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Donald J. Trump White House Page 14
Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump's refusal to tell America the truth about the pandemic in a bid to save his political skin, on display at a potential super-spreader rally in Iowa on Wednesday night, is fostering a vacuum in national leadership and crucial public health mobilization as a winter of sickness and death looms. Trump is touting his own recovery from Covid-19 with a cocktail of expensive experimental therapies available to almost no one else in the world as proof there is nothing to fear from a disease that has killed more than 216,000 Americans.

The President, 19 days before the election, is trying to pull the wool over voters' eyes by arguing the pandemic is almost over, in the hope they won't hold him to account for his poor management of the crisis. On Wednesday, he used his own rebound -- and the symptom-free experience of his son Barron, who also tested positive -- to yet again downplay the virus. "Open your states!" Trump said at a rally at which Air Force One formed a backdrop. "The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself," he said, and again wildly claimed that his own strength meant he probably didn't need the cutting-edge therapies he was given in the hospital at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. "Maybe I would have been perfect anyway," Trump said. more...

*** Trump is right the election will be rigged; he is using voter suppression to rig (steal) the election. ***

The president’s lawyers are finding traction with their efforts to quash voting by mail.
By ANITA KUMAR

President Donald Trump is increasingly finding success in his strategy to restrict voting by mail — using lawsuits to stop late-arriving ballots from being counted in swing states. After failing to stop any states from automatically mailing ballots to all registered voters, Republican attorneys have starting to make inroads on a different issue — limiting when any ballots can be counted.

In Wisconsin, federal judges halted a plan to count ballots received up to six days after Election Day. In New Hampshire, a lawsuit calling on the state to tally ballots arriving up to five days late was rejected. And in Georgia, an appeals court dropped a three-day deadline extension for ballots. These legal fights are shaping up to be one of the most important factors in determining whether Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden is inaugurated as president in January.

Democrats, backed by some election officials, are pushing to have state deadlines extended due to fears the beleaguered United States Postal Service will struggle to deliver the millions of extra expected ballots on time. Republicans argue, with minimal evidence, that prolonging the counting period will lead to fraud and unnecessarily extend the presidential election.

It’s a fight that could continue in the days, or even weeks, following the Nov. 3 election. The margin of victory in a handful of states is expected to be so razor-thin that late ballots could determine who wins. Even following the election, Democrats will likely push for states to wait for outstanding ballots while Republicans will ask for them to be excluded, arguing, in part, that there’s no way to prove all of the late-arriving ballots were mailed prior to the election because of the lack of a postmark. more...

By Harriet Alexander For Dailymail.com

Senior White House figures privately briefed powerful financiers about their concerns over the looming coronavirus pandemic, while continuing to insist in public that there was little to worry about, it has been reported. The behind-the-scenes briefings gave traders immensely valuable insight into the impending catastrophe. 'Short everything,' was the reaction of one investor, using the Wall Street term for betting on the idea that the stock prices of companies would soon fall. The New York Times obtained a memo written by William Callanan, a hedge fund veteran and member of the board of the Hoover Institution. Callanan summarized a series of private sessions the Hoover Institution held in February with senior members of the president's economic team. His memo, the New York Times said, was circulated among the financial elite. In one session at the White House on February 24, for Hoover Institute board members, Tomas J. Philipson, a senior economic adviser to the president, told the group he could not yet estimate the effects of the virus on the American economy. more...

By Zack Budryk

A memo based on information from senior White House officials in early 2020 conveyed to investors that the coronavirus pandemic was likely to be far more dire than President Trump’s public predictions, leading to stock sell-offs, The New York Times reported. On Feb. 24, the same day the president tweeted the virus was “very much under control,” White House economic staff met with board members of the conservative Hoover Institution, many of them GOP donors, and said the White House could not yet predict the virus’s effect on the economy, the Times reported. The following day, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow also briefed board members, telling them the virus was “contained in the U.S. to date, but now we just don’t know.” The same day, he had said on CNBC that the government’s control of the virus was “pretty close to airtight,” according to the Times. more...

Baker declined to comment on whether he'll vote at all.
By Mark Gartsbeyn

Governor Charlie Baker will not be supporting President Donald Trump for reelection in 2020, according to a statement sent to WCVB Wednesday. “The governor cannot support Donald Trump for president and is focused on seeing Massachusetts through the pandemic,” the statement said. “He’ll leave the election analysis to the pundits.” the statement doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. While Baker and Trump are both Republicans, Baker has repeatedly disavowed the president since 2016; he didn’t vote for Trump then, either. The governor has been on especially bad terms with Trump this year, particularly over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the upcoming election. Trump called out Baker by name in a tweet last month after the governor admonished the president for refusing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. more...

Kevin Breuninger

President Donald Trump refused to say when asked Wednesday if he would keep William Barr as his attorney general in a potential second term. But the president added: “I’m not happy.” Trump’s chilly remarks toward Barr, the head of the Department of Justice, came in a phone interview with Newsmax that was set to air later Wednesday evening and on the heels of news that a DOJ probe into the origins of the Russia investigation would not be released before Election Day. “I have no comment,” Trump responded when asked whether Barr will keep his job if the president wins reelection over Democratic nominee Joe Biden. “Can’t comment on that, it’s too early. I’m not happy, with all of the evidence I had, I can tell you that. I am not happy,” Trump said.

Trump had expressed impatience with his attorney general just days earlier, during a live radio interview Friday with Rush Limbaugh. When Trump was told that Barr had reportedly warned Republicans not to expect the DOJ’s probe into the origins of the Russia investigation to be released before Election Day, the president replied, “If that’s the case I think it’s terrible. It’s very disappointing. And I’ll tell him to his face.” That probe, which is being overseen by U.S. Attorney John Durham, is investigating the DOJ’s decision under the Obama administration to open an inquiry into Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 and its contacts with Russia. more...

By Kate Bennett, CNN

(CNN) First lady Melania Trump posted a personal essay on the White House website detailing her experience battling Covid-19, which she tested positive for approximately two weeks ago. The first lady also revealed hat her son, Barron Trump, 14, who the White House publicly confirmed at the time had tested negative, eventually tested positive for the virus, a diagnosis the White House did not share. She has now tested negative for the virus, as has her husband, President Donald Trump, according to his doctors. "Naturally, my mind went immediately to our son," she wrote. Barron Trump initially tested negative after she and the President contracted Covid. But the teenager was tested again and turned up positive. Trump says her son had "no symptoms," and has now tested negative. The President told reporters on Wednesday that Barron is doing "fine" when asked how his son was doing in the wake of Melania Trump's essay. more...

By Katelyn Polantz, Evan Perez and Jeremy Herb, CNN

Washington (CNN) For more than three years, federal prosecutors investigated whether money flowing through an Egyptian state-owned bank could have backed millions of dollars Donald Trump donated to his own campaign days before he won the 2016 election, multiple sources familiar with the investigation told CNN. The investigation, which both predated and outlasted special counsel Robert Mueller's probe, examined whether there was an illegal foreign campaign contribution. It represents one of the most prolonged efforts by federal investigators to understand the President's foreign financial ties, and became a significant but hidden part of the special counsel's pursuits.

The investigation was kept so secret that at one point investigators locked down an entire floor of a federal courthouse in Washington, DC, so Mueller's team could fight for the Egyptian bank's records in closed-door court proceedings following a grand jury subpoena. The probe, which closed this summer with no charges filed, has never before been described publicly. Prosecutors suspected there could be a link between the Egyptian bank and Trump's campaign contribution, according to several of the sources, but they could never prove a connection. It's not clear that investigators ever had concrete evidence of a relevant bank transfer from the Egyptian bank. But multiple sources said there was sufficient information to justify the subpoena and keep the criminal campaign finance investigation open after the Mueller probe ended.

CNN learned of the Egypt investigation from more than a dozen sources familiar with the effort, as well as through hints in public records, including newly released court documents and Mueller witness interview summaries, called 302s, that CNN and Buzzfeed obtained through lawsuits. In a court filing last month, the Justice Department confirmed that when the special counsel's office shut down in 2019, Mueller transferred an ongoing foreign campaign contribution investigation to prosecutors in Washington. Some of CNN's sources have confirmed that the case, which Mueller cryptically called a "foreign campaign contribution" probe, was in fact the Egypt investigation. more...

Sam Shead

Twitter has suspended a group of fake accounts pretending to be owned by Black supporters of President Donald Trump and his re-election campaign. The micro-blogging platform said Tuesday the accounts breached its policies on spam and platform manipulation. The news was first reported by The Washington Post. Multiple fake accounts posted the same bogus language including the phrase: “YES IM BLACK AND IM VOTING FOR TRUMP!!!” Darren Linvill, an associate professor studying social media disinformation at Clemson University, worked with journalists at The Post on the story. He wrote on Twitter that trolls “are out there trying to influence our conversations before November.” Offending accounts appeared to use stolen photos of real people including military veterans and members of law enforcement in their profile pictures. Collectively, the accounts had 265,000 retweets or Twitter mentions. Some of them had amassed over 10,000 followers. Linvill told Reuters that most of the accounts were set up in 2017 and that they had become more active in the last couple of months. more...

By Kathryn Watson

President Trump has filed an emergency request with the Supreme Court to block the release of his tax returns. The request comes as the Senate is holding confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the president's nominee to the Supreme Court. Last week, a federal appeals court ruled Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance can enforce a subpoena for Mr. Trump's business records and tax returns, a blow to the president as he tries to keep those returns from a grand jury. The president's attorneys are asking the Supreme Court to grant a stay, to hear the case and overturn the lower court's decision. "The president should have a fair chance to develop his serious overbreadth and bad-faith claims before his records are disclosed," the president's attorneys write. "The court should preserve the status quo in order to afford the president that opportunity." more...

By Ariane de Vogue and Gregory Wallace, CNN

(CNN) The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted a request from the Trump administration to halt the census count while an appeal plays out over a lower court's order that it continue. The administration had asked the high court for "immediate relief" because a lower court order would have required the census count to continue until October 31. The Trump administration argued that would have prevented Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross from delivering a count of the nation's population to President Donald Trump by December 31.

The ruling is a win for the administration, which argued the shortened deadline is necessary to give the Commerce Department enough time to meet the December deadline. The administration noted that the count had been delayed by Covid-19 but that if the time spent counting were shortened, that deadline could still be met. Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the order, fearing that the shortened timeline would produce inaccurate results. "Because the harms associated with an inaccurate census are avoidable and intolerable, I respectfully dissent from the grant of stay," she wrote.
No other justice noted a dissent. more...

Documentary films
Totally Under Control recounts the early days of the pandemic in the US, revealing in clinical detail a disastrous federal response to a preventable crisis
Adrian Horton

In May, as their city began to emerge from the paralyzing grip of coronavirus that killed over 33,000 residents, New York City-based film-makers Alex Gibney, Ophelia Harutyunyan and Suzanne Hillinger started retracing still-raw recent history on film. They tracked whistleblowers, and noted comparisons between the disastrous sprawl of coronavirus in the US and South Korea, which received their first positive coronavirus diagnoses on the same day: 20 January. Meetings were held by Zoom, interviews by remote camera draped by a shower curtain – a large, amorphous ghost, compliant with quickly adopted social distancing guidelines.

The resulting film, Totally Under Control, is a clinical, point-by-point recounting of America’s preventable slide into the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a damning list of mistakes, foreseeable crises and political squabbling splayed across a coherent timeline intended to be released just ahead of the election, “so that people could render a judgment about how the federal response had been”, Gibney told the Guardian.

The two-hour film focuses primarily on the early days of the pandemic: the missed opportunities from January through April which led to America’s spiraling coronavirus present, an unending “first wave”. Though there’s plenty of sense still to be made from the pandemic summer – the surge of cases in the US sun belt and, more recently, an outbreak within the White House (a title card reveals the film wrapped just one day before Trump announced his positive diagnosis via 1am tweet) – the film-makers generally stuck to their mandate of early-stage diagnostics: forensic re-evaluation of January, February and March, “because that’s when all the death, all the economic destruction could’ve been prevented”, said Gibney. more...

