Trump Administration, Week 193: Friday, 25 September – Thursday, 1 October 2020 (Days 1,344-1,350)

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are usually my emphasis, though not always. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently during the day. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.


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Friday, 25 September 2020, Day 1,344:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 25 September 2020: Under 10 Percent of Americans Have Covid-19 Antibodies, Study Finds, The New York Times, Friday, 25 September 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Friday, 25 September 2020: World Health Organization (WHO) warns 2 million deaths ‘not impossible’ as global fatalities approach 1 million, The Washington Post, Miriam Berger, Meryl Kornfield, Paulina Villegas, Brittany Shammas, Hannah Denham, Hannah Knowles, and Darren Sands, Friday, 25 September 2020: “With the world fast approaching 1 million deaths officially related to covid-19, a doubling of that number is ‘certainly unimaginable, but it’s not impossible,’ World Health Organization expert Mike Ryan said Friday at a news briefing. ‘If we look at losing 1 million people in nine months and then we just look at the realities of getting vaccines out there in the next nine months, it’s a big task for everyone involved,’ Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s health emergencies program, said.

Here are some of the significant developments included in this article:

Trump and the White House demand the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) justify tough standards for coronavirus vaccine, raising concerns of political interference, The Washington Post, Laurie McGinley, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 25 September 2020: “On the same day President Trump blasted the Food and Drug Administration’s plan for tougher standards for a coronavirus vaccine as a ‘political move,’ a top White House aide demanded detailed justifications from the agency in what some fear is an attempt to thwart or block the standards designed to boost public trust in a vaccine. The White House’s involvement appears to go beyond the perfunctory review that agency officials had expected, and is likely to reinforce public concerns that a vaccine may be rushed to benefit the president’s reelection campaign. Polls show that the number of people who say they’re willing to take a coronavirus vaccine if it were available today has nosedived from 72 percent in May to 50 percent as of early this month, according to Pew Research Center, largely because of concerns that politics, rather than science, is driving the process.”

Continue reading Week 193, Friday, 25 September – Thursday, 1 October 2020 (Days 1,344-1,350)

Making History, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Is Honored at a Capitol Divided Over Replacing Her. Justice Ginsburg lay in state in Statuary Hall in a ceremony choreographed to allow the women in Congress to honor her legacy and the example she set. The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Emily Cochrane, Friday, 25 September 2020: “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who won trailblazing legal victories for women’s rights before ascending to the nation’s highest court, broke her final barriers on Friday, becoming the first woman and the first Jewish American to lie in state in the United States Capitol. In a ceremony choreographed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to give the women of Congress a leading role, Justice Ginsburg was eulogized as a persistent warrior for justice whose example had inspired generations of women and girls. Members of Congress, top military commanders and the Democratic presidential nominee all came to pay their respects on the final day of public mourning for the justice — as did her beloved trainer, who dropped to the floor of the National Statuary Hall to salute her with three push-ups before her flag-draped coffin. ‘Justice did not arrive like a lightning bolt, but rather through dogged persistence, all the days of her life,’ said Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt of Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, the only person to give remarks during the brief ceremony. ‘Real change, she said, enduring change, happens one step at a time.’ The tribute took place inside a Capitol deeply divided over replacing Justice Ginsburg so close to the presidential election. Its somber tone was a stark contrast to the partisan acrimony that promised to consume Washington in the coming days, as President Trump on Friday evening chose a conservative successor to the liberal icon and Republicans raced to confirm a person who would tip the Supreme Court decisively to the right. Even amid the gestures of respect, the political divide was on display as lawmakers honored Justice Ginsburg, who died last Friday at 87. The top Republican congressional leaders, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, were absent from the ceremony, and only a few of the party’s lawmakers came to pay their respects afterward.”

Trump intends to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, CNN Politics, Jamie Gangel and Pamela Brown, Friday, 25 September 2020: “Trump intends to choose Amy Coney Barrett to be the new Supreme Court justice, according to multiple senior Republican sources with knowledge of the process. In conversations with some senior Republican allies on the Hill, the White House is indicating that Barrett, a federal appellate judge and Notre Dame law professor, is the intended nominee, multiple sources said. All sources cautioned that until it is announced by the President, there is always the possibility that Trump makes a last-minute change but the expectation is Barrett is the choice. He is scheduled to make the announcement on Saturday afternoon. A former law clerk to the late right-wing beacon Justice Antonin Scalia, Barrett would tilt the balance of power on the court further to the right, possibly ahead of a consequential case on health care to be argued the week after Election Day. If her Senate confirmation is successful before the November election, the appointment would mark Trump’s third Supreme Court pick in one presidential term, cementing a conservative stronghold in the court for a generation.” See also, Trump Selects Amy Coney Barrett to Fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Seat on the Supreme Court, The New York Times, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 25 September 2020: “President Trump has selected Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the favorite candidate of conservatives, to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and will try to force Senate confirmation before Election Day in a move that would significantly alter the ideological makeup of the Supreme Court for years. Mr. Trump plans to announce on Saturday that she is his choice, according to six people close to the process who asked not to be identified disclosing the decision in advance. As they often do, aides cautioned that Mr. Trump sometimes upends his own plans. But he is not known to have interviewed any other candidates and came away from two days of meetings with Judge Barrett this week impressed with a jurist he was told would be a female Antonin Scalia, referring to the justice she once clerked for. On Friday night, Judge Barrett was photographed getting out of her car outside her home in South Bend, Ind. ‘I haven’t said it was her, but she is outstanding,’ Mr. Trump told reporters who asked about Judge Barrett’s imminent nomination at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington after CNN and other news outlets reported on his choice.”

Election 2020 Updates: As Trump Laments He Can’t Joke About Serving More than Two Terms, Crowd Chants ’12 More Years,’ The New York Times, Friday, 25 September 2020: “Trump is said to select Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. The president’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses is shaking up the presidential campaign. A poll shows most Americans support waiting for the next president to nominate a new Supreme justice.

  • Trump jokes about needing ‘a couple more terms.’ ‘12 more years,’ the crowd chants.
  • Trump is said to select Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.
  • Battlelines are being drawn over Judge Barrett’s nomination.
  • A handful of mail-in ballots helped fuel Trump’s false narrative of a widespread fraud problem.
  • Most Americans say the Supreme Court vacancy should be filled after the election, survey finds.
  • New ad attacks Senator Tillis for his support to fill Supreme Court vacancy.
  • Trump’s environmental rollbacks, often halted by courts, could be bolstered by another Supreme Court pick.
  • A new Fox News poll shows Biden leading Trump in Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
  • A complete guide to how to vote, by mail or in person, early or on Election Day.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Election 2020: Trump courts minority voters in Florida and Georgia; Biden pays respects to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 25 September 2020: “Democratic nominee Joe Biden paid his respects Friday to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she became the first woman to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol, while President Trump was putting in a full day on the campaign trail with stops in Florida, Georgia and Virginia and a fundraiser at his hotel in Washington. Biden and top congressional Democrats stood before Ginsburg’s flag-draped casket to honor her. Missing from the ceremony at the Capitol was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is pressing ahead with confirmation of Ginsburg’s replacement despite her dying wish that she not be replaced until a new president is inaugurated.

With 39 days until the election …
  • Biden dismissed Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, offering confidence that Trump will leave the White House if he loses the election.
  • Trump promised that if reelected he will create 3 million new jobs for Black Americans, promote creation of 5,000 new Black-owned businesses, increase access to capital in Black neighborhoods and make Juneteenth a national holiday. He did not say how he would fund the proposals.
  • Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, were among the dignitaries who honored Ginsburg on Friday as she lay in state in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall.
  • Biden leads Trump by eight percentage points nationally, 51 percent to 43 percent, according to a Washington Post average of polls. Biden’s margin is the same in Michigan and Pennsylvania and smaller in other key states: seven points in Wisconsin, five in Arizona and one in Florida.
  • Are you planning on watching the first presidential debate? The Washington Post wants to hear from you.

At Pentagon, Fears Grow That Trump Will Pull Military Into Election Unrest. Defense Department officials said top generals could resign if Mr. Trump ordered the active-duty military into the streets to quell election protests. The New York Times, Jennifer Steinhauer and Helene Cooper, Friday, 25 September 2020: “Senior Pentagon leaders have a lot to worry about — Afghanistan, Russia, Iraq, Syria, Iran, China, Somalia, the Korean Peninsula. But chief among those concerns is whether their commander in chief might order American troops into any chaos around the coming elections. President Trump gave officials no solace on Wednesday and Thursday when he again refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power no matter who wins the election, and on Thursday, he doubled down by saying he was not sure the election could be “honest.” His hedging, along with his expressed desire in June to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act to send active-duty troops onto American streets to quell protests over the killing of George Floyd, has incited deep anxiety among senior military and Defense Department leaders, who insist they will do all they can to keep the armed forces out of the elections. ‘I believe deeply in the principle of an apolitical U.S. military,’ General Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in written answers to questions from House lawmakers released last month. ‘In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law, U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. military. I foresee no role for the U.S. armed forces in this process.’ But that has not stopped an intensifying debate in the military about its role should a disputed election lead to civil unrest.” See also, As Trump Refuses to commit to a peaceful transition, the Pentagon stresses it will play no role in the election, CNN Politics, Ryan Browne and Barbara Starr, Friday, 25 September 2020: “Trump this week refused to commit to a peaceful transition should he lose the November election, leading some to speculate that he might seek to use the tools of presidential power including his role as commander in chief of the armed forces to prolong his time in office. The US military is adamant that it will not play a role settling election disputes with its top uniformed officer, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley clearly setting out the Pentagon’s position in a letter to Congress last month. ‘The Constitution and laws of the US and the states establish procedures for carrying out elections, and for resolving disputes over the outcome of elections … I do not see the US military as part of this process,’ Milley said in the letter to two members of the House Armed Services Committee. “In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. Military,’ Milley added.”The apocalypse scenario, Axios, Alayna Treene and Hans Nichols, Friday, 25 September 2020: “Democratic lawyers are preparing to challenge any effort by President Trump to swap electors chosen by voters with electors selected by Republican-controlled legislatures. One state of particular concern: Pennsylvania, where the GOP controls the state house. Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, together with a widely circulated article in The Atlantic about how bad the worst-case scenarios could get, is drawing new attention to the brutal fights that could jeopardize a final outcome. Stung by the Supreme Court Bush v. Gore decision in 2000, there’s a separate effort to ensure that no state recounts, like Florida in 2000, are cut short by the Supreme Court, according to a Democratic attorney familiar with the strategy.”

Appeals Court Permits House to Sue Over Trump’s Emergency Wall Spending, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Friday, 25 September 2020: “The House may pursue a constitutional lawsuit challenging President Trump’s use of emergency powers to spend more public funds on a southwestern border wall than Congress was willing to appropriate, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday. In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the House had claimed a sufficient injury to give lawmakers legal standing to pursue a lawsuit against the Trump administration. The 24-page ruling partly reversed a decision by a district court judge in June 2019. That ruling had thrown out the lawsuit on the grounds that the House had no legal standing to sue the executive branch over a claimed threat to its constitutionally authorized control over federal spending. That earlier ruling, by Judge Trevor N. McFadden of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, whom Mr. Trump appointed to the bench, was wrong, the appeals court said. It would undermine the ‘ironclad constitutional rule’ that the president has no power to spend money without the approval of both the House and the Senate, the panel said.”

Federal judge says 2020 census must continue for another month, Associated Press, Mike Schneider, Friday, 25 September 2020: “A federal judge has stopped the 2020 census from finishing at month’s end and suspended a year-end deadline for delivering the numbers needed to decide how many seats each state gets in Congress. The preliminary injunction granted by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in California late Thursday allows the once-a-decade head count of every U.S. resident to continue through the end of October. Koh said the shortened schedule ordered by President Donald Trump’s administration likely would produce inaccurate results that would last a decade. The judge sided with civil rights groups and local governments that sued the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Commerce, which oversees the statistical agency, arguing that minorities and others in hard-to-count communities would be missed if the counting ends this month. In granting the preliminary injunction, the judge said the plaintiffs were likely to succeed at a trial. Despite concerns raised by top Census Bureau officials about the shortened schedule, the Trump administration failed to consider its duty to produce an accurate head count and neglected to adequately explain a reason for it, she said. Koh said inaccuracies produced from a shortened schedule would affect the distribution of federal funding and political representation over the next 10 years. The census is used to determine how $1.5 trillion in federal spending is distributed each year and how many congressional seats each state gets.” See also, Trump Administration Appeals Order That Extends Census Counting Through 31 October, NPR,Hansi Lo Wang, updated on Friday, 25 September 2020: “The Trump administration is appealing a federal court order that calls for it to abandon last-minute changes to the 2020 census schedule and extend the time for counting for an additional month. The preliminary injunction issued Thursday by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in the Northern District of California requires the Census Bureau to keep trying to tally the country’s residents through Oct. 31. The Justice Department filed a notice Friday that they are appealing that order to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals,further complicating what could be the final days of counting for this year’s census. The move is the latest development in a federal lawsuit over the administration’s decision to shorten the timeline for the national head count.”

Attorney General William Barr’s Approach Closes the Gap Between the Justice Department and the White House, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Friday, 25 September 2020: “Under Mr. Barr, the Justice Department is as close as it has been to the White House in a half-century, historians said. Not since John N. Mitchell steered the Nixon re-election effort from the fifth floor of the Justice Department has an attorney general wielded the power of the office to so bluntly serve a presidential campaign, they said. ‘The norm has been that attorneys general try to keep the reputation of the department bright and shiny as a nonpartisan legitimate arm of the government that needs to be trusted by everyone,’ said Andrew Rudalevige, a history professor at Bowdoin College who studies the power of the presidency.”

Attorney General William Barr briefed Trump on investigation into nine discarded ballots in Pennsylvania. Trump then revealed the investigation in an interview with Fox News. ABC News, Alexander Mallin, Friday, 25 September 2020: “A Justice Department official told ABC News Friday that Attorney General William Barr personally briefed President Donald Trump about the DOJ’s investigation into a small number of ballots in Pennsylvania that were found to be discarded, prior to the information being made public by a U.S. attorney’s office Thursday afternoon. President Trump went on to first reveal the investigation in an interview with Fox News Radio, where he, without evidence, argued that it bolsters his baseless claims of widespread fraud in mail-in voting.” See also, The Justice Department Aids Trump’s False Narrative About Voting by Mail. In a series of unusual moves, the Justice Department has helped stoke skepticism about mail-in voting. The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt and Nick Corasaniti, Friday, 25 September 2020: “In the effort led by President Trump to create a misleading impression of widespread voter fraud, administration and campaign officials have seized on nine mail-in military ballots in a Pennsylvania county that Mr. Trump won by 20 points in 2016. Federal officials have disclosed that they are investigating whether local elections officials improperly discarded the ballots, at least seven of which were cast for Mr. Trump, they said. A Justice Department official said on Friday that Attorney General William P. Barr briefed Mr. Trump this week on the case. The disclosure of the investigation’s existence was highly unusual and came as Mr. Trump has ramped up his false assertions that widespread mail-in voting is rife with fraud. It prompted elections and legal experts to express fears that political appointees were using the levers of law enforcement to undermine voters’ confidence in the results of the election. ‘There is a battle here about the narrative in fraud and voting, and it looks like there’s a continued effort to gather as much evidence as possible to give them any little scraps for that narrative,’ said Samuel W. Buell, a criminal law professor at Duke University School of Law. Regardless of Mr. Barr’s intentions in briefing Mr. Trump, Mr. Buell said, the attorney general and the president discussing an ongoing criminal investigation created a perception that they might be acting improperly, especially because the situation involved such a small number of ballots in a state where six million people are expected to vote.” See also, Attorney General William Barr told Trump about Justice Department investigation into nine discarded Pennsylvania ballots that Trump seized on as evidence of widespread fraud, The Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Devlin Barrett, and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 25 September 2020: “Attorney General William P. Barr personally told President Trump this week about an investigation into nine discarded mail ballots in northeastern Pennsylvania that the president later touted as evidence of widespread election fraud, according to a person familiar with the conversation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal administration discussions. The conversation came as Trump has fixated on the subject of voter fraud with aides, administration officials said, asking for information on the topic and updates from his campaign advisers and legal team about voting lawsuits. He has repeatedly lambasted voting by mail as susceptible to widespread fraud, despite evidence to the contrary.”

