Trump and Biden clash over national Covid mask mandate – US politics live

Trump and Biden clash over national Covid mask mandate – US politics live

01:04

Summary

Here’s a quick recap of what happened today:

  • Donald Trump said that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield made a “mistake” when he spoke to Congress earlier today. Redfield suggested that face masks may be “more guaranteed to protect me against Covid” than a vaccine and predicted that a vaccine would not be widely available until mid- to late- 2021. In his press conference, Trump reiterated his claims that a vaccine may be available as early as “mid-October”, and said that masks can be ineffective.
  • Health and human services spokesperson Michael Caputo is taking a leave of absence. The department said Caputo would leave his post for 60 days to “focus on his health and the wellbeing of his family”. The announcement came days after reports emerged that Caputo has pressured CDC officials to alter key reports on coronavirus to paint a more upbeat picture about the current crisis. Caputo also suggested (without evidence) that CDC officials had formed a “resistance unit” to undermine Trump.
  • Joe Biden said he did not trust Trump’s comments about the development of a coronavirus vaccine. The Democratic nominee said in a speech, “I trust vaccines. I trust the scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump. At this point, the American people can’t either.” Biden called for “total transparency” from the government as the vaccine is developed to give Americans reassurance that the vaccine meets safety standards.
  • Trump urged Republicans to push for a larger coronavirus relief package, seemingly aligning himself with Democrats in the negotiations over the bill. “Go for the much higher numbers, Republicans, it all comes back to the USA anyway (one way or another!),” Trump said in a tweet. Democrats have called for spending $2.2tn on the next relief package, but Republicans have dismissed that top-line cost as a non-starter.

Updated

00:50

The Wall Street Journal reported this afternoon on the hardline stance against protestors the US attorney general William Barr is taking, citing a conference call Barr had with federal prosecutors across the country.

Over 200 people across the country have been charged with violent crimes, including counts of arson, assaulting federal officers and gun crimes, after participating in protests that flared up over the summer.

The Wall Street Journal reports:


Attorney General William Barr told the nation’s federal prosecutors to be aggressive when charging violent demonstrators with crimes, including potentially prosecuting them for plotting to overthrow the U.S. government, people familiar with the conversation said.

In a conference call with U.S. attorneys across the country last week, Mr. Barr warned that sometimes violent demonstrations across the U.S. could worsen as the November presidential election approaches. He encouraged the prosecutors to seek a number federal charges, including under a rarely used sedition law, even when state charges could apply, the people said.

The call underscores the priority Mr. Barr has given to prosecuting crimes connected to violence during months of protests against racial injustice, leading to major property damage, as President Trump has made a broader crackdown on the violence and property destruction a key campaign issue. U.S. attorneys have broad discretion in what charges they bring.

00:36

The White House took $700m in Congress-appropriated funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to fund its Operation Warp Speed, according to a new report from Bloomberg News. In addition to its appropriated budget, the CDC received an additional $7.5bn in stimulus funds this year.

Operation Warp Speed is the White House’s initiative to quickly distribute a Covid-19 vaccine, something health experts have said may take months at least. An anonymous administration official told Bloomberg that the funds from the CDC are being used for activities such as preparing to distribute a vaccination.

Earlier today, Trump appointee Michael Caputo, spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, announced a 60-day leave of absence amid reports that he tried to gain control over a scientific weekly published by the CDC and posted rants on social media against CDC scientists, whom he liked to a “resistance” against Trump. Caputo does not have a background in healthcare.

Updated

00:18

The Washington Post just published a fact-checking analysis on comments Donald Trump made at a press conference earlier this evening. Trump suggested blue states are to blame for the country’s high Covid-19 death toll, which currently stands at around 193,000 deaths.

“If you take the blue states out, we’re at a level that I don’t think anyone in the world would be at,” Trump said.

Philip Bump from the Washington Post points out that, while deaths in states that voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election indeed made up a large chunk of overall deaths early in the pandemic, the percentage of deaths from blue states has tapered as the pandemic has gone on. The most recent data suggests that about 53% of the country’s deaths were in these blue states, while 47% were in states that voted for Trump.

Bump writes that that means over 90,000 deaths have occurred in red states. Were that the US’s total death toll, the country would still have the second-highest number of deaths, behind Brazil.

Updated

00:01

Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just tweeted what appears to be an indirect response to a comment Donald Trump made at a press conference earlier this evening that Redfield was “confused” when speaking to a Senate panel today.

“The best defense we currently have against the virus are important mitigation efforts of wearing a mask, washing your hands, social distancing and being careful about crowds,” Redfield wrote on Twitter.

Earlier today, Redfield told a Senate panel that he “might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against Covid than when I take a Covid vaccine”.

Trump said that Redfield had made a “mistake” when he said that and also when he said that Covid-19 vaccine will likely not be widely available until the “second or third quarter” of 2021, a timeline that contradicts Trump’s repeated promises for a vaccine by the end of the year.

Dr. Robert R. Redfield
(@CDCDirector)

I 100% believe in the importance of vaccines and the importance in particular of a #COVID19 vaccine. A COVID-19 vaccine is the thing that will get Americans back to normal everyday life.

