Amy Coney Barrett committee vote due before Trump and Biden head for debate – US politics live

Amy Coney Barrett committee vote due before Trump and Biden head for debate – US politics live

19:50

Summary

  • Donald Trump will face his Democratic rival Joe Biden at 9pm ET at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee for the second and final presidential debate. Joan E Greve and I will be providing live coverage and fact checks.
  • The Trump administration’s botched response to the pandemic has led to between 130,000 and 210,000 preventable deaths, according to a report from a team of disaster preparedness and public health experts.“The United States has turned a global crisis into a devastating tragedy,” read a report released Thursday by researchers at Columbia University.
  • Trump said he wants the supreme court to “end” Obamacare in his “60 Minutes” interview, which the president released early on Twitter today. Trump’s decision to preemptively share the interview before its planned Sunday broadcast seemed bizarre, given Joe Biden will now be able to bring up the president’s comments on Obamacare during tonight’s debate.
  • Trump’s chief of staff said the president tested negative for coronavirus on his flight to Nashville, where tonight’s debate will take place. Trump announced he had tested positive for coronavirus two days after the first presidential debate.
  • The Senate judiciary committee voted to advance Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the supreme court, clearing the way for a chamber-wide vote next week. Democrats on the judiciary committee boycotted this morning’s vote, criticizing Barrett’s likely confirmation as a “sham” because it will come just days before the presidential election.
  • Another 787,000 Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week. The figure represented the lowest number of new weekly claims since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but economists warned that layoffs remain alarmingly high.
  • Biden said he would form a commission to study the US court system if he is elected. The news comes as the Democratic nominee has been pressed on whether he would “pack” the supreme court to offset conservatives’ 6-3 advantage if Barrett is confirmed.

Follow the presidential debates live here:

Updated

19:37

Donald Trump has invited Tony Bobulinski, who said he is a former business associate of Joe Biden’s son Hunter to the debate tonight. Four years ago, Trump pulled a similar. stunt when he invited accused former president Bill Clinton of sexual abuse to a debate with Hillary Clinton.

Bobulinski’s emails were a large part of a story New York Post earlier this month that claimed Hunter Biden had helped connect board members of a Ukrainian energy company with his father while Joe Biden was vice president. Other news outlets have not been able to verify the Post’s story, and dozens of senior intelligence officials have signed a letter saying the story “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation”.

19:26

At tonight’s final presidential debate, each candidate will have his mic muted for two minutes while the other responds to the moderator’s questions.

How will it work?

A representative from the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) will control the mute button back stage, per the commission. A member of each campaign will monitor that individual.

More modifications since the last debate:

  • Anyone in the audience who refuses to wear a face mask will be removed
  • Only about 200 people will be allowed inside the arena – fewer than last time – to reduce the risk of Covid transmission

Updated

18:56

Julian Borger

The US has today signed an anti-abortion declaration with a group of about 30 largely illiberal or authoritarian governments, after the failure of an effort to expand the conservative coalition.

The “Geneva Consensus Declaration” calls on states to promote women’s rights and health – but without access to abortion – and is part of a campaign by Trump administration, led by secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to reorient US foreign policy in a more socially conservative direction, even at the expense of alienating traditional western allies.

The “core supporters” of the declaration are Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia and Uganda, and the 27 other signatories include Belarus (where security forces are currently trying to suppress a women-led protest movement), Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Sudan, South Sudan, Libya.

Most of the signatories are among the 20 worst countries to be a woman according to the Women, Peace and Security Index established by Georgetown University.

None of the top twenty countries on the Georgetown index – with the exception of the US (ranked 19th) – has signed the declaration.

The only other European signatory (apart from Belarus and Hungary) is Poland, where the constitutional court approved a near total ban on abortion on Thursday.

18:43

Trump will get a last chance to claw back Biden lead at final presidential debate

Ed Pilkington

Donald Trump has his last chance to move the dial in the fast-approaching US presidential election on Thursday night, when he addresses a large nationwide audience at the final televised presidential debate.

Trump will face his Democratic rival Joe Biden at 9pm ET at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. The candidates are expected to attract viewership in the tens of millions of Americans for their 90-minute encounter, giving the US president one last crack at shifting a race that has had him trailing the former vice-president for weeks.

