President Donald Trump assured supporters packed shoulder to shoulder at weekend rallies that “we’re rounding the turn” on the coronavirus and mocked challenger Joe Biden for raising alarms about the pandemic, despite surging cases around the country and more positive infections at the White House. Trump’s remarks came Saturday, hours before the White House announced that a top aide to Vice President Mike Pence had tested positive for the virus. Pence has been in close contact with the adviser, the White House said, but still planned to keep traveling and holding rallies around the country.
Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett won crucial backing Saturday when one of the last Republican holdouts against filling the seat during an election season announced support for President Donald Trump's pick ahead of a confirmation vote expected Monday. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, declared her support during a rare weekend Senate session as Republicans race to confirm Barrett before Election Day. Senators are set Sunday to push ahead, despite Democratic objections that the winner of the White House on Nov. 3 should make the choice to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Trump railed against media coverage of the coronavirus pandemic: "That's all I hear about now. Turn on the TV, 'Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid."
The conservative commentator slammed the South Carolina senator for what he feels is a lack of oversight regarding anti-conservative bias.
“I can’t do it this time," one older voter who backed the president's first run in 2016 told NBC News. "I’m just sick of all of his s---."
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump threatened to sue the Lincoln Project over billboards the anti-Trump Republican PAC put up in Times Square criticizing the couple's response to the coronavirus. In a letter, Trump family lawyer Marc Kasowitz rebuked the group for putting up a billboard of Ivanka Trump smiling and gesturing toward the coronavirus death tolls for New Yorkers and Americans — 33,000 and 221,000, respectively. The letter also mentioned a billboard of Kushner, featured next to the Trump display, in which he appears next to a quote saying, “[New Yorkers] are going to suffer and that’s their problem.” The quote comes from a September 17 Vanity Fair article. The full quote read, “Cuomo didn’t pound the phones hard enough to get PPE for his state. . . . His people are going to suffer and that’s their problem.”The magazine, however, obtained the quote from an anonymous attendee of an alleged March 21 White House meeting between Kushner and a private-sector group that had been lobbying the federal government to take control of directing PPE nationwide.The image of Trump appears to have been taken from a photo she shared of herself holding a can of Goya black beans on Twitter in July.In a tweet on Friday, the Lincoln Project shared the letter, in which Kasowitz threatens to sue the group unless it “immediately” removes the ads, saying the billboards are “false, malicious, and defamatory.”“Of course, Mr. Kushner never made any such statement, Ms. Trump never made any such gesture, and the Lincoln Project’s representations that they did are an outrageous and shameful libel,” Kasowitz wrote.“If these billboard ads are not immediately removed, we will sue you for what will doubtless be enormous compensatory and punitive damages,” he added.> Nuts! pic.twitter.com/XxxkG43z3W> > -- The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) October 24, 2020The Lincoln Project said in a statement that it would not take down the billboards, defending the ads as an accurate depiction of the couple’s “indifference” toward the pandemic. “The level of indignant outrage Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have shown towards The Lincoln Project for exposing their indifference for the more than 223,000 people who have lost their lives due to their reckless mismanagement of COVID-19 is comical,” the group said in a statement. “While we truly enjoy living rent free in their heads, their empty threats will not be taken any more seriously than we take Ivanka and Jared.”The statement continued: “It is unsurprising that an administration that has never had any regard or understanding of our Constitution would try to trample on our first amendment rights but we fully intend on making this civics lesson as painful as possible.”
North Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham is bypassing uncomfortable questions about his extramarital activities in the final days of his closely contested race with GOP Sen. Thom Tillis. Whether his strategy alters the outcome of what’s now the most expensive U.S. Senate race in history will depend on whether swing voters are set on removing Tillis — and potentially ending GOP control of the chamber — even if it means a replacement facing a sex scandal. “Clearly Cunningham made a self-inflicted wound, but the question is what are voters really going to be focused on down the stretch?” asked Thomas Mills, a longtime Democratic consultant not involved in the race.