September 16, 2020

Updated

23:42

An appeals court in Michigan today upheld a ruling that said the sending of unsolicited absentee voter applications by mail to registered voters in the state is lawful. Nearly 8 million voters in the state will be receiving applications, along with postcards saying they can register absentee online.

At a press conference earlier this evening, Donald Trump said that issues with mail-in ballots are the “biggest threat to this election”, saying that they were a “much bigger threat than foreign countries”. The Trump campaign has filed multiple lawsuits in efforts to curtail widespread mail-in voting in states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Updated

23:27

Before ending the conference, Donald Trump confirmed that a White House staffer has tested positive for Covid-19. The president said that he did not have any personal contact with the staffer.

Earlier today, a White House pool reporter said she was told by the White House that they “had a couple of positives today”, but refused to answer questions on the comment.

Betsy Klein
(@betsy_klein)

President Trump confirms another positive Covid-19 test at the White House: “Last night I heard about it for the first time… it’s not anybody that was near me.” He said it was a “small number” but later clarified it was just one case.

September 16, 2020

When answering a previous question about why his staffers do not wear masks, Trump said that he has confidence that the people around him are safe because they are constantly tested.

“When people come into the Oval Office, it’s like a people deal. No matter who they are, if they’re the heads of countries, they all get tested,” he said. “So I’m in sort of a different position.”

23:15

Donald Trump again contradicted Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Robert Redfield once again, saying that Redfield “made a mistake” when he said that masks are “the most important, powerful public health tool we have.”

“I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine,” Redfield told a Senate panel Wednesday.

Trump said that a vaccine will be more effective as masks have to be “handled very gently, very carefully”. Trump said that he has seen people at restaurants not being careful with their masks.

“Masks have problems too. … A lot of people did not like the concept of mask initially, Dr. Fauci didn’t like it initially,” Trump said. He did not mention that Fauci has since clarified that he advised against masks early in the pandemic out of fear that the guidance would create a panic-induced shortage on personal protective equipment for essential workers.

When justifying why he is contradicting Redfield, Trump said the director is out of the loop on vaccine distribution information and was made confused by the questions.

A reporter also asked Donald Trump whether he would retract what he told Bob Woodward in March that a vaccine could take up to 14 months to develop.

“That was a long time ago I said that,” Trump said.

23:00

Donald Trump, continuing to contradict what Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield said earlier today, just said at a press conference that “under no circumstance would [the vaccine] be as late as the doctor said.”

Redfield told a Senate panel that a vaccine will be available in November or December at the earliest for first responders, and won’t be made widely available until 2021.


Donald Trump says CDC director ‘confused’ about Covid-19 vaccine arrival date – video

Trump said that the vaccine may be ready by “mid-October”, though he did not outright say whether he believes it would be available to the general public at the time.

Maggie Haberman
(@maggieNYT)

.@kaitlancollins points out that it’s a distinction without a difference in what both Atlas and Redfield says. Atlas protests, then reiterates that it’s just high-risk people getting the vaccine in early 2021 and general public by end of 2021.

September 16, 2020

Updated

22:52

Donald Trump is at the podium in the White House for a press conference repeating talking points he has made in recent weeks amid his presidential campaign.

“Our biggest threat to this election is governors from opposing parties controlling millions of ballots, that’s a much bigger threat than from foreign countries.”

He said it is a “disgrace” that states are allowing ballots without signatures and repeated a false claim that a mail-in vote during New York’s primary was “fraudulent”.

Ballots “could be stolen, who knows where they’re going, who knows where they’re coming from”, Trump said.

Daniel Dale
(@ddale8)

Trump repeats his false claim that the New York primary involving Rep. Carolyn Maloney was “fraudulent.” Lots of ballots rejected for non-fraud reasons like signature issues, and some ballots mailed late to voters, but no evidence of fraud.

September 16, 2020

22:42

Trump says CDC director ‘confused’ on vaccine timeline

Donald Trump said that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield was “confused” when he said that a vaccine will only be available for first responders if it is developed by November or December.

When a reporter asked the president why he said a vaccine would be available by mid-October when Redfield told a Senate panel today that a vaccine would likely be available in the “second or third quarter” of 2021 at the earliest.

“I think he made a mistake with that statement,” Trump said. “When he said it, I believe he was confused. I’m just telling you we’re ready to go.”

Earlier in the press conference, Trump also praised the Big 10 football league for going forward with its season and said that the Pac 12 football, which includes major universities on the west coast, to also move forward with its season.

“There’s no reason the Pac-12 shouldn’t be playing,” Trump said, telling the league to “get going”.

Larry Scott, commissioner of the Pac 12, said today that state and local approval is needed to start the season.

Updated

22:29

Trump: Biden spreading ‘anti-vaccine theories’

Donald Trump started off the press conference by doubling down on his assertion that there will be “a hundred million vaccine doses by the end of 2020”. He said that vaccines should be ready by “mid-October”.

Trump criticized Joe Biden for spreading “anti-vaccine theories” by saying that Trump is trying to politicize a vaccine by rushing its development before the election. potentially foregoing safety precautions.

