President Trump unleashed a scorched-earth campaign against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. just hours before Mr. Biden was set to accept the Democratic nomination, predicting “mayhem” if his rival wins the presidential election in November.
“At stake in this election is the survival of our nation, it’s true,” Mr. Trump told a small crowd in Old Forge, Pa., a town not far from where Mr. Biden was born. “Because we’re dealing with crazy people on the other side. They’ve gone stone cold crazy.”
As the president prepares for his own convention next week, he has revealed the core of the coming campaign: a highly personal assault on Mr. Biden and Senator Kamala Harris of California, the Democratic nominee for vice president.
“These people have gone insane, and they are radical left,” Mr. Trump said, calling Mr. Biden “a puppet of the radical left movement that seeks to destroy the American way of life.”
In Mr. Trump’s over-the-top, often blatantly misleading telling, Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris will destroy the country by moving to take guns away from Americans, fund late-term abortions, encourage “deadly sanctuary cities” and “abolish suburbs” by allowing low-income housing.
Seeking to undermine Mr. Biden’s appeal in rural, blue-collar parts of Pennsylvania, the president lashed out at Mr. Biden, saying that the Democratic nominee “abandoned” his hometown, Scranton, when his family moved when he was a young boy.
He said that Mr. Biden had been at the forefront of a “globalist attack on Pennsylvania voters,” citing the former vice president’s support of trade deals with Mexico, China, South Korea and “the horrible, ridiculous Paris climate accords.”
“As far as I’m concerned, Joe Biden is no friend of Pennsylvania,” Mr. Trump asserted.
New York State will allow most voters to cast their ballots by mail in the November general election, joining a growing list of states that have expanded mail-in voting to address the potential spread of the coronavirus at polling places.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, signed a bill on Thursday allowing voters to request an absentee ballot if they cannot show up at a polling location because of the risk of contracting or spreading an illness, effectively permitting the state’s more than 12 million registered voters to vote by mail.
Mail-in voting has expanded during the pandemic over the objections of President Trump, who has repeatedly made false claims that the practice leads to widespread fraud. At the same time, recent cutbacks at the Postal Service have slowed delivery and drawn heated condemnation and a bevy of lawsuits, and led to questions about its capacity to handle a crush of mail-in ballots.
While all voters will receive absentee ballots in at least nine states, including New Jersey and California, New York’s system will be different: Voters will have to request mail-in ballots, either online, by phone, in person or by mail. The ballots can be requested immediately and will be counted if they are postmarked by Election Day.
“The federal administration has ordered an unprecedented attack on the U.S. Postal Service and with Covid-19 threatening our ability to have safe, in-person voting, these measures are critical to ensuring a successful and fair election at one of the most important moments in our nation’s history,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement.
On Wednesday, the Trump campaign sued New Jersey over that state’s decision to conduct the November election almost entirely by mail.
Mr. Trump has also cited difficulties with mail-in ballots in several primaries in New York City. Though there has been no evidence that the primary results were marred by criminal malfeasance, the mishandling of tens of thousands of ballots delayed results in key races.
Despite railing against mail-in voting, Mr. Trump and the first lady both requested mail-in ballots this month from Florida. The president has suggested Florida’s mail voting system is sound because it had “a great Republican governor” in Ron DeSantis, a Trump ally.
We have heard from the heroes of the Democratic Party’s past. We have heard from several leaders who may represent its future, including Senator Kamala Harris, the vice-presidential nominee. On the final night of the convention, the spotlight will finally turn to the man who is the party’s present, Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Even with the awkward limitations of a virtual convention, the programming of the last three nights has built steadily and more or less smoothly toward the unveiling of Mr. Biden as a president-in-waiting. It now falls to Mr. Biden to fill the political silhouette his party has gradually sketched — one that frames him as a steady hand for difficult times, capable of bringing concrete relief to people suffering through a crisis.
