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By George SkeltonCapitol Journal Columnist

OK, I’ve been wrong. President Trump convinced me even before his disgraceful debate performance. Everyone seeking to lead our country should publicly release their tax returns. Trump’s stunning case cries out for full tax disclosure by any presidential nominee of a major party. And my flip-flop was validated in Tuesday’s dark debate that was so painful to watch. For two decades, I’ve argued that pressuring presidential and gubernatorial wannabes to show voters their income tax returns amounted to an unjustified invasion of privacy. The needlessly nosy had no business peeping at which charities a candidate donated to and how much was given. For that matter, they didn’t need to know how much money the candidate made. Candidates for federal and state office already must fill out statements of economic interest that purport to show their investments. But these reports are so vague they’re essentially useless. They should be greatly strengthened, both in Washington and Sacramento. Politicians are very unlikely to do that, however. Trump’s tax avoidance is so egregious that it has turned me into a strong advocate of presidential and gubernatorial candidates’ releasing their returns. more...

By Jeffery Martin

Portions of the Mueller report that had been redacted by the U.S. Department of Justice must be published, according to a Wednesday ruling by a federal judge. The Mueller report includes the findings of an investigation that was spearheaded by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential election. The investigation occurred in response to allegations that the campaign of Donald Trump had colluded with Russian government officials to increase its chances of winning the election. After receiving the initial report in March 2019, U.S. Attorney General William Barr redacted parts of the report, claiming that the concealed information was privileged. District of Columbia District Judge Reggie Walton announced in March that he would conduct an independent review of the complete Mueller report. more...

By Joby Warrick and Simon Denyer

In a secret letter to President Trump in December 2018, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un likened the two leaders’ budding friendship to a Hollywood romance. Future meetings with “Your Excellency,” Kim wrote to Trump, would be “reminiscent of a scene from a fantasy film.” Yet even as he penned the words, Kim was busy creating an illusion of a different kind. At six of the country’s missile bases, trucks hauled rock from underground construction sites as workers dug a maze of new tunnels and bunkers, allowing North Korea to move weapons around like peas in a shell game. Southeast of the capital, meanwhile, new buildings sprouted across an industrial complex that was processing uranium for as many as 15 new bombs, according to current and former U.S. and South Korean officials, as well as a report by a United Nations panel of experts. more...

By Marshall Cohen

Washington (CNN) A federal judge in Montana rejected the Trump campaign's effort to stop an expansion of mail-in voting in the state. The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee filed the lawsuit earlier this month after Democratic Montana Gov. Steve Bullock issued a directive allowing all counties in the state to switch to an essentially all-mail system for the 2020 election. But District Judge Dana Christensen ruled against Trump's campaign on Wednesday and rejected its request to block the new voting rules. In his ruling, the judge blasted the Trump-backed "fiction" that there is widespread voter fraud in US elections.

"This case requires the Court to separate fact from fiction," Christensen wrote. "... Central to some of the (Trump campaign's) claims is the contention that the upcoming election, both nationally and in Montana, will fall prey to widespread voter fraud. The evidence suggests, however, that this allegation, specifically in Montana, is a fiction." There is substantial evidence from election experts and others that "the use of mail ballots present no significant risk of fraud," added Christensen, who was appointed to the federal bench by former President Barack Obama in 2011. more...

By April Siese

Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese pushed back against a claim by President Trump that the "Portland sheriff" supports the president. Mr. Trump mentioned that the "Portland sheriff just came out today and said, 'I support President Trump'" during the first presidential debate on Tuesday night. "In tonight's presidential debate the President said the 'Portland Sheriff' supports him. As the Multnomah County Sheriff I have never supported Donald Trump and will never support him," Sheriff Mike Reese tweeted. The county Reese represents includes Portland, Oregon. The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office confirmed the tweet's accuracy to CBS News and said that it had been retweeted on the agency's account. more...

Bill Chappell

President Trump has consistently told Americans "the complete opposite" of what his health experts have been telling him in private meetings about COVID-19, according to Olivia Troye, who until recently worked on the the White House coronavirus task force. "They brief him. They tell him the facts. They're telling him the truth. They're telling him things that need to be done," Troye said in an interview with NPR's Ari Shapiro. "And it is a very frustrating environment to work in, when you know that the message that is going to be relayed is counter to what you just told him."

Troye, who worked for Vice President Mike Pence for two years as a special adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism issues, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention often faced two challenges: coping with a massive coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., and navigating political interference as the agency sought to protect the American people. CDC Director Robert Redfield has faced "very challenging dynamics" from the White House, Troye said, "at times when you're changing the wording and guidances to fit a narrative, to play down the severity of the virus or cases." more...

Part of the problem lies with Pompeo’s decision to act as a Trump campaign surrogate in his official capacity.
By Alex Ward

When President Donald Trump’s top diplomat can’t get a meeting with God’s ambassador, you know something is wrong. While on a weeklong trip to Europe, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo planned to sit down with Pope Francis during a visit to the Vatican. But the Catholic leader refused the photo ops and handshakes with America’s top diplomat out of one major concern: That he’d be a pawn in Trump’s reelection efforts.

“Yes, that is precisely why the pope will not meet American secretary of state Mike Pompeo,” Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s secretary for relations with states, told Italian news agency Ansa on Wednesday. That’s jarring, especially since the men met in person last October to discuss promoting religious freedom, even amid impeachment hearings in Washington. More...

Theron Mohamed

Warren Buffett may be feeling vindicated by the New York Times report this week that President Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017, and no income taxes in 10 of the preceding 15 years. Trump called out Buffett during a presidential debate with Hillary Clinton in October 2016, claiming the billionaire investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO had carried forward past business losses to lower his federal income tax bill, just as Trump had done in the mid-1990s. "Many of her friends took bigger deductions," Trump countered when Clinton questioned his use of $916 million in net operating losses to lower his tax burden in the '90s. "Warren Buffett took a massive deduction." Trump also proclaimed at a rally in Arizona that month that Buffett had declared $873 million in losses, adding that he doubted the investor wrote them off instead of carrying them forward. Buffett responded by releasing the details of his 2015 tax return. He paid $1.8 million in federal income taxes that year, he said, representing about 16% of his adjusted gross income. More...

The satellite election office voting sites are not considered polling places.
By Quinn Scanlan

President Donald Trump falsely claimed Tuesday night that "poll watchers" were blocked from entering voting locations in Philadelphia, bringing back to the forefront the legal battle his campaign and the Republican National Committee have been waging in Pennsylvania since late June. While the president's claim, based on current law, was wrong, his statement at the first presidential debate got at what his campaign and the national Republican Party have alleged is illegal in the key battleground state -- that "poll watchers" aren't allowed to observe voting where absentee and mail ballots are being cast because those locations don't constitute polling places.

Having non-election officials observe polling places is "one of the mechanisms of transparency of our electoral system," one election expert told ABC News. But it's also a practice that raises concerns among voting rights advocates, because it has a history of being used to intimidate certain voters, especially voters of color. "I'm urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully because that is what has to happen. I am urging them to do it. As you know, today there was a big problem. In Philadelphia, they went in to watch, they were -- they are called poll watchers. A very safe, very nice thing. They were thrown out. They weren't allowed to watch. You know why? Because bad things happen in Philadelphia. Bad things," Trump said during the final minutes of the debate, hours after he tweeted a similar claim, alleging "corruption" was the reason.

But city officials asserted that no law was broken. "We're working on a plan now to make sure the polls are safe and secure," Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, a Democrat, told ABC News on Wednesday, noting the plans are "certainly more intense" this election. "The president of the United States has requested supporters to go to polling places. I mean, that's never happened before." More...

Arrest follows president’s controversial comments at debate: 'Proud Boys – stand back and stand by’
Chris Riotta

A member of the right-wing hate group Proud Boys was arrested in Oregon the morning after the first presidential debate, in which Donald Trump declined to disavow white supremacy, for assault and weapons charges resulting from a confrontation he had with protestors in August. Alan Swinney, who Oregon Public Broadcasting identified as a member of Proud Boys and the far-right protester that pointed a gun at demonstrators in downtown Portland last month, was arrested on Wednesday morning on multiple assault charges. He also faced charges for unlawful use of a weapon and unlawful use of tear gas, stun gun or mace, the outlet reported, as well as pointing a firearm at another person.

The 50-year-old, who remains held at the Multnomah County Jail, was seen pulling out a gun during a clash with countrprotestors at the Multnomah County Justice Center on videos shared online from the 22 August rally. Though he initially claimed he was cleared by officials of any wrongdoing during the violent clash, Swinney was reportedly arrested just hours after the president delivered a startling message to the hate group at Tuesday night’s debate in Ohio: “Proud Boys – stand back and stand by.” “Somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left,” Mr Trump added, referring to the anti-facisct movement that does not have any organizational structure in the United States. More...

By J. Edward Moreno

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford (D) warned on Wednesday that President Trump was telling supporters during a presidential debate the night before to intimidate voters at polling locations. During the debate Tuesday, Trump told supporters to go to polls and “watch very carefully,” once again insinuating that fraud may run rampant during this year's election. Trump’s comments were widely interpreted among Democrats to suggest his supports participate in voter intimidation.

“But he wasn't talking about poll watching. He was talking about voter intimidation,” Ford said. "FYI -- voter intimidation is illegal in Nevada. Believe me when I say it: You do it, and you will be prosecuted.”  Trump also suggested that poll watchers in Philadelphia were kicked out of polling locations in the primary. "There was a big problem, in Philadelphia they went in to watch, they're called poll watchers, very safe very nice thing — they were thrown out, they weren't allowed to watch," Trump said, adding, "You know why? Because bad things happen in Philadelphia, bad things." More...

By Dave Goldiner New York Daily News

AOC to America: we told you so. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) called President Trump a racist after his epic debate meltdown -- and boasted that she has been saying so for the longest. “Our country elected a (white) supremacist as President,” she wrote. “This is fascism at our door.” AOC suggested she was disgusted by Trump’s refusal to condemn his racist supporters under questioning by debate moderator Chris Wallace. But unlike millions of Americans, the firebrand lawmaker said she wasn’t surprised by Trump’s outrageous reaction. “People have been warning about this for a long time,” AOC wrote. “They were ridiculed, called hyperbolic & radical not (because) they were wrong, but (because) others couldn’t accept that.” More...

Opinion by Dean Obeidallah Over the past two weeks, an alarming 24% rise in the number of new Covid-19 cases confirmed on a daily basis in the United States has raised the daily infection average to nearly 43,000. Twice...
Opinion by Dean Obeidallah

Over the past two weeks, an alarming 24% rise in the number of new Covid-19 cases confirmed on a daily basis in the United States has raised the daily infection average to nearly 43,000. Twice last week the US broke 50,000 new cases confirmed in a day. While that's below the daily average of 65,000 in July's deadly spike, it's still well above the 35,000 daily new cases seen just a few weeks ago. Does that mean Donald Trump is now going to stop having rallies where he jams thousands on top of each other with few wearing masks — as he did Saturday night in Pennsylvania — and instead promote social distancing to prevent any further upticks in the virus? Stop laughing. Of course it doesn't.

Trump typically only does what he believes benefits himself personally and, in this case, he apparently believes the optics of holding packed rallies will somehow help his flailing campaign close the nine-point gap between him and Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Trump team using $300 million in taxpayer dollars to make us feel better about Covid-19

Over the past two weeks, an alarming 24% rise in the number of new Covid-19 cases confirmed on a daily basis in the United States has raised the daily infection average to nearly 43,000. Twice last week the US broke 50,000 new cases confirmed in a day. While that's below the daily average of 65,000 in July's deadly spike, it's still well above the 35,000 daily new cases seen just a few weeks ago.

Does that mean Donald Trump is now going to stop having rallies where he jams thousands on top of each other with few wearing masks — as he did Saturday night in Pennsylvania — and instead promote social distancing to prevent any further upticks in the virus? Stop laughing. Of course it doesn't. Trump typically only does what he believes benefits himself personally and, in this case, he apparently believes the optics of holding packed rallies will somehow help his flailing campaign close the nine-point gap between him and Democratic nominee Joe Biden. More...

Staffed in part by associates of a longtime GOP operative, the ad campaign includes CeCe Winans, Dennis Quaid and others pushing an optimistic line about coronavirus.

The health department is moving quickly on a highly unusual advertising campaign to "defeat despair" about the coronavirus, a $300 million-plus effort that was shaped by a political appointee close to President Donald Trump and executed in part by close allies of the official, using taxpayer funds. The ad blitz, described in some budget documents as the "Covid-19 immediate surge public advertising and awareness campaign," is expected to lean heavily on video interviews between administration officials and celebrities, who will discuss aspects of the coronavirus outbreak and address the Trump administration's response to the crisis, according to six individuals with knowledge of the campaign who described its workings to POLITICO.

Senior administration officials have already recorded interviews with celebrities like actor Dennis Quaid and singer CeCe Winans, and the Health and Human Services Department also has pursued television host Dr. Mehmet Oz and musician Garth Brooks for roles in the campaign. The public awareness campaign, which HHS is seeking to start airing before Election Day on Nov. 3, was largely conceived and organized by Michael Caputo, the health department's top spokesperson who took medical leave last week and announced on Thursday that he had been diagnosed with cancer. Caputo, who has no medical or scientific background, claimed in a Facebook video on Sept. 13 that the campaign was "demanded of me by the president of the United States. Personally." More...

Alison Durkee Forbes Staff

President Donald Trump urged his supporters at the debate Tuesday night to “go into the polls and watch very carefully,” further escalating fears about voter intimidation as Republicans enter the election with more freedom over poll watching than they’ve had in any presidential election since 1980.

Poll watchers, who work at a polling place to ensure votes are correctly counted or point out potential issues, must be appointed in advance and cannot just show up to the polls—instead, each state has their own method for employing poll watchers, and many only allow parties or candidates to appoint one poll watcher per polling place. Private citizens who aren’t poll watchers are still allowed to challenge voters’ eligibility in many states.

Republican poll watchers have historically been stopped from using methods that could be considered voter intimidation—which is officially illegal under federal law—by a consent decree that’s been in place since 1982, after Democrats sued the Republican National Committee for sending off-duty law enforcement officers as “ballot security” to New Jersey polling places that served predominantly Black and Hispanic voters.

The consent decree has blocked the RNC from using potentially intimidating “ballot security” measures to dissuade Democrats at polling places, and made it possible for Democrats to hold Republicans in contempt of court if they do. More...

‘Folks are working to keep people from voting, especially communities of colour,’ says former president
James Crump

Former US president Barack Obama has accused the White House of suppressing black voters in a new campaign video for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. In the video, which has been shared with PBS before its release on The Shade Room, Mr Obama urges the US public to vote as early as possible for Mr Biden. “As you know, the election is coming up, and I’ve got just one word for you: vote,” the former president says. “Actually, I’ve got two: vote early.”

Without mentioning president Donald Trump by name, Mr Obama then adds: “Right now, from the White House on down, folks are working to keep people from voting, especially communities of colour. “That’s because there’s a lot at stake in this election. Not just our pandemic response or racial justice, but our democracy itself.” The campaign video was released a day after an investigation by Channel 4 News in the UK accused the president of seeking to deter more than 3.5 million black voters from heading to the polls in 2016’s presidential election.

His campaign has been accused of targeting African American voters in 16 battleground states with negative ads of Hillary Clinton, with the aim of deterring them from voting. Jamal Watkins, vice president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), told Channel 4 that the organisation is troubled that there was allegedly an attempt to suppress black voters in 2016. More...

It’s unlikely that Trump will steal the election. But unlikely doesn’t mean impossible.
By Zack Beauchamp

At the end of Tuesday night’s chaotic first presidential debate, moderator Chris Wallace asked President Trump if he would “pledge tonight that you will not declare victory until the election has been independently certified.” The president’s answer was, worryingly, not an automatic yes. “If I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can’t go along with it,” Trump said, referencing unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud from his camp.

This comes on the heels of his refusal last week to commit to a peaceful transition of power when asked at a press conference — “we’ll have to see what happens,” Trump said — and recent reporting suggesting that the Trump campaign is planning aggressive challenges to election results in battleground states. Taken together, this news has brought what had been brewing worries about a constitutional meltdown this November to a boil. Questions like “How far is he willing to go to win?” and “Will he leave office if he loses?” were once seen as far-fetched hypotheticals pondered by experts and pundits; now, a month out from the election, they have become mainstream concerns.

Trump has a long history of attacking the integrity of America’s elections. He chalked up his 2016 popular vote defeat to the fact that “millions of people voted illegally.” In 2018, he accused Democrats of trying to steal the Florida Senate and gubernatorial elections using “massively infected” ballots. And earlier this year, he claimed that “the only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged” — repeatedly arguing, with no evidence, that Joe Biden and the Democrats will use fraudulent mail-in ballots to steal the election. More...

Kevin Breuninger

Republican Sen. Tim Scott said Wednesday that he believes President Donald Trump “needs to correct” comments from his debate with former Vice President Joe Biden, where Trump did not explicitly condemn White supremacists and violent right-wing groups. Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, said, “White supremacy should be denounced at every turn. I think the president misspoke, and he needs to correct it.” He added: “If he doesn’t correct it, I guess he didn’t misspeak.”

Scott, a supporter of Trump’s who spoke at the Republican National Convention, gave those remarks to reporters before heading into a meeting with Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. The White House declined to comment on the South Carolina senator’s remarks. But when asked earlier Wednesday about the president’s controversial comments at the debate, White House communications director Alyssa Farah said, “I don’t think that there’s anything to clarify.” More...

President paid almost no federal income tax in 15 years in contrast to hefty contributions from those striving to make ends meet
Michael Sainato

Malcum Salyers, an electrician and volunteer firefighter in Jonesville, Ohio, works on average 55 to 60 hours a week. In just over two weeks he pays more tax than the president of the United States. This week the New York Times reported that Donald Trump paid only $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, and paid no income tax in 10 of the past 15 years. The investigation comes after Trump refused to disclose his tax returns for years, breaking a several-decades-long precedent of presidential candidates releasing their tax returns.

“I paid millions in taxes,” Trump said on Tuesday night during his debate with Joe Biden. He declined to give a specific figure before adding: “I don’t want to pay taxes.” “It’s disheartening to see what I pay in taxes in comparison to what Trump paid,” said Salyers, who on average pays about $350 a week in federal income taxes, about $18,000 a year, and only receives an annual tax rebate of about $1,000, while currently paying to put his daughter through college. “The tax rates are 100% unbalanced.”

As Trump has paid virtually no federal income taxes in the past 15 years, US workers who pay much more in taxes, are struggling to make ends meet and dealing with the pandemic in essential jobs. David Yolmeh has worked as a meat cutter in a grocery store deli outside Orlando, Florida, for 10 years. Over the past three years, he has paid between $2,200 and $4,700 in annual federal income tax. More...

A damning expose lays bare decades of deception, fraud and scheming — by Trump and Congress
David Cay Johnston

The richly detailed examination of Donald Trump's taxes in today's New York Times carries two crucial but unstated messages. One is about Trump. The other about what chumps we Americans are when it comes to our own income taxes. Trump paid no income taxes in 10 of the last 17 years while raking in as much as $153 million in a single year. The year he ran for president he paid just $750. He paid the same sum during his first year in the Oval Office. That's less than the average monthly rent paid by Americans, which was $1,023 in 2018.

That Trump is a serious tax cheat is no surprise to DCReport readers. Four years ago, I revealed that Trump lost two income tax fraud trials. He fabricated a consulting business in 1984. It showed no revenue, yet Trump claimed more than $600,000 in deductions. He could not produce a single receipt. Trump's longtime tax lawyer and accountant, Jack Mitnick, testified during one of the two civil fraud trials that Trump forged the tax return. Mitnick was Trump's witness, by the way, showing just how much chutzpah Trump has. More...

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) There's a revolution happening within the GOP right under our noses. The latest sign came Sunday, when former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge penned an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer making clear his intent to vote for former Vice President Joe Biden over President Donald Trump in November. "He lacks the empathy, integrity, intellect and maturity to lead," Ridge, who also served as the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security in the Bush administration, wrote of Trump. Ridge joins fellow Bush Cabinet secretaries Christine Todd Whitman (EPA), Ann Veneman (Agriculture), Carlos Gutierrez (Commerce) and Colin Powell (State) as Biden endorsers. Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman from Illinois, and Chuck Hagel, the former Nebraska Republican senator, both of whom served in the Obama Cabinet, have also backed Biden.

And that's just Republicans who served in a presidential Cabinet! There are a slew of other prominent GOP elected officials -- from former Ohio Gov. John Kasich to former California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman to 2016 presidential candidate Carly Fiorina to former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder -- who are on record as either planning to vote for Biden or leaning in that direction. Then there are the staffers. That group includes the former chiefs of staff at the Department of Education and Department of Homeland Security in the Trump administration! More than 70 national security officials from various Republican administrations are backing Biden. As are more than 150 alums of the George W. Bush White House. More...

By Melissa Quinn

Washington — President Trump on Tuesday refused to unequivocally condemn white supremacists and far-right groups who have responded to ongoing protests against police brutality and racial injustice, instead pinning the blame for violent clashes on the "left wing." During the first presidential debate, moderator and "Fox News Sunday" anchor Chris Wallace asked Mr. Trump if he was "willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities as we saw in Kenosha and we've seen in Portland?"

In response, Mr. Trump said he was "willing to do that," but claimed that "almost everything I see is from the left wing." "I'm willing to do anything. I want to see peace," the president continued. Amid prodding from Wallace and former Vice President Joe Biden to categorically denounce white supremacists, Mr. Trump asked, "what do you want me to call them? Give me a name. Who would you like me to condemn?" Biden then referenced the Proud Boys, a far-right group, while Wallace said white supremacists. More...

By Maeve Reston and Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) At the end of a rancorous and chaotic debate -- in which President Donald Trump tried to bulldoze challenger Joe Biden with insults, slashing interruptions and callous attacks on Biden's family -- the President questioned the legitimacy of the November election, refused to say whether he would concede should he lose and declined to forcefully condemn White supremacists. As Trump was wrapping up a nearly unwatchable 90 minutes in which his interruptions often made it impossible for viewers to follow what the two men were talking about, moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump whether he would urge his supporters to "stay calm and" avoid any civil unrest, and would pledge not to "declare victory until the election has been independently certified."

"I'm urging supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully," Trump said, on a night where he continued his unfounded attacks on voting by mail. "If it's a fair election, I am 100% on board. But if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can't go along with that." Biden, by contrast, pointed out that Trump's own FBI director, Christopher Wray, has said there's no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Biden agreed he would not declare victory until the election was certified. More...

CNN Tonight

CNN political commentator Ana Navarro reacts to the New York Times report about President Donald Trump's tax information, hoping that the "astounding level of fraud" is a wake-up call for undecided voters in the 2020 election. Video...

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) President Donald Trump likes to tell people he made his fortune building things. "I said, 'I gotta go into Manhattan. I gotta build those big buildings. I gotta do it, Dad. I've gotta do it,'" Trump said when he announced his run for president, recounting a conversation with his father as a young man. He went on to add: "And now I'm building all over the world, and I love what I'm doing." But Trump is not, in fact, rich because of the buildings he has built. (Or the golf courses.) He is rich because he turned "Donald Trump" into a remarkably powerful marketing brand.