NBC News and its moderator Kristen Welker will be hoping for a more civilized debate than the first, held three weeks ago, which collapsed into acrimony amid almost constant interruptions by Trump. In an attempt to prevent a repetition, the commission on presidential debates on Monday tweaked the format so that the candidates’ microphones are turned off while their opponent is speaking for the opening two minutes of each of six issue segments.

For the remainder of each of the 15-minute segments, discussion will be open between the two men.

Trump will be under pressure to soften his display compared with the first debate on 29 September, which was widely censured as bullying. Polls conducted after the debate suggested it damaged his already beleaguered standing in key battleground states such as Florida and Pennsylvania.

But there were few indications that Trump intends to change tack in the final hours leading up to the Nashville debate. On Monday he denigrated Welker as a “radical left Democrat”, while his campaign has accused the debate commission of being biased towards Biden and objected to the six policy subjects that NBC News has chosen.

18:32

Bernie Sanders is vying to become labor secretary if Joe Biden wins the presidency, Politico reports.

The Vermont senator has been helping the Biden campaign and get out the vote. Politico reports:


“I can confirm he’s trying to figure out how to land that role or something like it,” said one person close to the Vermont senator. “He, personally, does have an interest in it.”

Sanders on Wednesday declined to confirm or deny that he’s putting his name forward for the position.

“Right now I am focused on seeing that Biden is elected president,” he told POLITICO. “That’s what my main focus is.”

Former Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir said Sanders has not talked directly with anyone on the Biden campaign about a future role, but plans to push Biden, his former Senate colleague, to “include progressive voices” in both the transition and in a potential new administration.

Yet two other people close to Sanders, including one former aide, said the senator has expressed interest in being in the administration, should Biden win in November. Sanders has been making his push for the top job at the Labor Department in part by reaching out to allies on the transition team, one person familiar with the process said.

Robert Reich, a former Labor secretary in the Clinton administration, told the magazine that Sanders would be “terrific”.

Read the full story here.

18:08

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who contracted Covid-19 and was hospitalized after he helped Donald Trump prepare for the first presidential debate and attended a White House event where attendees eschewed masks, has made a guest appearance at Ohio’s coronavirus press conference.

Christie has been telling people to learn from his mistake. Yesterday, he wrote a Wall Street op-ed titled “I should have worn a mask”.

Tyler Buchanan
(@Tylerjoelb)

“I thought I was safe. And I was wrong.”

Former NJ @GovChristie is an invited guest to today’s Ohio coronavirus press conference. pic.twitter.com/rYcuIGa6LA

October 22, 2020

But the Trump ally did not goo as far as directly criticizing the president, who has overseen a faltering pandemic response. “Those who deny the scientific realities of the pandemic undermine conditions that allow for rapid and complete reopening,” he said in his op-ed.

17:45

Experts: 130,000-210,000 Covid-19 deaths in the US could have been avoided

The Trump administration’s botched response to the pandemic has led to between 130,000 and 210,000 preventable deaths, according to a report from a team of disaster preparedness and public health experts.

“The United States has turned a global crisis into a devastating tragedy,” read a report released Thursday by researchers at Columbia University. “We estimate that at least 130,000 deaths and perhaps as many as 210,000 could have been avoided with earlier policy interventions and more robust federal coordination and leadership.

The team calculated avoidable deaths by estimating how many people would have died in other nations, like Japan and South Korea, if they had the same population as the US, and comparing those figures to the US death rate.

“Many of the underlying factors amplifying the pandemic’s deadly impact have existed long before the novel coronavirus first arrived in Washington state on January 20th – a fractured healthcare system, inequitable access to care, and immense health, social and racial disparities among America’s most vulnerable groups,” the researchers noted. “Compounding this is an Administration that has publicly denigrated its own public health officials – and science more generally — thereby hamstringing efforts by its vaunted public health service to curb the pandemic’s spread.”

Read the full report here.

Updated

17:18

Ahead of election day, Latinos are seeing not just more political ads but also plenty of disinformation.