In the 2020 campaign, Mr. Biden has seldom been the most eloquent advocate for his own cause. In the most important moments of his campaign, he has leaned heavily on other, more magnetic and fluid speakers: James E. Clyburn in the days before the South Carolina primary, and Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg before the Super Tuesday contests in March. He will have help again tonight, from allies who will address the audience before him, including Mr. Buttigieg, Andrew Yang and Senator Tammy Duckworth.
But if ever there were a moment for Mr. Biden to stand on his own, this is it. President Trump seems to have done his best this week to tee up a major political opportunity for his challenger, making admiring comments about believers in the conspiracy theory QAnon and calling for Americans to shun Goodyear, the Ohio tire company, because of its restrictions on political attire in the workplace. Mr. Biden’s critique of the president appears as salient as ever — he just has to deliver it.
Over his near half-century in public life, Mr. Biden has made good speeches, bad speeches, campaign kickoff speeches and concession speeches, speeches without proper attribution to original sources, speeches so impossibly Biden that no one could ever accuse him of lifting anything.
“No one ever doubts that I mean what I say,” Mr. Biden, 77, is fond of telling audiences. “The problem is, I sometimes say all that I mean.”
For tonight’s speech, he conferred with family, friends, trusted strategists and others he admires, including Jon Meacham, the presidential historian, whose recent book “The Soul of America” has been echoed by Mr. Biden throughout his presidential bid.
Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former adviser and an architect of his 2016 general election campaign, was charged on Thursday with defrauding donors to a private fund-raising effort called We Build the Wall, which was intended to bolster one of the president’s signature initiatives: erecting a barrier on the Mexican border.
With a wounded Air Force veteran and a Florida venture capitalist, Mr. Bannon conspired to cheat hundreds of thousands of donors by falsely promising that their money had been set aside exclusively toward building a new section of border wall, according to a federal indictment unsealed in Manhattan. Prosecutors said that after siphoning money from the project, Mr. Bannon plowed nearly $1 million into paying off his personal expenses.
Mr. Bannon, 66, was arrested early Thursday off the coast of Westbrook, Conn., on a 150-foot yacht belonging to the exiled Chinese businessman Guo Wengui, law enforcement officials said.
With the charges, filed days before Mr. Trump is to be nominated for a second term at the Republican National Convention, Mr. Bannon joins a growing list of Trump associates charged with federal crimes, including Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager; Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser; and Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s onetime lawyer and fixer.
Shortly after the charges were announced, Mr. Trump sought to distance himself from Mr. Bannon and the fund-raising initiative, though the president also expressed sympathy for his former chief adviser.
The president said he knew nothing about the multimillion-dollar campaign but quickly contradicted himself, saying he disliked it.
“I don’t like that project,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Thursday. He called paying for the border wall privately “inappropriate.”
One of Mr. Trump’s sons, Donald Jr., publicly promoted We Build the Wall at an event in 2018, calling it “private enterprise at its finest.” He said in a statement on Thursday that he had no involvement with the effort beyond praising it at one event.
If President Trump has subjected his predecessor to a thousand paper cuts on Twitter, former President Barack Obama responded on Wednesday night with one grand rhetorical saber stroke, offering one of the most comprehensive denunciations of one president by another in American history.
Mr. Obama’s address for the Democratic National Convention painted a dire picture of the country under Mr. Trump, portraying his successor as a man unfit, uncaring and unserious, who threatens both the nation’s welfare and its core democratic institutions.
“This administration has shown it will tear our democracy down if that’s what it takes to win,” Mr. Obama, hair grayed and manner grave, said in one of the most emotional speeches he has ever delivered.
The former president, who has cast aside his initial reluctance to engage with Mr. Trump, created a concise indictment of a president who has ridiculed him personally, leveled racist attacks against him and sought to erase any trace of Mr. Obama’s policy legacy since taking power.
“I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously; that he might come to feel the weight of the office and discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care,” said Mr. Obama, speaking from the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia — not far from Independence Hall, where he delivered a far more upbeat address on racial issues in 2008.
