos. Hundreds were bussed in to the Eppley Airfield site, leaving their cars in parking lots, but were left wandering up to four miles in the cold after coaches failed to pick them up.

"President Trump took off in Air Force One 1 hr 20 minutes ago, but thousands of his supporters remain stranded on a dark road outside the rally," CNN reporter Jeff Zeleny tweeted at 10:21 p.m. CDT. Zeleny, who was at Tuesday night's event, described the scene as a "chaotic cluster" as Omaha police officers scrambled to provide transportation for those stranded.

"It's hundreds and hundreds of people who came on buses - forced to park miles away - who were stranded," he wrote. Parking at the Trump rally is full," Omaha Police Department tweeted just after 6 p.m. "Shuttles will no longer be transporting people to the event. You will not be able to access the rally by foot, Uber, or any other means of transportation. Parking is not allowed in surrounding neighborhoods, roadways or businesses." By 9 p.m. the event ended but many faced a 3.7-mile walk from TAC Air to the South Economy parking lot at Eppley. more...

Pretty sweet con the president’s got going!
By Bess Levin

In a lot of ways, becoming president of the United States hasn’t been great for Donald Trump’s bottom line, thanks to his name and brand being synonymous with racism, kidnapping, corruption, sexual harassment, white supremacy, the death of facts, mass murder, and a crazy man who goes on TV and claims his enemies are probably running a satanic, sex-trafficking cult. Those little things have led to tenants in Trump Tower reportedly dumping their condos at a loss just to escape the stench by association, canceled hotel deals, and “sharp decline[s]” at his flagship resorts.

Still, in other ways, being the most powerful person in America has been absolutely tremendous for Trump’s family business, which he refused to divest from after being inaugurated and still profits from to this day. For one, Republican politicians, foreign officials, corporate executives, and anyone looking to grease the wheels of the federal government know their money will go far at the Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C. “Why wouldn’t I stay at his hotel blocks from the White House, so I can tell the new president, ‘I love your new hotel!’ Isn’t it rude to come to his city and say, ‘I am staying at your competitor?’” a diplomat told the Washington Post in 2016. For another, he’s able to use trips abroad to peddle his money-losing golf clubs, where he can also “suggest” the vice president spend the night despite non-Trump properties making more sense. And then, of course, there are the trips to Mar-a-Lago and his club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

We’ve known for some time that these frequent jaunts to his own properties—280 of them to date—either to meet with heads of state or to simply get away for the weekend, cost taxpayers millions of dollars. But in a new report out today, the Washington Post puts an actual price tag on the amount of money Trump has funneled from the U.S. Treasury, as well as his campaign, directly into his own pocket: at least $8.1 million, which is reportedly more than his hotels in Hawaii and Vancouver have taken in since 2017. It also reveals what an out and out con the president is, bilking taxpayers for not just large items like hotel rooms— which, of course, they wouldn’t have to pay for if he was at the White House or a private residence—but the kind that flows out of a tap: more...

Even if he loses, the action could sabotage a Biden administration indefinitely.
By Bess Levin

Historically, when Donald Trump has signed executive orders, like to issue a travel ban against people from majority-Muslim nations or to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, he’s done so with lots of fanfare, tweeting about how they’ve made America great again, inviting camera crews to watch him scribble his Sharpie across the page, and sending his lieutenants out to brag about them on TV. But last week, the White House was relatively, strangely quiet as the president signed the esoteric-sounding “Executive Order on Creating Schedule F In the Excepted Service.” And that was probably by design; because the action not only gives Trump the power to purge thousands of federal workers—the kind whose job protections have allowed them to deal in facts and stand up to presidential intimidation—and replace them with politically appointed hacks who would spend the next four years doing Trump’s bidding, but it would cripple a Biden administration for months, at a time when it will need to act fast on, among other things, COVID-19.

Of course, that’s not how the administration has summarized the EO, saying, instead that it’s all about getting rid of “poor performers.” But competence has never been of much interest to Trump, who evaluates who is the best person for any given job based on how hard they kiss his ass and pledge to do his bidding no matter what. Unfortunately, until now the president has been bedeviled by rules saying he can’t just fire civil servants for writing reports that say mask-wearing helps stop the spread of COVID-19, or coal mining is hastening climate change, or refusing to say that a hurricane was headed for Alabama when it definitely wasn’t. Thus, this new plan. Here’s how the Independent describes it: more...

By Justine Coleman

President Trump had $287 million in debt forgiven within the past decade, with most of it related to his Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago, The New York Times reported on Tuesday. The Times, citing federal income tax records that it obtained, reported that lenders forgave hundreds of millions in debt since 2010 that Trump did not repay, amounting to most of what Trump had owed. His lenders, Deutsche Bank and the hedge fund Fortress Investment Group, gave Trump leeway, including extra time to pay his loans, the newspaper reported, citing information from tax returns, interviews and other records.

New York Attorney General Letitia James’s (D) investigation into Trump’s business includes questions about the forgiven debts, the Times noted, as the Internal Revenue Service mandates forgiven debts to be taxed as income. But the newspaper reports that Trump’s tax records appear to show the current president paid almost no federal income tax on the forgiven debts partly due to large losses in other businesses. Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s chief legal officer, told the Times that the company and Trump appropriately paid for all taxes due on the forgiven debt.

“These were all arm’s length transactions that were voluntarily entered into between sophisticated parties many years ago in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis and the resulting collapse of the real estate markets,” Garten said. The Hill has reached out to the Trump Organization for comment. more...

Allegations of women who've accused Trump of non-consensual sexual contact share many details, from forced kisses to where it took place.
Jeanine Santucci, Jim Sergent, and George Petras, USA TODAY

Today, writer E. Jean Carroll goes to court in a unique case: she accused the sitting president of defamation. But when she came forward in 2019 to say Trump had raped her in a department store dressing room in the mid-1990s, her story started with a familiar detail. "The moment the dressing-room door is closed, he lunges at me, pushes me against the wall, hitting my head quite badly, and puts his mouth against my lips," she wrote in June 2019.

Former model Amy Dorris, the latest to come forward just last month to allege that Trump had sexually assaulted her in 1997 at the US Open tennis tournament, said it began in a similar way. “He just grabbed me. And he just shoved his tongue down my throat,” Dorris told the Guardian. “His grip was hard, you know, you couldn’t pull away.”  Trump campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis said Dorris' claim was "totally false" and an attempt to attack Trump before the election. Thirteen of the 19 women who have accused Trump of sexual assault or non-consensual physical contact said he kissed them without consent, often out of the blue, sometimes holding them firmly in place. more...

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) At a rally in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, President Donald Trump said something incredible -- even by his standards. Recounting how his campaign had to move the site of the rally to comply with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's Covid-19 protocols, Trump said this: "I'll remember it, Tom. I'm gonna remember it, Tom. 'Hello, Mr. President, this is Governor Wolf, I need help, I need help.' You know what? These people are bad."

Let's be very clear what Trump is doing here: He is threatening to withhold federal aid -- or some sort of other assistance -- the next time Pennsylvania needs it because the state's governor, according to the President, made it difficult to find a site to hold a campaign rally. Yes, really. Oh, and by the way, a spokeswoman for Wolf's office insisted to Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that Trump's version of this story is simply wrong -- that the governor's office sent a letter to Trump's campaign earlier in the year requesting that they adhere to social distancing and masks guidelines, but that's it.

"Outside of that, the administration has had no contact with the Trump campaign about its events," wrote Wolf spokeswoman Sarah Goulet in an email to the Tribune-Review. "The Trump campaign is under no obligation to reach out to the administration when it is planning visits. We believe the campaign works directly with the owners of property or local officials when planning. Again, what the president said is inaccurate." more...

By Erica Orden, CNN

(CNN) A federal judge on Tuesday denied the Justice Department's effort to effectively end a defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump brought by a longtime magazine columnist who has alleged he raped her in a luxury department store dressing room, paving the way for the case to proceed. The DOJ had sought to intervene in the case and substitute itself as defendant in the lawsuit filed by E. Jean Carroll, a move that likely would have curbed the proceedings, since the federal government can't be sued for defamation. Trump has denied Carroll's allegations, telling reporters, "She's not my type," and alleging Carroll lied to boost her book sales.

In a 61-page opinion, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that Trump "is not an 'employee of the Government,' as Congress defined that term," and therefore the lawsuit isn't, as the Justice Department argued, against the United States. That conclusion allows for Trump to be sued personally for defamation in the matter. The Justice Department hasn't yet indicated whether it will appeal the ruling. Kaplan also rejected the Justice Department's argument that Trump's statements regarding Carroll were made within the scope of his employment, writing, "while commenting on the operation of government is part of the regular business of the United States, commenting on sexual assault allegations unrelated to the operation of government is not." more...

Michelle Garcia, NBC News

White House adviser Jared Kushner described Black America's issues with inequality and racism as "complaining" in an interview Monday. "The thing we've seen in the Black community, which is mostly Democrat," he said on "Fox & Friends," "is that President Trump's policies are the policies that can help people break out of the problems that they're complaining about, but he can't want them to be successful more than they want to be successful."

Kushner's words appeared to blame Black Americans' disproportionate lack of wealth and job opportunities, as well as health disparities and other inequalities, on a lack of drive — suggesting that the problem is that Black Americans don't "want" success enough. However, his comments did not address the roots of systemic racism.

"This dismissive approach to the issues that Black voters care about is indicative of Trump's callousness and disregard for the lives of Black people," Brandon Gassaway, the Democratic National Committee's national press secretary, said in a statement. "We cannot afford another four years of a White House that does not take our voices seriously and tells us to be grateful for whatever scraps are leftover from the bargaining table. We need leaders who not only value our input but prioritize and act upon it. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are those leaders, and Black voters will continue to show up to the polls in record numbers to ensure that Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, and this failed administration get the message." more...

By Andrew Kaczynski, CNN

(CNN) Prior to becoming a prominent backer of Donald Trump, Kayleigh McEnany praised then-Vice President Joe Biden as "funny and likable" and a "man of the people" who resonates with "middle class voters." As White House press secretary and before that a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee and Trump campaign, McEnany has been a relentless critic of Biden. She has mimicked many of the President's attacks on the former vice president calling him "sleepy" and "a radical socialist."

