Although Trump described Dr Anthony Fauci as a “disaster,” the president told campaign staffers that he was worried about the consequences of firing the infectious disease expert.
“Every time he goes on television, there’s always a bomb, but there’s a bigger bomb if you fire him,” Trump said.
The president also acknowledged that there were likely reporters listening in on the campaign staff call (yes, there were). But Trump seemed unconcerned about his attacks on Fauci being made public.
“If there’s a reporter on, you can have it just the way I said it, I couldn’t care less,” Trump said.
Trump attacks Fauci as a ‘disaster’ in campaign staff call
Speaking to his campaign staff on a conference call, Trump attacked Dr Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert.
“People are tired of coronavirus,” the president said, according to reporters who listened in on the call. “People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots.”
Trump added that Fauci, who has led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, was a “nice guy” but that he had “been here for 500 years.”
The president also claimed (without evidence) that the US death toll would have been as high as 800,000 if he had followed Fauci’s advice.
“Fauci is a disaster,” Trump said.
The president’s comments come one day after 60 Minutes aired an interview with Fauci, in which the expert said he was “absolutely not” surprised Trump got coronavirus because he was holding crowded events with minimal social distancing and mask usage in the days before he developed symptoms.
Trump joined a campaign staff call from his hotel in Las Vegas, where he is staying before his two campaign rallies in Arizona later today.
The president tried to instill confidence in his campaign staff, insisting he would win the election, despite the recent disappointing polls.
“We’re going to win,” Trump said. “I wouldn’t have told you that maybe two or three weeks ago.”
Polls show Trump consistently trailing Joe Biden in key battleground states, and FiveThirtyEight currently gives the incumbent president a 12% chance of victory.
Joe Biden’s coronavirus test today has come back negative, the Democrat’s campaign announced moments ago.
“Vice President Biden underwent PCR testing for COVID-19 today and COVID-19 was not detected,” the campaign said in a statement.
Biden has been regularly releasing the results of his coronavirus tests since Trump tested positive earlier this month.
The Biden campaign announced last week that an aviation company administrator who recently flew with the nominee had tested positive, but the two did not have close contact, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Biden is off the campaign trail today, instead focusing on preparing for his Thursday debate against Trump.
Barack Obama has filmed a campaign ad for Sara Gideon, the Maine Democrat seeking to unseat Republican Senator Susan Collins next month.
“From her work to lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs to tax relief she’s helped provide for middle class Mainers, Sara has brought people together to get things done,” the former president says in the ad.
“Sara will always be a strong voice for Maine, and is exactly the type of leader we need in Washington.”
Obama endorsed Gideon back in August, a noteworthy announcement considering Collins often voted in favor of the former Democratic president’s policies when he was in office.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Mark Meadows claimed Mitch McConnell has committed to putting any negotiated coronavirus relief deal on the Senate floor for a vote.
“The Senate Republicans have been very vocal in terms of their lack of support of a number that’s even close to what the president has already supported,” the White House chief of staff said. “Whether there’s enough votes to get to the 60-vote threshold, that’s up to Leader McConnell.”
But McConnell has not committed to putting any deal negotiated between House speaker Nancy Pelosi and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin on the floor.
The Senate majority leader said Saturday, “If Speaker Pelosi ever lets the House reach a bipartisan agreement with the administration, the Senate would of course consider it.”
The Senate is expected to vote tomorrow on a standalone bill to provide more loans to small businesses, but Pelosi has made clear she wants to see a much broader relief package — a rare area of agreement between her and Trump.
The AP has more details on the supreme court’s decision to hear a case about Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy:
As is typical, the court did not comment Monday in announcing it would hear the case. Because the court’s calendar is already full through the end of the year, the justices will not hear the case until 2021. If Joe Biden were to win the presidential election and rescind the policy, the case would become largely moot.
Trump’s ‘Migrant Protection Protocols’ policy, known informally as ‘Remain in Mexico,’ was introduced in January 2019. It became a key pillar of the administration’s response to an unprecedented surge of asylum-seeking families at the border, drawing criticism for having people wait in highly dangerous Mexican cities.