“But he never did,” the former president went on. “He’s shown no interest in putting in the work; no interest in finding common ground; no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends; no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves. Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”
As Mr. Obama spoke, Mr. Trump responded with two tweets in all-caps, first repeating the baseless claim that the former president had spied on his 2016 campaign, then asking why Mr. Obama had not endorsed Joseph R. Biden Jr. until the Democratic primary was effectively over.
A federal judge on Thursday rejected President Trump’s latest effort to block the Manhattan district attorney from obtaining his tax returns, dismissing Mr. Trump’s arguments that the prosecutor’s grand jury subpoena was “wildly overbroad” and issued in bad faith.
The ruling, by Judge Victor Marrero of Federal District Court in Manhattan, is the latest turn in a yearlong fight over the subpoena, which has already reached the Supreme Court once and could end up there again if, as expected, Mr. Trump appeals.
The district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., a Democrat, has been seeking eight years of Mr. Trump’s personal and business returns and other financial records as part of an investigation into the president’s business practices.
The Supreme Court, in a landmark decision in July, rejected Mr. Trump’s argument that a sitting president was immune from criminal investigation. But the ruling allowed the president to return to the lower court and raise other objections to the subpoena.
Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump called the decision “a continuation of the witch hunt, the greatest witch hunt in history.”
“We’ll probably end up back in the Supreme Court,” he added.
It has been known that Mr. Vance was investigating whether New York State laws were broken when hush-money payments were made in the run-up to the 2016 election to two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump.
Earlier this month, Mr. Vance’s office suggested it was investigating the president and his company for possible bank and insurance fraud, a significantly broader inquiry than prosecutors had acknowledged in the past.
WILMINGTON, Del. — At long last, after a bruising primary campaign and months of suspense, a senator from the nation’s largest state stood on a stage in one of the nation’s smallest and uttered 13 remarkable words: “I accept your nomination for vice president of the United States of America.”
It was the pinnacle of Kamala Harris’s political career. And no one made a sound.
For nearly 19 minutes on Wednesday, Ms. Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, experienced a politician’s dream, turned upside-down by a country’s nightmare.
With the coronavirus pandemic prompting Democrats to hold a virtual convention, Ms. Harris accepted her party’s nomination not in front of a jubilant crowd, but in a quiet exhibit hall with about 30 journalists on hand.
The site of this grand moment was the Chase Center on the Riverfront, along the Christina River in Wilmington. Earlier this year, it hosted a bridal expo and a model train show, but on Wednesday it became the epicenter of Democratic politics, not that anyone would have wished for that.
This was supposed to be Milwaukee’s honor, with the Democratic ticket appearing before thousands in the arena that is home to the Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee did get a consolation prize: The press credentials in Delaware showed the Milwaukee Art Museum.
There were some familiar sights for a convention, including a heavy law enforcement presence and television crews. But there were no swarms of people and no packed schedule of events and parties — though the restaurant in the adjacent hotel did offer specials like a Constitution Burger and Red, White and Blueberry Panna Cotta.
Inside the exhibit hall was an imposing stage, with huge video screens and American flags as a backdrop.
Reporters, who had been tested for Covid-19, wore masks and sat distanced from each other, among the state delegation signs that are a staple of political conventions.
Ms. Harris stood onstage in darkness awaiting her moment to speak. Around 10:50 p.m., the lights went up and it was time.
There would be no applause or cheers as she spoke, just like last week, when Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Ms. Harris made their debut as a ticket in a high school gymnasium with only journalists in attendance.
But when she finished, music played — “Work That” by Mary J. Blige — and there was a virtual approximation of a crowd: A screen behind the lectern showed a grid of cheering supporters. Ms. Harris turned to them and waved.
Mr. Biden soon joined her (at a distance) onstage, along with their respective spouses. If the lack of spectators bothered them, they did not show it.
The N.A.A.C.P. is the latest group to file a lawsuit against Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and the U.S. Postal Service, alleging that recent slowdowns in mail delivery could have grave consequences for Americans’ right to vote.