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows attacks FBI director Christopher Wray, Politico, Quint Forgey, Friday, 25 September 2020: “White House chief of staff Mark Meadows publicly attacked FBI Director Christopher Wray on Friday, a day after the director said there was no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud that have been pushed by President Donald Trump. The rebuke by the president’s top aide of the leader of the nation’s premier law enforcement agency represents the latest escalation of the White House’s efforts to sow doubt about the outcome of the November election.”

A report by the State Department’s internal watchdog finds that last year the Trump administration rescinded Courage Award for a journalist from Finland  who criticized Trump and then gave a false explanation for withdrawing the honor, The Washington Post, John Hudson, Friday, 25 September 2020: “The Trump administration rescinded an award recognizing the work of a journalist from Finland last year after discovering she had criticized President Trump in social media posts, then gave a false explanation for withdrawing the honor, according to a report by the State Department’s internal watchdog. The report tracks how the discovery of the journalist’s remarks worried senior U.S. officials and prompted a decision to withdraw the honor to avoid a possible public relations debacle. The report’s release is likely to worsen tensions between the department’s leadership and the inspector general’s office, which has undergone several shake-ups following the firing of Inspector General Steve Linick in the spring at the request of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. ‘The Inspector General’s report is another somber example of how fear and partisanship have permeated our nation’s foreign policy and diplomacy under the Trump administration,’ said Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who along with seven other senators requested the investigation.”


Saturday, 26 September 2020, Day 1,345:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Saturday, 26 September 2020: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi Says India’s Vaccine Industry Will ‘Help All Humanity,’ The New York Times, Saturday, 26 September 2020:

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Trump Announces Judge Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court Nominee, Describing Her as Heir to Justice Antonin Scalia. In choosing Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the president opted for the candidate most likely to thrill his conservative base and outrage his liberal opponents. The New York Times, Peter Baker and Nicholas Fandos, Saturday, 26 September 2020: “Trump introduced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court on Saturday, presenting her as a champion of conservative judicial principles and igniting a partisan and ideological battle to confirm her before the election in just 38 days. During an early evening ceremony in the Rose Garden with Judge Barrett at his side and her husband and seven children in the audience, Mr. Trump said she would make decisions ‘based on the text of the Constitution as written’ much as her mentor, Justice Antonin Scalia, the icon of legal conservatives for whom she once clerked, had done.” See also, Full Transcript: Read Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Remarks, The New York Times, Saturday, 26 September 2020. See also, Trump announces Judge Amy Coney Barrett is his pick for the Supreme Court,  The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim and Colby Itkowitz, Saturday, 26 September 2020: “President Trump announced Saturday that he would nominate federal appeals court judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the recent death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, setting up a bitter confirmation fight in the final weeks of the presidential campaign. In a Rose Garden ceremony, Trump called Barrett ‘one of our nation’s most brilliant and gifted legal minds,’ saying ‘she is a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution.’ Barrett is a deeply conservative jurist in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whose confirmation would cement the right’s hold on the nation’s highest court for many years and ensure Trump’s legacy is felt for generations. Shortly after the event, Trump will travel to Harrisburg, Pa., for a campaign rally tonight. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden criticized Barrett for her opposition to the Affordable Care Act, saying in a statement, ‘The United States Constitution was designed to give the voters one chance to have their voice heard on who serves on the Court. That moment is now and their voice should be heard. The Senate should not act on this vacancy until after the American people select their next president and the next Congress.’

With 38 days until the election …
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement that the Barrett nomination ‘will receive a vote on the Senate floor in the weeks ahead, following the work of the Judiciary Committee supervised by Chairman Graham.’
  • Barrett, a disciple of Justice Scalia, is poised to push the Supreme Court further right for decades to come.
  • Democratic senators are mapping out how they will fight Trump’s SCOTUS nominee given they have little power to actually derail his pick.
  • Trump is expected to personally attack Biden at the candidates’ first debate on Tuesday, and Biden is being prepped for the anticipated barrage.
  • A majority of Americans, 57 percent, say the winner of November’s presidential election should choose the next Supreme Court justice, while 38 percent say Trump should fill the seat.
  • Biden leads Trump by eight percentage points nationally, 51 percent to 43 percent, according to a Washington Post average of polls. Biden’s margin is the same in Michigan and Pennsylvania and smaller in other key states: seven points in Wisconsin, five in Arizona and one in Florida.

Amy Coney Barrett, a disciple of Justice Antonin Scalia, is poised to push the Supreme Court further right, The Washington Post, Michael Kranish, Robert Barnes, Shawn Boburg, and Ann E. Marimow, Saturday, 26 September 2020: “Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 upheld tax subsidies in the health-care program known as Obamacare, Professor Amy Coney Barrett of the University of Notre Dame Law School was asked to discuss the 6-to-3 ruling on a national radio broadcast. The decision written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. ensured that millions of Americans would continue to have health insurance. Barrett, however, was not impressed. While acknowledging on the NPR program ‘On Point” that ‘it’s clearly a good result that these millions of Americans won’t lose their tax subsidies,’ she tore apart the decision, saying, ‘The dissent has the better of the legal argument.’ Barrett’s response to the ruling — along with her assertion that in a 2012 case, ‘Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute’ — endeared her to conservatives. It also won her the admiration of President Trump, who on Saturday nominated her to fill the seat of the liberal icon Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died earlier this month. To many Democrats, however, Barrett’s conservative legal views and her closeness to her former bossand mentor, the conservative icon Justice Antonin Scalia, have raised concerns that she will push the court further to the right in ways that could be difficult to reverse for years or even decades. Scalia, who died in 2016, wrote the dissent that Barrett praised.” See also, Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Record: A Conservative Who Would Push the Supreme Court to the Right. As an appeals court judge, Judge Barrett has issued opinions that have reflected those of her mentor, Justice Antonin Scalia, but with few of his occasional liberal rulings. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Saturday, 26 September 2020: “Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, has compiled an almost uniformly conservative voting record in cases touching on abortion, gun rights, discrimination and immigration. If she is confirmed, she would move the court slightly but firmly to the right, making compromise less likely and putting at risk the right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade. Judge Barrett’s judicial opinions, based on a substantial sample of the hundreds of cases that she has considered in her three years on the federal appeals court in Chicago, are marked by care, clarity and a commitment to the interpretive methods used by Justice Antonin Scalia, the giant of conservative jurisprudence for whom she worked as a law clerk from 1998 to 1999. But while Justice Scalia’s methods occasionally drove him to liberal results, notably in cases on flag burning and the role of juries in criminal cases, Judge Barrett could be a different sort of justice…. One area in which almost no one expects surprises is abortion. Mr. Trump has vowed to appoint justices ready to overrule Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. Groups opposing abortion have championed Judge Barrett’s nomination. And her academic and judicial writings have been skeptical of broad interpretations of abortion rights. Judge Barrett will doubtless tell senators that the Roe decision is a settled precedent, as she did when Mr. Trump nominated her to the appeals court in 2017. And the Supreme Court may not hear a direct challenge to Roe anytime soon, preferring instead to consider cases that could chip away at abortion rights. But when the day comes, many of Judge Barrett’s supporters are convinced that she will not flinch. Justice Scalia wrote that the Constitution has nothing to say about abortion and that states should be allowed to decide the question for themselves. There is no reason to believe Judge Barrett disagrees.”

9 Battleground State Counties Where Voters Can Swing the Presidential Election, The New York Times, Trip Gabriel and Nick Corasaniti, Saturday, 26 September 2020: “[T]he Electoral College is the turnstile to the White House, and that means that a handful of states will swallow up most of the attention on Election Day and, if necessary, in the days that follow as ballots are counted. Here are some key cities and counties in four states that will play a crucial role in determining the winner. These states and municipalities will also be closely watched for how they handle what is expected to be historic turnout, including unprecedented numbers of mail ballots. Of course, not all will swiftly meet the surge of mail ballots. Florida and Arizona, for example, will begin counting those ballots well before Election Day, and are expected to report results more quickly. Pennsylvania and Michigan cannot begin counting until Election Day.”

Election 2020 Updates: Confirmation Battle Looms as Trump Picks Barrett for Supreme Court. The selection of Judge Barrett, a deeply conservative jurist, kicked off an election-season confirmation fight unlike any in American history. The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin hearings on Oct. 12. The New York Times, Saturday, 26 September 2020:

  • Judge Amy Coney Barrett is President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court.

  • The Judiciary Committee will hold hearings starting Oct. 12. Here is what’s next.

  • At a Pennsylvania rally, Trump says he’d have an edge if the 2020 race is decided by Congress.

  • Republicans quickly circle around the president’s pick as Democrats denounce a rushed process.

  • Biden warns that Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court would hurt health care.

  • Democrats want to avoid personal attacks on Barrett.

  • Barrett’s judicial opinions are similar to those of her mentor, Antonin Scalia.

  • The Republicans’ Senate committee is selling ‘Notorious A.C.B.’ shirts, to mixed reviews.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

In Critical Swing State, Trump Again Stokes Doubt on Election Process, The New York Times, Saturday, 26 September 2020: “President Trump sought again on Saturday night to cast doubt on the integrity of the presidential election, telling supporters that the only way Democrats can win in Pennsylvania is to ‘cheat on the ballots’ and raising the prospect that a disputed election could be decided by Congress. Pressing his baseless case that the election in November will be a ‘disaster,’ Mr. Trump said at a rally just outside a hangar at the Harrisburg airport that he would have ‘an advantage’ if Congress were to decide. The comments, delivered in drizzling rain, were part of the president’s continuing effort to discredit the United States’ election process as he trails former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his Democratic rival.”

How a Pledge to Dismantle the Minneapolis Police Collapsed. When a majority of City Council members promised to ‘end policing as we know it’ after George Floyd’s killing, they became a case study in how idealistic calls for structural change can falter. The New York Times, Astead W. Herndon, Saturday, 26 September 2020: “Over three months ago, a majority of the Minneapolis City Council pledged to defund the city’s police department, making a powerful statement that reverberated across the country. It shook up Capitol Hill and the presidential race, shocked residents, delighted activists and changed the trajectory of efforts to overhaul the police during a crucial window of tumult and political opportunity. Now some council members would like a do-over. Councilor Andrew Johnson, one of the nine members who supported the pledge in June, said in an interview that he meant the words ‘in spirit,’ not by the letter. Another councilor, Phillipe Cunningham, said that the language in the pledge was ‘up for interpretation’ and that even among council members soon after the promise was made, ‘it was very clear that most of us had interpreted that language differently.’ Lisa Bender, the council president, paused for 16 seconds when asked if the council’s statement had led to uncertainty at a pivotal moment for the city. ‘I think our pledge created confusion in the community and in our wards,’ she said. The regrets formalize a retreat that has quietly played out in Minneapolis in the months since George Floyd was killed by the police and the ensuing national uproar over the treatment of Black Americans by law enforcement and the country at large. After a summer that challenged society’s commitment to racial equality and raised the prospect of sweeping political change, a cool autumn reality is settling in.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Photos: From Childhood to Notorious R.B.G. Pictures capture the Supreme Court justice’s life and legacy. The New York Times, Marie Fazio and Judith Levitt, Saturday, 26 September 2020.


Sunday, 27 September 2020, Day 1,346:


The President’s Taxes: Long-Concealed Records Show Trump’s Chronic Money Losses and Years of Tax Avoidance. Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the year he became president. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750. The New York Times, Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig, and Mike McIntire, Sunday, 27 September 2020: “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. The returns are some of the most sought-after, and speculated-about, records in recent memory. In Mr. Trump’s nearly four years in office — and across his endlessly hyped decades in the public eye — journalists, prosecutors, opposition politicians and conspiracists have, with limited success, sought to excavate the enigmas of his finances. By their very nature, the filings will leave many questions unanswered, many questioners unfulfilled. They comprise information that Mr. Trump has disclosed to the I.R.S., not the findings of an independent financial examination. They report that Mr. Trump owns hundreds of millions of dollars in valuable assets, but they do not reveal his true wealth. Nor do they reveal any previously unreported connections to Russia.” See also, Charting an Empire: A Timeline of Trump’s Finances. Tax records provide a detailed history of President Trump’s business career, revealing huge losses, looming financial threats and a large, contested refund from the I.R.S. The New York Times, Russ Buettner, Gabriel J.X. Dance, Keith Collins, Mike McIntire, and Susanne Craig, Sunday, 27 September 2020. See also, 18 Revelations From a Trove of Trump Tax Records. Times reporters have obtained decades of tax information the president has hidden from public view. Here are some of the key findings. The New York Times, David Leonhardt, Sunday, 27 September 2020. See also, An Editor’s Note on the Trump Tax Investigation, The New York Times, Dean Baquet, Sunday, 27 September 2020: “Today we are publishing the results of an examination of decades of personal and corporate tax records for President Trump and his businesses in the United States and abroad. The records stretch from his days as a high-profile New York real estate investor through the beginning of his time in the White House. A team of New York Times reporters has pored over this information to assemble the most comprehensive picture of the president’s finances and business dealings to date, and we will continue our reporting and publish additional articles about our findings in the weeks ahead. We are not making the records themselves public because we do not want to jeopardize our sources, who have taken enormous personal risks to help inform the public. We are publishing this report because we believe citizens should understand as much as possible about their leaders and representatives — their priorities, their experiences and also their finances. Every president since the mid-1970s has made his tax information public. The tradition ensures that an official with the power to shake markets and change policy does not seek to benefit financially from his actions.” See also, According to a New Report in The New York Times, Trump avoided paying taxes for years, largely because his business empire reported losing more money than it made, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold and Yeganeh Torbati, Sunday, 27 September 2020: “President Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and the same amount in 2017, and paid no taxes at all in several previous years, largely because his business empire has reported losing more money than it made, according to a new report in the New York Times. In a story posted Sunday afternoon, the Times said it had obtained tax-return data for Trump and his businesses covering much of the last two decades. Trump has refused to release his tax returns — making him the only president in recent history to do so — and he went to the Supreme Court earlier this year to stop Congress and the Manhattan District Attorney from accessing them. The Times story shows what Trump would not: that the business empire he brags about has struggled, with keystone properties like the president’s Doral resort and his D.C. hotel steadily losing money. And that, in the next few years, Trump will be required to pay about $421 million in loans and other debts. The Times story said Trump is still fighting the IRS over a $72.9 million tax refund that he was granted in 2010. The IRS is trying to determine if that refund, granted after Trump claimed extensive business losses, was legitimate: If Trump loses that fight, the paper said, he could have to pay more than $100 million. In a news briefing at the White House on Sunday, Trump called the Times story ‘fake news,’ but did not take issue with any specific details.”

Donald Trump, facing financial ruin, sought control of his elderly father’s estate. The family fight was epic. ‘It was basically taking the whole estate and giving it to Donald,’ Trump’s sister said in secretly recorded audio. The Washington Post, Michael Kranish, Sunday, 27 September 2020: “Donald Trump was facing financial disaster in 1990 when he came up with an audacious plan to exert control of his father’s estate. His creditors threatened to force him into personal bankruptcy, and his first wife, Ivana, wanted ‘a billion dollars’ in a divorce settlement, Donald Trump said in a deposition. So he sent an accountant and a lawyer to see his father, Fred Trump Sr., who was told he needed to immediately sign a document changing the will according to his son’s wishes, according to depositions from family members. It was a fragile moment for the senior Trump, who was 85 years old and had built a real estate empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He would soon be diagnosed with cognitive problems, such as being unable to recall things he was told 30 minutes earlier or remember his birth date, according to his medical records, which were included in a related court case. Now, those records and other sources of information about the episode obtained by The Washington Post reveal the extent of Fred Trump Sr.’s cognitive impairment and how Donald’s effort to change his father’s will tore apart the Trump family, which continues to reverberate today. The recent release of a tell-all book by the president’s niece Mary L. Trump and the disclosure of secret recordings of her conversations with her aunt reflect the ongoing resentment of some family members toward Donald Trump’s attempt to change his father’s will.”

Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Sunday, 27 September 2020: Top White House Official Denies Pressuring the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) on Vaccine Guidelines, The New York Times, Sunday, 27 September 2020:

Trump readies thousands of attorneys for election fight. Dozens of lawyers from three major firms have been hired. Thousands of volunteer attorneys and poll watchers across the country have been recruited. Politico, Anita Kumar, Sunday, 27 September 2020: “A year before President Donald Trump alarmed Americans with talk of disputing elections last week, his team started building a massive legal network to do just that. Dozens of lawyers from three major law firms have been hired. Thousands of volunteer attorneys and poll watchers across the country have been recruited. Republicans are preparing pre-written legal pleadings that can be hurried to the courthouse the day after the election, as wrangling begins over close results and a crush of mail-in ballots. Attorneys from non-battleground states, including California, New York and Illinois, are being dispatched to more competitive areas and trained on local election laws. A 20-person team of lawyers oversees the strategy, which is mainly focused on the election process in the 17 key states the Trump campaign is targeting, like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. In total, it means the Republican Party will have thousands of people on hand to shape every element of voting — both on Election Day and in the days after.”

Election 2020 Updates: Trump’s Financial Records Show Long History of Tax Avoidance, The New York Times, Sunday, 27 September 2020:

  • Trump insists he ‘paid a lot’ in taxes after an investigation reveals new details about his personal finances.

  • Trump uses a news conference to defend his Supreme Court nominee and attack Biden’s fitness for office.

  • Biden urges Republicans to ‘take off the blinders of politics for just one critical moment.’

  • Republicans clear the way for a rapid confirmation, while Democrats make their case to voters.

  • Democrats express concern that Barrett, if confirmed, would overturn the Affordable Care Act.

  • Mark Meadows defends Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transition.

  • By painting Joe Biden as weak, Trump risks setting the bar too low for the debate.

  • New polls show Biden ahead in Michigan and Wisconsin.

  • As a felon, Mike Tyson says he never thought he would be eligible to vote. Things have changed.

Election 2020: Biden says Trump is trying to ‘steal away’ health-care protections; Trump dismisses report on his taxes, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez and Hannah Knowles, Sunday, 27 September 2020: “Former vice president Joe Biden accused President Trump of trying to dismantle insurance protections for preexisting health conditions, one day after the president named federal appellate judge Amy Coney Barrett as his choice to fill the vacancy left by the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Biden’s remarks underscored Democrats’ strategy of focusing on the effect that Barrett’s confirmation would have on the Affordable Care Act. Trump, meanwhile, held a news conference at which he defended Barrett and pushed back against a bombshell New York Times report outlining his personal finances. According to the report, Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and paid nothing in income taxes for 10 of the previous 15 years. Trump dismissed the report as ‘totally fake news,’ but did not give any details about how much he has paid in taxes.

With 37 days until the election …
  • A majority of Americans, 57 percent, say the winner of November’s presidential election should choose the next Supreme Court justice, while 38 percent say Trump should fill the seat.
  • Barrett, a disciple of the late justice Antonin Scalia, is poised to push the Supreme Court further right for decades to come.
  • After two political conventions, the continuing spread of the novel coronavirus, economic dislocation and more racial upheaval in the country, Biden holds a steady advantage over Trump, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett spoke at a program founded to inspire a ‘distinctly Christian worldview in every area of law,’ The Washington Post, Emma Brown and Jon Swaine, Sunday, 27 September 2020: “Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, publicly grappled decades ago with the tension Catholic judges can face between their religious values and the law. She has since said that she would never bend the law to meet her Catholic faith. But her role as a speaker at a training program for Christian law school students drew scrutiny three years ago when Trump nominated her to be a federal appellate judge. It may do so again now — as part of broader questioning about how she would balance faith and law — as she seeks confirmation to the nation’s high court. Barrett was a paid speaker five times, starting in 2011, at the Blackstone Legal Fellowship, a summer program established to inspire a ‘distinctly Christian worldview in every area of law,’ tax filings show. It was founded to show students ‘how God can use them as judges, law professors and practicing attorneys to help keep the door open for the spread of the Gospel in America.'”


Monday, 28 September 2020, Day 1,347:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Monday, 28 September 2020: Virus Has Killed 1 Million Worldwide. More than 200,000 have died in the United States, which has the highest number of coronavirus deaths, followed by Brazil, with over 140,000. The New York Times, Monday, 28 September 2020:

  • ‘It did not need to be nearly this bad.’ A million people have died from Covid-19 across the world.

  • New York State’s positivity rate rises as officials warn of clusters.

  • As the virus surged in the U.S. over the summer, so did murders and assaults.

  • The F.D.A. delays Inovio’s vaccine trial.

  • Talks on a virus relief package resume in Washington.

  • A new analysis by the C.D.C. shows that the virus is more common in teenagers than younger children.

  • Growing numbers of ‘long-haulers’ struggle for months with Covid-19 symptoms.

  • With no school to go to, the world’s children go to work.

  • Growing numbers of Europeans cry hoax as new virus cases rise.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Monday, 28 September 2020: The coronavirus has killed at least 1 million people worldwide, The Washington Post, Siobhán O’Grady, Kim Bellware, Marisa Iati, Lateshia Beachum, Hannah Denham, Reis Thebault, and Darren Sands, Monday, 28 September 2020: “The global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has surpassed 1 million people, with more than 204,000 in the United States. The number of U.S. cases reported now tops 7 million.

Here are some significant developments:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Behind the White House Effort to Pressure the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) on School Openings, The New York Times, Mark Mazzetti, Noah Weiland, and Sharon LaFraniere, Monday, 28 September 2020: “Top White House officials pressured the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this summer to play down the risk of sending children back to school, a strikingly political intervention in one of the most sensitive public health debates of the pandemic, according to documents and interviews with current and former government officials. As part of their behind-the-scenes effort, White House officials also tried to circumvent the C.D.C. in a search for alternate data showing that the pandemic was weakening and posed little danger to children. The documents and interviews show how the White House spent weeks trying to press public health professionals to fall in line with President Trump’s election-year agenda of pushing to reopen schools and the economy as quickly as possible. The president and his team have remained defiant in their demand for schools to get back to normal, even as coronavirus cases have once again ticked up, in some cases linked to school and college reopenings. The effort included Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, and officials working for Vice President Mike Pence, who led the task force. It left officials at the C.D.C., long considered the world’s premier public health agency, alarmed at the degree of pressure from the White House.”

Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), voices alarm over the influence of Scott Atlas, Trump’s new coronavirus task force adviser, NBC News, Monica Alba, Monday, 28 September 2020: “The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has grown increasingly concerned that President Donald Trump, pushed by a new member of his coronavirus task force, is sharing incorrect information about the pandemic with the public. Dr. Robert Redfield, who leads the CDC, suggested in a conversation with a colleague Friday that Dr. Scott Atlas is arming Trump with misleading data about a range of issues, including questioning the efficacy of masks, whether young people are susceptible to the virus and the potential benefits of herd immunity. ‘Everything he says is false,’ Redfield said during a phone call made in public on a commercial airline and overheard by NBC News. Redfield acknowledged after the flight from Atlanta to Washington that he was speaking about Atlas, a neuroradiologist with no background in infectious diseases or public health. Atlas was brought on to the White House task force in August.”

Election 2020 Updates: For Trump and Biden, First Debate Is High-Stakes Clash of Styles and Ideas, The New York Times, Monday, 28 September 2020:

  • Most Republicans greet the news of Trump’s tax avoidance with silence.
  • Kamala Harris says appointing Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court would imperil health care and abortion rights.
  • The Supreme Court vacancy has not helped President Trump in Pennsylvania, a Times poll finds.
  • The rush to confirm a Supreme Court pick loomed over the Maine Senate debate.
  • Joni Ernst and Theresa Greenfield debate in Iowa, where their tight race could help decide control of the Senate.
  • End the filibuster? Pack the court? Democrats are pushing Biden.
  • Trump denounces discussion of Supreme Court nominee’s beliefs as anti-Catholic, even as he attacks Biden’s faith.
  • Texas fights over voting rules in court, as polls suggest unusually tight contests in the state.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Election 2020: Trump talks coronavirus testing on debate eve amid fallout from report that he avoided taxes, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, and Chelsea Janes, Monday, 28 September 2020: “On the eve of the first presidential debate, President Trump delivered an address Monday on coronavirus testing as his campaign grapples with the fallout from a bombshell report that he avoided paying income taxes for years. Trump has not disputed the facts of the report but has criticized its ‘bad intent.’ Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has no public events scheduled Monday but has dispatched his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris, to the battleground state of North Carolina, where she highlighted what’s at stake in the fight playing out in Washington over Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.

With 36 days until the election …
  • Trump avoided paying taxes for years, largely because his business empire reported losing more money than it made, the New York Times reported. Trump called the Times story ‘fake news’ but did not take issue with any specific details.
  • Democrats are focusing the battle over the Supreme Court vacancy on the fate of the Affordable Care Act under Trump.
  • With five weeks left, Trump is playing defense in states he won in 2016.
  • Biden leads Trump by eight percentage points nationally, 51 percent to 43 percent, according to a Washington Post average of polls. Biden’s margin is smaller in other key states: seven points in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania; five in Arizona; and one in Florida.
  • Here’s what to know about the 2020 presidential debates.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

The New Yorker Endorses a Biden Presidency. It would be a relief simply to have a President who doesn’t abuse the office as a colossal grift. But a new President must also address the failures that have been festering in U.S. life for decades. The New Yorker, The Editors, Monday, 28 September 2020: “On November 8, 2016, Donald John Trump, a shady real-estate pitchman and reality-TV host from New York, was elected the forty-fifth President of the United States. The distinguishing features of his character––bigotry, deceit, narcissism––were as evident during the 2016 campaign as they are now. But, though many more voters supported his opponent, the Trump Presidency had to be endured. Contempt has been at the core of his time in office: contempt for the Constitution; contempt for truth and dissent; contempt for women and people of color; contempt for champions of civil rights as great as John Lewis and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Trump’s contempt for science and the basic welfare of Americans is so profound that, through an enraging combination of incompetence, indifference, and stupidity, he has failed to meet the pitiless demands of a viral pandemic. The national death toll is more than two hundred thousand. The pandemic has also laid bare the inequities, corruptions, and cruelties of our political life—features that the Administration did not originate but which it has magnified and exploited. The lack of universal health care; the shrivelling of critical government agencies, regulations, and protections; the persistence of sharp racial disparities in wealth and in health; the unwillingness to deal with the clear danger of climate change––these have all contributed to the dire redefinition of ‘American exceptionalism.’ In an established autocracy—like Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey, or Mohammed bin Salman’s Saudi Arabia—it is nearly impossible to criticize or to investigate the autocrat. In the liminal condition in which we now live, with public institutions threatened but not yet defeated by an elected President, the would-be autocrat must still face the indignities of journalism, legal inquiry, and popular opposition. He must also face an open election. The polls suggest that Joe Biden currently leads the 2020 Presidential race. We suffer no delusions: Trump has on his side demagogic skill and ruthlessness, a willingness to break any norm or law in order to win. Nevertheless, we hope that Biden will displace him by a margin that prevents prolonged dispute or the kind of civil unrest that Trump appears to relish. Ideally, Biden will have an opportunity to govern with Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate, which would vastly increase his chances of passing legislation to confront the nation’s array of crises.”

Trump’s Taxes: How Reality-TV Fame Handed Trump a $427 Million Lifeline. Tax records show that ‘The Apprentice’ rescued Donald Trump, bringing him new sources of cash and a myth that would propel him to the White House. The New York Times, Mike McIntire, Russ Buettner, and Susanne Craig, Monday, 28 September 2020: “From the back seat of a stretch limousine heading to meet the first contestants for his new TV show ‘The Apprentice,’ Donald J. Trump bragged that he was a billionaire who had overcome financial hardship. ‘I used my brain, I used my negotiating skills and I worked it all out,’ he told viewers. ‘Now, my company is bigger than it ever was and stronger than it ever was.’ It was all a hoax. Months after that inaugural episode in January 2004, Mr. Trump filed his individual tax return reporting $89.9 million in net losses from his core businesses for the prior year. The red ink spilled from everywhere, even as American television audiences saw him as a savvy business mogul with the Midas touch. Twelve years later, that image of the self-made, self-saved mogul, beamed into the national consciousness, would help fuel Mr. Trump’s improbable election to the White House. But while the story of ‘The Apprentice’ is by now well known, the president’s tax returns reveal another grand twist that has never been truly told — how the popularity of that fictional alter ego rescued him, providing a financial lifeline to reinvent himself yet again. And then how, in an echo of the boom-and-bust cycle that has defined his business career, he led himself toward the financial shoals he must navigate today.”

What we know, and still want to know, about Trump’s company, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Monday, 28 September 2020: “On Sunday, the New York Times revealed that it had obtained President Trump’s tax returns for much of the past 20 years — a trove of never-before-seen financial data from inside the president’s private business. Trump had refused to release those returns himself, unlike all other recent presidents. And he had gone to the Supreme Court to stop Congress and the Manhattan district attorney from obtaining them. The Times report shows one reason Trump might have wanted to keep the returns secret. It said Trump had paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and again in 2017 — and no federal income taxes at all in many previous years. The reason: Trump’s businesses routinely reported losing more money than they made, a fact that saved Trump on his taxes but belied the gold-plated-CEO image he presented to the public…. The Washington Post has been digging into Trump’s finances for the past five years. Here’s what we learned from the Times report — and some important questions we still can’t answer.” See also, Trump probably paid less in federal income tax than the average middle-class U.S. person, The Washington Post, Jeff Stein and Christopher Ingraham, Monday, 28 September 2020: “The average middle-class American household paid approximately three times as much in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 as President Trump, a billionaire real estate mogul with properties and developments all over the world, according to a new report. The New York Times on Sunday revealed that the president, who has for years refused to release his tax returns, paid $750 in income taxes in 2016 and $750 again in income taxes in 2017. In 2016, households in the middle 20 percent of the U.S. income distribution paid an average of $2,200 in federal income taxes, according to the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan government agency. Those middle-income households each earned about $60,000 on average in 2016. ‘His income tax burden is certainly much lower than the average taxpayer,’ said Brian Galle, a law professor and tax expert at Georgetown Law. ‘He’s likely paying less than the shoeshine guy who works in the foyer of the Trump Tower.’… Households making $25,000 a year paid more federal income taxes than Trump did.” See also, How Trump’s taxes compare to those of other presidents, The Washington Post, Christopher Ingraham, Monday, 28 September 2020:  “Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, by contrast, paid nearly $1.8 million in federal income tax his first year in office, primarily on royalties from the sale of his books. George W. Bush’s first-year federal tax burden was $250,221, paid largely on his presidential salary and investment income from the blind trusts in which his assets were held. Prior presidents each paid tens of thousands of dollars in taxes during the first years of their administrations.” See also, ‘An Emergency Room visit costs more’: Trump’s reported $750 tax bill inspires a rush of comparisons, The Washington Post, Teo Armus, Monday, 28 September 2020: “The New York Times’ bombshell report Sunday on nearly two decades’ worth of President Trump’s tax returns included so many revelations about his finances that the newspaper listed them out separately. There was the sum he paid in consulting fees to a company co-owned by his daughter Ivanka Trump ($747,622), or in haircuts as host of ‘The Apprentice’ (more than $70,000), both of which he wrote off as business expenses. There were losses reported by his golf courses (at least $315 million) and his Washington hotel (more than $55 million). But in the hours after the publication of the Times report, which Trump decried as ‘totally fake news,’ one much smaller figure drew the most attention: $750. That was how much, according to the Times, Trump paid in annual federal income taxes during 2016, the year he ran for president, and 2017, his first year in office. In 11 of the other 16 annual tax returns reviewed by the Times, he paid nothing, largely because his business empire reported losing more than it made. But it was the $750 tax payments — which would most closely match that of a minimum-wage worker, according to IRS data — that seemed even more insulting to many of the president’s critics.” See also, How Trump used the U.S. tax code to his benefit in three ways, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold and Joshua Partlow, Monday, 28 September 2020. See also, A Biden campaign video shows how small Trump’s $750 tax bill is, compared with what average workers pay, The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher, Monday, 28 September 2020: “Not long after The New York Times published an investigation into President Trump’s long-sought tax returns, the campaign of Joseph R. Biden Jr. turned one of its most revealing findings — that Mr. Trump paid only $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency — into a 30-second video comparing that tax bill to those paid by American workers. One of Mr. Trump’s enduring strengths has been his appeal to white working-class voters, many of whom view him as a billionaire who made personal sacrifices to run for, and serve as, president. The video seeks to undercut that, comparing Mr. Trump’s tax bill to those typical of elementary school teachers ($7,239), firefighters ($5,283), nurses ($10,216) and construction managers ($16,447).” See also, Donald Trump Barely Pays Any Taxes: Will Anyone Care? The New Yorker, David Remnick, Monday, 28 September 2020: “Three enterprising reporters for the New York Times published a bombshell report Sunday evening on Donald Trump’s financial life, making it clear that the President of the United States is a desperate, cash-hungry grifter who paid no federal income taxes at all in ten of the fifteen years leading up to his run for office and has, in his frenzied quest to stay afloat, ‘propped up his sagging bottom line’ by exploiting his office.Readers learn that Trump, who inherited an immense fortune from his father, found countless ways to squander his capital. And, like his old man, he also found countless ways to short the government, including, according to the Times, paying his daughter Ivanka legally dubious consulting fees. At the same time, Trump has accumulated hundreds of millions of dollars in debt that he must soon repay. He is an almost comically inept businessman; he is the sum of his debt and bankruptcies. Nearly everything he touches turns to lead. Were it not for his investments in Trump Tower, ‘The Apprentice,’ and little else—and were it not for the tireless ministrations of his accountants—he would likely be on his back. The question is: Will anyone care?”

Trump sought deals with Moscow’s late mayor Yury Luzhkov in the late 1990s, Politico, Natasha Bertrand, Monday, 28 September 2020: “In a meandering press conference on Sunday, President Donald Trump repeatedly accused his Democratic opponent’s son, Hunter Biden, of receiving millions of dollars from the wife of Moscow’s late mayor Yury Luzhkov, asking why ‘nobody even has any question about it.’ But Trump himself sought to do business with Luzhkov’s government in the late 1990s, according to press reports from the time, SEC filings and comments made by Luzhkov last year. His attempts to build an underground mall in Moscow and renovate two major hotels there were part of a broader push to secure high-profile real-estate deals in Russia, which Trump was still pursuing as recently as 2016 with a proposal for a Trump Tower Moscow. Still, Trump claimed again on Sunday that he ‘didn’t have anything to do with Russia.'”

Don’t miss the Ivanka Trump bombshell buried in the Times tax story, CNN Politics, Chris Cillizza, Monday, 28 September 2020: “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.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Trump’s taxes reveal national security issue, NBC News, Adam Edelman, Monday, 28 September 2020: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday called a report that President Donald Trump has more than $300 million in loans coming due in the next few years a ‘national security issue’ and argued it raises questions about whether foreign nations or individuals could have ‘leverage’ over the president. Trump has refused to disclose his tax documents, but The New York Times reported on Sunday that that financial documents seen by the newspaper show he is personally responsible for repaying the loans. In an interview with NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell, Pelosi, a Democrat, expressed concern about the impact that might have had on policy and on relations with nations like Russia.”

Trump’s Taxes Show He’s a National Security Threat. With this level of indebtedness, what trade-offs would he be willing to make to safe face? Bloomberg, Timothy L. O’Brien, Monday, 28 September 2020: “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 businessmanhuman 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.”

Trump’s 2016 Campaign Listed Millions of Black Voters It Wanted to Stop From Voting, Leak Reveals, The Daily Beast, Jamie Ross, Monday, 28 September 2020: “Over three million Black voters in key states were identified by President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign as people they had to persuade to stay at home on Election Day to help him reach the White House. The revelation comes from an enormous data leak obtained by the British news network Channel 4. It shows that, four years ago, the Trump campaign prepared files on almost 200 million American voters and separated some out into eight different categories. One such category, assigned to 3.5 million Black voters, was titled: ‘Deterrence.’ The leaked database was reportedly used by Trump’s digital campaign team, which was critical to Trump’s narrow victory. Channel 4 News has a track record of exposing the unethical practices of Cambridge Analytica—the now-defunct British digital black-ops firm that harvested the Facebook data of tens of millions of voters for the use of Team Trump. The leaked files show that Black Americans were disproportionately marked ‘Deterrence’ by the 2016 campaign, making up far more of the category when compared to general population stats. For example, in Georgia, Black people make up around a third of the population, but 61 percent of the Trump campaign’s ‘Deterrence’ category there. The same pattern can be seen in data for North Carolina and Wisconsin.” See also, Cambridge Analytica database identified Black voters as ripe for ‘deterrence,’ says Britain’s Channel 4 News, The Washington Post, Craig Timberg and Isaac Stanley-Becker, Monday, 28 September 2020: “A database built by Cambridge Analytica, the Republican-aligned firm that unraveled over allegations of improper use of Facebook data, disproportionately identified Black voters as ripe for ‘Deterrence’ in profiles prepared for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, according to a report Monday from Britain’s Channel 4 News.” See also, What we know about alleged efforts by Trump’s 2016 campaign to suppress Black votes, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, published on Tuesday, 29 September 2020: “Somehow, the British television network Channel 4 obtained the voter file used by President Trump’s 2016 campaign. It’s a treasure trove of information, apparently, including both generic, publicly available voter information (party registrations, addresses, phone numbers, etc.) and overlaid commercial and psychographic data. The former is a common addition to political files, letting campaigns know, for example, who might have subscribed to Mother Jones magazine or given money to the National Rifle Association. The psychographic stuff — assessments of voters’ actual emotional predilections — apparently came from analysis done by the firm Cambridge Analytica. The particularly intriguing part of what Channel 4 found isn’t that latter information, which has been vastly exaggerated in both its contents and its role in 2016. Instead, the most interesting revelation is that the Trump campaign moved voters into five groups: certain Trump and Hillary Clinton voters, persuadable voters who hadn’t chosen a side, Trump voters who would need to be encouraged to vote — and Clinton voters who should be ‘deterred’ from voting. That latter group had one defining characteristic: It was mostly non-White.”

Third U.S. judge bars Postal Service delivery cuts before November presidential election, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Monday, 28 September 2020: “A third federal judge has ordered the U.S. Postal Service to halt changes that have delayed mail delivery nationwide, handing the latest judicial rebuke to unilateral service cuts that critics allege would suppress mail-in voting in November’s elections. In a pair of injunctions, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of Washington, D.C., sided with the states of New York, Hawaii and New Jersey and the cities of New York and San Francisco. The judge also sided with 15 voters and voter registration groups in a separate suit. The voter suit argued that resulting mail delays would deny thousands of people the constitutional right to vote. The cities and states alleged that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy disrupted operations without first submitting changes to the Postal Regulatory Commission, and told Congress he had no intention of returning removed collection boxes or high-speed sorting equipment. The opinions Sunday and Monday were the latest by a court to conclude that Postal Service changes were likely to risk the timely delivery of election mail and hinder state responses to the novel coronavirus pandemic.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says census operations  will conclude by October 5th, CNN Politics, Gregory Wallace, Monday, 28 September 2020: “Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced Monday evening that he intends to conclude the 2020 census on October 5, more than three weeks earlier than expected after a federal judge reinstated the October 31 end date. The announcement, in a social media post from the Census Bureau, said October 5 is the ‘target date’ to end the acceptance of individual census responses and the nationwide effort to knock on the doors of households that have not responded. The announcement came as Judge Lucy Koh, who last week had issued a preliminary injunction reinstating the October 31 date, began a conference in the case. The Trump administration has also appealed her order to a higher court. Koh inquired about unverified claims submitted to the court that the Census Bureau has not properly carried out her orders.” See also, Judge says ending 2020 census on 5 October might violate her order, NBC News, The Associated Press, Monday, 28 September 2020: “A federal judge on Tuesday said a revised Oct. 5 date the U.S. Commerce Department picked to end the 2020 census may violate an order she issued last week that cleared the way for the head count of every U.S. resident to continue through the end of October. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh suggested she would be open to issuing a contempt finding against the federal government or making a ruling that her order had been violated. Last week, the San Jose, California, judge suspended the U.S. Census Bureau’s deadline for ending the head count on Wednesday, which automatically reverted the deadline back to an older Census Bureau plan in which the timeline for ending field operations was Oct. 31. Her order also suspended a Dec. 31 deadline for the Census Bureau to turn in numbers used for apportionment, the process of deciding how many congressional seats each state gets.”

World leaders pledge to halt Earth’s destruction ahead of UN summit. France, Germany, and UK are among more than 60 countries promising to put wildlife and climate at the heart of post-Covid recovery plans. The Guardian, Patrick Greenfield, Monday, 28 September 2020: “World leaders have pledged to clamp down on pollution, embrace sustainable economic systems and eliminate the dumping of plastic waste in oceans by the middle of the century as part of ‘meaningful action’ to halt the destruction of nature on Earth. Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, Justin Trudeau, Jacinda Ardern and Boris Johnson are among 64 leaders from five continents warning that humanity is in a state of planetary emergency due to the climate crisis and the rampant destruction of life-sustaining ecosystems. To restore the balance with nature, governments and the European Union have made a 10-point pledge to counteract the damage to systems that underpin human health and wellbeing. The commitments include a renewed effort to reduce deforestation, halt unsustainable fishing practices, eliminate environmentally harmful subsidies and begin the transition to sustainable food production systems and a circular economy over the next decade. The leaders describe the pledge as a ‘turning point’ by which future generations will judge their willingness to act on environmental destruction.”

Police report of suicide threat by former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale includes domestic abuse allegations, The Washington Post, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, Monday, 28 September 2020: “Brad Parscale, who managed President Trump’s campaign for nearly 2½ years until he was demoted in July, was hospitalized for his own safety after threatening suicide while holding a handgun during a confrontation with his wife at his Florida home, local police said Monday. Parscale’s wife, Candice, called authorities shortly before 4 p.m. Sunday to report that he had loaded a gun in front of her, prompting her to flee the house out of fear for her safety. She told police that Parscale was still inside the house with multiple guns, that he had made several threats of suicide and that she feared he might attempt to take his own life. Parscale was ultimately transported to Broward Health Medical Center under the Baker Act, a Florida law that allows authorities to detain a person they think poses a danger to themselves. Fort Lauderdale Police Department reports from the incident reveal a grim and troubling picture of Trump’s former campaign manager. His wife said Parscale had been drinking heavily, had been physically abusive toward her, and had been stressed and making suicidal comments for weeks.”


Tuesday, 29 September 2020, Day 1,348:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Tuesday, 29 September 2020: Federal Program to Supply Coronavirus Tests to Nursing Homes Led to Unexpected Costs and ‘Testing Hell,’ The New York Times, Tuesday, 29 September 2020:

  • The U.S. government sent rapid-test machines to 14,000 nursing homes. But they came with unexpected costs and questions about accuracy.

  • N.Y.C.’s mayor calls an uptick in the city’s daily positivity rate ‘cause for real concern,’ as more schools reopen.

  • Quebec brings back restrictions as cases rise again.

  • Biden slams Trump over the federal government’s coronavirus failures in debate.

  • Trump blames China for the U.S. outbreak, and Biden blames Trump.

  • A North Carolina college student apparently died of rare neurological complications from the virus, his family says.

  • Cats shed more coronavirus than dogs, but it’s unlikely they’ll infect their humans.

  • New cases in Sweden, which became a lightning rod over its lax pandemic response early on, remain surprisingly low.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Tuesday, 29 September 2020: Seven former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioners accuse the Trump administration of undermining the agency, The Washington Post, Brittany Shammas, Miriam Berger, Lateshia Beachum, Kim Bellware, Hannah Denham, Reis Thebault, and Paulina Firozi, Tuesday, 29 September 2020: “In a rare and extraordinary rebuke, seven former commissioners of the Food and Drug Administration wrote an op-ed accusing the Trump administration of interfering politically with the agency, with potentially catastrophic effects on public trust in a coronavirus vaccine. The column, which was published online Tuesday afternoon in The Washington Post, detailed a recent pattern of interference, including President Trump’s threat to reject a proposed FDA guidance detailing the criteria the agency will use to judge a coronavirus vaccine, and decisions by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to revoke the FDA’s authority to regulate lab-developed tests and to sign its own rules.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article:

Coronavirus Pandemic Is Far From Over, Experts Say, Despite Claims of Trump Allies. The C.D.C. and leading experts have concluded, using different scientific methods, that as many as 90 percent of Americans are still vulnerable to infection. New York Times, Donald G. McNeil Jr., Tuesday, 29 September 2020: “In the last week, leading epidemiologists from respected institutions have, through different methods, reached the same conclusion: About 85 to 90 percent of the American population is still susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the current pandemic. The number is important because it means that ‘herd immunity’ — the point at which a disease stops spreading because nearly everyone in a population has contracted it — is still very far off. The evidence came from antibody testing and from epidemiological modeling. At the request of The New York Times, three epidemiological teams last week calculated the percentage of the country that is infected. What they found runs strongly counter to a theory being promoted in influential circles that the United States has either already achieved herd immunity or is close to doing so, and that the pandemic is all but over. That conclusion would imply that businesses, schools and restaurants could safely reopen, and that masks and other distancing measures could be abandoned. ‘The idea that herd immunity will happen at 10 or 20 percent is just nonsense,’ said Dr. Christopher J.L. Murray, director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which produced the epidemic model frequently cited during White House news briefings as the epidemic hit hard in the spring. That belief began circulating months ago on conservative news programs like those of Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham. It has been cited several times by Dr. Scott W. Atlas, President Trump’s new pandemic adviser. It appears to be behind Mr. Trump’s recent remarks that the pandemic is rounding the corner and ‘would go away even without the vaccine.’ But it is also gaining credence on Wall Street and among some business executives, said prominent public health experts, who consider the idea scientifically unfounded as well as dangerous; its most vocal adherents are calling for mask-wearing and social distancing to end just as cold weather is shifting social activity indoors, where the risk of transmission is higher.”

Election 2020 Updates: Trump Refuses to Denounce White Supremacy in Chaotic Debate, The New York Times, Tuesday, 29 September 2020:

  • President Trump’s first debate showing amounted to an onstage shouting of his Twitter feed at Joe Biden.

  • With remarks about poll watchers and the Supreme Court, Trump steps up attempts to undermine confidence in the election.

  • Refusing to categorically denounce white supremacists, Trump falsely says extremist violence is ‘not a right-wing problem.’

  • Proud Boys celebrate Trump’s ‘stand by’ remark about them at the debate.

  • Biden’s campaign confirms he will participate in the remaining two debates.

  • ‘Mr. President, I am the moderator of this debate’: Chris Wallace struggles to rein in an unruly Trump.

  • Commentators were not impressed with the debate, and some say they’ve seen enough.

  • After Biden calls out Trump for disrespecting the military, Trump attacks Biden’s sons.