In President Donald Trump's telling, he is a committed philanthropist with strong ties to many charities. "If you don't give back, you're never ever going to be fulfilled in life," he wrote in "Trump 101: The Way to Success," published at the height of his "Apprentice" fame.And according to his tax records, he has given back at least $130 million since 2005, his second year as a reality TV star.But the long-hidden tax records, obtained by The New York Times, show that Trump did not have to reach into his wallet for most of that giving. The vast bulk of his charitable tax deductions, $119.3 million worth, came from simply agreeing not to develop land -- in several cases, after he had shelved development plans.Three of the agreements involved what are known as conservation easements -- a maneuver, popular among wealthy Americans, that typically allows a landowner to keep a property's title and receive a tax deduction equal to its appraised value. In the fourth land deal, Trump donated property for a state park.The New York attorney general is investigating whether the appraisals on two of Trump's easement donations were improperly inflated to win larger tax breaks, according to court filings.Trump's pronouncements of philanthropic largesse have been broadly discredited by reporting, most notably in The Washington Post, that found he had exaggerated, or simply never made, an array of claimed contributions. His own charitable foundation shut down in 2018 amid allegations of self-dealing to benefit Trump, his businesses and his campaign.But the tax data examined by the Times lends new authority and far greater precision to those findings. The records, encompassing his reported philanthropic activity through 2017, reveal not only its exact dimensions; they show that much of his charity has come when he was under duress -- facing damage to his reputation or big tax bills in years of high income.Of the $7.5 million in business and personal cash contributions reported to the IRS since 2005, more than 40% -- $3.2 million -- came starting in 2015, when Trump's philanthropy fell under scrutiny after he announced his White House bid. In 2017, his first year in office, he declared $1.9 million in cash gifts. In 2014, by contrast, he contributed $81,499.And his first two land-easement donations were made in what the tax records show was a period of significant taxable income -- 2005 and 2006, prime time for his reality TV fame.The president's Trump Organization biography says he is "involved with numerous civic and charitable organizations." When he announced his campaign in 2015, he said he had given more than $102 million to charity over the previous five years.While it is possible that he chose not to report some of his giving, his tax records for 2010 to 2014 reflect far less than he claimed -- $735,238 in cash and $26.8 million in land easements and other noncash gifts. Six months into the campaign, in December 2015, another easement, valued at $21.1 million, was completed.In response to questions from the Times, Amanda Miller, a spokesperson for the Trump Organization, said: "President Trump gives money privately. It's impossible to know how much he's given over the years."The tax information analyzed by the Times includes annual totals for business and individual giving but lists only certain corporate donations.The single largest cash donation he reported for his businesses, made to his own foundation, was the $400,000 he received in 2011 for being roasted on Comedy Central. In 2014, his Virginia winery contributed a glass sculpture valued at $73,600 to a small historical society in Pennsylvania. And in 2016, another one of his companies gave $30,000 to the American Hotel & Lodging Education Foundation.Even without the details of Trump's individual giving, the Times was able to identify public philanthropic promises that appear either to have been exaggerated or to have never materialized. In each case, the size of his pledge exceeded what he told the IRS he had given in a particular year.In 2009, for example, he agreed to rent his Seven Springs estate in Westchester County, New York, to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who hoped to stay in a tent on the grounds during a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.Though the plans fell apart when local residents objected, Gadhafi made a payment of $150,000, which Trump told CNN in 2011 he had given to charity. His 2009 tax returns, however, reported only $22,796 in business and personal cash gifts.In 2015, Trump promised to donate the earnings from his book "Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again.''"The profits of my book? I am giving them away to a lot of different -- including the vets," he said at a news conference.The tax records show that Waxman Leavell Literary Agency, which represented Trump's book, made two payments to him in 2015 and 2016, totaling roughly $4.5 million. In those years, Trump reported giving a total of $1.3 million in cash to charity.Many wealthy individuals create their own foundations, often as a way to have greater control over their philanthropy. While Trump's foundation, started in 1988, gave millions to charity before shutting down in 2018, most of it was other people's money. Trump himself donated $5.4 million to the foundation, with the last contribution in 2008, according to the organization's tax filings.The majority of the president's philanthropy, though, has consisted of his four land deals with conservation groups or the government.His first easement donation, which yielded a tax deduction of $39.1 million in 2005, involved a parcel of land at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.The next year, he donated 436 acres of land for a state park in Westchester and Putnam counties in New York after development plans ran up against tough regulatory restrictions. While the precise value of the easement is not clear, he reported noncash charitable contributions of $34 million that year.Trump had bought the property in the 1990s for $2 million, according to numerous published reports. Today it is overgrown and has few facilities or visitors.The two most recent easement deductions are being examined by the New York attorney general, Letitia James, part of a broader investigation into whether the Trump Organization inflated the value of assets to get loans and tax benefits.In 2014, after abandoning plans to develop an 11.5-acre property being used as a driving range at his Los Angeles golf club, Trump received a $25.1 million tax deduction for an easement agreement with a land conservancy. Few details of the inquiry into the deal have emerged.Court papers shed more light on the other easement under investigation.In late 2015, Trump got a $21.1 million tax break for 158.6 acres of land at the Seven Springs estate, after years of unsuccessful attempts to build a golf course on it.The attorney general's court filing says that after Trump abandoned plans to develop Seven Springs, he asked Sheri Dillon, a tax lawyer at Morgan Lewis who had advised him in the past, to have the land appraised.Dillon told Cushman & Wakefield, the firm that did the appraisal, that "the client blew up at her," and she leaned on the appraisers to take steps that would push the value up, according to the court filing.Several weeks ago, after months of delays, Trump's son Eric gave a deposition in the case.Trump has denied any wrongdoing. "President Trump was not involved in the appraisals mentioned, which were done by the most respected appraisal and brokerage company in the country," said Miller, the Trump Organization spokesperson.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company