“They’re recklessly endangering lives,” Trump said, saying that if Democrats were in the same position, the would be saying how important vaccines are.

It’s of course important to remember that health experts have reiterated that a vaccine on Trump’s timeline is highly unlikely. Just today, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Robert Redfield told a Senate panel, while a vaccine may be available for first responders by November or December, it will likely not be available until the “secord of third quarter” of 2021. Dr. Moncef Slaoui, head of Operation Warp Speed, the White House’s vaccination development initiative, said that a vaccine in by early November is “highly unlikely.”

Updated

22:15

This is Lauren Aratani taking over for Joan E Greve. Looks like Donald Trump will be starting his press conference any moment now after originally saying the 5 pm press conference would be moved up to 5:45 pm.

Donald J. Trump
(@realDonaldTrump)

Moving up News Conference to 5:15. Enjoy!

September 16, 2020

22:03

Today so far

That’s it from me today. My colleague, Lauren Aratani, will take over the blog for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested face masks may be “more guaranteed to protect me against Covid” than a vaccine. Testifying before a Senate subcommittee, Dr Robert Redfield described masks as “the most important, powerful public health tool we have.” His comments came one day after Trump said at an ABC News town hall, “A lot of people don’t want to wear masks. There are a lot of people think that masks are not good.”
  • Redfield also predicted a vaccine would not be widely available to the American public until “late second quarter, third quarter 2021.” The CDC director told senators, “If you’re asking me when is it going to be generally available to the American public so we can begin to take advantage of vaccine to get back to our regular life, I think we’re probably looking at third — late second quarter, third quarter 2021.” Trump claimed yesterday that a vaccine would be available within “weeks.”
  • HHS spokesperson Michael Caputo is taking a leave of absence. The department said Caputo would leave his post for 60 days to “focus on his health and the well-being of his family.” The announcement came days after reports emerged that Caputo has pressured CDC officials to alter key reports on coronavirus to paint a more upbeat picture about the current crisis. Caputo also suggested (without evidence) that CDC officials had formed a “resistance unit” to undermine Trump.
  • Joe Biden said he did not trust Trump’s comments about the development of a coronavirus vaccine. The Democratic nominee said in a speech, “I trust vaccines. I trust the scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump. At this point, the American people can’t either.” Biden called for “total transparency” from the government as the vaccine is developed to give Americans reassurance that the vaccine meets safety standards.
  • Trump urged Republicans to push for a larger coronavirus relief package, seemingly aligning himself with Democrats in the negotiations over the bill. “Go for the much higher numbers, Republicans, it all comes back to the USA anyway (one way or another!),” Trump said in a tweet. Democrats have called for spending $2.2 trillion on the next relief package, but Republicans have dismissed that top-line cost as a non-starter.

Lauren will have more coming up, and Trump’s press conference is scheduled to start in about 45 minutes, so stay tuned.

22:00

Programming note: Trump’s press conference, which was scheduled to start at any moment, has been pushed back by 45 minutes.

Donald J. Trump
(@realDonaldTrump)

New Conference at 5:45. Enjoy!

September 16, 2020

21:43

The Guardian’s Daniel Strauss reports:

The outdoor clothing company Patagonia has sown a message into some of its apparel: “vote the assholes out.”

The line was stitched into its Stand Up Shorts. It’s the latest example of the company’s political activism and liberal leanings. Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, is an outspoken liberal. The message is meant to urge voters to vote Donald Trump out of office.

A sign outside a Patagonia store.

A sign outside a Patagonia store. Photograph: Corine Sciboz/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock

“Yvon Chouinard has been saying ‘vote the assholes out’ for several years and it refers to politicians from any party who deny or disregard the climate crisis and ignore science, not because they aren’t aware of it, but because their pockets are lined with money from oil and gas interests,” spokesperson Tessa Byars said in a statement.

In 2018 Patagonia endorsed two Democrats for Senate, Jacky Rosen in Nevada and Montana senator Jon Tester. Both Democrats won their races that cycle.

The company has been especially invested in environmental causes and has fought with the Trump administration over it. When Trump rolled back protections on national monuments Bear Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, the company ran a message on its website saying “The President Stole Your Land.”

The message is just in Patagonia’s 2020 Men’s and Women’s Road to Regenerative Organic Stand Up Shorts. It’s unclear if Patagonia will do something similar again. “As for whether we’ll make them again: We hope we can help elect climate leaders on November 3, 2020, and that we don’t have to make them again next year … or ever again,” Byars said.

XL subscribe to our newsletter banner

Get the latest news and advice on COVID-19, direct from the experts in your inbox. Join hundreds of thousands who trust experts by subscribing to our newsletter.

Send your news and stories to us news@climaxradio.co.uk or newstories@climaxnewsroom.com and WhatsApp: +447747873668.

Before you go...

Democratic norms are being stress-tested all over the world, and the past few years have thrown up all kinds of questions we didn't know needed clarifying – how long is too long for a parliamentary prorogation? How far should politicians be allowed to intervene in court cases? To monitor these issues as closely as we have in the past we need your support, so please consider donating to The Climax News Room.