  • Trump blames China for the U.S.’ coronavirus outbreak, and Biden blames Trump.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Election 2020: First Trump-Biden meeting marked by constant interruptions by Trump, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Sean Sullivan, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, and Josh Dawsey, Tuesday, 29 September 2020: “President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden met in the first of three scheduled debates, this one at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University and moderated by Chris Wallace of Fox News. The topics addressed were the Supreme Court, as Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett meets with Republican senators, the covid-19 outbreak; the economy; race; the candidates’ records; the climate; and the integrity of the election. Trump frequently interrupted both Biden and Wallace, taking swipes at Biden’s son, going over his allotted time and ignoring other rules. Trump, when asked about whether he would condemn white supremacists, failed to fully do so, telling the Proud Boys group, ‘Stand back and standby.’ He also continued to cast unwarranted doubt on mail ballots.

There are many significant facts about the ‘debate’ included in this article:

Trump refused to condemn white supremacists and militia members in presidential debate marked by disputes over race, The Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa and Cleve R. Wootson Jr., published on Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “President Trump refused to condemn white supremacists and armed militia members Tuesday during a bellicose debate in which racism emerged as one of the most contentious issues. He called out one far-right group, using words that some of its members embraced as a call to arms rather than a denunciation. ‘Proud Boys — stand back and stand by,’ Trump said after Democratic rival Joe Biden challenged him to decry far-right supporters who have taken to the streets in recent months brandishing weapons, and cited the Proud Boys. ‘But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.'” See also, Trump refuses to condemn White supremacists at presidential debate, CNN Politics, Maegan Vazquez and Paul LeBlanc, published on Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “Trump on Tuesday refused to condemn White supremacists for inciting violence at anti-police brutality demonstrations across the country, claiming instead during the presidential debate that violence was coming from ‘the left wing.’ The stunning moment came when moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump if he was ready to condemn White supremacists and say they need to stand down during ongoing demonstrations across the country…. ‘Who would you like me to condemn?’ Trump asked Wallace. Biden could be heard twice saying, ‘Proud Boys.’ Trump continued: ‘Proud Boys — stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what. I’ll tell you what. Somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right wing problem.'” See also, Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacists launches an online furor, Politico, Maya King and Laura Barrón-López, published on Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “In a night marked by constant interruptions and blatant fact-fudging, it was a moment that sparked a separate online melee. Moderator Chris Wallace gave President Donald Trump an uninterrupted opportunity to condemn the nation’s biggest domestic terrorist groups: white supremacists. Instead, Trump said they should ‘stand back and stand by.’ What’s more, he said, the violence in cities like Kenosha and Portland is a ‘left-wing problem, not a right-wing problem.’ Trump’s comments were quickly embraced by the Proud Boys, an alt-right self-described ‘western chauvinist’ group who clearly viewed it as a call to action. The group turned his words into a logo that has been widely circulated on social media. On the right-wing social media site Parler, Proud Boys leader Joe Biggs said he took Trump’s words as a directive to ‘f— them up.’ Anti-racism advocates also reacted swiftly. ‘Stand back and stand by,’ Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, tweeted. ‘The line of the night. What Donald J. Trump said to the greatest domestic terrorist threat of our time: White supremacists.'” See also, From Debate Stage, Trump Declines to Denounce White Supremacy, NPR, Sarah McCammon, published on Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “President Trump’s hesitation, once again, to denounce white supremacy during Tuesday’s presidential debate is drawing quick condemnation from anti-racism activists — as are his unusual comments directed at a white supremacist group called the Proud Boys. During an exchange on the debate stage, moderator Chris Wallace repeatedly asked Trump if he would condemn white supremacists. Trump initially sidestepped that question, claiming that he mostly sees violence ‘from the left wing.’ Trump eventually responded to Wallace’s question by referring to a white supremacist group, saying, ‘Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what: Somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.'” See also, Proud Boys Celebrate Trump’s ‘Stand By’ Remark About Them at the Debate, The New York Times, Sheera Frenkel and Annie Karni, Tuesday, 29 September 2020: “Members of the Proud Boys, a far-right group that has endorsed violence, celebrated on Tuesday night after President Trump mentioned them during the first presidential debate. Asked whether he condemned white supremacists and military groups, Mr. Trump demurred and then said, ‘Proud Boys — stand back and stand by.’ Within minutes, members of the group were posting in private social media channels, calling the president’s comments ‘historic.’ In one channel dedicated to the Proud Boys on Telegram, a private messaging app, group members called the president’s comment a tacit endorsement of their violent tactics. In another message, a member commented that the group was already seeing a spike in ‘new recruits.'” See also, Proud Boys celebrate after Trump’s debate callout. On their account on the social media app Telegram, the Proud Boys appeared to take the statement as marching orders. NBC News, Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny, Tuesday, 29 September 2020. See also, ‘This Is So Unpresidential’: Notes From The Worst Debate in U.S. History, The New Yorker, Susan Glasser, published on Wednesday, 30 September 2020:”What does the worst debate in American history look like? It looks like the debate that took place on Tuesday night between President Donald Trump and the former Vice-President Joe Biden. It was a joke, a mess, a disaster. A ‘shit show,’ a ‘dumpster fire,’ a national humiliation. No matter how bad you thought the debate would be, it was worse. Way worse. Trump shouted, he bullied, he hectored, he lied, and he interrupted, over and over again. Remarkably enough, it was seemingly on purpose. Losing in the polls, and with the country stricken by a pandemic that has claimed two hundred thousand American lives, the President offered incoherent bluster, inflammatory racism, and personal attacks on his opponent’s son. But mostly what came through was Trump’s refusal to shut up. He talked and talked and talked. He talked over Biden. He talked over the moderator, Fox News’ Chris Wallace. He talked over Biden some more. How bad was it? The line that history is likely to record as among the most memorable was Biden’s lament, at the end of the debate’s very first segment: ‘Will you just shut up, man? This is so unpresidential.’ To the extent that there was a substantive headline, it was Trump’s refusal to disavow white supremacy—after, it should be noted, claiming that he has been great for African-Americans—and his continued campaign to undermine public confidence in the upcoming election by baselessly asserting that ballots will be interfered with. ‘This is not going to end well,’ he said, of the election, showing once again that his plan is to attack the very idea of voting itself. He then repeated it, as if for emphasis. ‘This is not going to end well.’ It sure sounded like a threat.” See also, Fact-checking the first Trump-Biden presidential debate, Part 1, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo, and Meg Kelly, published on Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “In the contentious first presidential debate between President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden, Trump repeatedly relied on troublesome and false assertions that have been debunked throughout his presidency. Biden, by contrast, stretched the truth on occasion. Here’s a roundup of 21 of the most noteworthy claims that initially caught our interest. We will publish a follow-up report as well.” See also, Fact-checking the first Trump-Biden presidential debate, Part 2, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler and Salvador Rizzo, published on Thursday, 1 October 2020: “On the night of the contentious first debate between President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden, we produced fact checks of 21 claims made during the debate before we went to bed. But it was such a crazy night, with so many falsehoods, that we feel compelled to produce a follow-up report. So here are 32 more claims, most of which were made by the president, in the order in which they were made.” See also, Trump incessantly interrupts and insults Biden as they spar in acrimonious first debate, The Washington Post, Anne Gearan, Philip Rucker, and Annie Linskey, published on Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “The presidential campaign devolved into chaos and acrimony here Tuesday night as President Trump incessantly interrupted and insulted Democratic nominee Joe Biden while the two sparred over the economy, the coronavirus pandemic, the Supreme Court and race relations in their first debate. The most anticipated event on the fall campaign calendar was an uncontrollable spectacle of badgering and browbeating, of raised voices and hot tempers. Trump’s interjections and jeers, some of them false and made in an apparent effort to fluster Biden, landed with such ferocity that moderator Chris Wallace pleaded multiple times with the president to follow the agreed-upon debate rules.” See also, I Counted Every Single Time Trump Interrupted During the First Presidential Debate; Trump interrupted Biden or debate moderator Chris Wallace at least 128 times. Slate, Jeremy Stahl, published on Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “By my count, Trump interrupted former Vice President Joe Biden or debate moderator Chris Wallace at least 128 times. This number dwarfed the 51 times Trump interrupted Hillary Clinton during the first presidential debate in 2016. For his part, Biden interrupted dozens of times—at various points either trying to get a word in edgewise or correct flat lies by the president—but his interruptions were no match for Trump’s.” See also, Trump and Biden’s First Presidential Debate: The Moments That Mattered, The Wall Street Journal, Alex Leary, published on Wednesday, 30 September 2020.

House in near-unanimous vote affirms peaceful transfer of power, The Hill, Cristina Marcos, Tuesday, 29 September 2020: “The House adopted a resolution on Tuesday to affirm the chamber’s support for a peaceful transfer of power after President Trump last week declined to commit to it if he loses reelection. Lawmakers adopted the measure in a bipartisan 397-5 vote, with all of the votes in opposition coming from Republicans. Tuesday’s vote followed one last week on a virtually identical measure in the Senate, which lawmakers in that chamber passed unanimously. Passage of the resolution in the Democratic-led House also came less than an hour before Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden were set to face off in the first of three presidential debates. The five Republicans who voted against the resolution were Reps. Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Clay Higgins (La.), Steve King (Iowa) and Thomas Massie (Ky.).”

Trump Paid $750 in Federal Income Taxes in 2017. Here’s the Math. Figures drawn from President Trump’s tax-return data show how that number was calculated. The New York Times, Russ Buettner, Mike McIntire, Susanne Craig, and Keith Collins, Tuesday, 29 September 2020: “The small amount of federal income taxes President Trump paid in both 2016 and 2017 — just $750 each year — has become the focus of much attention since it was revealed in a New York Times investigation. The figures [in this article], drawn from Mr. Trump’s tax-return data for 2017, show how his accountants arrived at that figure for one of those years.”

Adam Schiff, Democratic Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Sees Rise in Russian Disinformation as Trump Attacks Mail-In Voting. Foreign adversaries want to undermine confidence in the American election and the House Intelligence Committee chairman says they are amplifying President Trump’s false assertions. The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes, Tuesday, 29 September 2020: “American intelligence officials have seen an uptick in Russian disinformation about mail-in ballots as President Trump has escalated his attacks on voting by mail, Representative Adam B. Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview. American intelligence agencies have not explicitly linked the increase in Russian disinformation operations to the president’s comments. They would not make such a link without specific intelligence about the Kremlin’s marching orders. Intelligence and other officials acknowledged that Russia always focuses its disinformation efforts on existing controversies to amplify ongoing arguments. Mr. Trump’s false assertions have also fueled the spread of misperceptions about widespread mail-in voting. Experts have repeatedly said absentee voting is secure, and there was little public controversy over it until the president began his attacks.”

John Ratcliffe, the Director of National Intelligence, Releases Unverified, Previously Rejected Russia Information. The disclosure appeared to be aimed at helping President Trump benefit politically, and intelligence agencies were said to object to its release. New York Times, Julian E. Barnes, Adam Goldman, and Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 29 September 2020: “President Trump’s top intelligence official on Tuesday released unverified information about the 2016 campaign that appeared to be a bid to help Mr. Trump politically and was said to be disclosed over the objections of career intelligence officials who were concerned that the material could be Russian disinformation. The disclosures were the latest by John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence and previously an outspoken congressional ally of the president, that highlighted information that helped Mr. Trump but that critics have called distortions. Mr. Ratcliffe sought to shore up the credibility of the material, which centered on claims about Hillary Clinton, saying that it was not a product of Russian disinformation after initially acknowledging that it could be. But his initial disclosure, coming hours before the first presidential debate, offered fresh ammunition for Mr. Trump to attack his political enemies.”

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller Rebuts Insider’s Claim That He Could Have Done More to Investigate Trump, The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Tuesday, 29 September 2020: “The former special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, rebutted allegations on Tuesday from one of the top prosecutors in his office that his team could have more aggressively scrutinized President Trump’s ties to Russia and could have called out his efforts to obstruct the investigation. The former top prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, said in a new book that Mr. Mueller and some members of his team were cowed by the president’s threats to fire them. The book, ‘Where Law Ends,’ was released on Tuesday and provided the first insider account of the special counsel’s investigation. In a rare public statement, Mr. Mueller said that Mr. Weissmann lacked a full picture of decision-making on the team and cast his critiques as typical disagreements among prosecutors in any high-profile investigation. ‘It is not surprising that members of the special counsel’s office did not always agree, but it is disappointing to hear criticism of our team based on incomplete information,’ Mr. Mueller said.”

Trump Secretly Mocks His Christian Supporters. Former aides say that in private, Trump has spoken with cynicism and contempt about believers. The Atlantic, McKay Coppins, Tuesday, 29 September 2020: “One day in 2015, Donald Trump beckoned Michael Cohen, his longtime confidant and personal attorney, into his office. Trump was brandishing a printout of an article about an Atlanta-based megachurch pastor trying to raise $60 million from his flock to buy a private jet. Trump knew the preacher personally—Creflo Dollar had been among a group of evangelical figures who visited him in 2011 while he was first exploring a presidential bid. During the meeting, Trump had reverently bowed his head in prayer while the pastors laid hands on him. Now he was gleefully reciting the impious details of Dollar’s quest for a Gulfstream G650. Trump seemed delighted by the “scam,” Cohen recalled to me, and eager to highlight that the pastor was ‘full of shit.’ ‘They’re all hustlers,’ Trump said. The president’s alliance with religious conservatives has long been premised on the contention that he takes them seriously, while Democrats hold them in disdain. In speeches and interviews, Trump routinely lavishes praise on conservative Christians, casting himself as their champion. ‘My administration will never stop fighting for Americans of faith,’ he declared at a rally for evangelicals earlier this year. It’s a message his campaign will seek to amplify in the coming weeks as Republicans work to confirm Amy Coney Barrett—a devout, conservative Catholic—to the Supreme Court. But in private, many of Trump’s comments about religion are marked by cynicism and contempt, according to people who have worked for him. Former aides told me they’ve heard Trump ridicule conservative religious leaders, dismiss various faith groups with cartoonish stereotypes, and deride certain rites and doctrines held sacred by many of the Americans who constitute his base.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is preparing targeted arrests in ‘sanctuary cities,’ amplifying Trump’s campaign theme, The Washington Post, Nick Miroff and Devlin Barrett, Tuesday, 29 September 2020: “The Trump administration is preparing an immigration enforcement blitz next month that would target arrests in U.S. cities and jurisdictions that have adopted ‘sanctuary’ policies, according to three U.S. officials who described a plan with public messaging that echoes the president’s law-and-order campaign rhetoric. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation, known informally as the ‘sanctuary op,’ could begin in California as soon as later this week. It would then expand to cities including Denver and Philadelphia, according to two of the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive government law enforcement plans.”

Mixing of the planet’s ocean waters is slowing down and speeding up global warming, a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change finds, The Washington Post, Tuesday, 29 September 2020: “The layers of the world’s oceans aren’t mixing like they used to due to climate change, potentially speeding up how fast the planet will warm in the coming decades. This new finding, contained in a study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, finds that the reduction in the mixing of ocean layers is piling up warm water near the surface while cutting back on the circulation of cold, deep water. The reduced up and down mixing is expected to have sweeping implications beyond just accelerating global warming. It is projected to increase energy available to hurricanes and other storms, reduce essential nutrients for fish in upper ocean layers and diminish the oceans’ ability to store carbon, among other impacts.”


Wednesday, 30 September 2020, Day 1,349:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Wednesday, 30 September 2020: Dr. Anthony Fauci and Trump Are at Odds Again Over Masks, The New York Times, Wednesday, 30 September 2020:

  • Fauci pushes back against Trump for misrepresenting his stance on masks.

  • A major Boston hospital has a cluster of cases among its staff and patients.

  • Democrats delayed a stimulus bill vote in a last-ditch effort to reach a deal with the White House.

  • Global tourism collided tragically with the pandemic in an Austrian ski town.

  • N.Y.C.’s seven-day average positivity rate ticks up slightly.

  • Top companies pledge to get virus tests, treatments and vaccines to the developing world.

  • Tampa’s hockey team celebrated with hordes of fans after winning the Stanley Cup in a Covid bubble.

  • Vladimir Putin’s virus-free bubble.