Amy Yee reports for The Guardian:

Messages that paint Joe Biden as a socialist spreading among conservative Latinos from Cuba and Venezuela. Conspiracy theories on YouTube about Barack Obama in Spanish. Billboards and posters falsely claiming that voting by mail is illegal in Texas.

“We usually see this kind of information disorder in locations with a large Latinx population, such as Miami, Houston or Los Angeles,” said Daniel Acosta Ramos, an investigative researcher at the non-profit First Draft.

Disinformation as a means of causing confusion, doubt and fear around voting is nothing new during campaigns, but social media make it easier to generate and spread. Latinos in particular are targets because they are a critical voting bloc, especially in battlegrounds such as Florida, Arizona and Texas.

In Florida, 20% of eligible voters in 2018 were Hispanic, nearly double the share in 2000, according to Pew Research. In Arizona, Hispanics accounted for 24% of all eligible voters in 2018. Latinos are also politically diverse – for example, Cuban Americans tend to vote Republican, while Puerto Ricans lean Democrat – so dissuading voting in Latino communities, even subtly, could tip an election.

There are several types of digital voting disinformation, such as giving the wrong time, place or manner of voting, according to democracy watchdog Common Cause. And during Covid-19, when normal routines are disrupted, online disinformation tactics are “much more believable and have a greater impact today than any other election cycle”, said Jesse Littlewood, vice-president at Common Cause, in a webinar.

That has real-world effects. In Arizona, early voting began early this month and “there has already been the feeling of intimidation at the polls when Trump supporters show up at the same time,” said Hector Sanchez Barba, chief executive of Mi Familia Vota, the Latino civic engagement non-profit.

Instances of intimidating Latino voters are fueled by false but divisive disinformation that undocumented immigrants are voting illegally. There are also false narratives about vote rigging, conspiracy theories or intimidation, such as telling people immigration authorities will patrol polling stations.

17:01

Today so far

That’s it from me for now. I will be back tonight to cover the final presidential debate.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Trump said he wants the supreme court to “end” Obamacare in his “60 Minutes” interview, which the president released early on Twitter today. Trump’s decision to preemptively share the interview before its planned Sunday broadcast seemed bizarre, given Joe Biden will now be able to bring up the president’s comments on Obamacare during tonight’s debate.
  • Trump’s chief of staff said the president tested negative for coronavirus on his flight to Nashville, where tonight’s debate will take place. Trump announced he had tested positive for coronavirus two days after the first presidential debate.
  • The Senate judiciary committee voted to advance Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the supreme court, clearing the way for a chamber-wide vote next week. Democrats on the judiciary committee boycotted this morning’s vote, criticizing Barrett’s likely confirmation as a “sham” because it will come just days before the presidential election.
  • Another 787,000 Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week. The figure represented the lowest number of new weekly claims since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but economists warned that layoffs remain alarmingly high.
  • Biden said he would form a commission to study the US court system if he is elected. The news comes as the Democratic nominee has been pressed on whether he would “pack” the supreme court to offset conservatives’ 6-3 advantage if Barrett is confirmed.

My west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

16:48

Snowden granted permanent residency in Russia, lawyer says

Edward Snowden’s lawyer said the whistleblower has been granted permanent residency in Russia, according to the AP.

The AP reports:


Snowden, a former contractor with the U.S. National Security Agency, has been living in Russia since 2013 to escape prosecution in the U.S. after leaking classified documents detailing government surveillance programs.

‘Today, Snowden was handed a residency permit for an unlimited period of time,’ his Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told Russia’s state Tass news agency.

Kucherena told the Interfax news agency that the application was submitted in April, but because of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown restrictions, it took immigration authorities more time to consider it. Snowden was able to obtain permanent residency rights because of the changes in Russia’s immigration laws made in 2019, the lawyer said.

Trump said in August that he would consider a pardon for Snowden, despite previously criticizing the whistleblower as a “traitor.”

“There are many, many people — it seems to be a split decision — many people think that he should be somehow be treated differently and other people think he did very bad things,” Trump said at the time. “I’m going to take a very good look at it.”

16:38

In a possible preview of tonight’s debate, the Trump campaign just held a press call that was exclusively devoted to attacking Hunter Biden.