All the money in the world is not likely to influence the outcome of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's reelection bid in November.But that has not stopped people from trying: The contest has improbably become the second most expensive House race in the country.Money has been pouring in from all sides. Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has raised $17.3 million, much of it from small donors attracted to her star power, progressive policies and outsize social media presence.Her Republican challenger, John Cummings, a 60-year-old former schoolteacher at St. Raymond High School for Boys in the Bronx and a former officer for the New York Police Department, has collected $9.6 million in his first bid for office.His campaign war chest exceeds all but a dozen or so House incumbents. He has a donor list any fundraiser would envy. And over the last three-month reporting period, Cummings actually took in more money than Ocasio-Cortez, raising $5.5 million to her roughly $4 million.The contest is such a magnet for money that even Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a former CNBC anchor who lost to Ocasio-Cortez in the Democratic primary but will be on the ballot representing the Serve America Movement, has raised $2.4 million and lent her campaign another $1 million.The torrent of donations is the latest example of how Ocasio-Cortez, 31, has become a draw for Republican candidates to seek donors based off resentment of her."I guarantee you 75% of his contributors don't know anything about him," Tom Doherty, a Republican strategist, said of Cummings. "I don't know anything about him except that he's running against AOC. The people that are interested in that race financially are giving because it's AOC."The big-money contest is also a reflection of how a spotlight race can fuel millions of dollars to favored political strategists and causes, sometimes far removed from the actual candidates.Cummings has made heavy digital and cable advertising buys, blanketing his district, which covers parts of Queens and the Bronx, and even some areas outside it. He has hired consultants like Lincoln Strategy Group, an Arizona-based firm whose founder, Nathan Sproul, a longtime Republican operative, has faced fraud accusations over the years.Cummings has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on mailers, hiring Big Dog Strategies, whose clients include the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC dedicated to helping Republicans win a majority in the House, and America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC.He has also hired Smart Media Group, a Virginia firm that works closely with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, to handle multiple six-figure media ad buys and placements.The campaign spent $560,000 on Facebook ads over the last three months, according to Facebook's ad library, a public database of all ads on its platform. An overwhelming majority of the campaign's contributors are from outside of New York."Long term, this race doesn't help you build the party that I think we need," Doherty said. "That's not a race that we're going to win, but that's where we are at in American politics today."Ocasio-Cortez has also spent heavily on Facebook ads, buying $1.6 million worth in the last 90 days. Part of the ad buy is geared toward building her own small-donor network to avoid having to rely on Facebook, which Ocasio-Cortez has criticized for not fact-checking political advertisements, according to her campaign.She has also spent campaign funds to support an effort to get New Yorkers to fill out the census and to distribute meals to New Yorkers struggling financially because of the pandemic. One digital advertisement Ocasio-Cortez ran about census participation in September had 2.1 million views."We ensure that our fundraising yields real investments into the community beyond transactional politicking," said Lauren Hitt, a spokeswoman for Ocasio-Cortez.Just in the last two weeks, Cummings' campaign has spent more than $2.4 million, while Ocasio-Cortez's campaign spent $614,000.Cummings has used his ads to introduce himself to voters as someone who has lived and worked in the Bronx for decades, suggesting that Ocasio-Cortez was an outsider who attended schools in Westchester County. He criticized her for opposing Amazon locating a second headquarters in Queens.Cummings is trying to appeal to moderate Democrats, whom he calls "Joe Crowley Democrats," a reference to the former high-ranking Democratic leader whom Ocasio-Cortez defeated in an upset primary victory in 2018."She has done an unbelievable job of creating a national persona for herself but has neglected the district," Cummings said in an interview.Chapin D. Fay, Cummings' campaign manager, acknowledged that an upset was still unlikely, given the district's overwhelmingly Democratic composition, but he suggested that his candidate's fundraising totals underscored how polarizing Ocasio-Cortez is among voters."I just sensed that national fundraising against someone like AOC would be successful," Fay said. "I can't take credit for knowing it was going to be this successful, but we knew he would be able to put a few bucks together to run a race."Fay, who previously served as the press secretary and director of public affairs for Gov. George E. Pataki, has also benefited from the flow of donations. Lighthouse Public Affairs, a company founded by Fay, collected tens of thousands of dollars for managing the campaign and handling local media buys.Cummings, who said he supports President Donald Trump and defended his much criticized response to the coronavirus pandemic, has not focused on the president, who is deeply unpopular in his hometown.He said he plans to continue meeting voters on the street until Election Day because he believes there may be a local undercurrent of dissatisfaction with Ocasio-Cortez."They dislike her, they dislike what the hard left stands for and they appreciate what I'm doing," he said. "If we close strong, I think we can pull this race off."Cummings said he has requested a debate but does not expect his opponent to agree to one. Ocasio-Cortez's campaign said it had received one last-minute debate invitation from a "third party moderator," but she was committed elsewhere."To be fair," Cummings said, "no one wants to debate a high school civics teacher."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company
A major alliance of construction unions on Friday will endorse Joe Biden, giving the Democrat a boost from a crucial bloc of blue-collar voters in the final days of his campaign against President Donald Trump. The coalition has not yet publicly announced the endorsement. Trump had also courted the union's support, according to a person familiar with the matter, but the group was disappointed by the lack of further coronavirus relief that would also advance union policy goals.