Review by Brian Lowry, CNN

(CNN) "Totally Under Control" is, in some ways, a greatest-hits collection of Trump administration failures and missteps pertaining to Covid-19, but with an extraordinarily timely kicker in the president's own diagnosis. Director Alex Gibney and his collaborators also earn degree-of-difficulty points for having assembled this documentary during the pandemic, designing a remotely operated "Covid-cam" to safely record interviews. Those interviews tap into a sobering array of voices weighing in on how political considerations lead to an ineffective response, juxtaposing the US with South Korea. Those weighing in include Rick Bright, the former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), who recently resigned from his job at the National Institute of Health and tears up discussing the challenges speaking the truth to those currently in power.

A separate thread comes from Max Kennedy Jr., a former volunteer for the White House Covid-19 Supply-Chain task force, who turned whistleblower after working under Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. Kennedy (the grandson of Robert Kennedy) thought he'd just be assisting seasoned pros and was stunned to discover that he and other 20-somethings were being asked to play key roles in tracking down medical supplies. Gibney and fellow directors Suzanne Hillinger and Ophelia Harutyunyan essentially condense 10 months of news into two hours, with Gibney (who also narrated) noting that Dr. Deborah Birx was chosen for her high-profile role by a White House "interested in packaging science to serve partisan goals." more...

Los Angeles Times Opinion

To the editor: I find it laughable that suddenly the Republicans in Congress are developing a conscience, after more than three years of enabling President Trump running ripshod over our democracy. Any fair-minded observer can easily see how they have been willing accomplices. ("As Trump's fortunes sink, Republicans start to distance themselves in bid to save Senate," Oct. 9) The statement by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that his party needs to remain in power as a "firewall to stop the Democrats" is a brazen expression of his own hypocrisy, after refusing to pass hundreds of bills sent by the House and gloating about it. more...

By Ewan Palmer

A video has emerged of a Proud Boys supporter warning that there will be a "civil war" if Donald Trump does not get re-elected in November and advises people to stock up on guns. The clip featuring the self-proclaimed supporter of the far-right group was posted online by actor and blogger Walter Masterson and took place during a Trump rally in Staten Island, New York. The Proud Boys supporter, who is not identified, describes how the group are "not brawlers" despite being known for their violent rallies and altercations with left-wing groups and movements such as antifa. "But we're there. We're like the Marines, we're the first to come in," he adds.

When asked by Masterson how the Proud Boys reacted to Trump's "stand back and stand by" comments he made during the televised presidential debate, the man said the group took that to mean the president is telling them to "wait for my orders." "And that's exactly what we're waiting for," the supporter adds. The clip then shows Masterson suggesting that Proud Boys are "not violent" before jumping to the supporter giving a warning as to what will happen if he does not win the election. "If Trump doesn't get re-elected, there's going to be a riot. If he doesn't get elected, this is when you're going to see a civil war," he adds. more...

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) Donald Trump on Monday launched a three-week quest to save his presidency, behaving as though the pandemic that has killed 215,000 Americans was already a memory in front of a packed-in crowd -- even amid chilling new warnings about the resurgent virus. In his first rally since his own bout with Covid-19, Trump painted a deeply dishonest picture of the nation's battle with the disease, mocked former Vice President Joe Biden over social distancing and vowed victory on November 3 as he began a frantic push to Election Day, marked by multiple rallies a day that could act as superspreader events.

"I feel so powerful, I'll walk into that audience. I'll walk in there, I'll kiss everyone in that audience," Trump said in Sanford, Florida, showing his illness did not teach him to respect his own government's pandemic guidelines. "I'll kiss the guys and the beautiful women and the -- everybody. I'll just give everybody a big, fat kiss." The President's return to the campaign trail coincided with rising alarm among Republicans about Trump's sliding poll numbers and after CNN reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently warned Democrats are "on fire." Biden on Monday seized on the start of confirmation hearings from Trump's Supreme Court pick Amy Coney Barrett to warn that the GOP was ramming through the nomination in a last ditch bid to destroy the Affordable Care Act.

At his Florida rally, Trump fed off the large crowd's energy during his hour-long performance and ran through his demagogic list of favored political attacks, from law and order to his false claims of voting irregularities. He took the stage hours after the White House physician said he posted negative Covid-19 tests in consecutive days. more...

Hunter Walker White House Correspondent,Yahoo News

President Trump in his return to the campaign trail in Florida on Monday evening boasted he has recovered from COVID-19 and is impervious to the disease that has killed more than 210,000 Americans. The president, who tested positive on Oct. 1, also indicated he is unconcerned about being contagious and told the audience gathered at Orlando Sanford International Airport that he would be happy to engage in some close contact.

“One thing with me, the nice part, I went through it, now they say I’m immune. … I feel so powerful,” Trump said. “I’ll walk in there, I’ll kiss everyone in that audience. I’ll kiss the guys, and the beautiful women, and the — everybody. I’ll just give you a big fat kiss.” Trump spoke for about an hour. While his remarks were short by the standards of his past rallies, which are often about 80 minutes long, it was far longer than any of the brief videos he released while recovering from the virus or his first live speech, which took place at the White House on Saturday and lasted less than 2 minutes. more...

Don’t let him answer another call.
Conor Friedersdorf

A memorable campaign ad from 2008 urged voters to ask themselves which candidate would perform better in an unexpected emergency: “It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep, but there’s a phone in the White House and it’s ringing ... Your vote will decide who answers that call.” Franklin D. Roosevelt answered Pearl Harbor. John F. Kennedy answered the deployment of Soviet missiles to Cuba. How would this year’s candidates respond when confronted with an emergency?

Joe Biden has never held the top job, so voters can only speculate. But a pandemic began on Donald Trump’s watch, so no speculation is needed. Trump showed us how he did perform in a crisis: He failed. Trump is obviously not responsible for all of the COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. But the U.S. has fared much worse than the median developed country. And among wealthy nations, its per capita deaths rank in the top five. Trump can’t avoid blame for America’s subpar performance, because voters can identify specific actions he took that contributed to the country’s failures. Especially damning is that Trump couldn’t even protect himself from the disease. more...

David Knowles Editor ,Yahoo News

Trailing badly in new national polls, President Trump tried out an audacious new appeal to voters during his epic live-tweeting on Monday of the Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Amy Coney Barrett: Parts of America are “going to hell: Vote Trump!” Trump, who has often derided Democratic-run states, singled out three of them as particularly deplorable. Together, California, New York and Illinois account for 20 percent of the U.S. population. All of them, and the largest cities within them, are led by Democrats.

Trump’s partisan parsing of the country is nothing new. On Sept. 16, two weeks before he announced that he had contracted COVID-19, Trump qualified the number of infections and deaths from the disease in the U.S. by saying “that’s despite the fact that the blue states had tremendous death rates. If you take the blue states out, we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at.” more...

*** Trump does not care for American lives if he did he would not continue to put American lives at risk. ***

Storyful

Supporters of US President Donald Trump gathered in Sanford, Florida, on October 12 for the president’s first campaign-trail rally since he announced he tested positive for COVID-19. Trump decided to go ahead with his in-person appearance at the event despite receiving a positive test only 10 days prior, reports said. The president was seen entering Air Force One without a mask on Monday. more...

By Greg Farrell

Two groups promoting ethics in government called for the impeachment of U.S. Attorney General William Barr, accusing him of violating laws and undermining public confidence in the Justice Department. Barr has used the department to further President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, a bipartisan group of lawyers from the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law at the University of Pennsylvania and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington wrote in a report released Monday, three weeks ahead of U.S. elections.

The authors warned that Barr’s appointment of U.S. Attorney John Durham to review the origins of the Russia investigation, and Barr’s willingness to discuss the investigation in news interviews, point to efforts to create a politically orchestrated “October surprise.” Such actions could violate the Hatch Act, which forbids government officials from using their offices to support a particular candidate in an election, they wrote.

The authors, some of whom held top legal and ethics posts in previous Republican and Democratic administrations, are the latest to raise concerns that Barr is pursuing an agenda of partisan politics and selective law enforcement. Earlier this month, 1,600 former Justice Department officials signed an open letter criticizing what they called Barr’s willingness to use the department to support Trump’s re-election effort. Although the Justice Department has traditionally kept live investigations under wraps, it recently advised prosecutors they could publicize investigations into election issues, including alleged ballot fraud. more...

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump takes his Covid denial tour back to the campaign trail Monday as the tense final stretch of an election now three weeks away gets a fresh jolt with Senate hearings on his Supreme Court pick Amy Coney Barrett. Trump, who announced Sunday, without providing evidence, that he has tested "totally negative" after his bout with the virus, plans to hold his first rally since his diagnosis was publicly disclosed, in Florida, in what risks turning into yet another super spreader event.

"I'm immune. So, the President is in very good shape to fight the battles," Trump said on Fox's "Sunday Morning Futures," in comments that misrepresented his own capacity to spread the virus if he is exposed to it again. A tweet along the same lines earned a warning from Twitter that the President was spreading misleading information about the virus. The President's proclamations about his own health followed another opaque memo from his physician, who cleared Trump to end isolation but who hasn't taken reporters' questions in a week.

Trump's Monday rally and subsequent events this week in Pennsylvania, Iowa and North Carolina will underscore both his increasing concern about his own prospects, as time to rescue his presidency runs out, and how his own infection with Covid-19 has done nothing to convince him to adopt a more responsible attitude toward the pandemic. more...

Former employee was fired and would show up to work in tactical gear, gun shop says
Natasha Dado, Web Producer - click on detroit

DETROIT – Eric Trump has canceled a Michigan based campaign event scheduled to take place Tuesday at Huron Valley Guns in New Hudson after one of its former employees was linked to the domestic terror plot against the state’s governor. Just last week 13 men were charged in a domestic terror plot to kidnap Whitmer and overthrow the government.

“In February 2020 we had a young man that worked on the range who would show up for work in a LOT of tactical gear. We found that a little odd. We weren’t comfortable with him for a few other reasons and fired him after 3 weeks. He ended up being one of the fringe characters arrested for the Governor Whitmer kidnapping,” wrote Huron Valley Guns in a Facebook post announcing the Trump campaign had changed venues for the event. more...

Robert Reich

"I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters," Trump boasted in 2016. Trump's 5th Avenue principle is being severely tested. Some 40% of voters have stuck by him even though more than 214,000 Americans have died from Covid-19, one of the world's highest death rates -- due in part to Trump initially downplaying its dangers, then refusing responsibility for it, promoting quack remedies for it, muzzling government experts on it, pushing states to reopen despite it, and discouraging people from wearing masks.

They've stuck by him even after he turned the White House into a hotspot for the virus, even after he caught it himself, and even after asserting just days ago that it's less lethal than the flu. A recent nonpartisan study concluded that Trump's blatant disinformation has been the largest driver of COVID misinformation in the world. They've stuck by him even as more than 11 million Americans have lost their jobs, 40 million risk eviction from their homes, 14 million have lost health insurance, and almost one out of five Americans with kids at home cannot afford to adequately feed their children.

They've stuck by him even though more Americans have sought unemployment benefits this year than voted for him in 2016, even after Trump cut off talks on economic relief, even as he's pushing the Supreme Court to repeal the Affordable Care Act, causing 20 million more to lose health insurance. Trump is in effect standing in the middle of 5th Avenue; if not personally killing Americans, then letting them die in numbers that dwarf any other mass-casualty event in the nation's postwar history, from 9/11 back to Korea and Vietnam. Yet here we are, just a few weeks before the election, and his supporters haven't budged. The latest polls show him with 40% to 43% of voters, while Joe Biden has a bare majority. more...