But in August 2015 interviews reviewed by CNN's KFile, McEnany said Republicans would run into a problem in a potential race between Donald Trump and Biden. At the time, Biden was considering a run for the White House. "I think the Republicans run into a problem if it is Joe Biden and if it is maybe a Trump on the other side," McEnany said on local New York's AM970. "Because Joe Biden, one of the things he is remarkable at is really kind of being a man of the people and resonating with middle class voters. Feeling like -- coming off as human. His gaffes -- as much as we make fun of them -- to a certain extent they make him look human. So not, since he's likable." more...

By Matt Egan, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business) More than 700 economists, including seven Nobel Prize winners, are urgently warning against the reelection of President Donald Trump, citing what they describe as a "sustained assault" on democracy, a fumbled response to the pandemic and the spread of "dangerous misinformation." "In just one term in office, Donald Trump has rendered the United States unrecognizable, and has faced no consequences for doing so," the economists wrote in an open letter, which is being updated until the November 3 election.

The letter was signed by prominent economists from major institutions, including Nobel laureates Paul Milgrom (2020) and Oliver Hart (2016) and Alvin Roth (2012). George Akerlof, the Nobel winning husband of former Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen, also signed the letter. "For these reasons, we strongly recommend that the electorate do what no one else can: reclaim your democracy by voting to remove Donald Trump from office," the economists wrote. more...

By Brooke Seipel

CBS's Lesley Stahl said the giant book presented to her as the president's health care plan after President Trump walked out of a "60 Minutes" interview had "no comprehensive healthcare plan." The moment took place just after Trump cut short an interview last week. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany then walked in to deliver what she said was the White House health care plan, warning it was a little heavy. Stahl can be heard saying "I can't lift it" in the interview.

Then, in a voiceover for Sunday's "60 Minutes" episode, Stahl says the book lacked a health care plan. "Kayleigh McEnany, gave us a heavy book that she described as the president’s health care plan. It was filled with executive orders and congressional initiatives, but no comprehensive healthcare plan," she said. more...

By John Bowden

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) told CBS's "60 Minutes" that she believes President Trump is racist and pointed to his interest in the "birther" conspiracy theories about President Obama's birthplace as evidence. In the interview airing as part of Sunday's episode, Harris pulled no punches when asked by anchor Norah O'Donnell if she believed the commander-in-chief was racist. "Do you think the president is racist?" asked O'Donnell.

"Yes, I do," Harris responded, laughing. "Yeah. I do. You can look at a pattern that goes back to him questioning the identity of the first Black president of the United States." "You can look at Charlottesville, when there were peaceful protesters, And on the other side, neo-Nazis and he talks about fine people on either side," Harris added, referring to the 2017 violence between white nationalists and left-leaning counterprotesters. "Calling Mexicans rapists and criminals. His first order of business was to institute a Muslim ban. It all speaks for itself." more...

The authors of recent exposés, including Mary Trump and Anthony Scaramucci, on the president, his time in office – and what they expect to happen at the polls
Interviews by Jude Rogers and Andrew Anthony

The authors of recent exposés, including Mary Trump and Anthony Scaramucci, on the president, his time in office – and what they expect to happen at the polls. Bob Woodward is associate editor of the Washington Post and the author of 20 books on American politics. In 50 years as a journalist he has covered nine presidents. His reporting on the Watergate break-in and cover-up with his colleague Carl Bernstein helped bring down Richard Nixon and won the Post a Pulitzer prize. His latest book about Donald Trump, Rage, is based on 10 hours of interviews, spread over 19 taped phone calls, often initiated by the president himself, in which Trump proved “only too willing to blow the whistle on himself”, as the Observer’s review noted.

There is an atmosphere in Washington of high anxiety. Trump is melting down, to put it charitably. His campaign has been about lashing out, about wanting his former political opponents – President Obama and Joe Biden, who’s now running against him, of course – to be indicted then charged. Then there was his announcement that he is not necessarily going to accept the electoral result against him. The idea that the president would put in doubt the basic process of democracy and voting is not only unacceptable, it is a nightmare. more...

By Devan Cole, CNN

Washington (CNN) White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Sunday that the US is "not going to control" the coronavirus pandemic, as cases surge across the country and nearly 225,000 Americans have died from the virus. "We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas," Meadows told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union." Pressed by Tapper on why the US isn't going to get the pandemic under control, Meadows said: "Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu." He added that the Trump administration is "making efforts to contain it."

"What we need to do is make sure that we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it's therapies or vaccines or treatments to make sure that people don't die from this," Meadows said. The comments from President Donald Trump's chief of staff come as coronavirus cases surge across the US, with the country having reported its second-highest day of new cases on Saturday. The administration is also facing a potential second outbreak in the White House, with at least five people in Vice President Mike Pence's inner circle having tested positive in recent days, according to a source familiar with the situation. But as concerns grow that more people in Pence's orbit could test positive in the coming days, the vice president, who tested negative on Sunday, does not currently plan to self-quarantine and will continue campaigning as the election nears. more...

Tucker Higgins

Vice President Mike Pence will not quarantine himself despite several of his aides testing positive for coronavirus, his office said.
Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short is isolating after testing positive on Saturday, Devin O’Malley, a spokesman for the vice president, said in a statement. A senior political advisor to the vice president, Marty Obst, and two other aides also tested positive, according to NBC News. O’Malley said in a statement issued late on Saturday that Pence and second lady Karen Pence both tested negative and “remain in good health.”

Pence is expected to hold a rally in Kinston, North Carolina later on Sunday. The battleground state is neck-and-neck with state polls on average showing Democratic nominee Joe Biden ahead by just over one percentage point. “While Vice President Pence is considered a close contact with Mr. Short, in consultation with the White House Medical Unit, the Vice President will maintain his schedule in accordance with the CDC guidelines for essential personnel,” O’Malley said in the statement. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows declined to say how many individuals connected to the vice president’s office have tested positive when pressed by CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday morning. more...

By Kaitlan Collins, Jeremy Diamond, Jim Acosta, Daniella Diaz and Betsy Klein, CNN

(CNN) At least five people in Vice President Mike Pence's orbit have tested positive for coronavirus in recent days, including chief of staff Marc Short and outside adviser Marty Obst, a source familiar with the situation told CNN. There are concerns that more people within Pence's inner circle will test positive in the coming days, the source said. "They're scared," the source said of staffers in the vice president's office.

Pence's office announced Saturday evening that Short had been diagnosed with Covid-19. Sources told CNN that Obst, who is a senior political adviser to Pence but is not a government employee, and at least three staffers in Pence's office have also tested positive for the virus. Despite the slew of coronavirus cases around him, Pence -- who is the head of the White House's coronavirus task force -- is not quarantining, as per US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Instead, he plans to continue traveling and campaigning in the final stretch to Election Day. more...


As of October 23, the case recovery rate in the US was at 39.88% and the global case recovery rate was at 67.97%, based on the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine COVID-19 dashboard

At a glance:
Claim: 99% of people recover from COVID-19.
Rating: FALSE
The facts: As of October 23, the case recovery rate in the US was at 39.88%, while the global case recovery rate was at 67.97%, based on the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine COVID-19 dashboard. Why we fact-checked this: US President Donald Trump made this claim during the presidential debate on October 23.

Complete details:
US President Donald Trump claimed that 99% of people recover from COVID-19. He made this claim during the final presidential debate on Friday, October 23, Manila time. On the topic of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump said, "99.9 [percent] of young people recover. 99% of people recover. We have to recover, we can't close up our nation."

The claim that 99% of people recover from COVID-19 is false. The definition of "recovered" COVID-19 cases vary per state. These may include those discharged from hospitals, released from isolation, or those not identified as fatalities after a number of days post-disease onset. Separate from this, states also record hospitalized individuals. more...

Erin Burnett Out Front

The Trump campaign is under fire as accusations of illegal voter intimidation surface for videotaping Philadelphia voters placing their ballots in a drop box. CNN's Pamela Brown reports. video...


LAS VEGAS (AP) — 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. more...

By Jon HealeyDeputy Editorial Page Editor

President Trump seems perpetually confused about who pays the tariffs of 10% to 25% that he’s imposed on imported goods. Either that, or he just won’t admit the truth: Trump’s tariffs are taxes on U.S. purchasers, not foreign manufacturers. The issue came up again at Thursday’s presidential debate in Nashville, after moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News teed up a question for the two candidates about China policy.

Welker started with former Vice President Joe Biden, asking this: “Let’s talk about China more broadly. ... President Trump has said that they should pay for not being fully transparent in regards to the coronavirus. If you were president, would you make China pay? And please be specific, what would that look like?”

Biden responded by laying out his multilateral approach toward China trade. After accusing Trump of cozying up to Chinese President Xi Jingping and other foreign “thugs” while “pok[ing] his finger in the eye of all our friends, all our allies,” Biden said, “We’re 25%, 25% of the world’s economy. We need to be having the rest of our friends with us saying to China, ‘These are the rules. You play by them, or you’re going to pay the price for not playing by them economically.’” more...

CBS News

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. more...

Dan Mangan

Ken Kurson, the former editor of a New York newspaper when it was owned by his friend Jared Kushner, a top advisor to President Donald Trump, has been charged by federal prosecutors with interstate cyber stalking and harassment of three people. Kurson, a political consultant who is also a confidant of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, is accused of repeatedly visiting his victims at work, making false complaints with their employers and “malicious cyber activity,” the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s office said.

The criminal conduct allegedly occurred in the last two months of 2015, when Kurson was editor-in-chief of The New York Observer, then-owned by Kushner, who is alsoTrump’s son-in-law. The Maplewood, New Jersey, resident surrendered to authorities on Friday morning and appeared virtually in Brooklyn federal court on Friday afternoon. A woman who identified herself as “a victim” of Kurson dialed into the proceeding, which was held over audio links because of coronavirus precautions. more...

Bill Chappell

Israel and Sudan have agreed to normalize their relations and open economic and trade ties, the countries and the U.S. announced Friday. The U.S. said earlier this week that it would remove Sudan from the state sponsors of terrorism list as part of the agreement. "This is an incredible deal for Israel and Sudan," President Trump said in the Oval Office, according to a White House pool report. "For decades, Sudan has been at a state of war with Israel. They have been in a state of war and boycotted Israeli goods. There was no relationship whatsoever."

Sudan has had a transitional government since last year, when the military ousted longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir following a popular uprising. The country recently agreed to pay $335 million into a fund for U.S. terrorism victims and their families, as Trump announced earlier this week. "Once deposited, I will lift Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list," Trump said. Sudan has been desperately trying to get out from under U.S. sanctions tied to the terror list, taking steps such as settling claims related to the bombing of the USS Cole 20 years ago and agreeing to payments over the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Nairobi and Tanzania. more...

Unions and Democrats were quick to criticize the move as a bid to inject politics into the public sector workforce.

President Donald Trump has issued an executive order that would remove job protections for many federal workers, in a move that unions and other critics denounced as an attempt to politicize the civil service. The order, signed Wednesday evening, targets workers that are involved in developing policy. It would reclassify workers "in positions of a confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating character" that are "not normally subject to change as a result of a Presidential transition" into a new category called Schedule F, according to the text.

Under the new schedule, they would be exempt from protections that apply to most federal workers — allowing agencies to hire and fire them more easily and quickly. The Senior Executive Service, which consists of those serving in high-level positions just below presidential appointees, is exempt from the order, according to an emailed statement from the White House.

Agencies must determine which employees fit the description and reclassify them under the new schedule. They have 90 days, or until Jan. 19 -- the day before the next presidential inauguration — to do so. They must also "expeditiously petition" the Federal Labor Relations Authority to remove the positions in question from any bargaining unit, preventing union participation, the order reads.

The change will "enhance accountability for Federal employees who are responsible for making policy decisions that significantly affect the American people," the statement from the White House read. The order itself says that with the help of the new schedule, agencies can more efficiently weed out "poor performers." Unions and Democrats were quick to criticize the move as a bid to inject politics into the public sector workforce. more...

By Sarah Blaskey, Nicholas Nehamas, C. Isaiah Smalls II, Christina Saint Louis, Ana Claudia Chacin, David Smiley, Shirsho Dasgupta, and
Yadira Lopez

Donald Trump’s team knew they couldn’t win the 2016 election simply by persuading people to vote for Trump. They also had to make sure Hillary Clinton supporters didn’t come out to the polls. So the campaign and its allies used big data to target Black communities along Miami-Dade County’s historically disenfranchised Interstate 95 corridor. There, residents became some of the 12.3 million unwitting subjects of a groundbreaking nationwide experiment: A computer algorithm that analyzed huge sums of potential voters’ personal data — things they’d said and done on Facebook, credit card purchases, charities they supported, and even personality traits — decided they could be manipulated into not voting. They probably wouldn’t even know it was happening.

Internally, Trump’s staff described this part of their operation with a term that went beyond the usual strategy of negative campaigning. They called it “deterrence.” The campaign blasted these voters selected for deterrence — usually wavering Hillary Clinton supporters — with advertisements, disinformation and misleading messaging designed to convince them to lose faith in Clinton and not show up to the polls, according to an investigation by the Miami Herald and the U.K.’s Channel 4 News, which exclusively obtained a massive cache of internal Trump campaign data from 2016.

What exactly went into the selection algorithm isn’t known — the Trump campaign’s machine-learning model remains a black box. But however sophisticated the model, it produced clear results: In Miami-Dade, more than 116,000 Black people identified by the campaign as potential voters were selected for deterrence, roughly half of all Black voters in the county.

That was almost twice the rate of deterrence for non-Black voters, a Herald analysis shows. Not only were Blacks far more likely to be selected for deterrence, but even non-Black voters were more likely to be on the deterrence list if they lived in Black communities like those along Interstate 95 heading north to Broward County. “The laser-like focus on suppressing Black turnout is clear,” said Dan Smith, a political scientist at the University of Florida who reviewed the Herald’s analysis of the campaign data. “It’s very striking.” more...

By Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly

As President Trump entered the final stretch of the election season, he began making more than 50 false or misleading claims a day. It’s only gotten worse — so much so that the Fact Checker team cannot keep up. As of Aug. 27, the tally in our database that tracks every errant claim by the president stood at 22,247 claims in 1,316 days. Note the date. That was when he gave his speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination. We’ve been able to update the database only to that point as of today — so already we are eight weeks behind. (We maintain this database mostly in our spare time, in addition to our day jobs.)

Just in the first 27 days of August, the president made 1,506 false or misleading claims, or 56 a day. Some days were extraordinary: 189 claims (a record) on Aug. 11, 147 claims on Aug. 17, 113 claims on Aug. 20. The previous one-day record was 138 claims — on Nov. 5, 2018, the day before the midterm elections. The previous monthly record was 1,205 in October 2018. In 2017, Trump’s first year as president, he averaged six claims a day. That jumped to 16 a day in 2018 and 22 in 2019. So far in 2020, the president has averaged 27 claims a day. At his current pace, the president will surely exceed 25,000 claims before Election Day. In fact, he probably crossed that threshold this week. more...

Trump was impeached for blackmailing Ukraine's president. Now he's trying the same scheme on his own FBI director
Amanda Marcotte

Back thousands of years ago, in February of 2020, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a "moderate" Republican, justified her vote to acquit Donald Trump at his impeachment trial — despite the mountains of evidence of guilt — by claiming that Trump had learned his lesson.  "I believe that the president has learned from this case," Collins told CBS news anchor Norah O'Donnell at the time. "The president has been impeached — that's a pretty big lesson."

That excuse was preposterous at the time, making it sound like Trump was a child who had his hand in the cookie jar, not a 73-year-old man caught abusing his powers of office to blackmail the Ukrainian president into propping up conspiracy theories about Joe Biden. But it was also hilariously predictable that Trump, who is incapable of learning or growing as a person, would absorb any moral lessons from being impeached.

Trump didn't learn anything. In fact, he's only escalated the very same botched conspiracy that got him impeached, only this time around he's abusing his power on the home front, instead of in a distant nation most Americans couldn't find on a map.

Truth told, Trump demonstrated his failure to learn within days of his acquittal, first by bragging about it and then pivoting to lying about the Democrats. Since then, he's gone right back to abusing his power to fabricate lies about his opponent. He and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani — along with Giuliani's buddy Andrii Derkach, a Ukrainian legislator with ties to Russian intelligence — eventually returned to the very scheme that got Trump impeached in the first place: am attempt to counterfeit evidence that Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's son, had somehow dragged his father into a corrupt scheme. It's a claim with literally no evidence to support it, no matter how much Trump and Giuliani repeat the accusation. more...

The president released his apparently unedited ‘60 Minutes’ chat on Thursday, thinking it was a dunk on Lesley Stahl—but it only made himself look worse.
Matt Wilstein

Over the past couple days, President Donald Trump has been repeatedly threatening to release his entire, unedited interview with 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl before an edited version airs on this coming Sunday’s episode. Well, he finally did it and it may have the exact opposite effect he was hoping for. “Look at the bias, hatred and rudeness on behalf of 60 Minutes and CBS,” Trump posted on Facebook the morning of his final debate with Joe Biden. He then added, for good measure, “Tonight’s anchor, Kristen Welker, is far worse!”

But what anyone who watches all 38 minutes will see is that the president spent the bulk of his time openly whining about how “tough” the questions were while refusing to actually answer any of them in a coherent manner. In the first few seconds, Stahl, who has been with 60 Minutes for close to three decades, calmly asks Trump if he’s ready for some “tough questions.”

“No, I’m not,” he replies glumly. “You’re not OK with tough questions?” Stahl laughs in response, seeming to think at first that he might be joking Instead, the president immediately starts accusing her of bias, saying, “You don’t ask Biden tough questions. It’s terrible.” On multiple occasions, she has to remind him that she’s not the one interviewing Biden and Kamala Harris for the same episode. more...

By Maggie Fox, CNN

(CNN) The Trump Administration's faltering response to the coronavirus pandemic has led to anywhere between 130,000 and 210,000 deaths that could have been prevented, according to a report released Thursday by a team of disaster preparedness experts. Insufficient testing, a lack of national mask mandates or guidance, a delayed overall response and outright mocking of basic public health practices by the administration has put the United States at the top of the global coronavirus death toll, the report from Columbia University Earth Institute's National Center for Disaster Preparedness finds.

"We estimate that at least 130,000 deaths and perhaps as many as 210,000 could have been avoided with earlier policy interventions and more robust federal coordination and leadership," the report reads. "Even with the dramatic recent appearance of new COVID-19 waves globally, the abject failures of U.S. government policies and crisis messaging persist, U.S. fatalities have remained disproportionately high throughout the pandemic when compared to even other high-mortality countries," it adds.

"The inability of the U.S. to mitigate the pandemic is especially stark when contrasted with the response of high income nations, such as South Korea, Japan, Australia, Germany, France, and Canada, as well as low- and middle-income countries as varied as Thailand, Pakistan, Honduras, and Malaysia. All of these nations have had greater success in protecting their populations from the impact of the coronavirus." According to Johns Hopkins University, the US has tallied more than 8.3 million coronavirus cases and more than 222,000 deaths.

"The data establishes that a significant number of lives could have been saved if the Trump administration acted on the advice from the scientific and public health community," said Dr. Irwin Redlener, founding director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia. "As the country faces a second wave of this virus, we need to hold leadership accountable. The magnitude of loss, caused by a disorganized response, will have devastating and long-lasting consequences for millions of American families." more...

Fights over vaccine standards have created an unbridgeable divide within HHS, officials said, but White House is unlikely to approve any changes until after the election.

Infuriated by the FDA’s defiance in a showdown over the Trump administration’s standards for authorizing a coronavirus vaccine, health secretary Alex Azar has spent recent weeks openly plotting the ouster of FDA chief Stephen Hahn. Azar has vented to allies within the Health and Human Services Department about his unhappiness with the top official in charge of the vaccine process, and discussed the prospect of seeking White House permission to remove him, a half-dozen current and former administration officials said.

During some of those conversations, he’s gone as far as to float potential replacements for Hahn, said one current and two former administration officials familiar with the talks, identifying HHS testing czar Brett Giroir and a pair of career civil servants – FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner Amy Abernethy and longtime regulator Janet Woodcock – as prime candidates to step in as acting commissioner should Hahn be removed.

The discussions come amid deep frustration with Hahn over his insistence that a Covid-19 vaccine meet stricter-than-normal safety standards — a contentious decision that rendered it impossible for President Donald Trump to fulfill his oft-expressed desire for a vaccine just before Election Day. Earlier this month, Hahn ended a lengthy standoff over the rules under which the FDA would grant emergency authorization for a vaccine by flouting the White House and ordering their publication. The move won widespread praise from the nation’s public health community. more...

From the president on down, the closing pitch to voters is to signal acceptance of a conspiracy theory that the FBI considers dangerous.
Will Sommer

Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon had a message for his podcast listeners on Tuesday, and for adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory it wasn’t very subtle. “It’s gonna be a storm,” Bannon said. He was speaking of the closing weeks of the election but using the very same imagery QAnon believers use to describe their dream of Trump arresting and executing his political foes. “The storm clouds are around the Biden camp. The storm clouds are around the Biden camp. A gathering storm.”

For those who may have thought it was just a slip of the tongue, Bannon dispelled any doubt the next day. Speaking once more on his podcast, he claimed that at least parts of QAnon, which posits that Satanic cannibal-pedophile elites in the Democratic Party who drink children’s blood will soon be executed at Trump’s orders, are true.

“How are they not at least, at least an aspect of their argument, at least appears, directionally to be correct?” Bannon asked, while pushing unverified claims that a laptop that supposedly belonged to Hunter Biden was filled with illegal images. The tenets of QAnon, he posited, were “the elephant in the room.”

With less than two weeks before Election Day and Trump lagging in the polls, some of the president’s most prominent allies are going all in on QAnon, while Trump and other top supporters refuse to denounce the conspiracy theory. It is, at its most innocent, a crass political calculation designed to keep a relatively modest though loud and influential chunk of the party’s base engaged. At its worst, critics warn, it’s a green light of acceptance to dangerous conspiracy theorists and a normalization of their beliefs. more...

Joe Sommerlad, Gino Spocchia

Donald Trump is accused of lying over the economy in the first preview clip from his aborted interview with Lesley Stahl for CBS’s 60 Minutes, an interview he angrily terminated on Tuesday and has since denounced as a “vicious takedown”, threatening to release his own edited version of the exchange.

The president himself is due to take on Democratic rival Joe Biden in Nashville, Tennessee, on Thursday night, having spent the week complaining about broadcaster NBC’s plan to shut off the candidates’ microphones if they interrupt one another and branding moderator Kristen Welker “terrible” and accusing her of bias.

Former president Barack Obama meanwhile gave a rousing speech in support of his former deputy in Philadelphia on Wednesday, tearing into Trump for “fraying the fabric of society”, for his disastrous response to the coronavirus pandemic, for having no vision for the country, for his Chinese bank account and for pushing bogus conspiracy theories on social media. more...

by Iana Murray

For one night, we were reminded of what it was like for the US to have a normal president. At a drive-in rally for Joe Biden in Philadelphia, former president Barack Obama made an appearance to give an impassioned speech in support of his former VP. He also memorably and mercilessly roasted Donald Trump over his response to the coronavirus, his handling of the economy and his tweets. Here are some of Obama’s best takedowns the president. He criticised Trump for treating the presidency like a “reality show”. Speaking about the end of his presidency, Obama acknowledged that he didn’t think Trump would “embrace his vision”, but hoped that he would at least take the job seriously. Clearly, the president didn’t meet his expectations: more...

“Can you imagine if I had a secret Chinese bank account?” the former president asked, referring to a recent Times report, as he returned to the campaign trail in Philadelphia to stump for Joe Biden.
By Glenn Thrush

Former President Barack Obama burned rubber racing off the high road in Philadelphia on Wednesday as he returned to the campaign trail to stump for Joseph R. Biden Jr., ridiculing President Trump for complaining about campaigning in Pennsylvania, contracting the coronavirus and hiding business dealings with China.

“We know that he continues to do business with China because he has a secret Chinese bank account. How is that possible?” Mr. Obama asked supporters who had been invited to hear him speak at a drive-in rally in the parking lot of a Philadelphia sports complex. He was referring to a recent New York Times report that revealed previously unknown financial holdings of the president’s — at a time when Mr. Trump is criticizing Mr. Biden’s ties to the country.

“Can you imagine if I had a secret Chinese bank account?” said the former president, wearing a blue shirt with the sleeves rolled up, his voice straining. “Can you imagine if I had a secret Chinese bank account when I was running for re-election?” He added, “They would’ve called me Beijing Barry.” It is “not a great idea to have a president who owes a bunch of money to people overseas,” Mr. Obama said, adding that he had probably paid more in income taxes working a high school job at an ice-cream parlor than what Mr. Trump paid during each of his first two years as president — $750. more...

Dan Mangan

A Manhattan federal court hearing for a case that hinges on the allegation that President Donald Trump raped a writer more than two decades ago ended abruptly Wednesday, after a government lawyer was barred from the courthouse due to New York’s coronavirus rules. Lawyers for the Department of Justice had planned to make oral arguments in person before Judge Lewis Kaplan to support their position that the DOJ should be allowed to intervene in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit against Trump.

But one of those lawyers was denied entry to the courthouse in lower Manhattan earlier in the day because he had traveled there from his home in Virginia. Virginia is among a group of states whose residents must quarantine for 14 days if they travel to New York state, because of Covid-19 precautions. DOJ lawyer William Lane told Judge Lewis Kaplan via a telephone hookup that DOJ would rest on its current written court filings in the case, instead of making oral arguments over the phone, or having a fellow prosecutor do so in person. The case involves Carroll’s claim that Trump defamed her when he said she was lying about having been raped by him in a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s. more...

By Reed Richardson

President Donald Trump is seriously considering the firing of his second FBI director in less than four years, having grown frustrated with the lack of investigations into his political foes by Christopher Wray. According to the Washington Post, a frustrated Trump is looking at replacing Wray after the 2020 election. Wray was sworn in to a 10-year term as the nation’s federal law enforcement agency in August 2017 after Trump infamously fired James Comey earlier that year.

Wray has run afoul of the White House’s messaging on a number of critical issues of late, effectively dismissing Trump’s false claims of widespread mail-in voter fraud and knocking down the president’s hyperbole about the threat of left-wing violence from antifa. His very public break from the White House’s narrative earned him rebuke from the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows as well as Trump himself. more...

ERIC TUCKER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Less than four years into his 10-year term, FBI Director Christopher Wray’s future in the job is decidedly uncertain heading into the presidential election. Oddly, he may be more likely to stay in office if the president who appointed him loses than if he wins. President Donald Trump has been escalating his rhetoric against Wray, angry over his public statements on issues like antifa, voting fraud and Russian election interference. He has declined to give Wray a public vote of confidence. His eldest son tweeted last week that Wray is working to “protect corrupt Democrats.”

With Washington abuzz about his possible dismissal, Wray and the FBI have engaged in a delicate balancing act as they address hot-button issues. He has sought to defend the FBI’s independence and its integrity even as it puts him at odds with Trump and his allies. Yet the bureau has also tried to avoid confrontations where possible, making clear that it is striving to be responsive to Republican lawmakers on politically charged investigations. The actions appear crafted with an eye toward helping Wray retain his job and preserving stability at an agency that has been riven by turbulence in the last four years and that is also determined to avoid becoming entangled in presidential politics as it did in 2016.

The actions appear crafted with an eye toward helping Wray retain his job and preserving stability at an agency that has been riven by turbulence in the last four years and that is also determined to avoid becoming entangled in presidential politics as it did in 2016. “My assumption is the way he has tried to thread the needle over the last several months is to not do anything to get himself fired while at the same time being as honest as he can possibly be with Congress and the American people,” said Gregory Brower, a former FBI official who served as the bureau’s director of congressional affairs until 2018.

The latest example came Tuesday on a matter Trump has made a top talking point in the final weeks of the campaign: the publication of emails purportedly from Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. Asked by a Trump ally in the Senate to weigh in on their authenticity, the FBI replied with an understated letter that did not dispute the national intelligence director's conclusion that the laptop on which they were found was not related to Russian disinformation, but did not address broader issues about its authenticity. It cited Justice Department policy in declining to confirm or deny investigations. more...

Dan Mangan, Kevin Breuninger, Spencer Kimball

Iran and Russia have both obtained information about American voter registrations and are trying to influence the public about the upcoming U.S. presidential election, national security officials said Wednesday night. “Iran and Russia have taken specific actions to influence public opinion related to our elections,” said Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe at a hastily scheduled press conference.

“First we have confirmed that some voter registration information has been obtained by Iran and separately by Russia,” Ratcliffe said at the briefing, which comes less than two weeks before Election Day. “This data can be used by foreign actors to attempt to communicate false information to registered voters that they hope will cause confusion, sow chaos and undermine your confidence in American democracy.” more...

By Rob Kuznia, Scott Bronstein, Drew Griffin and Curt Devine, CNN

(CNN) It was a blockbuster story. A respected Chinese virologist appeared on Tucker Carlson's show on Fox News in mid-September to share the results of her just-completed report. The conclusion: The novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19 was likely engineered in a Chinese lab. On Carlson's show, she claimed it was intentionally released into the world. Then, its validity began to unravel. The publication of the paper by lead author Li-Meng Yan -- an ex-patriot from China seeking asylum in the US -- was quickly linked to former White House adviser Steve Bannon, long a strident critic of China's government. The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security -- a leading authority on the pandemic -- criticized the science behind the report, and pointed out that Yan and her co-authors "cite multiple papers in their reference section that have weaknesses or flaws."

A CNN review of Yan's research found it was also built on what appears to be the same theories, similar passages and identical charts presented by an anonymous blogger whose writings were posted on a website linked to Bannon months earlier. Additionally, a source told CNN the three co-authors of Yan's paper used pseudonyms instead of their real names, a practice frowned upon in scientific and academic work. Yet, even after Facebook slapped a "false information" flag on Carlson's September 15 interview with Yan and Twitter suspended Yan's account, Carlson, Bannon and Yan have pressed forward.

"You'd think that our media would want to get to the bottom of this pandemic," Carlson said on his October 6 show, "but instead they ignored her claims."  Yan -- who is back on Twitter -- published a second report on October 8 titled "SARS-CoV-2 is an Unrestricted Bioweapon," which doubled down on the theory that the virus sweeping the globe was manmade and added that its "unleashing" was intentional. That study also included material seemingly copied from the anonymous blogger. more...

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