Lower courts found that the policy is probably illegal. But earlier this year the Supreme Court stepped in to allow the policy to remain in effect while a lawsuit challenging it plays out in the courts.
More than 60,000 asylum-seekers were returned to Mexico under the policy. The Justice Department estimated in late February that there were 25,000 people still waiting in Mexico for hearings in U.S. court. Those hearings were suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Supreme court agrees to hear Trump administration appeals on two immigration cases
The supreme court has agreed to hear the Trump administration’s appeals in two cases involving the president’s controversial immigration policy.
One case has to do with Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which requires asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico as their cases are decided.
The other has to do with funding of the wall along the US-Mexican border.
This is Joan Greve in Washington, taking over for Martin Belam.
Congress is running out of time to pass another coronavirus relief bill before the election, much to the chagrin of the president, who has called on Congress to “go big or go home” on the relief package.
The AP reports:
Trump’s GOP allies are reconvening the Senate this week for a revote on a virus proposal that about one-third the size of a measure being negotiated by [House speaker Nancy] Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. But the Senate GOP bill has failed once before, and that Trump himself now says is too puny. The debate promises to bring a hefty dose of posturing and political gamesmanship, but little more. A procedural vote on a stand-alone renewal of bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program business subsidies is slated for Tuesday.
Even the architect of the larger Senate measure, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., isn’t claiming the vote will advance the ball. Once the measure fails, he plans to turn the chamber’s full attention to cementing a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court by confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett. It is likely to be the Senate’s final act before Election Day.
In that context, this week’s action has the chief benefit of giving Republicans in tough reelection races one last opportunity to try to show voters they are prioritizing COVID relief — and to make the case to voters that Democrats are the ones standing in the way.
Joe Biden’s social media team have responded to the somewhat quirky accusation from president Donald Trump yesterday that one of the things Biden would do if elected is listen to scientists [see 7:43].
Florida isn’t the only state where in-person voting opens today. Residents in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho and North Dakota will also be able to cast their ballots today.
Tomorrow it is the turn of voters in Hawaii, Louisiana, Utah and Wisconsin. West Virginia follows on Wednesday.
The US election system is completely decentralised, which is why there is such a variation on dates and rules between states. Christina A. Cassidy reports this morning for the Associated Press on one particular question – what happens to your early vote if you die after it has been cast?
She spoke to Hannah Carson in North Carolina. At 90 years old and living through a global pandemic, Carson knows time may be short. She wasted no time returning her absentee ballot for this year’s election.
As soon as it arrived at her senior living community, she filled it out and sent it back to her local election office in Charlotte, North Carolina. If something were to happen and she doesn’t make it to election day, Carson told AP she hopes her ballot will remain valid. “I should think I should count, given all the years I have been here,” she said.
But in North Carolina, a ballot cast by someone who subsequently dies can be set aside if a challenge is filed before election day with the county board of elections.
Seventeen states prohibit counting ballots cast by someone who subsequently dies before the election, but 10 states specifically allow it. The law is silent in the rest of the country, according to research by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Even though a law might require such ballots to be rejected, it’s likely that some could still count depending on when the person dies and when election officials find out about the death.
“The law may say that the ballot of a person who dies in that situation can’t be counted, but it is a hard law to follow,” said Wendy Underhill, head of elections for the National Conference of State Legislatures.
When someone dies close to an election, it takes time for death records to be updated, and there is a narrow window between when a ballot is cast and counted. Colorado in 2016 had between 15 and 20 instances of voters who cast a ballot by mail and then died before Election Day. All were counted.
In Michigan’s primary earlier this year, 864 ballots were rejected because the voters died before the election even though they were alive when they filled them out. The president’s son Donald Trump Jr. tweeted a link to a story about the dead voters in Michigan that was later debunked for misrepresenting the issue.
With President Trump making unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, the question of whether ballots will count if early voters die soon after could be a source of further conspiracies to come.
Kamala Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, is tweeting about their trip to Florida today.
In-person early voting begins in the state today, and Miami Herald journalist Aaron Leibowitz has already snapped one of the first pictures of a line.