By Simon Denyer

TOKYO — Four months after Barack Obama took office as U.S. president, North Korea catapulted itself to the top of the diplomatic agenda with its second nuclear test. Now less than a month before the latest U.S. election, North Korea has given whoever wins advance notice: In 2021, it is certain to be back in the headlines, and likely to be a headache. The reason: a massive new intercontinental ballistic paraded through the streets of Pyongyang on Saturday that served as a chilling reminder that North Korea’s nuclear deterrent is a very real threat to the U.S. homeland.

“What I think the North Koreans are saying is that they are committed to spending the money to build systems that can beat our missile defenses,” said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Center for ­Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif. “Maybe a lot of them won’t get through, but some of them will, and, you know, we won’t like that.”

At Saturday’s military parade, North Korea unveiled a range of modern military equipment that has never been seen before, from small arms to masks designed for chemical warfare, and a new submarine-launched ballistic missile. But the climax was the sight of a new ICBM, carried on an 11-axle vehicle, one of the largest road-mobile liquid-fueled ballistic missiles ever made.

In a speech before the parade, North Korea leader Kim Jong Un said that the country’s military forces were meant as a deterrent and were not aimed “at anyone specific.” But experts said the hardware on display told a different story. “Of course, the target is clearly the United States,” said Lee Ho-ryung, a researcher at the state-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul. “There’s no need for North Korea to develop a bigger and stronger ICBM if it’s truly intended for self-defense only.” more...

“Do I think it’s safe to have this rally? No I don’t,” one business owner told The Daily Beast.
Hunter Woodall

If it was up to Patrick Austin, President Donald Trump would hold off from heading to Sanford, Florida, on Monday for his first major campaign rally since being hospitalized with COVID-19. But the local city commissioner had no illusions that not much could be done to stop the president once he’s made a decision like this, for what the president bragged on Twitter would be “a very BIG RALLY!” “He has the right to do it,” Austin said early Sunday afternoon. “I just don’t think it’s the right time.”

When Trump speaks at Orlando Sanford International Airport Monday night, it will be one week since he left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after announcing in the early hours of Oct. 2 that he had tested positive for COVID-19. Rallies in Pennsylvania and Iowa later this week will follow the Florida trip. Late Saturday, the White House released a carefully worded letter from the president’s physician saying the president “is no longer considered a transmission risk to others.” But the letter did not specifically say the president had tested negative for COVID-19.

While Austin said he didn’t think the event was “a huge health scare for our community” when it comes to the crowd, citing a mask order in place in the county, he wasn’t without concerns about the timing of Trump’s appearance. In a text message Sunday morning, he said, “I’m still skeptical and wish he’d be more conservative. A few extra days just to be safe would be nice, no matter any tests or press releases.” more...

By Justine Coleman

A New York Times analysis of tax records showed that more than 200 companies, special-interest groups and foreign governments have funneled millions of dollars to President Trump’s properties while reaping benefits from the president and his administration. Nearly a nearly a quarter of the entities have not been previously reported. Sixty patrons who promoted specific interests to the Trump administration spent almost $12 million on expenses associated with the Trump Organization during the first two years of Trump’s presidency. The Times reported nearly all of these customers saw their interests move forward.

In interviews with almost 250 business executives, club members, lobbyists, Trump property employees and current administration officials, sources detailed to the Times how Trump conducted business and interacted with customers who were seeking help from the administration. The newspaper also used Trump’s tax return data, lobbying disclosures, Freedom of Information Act requests and other public records to construct a database of groups, companies and governments that had business before the administration and spent money at Trump properties.

The Trump Organization’s customers included foreign politicians, Florida barons, a Chinese billionaire, a Serbian prince, clean-energy advocates, petroleum industry leaders, small-government advocates and contractors. The newspaper noted that some of the president’s customers did not see their interests fully fulfilled but noted “whether they won or lost, Mr. Trump benefited financially.” more...

The report is the fourth in a Times series.
By Allison Pecorin, Benjamin Siegel, and Will Steakin

The New York Times has released a report, the fourth in its series, based on President Donald Trump's federal tax returns, illustrating how the paper says the president turned "his own hotels and resorts into the Beltway's new back rooms, where public and private business mix and special interests reign." Trump attended 34 political fundraisers at his hotels and resorts that brought in $3 million in revenue, the Times reported.

The New York Times has released a report, the fourth in its series, based on President Donald Trump's federal tax returns, illustrating how the paper says the president turned "his own hotels and resorts into the Beltway's new back rooms, where public and private business mix and special interests reign." Trump attended 34 political fundraisers at his hotels and resorts that brought in $3 million in revenue, the Times reported. more...

By Kaitlan Collins, CNN

(CNN) Dr. Anthony Fauci did not consent to being featured in a new advertisement from the Trump campaign touting President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the nation's leading infectious disease expert told CNN his words were taken out of context. "In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate. The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials," Fauci said in a statement provided exclusively to CNN when asked if he agreed to be featured in the ad.

The Trump campaign released the new ad last week after the President was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center following treatment for Covid-19. The 30-second ad, which is airing in Michigan, touts Trump's personal experience with the virus and uses a quote from Fauci in an attempt to make it appear as if he is praising Trump's response. "President Trump is recovering from the coronavirus, and so is America," the ad's narrator says. "Together we rose to meet the challenge, protecting our seniors, getting them life-saving drugs in record time, sparing no expense." more...

*** Trump is the swap. ***

A businessman-president transplanted favor-seeking in Washington to his family’s hotels and resorts — and earned millions as a gatekeeper to his own administration.
By Nicholas Confessore, Karen Yourish, Steve Eder, Ben Protess, Maggie Haberman, Grace Ashford, Michael LaForgia, Kenneth P. Vogel, Michael Rothfeld and Larry Buchanan

It was springtime at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club, and the favor-seekers were swarming. In a gold-adorned ballroom filled with Republican donors, an Indian-born industrialist from Illinois pressed Mr. Trump to tweet about easing immigration rules for highly skilled workers and their children. “He gave a million dollars,” the president told his guests approvingly, according to a recording of the April 2018 event.

Later that month, in the club’s dining room, the president wandered over to one of its newer members, an Australian cardboard magnate who had brought along a reporter to flaunt his access. Mr. Trump thanked him for taking out a newspaper ad hailing his role in the construction of an Ohio paper mill and box factory, whose grand opening the president would attend.

And in early March, a Tennessee real estate developer who had donated lavishly to the inauguration, and wanted billions in loans from the new administration, met the president at the club and asked him for help. Mr. Trump waved over his personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen. “Get it done,” the president said, describing the developer as “a very important guy,” Mr. Cohen recalled in an interview. Campaigning for president as a Washington outsider, Mr. Trump electrified rallies with his vows to “drain the swamp.” more...

Matthew Brown USA TODAY

During his 2016 campaign and throughout his time in office, President Donald Trump has repeatedly made promises to "drain the swamp." The phrase signaled to many a desire to change Washington's widely maligned political culture. In office, however, Trump has reportedly done just the opposite, according to a recent New York Times investigation into the federal taxes across the Trump organization.

Here are some of the most notable revelations from the investigation, which found over 200 companies, lobbying groups and foreign governments did business with, and benefitted from, work with Trump's businesses. Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, told the Times in response to their reporting that Trump remained out of the loop on the Trump Organization's daily operations. Eric and Don. Jr remained in charge of the family business, he said. more...

By Jason Lemon

A majority of voters do not believe President Donald Trump has paid his "fair share" of federal income taxes as Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden continues to lead by double digits. The new polling released Sunday by ABC News and The Washington Post shows 57 percent of likely voters believe—and 51 percent strongly believe—that Trump has not paid his fair share in federal income taxes Notably, there is a strong partisan divide, with 93 percent of Democrats saying Trump hasn't paid enough in federal income taxes while just 16 percent of Republicans say the same. A majority of independents (57 percent) think the president has underpaid in federal income taxes. more...

CNN Digital Expansion 2018, Andrew Kaczynski
By Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck, CNN

(CNN) Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to the Department of Justice on Sunday inquiring about materials that Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett left off paperwork initially filed with the Senate. On Friday evening, Barrett submitted supplemental paperwork to the committee listing two talks she gave to anti-abortion students groups in 2013 in her capacity as a law professor at the University of Notre Dame. Both talks -- first reported by CNN's KFile -- were only disclosed following CNN's report, which Senate Democrats called "troubling" in their letter Sunday on the eve of Barrett's hearings starting Monday.

Barrett also disclosed on Friday night a paid advertisement she signed in 2013 as a member of University Faculty for Life that criticized Roe v. Wade and reaffirmed support for Notre Dame's "commitment to the right to life." The advertisement was only disclosed after CNN asked the White House about it earlier Friday. more...

By Lucy Harley-McKeown

A majority of voters believe President Donald Trump's business interests have affected his choices while in office, according to a Morning Consult poll. Polling undertaken by the company at the end of 2016 found that voters were almost unanimous in thinking that Trump's business interests would affect decision-making in office. Nearly four years on, Morning Consult found that 80 percent of voters believe Trump's business interests and positions have had at least some impact on his decision-making as president. more...

By Joe Ferullo

Donald Trump knows himself. Like all top-notch performing talent, he knows how show business works — and how it works for him. And some kind of crazy “virtual debate” — that’s just not entertainment. And it doesn’t play to what the president fully understands are his performing strengths. It was never going to happen.

Trump is, first and foremost, an entertainer. He’s an actor who over many years created and molded a character called “The Donald,” an enormously successful businessman with a Midas touch and a charming, roguish appeal. That character now appears to inhabit him totally, to the point where it seems even Trump himself can no longer tell where the invention stops and the real person begins. He seems to believe, to the very fiber of his being, that he is a commanding champion stepping off a gleaming chopper — whether onto a Manhattan rooftop in “The Apprentice” or the White House lawn after his stay at Walter Reed. more...

The coronavirus outbreak at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is just one facet of a much deeper presidential malaise.
By JOHN F. HARRIS and DANIEL LIPPMAN

Nearly everyone remembers the old cliché: If you can’t trust someone to get the little things right, how can you ever count on them to do the big things?President Donald Trump had better hope that bromide, invoked everywhere from youth sports teams to sales-force training sessions, doesn’t apply to him. As his presidency lurches toward a climactic judgment on Nov. 3, the little things lately have rarely gone more pervasively or embarrassingly wrong — at a time when public confidence in Trump’s handling of the big things is hardly robust.

The initial reaction might be, So what’s new here? But recent days, in the wake of Trump being stricken with coronavirus, have highlighted just how the lurching improvisation that is a familiar phenomenon around Trump has entered a different phase. The professionals around the president aren’t merely laboring to contain and channel the disruptive politician they work for. Very often they are amplifying the chaos.

That’s in part because, as his first term comes to a close, the professionals around Trump are not all that professional. It is now the exception in key staff and Cabinet posts to have people whose experience would be commensurate with that of people who have typically held those jobs in previous administrations of both parties. This major weakness has been revealing itself in a barrage of minor errors that summon Casey Stengel’s incredulous question about the 1962 New York Mets: Can’t anybody here play this game? more...

Matthew S. Schwartz

A federal judge in Pennsylvania has thrown out a lawsuit by the Trump campaign that tried to limit the battleground state's use of drop boxes in the current presidential election. The lawsuit also challenged the Pennsylvania secretary of state's guidance that mail-in ballots shouldn't be rejected if the voter's signature doesn't match the one on file, and a state restriction that poll watchers be residents of the county where they are assigned.

All of these claims turned on a common theme: the idea that without sufficient security measures, people might commit voter fraud. The campaign argued that that fraud would then "dilute" lawfully cast votes, in violation of the state and U.S. constitutions. In reality, voter fraud is extremely rare, though Trump has repeated baseless claims about it being widespread. U.S. District Court Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan, who wrote the opinion, was reluctant to second-guess the judgment of the state legislature and election officials.

"Perhaps Plaintiffs are right that guards should be placed near drop boxes, signature-analysis experts should examine every mail-in ballot, poll watchers should be able to man any poll regardless of location, and other security improvements should be made," Ranjan wrote. "But the job of an unelected federal judge isn't to suggest election improvements, especially when those improvements contradict the reasoned judgment of democratically elected officials." more...

By Benjamin Fearnow

President Donald Trump gave a "peaceful protest" campaign speech Saturday from the White House as he continues his coronavirus recovery, telling Black and Latino supporters "you have to have police support you." Trump ridiculed former Vice President Joe Biden and Democrats during the "Blexit" campaign rally organized by Candace Owens and former Arizona police officer Brandon Tatum. Their Blexit Foundation touts itself as a movement encouraging minorities to leave the Democratic Party.

His repeated calls for "law and order" were paired with searing criticisms that Biden has "betrayed" Black and Hispanic Americans during his decades in office. Chants of "USA" echoed across the White House lawn as Trump said minority communities are rejecting "radical socialism" and a "nationwide crusade against" police officers that he claimed was being led by Biden.

Attendees were told they "must" wear a BLEXIT shirt, according to emails.
ByRachel Scott andWill Steakin

Some guests for Saturday's White House event on the South Lawn, which will be President Donald Trump's first since testing positive for the coronavirus, had their travel and lodging paid for by controversial conservative activist Candace Owens' group BLEXIT, according to emails obtained by ABC News. Supporters, who are also scheduled to attend a separate BLEXIT event earlier in the day, were invited to attend a "HUGE outdoor rally" by the group and asked to fill out a form that notified them that BLEXIT, a campaign urging Black Americans to leave the Democratic Party, will be covering travel costs.

Guests were later informed they would be receiving an invitation from the White House to attend an event with Trump. In an email from Owens, obtained by ABC News, attendees were told "EVERYONE MUST BRING A MASK TO BE ALLOWED ENTRY ONTO THE WHITE HOUSE GROUNDS." and that "absolutely no exceptions" will be made. Still, wearing a face mask will not be required. Attendees will have to submit to a COVID-19 screening the morning of the event, which will consist of a temperature check and a brief questionnaire.

Guests will first attend a "BLEXIT Back the Blue event" on the Ellipse between the White House and the Washington Monument before heading over to the South Lawn for the president's remarks, according to a schedule obtained by ABC News. When reached for comment, Owens told ABC News, "We are not interested in participating in your obvious media angle here to slander/attack the President regarding Covid-19." She added that Saturday's event "is about supporting law enforcement in minority communities." It is not immediately clear how many of those set to attend the event had their travel costs covered. more...

The secretary of state said he would make Hillary Clinton’s emails public, handing the president a weapon to attack his political foes as the attorney general resisted his overtures to prosecute them.
By Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman, Katie Benner, Lara Jakes and Michael S. Schmidt

WASHINGTON — President Trump forced the State Department on Friday to commit to releasing at least some of Hillary Clinton’s emails before next month’s election, resurrecting a four-year-old issue in hopes that it would prove as helpful to his political prospects as it was when he defeated her in 2016. Trailing badly in the polls and eager to change the subject from the coronavirus, Mr. Trump succeeded in compelling Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to announce that he would make public the emails even as Attorney General William P. Barr resisted pressure from the president to prosecute Democrats like former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., this year’s Democratic nominee.

Still recovering from his own coronavirus infection, Mr. Trump made plans to host hundreds of supporters on the South Lawn of the White House on Saturday for his first in-person event since he tested positive last week, according to three people familiar with the schedule. The rally that he had previously said he wanted to hold on Saturday in Florida will instead be held on Monday, his campaign announced, as the president insisted on getting back on the road despite his illness. The burst of activity and machinations reflected a president grasping for a way to make up a double-digit polling deficit against Mr. Biden with 25 days left before the election on Nov. 3. Mr. Biden’s lead has remained stable for months and, if anything, expanded in recent days, despite every effort by the president to shift the momentum of the race. more...

I saw it all serving 42 years in the federal government, and here's my message to undecided voters: America is damaged and needs change at the top.
Russ Travers

Millions of you living in small towns and cities across this country are on the fence about your presidential vote. You want to make an informed decision. You are frustrated with Washington. The “elite,” from both political parties, has failed large segments of our population — perhaps including you — and candidate Trump tapped into that frustration.

Many of you voted for him as a “disrupter,” believing that things needed to change.  Understandable. But the time has come for a reckoning. And that’s a challenge. So much of what you hear and read is inside Washington baseball, competing political narratives dressed up by high-priced PR firms. Sadly, much is simply not true, and the first presidential debate certainly didn’t help restore your faith in the quality of political discourse. As you consider your vote, you’re having difficulty correlating the noise you hear, to life in middle America. more...

Many of you voted for him as a “disrupter,” believing that things needed to change.  Understandable. But the time has come for a reckoning. And that’s a challenge. So much of what you hear and read is inside Washington baseball, competing political narratives dressed up by high-priced PR firms. Sadly, much is simply not true, and the first presidential debate certainly didn’t help restore your faith in the quality of political discourse. As you consider your vote, you’re having difficulty correlating the noise you hear, to life in middle America.

Let me offer some thoughts. I am admittedly a creature of Washington. But I would like to think I represent what you expect and deserve from a federal government employee. I'm someone you’ve never heard of, but who spent 42 years attempting to do “good government,” serving seven presidents of both political parties.

America is on the wrong track
Most recently I was the Acting Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, trying to protect you and your families. Earlier in this administration, I received an award from the president for "sustained extraordinary achievement," an honor reserved for the top 1% of Senior Executives. The following year I was fired. And if you care, I’m an independent. I voted for neither this president nor for Hillary Clinton. I wrote in former Ohio Gov. John Kasich.  more...

The president's health matters. But we can only speculate because his doctor has hidden behind confidentiality laws to withhold negative information.
Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel and Dr. Vin Gupta

At a minimum, there will be 3.5 months between when President Donald Trump first contracted coronavirus and when a president will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021.  While this seems a brief time, the world is a dangerous place. President Trump’s health matters. What can the American public anticipate regarding his expected clinical course over this time period? The answer to this question is absolutely vital, since many survivors of severe COVID-19 pneumonia (which the president had) have experienced setbacks, hospital readmissions and prolonged intensive care stays requiring months of rehabilitation.

What we do know of the president’s current condition is informed by what has been shared voluntarily and bolstered by what’s been willfully withheld from public view. Concerningly, Trump was reportedly hypoxemic (low oxygen saturations, less than 94%) for a period of time, had shortness of breath, and required supplemental oxygen. Those are all clear signals that the president might have experienced the most feared and harmful injury from COVID-19: pneumonia. To be clear, nearly all of the 213,000 Americans who have lost their lives to this virus died for this reason alone, often on ventilators (though strokes and kidney failure may be contributors to poor prognoses in the patients). more...

The president curtailed use of fetal tissue in federally funded medical research, but the moral objection apparently vanishes when it’s Trump who’s in need.
By Mary Papenfuss

The COVID-19 treatment President Donald Trump has referred to as a miracle was developed using cells derived from an aborted fetus — a process he has severely curtailed in government-funded medical research to woo the evangelical vote. Trump last week referred to new COVID-19 treatments, including those he had received, as “miracles coming down from God.” Among the treatments Trump received was Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ experimental cocktail of monoclonal antibodies, which is not yet approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In a video Wednesday, Trump called the Regeneron treatment “the key” to his bounce back from a COVID-19 infection. He called it “like unbelievable.”

“I think this was a blessing from God that I caught [COVID-19]. I think it was a blessing in disguise,” Trump said in the video. “I caught it, I heard about this drug, I said, ‘Let me take it’ … and it was incredible the way it worked.” Yet the development of the drug is directly at odds with Trump’s stance against using fetal tissue cells in medical research. That stance has been a key to his support from the evangelical community, which opposes abortion.

A second antiviral drug Trump was given, Remdesivir, was also developed using cells originally derived from the tissue of an aborted fetus. In addition, three coronavirus vaccines under development are also using cell lines developed from fetal tissue in research, according to The New York Times. All have received federal funding. The Regeneron treatment’s efficacy was tested in a lab using HEK 293T cells. That cell line was originally derived from the kidney tissue of a fetus aborted in the Netherlands in the 1970s, according to the company. more...

David KnowlesEditor,Yahoo News

President Trump continued to hail an experimental monoclonal antibody treatment as a “cure” for COVID-19, telling conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh in a Friday interview that it sped his recovery from the disease and was “better than a vaccine.” “I was not in great shape, but we have a medicine that healed me, that fixed me,” Trump said of the antibody “cocktail” manufactured by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. “It’s a great medicine. I recovered immediately.”

Since being released on Monday from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he was treated for three days after being admitted with a high fever, chills and breathing problems, Trump has often pointed to the antibody therapy he undertook at the hospital as a “cure” for COVID-19. There is no known cure for the disease caused by exposure to the coronavirus, and the FDA has not, so far, approved the drug’s use for treating COVID-19.

Just as he had done with the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which he took in May as a prophylactic against COVID-19, the president didn’t hesitate describing Regeneron’s “cocktail” in the most glowing possible terms. “We have a cure. More than just a therapeutic, have a cure,” Trump said of the antibody treatment, adding, “This is better than a vaccine.” more...

By Naveed Jamali AND Tom O'Connor

President Donald Trump's suggestion that the families of troops who died during active duty service were responsible for his COVID-19 infection has earned substantial scorn from veterans and family members, who labeled his comments as just the latest in a pattern of actions that make them question his support for the U.S. armed forces.

In his first interview since being diagnosed with the novel coronavirus disease, Trump recalled to Fox News on Thursday how the family members of fallen service members—called Gold Star families—wanted to hug and kiss him during a September 27 event at the White House. Some came "within an inch" of his face, and he said he felt helpless to say no because of the emotional nature of the event. "I'm not telling them to back up. I'm not doing it," Trump told Fox News. "But I did say it's obviously dangerous, it's a dangerous thing, I guess, if you go by the COVID thing."

"As a wounded combat veteran, it's absolutely disgusting President Trump would blame gold star families as the reason he contracted COVID," Alan Pitts, a U.S. Army combat veteran who served in Iraq and is a Purple Heart recipient, told Newsweek. Pitts, who is a member of the Common Defense political action committee, said that these grieving families had enough to deal with without being berated by the commander in chief. more...

The president continues to employ divide-and-conquer tactics instead of exhibiting leadership and a desire to unite.
Suzette Hackney USA TODAY

Tuesday night’s first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was an utter disgrace — one filled with childish insults, overwrought bullying, bald-face lies and incessant interruptions. TV pundits breathlessly proclaimed that Americans didn’t get the answers they were so desperately seeking and deserved. I disagree.

The single most important answer became crystal clear: Only one man on that Cleveland stage appeared even remotely presidential. And it wasn’t the person who's occupying the Oval Office. On three topics in particular — election fairness, a peaceful transfer of power and race relations — Trump reinforced his desire to tear at the social fabric of American society. He's not hiding who he is or how desperate he has become. His assertions are bold — and dangerous.

I watched the debate, in part, intending to assess which candidate exhibited more mental fitness, after months of listening to Trump take jabs at Biden’s competence, intellect and physical stamina. How many facts might be flubbed? Would we hear a few gaffes or unintentional moments of levity we’d all be able to giggle about the next day? more...

By Kevin Liptak, CNN

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump will emerge from his Covid-forced isolation Saturday for a speech from a White House balcony, according to a White House official, allowing the public its first independent glimpse in days of a leader recovering from coronavirus. Two thousand guests have been invited to the White House, according to a person familiar with the event, despite concerns about a late September ceremony in the Rose Garden that may have acted as the nexus for a viral outbreak that has ripped through Trump's staff.

This time, Trump will not be close to attendees. But the prospect of hosting another large gathering, even if not all 2,000 invitees do attend, as the contagion spreads has already generated concerns among some of Trump's aides. A source with knowledge of the planning says attendees must bring masks and will be subject to temperature checks. He is also now scheduled to hold a campaign rally in Florida on Monday evening. The event will take place in a airport hangar in Sanford outside Orlando. Since returning to the White House on Monday evening, Trump has not been seen in public. In a series of lengthy phone interviews, he said he is ready to end his Covid isolation and emerge onto the campaign trail, despite little clarity about his condition, no independent view of his physical state and warnings from health experts he is likely still shedding the virus. more...

In one of his stranger spectacles to date, President Trump underwent a “medical evaluation” on Fox News Friday night that consisted of him boasting about how great he feels.
Matt Wilstein

“Man, woman, person, camera, TV.” The last time President Donald Trump appeared on TV with Dr. Marc Siegel, he managed to impress the Fox News medical contributor by successfully listing off those five words in the same order, twice in a row. Now, with many unanswered questions swirling about his health following an abrupt hospitalization for COVID-19 just one week ago, Trump has turned again to Dr. Siegel in a deeply bizarre, made-for-reality TV on-air “medical evaluation” on Tucker Carlson’s show Friday night.

“By any measure, it’s been a remarkable turnaround,” Carlson insisted of Trump’s apparent recovery, before revealing that the White House camera team—and not Fox News—were the ones filming Trump remotely (and therefore presumably had some control over the edit). Siegel, the same doctor who irresponsibly speculated that former Vice President Joe Biden might be on “speed” or “Adderall” ahead of the first presidential debate and later downplayed the severity of Trump’s diagnosis, began his exam by asking, “How are you feeling now?”

Trump said he’s feeling “really, really strong,” unlike other people who have contracted the “China virus,” as he likes to call it. He insisted that he had no problems breathing, despite reports that his oxygen levels fell dangerously low at times. The president also admitted to some “congestion” in his lungs detected during a CAT scan, which is more than his personal doctor was willing to reveal to reporters earlier in the week. more...

Julia Naftulin

Antiabortion groups told Insider they took no issue with the fact that one of President Donald Trump's COVID-19 treatments — which he is now vowing to make available to all Americans — was tested using cells that originally came from an abortion. It is a research practice Trump has severely restricted during his presidency and one pro-life groups have vehemently opposed.

To treat Trump, doctors gave him supplemental oxygen and treatments including a steroid typically used in severe COVID-19 cases and an experimental antibody cocktail created by the US biotech company Regeneron. To test the antibody cocktail's effectiveness, Regeneron used an "immortalized epithelial cell line," or cells that were altered in a lab so they could last forever when they otherwise would not. These cells, now called HEK 293T cells, were derived from the kidneys of a fetus that was aborted in 1972 in the Netherlands. more...

The president's grip on the party is loosening amid a coronavirus backlash and fears of an electoral bloodbath.
By JOHN F. HARRIS and MELANIE ZANONA

For Republicans, fearful of a possible electoral disaster just weeks away, it has become safe at last to dis Donald Trump — or at least to distance themselves from him in unmistakably purposeful ways. A barrage of barbed comments in recent days shows how markedly the calculus of fear has shifted in the GOP. For much of the past four years, Republican politicians were scared above all about incurring the wrath of the president and his supporters with any stray gesture or remark that he might regard as not sufficiently deferential. Now, several of them are evidently more scared of not being viewed by voters as sufficiently independent.

This is far from an insurrection. Republicans in the main aren’t outright repudiating Trump. But they are effectively rolling their eyes in exasperation with him, and especially his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Among the most vivid recent examples:

* Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas acknowledging in a Friday interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that he’s “worried” about the election, which he warned could be a “bloodbath of Watergate proportions” for his party, depending on how voters view the pandemic and economy on Election Day.

* Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell telling reporters Thursday he has not been to the White House in more than two months, since Aug. 6, because he doesn’t have confidence that Trump and his team are practicing good coronavirus hygiene. McConnell said, “my impression was their approach to how to handle this was different than mine and what I insisted that we do in the Senate, which is to wear a mask and practice social distancing.” more...

Joel Rose

As the Marine One helicopter was about to lift off last Thursday, White House officials got word that top adviser Hope Hicks had tested positive for the coronavirus. That prompted White House operations to make a tough call: Who in President Trump's entourage would still be allowed to go to the campaign fundraiser at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.? Some people were pulled from the trip — but not Trump. That was the first of several ways that Trump and his campaign put supporters at risk, says Lisa Lee, an epidemiologist. While there were coronavirus protocols in place at the fundraiser, public health experts say those measures were full of holes and aimed more at protecting the president than donors and staff.

"The first step in all of this was to really quarantine immediately after finding out that they had been exposed," says Lee, a former top scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who serves as associate vice president for research and innovation at Virginia Tech. Instead, Trump spent several hours at the fundraiser with more than 200 supporters even though he had just traveled with Hicks on Air Force One to Minnesota for a rally the day before and to Ohio for the presidential debate the day before that. Dozens of guests mingled with the president indoors without masks — some for the better part of an hour — and the campaign relied heavily on screening guests with rapid tests, which aren't always reliable. more...

BBC

Top US virus expert Dr Anthony Fauci has criticised the White House for hosting a gathering last month that has been linked to an outbreak of Covid-19. Dr Fauci, a member of the White House's coronavirus task force, said the president's unveiling of his judicial nominee was a "superspreader event". Dozens of White House aides and other contacts were reportedly infected. President Donald Trump's doctors have just cleared him to hold public events as he himself recovers from Covid-19. Mr Trump - who was discharged from hospital on Monday after three nights - plans to hold a medical "evaluation" on Fox News on Friday night. He is expected to host an in-person White House event on Saturday.

What did Dr Fauci say?
CBS News asked on Friday what Dr Fauci thought of the White House's reluctance to insist on mask-wearing and social distancing as virus precautions, and instead rely on regular testing. "The data speak for themselves - we had a superspreader event in the White House, and it was in a situation where people were crowded together and were not wearing masks." Dr Fauci also noted experts have been recommending mask-wearing for the last six months, and condemned talk of a coronavirus "cure" - a word Mr Trump has used in reference to the experimental Covid-19 treatments he received during his recent stay at a military hospital.

An event at the White House on Saturday 26 September, for the president's nomination of Amy Coney Barrett as a Supreme Court judge, is thought to be the root of the localised outbreak, as many attendees have since tested positive. Large gatherings are still banned in the nation's capital due to Covid-19, but federal property like the White House is exempt. more...

Rachel Olding - the daily beast

For the sixth day in a row, the White House has refused to say when President Trump last tested negative for COVID-19 before going public with his positive test result last Friday. The information would help to create an accurate timeline during which Trump was infectious—crucial for anyone who came into contact with him and may be at risk of infection. But White House mouthpieces have come up with new excuses each day to hide the fact, claiming Trump’s “doctors would like to keep it private,” it was unnecessary to “go back through a bunch of records and look backwards,” and the White House “[doesn’t] normally get into the testing protocol for the president.” more...

The president ran successfully as a populist in 2016. But as he tries to recapture the formula, he’s running into some hurdles—mainly, his record.
Sam Stein, Asawin Suebsaeng, Lachlan Markay - the daily beast

Hitting the closing stretch of the election, and trailing by a substantial margin in the polls, Donald Trump is placing his political hopes on winning over voters with cold hard cash. Over the past month, the president and his team have coalesced around a series of policies that would result in billions of dollars being allocated to critical constituencies right as voting begins: a proposal to dramatically increase government lending in African American communities, an order to send seniors a $200 rebate card for prescription drug purchases, and a newfound desire for an ambitious stimulus package to deal with the fallout for COVID-19.

Critics view the tranche of ideas as tantamount to government-sanctioned voter buy-offs. Fiscal conservatives have privately bristled. But the president sees them as, perhaps, his last electoral panacea. The only question is can he get the money out fast enough. “It’s smart policy and smart politics,” said one senior Trump campaign adviser. The goal, the adviser added, was to reassert a frame that worked well in 2016: “one side views you as the forgotten man and forgotten woman worth fighting for, and the other side views you as deplorable and irredeemable.”

Trump’s frantic dash to get money into the hands of critical constituencies comes amid the backdrop of a campaign struggling for any political momentum at all. What’s surprised some observers is not that he’s now trying to spend his way out of that hole and into a second term, but that it took him this long to start doing so in the first place. more...

Rambling phone interview on Fox Business sees president vent rage about rivals’ supposed crimes against him
Andrew Naughtie

During a live phone-in on Fox Business, Donald Trump complained again that not enough of his political enemies have been arrested – and said attorney general Bill Barr could find himself in “a sad situation” if he doesn’t start rounding them up. The blunt warning comes after Mr Trump left Walter Reed Medical Centre and returned to Twitter with a blizzard of angry tweets and retweets, many of them calling for the indictment of Obama administration figures.

The president’s rambling and ill-tempered interview with Maria Bartiromo on Thursday saw him run through a long list of his usual grievances, but he was particularly rancorous on the subject of supposed Obama-era “crimes” against him for which he wants to see his predecessor indicted, along with Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and many others.

“Unless Bill Barr indicts these people for crimes,” declared the president, “the greatest political crime in the history of our country, then we’re gonna get little satisfaction unless I win. Because I won’t forget it. But these people should be indicted, this was the greatest political crime in the history of our country. And that includes Obama, and that includes Biden; these are people that spied on my campaign, and we have everything. more...

The freewheeling interview with Rush Limbaugh was the longest the president has given since he tested positive last week.
By Dareh Gregorian, Natalia Abrahams and Nicole Via y Rada

Declaring himself "healed" from the coronavirus, President Donald Trump on Friday did a two-hour appearance on Rush Limbaugh's radio show, during which he attacked the Justice Department, Hillary Clinton, Fox News and mail-in ballots, and dropped an F-bomb while talking about Iran. The president sounded short of breath a few times at the start of the lengthy phone-in appearance of what had been billed as a "guest hosting" role, but sounded steadier as the program went on. The conservative commentator welcomed Trump to his "radio rally" with audio of a crowd chanting, "We love you!"

Trump, who tested positive for the coronavirus a week earlier, said doctors were initially more concerned about his prognosis than they've said publicly. "They said you were very bad," Trump said. "This looked like it was going to be a big deal. And you know what that means." He touted the medication. "I was in not great shape and we have a medicine that healed me, that fixed me," he said, adding that he had "a little lingering thing" afterwards. He said he's now not on any drug treatment. more...

By Kevin Liptak, CNN

(CNN) Over the summer, as racial justice demonstrations swept through American cities, President Donald Trump warned he would wield the powers of government to suppress violence. Embracing a "law and order" mantle, Trump himself announced from the East Room a surge of federal agents and castigated groups such as Black Lives Matter as cultivating "hate." "My first duty as President is to protect the American people, and today I'm taking action to fulfill that sacred obligation," he declared. A few months later, Trump's only acknowledgment of his government taking down an alleged domestic terrorism plot to kidnap the Democratic governor of Michigan was to wonder why he hadn't been thanked.

How Trump chooses to promote his administration's efforts to enforce "law and order" follow a clear pattern of political calculation; in instances when the Justice Department finds cases that bolster his claims of fraudulent voting, rampant urban crime or deep state corruption, Trump is eager to participate. He's likely to reinforce the message about quelling violence on Saturday when he delivers remarks on "law and order" from a White House balcony to a crowd on the South Lawn. more...

Newsroom

CNN's Brianna Keilar shares a clip from MSNBC in which White House deputy press secretary Brian Morgenstern, when asked six times, won't reveal the last time President Donald Trump tested negative for Covid-19. Dr. Chris Pernell, who lost her father to coronavirus, reacts. Source: CNN. video...

By Kate Smith

The antibody cocktail that President Trump received for his COVID-19 infection and touted on Wednesday evening as a "cure" for the deadly virus was developed using cells derived from aborted fetal tissue, a practice the White House and anti-abortion rights groups oppose. Last week, Mr. Trump received Regeneron Pharmaceuticals' cocktail of monoclonal antibodies, an experimental therapeutic for coronavirus that is still undergoing testing and is not FDA approved. In a nearly five-minute video posted to Twitter on Wednesday, the president lauded its effects, calling it "the key." "I think this was a blessing from God that I caught [the virus], I think it was a blessing in disguise," Mr. Trump said in the video. "I caught it, I heard about this drug, I said, 'Let me take it' … and it was incredible the way it worked." more...

“The virus was a hoax here until Trump got it,” one resident said.
Francisco Alvarado, Kelly Weill

MIAMI—Fresh off a vice presidential debate where he sported a reddish, sickly-looking eye, Vice President Mike Pence appears to be charging ahead with a plan to visit America’s largest retirement community in the critical swing state of Florida. But with the White House battling a spiraling COVID-19 outbreak, not everyone in the traditionally Trumpy stronghold of The Villages will be happy to see him. On Saturday, Pence is slated to stop by the 55-and-older community in Sumter County as part of a campaign bus tour through the Sunshine State. The VP would arrive in The Villages as President Donald Trump’s support with senior citizens has shown signs of a drop-off in recent months—and with the president dealing with his own case of the novel coronavirus.

Unlike Trump, who is already making noise about returning to the campaign trail, Pence has not announced a positive test result for COVID-19. But the vice president’s proximity to the growing number of White House staffers who have contracted the virus after a now notorious Rose Garden event has some Villagers—and infectious disease experts—running scared. “The virus was a hoax here until Trump got it,” Chris Stanley, president of The Villages Democratic Club, said of the MAGA crowd’s attitude. “The other night they did a prayer vigil and for the first time, they posted in a big font, ‘You must wear a mask.’ I looked on the webcam and didn’t see many wearing masks, but they now seem to be accepting this is not a Democrat hoax at all.” more...

Being in the same room is not mandatory to have a meaningful discussion of the issues.
Dan Evon

U.S. presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon participated in a virtual debate in 1960. On Oct. 8, 2020, shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump and more than two dozen White House officials and staff members tested positive for COVID-19, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced that the second presidential debate between Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden would be moved to a virtual forum. The decision, the CPD said, was made “in order to protect the health and safety of all involved.”

Trump called into Fox Business after the CPD’s announcement and told host Maria Bartiromo, “I’m not going to waste my time doing a virtual debate.” The Trump campaign’s refusal to participate in a virtual debate prompted some social media users to post messages about the validity of remote debates. Turning Point USA’s Benny Johnson, for instance, claimed, “There has NEVER been a VIRTUAL presidential Debate in American history.” Others posted messages claiming that presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon participated in a virtual debate in 1960. more...

By Phil Mattingly and Ted Barrett, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump has signed off on a roughly $1.8 trillion stimulus offer to be presented to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to two people with knowledge of the decision, marking the highest topline dollar figure the administration has put on the table to this point. The direct involvement of Trump himself and his willingness to put down an offer far above the preferences of congressional Republicans adds a dynamic new element to long-stalled negotiations. Trump, to this point, mostly relied on Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to handle the details of the talks with Pelosi.

The $1.8 trillion figure is up from a $1.6 trillion offer from earlier this week, though it remains below the $2.2 trillion in the bill passed last week by House Democrats -- and Pelosi has been unwilling to go below $2 trillion in negotiations up to this point, people familiar with the matter say. The details in the offer remain as important, if not more so, than the topline dollar figure. The specifics are not currently known, though they are expected to be presented to Pelosi later Friday.

The movement from the Trump administration underscores the colossal stakes at play regarding relief in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic fallout. The coronavirus, which is still surging in parts of the country, has killed more than 213,000 people in the US, and shutdowns in response to Covid have had broad economic consequences. A wide-ranging package would attempt to address the twin economic and public health crises that continue to play out -- and top economic officials including Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell have warned inaction could have dire consequences. more...

Tax records expose more than $21 million in highly unusual payments from the Las Vegas hotel Donald Trump owns with Phil Ruffin, routed through other Trump companies and paid out in cash.

By Susanne Craig, Mike McIntire and Russ Buettner

Donald J. Trump needed money. His “self-funded” presidential campaign was short on funds, and he was struggling to win over leery Republican donors. His golf courses and the hotel he would soon open in the Old Post Office in Washington were eating away at what cash he had left on hand, his tax records show. And in early 2016, Deutsche Bank, the last big lender still doing business with him, unexpectedly turned down his request for a loan. The funds, Mr. Trump had told his bankers, would help shore up his Turnberry golf resort in Scotland. Some bankers feared the money would instead be diverted to his campaign.

That January, Mr. Trump sold a lot of stock — $11.1 million worth. He sold another $11.8 million worth in February, and $7.5 million in March. In April, he sold $8.1 million more. And the president’s long-hidden tax records, obtained by The New York Times, also reveal this: how he engineered a sudden financial windfall — more than $21 million in what experts describe as highly unusual one-off payments from the Las Vegas hotel he owns with his friend the casino mogul Phil Ruffin.

In previous articles on the tax records, The Times has reported that, in all but a few years since 2000, chronic business losses and aggressive accounting strategies have allowed Mr. Trump to largely avoid paying federal income taxes. And while the hundreds of millions of dollars earned from “The Apprentice” and his attendant celebrity rescued his business career, those riches, together with the marketing power of the Trump brand, were ebbing when he announced his 2016 presidential run. more...

The president struggled with his voice several times throughout the Fox News interview.
By Ed Mazza

President Donald Trump was hoarse throughout an extended telephone interview on Fox News with Sean Hannity on Thursday, yet insisted he was feeling great. At one point, Trump lost his voice while accusing former Vice President Joe Biden of “choking like a dog” during their debate last week: He also struggled with his voice while discussing absentee ballots: Although Trump tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 1, he ducked a question about his testing and virus levels. Trump claimed he was in “great shape” and talked up his medication. He also said he wants to hold a campaign rally on Saturday: more...

The president evaded the Fox News host’s health queries, raved about tiny windows and claimed Joe Biden will make America a “9th world country.”
By Josephine Harvey

President Donald Trump baffled critics as he ranted at length in a bizarre phone interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity Thursday night that touched on everything from his health to alleged efforts by Democrats to build buildings with tiny windows. Before the call, White House physician Sean Conley ― who has repeatedly provided ambiguous and inconsistent information since Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 ― said in a memo that Trump would be ready to return to public events this weekend. Trump announced his positive diagnosis early Oct. 2 and was hospitalized later that day.

Hannity, a staunch Trump cheerleader, asked the president directly ― three times ― if he had tested negative for the virus. Trump dodged the questions and babbled instead about the drug cocktail he took and how he’s in great shape, even though he was heard coughing multiple times during the call. He said he’s ready to hold rallies this weekend. When asked about climate policies proposed by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Trump claimed his opponents want to tear down buildings and erect new ones with “tiny little windows, little windows, so you can’t see out, they can’t see the light.” (There is no mention of windows in Biden’s climate recommendations, according to Politifact.) more...

The lawsuit is the most drastic action the Trump administration has taken to combat the use of race in university admissions.
By MICHAEL STRATFORD

The Trump administration sued Yale University on Thursday, accusing the school of violating federal civil rights law by discriminating against applicants based on their race. The Justice Department lawsuit is the most drastic action the Trump administration has taken to combat the use of race in university admissions, a practice that has repeatedly been upheld by the Supreme Court. But race-based affirmative action is considered vulnerable under the conservative majority on the high court, which would expand further if the Senate confirms President Donald Trump’s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett.

Legal argument: The Justice Department claims in its complaint that Yale’s admissions process has for decades run afoul of federal civil rights laws that outlaw discrimination on the basis of race. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Connecticut, says Yale’s admissions process relies on an “oversized, standardless, intentional use of race” that favors Black and Hispanic applicants at the expense of their Asian and white counterparts.

“Instead of using race in a narrow, time-limited, and targeted manner to achieve specific and defined educational goals, Yale has institutionalized its use of racial preferences as a permanent feature of its admissions process and decisions,” the complaint says. “Yale could achieve the educational benefits of diversity exclusively through available, workable race-neutral alternatives,” the Justice Department added. Those alternatives include considering an applicant’s socio-economic status, using an applicant’s geographic location as a factor and ending special preferences for legacy admissions. more...

These direct and indirect proposals would reduce Social Security's spending.
Sean Williams

Social Security, our nation's most prized social program, is responsible for providing benefits to over 46 million retired workers each month and is singlehandedly pulling more than 15 million of those retirees out of poverty. It's also a program that's in some pretty big trouble. Since 1985, the annually released Social Security Board of Trustees report has cautioned that the program's long-term (75-year) outlays wouldn't cover projected revenue collection. As of 2020, Social Security's unfunded obligations through 2094 had ballooned to a whopping $16.8 trillion. Without intervention from Capitol Hill, retired workers could face sweeping benefit cuts of up to 24%, beginning in 2035.

There's no question Social Security needs some help, and that's expected to start at the top, with President Trump. For the most part, Trump has maintained a hands-off approach with Social Security, choosing instead to indirectly influence the program by attempting to boost payroll tax collection via lower corporate and individual tax rates. But make no mistake about it -- even though Trump has largely avoided calling for direct policy changes to Social Security, he's previously suggested cutting benefits three separate ways. more...

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) At an event back home in Kentucky on Thursday, Mitch McConnell acknowledged what we all know: Donald Trump and his White House are not even coming close to following the accepted guidelines on how to limit the spread of the coronavirus. "I actually haven't been to the White House since August 6, because my impression was their approach to how to handle this was different than mine and what I insisted that we do in the Senate, which is to wear a mask and practice social distancing," said McConnell.

Which, well, exactly. McConnell has been a loyal Trump lieutenant for the duration of the President's first term, but it appears that his own health is not something the Senate majority leader is willing to risk in support of Trump. McConnell is 78 years old, and survived polio as a child. He has, to his credit, been far more aggressive in ensuring that senators (and staff) stick to best practices when it comes to mask-wearing and social distancing. more...

The president was also cagey about whether he's been tested for the coronavirus since being diagnosed, saying he plans on being tested Friday.
Justin Baragona

During a Thursday night interview in which he repeatedly stopped to cough and catch his breath, President Donald Trump wouldn’t reveal whether he’s been tested since he was diagnosed with the coronavirus but did say he hopes to hold a campaign rally in Florida this Saturday night. Prior to Trump’s call with Fox News host Sean Hannity, the president’s doctor—who admitted he lied to the public about Trump’s health after he was hospitalized with COVID-19—cleared Trump to return to public events this coming weekend.

“Overall he’s responded extremely well to treatment, without evidence on examination of adverse therapeutic effects,” Dr. Sean Conley wrote in a letter Thursday evening. “Saturday will be Day 10 since Thursday’s diagnosis, and based on the trajectory of advanced diagnostics the team has been conducting, I fully anticipate the President’s safe return to public engagements at that time.”

After asking how the president and the first lady were feeling, Hannity brought up Conley’s letter, wondering aloud whether Trump has received a test yet to see if he’s COVID-free. “Yeah, I just saw the doctors today,” the president said. “They think I’m in great shape.” “Did you test negative?” Hannity, a close confidant and adviser to the president, replied. Instead of answering the Fox host’s question, the president brought up the experimental antibody treatment from biotech firm Regeneron that he received during his hospital stay, saying “it’s phenomenal” and “absolutely incredible.” The president then talked about holding public rallies as soon as this weekend. more...

By Daniel Dale, CNN

Washington (CNN)In his first interview since he was hospitalized with the coronavirus, President Donald Trump sounded like his usual self -- lobbing insults, railing against the media and the Russia investigation, boasting at length, and making a whole bunch of inaccurate statements. Trump made at least 14 false claims in the 55-minute session with Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo. He also made at least one misleading claim.

The history of tariffs
Boasting about his tariffs on China, Trump said, "Nobody ever even heard of tariffs. They never even heard of tariffs. Nobody. In fact, when I first started doing it, they didn't even know what it meant."

Facts First: This is wildly inaccurate; of course people had heard of tariffs before Trump. The US has had tariffs on China for more than two centuries, President Barack Obama imposed new tariffs on China, and FactCheck.org reported that the US generated, from tariffs on China, an "average of $12.3 billion in custom duties a year from 2007 to 2016, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission DataWeb."

Who is paying the tariffs on China
Trump again claimed that China paid the $28 billion in tariff revenue he then distributed to farmers.

Facts First: This money wasn't from China. Study after study has found that Americans are bearing the cost of Trump's tariffs on imported Chinese products. And American importers, not Chinese exporters, make the actual tariff payments to the US government. more...

Whitmer addressed kidnapping plot, blames Trump for ‘fomenting anger’
click on detroit

President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday night criticizing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer hours after Whitmer addressed the FBI uncovering a plot by a group of Michigan residents to kidnap her. “Governor Whitmer of Michigan has done a terrible job. She locked down her state for everyone, except her husband’s boating activities. The Federal Government provided tremendous help to the Great People of Michigan," Trump said on Twitter.

“My Justice Department and Federal Law Enforcement announced... today that they foiled a dangerous plot against the Governor of Michigan. Rather than say thank you, she calls me a White Supremacist—while Biden and Democrats refuse to condemn Antifa, Anarchists, Looters and Mobs that burn down Democrat run cities... I do not tolerate ANY extreme violence. Defending ALL Americans, even those who oppose and attack me, is what I will always do as your President! Governor Whitmer—open up your state, open up your schools, and open up your churches!”

By Devan Cole, CNN

Washington (CNN) Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Thursday that attacks lobbed at her by President Donald Trump's reelection campaign after authorities announced they foiled a plot to kidnap her "tells you everything you need to know" about the difference between the President and Joe Biden. A federal criminal complaint unveiled earlier Thursday said that 13 people were arrested in the kidnapping scheme aimed at Whitmer, a Democrat. The alleged plan included plans to overthrow several state governments that the suspects "believe are violating the US Constitution," including the government of Michigan and Whitmer.

Following the announcement by federal and state officials, Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller lambasted the governor, who had tied Trump's rhetoric to the plot in earlier televised remarks, saying she "wakes up everyday with such hatred in her heart" for Trump. "You know, the fact that after a plot to kidnap and to kill me, this is what they come out with. They start attacking me, as opposed to what good, decent people would do is to check in and say, 'Are you OK?' -- which is what (Democratic presidential nominee) Joe Biden did," Whitmer told CNN's Erin Burnett on "Out Front."

"I think that tells you everything that's at stake in this election," she said. "It tells you everything you need to know about the character of the two people on this ballot that we have to choose from in a few weeks." Trump slammed Whitmer later Thursday in a series of tweets, falsely claiming she called him a "White Supremacist" in her remarks, complaining that she did not thank him and saying she's doing a "terrible job" at governing. more...

By Daniel Villarreal

The Lincoln Project, a political action committee of Republicans who oppose Republican President Donald Trump, has released a one-minute political ad accusing Trump of downplaying the lethality of the COVID-19 pandemic while he "gasps for air, fresh from the hospital" where he was treated for the illness. With the sound of a respirator in the background, the ad says, "Trump said COVID-19 affects almost nobody, but then his wife got it, his press secretary got it, his debate team got it, his White House staff got it. Trump turned the White House into a hot zone." "Now Trump is still trying to convince us that the greatest public health threat in over a century isn't a big deal while he gasps for air, fresh from the hospital," the ad continues. more...

Abdul El-Sayed

Last weekend, like 7.5 million other Americans, Donald Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19. The country and the world watched as the president of the United States was taken by helicopter to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center "out of an abundance of caution" and treated with an unprecedented mixture of dexamethasone (a steroid), remdesivir (an antiviral) and Regeneron's new experimental mixture of monoclonal antibodies. Three days later, he was discharged, leaving Americans with the bill. Trump's health care is taxpayer-funded.

Despite the fact that the president's trip to the hospital was a real-time infomercial for the wonders of government health care, he and his party are doing all they can to make sure other Americans are not afforded the same privilege. Indeed, if Republicans have their way, nearly 30 million Americans won't have health care at all.

On November 10, the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in California v. Texas, a case that could spell the end of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Indeed, despite three Republican senators, including two on the Senate Judiciary Committee, testing positive for COVID-19 in connection to the Trump outbreak, the GOP is rushing to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court so she can take her seat on the bench before arguments are heard and cast her vote as the potential death knell for the law. With that decision, the Supreme Court could kick nearly 30 million Americans off their health insurance—adding to the millions who have already lost their coverage to the economic fallout of the pandemic and nearly doubling the country's uninsured. more...

Alana Wise

Democrats on Thursday made it clear they felt President Trump was at least in part to blame for a thwarted scheme to kidnap the governor of Michigan, citing the president's divisive rhetoric that has often found support among white supremacists and other hate groups. The Federal Bureau of Investigation said it had foiled a plot by militia members to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, and take her to a secure location in Wisconsin for "trial." Six men have been arrested and are facing federal charges. In a coordinated move, seven more people with ties to a far-right militia group are facing state charges in Michigan pursuant to the state's anti-terrorism act.

In a Thursday press conference, Whitmer thanked law enforcement for their efforts to bring "these sick and depraved men to justice." She also pointed to language by the president, particularly Trump's recent refusals to openly condemn white supremacists, as inciting this sort of political violence. "Just last week, the president of the United States stood before the American people and refused to condemn white supremacists and hate groups, like these two Michigan militia groups. 'Stand back and stand by,' he told them. 'Stand back and stand by.' Hate groups heard the president's words not as a rebuke but as a rallying cry, as a call to action," she said. Whitmer was referring to one of Trump's responses in the last presidential debate, in which he declined to condemn white supremacy. After days of criticism, he did condemn white supremacist groups in a TV interview. more...

New England Journal of Medicine publishes editorial saying current US leadership ‘recklessly squandered lives’

Miranda Bryant in New York

One of the world’s most prestigious medical journals has lambasted the Trump administration’s “dangerously incompetent” handling of the pandemic and called for them to be voted out of office, as US coronavirus cases continue to soar. In an unprecedented move in its more than two centuries-long history, the New England Journal of Medicine published an editorial in which it said the current leadership had “recklessly squandered lives” and “largely claimed immunity for their actions”.

The article, published on Wednesday under the headline “Dying in a leadership vacuum”, said protections against the virus have been politicised in the US, stating: “Truth is neither liberal nor conservative.” It did not endorse a particular candidate in the presidential election that is less than a month away, but said America should not “abet” its current leaders by allowing them to stay in power.

“This election gives us the power to render judgment. Reasonable people will certainly disagree about the many political positions taken by candidates. But truth is neither liberal nor conservative,” wrote the editors. “When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.” more...

Bill Chappell

The Trump administration has "taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy" in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The New England Journal of Medicine says in a scathing editorial that essentially calls on American voters to throw the president out of office. It is the first time the prestigious medical journal has taken a stance on a U.S. presidential election since it was founded in 1812.

"When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent," reads the editorial signed by nearly three dozen of the journal's editors. "We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs."

The editors accuse Trump's government of a massive public health failure — and of worsening the pandemic's effects by prioritizing politics over sound medical guidance. The piece, titled "Dying in a Leadership Vacuum" and published Wednesday, does not mention President Trump or his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, by name. But it refers to the Trump administration repeatedly, and its footnotes cite news articles about Trump insisting that coronavirus risks are overblown, pressuring federal scientists, and politicizing the search for treatments. more...

Opinion by Fred Hiatt Editorial page editor

There is never a silver lining to somebody else’s illness, but you might have thought that President Trump’s infection at least could have offered a learning moment for his supporters. If so, you would have underestimated the cynicism and amorality of the Trump campaign. So far, although it wouldn’t have seemed possible, the Trump team is using this occasion to peddle even more dangerous misinformation and advice than before. It doesn’t have to stay that way, of course. We can still hope that Trump recovers quickly, acknowledges to the American people that he should have been more serious about masks and social distancing, and encourages his followers, finally, to listen to the public health experts.

His irresponsibility in the past days, as in the past weeks and months, is beyond dispute. On Sept. 26, at the White House event introducing Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, scores of guests sat cheek by jowl and, mostly, maskless. Some of them actually took off their masks when they went inside for a reception, turning public health common sense on its head. more...

He’s led their party to ruin. They let him.

By Stuart Stevens

Republican leaders continue to defend the president — to genuflect, really — as he turns his own covid-19 diagnosis into a reality TV show, mocking his administration’s own public health guidance, showing the Americans who have suffered that he doesn’t give a whit for their plight. They know they’re defending the indefensible, and they know if the president were a Democrat, they wouldn’t hesitate to condemn him. With a straight face in Wednesday’s debate, Vice President Pence claimed, “From the very first day, President Donald Trump has put the health of America first.” They’re so used to this routine that co-signing Trump’s bad behavior is now habit and shooting straight is completely foreign.

About a year ago, I finished a pretty bleak book about the GOP, but it turns out I was too optimistic. Even after the party’s turn away from time-honored Republican principles, I couldn’t have imagined a party that would abandon any pretense of standing for conservative values, decency or common sense. Having spent four years defending their guy at every turn, they’re stuck. In for a penny, in for a pound: Republicans can’t tell the truth about Trump anymore. Even if they wanted to.

Many GOP candidates know they face near-impossible odds this year. Across the nation, every morning there are campaign team calls on which political professionals try to think of ways their bosses might escape impending electoral doom. I’ve been on calls like this more times than I’d care to remember, and I know they will take on an increasingly desperate tone as reality sinks in. In a week or two, it’ll be all gallows humor from here on out as they mask the pain. Even the normal conversations about where campaign staffers might go to unwind after the campaign will be abnormal: Paris? Nope. How about Serbia? more...

TMZ

Americans should absolutely be concerned the man with our nuclear codes is on steroids, because the reality is President Trump's judgment could be impaired ... according to Dr. Robert Wachter. Dr. Wachter, considered the father of the hospitalist field, joined us on "TMZ Live" Wednesday and told us older COVID patients sick enough to be hospitalized have a decent chance of experiencing cognitive problems. He added ... coupling that with steroids increases the odds POTUS might not be thinking straight. more...

TMZ

Kellyanne Conway confronted her daughter over her recent viral posts about COVID in their family (and at the White House), and based on this video ... we're thinking the teenager's in timeout. Claudia Conway captured a loud face-off she had with her mom on TikTok, which was briefly posted to her account. It shows Claudia facing the camera, when Kellyanne enters the room off-camera and scolds her for spreading what she calls lies about their COVID diagnoses.

Kellyanne drops an F-bomb while Claudia tries explaining she was just sharing her interpretation. Nice try, Claudia ... but ma ain't buying it, and seems pretty furious here. Especially once she realizes Claudia is recording the whole thing! A written statement was posted to Claudia's account -- saying she was sorry for the "uproar" her TikTok posts have caused in recent days ... going on to explain it wasn't her intent to mislead and clarifying she had no special insight into Trump's health. more...

David Folkenflik

Two political appointees at the federal agency that oversees the Voice of America recently investigated one of its most prominent journalists to make the case he was biased against President Trump. NPR has learned the appointees compiled an extensive report deemed "confidential" on VOA White House bureau chief Steve Herman, claiming that in his reporting and tweets that Herman had been unfair to Trump and had broken the broadcaster's standards and social media policies. They repeatedly cited a "conflict of interest," based on their conclusions from Herman's social media postings, including his own tweets and his "likes," according to materials reviewed by NPR. The findings were quietly presented to acting Voice of America Director Elez Biberaj for action two weeks ago.