As with the recent lawsuit filed by a coalition of state attorneys general, the N.A.A.C.P. suit asks the court to reverse measures put in place by Mr. DeJoy that have caused delays in the delivery of medications, paychecks, benefits, and ballots.
While Mr. DeJoy said on Tuesday he would suspend cost-cutting moves until after the election, the N.A.A.C.P. contends that his announcement only seems to suspend some of the service cuts he has put into place.
The recent changes are expected to be discussed at a hearing this afternoon before the Congressional Progressive Caucus where David Williams, a former postal governor who resigned in April, will testify.
Lawmakers plan to question Mr. DeJoy at a Senate committee hearing on Friday and at a House oversight hearing on Monday. House lawmakers are also expected to vote Saturday on legislation that would reverse the changes put into place by Mr. DeJoy and provide $25 billion for the beleaguered agency.
The N.A.A.C.P.’s complaint, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., states that mail-in ballots will be necessary in November to ensure that people can vote without risking the spread of the coronavirus and notes that infection and death rates for the virus are disproportionately high among Black Americans.
It claims that the Postal Service failed to take the required steps before implementing operational changes, including submitting them to the Postal Regulatory Commission, an oversight body.
“As the country faces an uphill battle against Covid-19 and systemic racism, we’re witnessing a significant onslaught against our postal system at a time when prompt mail delivery matters more than ever, especially for voters of color,” Derrick Johnson, president of the N.A.A.C.P., said in a statement.
Michael R. Bloomberg promised to spend big to defeat President Trump. Across a few short months, he put a billion dollars into his own bid for the Democratic nomination.
Now, having dropped out in March after a skewering on the debate stage by Senator Elizabeth Warren and a lone electoral success in American Samoa, Mr. Bloomberg is preparing to step back into the political spotlight on Thursday with an address to the Democratic National Convention.
The appearance, coming just before Joseph R. Biden Jr. will accept the party’s nomination, has stirred anger among some progressives as well as former Bloomberg campaign workers. It has also reignited questions about the multibillionaire’s pledge to throw his fortune behind the general-election effort to defeat Mr. Trump.
“He stiffed our party and all the monthly workers he promised to keep on through November,” Amy Siskind, a prominent progressive activist, wrote on Twitter. “Why is Bloomberg speaking?”
In March, Mr. Bloomberg made an enormous $18 million transfer to the Democratic Party and offered up the leases to 13 field offices for the party’s use. Within weeks of exiting the 2020 race, he put $4.5 million into three major progressive groups — Swing Left, Collective Future and Voto Latino.
But he has not given directly to Mr. Biden, whom he endorsed upon withdrawing from the race, and his termination of thousands of campaign workers who expected to be working through November in Mr. Biden’s name has inspired multiple lawsuits.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III of Massachusetts in the heated Democratic primary for one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats, bolstering the 39-year-old Mr. Kennedy in his challenge to the incumbent, Senator Edward J. Markey.
“Never before have the times demanded we elect courageous leaders as today, and that is why I am proud to endorse Joe Kennedy for Senate,” the speaker said in a video announcing her endorsement, which was reported by The Boston Globe.
She praised Mr. Kennedy, a grandnephew of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Ted Kennedy, for helping flip the House of Representatives in 2018, adding that he “knows that to achieve progressive change, you must be on the front lines, leading movements of people.”
Ms. Pelosi’s decision to endorse in the Sept. 1 primary is unusual: She is usually a significant defender of incumbents in the House, where she served with Mr. Markey for more than a quarter century.
In a statement, Mr. Markey congratulated Mr. Kennedy on receiving Ms. Pelosi’s support.
“I had the privilege to work alongside Nancy in the House for decades and any candidate would be proud to have her endorsement,” Mr. Markey said.
Some groups that have tried to challenge Democratic incumbents in the House, only to run into pushback from House leadership, questioned Ms. Pelosi’s decision to back a challenger.