Tom LoBianco
(@tomlobianco)

.@tamarakeithNPR asks @RichardGrenell about debate prep. He answers by asking whether Keith has covered the emails

Keith notes she covers the Trump campaign, not Biden campaign

extensive back and forth, then

“Don’t be homophobic,” Grenell says, when Keith presses him

October 22, 2020

When reporters tried to press Trump adviser Richard Grenell on the president’s debate preparation, Grenell kept trying to steer the conversation back to Joe Biden’s son.

Grenell asked reporters whether they had written about Hunter Biden’s emails, prompting one reporter to note that she covers the Trump campaign, not the Biden campaign.

After the reporter continued to press Grenell, who is openly gay, he accused her of being homophobic.

16:26

The president is reportedly pushing for quick declassification of a document disputing the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump.

Reuters reports:


U.S. President Donald Trump and his intelligence chief have pushed for quick declassification of a document disputing the 2017 intelligence community finding that Russia acted to help Trump get elected in 2016, three U.S. government officials familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.

But their effort faces strong objections from inside the intelligence agencies, two officials said on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the matter. One reason for their opposition is the proximity of the Nov. 3 election.

The intelligence community has concluded Russia’s 2016 election interference was aimed at bolstering Trump’s chances of victory, a finding that was unanimously affirmed by the Republican-led Senate intelligence committee.

Intelligence officials have also said Russia is working to damage Joe Biden’s presidential bid in this year’s election.

16:12

Trump plans to bring one of Hunter Biden’s former business associates as a guest to tonight’s debate, according to reports.

Edward-Isaac Dovere
(@IsaacDovere)

Trump aides have been telling people that the big surprise in store for tonight’s debate is he’s bringing Tony Bobulinski, the former Hunter Biden business associate, as a guest tonight.

They’re hoping to spring this on Biden, the way he brought Bill Clinton accusers in 2016

October 22, 2020

The debate invitation to Tony Bobulinski is clearly meant to rattle Joe Biden, but it’s unclear whether it will be successful, given the Biden campaign has made clear the nominee is prepared to respond to attacks on his family.

Trump’s move was reminiscent of his decision to invite women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct to his second debate against Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The move was not successful then, as Hillary Clinton was widely considered to have “won” the debates, and it seems even less likely to be successful now, given Bobulinski is far less well-known than some of Bill Clinton’s accusers, such as Paula Jones.

15:56

Russia has hacked into state and local computer networks, intelligence officials say – report

Intelligence officials told the New York Times that Russia has hacked into state and local computer networks in recent days, providing clues about the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere in the US presidential election.

The Times reports:


While senior Trump administration officials said this week that Iran has been actively interfering in the presidential election, many intelligence officials said they remained far more concerned about Russia, which has in recent days hacked into state and local computer networks in breaches that could allow Moscow broader access to American voting infrastructure.

The discovery of the hacks came as American intelligence agencies, infiltrating Russian networks themselves, have pieced together details of what they believe are Russia’s plans to interfere in the presidential race in its final days or immediately after the election on Nov. 3.

Officials did not make clear what Russia planned to do, but they said its operations would be intended to help President Trump, potentially by exacerbating disputes around the results, especially if the race is too close to call.

There is no evidence that the Russians have changed any vote tallies or voter registration information, officials said. They added that the Russian-backed hackers had penetrated the computer networks without taking further action, as they did in 2016. But American officials expect that if the presidential race is not called on election night, Russian groups could use their knowledge of local computer systems to deface websites, release nonpublic information or take similar steps that could sow chaos and doubts about the integrity of the results, according to American officials briefed on the intelligence.

15:51

Another national poll shows Joe Biden with a double-digit lead less than two weeks before Election Day.

According to the Quinnipiac University poll, Biden has a 10-point lead over Trump among US likely voters, 51%-41%.

The result is in line with other recent national polls. According to the FiveThirtyEight average of national polls, Biden currently has a 9.8-point lead in the presidential race.

The Quinnipiac poll also found Biden has a net-positive favorability rating among likely voters. While 44% of likely voters say they have an unfavorable opinion of Biden, 49% have a favorable opinion of the Democratic nominee.

In comparison, Trump has a net favorability rating of -15. While 40% of likely voters say they have a favorable opinion of the president, 55% say they have an unfavorable opinion of him.

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