Thanks to the hidden support from voters who are embarrassed to admit they will vote for Donald Trump, the president will be narrowly reelected on Nov. 3, says one of the few pollsters who correctly predicted his 2016 victory.
The U.S. State Department has suspended all training programs for employees related to diversity and inclusion, an internal cable obtained by Reuters showed, after President Donald Trump directed federal agencies last month to end programs deemed divisive by the White House. "Beginning Friday, October 23, 2020, the Department is temporarily pausing all training programs related to diversity and inclusion in accordance with Executive Order ... on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping," the cable said. "The pause will allow time for the Department and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to review program content," it said.
Barrett previously recused herself from cases because her father worked for Shell but has failed to commit to doing so in futureAmy Coney Barrett is poised to make critical rulings on whether oil and gas companies will be held accountable for the effects of the climate crisis once she is confirmed to the supreme court, even though she has acknowledged in the past that she has a conflict of interest in cases involving Royal Dutch Shell.As an appellate court judge, Barrett – who is expected to be confirmed to the supreme court on Monday – recused herself from cases involving four Shell entities because her father worked at Shell Oil Company as a lawyer.Industry experts and lawyers have expressed concern – and doubt – whether Barrett would recuse herself from the cases again once she joins the court, in part because there are no rules for supreme court justices that would force her to do so.Pressed on the matter in written questions bySenator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, Barrett would not commit to recusing herself from cases in the future.“The question of recusal is a threshold question of law that must be addressed in the context of the facts of each case,” she wrote. “As Justice Ginsburg described the process that supreme court justices go through in deciding whether to recuse, it involves reading the statute, reviewing precedents, and consulting with colleagues. As a sitting judge and as a judicial nominee, it would not be appropriate for me to offer an opinion on abstract legal issues or hypotheticals.”Barrett has not recused herself in the past from cases involving the oil industry’s most powerful lobby group, the American Petroleum Institute, even though her father was an “active member” of the group’s subcommittee of exploration and production law as recently as 2016, and twice served as its chairman.Environmentalists have already expressed alarm at Barrett’s handling of environment-related questions at her confirmation hearing, in which she refused to accept science that shows humans are dangerously heating the planet and said she could not opine on the issue of climate change because it was a “very contentious matter of public debate”. She separately stated that she did not hold “firm views” on climate change.Her views are behind even most mainstream Republicans, many of whom have stopped denying climate change and instead begun to downplay its impacts or suggest that a free market and new technology will be enough to fix the problem.In the very likely event that she is confirmed, Barrett’s decision about whether she will recuse herself from cases involving Shell given her conflict will be known relatively soon because the supreme court recently agreed to hear a case in which the city of Baltimore is suing major oil companies, including Shell, for damages related to the climate crisis.“Judge Barrett’s evasions last week and in responses to our questions for the record may be what Senate Republicans needed to jam this nominee through for their big donors, but that’s no good for a court that must be seen as giving every litigant a fair proceeding and impartial ruling,” said Whitehouse. “As the Senate rushes headlong to get her confirmation done before the election, we are left to wonder whether she will recuse herself in matters involving Shell subsidiaries, or the American Petroleum Institute, once in a court with no code of ethics; particularly where her evasions on climate change aligned with industry propaganda.”At the heart of the Baltimore case – whose outcome will probably influence similar legal challenges in a dozen other lawsuits across the country – is the question of whether cities and states can seek damages through state laws for harms due to the climate crisis, which they blame on the companies.According to Scotusblog, the case before the supreme court is centered on a narrow and technical procedural matter about federal law. But the handling of the case by Barrett will nevertheless be closely watched, in part because another conservative justice, Justice Samuel Alito, recused himself from the case.Of 16 lawsuits from state and local governments who want the courts to hold oil and gas companies accountable for the effects of the climate crisis, 13 name Shell.Jean Su, energy justice director and attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said if Barrett does not recuse herself on cases involving the company “it is a true reflection of the unraveling of the ethics of that court.”“If you now have the supreme judicial branch and judges who completely flout pretty cut and dry ethical rules, you are discrediting the judiciary very heavily,” Su said. “It’ll be a sign that the highest court in the land is political.”Helen Kang, a law professor and director of the Environmental Law and Justice Clinic at Golden Gate University School of Law, said that if Barrett has recused herself previously “unless there has been a change of circumstances, it appears that she should recuse herself”.
NEWTON, Iowa -- As Iowa set a record for patients hospitalized with COVID-19, Gov. Kim Reynolds appeared at an indoor fundraiser for the Republican Party this week, just days after joining President Donald Trump at one of his huge rallies in Des Moines, where she tossed hats to the clamorous crowd.At neither event were social distancing or face masks high priorities. The rally last week defied guidelines by the White House's own health experts that crowds in central Iowa be limited to 25.Iowa's governor is not on the ballot next month. But her defiant attitude toward the advice of health experts on how to fight the coronavirus outbreak, as her state sees a grim tide of new cases and deaths, may be dragging down fellow Republicans who are running, including Trump and Sen. Joni Ernst.Reynolds, the first woman to lead Iowa, is an avatar of the president's approach to the pandemic, refusing to issue mandates and flouting the guidance of infectious disease experts, who say that universal masking and social distancing are essential to limiting the virus's spread. Defying that advice has eroded support for both Trump and Reynolds in Iowa, especially among voters over 65, normally a solid Republican constituency, according to public and private polls."Our older Iowans -- many have not been able to leave their homes because they do not feel safe," said Rep. Cindy Axne, a first-term Democrat who represents Des Moines and southwest Iowa. "If you go into a grocery store, the large majority of people are not wearing masks."Axne added that disappointment with the governor's handling of the virus was lifting Democrats like her who are on the ballot this year. "Voters know we're standing up to keep their families safe," she said.A Monmouth University poll Thursday showed Democrats are leading in three of Iowa's four congressional races, with even the fourth, in deeply conservative Northwest Iowa, unexpectedly tight.Rick Flanagan, a 61-year-old voter from Newton who had planned to vote for Ernst in the Senate race, recalled the moment he changed his mind in favor of her Democratic opponent.It was "when Ernst said she didn't believe the deaths and the science from COVID," Flanagan said, referring to remarks by Ernst echoing a conspiracy theory that coronavirus deaths were being inflated and that medical professionals had a financial incentive to do so."That sealed it for me, and honestly, it soured me on Republicans," Flanagan said. Ernst walked back her remarks and apologized to health care workers.David Kochel, a former senior adviser to Reynolds, dismissed as "ridiculous" the idea that any Republican-leaning voters were defecting to Democratic candidates over the governor's handling of the coronavirus. He said that in races this year, Iowa was reverting to its status as a swing state."The polls in 2020 are almost identical to the polls in 2018" before the pandemic, he said. "Iowa has very bright partisan lines."Iowa is part of a third surge of coronavirus infections nationally that is hitting the Midwest with particular ferocity. The state ranks among the top 10 nationally with the highest number of new cases per capita in the past week, according to New York Times tracking.Reynolds has called mask mandates "feel-good" actions and refused to issue a statewide directive, unlike Republican governors in such states as Texas and Ohio. At the same time, she has blocked municipalities from enforcing their own mask edicts. Iowa was one of only a few states that never imposed a full stay-at-home order, and it let restaurants, bars and hair salons reopen earlier than most places. Still, the hospitality and retail sectors are struggling because consumers have not fully returned.Through a spokesperson, Reynolds declined an interview request.Pressed in September if she would consider a mask mandate as cases began to rise again, Reynolds said, "Nope, not going to happen." She said she trusted Iowans, armed with data about the virus, to make their own decisions.After the Trump rally, where thousands filled close-set rows of chairs and bleachers at a Des Moines airport hangar, Reynolds told reporters that an emergency order she issued requiring social distancing in public "was never meant to prohibit First Amendment rights to allow people to gather."Rob Hogg, a Democratic state senator from Cedar Rapids whose Twitter account reports daily coronavirus case totals for Iowa counties, said the governor's appearance at the rally "looked terrible.""I believe many more Iowans will be voting on coronavirus against Republicans," he predicted.Trump and Ernst -- whose seat could play a decisive role in determining control of the Senate -- are both in tight races in a state that Trump easily won four years ago. This week, Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball, a nonpartisan handicapper, assessed Ernst's race as leaning toward her Democratic opponent, Theresa Greenfield. More than $100 million has been spent on the race by outside groups, about equally for each candidate.In a New York Times/Siena College poll of Iowa this week, former Vice President Joe Biden narrowly led Trump with likely voters, 46% to 43%, while Ernst had a 1-point edge over Greenfield, 45 to 44.A Republican strategist who works in Iowa and other states said Trump's mishandling of the virus had put many GOP officials at risk. "I do not want to understate the extent to which Trump is the driver here," said the strategist, speaking on the condition that he not be named to protect his clients. "You have the worst of both worlds: Trump refuses to take ownership, punts to governors, but then makes very clear through words and actions what he considers to be acceptable."Monmouth's latest poll of the state found that more than 3 in 5 voters 65 and older were worried a lot about the coronavirus outbreak. Other polls have found that support for Reynolds' handling of the virus declined sharply over the summer, as the number of new cases nearly doubled to about 1,000 a day.The latest state data show hospitalizations at a record high and daily deaths reaching levels not seen since May. On Wednesday, 31 more deaths had been recorded over 24 hours and 534 Iowans were hospitalized with COVID-19, continuing a surge that began in early October.A survey by The Des Moines Register and Mediacom in September showed a plurality of Iowans, 47%, disapproved of Reynolds' handling of the pandemic, 15 percentage points worse than the number who disapproved in June. For the first time since Reynolds, 61, became governor in 2017, more Iowans said the state was on the wrong track than headed in the right direction, according to the poll.The virus hit Iowa later than other states because the large rural population slowed community spread. In Jasper County east of Des Moines, a mostly rural area with a relatively low infection rate, many shoppers at a Walmart this week chose not to wear a mask, rejecting the greeter who offered them a free covering.One who did wear a mask, David Richardson, said he was considering voting for a third-party candidate for president because he was put off by both Trump and Biden. The coronavirus "hasn't really affected anything for me," said Richardson, who is 36.A Trump supporter, Sarah Farrand, said the virus ranked behind other political concerns, such as nominating judges who oppose abortion."Maybe it's because we live in small-town America, but the virus hasn't really affected us," said Farrand, 42. "We can't explore or have the freedom that we used to, but other than that, we're pretty good."Even so, she has embraced wearing a mask. "The mask was the biggest change in my life," she said.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company
WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump has never been known for making apologies or displaying regret, but when his policy of separating children from their families at the southwestern border arose during his debate with former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday, he had a ready deflection for the "kids in cages" accusation.It was Biden's fault."They said, 'Look at these cages; President Trump built them,' " Trump said. "And then it was determined they were built in 2014. That was him."Trump is correct that the Obama administration expanded the number of border facilities with chain-linked enclosures in 2014, but the journey from their construction to contend with a surge of Central American children crossing the border to Trump's "zero tolerance" policy that led to the separation of thousands of families was not captured by the president's evasions. Nor is it explained by the "kids in cages" catchphrase often hurled by Trump's opponents."It is one of the definitive phrases, but I don't think sloganeering will ever bring you closer to why this disaster happened in the first place," Cristobal Ramon, a senior policy analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said of the "kids in cages" catchall. "You have to get beyond slogans."The Obama administration separated children from adults at the border only in cases in which there was a doubt about the familial relationship between a child and an accompanying adult or if the adult had a serious criminal record.Trump's "zero tolerance" policy was a deliberate act of family separation, meant to deter migrants from trying to enter the United States. It directed prosecutors to file criminal charges against everyone who crossed the border without authorization, including parents, who were then separated from their children when they were taken into custody.That policy was ended amid international outcry, but its repercussions remain. Court documents filed this week showed 545 children still have not been reunited with their parents after the Trump administration resisted sharing information with a court-appointed committee of lawyers and advocacy groups tasked with finding their guardians.But as with many of Trump's prevarications, there was a nugget of truth to his assertions Thursday night. The holding of migrant children in chain-linked enclosures predated his administration.Traditionally, migrants who crossed the border initially were held by the Border Patrol in stations designed for the short-term stay of a specific population: single Mexican adults who could be quickly returned to Mexico. In 2014, the demographic at the border shifted dramatically, to Central American families and unaccompanied children who surrendered to agents with the hope of obtaining protection in the United States.A law designed to protect migrant children, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, prevented the U.S. government from rapidly turning away such families because they had not traveled from a neighboring country. The families, who fled poverty, torture and persecution, were instead packed into the stations, prompting agents to cram some into adjacent concrete sally ports -- essentially large garages -- in the sweltering heat."I went back to Washington and said you have a humanitarian disaster in front of you," said Gil Kerlikowske, a former commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, recalling his message to the Obama administration after a visit to the facilities in 2014.The Obama administration then converted a warehouse in McAllen, Texas, into a facility that could hold more than 1,000 detainees. That facility, with chain fencing installed to separate adult men from mothers and children, would later be known as the Central Processing Center."They stood up what we thought would be a temporary structure" that would be better for families and children, said Ronald D. Vitiello, former deputy chief of the Border Patrol in the Obama administration and a former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement under Trump. "In a nontechnical sense, are those cages? I guess you could call them that."The design, he said, was to "be open so you can see from one side of the facility to the other to protect people in it."But expediency led to cruelty. Trump claimed Thursday that the migrants were "so well taken care of," but in reality, his own policies fueled overcrowding in the holding facilities.After drawing widespread condemnation from lawmakers in both parties, immigration activists and the United Nations, Trump signed an executive order in June 2018 that largely ended the policy of family separation.But the president's anti-immigration messaging helped fuel another surge of Central American families seeking refuge at the border in 2019. Smugglers purchased radio spots warning families that there was a brief window to go to the United States before the next crackdown.After they are processed in a Border Patrol facility, migrant children traveling alone are supposed to be transferred to a shelter managed by the Health and Human Services Department, where many are subsequently released to a relative sponsor.But Trump deterred many sponsors from claiming those children by requiring they provide fingerprints and other personal information that some feared would later be used to find and deport them. With spaces limited in those shelters as well as longer-term detention facilities managed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the holding cells along the border were once again crammed with children lacking proper hygienic resources and exposed to disease. They were held in the border cells for weeks, even though the government is supposed to transfer them to shelters within 72 hours."There was the front-end policy of separating children through zero tolerance," Ramon said. "There was the back-end policy of requiring fingerprints to get children out of detention."That's where you create this backlog of children in facilities that weren't designed for them," he added.The detention facilities are not as relevant now -- but not because migration has halted. Instead, through its "Remain in Mexico" policies, the Trump administration has forced tens of thousands of asylum-seekers to wait on the other side of the border for court hearings, creating squalid refugee camps in some of Mexico's more dangerous areas.The administration has also cited the coronavirus in using a public health emergency rule to rapidly return migrants, including children traveling alone, back to Mexico or their home country.At the debate Thursday, Trump hurled his "They built the cages" accusation at Biden repeatedly, so often that it was difficult for Biden to answer. But the former vice president did manage to say that parents had their children "ripped from their arms and separated, and now they cannot find over 500 sets of those parents and those kids are alone, nowhere to go, nowhere to go.""It's criminal," Biden added.Lee Gelernt, the primary lawyer challenging the family separation policy, said Trump was trying "to switch the debate" away from a policy that was exclusive to his administration."The fact is no other administration, Democrat or Republican, has ever systematically separated children," Gelernt said. "The Trump administration's actions to systematically separate children is unprecedented, and what made that much more horrific is that there was no age limit. Even babies and toddlers were separated."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company
The GOP anti-Trump group threatens to make its response -- a "civics lesson" on First Amendment rights -- as "painful as possible."
After weeks of wavering, the national Republican party has formally thrown its support behind Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia Republican House candidate who is openly supportive of QAnon.The National Republican Congressional Committee donated $5,000 to Greene’s congressional campaign on September 25, according to campaign finance records—the maximum amount the committee can donate.The donation formalizes the GOP’s acceptance of Greene’s candidacy after top officials in the party had signaled hesitancy in backing her. Greene has not shied away from expressing her support for QAnon, a conspiracy theory that holds that President Donald Trump is engaged in a covert war against a pedophile-obsessive “cabal” that’s being fostered by the Democratic Party and other prominent cultural institutions. She has also pushed a variety of inflammatory conspiracies on various platforms, suggesting that blacks are “slaves” to the Democratic Party, that George Soros is actually a Nazi, and that Muslims do not belong in government.After POLITICO surfaced past incendiary remarks, top House Republicans sought to distance themselves from Greene.“These comments are appalling, and Leader McCarthy has no tolerance for them,” said Drew Florio, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).In late August, the chair of the NRCC, Tom Emmer, declined to commit to financially supporting Greene’s campaign, telling The Hill in an interview: “The conversations that we’ve had basically are congratulations and let us know how we can be of assistance.”But other GOP leaders have embraced Greene. President Donald Trump congratulated her on Twitter and, more recently, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) touted Greene’s endorsement of her own candidacy.The NRCC did not immediately return a request for comment.Greene won a Republican primary run-off in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District and is all but guaranteed to be elected to the House in November. She is running in a conservative district and in mid-September her Democratic opponent in the race dropped out.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
In one of its last episodes before the 2020 election this weekend, Saturday Night Live presented what, at first, seemed as though it might be a straight-up campaign ad for Joe Biden.“Everyone knows this could be the most important election in our nation's history. And the two choices couldn’t be more different,” the ad began. It back and forth between a group of “regular voters” who asked questions like, “Do we want four more years of Donald Trump or a fresh start with Joe Biden?” and “Can we survive four more years of scandal, name calling and racial division or do we want a leader who unites the country?”Then things started to take a turn. “I want to vote for Biden because he’s better, smarter, better and better,” Pete Davidson said. “But I’m worried.”Their big concern? If Donald Trump’s not president anymore, “then what are we going to talk about?”“Every single day I tell someone, ‘Can you believe what Trump just said?’” one shared. Another added, “My entire personality is hating Donald Trump. If he’s gone, what am I supposed to do? Focus on my kids again? No thanks.”“Sure, he’s historically bad for the country, but he’s given us so much,” they continued. “Injecting bleach in our blood. Openly calling African nations shitholes. Kids in cages wasn’t even a phrase before Trump!”SNL’s Rudy Giuliani Gets Caught Pulling a ‘Borat’ During Final DebateCollectively, they were “worried,” not just about the outcome of the election or the “future of democracy or whatever,” but mostly that their “favorite villain” will be gone.Then came the inevitable realization. “And then I remembered, even if he loses, Trump isn’t going away,” they said. “If anything, he’s going to get more vocal. And angrier. And crazier. And with all his crimes, there’s bound to be a trial at some point. And maybe Trump will represent himself in court!”Things only went too far when Beck Bennett suggested that “maybe Donald and Ivanka will run together in 2024.” As terrible as that would be, Davidson added, “It would be hilarious though.”The ad, “paid for by Trump Addicts of America,” was a joke. But it did seem to reveal a bit of truth about why at least some people will be pulling the level for the incumbent president this year.For more comedy, listen and subscribe to The Last Laugh podcast.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
Biden and Trump are currently neck-and-neck in the polls in Georgia, a state that hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992.
President Donald Trump flirted with the possibility of an authoritarian power grab yet again Saturday, suggesting to supporters at a campaign rally that he may not commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the presidential election.Speaking in Circleville, Ohio, the commander in chief pondered why he should ensure a peaceful transition when he said the previous administration treated him so unfairly: “They ask me, ‘If you lose, will there be a friendly transition?’ Well, when I won, did they give me a friendly transition? They spied on my campaign, they did all this stuff. That was not a friendly transition.”> Trump is still teasing that if he loses, he might not acquiesce to a peaceful transition of power pic.twitter.com/tdIA1kXdzB> > — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 24, 2020Trump has deflected the question before when asked by reporters, saying, “We’ll see what happens.” But he has not made the case for defying a transfer of power directly to supporters before. Vice President Mike Pence has joined the president in refusing to answer the question, dodging it at the vice presidential debate last week.Former President Barack Obama’s administration offered assistance to Trump and his transition team in taking up residence in the White House after the 2016 election, as has been the norm for past presidencies. The two met in January 2017 to discuss the changeover.Former Vice President Joe Biden, who assisted with the transition to Trump from the Obama administration, reacted with apparent exasperation last month when Trump first refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses: “What country are we in? Look, he says the most irrational things. I don’t know what to say.”In the same Ohio speech on Saturday, Trump complained extensively about television coverage, both his own now infamous 60 Minutes interview and what he said was an overemphasis on COVID-19 coverage. Trump walked out of his recent Q&A with correspondent Lesley Stahl but later posted the entire interview to his Facebook page.“This 60 Minutes, she asked me a question. I printed out the whole interview, I said, put it down. She said to me, ‘Why are you begging suburban women?’ You said, ‘Please love me, suburban women!’ No, I didn’t say that. I said, ‘Love me, suburban woman, because I’ve saved the suburbs,’” he said.He also mocked those who take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously and appeared to suggest it was all part of an electoral conspiracy against him, saying, “That’s all I hear about now. Turn on TV, ‘Covid, Covid, Covid Covid Covid.’ A plane goes down, 500 people dead, they don’t talk about it. ‘Covid Covid Covid Covid.’ By the way, on November 4th, you won’t hear about it anymore ... ‘Please don’t go and vote, Covid!’”The new coronavirus has killed more than 220,000 Americans this year and infected more than eight million.Obama, speaking in Miami earlier in the day, blasted Trump for trying to appear “tough.”“He thinks scowling or being mean is tough, and being rude is tough, but when 60 Minutes and Lesley Stahl is too tough for you, you ain't all that tough,” he said. “Miami, listen, if he can’t answer a tough question like what would you like to do in your second term, then it’s our job to make sure he doesn’t get a second term.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
"Look, I'm running against Donald Trump, not his children," Biden said in an interview with "Pod Save America."
Biden pledged that he will avoid the partisan blaming of Donald Trump, even as Trump supporters heckled him at an event in Pennsylvania on Saturday.
A viral Facebook video claiming Joe Biden said he was running for Senate has been altered and leaves out key words. We rate it missing context.
One of two Republican U.S. senators who had opposed the pre-election confirmation of President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, said on Saturday she would nevertheless vote to confirm Barrett. Speaking on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska reiterated her opposition to the rushed confirmation process, which will culminate in a final vote on Monday, just over a week from Election Day. Murkowski's support helps cement the near certainty that Barrett will take up a lifetime appointment on the bench over universal Democratic opposition.
“Many are longtime Republicans wrestling with what they see as a choice between two lousy candidates.”
“Some undecideds turn out to be people who’ve long felt alienated from the two big political parties.”
“They’re not following the 24-hour news cycle. The election and politics are just not a high priority.”
“One common trait: at this stage of the game, the undecided voter doesn’t fit into an easy political profile.”
“More realistically...these voters may not be motivated to vote at all in the 2020 election.”