“This move reeks of hypocrisy,” said Alexandra Rojas, the executive director of Justice Democrats, a grass-roots organization that has helped insurgents like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York defeat incumbents. “The party is setting one standard for progressives and one entirely different standard for the establishment.”
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, who ousted Joseph Crowley, a member of Democratic leadership, in 2018, declared on Twitter, “no one gets to complain about primary challenges again.”
The fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention will air tonight from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern time. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the M.C. There are several ways to watch:
The Times will stream the full convention, with live analysis from our reporters and real-time highlights from the speeches. You can download our iOS or Android app and turn on notifications to be alerted when our live analysis starts.
Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin
Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey
Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind.
Senator Chris Coons of Delaware.
Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta
Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur who ran for president
Four years after 50 of the nation’s most senior Republican national security officials warned that Donald J. Trump “would be the most reckless president in American history,” they are back with a new letter, declaring his presidency worse than they had imagined and urging voters to support Joseph R. Biden Jr.
The new letter, released just hours before Mr. Biden formally accepts the Democratic nomination, lays out a 10-point indictment, accusing Mr. Trump of undermining the rule of law, aligning himself with dictators and engaging “in corrupt behavior that renders him unfit to serve.”
The letter also accuses the president of “spreading misinformation” and “undermining public health experts.”
“When we wrote in 2016, we were warning against a vote for Donald Trump, but many of the signatories were not ready to embrace his opponent,” Hillary Clinton, noted John Bellinger, a former legal adviser at the State Department and National Security Council who was among the authors of both letters. “This is different: Each of the signatories has said he or she will vote for Biden. Signatories are now even more concerned about Trump, and have fewer concerns about Biden.”
The letter was released by DefendingDemocracyTogether.org, an advocacy group created in 2018 by anti-Trump Republicans and conservatives. They are spending about $20 million to oppose him, the group says, including placing the full letter in an ad in The Wall Street Journal on Friday.
Among the signatories are officials who served under President Reagan and both Bushes, and a few, like John Negroponte, the former director of national intelligence, and General Michael Hayden, who served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, whose served under both Democratic and Republican administrations.
The letter also includes a handful of midlevel officials who served under Mr. Trump, but not the biggest names in national security who entered the administration only to be fired or resign.
Amy McGrath, the Democrat trying to unseat Senator Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, challenged him on Thursday to three debates focused on health care and the economic crisis facing the nation amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“One debate must address the health care crisis in Kentucky that has been so dramatically exacerbated by Washington’s unwillingness to control this pandemic,” Ms. McGrath wrote in a letter to Mr. McConnell, the Senate majority leader. “And as more than 1 million Kentuckians have filed for unemployment during this crisis, one debate must also address pulling our country out of this economic catastrophe.”
Ms. McGrath also insisted “for the sake of our democracy,” that a libertarian candidate in the race who could siphon votes away from Mr. McConnell, a Republican, be allowed to join them onstage.
Mr. McConnell had invited Ms. McGrath, a former fighter pilot, a day earlier to a single, one-on-one Lincoln-Douglas style debate without a moderator or a specific theme. Mr. McConnell did not immediately respond to Ms. McGrath’s counter-offer.
The two are in a competitive race, with Ms. McGrath trailing Mr. McConnell in the polls by about five percentage points as of early August.
Sharp-eyed watchers of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s convention speech, which was broadcast Wednesday from a virus-shuttered child care center in Springfield, Mass., may have noticed something unusual in the background: analog Easter eggs that nodded to her policy positions.
In the one cubby in the classroom, three colorful blocks spelled out “BLM,” for “Black Lives Matter.” On a shelf over her shoulder were four green letters: “DBFH,” an acronym of her campaign slogan, “Dream big, fight hard.” A child-sized letter carrier’s uniform alluded to the current battle over cutbacks at the Postal Service.
A Twitter thread compiled by her campaign revealed the not-so-hidden messages surrounding her: