Floods grip Alabama and Florida as wildfire smoke reaches Europe – US politics live

Floods grip Alabama and Florida as wildfire smoke reaches Europe – US politics live

01:02

Summary

Here’s a quick recap of what’s happened today:

  • Critics have condemned Donald Trump’s new “patriotic education” plan, created in response to the New York Times’ 1619 project. The Pulitzer-winning project elaborates on the US’s 250 years of slavery and its effects on modern-day race relations. Trump likened such teaching to “child abuse”.
  • Kamala Harris made a pit stop in Pennsylvania as Democrats tapped into Black Voting Power.
  • Eric Trump’s lawyers said that he is willing to answer questions for the New York attorney general’s investigation into the Trump Organization – but only after the election.
  • A former aide to Mike Pence was featured in a scathing attack ad from Republican Voters Against Trump. The aide worked with Pence on the White House’s coronavirus taskforce, and she said Trump’s response to coronavirus has made it clear that “he doesn’t actually care about anyone but himself”.
  • Meanwhile, the House energy and commerce committee wants answers from senior advisor Stephen Miller and health and human services secretary Alex Azar about a “show of hands” vote on child separation.
  • A federal judge temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s operational changes at the US postal service.

Updated

00:53

Black voters in North Carolina are already getting their ballots rejected four times more than white voters, according to FiveThirtyEight, a concerning indicator of what may be to come as millions of voters fill out mail-in ballots over the next several weeks.

Of the over 13,000 ballots that black voters have sent in North Carolina, 647 were rejected. Meanwhile, of the 60,000 ballots white voters sent in, 681 were rejected.

A ballot is rejected if a voter made a mistake when filling out a ballot or did not fill out witness information. North Carolina gives a voter the opportunity to correct their ballot, but FiveThirtyEight points out that not all states allow “vote curing”, or the chance to fix their ballot. In Nevada, for example, 45% of 12,000 ballots that had missing or mismatched signatures were properly “cured” and thus counted.

00:36

What has been, at this point, well over a month of negotiations for a new coronavirus stimulus package is still not seeing success as the House and Senate break for the weekend today.

House Democrats passed their $3.4tn package in May and have budged down to $2.2 trillion, according to Politico. Republicans meanwhile have been firm about a much slimmer $650bn relief package.

Moderate Democrats have urged House speaker Nancy Pelosi to go along with a slimmer package, with fears that if Republicans refuse to cooperate, there will be no aid until after the election. In a tweet yesterday, Donald Trump urged Republicans to “go for much higher numbers”, though it’s unclear whether the tweet had any real sway on Republican lawmakers.

Updated

00:20

Yosemite national park just announced that it will be closing due to “significant smoke impacts and hazardous air quality” coming from the wildfires along the west coast.

Starting at 5pm Pacific time today, park entrance stations and roads will be closed until conditions improve, which could mean closure for the next several days at least. The park said it will continue to assess air quality, smoke impact and fire activity throughout the region to determine when the park will be safe to reopen.

Yosemite joins Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks in California, which have also closed due to wildfires in the region.

Updated

00:02

Donald Trump’s response to the attack ad that was released this afternoon by Republican Voters Against Trump: “I never met her.”

In the ad, Olivia Troye, who was an aide to Vice-President Mike Pence and was his top staffer on the White House’s coronavirus taskforce, said that Trump “doesn’t actually care about anyone else but himself” and emphasized his careless response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Troye says that she left her job after seeing how the administration was handling the virus, but Trump told reporters that she was “terminated”.

Jennifer Jacobs
(@JenniferJJacobs)

“I never met her,” Trump says of ex Pence aide Olivia Troye, who has cast doubt on any vaccine that comes out before November because Trump may be using it as “prop” to win re-election.

Trump tells press pool before leaving for Wisconsin that Troye was “terminated.”

September 17, 2020

Mark Knoller
(@markknoller)

Pres says he doesn’t know Olivia Troye and she doesn’t know him. She’s the former Coronavirus adviser who left the WH in August and has since offered sharp criticism of Trump. “They let her go, with cause,” but said she wrote a beautiful departure letter. pic.twitter.com/OUNI8VjZxc

September 17, 2020

Updated

23:48

Controversial guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that said that those who had been exposed to Covid-19 did not need to get tested if they were not showing symptoms was not written by CDC scientists.

The New York Times just published a report that says several sources and internal documents have confirmed that CDC scientists were not onboard with the guidance and that it was written by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which “dropped” it on to the CDC’s website.

The Times quoted an anonymous source who said that the guidance came from “the top down, from the HHS and the taskforce”.

“That policy does not reflect what many people at the CDC feel should be the policy,” the federal official said.

When the guidance was released, multiple public health experts raised alarms that it would hurt efforts to trace and contain the virus and that it was a sign that the CDC’s integrity had been compromised by the White House’s taskforce.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, said that he was “worried” by the guidance, specifically that it would lead people to believe that asymptomatic spread of the virus is not a concern.

Updated

23:25

Scott Atlas, a Trump coronavirus adviser, has threatened to sue a group of Stanford professors who wrote an open letter denouncing multiple public statement Atlas has made about responding to Covid-19.

A letter from his lawyer said the professors’ statement “maliciously defames” Atlas and demanded the signers of the letters to withdraw their claims or be sued, according to Politico.

The open letter, which was published last Wednesday, said that Atlas’s statements and opinions “run counter to established science and, by doing so, undermine public-health authorities and the credible science that guides effective public health policy”. Over 100 faculty members with various medical expertise signed the letter.

In recent weeks, Atlas has raised concerns among public health experts by questioning the use of masks and embracing the controversial “herd immunity” response to the pandemic. Atlas was criticized for not having a background in public health or infectious diseases, as Trump’s former top advisors Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci had.

Updated

23:03

Eric Trump says he’s willing to be interviewed for Trump Organization investigation

Eric Trump, the president’s second-oldest son, said through his lawyers in a court filing today that he is willing to be interviewed by the New York attorney general’s office for its investigation into the Trump Organization – the caveat being that the questioning has to take place after the election.

New York attorney general Letitia James is currently investigating the Trump Organization for allegedly inflating the value of its assets to secure loans and deflating it to avoid taxes. The investigation was launched in March 2019 after Donald Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen told Congress that Donald Trump misrepresented the value of his financial assets.

The AG’s office has issued multiple subpoenas, including one for an interview with Eric Trump, which he has refused to comply with and has called “prosecutorial misconduct”.

In his court filings today, lawyers for Eric Trump said that an interview must wait for after the election because of his “extreme travel schedule and related unavailability between now and the election” along with his desire to “avoid the use of his deposition attendance for political purposes”.

Updated

22:46

Another former executive branch staffer has joined a group of Republican leaders and former Trump administration officials who are advocating against the president’s re-election.

Politico reported this afternoon that Josh Venable, former chief of staff to education secretary Betsy DeVos who served from the beginning of Trump’s tenure until October 2018, has joined the Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform. The group was founded by two former senior Department of Homeland Security officials and is just one of a few groups of Republicans who are advocating against Trump in the lead up to the election, including Republican Voters Against Trump and the Lincoln Project.

Venable was listed by the group as an adviser, along with a handful of Republican leaders.

Katherine Faulders
(@KFaulders)

Group launched by former DHS chief of staff Miles Taylor @RepairRepublic has released a list of advisers that includes two additional former Trump admin officials — Olivia Troye, VP Pence’s former homeland security adviser and Josh Venable, former CoS to Secretary DeVos pic.twitter.com/dazF9Hu4Dv

September 17, 2020

Updated

22:30

This is Lauren Aratani taking over for Kenya Evelyn. Republicans Voters Against Trump released an ad this afternoon featuring a former aide of vice-president Mike Pence.

In a two-minute ad, Olivia Troye, former homeland security and counter-terrorism advisor to Pence, who also served as Pence’s lead staff member on his Covid-19 response, said that working at the White House led her to see that Trump “doesn’t actually care about anyone else but himself”.

Troye described herself as a lifelong Republican, having supported George W Bush and John McCain, but said “at this point, it’s country over party”.

A member of the White House’s coronavirus taskforce, Troye said she distinctly remembers when Trump made a comment about how the pandemic may be a “good thing” since he doesn’t like shaking hands with people. “I don’t have to shake hands with these disgusting people,” he remarked, according to Troye’s recollection.

Troye pointed out that the “disgusting people” he referred to are his supporters, “the people he still claims to care about”.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Troye further elaborated on her opinion of the president, saying that his response to the pandemic has showed a “flat-out disregard for human life” and repeated that his main concerns were his re-election and the economy.

A reporter on Twitter said that Pence has responded to Troye comments, saying “one more disgruntled employee who’s left the WH decided to play politics during an election year”.

Republican Voters Against Trump
(@RVAT2020)

NEW AD: @OliviaTroye was @VP’s lead staffer on COVID-19. She put her heart & soul into the job.

After a while she couldn’t look herself in the mirror because no matter what she did, the President would undermine it and make Americans less safe.

Now she’s a GOP voter for Biden. pic.twitter.com/ZIJlRUzArG

September 17, 2020

Updated

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