In so doing, the two men appear to have violated laws and regulations intended to protect the federally funded news outlet from political interference or influence. That has set off alarms within the VOA newsroom, already unnerved by investigations of coverage of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden by VOA's Urdu language service and the tenor of language used to describe his wife, Jill Biden, to introduce a segment on VOA's French to Africa language service.

NPR spoke to three people who had knowledge of the episode and another five for other elements of this story. It is not clear what Biberaj has done with the file. Herman, who declined comment for this story, is perhaps the most public face of VOA. He has been its bureau chief in India, South Korea and Thailand as well as the network's senior diplomatic correspondent. more...

*** Is Trump mad that he cannot infect Biden with the coronavirus virus at the next debate because that is the only way he can win is to infect Biden ***

Nicholas Wu, Joey Garrison USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Thursday he would not take part in the next presidential debate with former Vice President Joe Biden after it was moved to a virtual format because of COVID-19 safety concerns. "I'm not going to waste my time doing a virtual debate," he told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, calling it a "joke" and an effort "to protect Biden." The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Thursday morning the next debate would be remote to "protect the health and safety of all involved" after Trump's positive COVID-19 diagnosis and the subsequent White House outbreak.

Co-chairman Frank Fahrenkopf said the commission would not host a debate with Biden alone if Trump doesn’t budge. “No, we wouldn’t have it," he said. "You can’t do that under the federal election laws and FEC (Federal Election Commission) rules. You’ve got to balance. You couldn’t have one person going through the debate and the other one not. That wouldn’t be a debate under the law.” Fahrenkopf said the future of the debate rests with Trump. “The ball’s in his court,” he said. “It’s his call. We have to take it the way it comes.” more...

By Kerry Flynn, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business) This unprecedented year has inspired great innovation. But the idea of hosting a virtual debate isn't one of them. Bringing people together remotely and televising it is not anything new, including in politics and presidential debates. On October 13, 1960, the third presidential debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon was hosted virtually. Kennedy was in New York, whereas Nixon was in Los Angeles, and the two were shown on a split screen. The debate's moderator, ABC News anchor Bill Shadel, was in Chicago along with a panel of four reporters.

That debate happened sixty years — nearly to the day — before the Commission on Presidential Debates announced on Thursday that the next presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden will be held virtually in the wake of Trump's positive coronavirus diagnosis.
Shadel set the scene in his introduction to the historic debate, explaining that while the two nominees were 3,000 miles apart, they could still hear and see each other live. more...

*** Trump is once again using your tax dollars for his reelection campaign. ***
As officials debate how to get Trump’s name on the cards, health officials warn of a taxpayer-funded boondoggle to bolster president’s flagging poll numbers.

By DAN DIAMOND

Caught by surprise by President Donald Trump’s promise to deliver drug-discount cards to seniors, health officials are scrambling to get the nearly $8 billion plan done by Election Day, according to five officials and draft documents obtained by POLITICO.

The taxpayer-funded plan, which was only announced two weeks ago and is being justified inside the White House and the health department as a test of the Medicare program, is being driven by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, the officials said. The administration is seeking to finalize the plan as soon as Friday and send letters to 39 million Medicare beneficiaries next week, informing seniors of Trump's new effort to lower their drug costs, although many seniors would not receive the actual cards until after the election.

The  $200 cards — which would resemble credit cards, would need to be used  at pharmacies and could be branded with a reference to Trump himself —  would be paid for by tapping Medicare's trust fund. “The  goal is to begin the test by distributing cards starting in October  2020,” according to a draft proposal circulated within the White House  last week and obtained by POLITICO. Career  civil servants have raised concerns about the hasty plan and whether it  is politically motivated, particularly after Verma pushed Medicare  officials to finalize the plan before the Nov. 3 election, said two  officials. more...

By John Bowden

President Trump reportedly required physicians at Walter Reed Medical Center to sign nondisclosure agreements before treating him for an undisclosed health issue last year. NBC News reported Thursday that at least two physicians at the medical center refused to sign the agreements, and were told that they could not be involved with the president's treatment.

The White House did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment, or question as to whether a similar arrangement was made before the president was treated for COVID-19 at Walter Reed last weekend. "Any physician caring for the President is bound by patient physician confidentiality guaranteed under HIPAA [the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act], and I'm not going to comment on internal procedures beyond that," White House spokesperson Judd Deere told NBC News. more...

Link to drug company boss raises questions about ‘cure’ claims and exclusive access

Peter Beaumont

New questions have emerged over the circumstances in which Donald Trump was given an experimental antibody drug cocktail produced by a golfing acquaintance to treat his coronavirus infection. As Trump wrongly hailed his treatment – which included a drug called REGN-COV2 produced by Regeneron – as a “cure”, it emerged that the company’s chief executive, Leonard Schleifer, is a member of the Trump National golf club in Briarcliff Manor, New York, and had met the president in May to talk about drugs his company was developing.

While some ethicists have defended Trump’s privileged access as president to experimental treatments, others have suggested it raises questions of fairness among other concerns, including his history of touting unproven treatments. Trump’s relationship with Schleifer, whom he reportedly calls “Lenny”, adds to growing questions over the president’s almost exclusive access to experimental treatments unavailable to most other Americans, even as he has continued to downplay the threat of coronavirus based on his own experience.

The price of Regeneron stocks – which Trump has owned in the past – soared after it was revealed the drug had been made available for his treatment and Trump stated it would be made freely available for all, although he didn’t explain how. “I call that a cure,” Trump said in a video, adding that everyone should have access to the not-yet-approved drug and that he would make sure it was in every hospital as soon as possible. more...

Zeke Miller and Will Weissert Associated Press

Washington – It’s suddenly unclear whether President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden will square off in debate again, where they might do so and whether they would face each other in person or virtually, on video screens. Thursday’s back-and-forth began with the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announcing that next week’s event in Miami would be virtual after Trump tested positive for the virus and amid questions about whether he is still contagious.

The president’s reelection campaign abruptly pulled out of that event, while Biden’s advisers suggested it could be pushed back a week to Oct. 22. Trump’s team accepted that date but said a third debate should happen on Oct. 29 – just before Election Day – and said it wouldn’t accept virtual substitutes. more...

The US president’s actions have exacerbated the pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 people in the United States, rolled back environmental and public-health regulations and undermined science and scientific institutions. Some of the harm could be permanent.

Jeff Tollefson

People packed in by the thousands, many dressed in red, white and blue and carrying signs reading “Four more years” and “Make America Great Again”. They came out during a global pandemic to make a statement, and that’s precisely why they assembled shoulder-to-shoulder without masks in a windowless warehouse, creating an ideal environment for the coronavirus to spread.

US President Donald Trump’s rally in Henderson, Nevada, on 13 September contravened state health rules, which limit public gatherings to 50 people and require proper social distancing. Trump knew it, and later flaunted the fact that the state authorities failed to stop him. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the president has behaved the same way and refused to follow basic health guidelines at the White House, which is now at the centre of an ongoing outbreak. The president spent 3 days in a hospital after testing positive for COVID-19, and was released on 5 October.

Trump’s actions — and those of his staff and supporters — should come as no surprise. Over the past eight months, the president of the United States has lied about the dangers posed by the coronavirus and undermined efforts to contain it; he even admitted in an interview to purposefully misrepresenting the viral threat early in the pandemic. Trump has belittled masks and social-distancing requirements while encouraging people to protest against lockdown rules aimed at stopping disease transmission. His administration has undermined, suppressed and censored government scientists working to study the virus and reduce its harm. And his appointees have made political tools out of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ordering the agencies to put out inaccurate information, issue ill-advised health guidance, and tout unproven and potentially harmful treatments for COVID-19. more...

“We need to take away children,” the then-attorney general told Justice Department prosecutors, according to a draft inspector general’s report.

By Marina Fang

Jeff Sessions, Rod Rosenstein and other former top Justice Department officials were instrumental in the infamous Trump administration practice of separating young undocumented immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, an inspector general’s draft report concludes. A two-year investigation by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz reportedly deems Sessions, President Donald Trump’s first attorney general, and Rosenstein, the former deputy attorney general, “a driving force” of the administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, according to a draft of the inspector general’s report obtained by The New York Times and NBC News Tuesday.

“We need to take away children,” Sessions reportedly told a group of federal prosecutors during a May 2018 conference call shortly after the policy was announced, the Times reported. The prosecutors wanted the separation policy to exclude very young children. But Rosenstein reportedly chided them for rejecting some immigration prosecutions based on children’s youth, and “instructed that, per the A.G.’s policy, we should NOT be categorically declining immigration prosecutions of adults in family units because of the age of a child,” according to the draft report. more...

By John Bowden

Federal election inspectors will be allowed to take steps to investigate potential election-related criminal offenses even if the public reaction to their investigations could impact the election itself, according to a new memo. In the directive emailed by the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section on Friday and first reported by ProPublica, officials state that an exception now exists to the rule dictating that federal investigators avoid taking action — such as making arrests or conducting searches — that would cause a public reaction and therefore have potential to influence election results.

Investigators will now be able to take such action if "the integrity of any component of the federal government is implicated by election offenses within the scope of the policy including but not limited to misconduct by federal officials or employees administering an aspect of the voting process through the United States Postal Service, the Department of Defense or any other federal department or agency," according to ProPublica. more...

By Kevin Liptak, CNN

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump returned to the Oval Office on Wednesday, breaking isolation after his hospitalization for coronavirus and as an ongoing outbreak rips through his staff. The White House said he was being briefed on a looming hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico and stimulus talks, though Trump himself scrapped talks on additional aid a day earlier. Unsatisfied with the temporary office space erected for him in the White House residence, where he was isolating after returning from three days in the hospital, Trump had been itching to return to the Oval Office since Tuesday but aides convinced him to stay put.

Few seemed to believe, however, that Trump would last much longer isolating in his private quarters. In a new memo released midday Wednesday, Trump's doctor relayed the President saying "I feel great!" and reported he had been symptom-free for 24 hours. But the memo declined again to provide critical information such as when Trump last tested negative, what his lung scans show and whether he is still on the steroid dexamethasone or any other medications that could be masking his symptoms. Trump's "schedule right now is fluid, we're looking at his prognosis," chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters earlier at the White House. "If he decides to go to the Oval, we've got safety protocols there."

Indeed, preparations had been made for Trump's eventual return to the Oval Office, including positioning a so-called "isolation cart" stocked with yellow medical gowns, respirator masks and plastic goggles required for visitors just outside the office doors near where Trump's assistants sit. When he did return, Trump avoided other areas of the Wing Wing, entering the Oval Office directly from outside. Meadows and social media adviser Dan Scavino joined him there dressed in the protective gear. It wasn't clear who else he might have encountered along the way. more...

Sonam Sheth

The Department of Justice (DOJ) made a significant change to a longstanding policy against election interference that would allow prosecutors to take steps that may alter the outcome of the election, ProPublica reported Wednesday. The non-interference policy has been in place for at least the last four decades, according to the report, and it prohibits prosecutors from taking overt steps to address election-related offenses in the run-up to an election to avoid changing the outcome of the race.

But an official in the DOJ's Public Integrity Section sent an email Friday saying that if a US attorney's office suspects postal workers or military employees engaged in election fraud, federal prosecutors can publicly take steps to investigate the matter before polls close, even if they affect the outcome, according to ProPublica.

The exception to the policy applies to cases where "the integrity of any component of the federal government is implicated by election offenses within the scope of the policy including but not limited to misconduct by federal officials or employees administering an aspect of the voting process through the United States Postal Service, the Department of Defense or any other federal department or agency." more...

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