It looks like it is going to be a wet wait to vote in Coral Gables.
Alexandra Olsen reports for Associated Press on a new survey that has been carried out asking American workers about the impact coronavirus has had on their working lives. As well as putting millions out of work, the pandemic has left many of those still working fearful, distressed and stretched thin.
A quarter of US workers say they have even considered quitting their jobs as worries related to the pandemic weigh on them, according to a new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research in collaboration with software company SAP. A fifth say they have taken leave.
About 7 in 10 workers cited juggling their jobs and other responsibilities as a source of stress. Fears of contracting the virus also was a top concern for those working outside the home.
Employers have been responding. The poll finds 57% of workers saying their employer is doing “about the right amount” in regards to the pandemic; 24% say they are “going above and beyond.” Just 18% say their employer is “falling short.”
That satisfaction seems largely related to physical protections from the virus, which overwhelming majorities of workers considered very important.
At least half also say it is very important for their employers to expand sick leave, provide flexibility for caregivers and support mental health, and workers report less satisfaction with efforts in these areas.
Lower income workers were especially likely to have considered quitting – 39% of workers in households earning less than $30,000 annually have considered it, compared to just 23% in higher income households.
John Roman, a senior fellow at NORC at the University of Chicago, said those findings likely reflect fears of exposure of the virus among those who can’t work from home. Hourly wage workers are also less likely to feel attachment to a job, making them more likely to search for safer work, he said.
“This is perhaps the most surprising finding,” Roman said. “The people who can least afford to lose their jobs are leaving jobs in higher numbers. But it fits with the story that they feel unsafe health-wise.”
CNN’s Harry Enten was asking the question last night, why is Biden putting so many red states in play?
Biden seems to be leading or is quite competitive in a lot of states that Trump carried fairly easily four years ago. These include Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and even Texas. I get asked often whether I believe that Biden has a shot in these states.
The short answer is yes. It makes a lot of sense given the national polling that Biden is putting a lot of seemingly red states into play. This doesn’t mean he’ll ultimately carry any of these states. If the national race tightens, these states will probably fall into Trump’s column.
For now though, Biden is leading in the national polls by about 10 points. That’s 8 points better than Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by in 2016.
There is, of course, no guarantee that the states will ultimately shift uniformly based upon the national result. They didn’t in 2016, when Trump did much better in the Midwest than you would have thought given a national swing of 2 points from the 2012 result.
But the reason for what happened in 2016 is fairly simple: Trump vastly outperformed Mitt Romney among White voters without a college degree, and the Midwest has a disproportionate share of them.
All of these states are in play, and we shouldn’t be shocked by it. When there’s a big swing, as the national polls imply in 2020, there are going to be some seemingly shocking results.
Read more here: CNN – Why Biden is putting so many red states in play
Texas senator John Cornyn has begun trying to distance himself from Donald Trump. Martin Pengelly reports for us:
A member of Republican leadership in the US Senate has likened his relationship with Donald Trump to a marriage, and said that he was “maybe like a lot of women who get married and think they’re going to change their spouse, and that doesn’t usually work out very well.”
The Texas senator John Cornyn’s comments, to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, are the latest instance of a Republican under electoral pressure seeking to distance himself from an unpopular president, however gingerly, as polling day looms. Democrats are favoured to take the Senate, potentially leading to unified government in Washington.
“I think what we found is that we’re not going to change President Trump,” Cornyn said. “He is who he is. You either love him or hate him, and there’s not much in between.
“What I tried to do is not get into public confrontations and fights with him because, as I’ve observed, those usually don’t end too well.”
Trump spent some of the weekend in a public fight with Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska. Sasse criticised Trump in a call with constituents, lamenting among other things his treatment of women and the way he “kisses dictators’ butts” and “flirts with white supremacists”.
Trump fired back with insults, forcing Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel on to the defensive on the Sunday talkshows.
Sasse is more or less assured of re-election in two weeks’ time but his prediction of a “bloodbath” for Senate Republicans with an unpopular president at the top of ticket may have stung Trump – and McDaniel – the most.