  • Trump’s virus task force urged ‘maximal’ distancing in Wisconsin. The president plans 2 rallies there.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Wednesday, 30 September 2020: Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioners deliver a rare rebuke to the Trump administration, The Washington Post, Antonia Noori Farzan, Jennifer Hassan, Miriam Berger, Paulina Villegas, Brittany Shammas, Lateshia Beachum, Hannah Denham, Reis Thebault, and Meryl Kornfield, Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “Seven former commissioners of the Food and Drug Administration say political interference from the Trump administration could have a catastrophic effect on the agency’s credibility as it prepares to roll out a coronavirus vaccine. ‘If the FDA makes available a safe and effective vaccine that people trust, we could expect to meaningfully reduce covid-19 risk as soon as next spring or summer. Without that trust, our health and economy could lag for years,’ the commissioners wrote in a rare public rebuke published Tuesday in The Washington Post. Since February, at least 7,155,000 coronavirus cases have been reported in the United States, with 205,000 fatalities.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article:

Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is overruled by the White House on cruise ship ban, Axios, Jonathan Swan, Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was overruled when he pushed to extend a ‘no-sail order’ on passenger cruises into next year, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the conversation today in the White House Situation Room. Cruise ships were the sites of some of the most severe early coronavirus outbreaks, before the industry shut down in March. And their future is just the latest disagreement between Redfield and members of President Trump’s team. The undermining of Redfield has been the source of much consternation among public health officials inside the administration, who argue that a politically motivated White House is ignoring the science and pushing too aggressively to reopen the economy and encourage large gatherings. Public health officials have privately complained that the thwarting of Redfield on the cruise ship ban is politically motivated because the industry is a major economic presence in Florida — a key battleground state where the polls are statistically tied.” See also, White House Blocked Order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) to Keep Cruise Ships Docked Until Mid-February. The C.D.C. director wanted a ‘no sail’ order extended until February, a policy that would have upset the tourism industry in the crucial swing state of Florida. The New York Times, Sheila Kaplan, Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “The White House has blocked a new order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to keep cruise ships docked until mid-February, a step that would have displeased the politically powerful tourism industry in the crucial swing state of Florida. The current ‘no sail’ policy, which was originally put in place in April and later extended, is set to expire on Wednesday. Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the C.D.C., had recommended the extension, worried that cruise ships could become viral hot spots, as they did at the beginning of the pandemic. But at a meeting of the coronavirus task force on Tuesday, Dr. Redfield’s plan was overruled, according to a senior federal health official who was not authorized to comment and so spoke on condition of anonymity. The administration will instead allow the ships to sail after Oct. 31, the date the industry had already agreed to in its own, voluntary plan, the agency announced late Wednesday night. The rejection of the C.D.C.’s original plan was first reported by Axios.”

Study at Cornell University Finds Trump Is the ‘Single Largest Driver’ of Coronavirus Misinformation. Cornell University researchers analyzing 38 million English-language articles about the pandemic found that President Trump was the largest driver of the ‘infodemic.’ The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Noah Weiland, Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “Of the flood of misinformation, conspiracy theories and falsehoods seeding the internet on the coronavirus, one common thread stands out: President Trump. That is the conclusion of researchers at Cornell University who analyzed 38 million articles about the pandemic in English-language media around the world. Mentions of Mr. Trump made up nearly 38 percent of the overall ‘misinformation conversation,’ making the president the largest driver of the ‘infodemic’ — falsehoods involving the pandemic. The study, to be released Thursday, is the first comprehensive examination of coronavirus misinformation in traditional and online media.”

Eyes Are on Pfizer as Trump Pushes for Coronavirus Vaccine by October. Despite slim chances that its vaccine will be ready by October, Pfizer has big incentives to hint that it might be. The New York Times, Katie Thomas, Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “In media appearances and talks with investors, Pfizer’s chief executive nearly always mentions a word that is so politically perilous, most of his competitors shy away from it: October. ‘Right now, our model — our best case — predicts that we will have an answer by the end of October,’ the chief executive, Dr. Albert Bourla, told the ‘Today’ show earlier this month. In other interviews, he has said he expected a ‘conclusive readout’ by then, with an application for emergency authorization that could be filed ‘immediately.’ Dr. Bourla’s statements have put his company squarely in the sights of President Trump, who has made no secret of his desire for positive vaccine news to boost his chances on Election Day, Nov. 3. ‘We’re going to have a vaccine very soon. Maybe even before a very special date,’ Mr. Trump said recently. And yet by all other accounts, the idea that it will be ready in October is far-fetched. Even if the vaccine shows promising signs in clinical trials — still a big if — the company will not have collected enough data by then to say with any statistical confidence that it is safe and effective. By repeating a date that flies in the face of most scientific predictions, Dr. Bourla is making a high-stakes gamble. If Pfizer puts out a vaccine before it has been thoroughly tested — something the company has pledged it will not do — it could pose a major threat to public safety. The perception matters, too: If Americans see the vaccine as having been rushed in order to placate Mr. Trump, many may refuse to get the shot.”

Election 2020 Updates: Some Republicans Criticize Trump for Failing to Denounce White Supremacy. The Commission on Presidential Debates plans to change the debate format after President Trump’s frequent interruptions threatened to derail the first debate. Mr. Trump’s attempts to sow doubts about the vote alarmed election experts. The New York Times, Wednesday, 30 September 2020:

  • Facebook will forbid ads that undermine the legitimacy of the coming election.

  • When it came to TV ratings, Trump vs. Biden was no match for Trump vs. Clinton.

  • Republicans distanced themselves from Trump for failing to denounce white supremacy, and the president scrambled to defend himself.

  • The Commission on Presidential Debates says it will change debate format, however, no decision yet on cutting off microphones.

  • ‘It’s the kind of language you might expect from a dictator’: Trump’s remarks on election integrity and poll-watching alarm experts.

  • ‘I’ve read some of the reviews,’ Chris Wallace says. ‘I’ve never been through anything like this.’

  • Biden courts voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania: ‘Does your president understand at all what you’re going through?’

  • Pennsylvania’s top election official casts doubt on fraud claims in Luzerne County.

  • A new poll shows a close presidential and Senate race in South Carolina.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Election 2020: Debate commission says it will change structure to ensure a ‘more orderly discussion’ The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, and Amy B Wang, Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Wednesday that it would add “additional structure” to the remaining faceoffs between President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden after Tuesday night’s chaotic clash in Cleveland, saying ‘more orderly discussion is needed.’ The announcement came as both candidates returned to the campaign trail, and Biden called Trump’s behavior at the debate “a national disgrace” during a stop in Ohio. Meanwhile, several GOP lawmakers urged Trump to address his refusal during the debate to condemn self-described white supremacists. Democrats widely denounced Trump’s remarks.

With 34 days until the election:

  • During an acrimonious first debate, Trump incessantly interrupted and insulted Biden while the two sparred over the economy, the coronavirus pandemic, the Supreme Court and race relations.
  • Trump refused to condemn self-described white supremacists and unofficial armed militia members during a debate in which racism emerged as one of the most contentious issues.
  • Democratic voters who have requested mail ballots — and returned them — greatly outnumber Republicans so far in key battleground states, causing alarm among GOP leaders and strategists.
  • Biden leads Trump by eight percentage points nationally, 51 percent to 43 percent, according to a Washington Post average of polls. Biden’s margin is the same in Pennsylvania and smaller in other key states: seven points in Wisconsin and Michigan, five in Arizona and one in Florida.

Trump plans big Wisconsin rallies despite White House task force calls for ‘maximal’ social distancing in the state, The Washington Post, Michael Scherer and Lena H. Sun, Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “President Trump has scheduled large campaign rallies this weekend in Wisconsin despite recommendations from the White House Coronavirus Task Force that call for increasing social distancing in the state ‘to the maximal degree possible.’ The task force has further flagged La Crosse and Green Bay, the metropolitan areas where Trump plans to gather thousands of supporters Saturday, as coronavirus ‘red zones,’ the highest level of concern for community spread of the virus, according to a report from the group released Sunday and obtained by The Washington Post. Wisconsin is listed in the document as the state with the third-highest rate of new cases in the country, with 243 new cases per 100,000 people over the previous week, about 2.6 times greater than the national average. Ahead of Trump’s scheduled rally in Green Bay, the Bellin Health System said Tuesday that its hospital in that city is at 94 percent capacity as covid-19 continues to spike in the community.”

Tuesday’s Debate Made Clear the Gravest Threat to the Election: President Trump Himself, The New York Times, David E. Sanger, Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “Trump’s angry insistence in the last minutes of Tuesday’s debate that there was no way the presidential election could be conducted without fraud amounted to an extraordinary declaration by a sitting American president that he would try to throw any outcome into the courts, Congress or the streets if he was not re-elected. His comments came after four years of debate about the possibility of foreign interference in the 2020 election and how to counter such disruptions. But they were a stark reminder that the most direct threat to the electoral process now comes from the president of the United States himself. Mr. Trump’s unwillingness to say he would abide by the result, and his disinformation campaign about the integrity of the American electoral system, went beyond anything President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia could have imagined. All Mr. Putin has to do now is amplify the president’s message, which he has already begun to do. Everything Mr. Trump said in his face-off with Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee, he had already delivered in recent weeks, in tweets and at rallies with his faithful. But he had never before put it all together in front of such a large audience as he did on Tuesday night. The president began the debate with a declaration that balloting already underway was ‘a fraud and a shame’ and proof of ‘a rigged election.’ It quickly became apparent that Mr. Trump was doing more than simply trying to discredit the mail-in ballots that are being used to ensure voters are not disenfranchised by a pandemic — the same way of voting that five states have used for years with minimal fraud. He followed it by encouraging his supporters to ‘go into the polls’ and ‘watch very carefully,’ which seemed to be code words for a campaign of voter intimidation, aimed at those who brave the coronavirus risks of voting in person. And Mr. Trump’s declaration that the Supreme Court would have to ‘look at the ballots’ and that ‘we might not know for months because these ballots are going to be all over’ seemed to suggest that he would try to place the election in the hands of a court where he has been rushing to cement a conservative majority with his nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett. And if he cannot win there, he has already raised the possibility of using the argument of a fraudulent election to throw the decision to the House of Representatives, where he believes he has an edge because every state delegation gets one vote in resolving an election with no clear winner. At least for now, 26 of those delegations have a majority of Republican representatives. Taken together, his attacks on the integrity of the coming election suggested that a country that has successfully run presidential elections since 1788 (a messy first experiment, which stretched just under a month), through civil wars, world wars and natural disasters now faces the gravest challenge in its history to the way it chooses a leader and peacefully transfers power.”

The Attack on Voting: How Trump’s false claim of voter fraud is being used to disenfranchise Americans, The New York Times Magazine, Jim Rutenberg, Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “As the 2020 presidential election nears, it is becoming clear that the Trump administration and the Republican Party are not just looking at but heavily investing in the largely nonexistent problem of voter fraud. A New York Times Magazine investigation, based on a review of thousands of pages of court records and interviews with more than 100 key players — lawyers, activists and current and former government officials — found an extensive effort to gain partisan advantage by aggressively promoting the false claim that voter fraud is a pervasive problem. The effort takes its most prominent form in the president’s own public statements, which relentlessly promote the false notion that voter fraud is rampant. This story did not originate with Trump. It has its roots in Reconstruction-era efforts to suppress the votes of newly freed slaves and came roaring back to life after the passage of the Voting Rights Act. But it is reaching an apex now, as a president who lost the popular vote in 2016 and is currently trailing in the polls harnesses the reality-warping powers of social media and the resources of at least four federal agencies to undermine faith in an election he could very well lose. Voter fraud is an adaptable fiction, and the president has tailored it to the moment. Even as the coronavirus pandemic poses a grave obstacle to his re-election, the crisis is providing him an opportunity to do what no other president has done before him: use the full force of the federal government to attack the democratic process, suppress the votes of American citizens and spread grievance and suspicion among his followers. Recently, perhaps predictably, the president has begun to suggest that because of his professed distrust in the election process, he will not agree to a peaceful transition of power. It is remarkable, but not at all accidental, that a narrative built from minor incidents, gross exaggeration and outright fabrication is now at the center of the effort to re-elect the president. As we approach an election in which the threat of voter fraud is being used as a justification for unprecedented legal and political interventions in our democratic process, it is important to understand what this claim actually represents: It is nothing short of a decades-long disinformation campaign — sloppy, cynical and brazen, but often quite effective — carried out by a consistent cast of characters with a consistent story line.” See also, Takeaways on Trump, Voter Fraud, and the Election. A New York Times Magazine investigation finds that misleading and false claims about widespread voter fraud are part of a long disinformation effort that the president has taken to new extremes. New York Times, Daniel Victor, Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “The specter of widespread voter fraud has been a cornerstone of President Trump’s efforts to dispute the Nov. 3 election should he lose. A New York Times Magazine investigation published on Wednesday has found that the idea, based on a flimsy set of sensationalist, misleading or outright false claims, was intentionally planted in the public discourse as part of a decades-long disinformation campaign by the Republican Party and outside actors. Though the goals of the campaign complement and build on long-running disenfranchisement efforts aimed at Black and Latino voters, the investigation shows that the Trump administration has used the full force of the federal government, from the Department of Homeland Security to the Postal Service, to prop up limp claims of fraud as no White House has ever before.”

A Debate That Can’t Be Ignored, The New York Times, The Editorial Board, Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “All Americans, whatever their political inclinations, should make time to watch Tuesday night’s presidential debate, and every minute of the two forthcoming debates. President Trump’s performance on the debate stage was a national disgrace. His refusal to condemn white supremacists, or to pledge that he will accept the results of the election, betrayed the people who entrusted him with the highest office in the land. Every American has a responsibility to look and listen and take the full measure of the man. Ignorance can no longer be a tenable excuse. Conservatives in pursuit of long-cherished policy goals can no longer avoid the reality that Mr. Trump is vandalizing the principles and integrity of our democracy.”

Trump’s call for poll-watching volunteers sparks fear of chaos and violence on Election Day, The Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Joshua Partlow, Isaac Stanley-Becker, and Josh Dawsey, Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “President Trump’s debate-stage call for volunteers to stand watch at voting locations has prompted an enthusiastic response from known neo-Nazis and right-wing activists, leading many state election and law enforcement officials to prepare for voter intimidation, arrests and even violence on Election Day. In his debate Tuesday night with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Trump did not explicitly condemn white supremacists or armed right-wing groups when asked to do so, and he falsely accused election officials in Philadelphia of improperly keeping poll watchers out of voting locations this week. The president provoked particular outrage when he was asked to condemn the Proud Boys, an all-male group associated with street violence, but instead said its members should ‘stand back and stand by.’ The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee for months have promised to recruit as many as 50,000 poll watchers to monitor voting locations on Election Day. The campaign’s ‘Army for Trump’ website has contributed to that effort, urging supporters to join the ‘army of supporters fighting to re-elect him in 2020.’ But more-extremist supporters appeared to be joining that effort Wednesday, raising the prospect for confrontation and intimidation at polling locations. ‘I got shivers,’ Andrew Anglin, the founder of the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer, wrote in a post Wednesday. ‘I still have shivers. He is telling the people to stand by. As in: Get ready for war.'”

Supreme Court Speeds Case on Excluding Undocumented Immigrants in Redistricting. A lower court had ruled that the Trump administration’s plan to alter the census count for congressional reapportionment violated federal law. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “The Supreme Court agreed on Wednesday to move quickly to consider an appeal from the Trump administration that seeks to revive its efforts to exclude undocumented immigrants from the calculations used to apportion congressional seats. The move will allow the court to hear the case as soon as December, setting the stage for a ruling on a policy that seeks to upend a constitutional consensus and would generally shift both political power and federal money from Democratic states to Republican ones. The Constitution requires congressional districts to be apportioned ‘counting the whole number of persons in each state,’ using information from the census. To this end, a federal law requires the president to send Congress a statement setting out the number of representatives to which each state is entitled after each decennial census. In the past, those statements have been based on a count of all residents, whatever their immigration status. In July, President Trump issued a memorandum taking a new approach. ‘For the purpose of the reapportionment of representatives following the 2020 census,’ the memorandum said, ‘it is the policy of the United States to exclude from the apportionment base aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status.'”

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron didn’t seek murder charges in Breonna Taylor case, CNN, Rob Frehse and Elizabeth Joseph, Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron Tuesday night suggested the grand jury in the Breonna Taylor case could have made an ‘assessment about different charges,’ in an exclusive on-camera interview with CNN affiliate WDRB. ‘They’re an independent body,’ Cameron said in the interview. ‘If they wanted to make an assessment about different charges, they could’ve done that. But our recommendation was that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their acts and their conduct.’ Officers Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly were two of the three officers involved in Taylor’s death. Taylor, an EMT, was killed in her own home when the plainclothes officers executed a ‘no-knock’ warrant. Cosgrove and Mattingly have not been indicted in the case. The third officer, Brett Hankison, has been indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment of the first degree. In the interview with WDRB, Cameron also said he didn’t seek murder charges against Cosgrove or Mattingly. ‘Ultimately, our judgment is that the charge that we could prove at trial beyond a reasonable doubt was for wanton endangerment against Mr. Hankison,’ Cameron said. CNN Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates said it’s rare, if not unheard of, that a grand jury would go beyond the statutes presented to them by the prosecutor. ‘Normally the grand jury is simply voting on the statutes presented to the grand jury, they are not combing through the criminal code to see if prosecutors could pursue criminal charges,’ Coates said. ‘They are far more reactive to facts that are presented to them than they are seeking criminal statutes to charge a defendant under.'” See also, Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron given until Friday to release grand jury recordings in Breonna Taylor case, CNN, Ray Sanchez and Mark Morales, Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “The release of grand jury recordings in the Breonna Taylor case will be delayed until noon Friday, according to a judge’s order. The highly unusual public release of secret grand jury proceedings had been expected Wednesday after Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Ann Bailey Smith ordered recordings of the two and half day presentation to the panel to be filed with the court by noon local time. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron had sought a one-week delay in a motion filed Tuesday, arguing that it was necessary to protect the interest of witnesses, particularly ‘private citizens named in the recordings.’ His office wants to ‘redact personal identifiers of any named person. The Judge ruled on the motion today and granted an extension until noon on Friday to give us proper time to redact specific personal information of witnesses,’ Elizabeth Kuhn, a spokeswoman for the attorney general, said via email. Taylor was fatally shot in her Louisville apartment in March by officers executing a drug warrant. The grand jury did not indict any of the officers involved on charges related to her death. One officer was charged in connection with shots he fired into an adjacent apartment.”

California approves task force to consider paying reparations for slavery, The Hill, Rebecca Klar, Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill Wednesday approving a task force to consider paying reparations for slavery. Newsom said the bipartisan support for the bill, which passed in the state Senate on a 33-3 vote last month, is ‘proving a paradigm that we hope will be resonant all across the United States.’ The bill will require a commission study the lingering impact of slavery in the state and make recommendations to lawmakers by July 2023. The recommendations should include details on what form of compensation should be awarded as well as its recipients. ‘California has come to terms with many of its issues, but it has yet to come to term with its role in slavery,’ said Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a Democrat who authored the bill.  Weber said California has ‘deeply-rooted issues about race and slavery.'”

Charismatic Christian group People of Praise deletes mentions of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett from its website, Associated Press, Michael Biesecker, Wednesday, 30 September 2020: “A religious organization tied to Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, sought to erase all mentions and photos of her from its website before she meets with lawmakers and faces questions at her Senate confirmation hearings. Barrett, a federal appeals judge, has declined to publicly discuss her decades-long affiliation with People of Praise, a charismatic Christian group that opposes abortion and holds that men are divinely ordained as the ‘head’ of the family and faith. Former members have said the group’s leaders teach that wives must submit to the will of their husbands. A spokesman for the organization has declined to say whether the judge and her husband, Jesse M. Barrett, are members. But an analysis by The Associated Press shows that People of Praise erased numerous records from its website during the summer of 2017 that referred to Barrett and included photos of her and her family. At the time, Barrett was on Trump’s short list for the high court seat that eventually went to Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Last week, when Barrett again emerged as a front-runner for the court, more articles, blog posts and photos disappeared. After an AP reporter emailed the group’s spokesman Wednesday about members of Jesse Barrett’s family, his mother’s name was deleted from the primary contact for the South Bend, Indiana, branch. All issues of the organization’s magazine, ‘Vine and Branches,’ were also removed. Sean Connolly, People of Praise’s spokesman, confirmed in an email that information was being wiped from the group’s website.”


Thursday, 1 October 2020, Day 1,350:


Trump Says He Will Quarantine After Aide Hope Hicks Falls Ill with Covid-19, Bloomberg, Jennifer Jacobs and Jordan Fabian, Thursday, 1 October 2020: “Donald Trump said that he would begin self-quarantine while waiting for coronavirus test results after Hope Hicks, one of his closest aides, tested positive for Covid-19. ‘She did test positive. I just heard about this,’ Trump said in an interview Thursday night on Fox News, about two hours after Bloomberg News first reported Hicks’s positive test. Later, in a tweet, the president said that he and First Lady Melania Trump had been tested for the virus and were waiting on the results. ‘In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process!’ It was unclear from the president’s tweet whether that meant he planned to halt campaigning for re-election. An official White House schedule released less than an hour earlier still listed his plans to meet with supporters in Washington on Friday, then fly to Florida for a campaign rally near Orlando. Hicks traveled with Trump aboard Air Force One to and from the presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday and to a Minnesota rally on Wednesday. She felt poorly in Minnesota and quarantined aboard the presidential plane on the way home, according to people familiar with the matter. The people asked not to be identified because Hicks’s infection had not been publicly announced until Trump’s interview. Messages left for Hicks were not immediately returned.”

Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Thursday, 1 October 2020: On Twitter, Trump Says He Has Tested Positive for Coronavirus, The New York Times, Thursday, 1 October 2020. Since this information was tweeted by Trump at 12:54 am on 2 October, this news will be covered in tomorrow’s posts.

  • President Trump tests positive for the virus.

  • In an open letter, Pfizer’s C.E.O. says his company ‘would never succumb to political pressure.’

  • House Democrats muscle through a stimulus plan with little chance of passing the Senate.

  • Federal prisons will allow relatives in to visit inmates again starting Saturday.

  • Almost 20,000 frontline Amazon workers have been infected, the company says.

  • N.Y.C. is the first major U.S. city to reopen all its public schools for in-person learning.

  • N.F.L. indefinitely postpones Steelers-Titans game after new virus cases.

  • A major spike in Wisconsin is swamping hospitals, testing and tracing capacity.

  • Moscow orders restrictions as new cases mount.

  • National Day travel in China will be the clearest measure yet of the country’s virus recovery.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday, 1 October 2020: White House aide Hope Hicks tests positive for coronavirus, and Trump begins quarantine, The Washington Post, Marisa Iati, Paulina Villegas, Paulina Firozi, Siobhán O’Grady, Hannah Denham, Meryl Kornfield, Darren Sands, Josh Dawsey, and Colby Itkowitz, Thursday, 1 October 2020: “President Trump said Thursday night that he and first lady Melania Trump would begin ‘the quarantine process’ after one of his closest advisers, Hope Hicks, who traveled with him several times this week aboard Air Force One, tested positive for the coronavirus. Trump told Fox News’s Sean Hannity during a live interview Thursday night that he and the first lady were tested after they learned about Hicks and were awaiting the results.

Here are a few significant developments included in this article.

  • House Democrats passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill Thursday over intense GOP opposition, even as bipartisan talks between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continued.
  • Amazon said nearly 20,000 of its U.S. employees had tested positive, or had been presumed positive, for the coronavirus since the pandemic started spreading through the United States this year.
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said each of the state’s counties could only provide one mail-in ballot drop-off location for the November election, drawing criticism that the order amounted to voter suppression.
  • Coronavirus hospitalizations have reached their highest levels since at least May in nine states in the past week, according to a Washington Post analysis, with at least four states setting records Thursday, and another three reaching highs Wednesday.
  • Moderna’s chief executive, Stéphane Bancel, told the Financial Times that the company’s experimental covid-19 vaccine is not expected to be available for widespread use until the spring.
  • Food banks are removing a signed letter Trump wanted to include in every food-aid box.
  • The Smithsonian Institution laid off 237 employees from its shops, theaters and concessions this week, part of ongoing cost-cutting measures meant to limit the financial losses related to covid-19.

Election 2020 Updates: Trump Briefly Condemns White Supremacists, The New York Times, Thursday, 1 October 2020:

  • Trump, under pressure to condemn white supremacist groups, does so briefly in Fox audio interview.

  • President Trump tests positive for the coronavirus.

  • The Trump campaign relocates one of Saturday’s Wisconsin rallies after criticism over a spike in coronavirus cases.

  • Michigan charges two right-wing operatives with felonies over voter suppression scheme.

  • With the health care law headed to the Supreme Court, Senate Democrats force a vote to embarrass Republicans pushing Barrett’s confirmation.

  • Trying to flip the Senate, Democrats are flush with campaign cash.

  • The Trump campaign lights into the debate commission for proposing new rules to limit frequent disruptions.

  • Audio recording of Melania Trump captures her complaining in vulgar terms about Christmas decorations and mocking detained migrant children.

  • Biden breaks the $365 million fund-raising record that he set in August.

  • The Florida director of a pro-Trump Latino group is the chairman of the Proud Boys.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Election 2020: Trump campaign wants no changes to debate rules, and he challenges the leaders of the debate commission, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, and John Wagner, Thursday, 1 October 2020: “The Trump campaign said Thursday that the president would participate in the second and third debates, but that it does not support changing the format. Campaign officials also accused the leadership of the Commission on Presidential Debates of bias against President Trump. Trump and Joe Biden are both focused Thursday on raising money for the final stretch of the race, with the Republican incumbent hosting an event at his golf club in New Jersey and the Democratic nominee holding a virtual fundraiser. Meanwhile, both of their running mates are seeking to shore up support in the Midwest. Vice President Pence is in Iowa, while Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) is scheduled to virtually address a Democratic dinner in Minnesota. The Biden campaign also said Thursday that in battleground states, it would resume some door-knocking and other direct contact with voters that it had avoided for months because of the pandemic.

With 33 days until the election:

  • Trump’s belligerent debate performance stoked fears among Republicans about November.
  • Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said the Trump campaign should resist any changes in format that would make the presidential debates ‘softer and easier and nicer.’
  • Back in his comfort zone, Biden hit Amtrak and the campaign trail.
  • Trump plans big Wisconsin rallies this weekend despite calls by the White House coronavirus task force for ‘maximal’ social distancing in the state.
  • Biden leads Trump by eight percentage points nationally, 51 percent to 43 percent, according to a Washington Post average of polls. Biden’s margin is the same in Pennsylvania and smaller in other key states: seven points in Wisconsin and Michigan, five in Arizona and one in Florida.

As debate commission considers rule changes, Trump signals he’ll reject them, The Washington Post, Annie Linskey, Josh Dawsey, Chelsea Janes, and Robert Costa, Thursday, 1 October 2020: “President Trump and his top aides signaled Thursday that they would reject any changes to the presidential debate format, as members of the commission in charge of the matchups zeroed in on potential adjustments aimed at avoiding a repeat of Tuesday’s chaotic faceoff between Trump and Democrat Joe Biden. The changes — which could be announced as early as this weekend — would be aimed at reining in behavior like Trump’s on Tuesday and making the debate more orderly. But the looming dispute with the Trump camp casts a cloud of uncertainty over the remaining debates, including Wednesday’s session between the vice-presidential nominees. Biden told reporters Thursday that he is open to changes following a debate in which Trump repeatedly cut him off and talked over him. Trump campaign officials told reporters that Biden’s team had proposed several alterations, including allowing the moderator to mute candidates’ microphones; having more questions addressed directly to each candidate; adding opening and closing statements; and limiting the ‘free discussion’ period, which devolved into inaudible crosstalk during Tuesday’s debate. But Trump rejected such ideas, suggesting they would be aimed at eroding his advantage. ‘Why would I allow the Debate Commission to change the rules for the second and third Debates when I easily won last time?’ Trump wrote on social media.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s limit on drop-off sites for mail-in ballots criticized as voter suppression, The Washington Post, Meryl Kornfield and Felicia Sonmez, Thursday, 1 October 2020: “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Thursday said each of the state’s counties could provide only one mail-in ballot drop-off location for the November election, a proclamation that quickly spurred criticism and a legal threat from Democrats and election officials. The executive order, which amended a July 27 order by Abbott that expanded early voting and absentee ballot drop-offs, cites election security as the reason counties must close sites that were already collecting early ballots. Critics immediately seized on the news, threatening legal challenges and arguing the change does not prevent fraud but hurts populous cities that are Democratic strongholds. Texas Democrats called Abbott’s move ‘a blatant voter suppression tactic. Republicans are on the verge of losing, so Governor Abbott is trying to adjust the rules last minute,’ state Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement. ‘Make no mistake, Democracy itself is on the ballot. Every Texan must get out and vote these cowards out!'” See also, Texas Governor Greg Abbott limits counties to one absentee ballot drop-off location, bolstering Republican efforts to restrict voting. The Republican governor’s order Thursday was a rebuke to large, Democratic counties that have set up numerous locations where voters may drop off their completed absentee ballots in person. Civil rights groups say it will suppress voting.  The Texas Tribune, Emma Platoff, Thursday, 1 October 2020: “Gov. Greg Abbott threw the weight of his office Thursday behind Republican efforts to limit options for Texas voters who want to hand-deliver their completed absentee ballots for the November election — a rebuke to some large, Democratic counties that have set up multiple drop-off locations in what they call an effort to maximize voter convenience. The Republican governor issued a proclamation directing counties to designate just one location for ballot drop-offs, and allowing political parties to install poll watchers to observe the process. An unprecedented number of absentee ballots are expected to be cast this year as voters who qualify under Texas’ unusually strict vote-by-mail rules opt to avoid the health risks of voting in person. Republican officials have aggressively fought Democratic efforts to expand access to mail-in ballots during the pandemic.” See also, Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s order closing ballot drop-off sites is voter suppression, plain and simple, Houston Chronicle, The Editorial Board, published on Friday, 2 October 2020: “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott framed his order limiting counties to only one location for collecting completed mail ballots as a way to enhance ‘ballot security protocol’ and ensure COVID-19 safety measures. We need to call it what it is: Voter suppression. Clear and simple.” See also, Voting rights advocates sue to block Texas governor’s order limiting counties to one ballot drop-off location, The Washington Post, Elise Viebeck, published on Friday, 2 October 2020: “Voting rights advocates have filed suit against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, contending that his new order limiting mail-ballot drop-off locations to one per county burdens voters and ‘undermines the public’s confidence in the election itself.’ The complaint, filed late Thursday in federal court, seeks to block enforcement of an order Abbott (R) issued Thursday and to allow counties to offer multiple ballot drop-off locations ahead of a projected rise in mail voting during the general election. The increase is expected despite state GOP officials’ success in maintaining strict eligibility limits on mail voting during the coronavirus pandemic. The state is one of only five that is prohibiting voters fearful of exposure to the virus from casting mail ballots this fall.”

Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, two right-wing operatives, face felony charges in connection with robocalls seeking to mislead voters, The Washington Post, Meryl Kornfield, Thursday, 1 October 2020: “Two right-wing operatives infamous for inventing outlandish conspiracy theories face felony charges in Michigan for allegedly intimidating voters with inaccurate robocalls that discouraged residents in urban areas from casting their ballots by mail. Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman were charged with four felonies of intimidating voters, conspiring to violate election law and using a computer to commit a crime, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Thursday, after thousands of residents from at least five states received the robocall aimed at discouraging absentee voting, at a time when many Americans are expected to vote by mail rather than in-person during the coronavirus pandemic…. Nearly 12,000 residents with phone numbers from the 313 area code, located in Detroit, were targeted, Nessel’s office said. Attorneys general in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois also reported similar robocalls made to urban residents, amounting to an estimated 85,000 calls nationally, according to the Michigan office. The caller, who claims to work for a civil rights organization founded by Wohl and Burkman, falsely says personal information for those who vote by mail will be shared with police tracking down warrants, credit card companies collecting outstanding debt, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requiring mandatory vaccinations. The caller tells voters to not be ‘finessed into giving your private information to the man.’ Officials said the call exploited ‘racially-charged stereotypes.'” See also, Conservative hoaxers face charges over false voter robocalls, Associated Press, Ryan J. Foley, Thursday, 1 October 2020: “Two notorious conservative operatives were charged Thursday with felonies in connection with false robocalls that aimed to dissuade residents in Detroit and other U.S. cities from voting by mail, Michigan’s attorney general announced. Jacob Wohl, 22, and Jack Burkman, 54, each face four felony counts in Detroit, including conspiring to intimidate voters in violation of election law and using a computer to commit crimes, Attorney General Dana Nessel said. The calls falsely warned residents in majority-Black Detroit and urban areas in at least four other states that voting by mail in the Nov. 3 election could subject people to arrest, debt collection and forced vaccination, Nessel said.” See also, Michigan charges two right-wing operatives with felonies over voter suppression scheme, The New York Times, Neil Vigdor, Thursday 1 October 2020: “Two right-wing political operatives were charged Thursday with a series of felonies in connection with a robocall scheme that Michigan’s attorney general said was part of a broad effort intended to intimidate minority voters from casting mail-in ballots. The operatives, Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl, made automated calls to around 12,000 Michigan residents in August, warning them that their personal information from mail-in ballots could be used to execute outstanding arrest warrants or by credit card companies to collect unpaid debts, the authorities said.”

Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s Supreme Court Pick, Signed Anti-Abortion Ad, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Thursday, 1 October 2020: “Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, signed a statement in a 2006 newspaper advertisement opposing ‘abortion on demand.’ Judge Barrett was a law professor at Notre Dame at the time, and her name was among those of hundreds of residents of the region surrounding South Bend, Ind., known as Michiana. The statement appears to be her first direct public expression of her views on abortion, which are at the heart of much of the opposition to her nomination. ‘We, the following citizens of Michiana, oppose abortion on demand and defend the right to life from fertilization to natural death,’ said the statement, published in an advertisement in the South Bend Tribune by St. Joseph County Right to Life, which is now known as Right to Life Michiana and says it is ‘one of the oldest continuously active pro-life organizations in the nation.’ Her endorsement of the statement was immediately seized upon by Democrats, who said it undercut efforts by Mr. Trump and other Republicans to suggest that Judge Barrett’s position on abortion was unknown or unclear. There has long been little question that Judge Barrett personally opposes abortion, based on her Catholic faith, accounts of friends, her supporters’ confidence and suggestions in her academic writings. But the statement in the advertisement boiled it down to a declarative sentence.” See also, Amy Coney Barrett signed ad in 2006 decrying ‘barbaric legacy’ of Roe v. Wade, advocating overturning the law, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Thursday, 1 October 2020: “Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, added her name to a local newspaper advertisement in 2006 that decried the ‘barbaric legacy’ of Roe v. Wade and advocated overturning the landmark decision that guarantees a woman’s right to an abortion. The public declaration from Barrett drew criticism Thursday from a top Democrat who warned that Senate confirmation of the conservative judge to replace the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would threaten women’s reproductive rights. Barrett, who met with 11 Republican senators at the Capitol on Thursday, is likely to face questions at her confirmation hearings this month about whether her personal beliefs will influence her legal rulings.”

With Bipartisan Deal Elusive, Democrats Push Through Their Own Stimulus Bill, The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Thursday, 1 October 2020: “House Democrats pushed through a $2.2 trillion stimulus plan on Thursday that would provide aid to families, schools, restaurants, businesses and airline workers, advancing a wish list with little chance of becoming law as negotiations with the Trump administration failed to yield a bipartisan agreement. Even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted there was still room for the talks to produce a deal, the vote reflected the continued failure of Congress and the White House to come together on another pandemic relief package and the dwindling chances that they could do so before lawmakers scatter to campaign for re-election.”

Internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) document shows Trump federal law enforcement officials were told to make comments sympathetic to Kyle Rittenhouse. In preparing DHS officials for questions about Rittenhouse, the document suggests they say he took a gun to Kenosha ‘to help defend small business owners.’ NBC News, Julia Ainsley, Thursday, 1 October 2020: “Federal law enforcement officials were directed to make public comments sympathetic to Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager charged with fatally shooting two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, according to internal Department of Homeland Security talking points obtained by NBC News. In preparing Homeland Security officials for questions about Rittenhouse from the media, the document suggests that they note that he ‘took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners.'”

Trump Virtually Cuts Off Refugees as He Unleashes a Tirade on Immigrants, The New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Michael D. Shear, Thursday, 1 October 2020: “The Trump administration said it would cut its already rock-bottom refugee admissions still deeper into record territory for the upcoming year, as President Trump returned to his anti-immigrant themes in the closing month of his re-election campaign. The change in the number of refugees that Mr. Trump plans to admit is not drastic: no more than 15,000 in the fiscal year that began Thursday, down from 18,000 in the 2020 fiscal year, which was a record low. The number was set in a notice sent to Congress late Wednesday, shortly before the statutory deadline to set the new limit. Both numbers are slivers of the 110,000 slots that President Barack Obama approved in 2016. The big cut in 2020 virtually sealed off a pathway for the persecuted into the country and obliterated the once-robust American reputation as a sanctuary for the oppressed. But the cut signaled that Mr. Trump is willing to take his exclusionary immigration policies still further, and it was delivered to Congress as the president was unleashing a xenophobic tirade against one of the nation’s most prominent refugees, Representative Ilhan Omar, on Wednesday night at a rally in her home state, Minnesota. In the notification sent to Congress on Wednesday, Mr. Trump also proposed not admitting refugees from Somalia, Syria and Yemen, the origins of many in recent years, with exceptions for ‘those who have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution on account of religion.’ The administration cited security concerns within the region, even though refugees are not approved to come to the United States until they clear extensive security screenings.” See also, Rights groups appalled as Trump cuts US refugee admissions to record low, The Guardian, Thursday, 1 October 2020: “Donald Trump’s administration has announced plans to let only 15,000 refugees resettle in the United States in the 2021 fiscal year that began on Thursday, setting another record low in the history of the modern refugee program and prompting outrage from civil rights groups. Trump, seeking re-election on 3 November, has slashed refugee admissions every year since taking office in 2017. Critics have said that the United States under Trump has abandoned its longstanding role as a safe haven for persecuted people and that cutting refugee admissions undermines other foreign policy goals. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights organization, denounced the chipping away of the refugee program as part of ‘the ongoing Trump administration effort to maintain systemic anti-Black racism and white supremacy.’ Krish Vignarajah, president of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, which helps resettle recently arrived refugees, wrote on Twitter that the Trump administration’s cuts represent ‘a complete abdication of our moral duty and all that we stand for as a nation.'”

The Secret History of Kimberly Guilfoyle’s Departure from Fox News, The New Yorker, Jane Mayer, Thursday, 1 October 2020: “As President Donald Trump heads into the 2020 elections, he faces a daunting gender gap: according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, he trails Joe Biden by thirty percentage points among female voters. As part of his campaign, Trump has been doing all he can to showcase female stars in the Republican Party, from nominating Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court to naming Kimberly Guilfoyle, the former Fox News host and legal analyst, his campaign’s finance chair. Guilfoyle, however, may not be an ideal emissary. In November, 2018, a young woman who had been one of Guilfoyle’s assistants at Fox News sent company executives a confidential, forty-two-page draft complaint that accused Guilfoyle of repeated sexual harassment, and demanded monetary relief. The document, which resulted in a multimillion-dollar out-of-court settlement, raises serious questions about Guilfoyle’s fitness as a character witness for Trump, let alone as a top campaign official. In the 2020 campaign, Trump has spotlighted no woman more brightly than Guilfoyle. She was given an opening-night speaking slot at the Republican National Convention. And this fall Guilfoyle, who is Donald Trump, Jr.,’s girlfriend, has been crisscrossing the country as a Trump surrogate, on what is billed as the ‘Four More Tour.’… Guilfoyle has maintained that her decision to move from television news to a political campaign was entirely voluntary. In fact, Fox News forced her out in July, 2018—several years before her contract’s expiration date…. Until now, the specific accusations against Guilfoyle have remained largely hidden. The draft complaint, which was never filed in court, is covered by a nondisclosure agreement. The former assistant has not been publicly identified, and, out of respect for the rights of alleged victims of sexual harassment, The New Yorker is honoring her confidentiality. Reached for comment, she said, ‘I wish you well. But I have nothing to say.’ The woman was hired in 2015, just out of college, to work as an assistant for Guilfoyle and another former Fox host, Eric Bolling. According to a dozen well-informed sources familiar with her complaints, the assistant alleged that Guilfoyle, her direct supervisor, subjected her frequently to degrading, abusive, and sexually inappropriate behavior; among other things, she said that she was frequently required to work at Guilfoyle’s New York apartment while the Fox host displayed herself naked, and was shown photographs of the genitalia of men with whom Guilfoyle had had sexual relations. The draft complaint also alleged that Guilfoyle spoke incessantly and luridly about her sex life, and on one occasion demanded a massage of her bare thighs; other times, she said, Guilfoyle told her to submit to a Fox employee’s demands for sexual favors, encouraged her to sleep with wealthy and powerful men, asked her to critique her naked body, demanded that she share a room with her on business trips, required her to sleep over at her apartment, and exposed herself to her, making her feel deeply uncomfortable. As serious as the draft complaint’s sexual-harassment allegations were, equally disturbing was what the assistant described as a coverup attempt by Guilfoyle, whose conduct was about to come under investigation by a team of outside lawyers.” See also, The new details on Kimberly Guilfoyle’s time at Fox News are horrific, The Washington Post, Erik Wemple, published on Saturday, 3 October 2020.

‘Mighty whiteboard of truth’: The weapon Representative Katie Porter used to school a pharmaceutical executive, and plenty of others, The Washington Post, Teo Armus, Thursday, 1 October 2020: “Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) got out her marker and scrawled a figure on the whiteboard beside her: $13 million. ‘Do you know what this number is?’ she asked Mark Alles, the former CEO of the pharmaceutical company Celgene, as he testified remotely before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. ‘Does it ring any bells?’ Alles could hardly get his answer out before Porter scribbled more math on the board. That multimillion figure — his total compensation in 2017 — was already 200 times the average income in the United States, the congresswoman pointed out. It got even larger, she said, after Celgene needlessly tripled the cost of a cancer medication, thus securing himself hefty bonuses in return. ‘Isn’t that right, Mr. Alles?’ she asked him. ‘If you hadn’t increased the price, … you wouldn’t have gotten your bonus.’ As of early Thursday, Porter’s rapid-fire interrogation had been viewed more than 15 million times on Twitter — the latest in a long list of her viral cross-examinations meant to draw the public to some hidden machination of Washington or corporate America. On Wednesday, to Alles: ‘Do you know how much you personally received in bonuses?’ she asked, before he reluctantly acknowledged it was half a million dollars. Yet, Porter continued. Celgene had repeatedly raised the price for revlimid, a treatment for multiple myeloma, from $215 per pill in 2005 to $719 last year. So she demanded that Alles, who led the drug manufacturer until it was acquired last year, explain what had changed over that time period. ‘Did the drug start to work faster? Were there fewer side effects? How did you change the formula or production of revlimid to justify this price increase?’ Porter asked. Of course, he didn’t need to answer. The details were laid out in a congressional drug pricing investigation published Wednesday, which concluded that prices were jacked up to hit revenue goals for shareholders and thus score bonuses for Alles and others.”

Brazil’s Amazon rainforest suffers worst fires in a decade, The Guardian, Reuters in Brasilia, Thursday, 1 October 2020: “Fires in Brazil’s Amazon increased 13% in the first nine months of the year compared with a year ago, as the rainforest region experiences its worst rash of blazes in a decade, data from space research agency Inpe has shown. Satellites in September recorded 32,017 hotspots in the world’s largest rainforest, a 61% rise from the same month in 2019. In August last year, surging fires in the Amazon captured global headlines and prompted criticism from world leaders such as France’s Emmanuel Macron that Brazil was not doing enough to protect the rainforest. On Tuesday, the US Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, called for a world effort to offer $20bn to end Amazon deforestation and threatened Brazil with unspecified ‘economic consequences’ if it did not ‘stop tearing down the forest.’ President Jair Bolsonaro lambasted Biden’s comment as a ‘cowardly threat’ to Brazil’s sovereignty and a ‘clear sign of contempt.'”

Trump requires food aid boxes to come with a letter from him. ‘In my 30 years of doing this work, I’ve never seen something this egregious,’ one food bank director said. Politico, Helena Bottemiller Evich, Thursday, 1 October 2020: “The Agriculture Department last week began mandating that millions of boxes of surplus food for needy families include a letter from President Donald Trump claiming credit for the program…. The move is the latest example of Trump using the levers of government and taxpayer dollars for self-promotion as he runs for re-election. In the early months of the crisis, the president enclosed letters with his signature to millions of Americans getting stimulus money stemming from a congressional aid package — and made sure his name was printed on the checks. ”

Judge rules Attorney General William Barr violated law in selecting law enforcement panel members, CNN Politics, Christina Carrega and Evan Perez, Thursday, 1 October 2020: “A federal judge ruled on Thursday that Attorney General William Barr had violated the law in how he chose the members of a law enforcement group commissioned by President Donald Trump to investigate and make recommendations on the state of the criminal justice system. US District Judge John Bates has ordered the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice to ‘not hold further meetings, sessions, or hearings, or conduct any official business’ or ‘submit, accept, publish, employ, or rely upon any report or recommendations’ until it has met the standards of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, according to the order.” See also, Nearly 2,000 Department of Justice Alumni Sign Letter with Dire Warning: Attorney General Bill Barr Is Working to Rig the 2020 Election for Trump, Law & Crime, Colin Kalmbacher, Thursday, 1 October 2020: “Nearly 2,000 former U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys warned of possible election interference committed by Attorney General Bill Barr in an open letter published late Thursday. ‘Each of us took an oath to defend the Constitution and pursue the evenhanded administration of justice free from partisan consideration,’ the brief missive reads–noting that the numerous signatories have previously worked under both Republican and Democratic Party administrations. The letter said that many of the lawyers whose names appear have previously issued similarly dire warnings based on the belief that President Donald Trump and Barr are ‘weaponizing’ the DOJ in order to help advance the 45th president’s ‘personal interests.’ This abusive use of the agency, the signatories say, has done ‘grave damage to the rule of law’ and has sapped the DOJ’s ‘institutional credibility as an independent law enforcement agency.'”

In Profane Rant, Melania Tump Takes Aim at Migrant Children and Critics, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Thursday, 1 October 2020: “The first lady, Melania Trump, delivered a profanity-laced rant about Christmas decorations at the White House and mocked the plight of migrant children who were separated from their parents at the border in 2018 during a conversation secretly taped by a former aide and close confidante. ‘I’m working like a — my ass off at Christmas stuff,’ Mrs. Trump laments to the former aide, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who has just published a tell-all book, in a recording that was first broadcast on CNN on Thursday night. Mrs. Trump continued, ‘You know, who gives a fuck about Christmas stuff and decoration?’ Later in the conversation, which occurred in July 2018, the first lady complained about the criticism leveled at President Trump and his administration that summer for separating families in a crackdown on illegal immigration.” See also, Melania Trump tapes reveal complaints on Christmas and separation of migrant children from their families, The Guardian, Martin Pengelly, published on Friday, 2 October 2020.