That's according to new reporting from The New York Times, based on two decades of the President's tax returns. (Trump has refused to release any of his tax returns publicly, the first President in the post-Watergate era to do so.) Here's the critical piece of the latest reporting from the Times: "While the returns show that he earned some $197 million directly from 'The Apprentice' over 16 years — roughly in line with what he has claimed — they also reveal that an additional $230 million flowed from the fame associated with it. "The show's big ratings meant that everyone wanted a piece of the Trump brand, and he grabbed at the opportunity to rent it out. There was $500,000 to pitch Double Stuf Oreos, another half-million to sell Domino's Pizza and $850,000 to push laundry detergent. More...

By Harriet Alexander For Dailymail.com

The mayor of New York has said he will task the city's finance department with investigating whether Donald Trump has paid his city taxes, in the wake of a bombshell New York Times investigation into the president's finances. Bill de Blasio said on Monday night that he had his suspicions that the president swindled his hometown.

Trump paid zero federal income taxes in 10 out of 15 recent years, the New York Times reported. 'I think we can guarantee based on the information in the New York Times that he hasn't paid his city taxes the way he should have,' the mayor said, speaking on NY1. 'Our city finance department will get to work right away to determine if in fact the president of the United States cheated New York City on his taxes. 'I think it's a foregone conclusion at this point, given everything we've seen from this guy.' More...

The story suggests the president mostly avoided paying taxes the old-fashioned way: by losing money.

New revelations about President Donald Trump’s taxes have been thrown into the presidential campaign. The lengthy investigation by the New York Times, which found Trump paid very little in taxes over the past decade while claiming a huge refund, is part of a long effort by the news media to illuminate Trump’s financial dealings in the face of his refusal to follow political tradition and release his tax returns. But the story is complex and raises many other questions. Here are five things you need to know about the latest twist.

Is Trump just a bad businessman? The story suggests Trump mostly avoided paying taxes the old-fashioned way: by losing money. Businesses only pay taxes when they generate a profit, and the story indicates the president is hemorrhaging cash. It only cites a few major moneymakers: the television show "The Apprentice," Trump Tower, a few other real estate investments. At the same time, it describes many more that are losing tons of money. His golf courses have lost $315 million, for example, while his hotel in Washington, D.C., has lost another $55 million. That appears to explain much of Trump’s bills because losses from those businesses can be used to offset profits (and businesses can carry those losses forward and backward in time to reduce their taxes in other years as well). More...

By David Robb

Sandra Karas, secretary-treasurer of Actors’ Equity, was surprised Monday morning when she read The New York Times’ article about President Trump’s income taxes – and the $70,000 that he reportedly wrote off as a business expense for hair styling in connection with his TV show The Apprentice. “It made me laugh when I saw it in the paper,” she said. “The first thing I thought was, ‘That’s not deductible.’” Karas isn’t privy to Trump’s Apprentice contract, but said that it’s “unheard of” for producers to make the star of a hit show pay for their own hair and makeup. And Karas should know: As a licensed accountant and tax attorney currently representing, pro bono, a member of the union in a case before the US Tax Court, she oversees the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program in the union’s New York office that helps members fill out their tax returns, free of charge.

She says she’s helped thousands of entertainment professionals with their taxes, and has never heard of a star who had to pay for their own hair styling and makeup. “I can’t imagine it,” she said. “I can’t imagine that a celebrity would have to worry about maintaining a hairdo, especially for a show that was as long-running as his was.” And if the producers pay for a performer’s hair and makeup, it’s not deductible. “It would surprise me that Mr. Trump, as a celebrity, didn’t have the producer picking up the cost of that for him,” she said. “I don’t know what his contract said, but I would be very surprised if his producer did not pay for his hair or make-up, and he had to pay for it himself. It’s really rare that a celebrity of that stature – somebody who was the star of his own TV show – would have to hire somebody and pay somebody to do his hair in connection to the show.”

The Times’ article says: “Mr. Trump has written off as business expenses costs – including fuel and meals – associated with his aircraft, used to shuttle him among his various homes and properties. Likewise the cost of haircuts, including the more than $70,000 paid to style his hair during The Apprentice.” Trump, who worked under an AFTRA contract on The Apprentice, called the Times’ story “Fake news.” More...

While the president’s Republican allies generally kept their silence, Democrats pounced and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the party’s presidential candidate, posted a video noting that the president paid less in income taxes than everyday Americans.
By Peter Baker and Michael D. Shear

WASHINGTON — The disclosure that President Trump paid little or no federal income taxes for years, including while in the White House, convulsed the presidential campaign on Monday with only five weeks to go and immediately scrambled the equation and stakes of the first debate to be held on Tuesday night.

While Mr. Trump tried to deflect the news about his taxes, and his Republican allies generally kept their silence, Democrats pounced and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the party’s presidential candidate, posted a video noting that the president paid less in income taxes than everyday Americans like teachers, firefighters and nurses.

The report in The New York Times, published online on Sunday evening and in print on Monday, revealed that Mr. Trump paid no federal income taxes for 11 of the 18 years examined and just $750 in 2016, the year he won the presidency, and $750 in 2017, his first year in office. Mr. Trump wrote off more than $70,000 paid to style his hair during “The Apprentice” and collected $72.9 million in refunds challenged by I.R.S. auditors. He owes hundreds of millions of dollars to creditors due in the next four years.

The tax data analyzed by The Times, which was provided by sources with legal access to it, further undercut the image of a wildly successful businessman long projected by Mr. Trump while he was reporting expansive and chronic losses by many of his marquee properties like his golf courses in Florida and Europe and his hotel in Washington — losses that he then used to reduce or eliminate tax liabilities. More...

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) The big bombshell in The New York Times tax returns story is, obviously, the fact that President Donald Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in each 2016 and 2017 -- and for 10 of the 15 previous years, paid no federal income taxes at all. But there's another massive revelation contained in the Times' reporting that isn't getting nearly enough attention: Trump wrote off $26 million in unexplained "consulting fees" between 2010 and 2018, with almost $750,000 apparently going to his daughter, Ivanka, in one disclosure. Here's how the Times explained the setup (bolding is mine):

"Mr. Trump reduced his taxable income by treating a family member as a consultant, and then deducting the fee as a cost of doing business.  (CNN)The big bombshell in The New York Times tax returns story is, obviously, the fact that President Donald Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in each 2016 and 2017 -- and for 10 of the 15 previous years, paid no federal income taxes at all. But there's another massive revelation contained in the Times' reporting that isn't getting nearly enough attention: Trump wrote off $26 million in unexplained "consulting fees" between 2010 and 2018, with almost $750,000 apparently going to his daughter, Ivanka, in one disclosure. Here's how the Times explained the setup (bolding is mine): "Mr. Trump reduced his taxable income by treating a family member as a consultant, and then deducting the fee as a cost of doing business. More...

What trade-offs would a president with this level of indebtedness be willing to make to save face?
By Timothy L. O'Brien

In a tour de force of hard won reporting, the New York Times has put numerical clothing on what we’ve known about President Donald Trump for decades — that, at best, he’s a haphazard businessman, human billboard and serial bankruptcy artist who gorges on debt he may have a hard time repaying. The Times, in a news story published Sunday evening that disclosed years of the president’s tax returns, also put a lot of clothing on things we didn’t know. Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the year he was elected president, and the same amount the following year, when he entered the White House. In many years recently he hasn’t paid anything at all. He has played so fast and loose with the taxman that he’s entangled in an audit.

He paid his daughter Ivanka lush consulting fees that he deducted as a business expense even though she helped him manage the Trump Organization. And he’s taken questionable tax write-offs on everything from getting his hair coifed to managing his personal residences.  Step away from the tragicomic tawdriness and grift that the tax returns define, however, and focus on what they reveal about Trump as the most powerful man in the world and occupant of the Oval Office. Due to his indebtedness, his reliance on income from overseas and his refusal to authentically distance himself from his hodgepodge of business, Trump represents a profound national security threat – a threat that will only escalate if he’s re-elected. The tax returns also show the extent to which Trump has repeatedly betrayed the interests of many of the average Americans who elected him and remain his most loyal supporters. More...

Seth Cohen

Following a blockbuster report by The New York Times over the weekend, all eyes are focused on President Trump’s tax returns and what he did, and didn’t, pay. But the eyes that really matter are the federal and state tax authorities charged with reviewing whether or not Trump and the Trump Organization broke tax laws. And whether the President could face significant legal consequences.

On Sunday, The New York Times unveiled an extensive investigative report based on a review of two decades of Trump’s personal and corporate tax records. The reporting covers Trump tax returns from his days as a high-profile real estate developer to the beginning of his tenure as President, and they were revelatory with respect to the President’s longtime strategy of avoiding paying taxes. Among the key findings of the Times reporting is the fact that the President paid no federal taxes in 11 of the 18 years reviewed by the newspaper, and only paid $750 of personal taxes in 2016 and 2017. A large part of the reason why Trump and the Trump Organization were purportedly able to minimize tax payments was by claiming that substantial personal expenses, including Trump’s lavish use of multiple residences, personal aircraft, and even hairstyling for his television appearances, should offset income. The reporting also shows a longtime strategy of tax avoidance using purported losses from Trump Organization entities as a bulwark against paying taxes. More...

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) It was the moment when Donald Trump's "Art of the Deal" fabulism, billionaire tycoon bluster and populist standard-bearing for forgotten Americans was revealed to be what it always looked like: a sham. A stunning New York Times exposé of the President's tax returns Sunday revealed a pitifully inept businessman and a serial tax avoider crushed by massive debts that could expose him to conflicts of interest given his position as President and power to help undisclosed lenders. Trump refused to talk about his tax returns and blasted the Times report as "totally fake news" on Sunday. But the article portrays the anti-elite crusader who rails against a corrupt system as actually using its loopholes to avoid paying any federal taxes at all in 10 of 15 years beginning in 2000 by writing off his own staggering losses.

In 2016 and 2017 each, Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes -- far less than many Americans who are working hard amid a deep recession to stay afloat. Trump took huge deductions -- including $70,000 to take care of his hair -- and also appeared to write off hundreds of thousands of dollars paying his daughter Ivanka as a consultant to the Trump Organization, according to the Times report. The story also reveals the extent to which Trump's status as President is being used to shore up his losing ventures — for example his hotel in Washington, DC, and his golf resorts. More...

By Kaitlan Collins and Hollie Silverman, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Brad Parscale was hospitalized Sunday following reports of a suicide attempt at his Florida home, CNN has learned. According to Fort Lauderdale Police Department Sgt. DeAnna Greenlaw, Fort Lauderdale police officers responded to Parscale's residence "in reference to an armed male attempting suicide." Officers later identified him to CNN as Bradley Parscale and said his wife had called the police. "When officers arrived on scene, they made contact with the armed subject's wife, who advised her husband was armed and had access to multiple firearms inside the residence and was threatening to harm himself," Greenlaw told CNN in a statement. The officers determined the only person inside the home was the adult male. The South Florida Sun Sentinel was the first to report the story. More...

New York Times reporting on the president’s taxes suggest two possibilities.
By Elie Mystal

In a 2015 filing with the Federal Election Commission, then-candidate Donald Trump claimed his net worth was $10 billion. The financial press was skeptical of that claim, but nonetheless, Trump listed assets totaling $1.4 billion against $265 million in liabilities.

According to tax documents obtained and reported on by the New York Times, Trump paid only $750 in federal income tax the year that he won the presidency, partly buoyed by claims of his financial triumphs. And that was a year when Trump actually paid some income tax. Trump paid $0 in federal income tax in 11 of 18 years, according to the Time’s description of the documents.

Now, it is possible to be worth billions of dollars and yet owe the federal government no income tax most of the time. For instance, you could just sit and stare at the gold bullion you’ve accumulated in your mountain lair and not bother anybody. More...

By Paul LeBlanc, CNN

Washington (CNN) Donald Trump has paid no income taxes whatsoever in 10 of the past 15 years since 2017 as a result of reporting that he was losing significantly more than he made, according to an explosive report released Sunday by the New York Times. The President paid just $750 in federal income taxes in both the year he won the presidency and his first year in the White House, according to more than two decades of his tax information obtained by The Times. At a briefing Sunday, Trump denied the New York Times story and said he pays "a lot" in federal income taxes.
"I pay a lot, and I pay a lot in state income taxes," Trump said. Trump added that he is willing to release his tax returns once he is no longer under audit by the Internal Revenue Service, which he said "treats me badly."

Trump's taxes have been largely a mystery since he first ran for office. During the 2016 campaign, the then-candidate broke with presidential election norms and refused to produce his tax returns for public review. They have remained private since he took office, and Trump has repeatedly said he's under audit by the IRS, which has been ongoing since at least 2016, according to the President. In response to a letter summarizing the newspaper's findings, Trump Organization lawyer Alan Garten told the Times that "most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate" and requested the documents. The New York Times said it will not make Trump's tax-return data public so as not to jeopardize its sources "who have taken enormous personal risks to help inform the public." The tax-return data obtained by the newspaper does not include his personal returns for 2018 or 2019. Being under audit by the IRS does not preclude someone from releasing their tax returns publicly. But that hasn't stopped Trump from using it as a defense against releasing his financial information. More...

By Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and Mike McIntire

The Times obtained Donald Trump’s tax information extending over more than two decades, revealing struggling properties, vast write-offs, an audit battle and hundreds of millions in debt coming due. Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750. He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.

As the president wages a re-election campaign that polls say he is in danger of losing, his finances are under stress, beset by losses and hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due that he has personally guaranteed. Also hanging over him is a decade-long audit battle with the Internal Revenue Service over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed, and received, after declaring huge losses. An adverse ruling could cost him more than $100 million.

The tax returns that Mr. Trump has long fought to keep private tell a story fundamentally different from the one he has sold to the American public. His reports to the I.R.S. portray a businessman who takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year yet racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes. Now, with his financial challenges mounting, the records show that he depends more and more on making money from businesses that put him in potential and often direct conflict of interest with his job as president.

The New York Times has obtained tax-return data extending over more than two decades for Mr. Trump and the hundreds of companies that make up his business organization, including detailed information from his first two years in office. It does not include his personal returns for 2018 or 2019. This article offers an overview of The Times’s findings; additional articles will be published in the coming weeks. More...

The Democratic presidential nominee said the president was using socialism as a way to distract.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Saturday compared Donald Trump to a German Nazi propagandist for the president's barrage of attacks against him on the campaign trail. When Biden was asked during an interview with MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle how he would combat Trump’s repeated claim that he was pushing a socialist agenda, the former vice president didn’t mince words. Trump is “sort of like Goebbels,” Biden said, invoking the name of Joseph Goebbels, the mastermind of Nazi Germany’s propaganda machine. “You say the lie long enough, keep repeating it, repeating it, repeating it, it becomes common knowledge” among voters.

Biden went on to say that the president was using socialism as a way to distract from his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while likening Trump to another authoritative figure from the past. “I think people see very clearly the difference between me and Donald Trump,” Biden said. “Trump is clearing protests in front of the White House that are peaceful, you know, with the military. This guy is more Castro than Churchill.” The Trump campaign didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. In a statement, the Republican Jewish Coalition called on Biden to retract and apologize for the "egregious comment." More...

Before the president predicted the Supreme Court would decide the outcome of the presidential election, Russian media was all over the idea.
Julia Davis

During a White House briefing on Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the November presidential election. He elaborated: “Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very—we’ll have a very peaceful—there won’t be a transfer frankly, there’ll be a continuation.”

During a meeting with Republican attorneys general earlier the same day, Trump predicted that the U.S. Supreme Court would decide the outcome of the forthcoming election. He explained that the rush to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was designed to break any potential tie between the Supreme Court justices.

If Russian President Vladimir Putin had a heart, both of Trump’s statements would fill it with unadulterated joy. Russia’s perennial authoritarian is no fan of a “peaceful transfer of power” either, unless it means a smooth transition from him—to himself. As for America, the Kremlin’s state media mouthpieces openly expressed their hopes for deeper racial tensions and civil war. On both fronts, the contentious U.S. president is a gift that keeps on giving. Trump’s divisive public messaging is in perfect alignment with the Kremlin’s preferred course of action.

Serendipitously, the Russian state media publicly concluded that the Supreme Court of the United States—including Trump’s nominee—would decide the outcome of the upcoming presidential election, days before the U.S. president made his ominous pronouncements. The Russian state media show Vesti Nedeli, hosted by Dmitry Kiselyov, the CEO of the state news agency Rossiya Sevodnya (Russia Today), may have been the first to issue such a prediction, on Sept. 20. More...

By John Cassidy

On Friday evening, CNN, the New York Times, and other media outlets reported that Donald Trump had told associates that he has chosen Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a prominent social conservative, to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. Although Trump’s choice of Barrett—whom he appointed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in 2017—wasn’t unexpected, it’s sure to escalate the bitter political conflict surrounding the Republican effort to rush a nomination through the U.S. Senate less than forty days before the election.

Right now, it looks like Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, has the votes to do that. The brazen and unapologetic nature of this G.O.P. power play is fanning perfectly justified outrage, and the selection of Barrett—who has ruled in favor of restrictions on abortion and who once served as a law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia—as a replacement for a liberal icon will further inflame passions. The nominee is expected to appear alongside Trump at the White House on Saturday afternoon. Some Democratic senators have openly considered boycotting the confirmation hearings, which would be unprecedented, at least in the modern era.

With the first Presidential debate, on Tuesday, set to add to the political tension, the next few weeks will be fast-moving and nerve-racking. But it is worth first stepping back and considering the larger context in which all this is taking place. If the aftermath of Ginsburg’s untimely death has taught us anything, it’s that the antiquated institutions of American democracy are in urgent need of repair—that is, if the country can get through the next couple of months with these institutions still intact, which at times this week hasn’t always seemed like a given. The alternative to wholesale reform is almost too ghastly to contemplate: the continuation and intensification of a years-long effort to consolidate minority rule. For, when you strip away all the diversions and disinformation, that is the project that the Republican Party and the forty-fifth President are engaged in. More...

By Alexander Bolton

Senate Republicans were left dumbfounded Thursday by President Trump’s latest self-engineered controversy, a suggestion there might not be a peaceful transition of power after Election Day, which left his GOP allies on Capitol Hill scrambling for political cover. GOP lawmakers expressed frustration that a week that had started so positively with the Senate Republican Conference quickly unifying ahead of a Supreme Court confirmation battle had turned into a circus.

“The president figured out how to take an overwhelmingly good week and change the subject? Shocking. I don’t know what to say,” said one senior Republican senator, referring to the dismay Republicans felt over what they see as Trump’s latest unforced error. “There’s a chance he doesn’t understand peaceful as a concept. There’s a chance he thinks that means he’s going to feel good about it if he’s leaving. Who knows what he’s thinking?” the senator added.

The GOP anger and irritation with Trump was particularly high given the intense battle for the Senate majority, which a number of Republicans see as in danger because of the president. The Supreme Court battle, Republicans believed, could help their shot at keeping the majority. The president suggesting there might not be a peaceful transition if he loses does not, in their view. A second Republican senator made a pistol out of his index finger and thumb and pretended to shoot at his own foot. More...

Tom McCarthy

The attorney general has been giving misleading statements on election integrity, and, critics say, has a deep sense of mission about re-electing the president. Donald Trump’s astonishing suggestion at a campaign rally last weekend that the US president will deploy government lawyers to try to hit the brakes on the counting of ballots on election night relies on the complicity of one federal official more than any other. That official is attorney general William Barr, who, as leader of the justice department, directs the army of government lawyers who would sue to halt the counting of votes.

Conveniently for Trump’s stated plan, Barr appears not only ready to acquiesce, he seems eager to bring the lawsuits, having laid groundwork for challenging the election with weeks of misleading statements about the integrity of mail-in voting. To some observers, the attorney general appears to have also laid the groundwork for a further alarming step, one that would answer the question of what action the Trump administration is prepared to take if a contested election in November gives rise to large new protests.

In order for Trump to steal the election and then quell mass demonstrations – for that is the nature of the nightmare scenario now up for open discussion among current and former officials, academics, thinktankers and a lot of other people – Trump must be able to manipulate both the levers of the law and its physical enforcement. In Barr, Trump not only gets all of that, critics say, but he also enjoys the partnership of a man whose sense of biblical stakes around the election imbues him with a deep sense of mission about re-electing Trump. More...

By Kevin Liptak, CNN

(CNN) His opponents have long warned President Donald Trump may try clinging to power if he loses this November's election. Some Republicans scoff at the nightmare scenario and say there is little to support such a claim. But again and again, Trump has refused to stamp out the prospect -- establishing a pattern of delegitimizing an election that polls have shown him losing for months. The most provocative statement came at an early evening news conference on Wednesday, when Trump would not guarantee a peaceful transition of power should he lose, undermining a bedrock of American democracy. The comment was explosive. But it was only the latest in a string of provocative comments by the President openly undermining the electoral process:

Trump won't commit to facilitating a peaceful transition of power September 23 news conference:
"Well, we're going to have to see what happens. You know that. I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots. And the ballots are a disaster ... We want to have -- get rid of the ballots and you'll have a very trans- -- we'll have a very peaceful -- there won't be a transfer, frankly; there'll be a continuation. The ballots are out of control. You know it," he said. More...

By Kevin Liptak and Maegan Vazquez, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump on Wednesday would not commit to providing a peaceful transition of power after Election Day, lending further fuel to concerns he may not relinquish his office should he lose in November. "Well, we're going to have to see what happens," Trump said when asked whether he'd commit to a peaceful transition, one of the cornerstones of American democracy. Trump has previously refused to say whether he would accept the election results, echoing his sentiments from 2016. And he has joked -- he says -- about staying in office well past the constitutionally bound two terms. But his refusal to guarantee a violence-free transition went further and is likely to alarm his opponents, already on edge given his deployment of federal law enforcement to quell protests in American cities.

His reluctance to commit to a peaceful transition was rooted in what he said were concerns about ballots, extending his false assertion that widespread mail-in voting is rife with fraud. "You know that I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster," Trump said at a press briefing at the White House, presumably referring to mail-in ballots, which he has baselessly claimed will lead to voter fraud. "(G)et rid of the ballots and you'll have a very ... there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation," he added, saying "the ballots are out of control." More...

By Rebecca Klar

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden questioned President Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power on Wednesday.  Asked about the president’s remarks during his briefing, Biden told reporters, “What country are we in?” “I'm being facetious. I said, what country are we in? Look, he says the most irrational things. I don't know what to say,” Biden added, according to a pool report. During a White House briefing, Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power should he lose the November election, instead once again sowing doubt about the security of mail-in ballots.

“We’re going to have to see what happens, you know, but I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots. The ballots are a disaster,” Trump said when asked if he would commit to making sure there is a peaceful transition of power. Pressed on the question, Trump said there would be no need for a transition of power without mail-in ballots.  More...

By Jordain Carney

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) pushed back on Wednesday against President Trump, who refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power should he lose the election in November. "Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus. Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable," Romney tweeted. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) pushed back on Wednesday against President Trump, who refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power should he lose the election in November.

"Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus. Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable," Romney tweeted. Romney did not mention Trump by name in his tweet, but it came hours after Trump told reporters at the White House, when asked if he would commit to ensuring a peaceful transition of power if he loses in November, that he would have to “see what happens" and tried once again to sow doubt about the security of mail-in ballots.

"Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won't be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation,” Trump said. “The ballots are out of control. You know it, and you know who knows it better than anyone else? The Democrats know it better than anyone else.” More...

Princeton Admitted Past Racism. Now It Is Under Investigation.
The Trump administration opened a civil rights investigation into the university after its president acknowledged the role of systemic racism at the school.
By Anemona Hartocollis

The Trump administration said this week that it was investigating whether Princeton has violated federal civil rights law, suggesting that a public expression of contrition for a history of “systemic racism” at the university was an acknowledgment of illegal behavior. “You admitted Princeton’s educational program is and for decades has been racist,” federal officials wrote in a letter to the school on Wednesday.

The investigation is the latest escalation in the administration’s campaign against the Ivy League for its policies on matters of race. Last month, the Justice Department accused Yale of violating federal civil rights law through its admissions policies, and it has supported legal efforts to end affirmative action at Harvard. In their letter to Princeton this week, officials cited a public statement made this month by the school’s president, Christopher L. Eisgruber, in which he charged university leaders with developing plans “to combat systemic racism at Princeton and beyond.” More...

*** Was Trump projecting when he said the election would be rigged; after all he is the one who is telling people to commit voter fraud by telling people to vote twice. Trump has destroyed the USPS to prevent people from voting mail and now wants to get rid of mail ballots? ***

By Rebecca Klar

Federal Election Commission Commissioner Ellen Weintraub on Wednesday said the U.S. does not “get rid of” ballots in response to comments made by President Trump as he refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses in November. “In case anyone is unclear on the concept, in the United States of America, we do not ‘get rid of’ ballots. We count them,” Weintraub, a Democrat, tweeted, in response to Trump’s comments. “Counting the ballots – *all* the ballots – is the way we determine who leads our country after our elections. The only way,” Weintraub added. More...

*** Bullshit Trump said they would be doing a good job if they keep the number of deaths below 60,000, now that 200,000 have died he is claiming they did a good job. That is bullshit that he did not do a good job more than 150,000 American died because of Trump failures to act and Trump is putting more lives at risk daily.  ***

Adrianna Rodriguez USA TODAY

The USA reached yet another dark milestone Tuesday: 200,000 coronavirus deaths. As states grapple with opening restaurants, small businesses and schools, cases are peaking in Montana, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data. Social distancing fatigue and contention over mask wearing threaten to compound COVID-19 cases and deaths as the year goes on.

In March, President Donald Trump said keeping the death toll at 100,000 to 200,000 people would indicate that his administration had “done a very good job.”  As the number continued to climb, Trump sought to reshape the significance of the death tally. “If we didn’t do our job, it would be three and a half, two and a half, maybe 3 million people,” Trump said Friday, leaning on extreme projections of what could have happened if nothing were done to fight the pandemic. “We have done a phenomenal job with respect to COVID-19.”

COVID-19 deaths outpaced projections made as recently as May, when experts at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington predicted about 180,000 deaths by October. That model predicts 378,000 deaths by January. The USA reached 100,000 cases in May. More...

By Pamela Falk

United Nations — Laying down the diplomatic gauntlet, President Trump referred to the "fierce battle against the invisible enemy — the China virus" in a full throttle attack on China, as he spoke by video to the U.N. General Assembly's general debate that began Tuesday amid the coronavirus pandemic. "We must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world: China," Mr. Trump said.

China's President Xi Jinping's video message was part conciliation, part push-back. China has "no intention to fight either a Cold War or a hot one with any country," Xi said, but added, "Burying one's head in the sand like an ostrich in the face of economic globalization or trying to fight it with Don Quixote's lance goes against the trend of history." More...

Fact Check By: Craig Jones, Newswise

We won Michigan — first time in decades. And you know what we’ve done? Many, many car plants are now opening up ... I said, ‘Shinzo, please do me a favor, we need more car companies. ... We want them built here, not in Japan, please.’ He said, ‘But we can - Claim Publisher and Date: President Donald Trump in North Carolina on 2020-09-19

At a rally in North Carolina on September 19, 2020, Pres. Trump said that he persuaded former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to get car companies to bring manufacturing to Michigan. This claim is false. No Japanese-affilated auto-assembly plants have opened in Michigan and their doesn't seem to be any plans for the near future. In fact, the number of automobile and automotive-parts manufacturing jobs in Michigan has fallen since Trump was made President of the U.S. This includes the time leading up to the pandemic crisis that began in February.

As reported by AP Fact Check...

No Japanese automaker assembly plants have been announced or built in Michigan, let alone in one day, and there are no plans to add any. More...

The president says his fellow Republicans have let him it down when it comes to investigating Obama and the Bidens.

President Donald Trump said Monday he was furious with Republicans in Washington for not doing enough to take up his unsubstantiated claims about former Obama administration officials and Hunter Biden. “Does anything happen? Nothing happens,” Trump said at an event in Dayton, Ohio. “I’m so angry at Republicans. I am. I’m so angry. I am so angry, but a lot of things are happening.”

For months, Trump has tried to spur sweeping investigations into President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden over insinuations about the FBI’s surveillance of Trump campaign associates that he’s dubbed “Obamagate.” Those calls had largely gone unheeded by Republicans who control the Senate until they nabbed a foothold recently after the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee voted to authorize more than three dozen subpoenas and depositions to compel testimony from former FBI Director James Comey and others. More...

Among those named in reports is Paul Manafort, former political strategist for Donald Trump
David Pegg

Thousands of documents detailing $2 trillion (£1.55tn) of potentially corrupt transactions that were washed through the US financial system have been leaked to an international group of investigative journalists. The leak focuses on more than 2,000 suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed with the US government’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Banks and other financial institutions file SARs when they believe a client is using their services for potential criminal activity. However, the filing of an SAR does not require the bank to cease doing business with the client in question.

The documents were provided to BuzzFeed News, which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The documents are said to suggest major banks provided financial services to high-risk individuals from around the world, in some cases even after they had been placed under sanctions by the US government. According to the ICIJ the documents relate to more than $2tn of transactions dating from between 1999 and 2017.

One of those named in the SARs is Paul Manafort, a political strategist who led Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign for several months. He stepped down from the role after his consultancy work for former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych was exposed, and he was later convicted of fraud and tax evasion. According to the ICIJ, banks began flagging activity linked to Manafort as suspicious beginning in 2012. In 2017 JP Morgan Chase filed a report on wire transfers worth over $300m involving shell companies in Cyprus that had done business with Manafort. More...

By Evan Perez, CNN Justice Correspondent

(CNN) A woman suspected of sending a letter containing the poison ricin to President Donald Trump was arrested as she tried to enter the US from Canada at a border crossing in New York state, a US law enforcement official said. The woman was carrying a gun and arrested by US authorities, according to the law enforcement official. US prosecutors in Washington, DC, are expected to bring charges against her. CNN previously reported that law enforcement had intercepted a ricin package sent to Trump last week, according to two law enforcement officials, and that investigators were looking into the possibility that it came from Canada.

A person familiar with the investigation told CNN's Josh Campbell the letter was mailed from St. Hubert, Quebec, and contained a granular substance with similar physical characteristics to ground castor beans. Two tests had been done to confirm the presence of ricin. All mail for the White House is sorted and screened at an offsite facility before reaching the White House. A spokesperson for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which confirmed Saturday that it was working with the FBI to investigate the matter, told CNN Sunday that "the RCMP is still not in a position to issue a statement, or to confirm/deny any reports on arrests." More...

CBS News

Washington — A person suspected of sending an envelope addressed to White House that contained the poison ricin has been arrested, the FBI said Sunday. CBS News has learned the suspect, a woman, was apprehended at the New York-Canada border and is believed to have been trying to enter the U.S. CBS News has also learned that the woman was carrying a gun. Her name wasn't released. More...

by Oliver Darcy

(CNN) President Donald Trump on Friday mocked an American news anchor for being shot with a rubber bullet during George Floyd protests in May, calling it a "beautiful sight" during a political rally in Minnesota. While speaking of the protests against racial injustice that swept the country earlier this year, Trump recalled the moment that police fired on MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi and his crew as they were reporting from Minneapolis.

"I remember this guy Velshi," Trump said. "He got hit in the knee with a canister of tear gas and he went down. He was down. 'My knee, my knee.' Nobody cared, these guys didn't care, they moved him aside." "And they just walked right through. It was the most beautiful thing," Trump said. "No, because after we take all that crap for weeks and weeks, and you finally see men get up there and go right through them, wasn't it really a beautiful sight? It's called law and order." More.

"My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed," Ruth Bader Ginsburg told her granddaughter, Clara Spera, in the days before her death, NPR reported.
By Alicia Victoria Lozano

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the U.S. Supreme Court justice who broke gender barriers, told her granddaughter before she died that her wish was not to have her seat filled until a new president is elected. "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed," Ginsburg told Clara Spera in the days before her death, NPR reported. Ginsburg died Friday at the age of 87. Her passing leaves a pivotal vacancy that could dramatically shape the nation's highest court for years to come. The scramble to fill her seat will be especially tense with less than two months until the presidential election. More...

Olivia Troye attacks Trump and says he called his own supporters ‘disgusting people’ he no longer had to shake hands with
Martin Pengelly in New York, Mario Koran in Mosinee, Wisconsin and Tom McCarthy

The coronavirus pandemic moved to the centre of the US election again on Friday, as a former senior official on the White House taskforce turned on Donald Trump. Trump was alleged by Olivia Troye, a former Mike Pence adviser, to have called his own supporters “disgusting people” with whom he no longer had to shake hands thanks to the pandemic. Meanwhile, Democratic challenger Joe Biden told voters late on Thursday that they should “listen to the scientists, not to the president” when it comes to hopes for a vaccine.

The death toll from Covid-19 in the US is approaching 200,000. The election is on 3 November, less than 50 days away. Trailing Biden in national and most swing state polls and in polls regarding who the public trusts to handle the pandemic, Trump has claimed a vaccine will be available “within weeks”. That stance contradicts statements from senior health advisers, who the president in turn has publicly doubted. More...

Donald Trump’s decision to ban downloads of the Chinese-owned platform prompts realignment of tech space
Agence France-Presse

China has accused the United States of “bullying” and suggested it may take unspecified countermeasures after Washington banned downloads of popular video app TikTok and effectively blocked the use of the Chinese super-app WeChat. “China urges the US to abandon bullying, cease (its) wrongful actions and earnestly maintain fair and transparent international rules and order,” a statement by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said on Saturday. “If the US insists on going its own way, China will take necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.”

The United States made the moves against the two Chinese apps on Friday, citing national security grounds and escalating a fight with Beijing over digital technology. Under the order, the Tencent-owned WeChat app would lose functionality in the United States from Sunday. TikTok users will be banned from installing updates but could keep accessing the service through 12 November. US officials described Friday’s measures as essential to national security as President Donald Trump confronts Beijing during a tough re-election campaign. TikTok users in the United States reacted with a collective shrug to the ban, but many are already planning an exit to other platforms should the clampdown lead to an outright ban. More...

By Elizabeth Cohen and Caroline Kelly, CNN

(CNN) A close ally of President Donald Trump who was serving as a top official in the Department of Health and Human Services repeatedly sent complaints about how the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was handling a media request to the agency's director in an apparent attempt to intimidate an agency communications official, according to emails shared with CNN. The emails show Michael Caputo, who served as the assistant secretary for public affairs at HHS until taking a leave of absence earlier this week, confronting a CDC spokesperson for responding to a question from CNN about a vaccine education campaign.

"In what world did you think it was your job to announce an Administration public service announcement campaign to CNN?" Caputo said to the spokesperson on June 27, copying top agency officials on the email -- including Dr. Robert Redfield, the agency's director, who is tasked with leading the nation's health protection agency during the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic. The emails are a part of a pattern showing Caputo's hostile attitude toward CDC officials. Earlier this week, Caputo announced he will take a two-month leave of absence from his post after apologizing for a conspiracy theory-laden rant he made against CDC scientists, alleging a "resistance unit" within the department and accusing CDC officials of "sedition."
He has been accused by critics of politicizing the CDC and the HHS response to the coronavirus pandemic. CNN reported last week that Caputo and his team had demanded to see weekly science reports out of the CDC before they were released, with some HHS communications officials pushing to change the reports' language so as not to undermine Trump's political message. In response to that assertion, Caputo criticized the CDC with conspiratorial accusations. The New York Times was first to report on the email from Caputo to the CDC spokesperson. More...

*** Trump and the GOP want to rewrite history and downplay slavery and the treatment of Black Americans at the hands of White Americans. They stole our history when they took us from our homes and sold us into slavery, they beat us and did not allow us to read or write. Many black people have been killed simply for looking at a white person. Now they are trying to deny what was done to Black Americans by rewriting the history of all that has been done to Black Americans. ***

At the National Archives Museum, the president warned against a “radical movement” that has emerged from “decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools.”
By Michael Crowley

WASHINGTON — President Trump escalated his attacks on “left-wing demonstrators” and “far-left mobs” on Thursday, portraying himself as a defender of American heritage against revolutionary fanatics and arguing for a new “pro-American” curriculum in the nation’s schools.

Speaking at the National Archives Museum, Mr. Trump vowed to counter what he called an emerging classroom narrative that “America is a wicked and racist nation,” and he said he would create a new “1776 Commission” to help “restore patriotic education to our schools.” The president reiterated his condemnations of demonstrators who tear down monuments to historical American figures, and he even sought to link the Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., to the removal of a founding father’s statue in Mr. Biden’s home state, Delaware.

“Our heroes will never be forgotten,” Mr. Trump said. “Our youth will be taught to love America.” Since the killing of a Black man, George Floyd, in police custody in May in Minneapolis, and the protests that followed nationwide, the president has seized on cultural issues and has sounded many of the same themes — notably including at a showy Independence Day celebration at Mount Rushmore.

Since then, his vision of a Democratic Party hijacked by anti-American Marxists has become a core theme of his campaign. But he elevated the concepts on Thursday by delivering them in the august setting of the National Archives Museum, standing before the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in what was billed as the first “White House Conference on American History.” More...

By Paul P. Murphy, CNN

(CNN) A federal judge issued a historic decision to temporarily block the US Postal Service and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy from changing a wide swath of USPS policies or protocols ahead of November's presidential election. The opinion from Judge Stanley Bastian in Eastern Washington's US District Court enjoin Trump administration postal policies as harmful to voters' ability to cast ballots this November and deliberately suppressive to voters. It places the judge at the center of a political furor in which the court steps into the extraordinary position of stopping the entire USPS from making any changes that may affect efficient mail delivery nationwide.

"Although not necessarily apparent on the surface, at the heart of DeJoy's and the Postal Service's actions is voter disenfranchisement," Bastian wrote. "This is evident in President Trump's highly partisan words and tweets, the actual impact of the changes on primary elections that resulted in uncounted ballots, and recent attempts and lawsuits by the Republican National Committee and President Trump's campaign to stop the States' efforts to bypass the Postal Service by utilizing ballot drop boxes, as well as the timing of the changes. "It is easy to conclude that the recent Postal Services' changes is an intentional effort on the part of the current Administration to disrupt and challenge the legitimacy of upcoming local, state, and federal elections, especially given that 72% of the ... high speed mail sorting machines that were decommissioned were located in counties where Hillary Clinton received the most votes in 2016." More...

Opinion by Max Boot

Two new polls out this week reveal the immense harm that President Trump has done to U.S. foreign policy while offering a sliver of hope about repairing the damage in a Biden administration.

The Pew Research Center found, in a survey of 13 countries, that America’s standing in the world has dropped to hitherto unimaginable lows. Only 26 percent of Germans, 30 percent of the Dutch, 31 percent of the French, 33 percent of Australians and Swedes, 35 percent of Canadians, and 41 percent of the Japanese and British have a favorable impression of the United States. The only country among the 13 — all U.S. allies — that still views the United States favorably is South Korea. That is a precipitous fall in just four years. In 2016, the U.S. favorability rating ranged from a low of 57 percent (Germany) to a high of 72 percent (Japan).

Part of the decline is due to Trump’s egregious mishandling of the coronavirus. Only 15 percent of respondents give the United States good marks on the pandemic. China’s handling of the pandemic is more than twice as popular, even though that’s where the virus originated. Trump himself is intensely unpopular — more so even than Russia’s Vladimir Putin or China’s Xi Jinping. Eighty-three percent of respondents in U.S. allies have no confidence in America’s president. Only 16 percent trust him to do what is right in world affairs. In short, Trump has turned the United States into a global pariah. More...

By Geoff Earle, Deputy U.s. Political Editor For Dailymail.com and Associated Press

The White House is trashing a former top homeland security aide to Vice President Mike Pence after she said President Donald Trump once suggested that COVID-19 might be a good thing because it would stop him from having to shake hands with 'disgusting people.' Olivia Troye is the latest former member of the Trump administration to speak out against him and urge voters to deny him a second term – and also the latest to be branded 'disgruntled' by a White House that has become accustomed to taking fire from former insiders.

Troye served on the White House coronavirus task force, which Pence heads.  'I have no idea who she is, she doesn’t know me,' President Donald Trump said when asked about her while departing the White House for a campaign rally.  'I just heard about that, I don't know her. She worked for the vice president,' Trump said. 'I have no idea who she is,' Trump continued. 'I never met her, to the best of my knowledge,' he added.   Trump said Troye was 'let go,' and also says she wrote a 'beautiful letter,' a term has has used for his exchange of gushing letters with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, despite not knowing her. An official White House photograph showed them together in the Roosevelt Room on March 11 meeting healthcare executives. More...

The testimony contradicted efforts by President Trump and other officials to downplay the threats.
By Zolan Kanno-Youngs

WASHINGTON — Christopher A. Wray, the director of the F.B.I., warned a House committee on Thursday that Russia is actively pursuing a disinformation campaign against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and expressed alarm about violent extremist groups. “Racially motivated violent extremism,” mostly from white supremacists, has made up a majority of domestic terrorism threats, Mr. Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee. He also echoed an intelligence community assessment last month that Russia is conducting a “very active” campaign to spread disinformation and interfere in the presidential election, with Mr. Biden as the primary target.

“We certainly have seen very active — very active — efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020,” Mr. Wray said, specifically “to both sow divisiveness and discord, and I think the intelligence community has assessed this publicly, to primarily to denigrate Vice President Biden in what the Russians see as a kind of an anti-Russian establishment.” Mr. Wray’s blunt comments were the latest example of a top national security official contradicting President Trump’s downplaying of Russian election interference. A  homeland security official has accused the Trump administration of soft-pedaling both the Russian and white supremacist threats because they would make “the president look bad.” More...

*** Trump and the GOP want to rewrite history and downplay slavery and the treatment of Black Americans at the hands of White Americans. They stole our history when they took us from our homes and sold us into slavery, they beat us and did not allow us to read or write. Many black people have been killed simply for looking at a white person. Now they are trying to deny what was done to Black Americans by rewriting the history of all that has been done to Black Americans. ***

The president attacked a Pulitzer Prize-winning project on slavery in the US and announced his ‘patriotic education’ plan
The Guardian
Staff and agencies

Donald Trump on Thursday launched an extraordinary attack on American education at a history conference in Washington DC, downplaying America’s historic legacy of slavery and claiming children have been subjected to “decades of leftwing indoctrination”. Speaking at what was dubbed the White House Conference on American History, the president intensified efforts to appeal to his core base of white voters with a historically revisionist speech, while blasting efforts to address systemic racism as divisive. The president specifically attacked the New York Times’ 1619 Project, a Pulitzer Prize-winning endeavor that was published last year to cast a spotlight on the 400th anniversary of the first slave ship arriving in America.

The 1619 Project “warped” the American story, Trump said. The president said the project claimed the US was “founded on the principle of oppression, not freedom”. Trump said children should know “they are citizens of the most exceptional nation in the history of the world”. He also used the appearance to announce plans to establish a commission to promote patriotic education, dubbed the 1776 Commission, that would be tasked with encouraging educators to teach students “about the miracle of American history”. Critics were swift to condemn Trump’s new “patriotic education” plan and his attacks on the 1619 Project, something he said the teaching of which was akin to “child abuse”, with journalists quickly asserting his claims as blatantly false. More...

*** Trump and the GOP want to rewrite history and downplay slavery and the treatment of Black Americans at the hands of White Americans. They stole our history when they took us from our homes and sold us into slavery, they beat us and did not allow us to read or write. Many black people have been killed simply for looking at a white person. Now they are trying to deny what was done to Black Americans by rewriting the history of all that has been done to Black Americans. ***

Trump railed against the 1619 Project directed by The New York Times Magazine shortly after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos praised an alternative take on Black American history, the "1776 Unites Curriculum," promoted by notable conservatives.

President Donald Trump said he will create a commission to promote “patriotic education” and decried the “twisted web of lies” being taught in schools and the narratives in universities that “America is a wicked and racist nation.” Speaking at the White House Conference on American History on Thursday, Trump railed against "critical race theory" and the 1619 Project directed by The New York Times Magazine, calling the project "totally discredited." The 1619 Project is named after the year when the first slaves arrived in Virginia. His remarks came shortly after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at another venue praised an alternative take on Black American history, the "1776 Unites Curriculum," promoted by notable conservatives. British colonies signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Trump said his “1776 Commission," established by executive order, will encourage educators to teach children about “the miracle of American history” and make plans to honor the 250th anniversary of America’s founding. Trump also spoke about a grant awarded earlier this year by the National Endowment for the Humanities to support the development of a “pro-American curriculum that celebrates the truth about our nation’s great history.” "Critical race theory, the 1619 project, and the crusade against American history is toxic propaganda, ideological poison that if not removed will dissolve the civic bonds that tie us together," he said. "It will destroy our country. That is why I recently banned trainings in this prejudiced ideology from the federal government and banned it in the strongest manner possible." More...

By Celine Castronuovo

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two associates who worked with President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to collect information on political rivals, were charged Thursday with additional campaign finance crimes in connection with a company Parnas founded.

Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. attorney general for the Southern District of New York, wrote in a letter to District Judge J. Paul Oetken that a grand jury brought forth an indictment Thursday charging Parnas and Fruman with “soliciting a foreign national to make donations and contributions in connection with federal and state elections,” as well as for “aiding and abetting the making of donations and contributions by a foreign national in connection with federal and state elections.”

The new charges come in addition to those brought in October 2019, in which the men, along with two other associates, were charged with conspiring to violate the ban on political donations and contributions by foreign nationals. Parnas and Fruman were previously charged with “conspiring to make contributions in connection with federal elections in the names of others, and with making false statements to and falsifying records to obstruct the administration of a matter within the jurisdiction of the Federal Election Commission (“FEC”).” More...

By Zack Budryk

President Trump’s reelection campaign asked a federal judge Wednesday to prevent New Jersey elections officials from counting mail-in ballots beginning 10 days ahead of Election Day until a lawsuit is settled.

“The public interest obviously weighs in favor of enjoining the government from violating federal law,” lawyers representing the president’s campaign said in the Wednesday brief, according to the New Jersey Globe. “Confidence in the integrity of our electoral processes is essential to the functioning of our participatory democracy. Voter fraud drives honest citizens out of the democratic process and breeds distrust of our government. Voters who fear their legitimate votes will be outweighed by fraudulent ones will feel disenfranchised.”

The campaign is also seeking to bar mail-in ballots without a postmark from being accepted up to two days before Election Day, Politico reported.  The campaign sued in August after Gov. Phil Murphy (D) ordered that all active voters should be sent a mail-in ballot. Despite the lawsuit, the campaign did not file to temporarily block Murphy’s order. U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp warned last week that the case is “butting up against the election.” More...

*** Russia is once again actively interfering in our elections to elect Donald J. Trump. Trump is Russia’s man in the White House. ***

By Zachary Cohen, Geneva Sands and Alex Marquardt, CNN

Washington (CNN) FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday that Russia has been "very active" in its efforts to influence US elections, with the primary goal being to "denigrate" Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee, Wray told lawmakers that Russia is primarily interfering through "malign foreign influence in an effort to hurt Biden's campaign" -- echoing the intelligence community's public assessment on Moscow's meddling efforts issued last month. Wray's comments come as President Donald Trump and several other top administration officials have recently attempted to play up the theory that China is meddling to get Biden elected, while downplaying well-founded reports that Russia is trying to help Trump win again, like it did in 2016.

Foreign election interference efforts differ from what was observed in 2016, when there was also an effort to target election infrastructure, Wray said. "We have not seen that second part yet this year or this cycle, but we certainly have seen very active, very active efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020," he added. According to Wray, Russia is using social media, proxies, state media and online journals to sow "divisiveness and discord" and "primarily to denigrate Vice President Biden and what the Russians see as kind of an anti-Russian establishment." Intelligence officials have said they have uncovered evidence that Russia is currently interfering in the election to hurt Biden's campaign. Separately, some evidence has already emerged about Moscow's efforts, including Facebook's announcement earlier this month that a troll group that was part of Russia's attempt to interfere in the 2016 election is trying to target Americans again. More...

Steve Schmidt says “there’s nothing that frankly comes even close.”
By Ed Mazza

Longtime Republican strategist Steve Schmidt says President Donald Trump’s admission that he knowingly downplayed the coronavirus threat early in the pandemic has no other parallel in the nation’s history. “Bob Woodward induced a confession of the greatest lie in American history, bar none,” Schmidt said on MSNBC Wednesday. “There’s nothing that frankly comes even close.”

Later in the interview, he added: “It is a catastrophic leadership failure. But more than that, there’s no equivalent in the country’s history to it. It is the greatest malfeasance in the history of the United States.” Schmidt, who quit the GOP in 2018 over its support for Trump, is one of the cofounders of The Lincoln Project, a group of “never Trump” conservatives working against the president’s reelection. More...

Jemima McEvoy Forbes Staff

Gov. Steve Sisolak, D-Nev., on Wednesday wrote a scathing letter to the White House, criticizing President Trump’s “contradictory and dismissive behavior” in hosting two campaign rallies in the state this weekend which packed together thousands of attendees with little-to-no social distancing measures in clear violation of state and federal directives. “I am respectfully requesting some clarity and explanation from the [White House’s Coronavirus] Task Force for myself and the millions of Nevadans I represent,” wrote the Democratic governor in a letter addressed to Vice President Mike Pence.

Both rallies—one outside at the Minden-Tahoe Airport, the other inside at Xtreme Manufacturing in Henderson—closely packed together thousands of the president’s supporters, the majority of whom were not wearing masks, and directly violated state and federal guidance. Sisolak has limited in-person gatherings both indoors and outdoors to 50 people since May, a recommendation based on the White House’s guidelines for reopening. “You can imagine my confusion and utter disbelief over the contradictory and dismissive behavior demonstrated by the president this past weekend when he held two mass gathering events ... in direct violation of our state’s emergency directives,” said Sisolak in the Wednesday letter. Sisolak also criticized Trump before the event for “taking reckless and selfish actions that are putting countless lives in danger.” More...

By Shant Shahrigian - New York Daily News

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani painted a grim picture of NYC’s future — attacking everyone from his successor Bill de Blasio to participants in the Black Lives Matter movement — in a divisive and racially charged speech in Midtown Manhattan on Wednesday. Harkening back to when he first ran for mayor in the late 1980s, Giuliani said, “Crime was way out of control ... You couldn’t walk at night.”We’re going in that direction right now, if we’re not already there,” he added.

Cast as a speech on restoring safety to a city reeling from a surge in violent crime, the event was light on policy and heavy on personal attacks. “It’s quite clear the worst mayor in the history of New York City is the present mayor,” said Giuliani, parroting recent remarks from President Trump, for whom he works as a personal attorney. “You listen to his ideas and his vicious attack on the police,” Giuliani continued. “People wonder why the police turned their back on him. [It’s] because he ran his campaign attacking them.” More...

For a year and a half, U.S. intelligence warned that Andriy Derkach was suspected of election interference. Yet Derkach—and his wild beliefs—kept drawing more Trumpist adherents.
The Daily Beast
Erin Banco, Sam Brodey, Spencer Ackerman, Asawin Suebsaeng

At the end of an elegant dinner in May 2019 in downtown Kyiv, Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach handed a thick packet of papers to a former senior U.S. official he’d known for years. The packet was unremarkable in its presentation, the papers clipped on the top and crunched in the corners. The packet bore no insignia, title, or index page, and did little in the way of intriguing the former U.S. official. It wasn’t until months later that the official read through the pages. What was more remarkable was that U.S. intelligence had, for over a month, warned that Derkach was a stalking horse for the Russian security services and their attempts to interfere in American politics. It was the first in a series of reports, beginning in the spring of 2019, naming Derkach as part of a broader push to upend the U.S. election once again.

Despite the odd nature of the handoff, the dinner was one of the earliest known attempts by Derkach, current and former officials say, to pass materials to Americans in an attempt to push the debunked conspiracy theories that the former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter were complicit in the siphoning of millions of dollars from the Ukrainian people and that Ukraine, rather than Russia, interfered in the 2016 election. (The latter is “a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services,” according to President Donald Trump’s former point person for the region, Fiona Hill.) More...

Exclusive: Amy Dorris alleges Trump forced his tongue down her throat and groped her at 1997 US Open
by Lucy Osborne

A former model has come forward to accuse Donald Trump of sexually assaulting her at the US Open tennis tournament more than two decades ago, in an alleged incident that left her feeling “sick” and “violated”. In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Amy Dorris alleged that Trump accosted her outside the bathroom in his VIP box at the tournament in New York on 5 September 1997. Dorris, who was 24 at the time, accuses Trump of forcing his tongue down her throat, assaulting her all over her body and holding her in a grip she was unable to escape from. More...


Officers requested a "heat ray" weapon for possible use against protesters in a park next to the White House in June, a National Guard major has said. Military police allegedly asked the National Guard for the Active Denial System (ADS), which makes targets feel their skin is on fire. It happened before Lafayette Square was cleared of people protesting against the killing of black man George Floyd. The National Guard did not possess the heat ray and it was not used.

Law enforcement officers are instead believed to have used tear gas, rubber bullets and smoke grenades to clear the park on 1 June. At the time authorities said it was to tackle violent protesters who had thrown rocks at police and started fires. Reporters at the scene however said the demonstration had been peaceful. Park Police have denied using tear gas, saying that they instead fired "pepper balls" - projectiles with capsaicin, the chemical that gives peppers heat - at protesters. Shortly after officers cleared the park, US President Donald Trump walked across the street from the White House for a photo opportunity outside a church. The clearance of the protesters to make way for Mr Trump drew heavy criticism from both Democrats and Republicans, and Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser called it "shameful".

Nearly 10,000 pages of emails, memos and other private documents offer new details about the agency’s struggles and the pro-Trump figures to whom it turned for advice
By Tony Romm, Jacob Bogage and Lena H. Sun

It would be months before Louis DeJoy took the reins of the nation’s mail system, and the U.S. Postal Service already was mired in crisis. Mail carriers were revolting, fearful they had few protections against the newly emerging coronavirus. The Trump administration was bearing down on its finances, sending USPS officials scrambling over what they saw as a potential illegal takeover of agency operations. And then there was a looming standoff with Amazon, which privately signaled it could take some of its lucrative delivery business elsewhere.

The tensions surfaced at an April 9 meeting, when Amazon executives “stated their concerns” about the Postal Service’s economic plight amid the pandemic and questioned its “viability to them as a continued shipping partner,” according to a once-secret memo circulated within the agency, which described the situation as an “inflection point.” (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.) More...

By Leada Gore | lgore@al.com

President Trump took to Twitter Wednesday to call for another round of direct stimulus payments as the country looks to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic. Calling Democrats “heartless,” the president made his case for Congress coming together to pass a more robust COVID relief package. "Democrats are “heartless”. They don’t want to give STIMULUS PAYMENTS to people who desperately need the money, and whose fault it was NOT that the plague came in from China. Go for the much higher numbers, Republicans, it all comes back to the USA anyway (one way or another!)," Trump tweeted. Congress has been at an impasse over the possibilities of payments like those made in the early days of the health crisis. The previous stimulus funds – up to $2,400 for married couples plus $500 for dependent children - went to roughly 160 million Americans in March and April. more...

By Devan Cole, CNN

Washington (CNN) House Majority Whip James Clyburn on Thursday slammed Attorney General William Barr for comparing coronavirus lockdowns in the US to slavery, saying the comments are "the most ridiculous, tone-deaf, God-awful thing I've ever heard." "You know, I think that that statement by Mr. Barr was the most ridiculous, tone-deaf, God-awful thing I've ever heard," Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House and its highest ranking Black member, told CNN's John Berman on "New Day." "It is incredible that (the) chief law enforcement officer in this country would equate human bondage to expert advice to save lives. Slavery was not about saving lives, it was about devaluing lives."

Barr made the comparison during an event at Hillsdale College Wednesday after he was asked to explain the "constitutional hurdles for forbidding a church from meeting during Covid-19." "You know, putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders, is like house arrest. Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history," Barr said as a round of applause came from the crowd. More...

By Katelyn Polantz and Christina Carrega, CNN

(CNN) Attorney General William Barr suggested on Wednesday that the calls for a nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus were the "greatest intrusion on civil liberties" in history "other than slavery." The comments came minutes after he slammed the hundreds of Justice Department prosecutors working beneath him, equating them to preschoolers, in a defense of his own politically tuned decision making in the Trump administration. Addressing a Constitution Day celebration hosted by Hillsdale College, the event's host asked Barr to explain the "constitutional hurdles for forbidding a church from meeting during Covid-19."

The question lead Barr into a four-minute response where he said state governors were using their executive powers to stifle citizens and businesses from going back to work. "You know, putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders, is like house arrest. Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history," Barr said as a round of applause came from the crowd. Covid-19 has taken a measurable toll on minorities, including Black people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In recent weeks, Barr has taken a much more aggressive stance defending Trump administration policies, including suggesting voting by mail is not safe, attacking the Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and criticizing governors for their coronavirus response. More...

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump faced life outside his own political bubble on Tuesday, where his self-congratulation, buck passing and audacious falsehoods conspicuously failed to meet the moment when he was confronted by undecided voters. Trump appeared at an ABC News town hall in Philadelphia, and peppered a socially distanced audience with the rhetoric and talking points that delight his loyal base. But if his goal was to satisfy relatively small groups of voters who polls show haven't yet made up their mind, the President appeared to fall short and rarely addressed the substance of questions about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, race relations and health care.

It was an unusual moment of exposure for a leader who demands constant public praise from his subordinates. On Tuesday night, audience members granted him the respect due to his office but none of the adulation he craves. Trump was largely cordial and likely came across as strong to voters that love him. But his performance offered Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden multiple openings only two weeks before their first debate clash -- one of the last potential turning points of the White House race. First-term presidents who have spent years expecting deference from everyone they meet often get a shock in the first debate showdown with a challenger keen to get in their grill. Tuesday's event suggests the surprise may be especially acute for Trump when he faces Biden on September 29. More...

Attorney General William P. Barr was also said to have asked prosecutors to explore whether to bring charges against the mayor of Seattle for allowing a police-free protest zone.
By Katie Benner

WASHINGTON — Attorney General William P. Barr told federal prosecutors in a call last week that they should consider charging rioters and others who had committed violent crimes at protests in recent months with sedition, according to two people familiar with the call. The highly unusual suggestion to charge people with insurrection against lawful authority alarmed some on the call, which included U.S. attorneys around the country, said the people, who described Mr. Barr’s comments on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

The attorney general has also asked prosecutors in the Justice Department’s civil rights division to explore whether they could bring criminal charges against Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle for allowing some residents to establish a police-free protest zone near the city’s downtown for weeks this summer, according to two people briefed on those discussions. The directives are in keeping with Mr. Barr’s approach to prosecute crimes as aggressively as possible in cities where protests have given way to violence. But in suggesting possible prosecution of Ms. Durkan, a Democrat, Mr. Barr also took aim at an elected official whom President Trump has repeatedly attacked. More...

By Jim Acosta and Caroline Kelly, CNN

(CNN) Federal officials looked into getting a heat ray that makes targets' skin feel like it's burning and amassed thousands of rounds of ammunition in preparation for clearing a peaceful protest in Lafayette Square in June, according to written House testimony from an Army National Guard major who was at the scene. Maj. Adam DeMarco described such preparations -- including officials' failure to acquire a loud announcement device for warning protesters to disperse -- in an August letter responding to follow-up questions after he testified before the House Committee on Natural Resources in June about federal officers' efforts earlier that month. DeMarco, who described himself as one of the senior National Guard officials on the scene, ran as a Democrat for Maryland's 3rd Congressional District in 2018.

News of the contents of DeMarco's letter was first reported by NPR. In the letter, DeMarco wrote that the Defense Department's head military police officer for the National Capitol Region emailed him and others on the day of the protests asking if the DC National Guard had "a Long Range Acoustic Device," which can blast walls of sound at protesters, or "the Active Denial Systems," which feature "a directed energy beam that provides sensation of intense heat on the surface of the skin."

DeMarco wrote that he responded saying that the DC National Guard had neither device, and that to his knowledge, no such acoustic device was used at Lafayette Square. When he looked into getting the acoustic device the next day, the DC National Guard told him "that they were no longer seeking" it. Therefore, the US Park Service's "warnings to disperse" did not come from that system but from "a red and white megaphone" that DeMarco saw used, he wrote. He referenced in his in-person testimony that even 30 feet from the megaphone, the "warnings to disperse were barely audible and I was only able to discern several words" -- while the front line of the protesters was even further away from the warning. He also referenced a weapons transfer to the DC National Guard the afternoon of the protest that he later learned contained "approximately 7,000 rounds of ammunition." More...

Dina Temple-Raston

Hours before federal police officers cleared a crowded park near the White House with smoke and tear gas on June 1, the lead military police officer in the Department of Defense for the D.C. region asked if the D.C. National Guard had a kind of military heat ray that might be deployed against demonstrators in the nation's capital, according to one of the most senior National Guard officers on the scene.

In written responses to the House Committee on Natural Resources obtained by NPR, Major Adam DeMarco of the D.C. National Guard said he was copied on an email from the Provost Marshal of Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region. He was looking for two things: a long range acoustic device, a kind of sound cannon known as an LRAD, and a device called the Active Denial System, or ADS.

The ADS was developed by the military some twenty years ago as a way to disperse crowds. There have been questions about whether it worked, or should be deployed in the first place. It uses millimeter wave technology to essentially heat the skin of people targeted by its invisible ray. More...

Will Feuer

Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign official who took over as top spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year, will take a 60-day leave of absence, HHS announced Wednesday. The move comes after Caputo, who led the agency’s communications on the coronavirus pandemic, reportedly said in a now-deleted video posted Sunday on his personal Facebook page that scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were engaged in “sedition” against President Donald Trump.

In Caputo’s streamed remarks on Sunday, he said there is a “resistance unit” within the CDC, adding that scientists at the agency “haven’t gotten out of their sweatpants except for meetings at coffee shops” to plot “how they’re going to attack Donald Trump next,” The New York Times reported. When asked about Caputo’s comments on Wednesday, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said they “deeply saddened” him. HHS also announced that Paul Alexander, an advisor to Caputo who was working for the agency on a temporary basis, “will be leaving the department.” In a statement obtained by CNBC, Caputo said he will use the leave of absence “to pursue necessary screenings for a lymphatic issue discovered last week.” More...

By Daniel Dale, CNN

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump got a rare grilling at an ABC News town hall in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
He responded to a series of tough questions from Pennsylvania voters, and some more from moderator George Stephanopoulos, much like he responds to easy questions from his favorite conservative television hosts -- with a barrage of dishonesty.
Trump made at least 22 false or misleading claims over the hour-and-a-half event, according to our preliminary count.

The coronavirus pandemic
Downplaying the virus
Trump was asked why he downplayed the coronavirus. He responded, "Well, I didn't downplay it. I actually -- in many ways I up-played it in terms of action."
Facts First: This is ridiculous spin. Trump admitted to journalist Bob Woodward in a recorded March 19 interview that "I always wanted to play it down" (he claimed he did so to keep the public calm). And we didn't need Woodward's tape to know Trump had downplayed it; this was obvious even back in February and March, when Trump kept wrongly claiming that the situation was under control and that the virus was akin to the flu.

Trump's praise of China
Pressed about how he had initially said China was doing a good job handling the virus, Trump suggested he had not issued such praise: "No, I didn't say one way or the other. I'm not saying one way or the other."
Facts First: Trump repeatedly and effusively praised China and leader Xi Jinping for their handling of the virus situation earlier this year. You can read a list of examples here.

Trump said: "So I didn't say anything bad about President Xi initially, because nobody knew much about the disease. Nobody knew the seniors are susceptible."
Facts First: It's just not true nobody knew seniors were susceptible to the virus at the time of Trump's praise. Chinese officials emphasized in January that elderly people with chronic diseases were at the highest risk of serious illness. January media reports around the world talked about the risk to seniors; a January 23 report in the New York Times was headlined "Coronavirus Deaths Are So Far Mostly Older Men, Many With Previous Health Issues." Beginning in February, a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, had one of the first known outbreaks of the virus in the US. More...

CBS News

Michael Caputo, the head of communications for the Department of Health and Human Services, spoke in a Facebook video about his mental state and floated the idea that government scientists are plotting against President Trump. CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang joins CBSN with details. More...

By Jim Acosta, Kevin Bohn and Kaitlan Collins, CNN

(CNN) Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Michael Caputo on Tuesday apologized to staffers for a rant in which he accused career government scientists of "sedition" and working to undermine President Donald Trump, multiple sources familiar with the situation told CNN. Caputo -- a fierce defender of the President who was appointed to his post as assistant secretary of public affairs for HHS not long after the coronavirus pandemic began -- mentioned a series of conspiracy theories in a Sunday live video on his personal Facebook page, including that there is a "resistance unit" against Trump inside the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Caputo claimed that he thinks former Vice President Joe Biden will refuse to concede the election should Trump win, and political violence will ensue.

A source familiar with the matter said Caputo portrayed himself as a victim in his apology, but apologized for putting HHS Secretary Alex Azar in a bad light. Caputo's status at HHS is uncertain at this point and he was already treading on thin ice at the agency before the revelations about his comments on Facebook, a second source familiar with the situation said. It is unclear whether any action to move Caputo out of his current position is imminent, that source added, but discussions regarding Caputo's future are ongoing. The first source said Caputo did not bring up his future in the apology. A third source familiar with the situation said Caputo is dealing with potential health issues that could force him to step aside. Politico was first to report on Caputo's apology and The New York Times was first to report that he is considering a leave of absence.

A source close to the White House coronavirus task force said Azar has been unhappy for some time with Caputo as deputy secretary. The source close to the White House said Caputo, who is a longtime Trump political operative, was forced upon Azar and the latest controversy likely won't help his standing with the secretary. During his Sunday broadside, Caputo lambasted the CDC, baselessly claiming that scientists "deep in the bowels of the CDC have given up science and become political animals." The scientists "haven't gotten out of their sweatpants except for meetings at coffee shops" to plot "how they're going to attack Donald Trump next," Caputo added. More...

Jennifer O’Malley Dillon pointed to indoor campaign rallies Trump held this week, in direct contradiction with his administration's own virus guidelines.

Joe Biden’s campaign manager attacked President Donald Trump and his team for the packed rallies they've recently resumed, warning that "people will die" because of the acute risk of coronavirus transmission at the largely maskless events.

In a POLITICO Playbook interview, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon pointed to indoor campaign events Trump held this week, in direct contradiction with the coronavirus guidelines of his own administration. She also brought up the packed event on the South Lawn of the White House where Trump celebrated the normalization of relations between Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

O’Malley Dillon called Tuesday’s signing ceremony “another day-after-day episode showing the fact that the president of the United States is taking guidelines from medical experts about what to do in a pandemic to stay safe and help make sure your colleagues and neighbors are safe, and not executing it … at the White House.” More...

If the president’s allies are talking about the moment “shooting will begin” and “martial law,” it’s not by accident.
By Jamelle Bouie

On Sunday, Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, warned of left-wing insurrectionists and “sedition” within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during a video he hosted live on his Facebook page. After predicting victory for President Trump in the upcoming election, Caputo warned that Joe Biden wouldn’t concede. “And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin,” he said. “The drills that you’ve seen are nothing.”

Ordinarily, in a presidential election year, the main story of American politics is the election — its twists and turns, its ups and downs. This year, that story is hard to convey. Part of the reason for this is that the race itself is unremarkable, despite everything else that’s happening around it. Biden is ahead, most voters have made up their minds and Trump has a narrow path to re-election, with few opportunities to recover lost ground.

The larger, more important factor is that Trump isn’t actually running for re-election — or at least, not running in the traditional manner. He has a campaign, yes, but it is not a campaign to win votes or persuade the public outside of a few, select slivers of the electorate. Instead, it’s a campaign to hold on to power by any means necessary, using every tool available to him as president of the United States. Caputo, in that sense, is only taking cues from his boss. More...

Critics of the agreement between the three countries have said President Trump’s claims that they will produce wider peace in the Middle East are overblown.
New York Times
By Michael Crowley

WASHINGTON — Proclaiming that “there’s going to be peace in the Middle East,” President Trump hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and the foreign ministers of United Arab Emirates and Bahrain at the White House on Tuesday for the formal signing of new diplomatic accords between them. The ceremony took place on the White House’s South Lawn marking an agreement that has become a focal point of the president’s foreign policy message in the closing weeks of the 2020 presidential campaign.

Although the details remain unknown, the agreements, known as the Abraham Accords, will normalize diplomatic relations between Israel and U.A.E. and Bahrain, including the establishment of the first embassies in one another’s countries. Israel and the U.A.E. recently announced the start of the first commercial flights between them. Until now, Israel had normal relations with only two other Arab states, Jordan and Egypt. The staging of the event seemed designed to invoke the scene 25 years ago in the same location, when President Bill Clinton brokered an agreement — and iconic handshake — between Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel and the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat.

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