The Supreme Court announced that it will hear oral arguments for cases virtually in November and December and will provide live audio feed of the hearings. The court will follow the same format it has been using for its new term starting this month.
The justices have not heard arguments in person since early March. In a press release, the court said it will determine plans for January’s arguments soon.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi just held a press conference announcing the House intention to create a Commission on Presidential Capacity that would exist to evaluate the health of the president in a time of crisis and assess whether a transition of power to the vice president would be suitable.
Pelosi answered a question about what indications does she believe prove that Donald Trump has an “altered state of mind” from Covid-19 and his subsequent treatment.
“Clearly he is under medication. Any of us who is under medication of that seriousness is in an altered state,” Pelosi said
“He has bragged about the medication that he has taken, and again, there are articles by medical professions saying this could have an impact on judgment.”
Because Congress is currently not in a legislative session, a commission cannot realistically exist for the rest of the year. US representative Jaime Raskin, speaking with Pelosi at the press conference, defended introducing the legislation now.
Raskin said that the pandemic has highlighted Congress’ need to set up an “institution” that can evaluate the health of the president in extreme circumstances,
“We’ve got to think of this in Constitutional terms. This is why we need to set up an institution composed on a bipartisan fashion, bicameral fashion that will be able to make judgments five months from now, five years from now, 50 years from now, whenever it might be.”
Jaime Raskin, a Democratic US representative from Maryland, said that the Commission on Presidential Capacity” will have 17 members, 8 members will be medical personnel and the other 8 will be high-ranking former members of the executive branch. The members of the commission will be bipartisan and will choose a chair to lead it.
Because Congress is not in legislative session, meaning no serious consideration of the measure can happen until the spring, the bill is Nancy Pelosi’s way of highlighting the uncertainty around Donald Trump’s health and the spread of Covid-19 in the White House. Raskin said that he wishes that Congress has moved to make the commission earlier.
“It’s not about the election at all,” she said, adding that “people want to know” about a president’s health. “We have to give some comfort to people that there is a way to do this.”
Nancy Pelosi unveils House Commission on Presidential Capacity
Nancy Pelosi just announced that the House will invoke the 25th Amendment, which gives Congress some power to evaluate the health and stability of the president to conduct the duties of the office, and create a Commission on Presidential Capacity to Discharge the Powers and Duties of Office.
House Democrats are focusing on section 4 of the amendment that gives Congress and his cabinet the power to pass the power of the president along to the vice-president if POTUS “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” and does not make moves to transfer power.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding a press conference this morning on Capitol Hill where she is slated to give further details about a bill that would invoke the 25th Amendment of the Constitution, which allows Congress to interview when a President is not able to conduct duties of the office.
On Thursday, Pelosi teased a bill that invoked the amendment, but said that more details will be provided on Friday.
Pelosi and other Democrats have voiced concerns about the uncertainty around the president’s health in the midst of having Covid-19 and receiving subsequent treatment.
“There are those who say that the steroids had an impact on people’s thinking,” Pelosi said in an interview on Wednesday. “If you have the coronavirus, it has an impact as well.”
Republicans have already voiced their dissent against the bill, with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell calling it “absolutely absurd”.
We’ll be tuning into the press conference and will provide live updates here.
The Washington Post obtained an appraisal of more than 150 acres of woodlands in New York City suburbs that the Trump Organization used to receive a $21.1 million tax break for preservation.
The estate is known as Seven Spring as is located in Westchester county, the county of suburbs directly north of New York City. A 2016 appraisal from 2016 valued Seven Spring at $56.5 million, which is more than double the value that three Westchester towns that contain a piece of the property assessed.
Here’s more from the Washington Post:
The Seven Springs appraisal, obtained by The Washington Post, appears to have relied on unsupported assertions and misleading conclusions that boosted the value of Trump’s charitable gift — and his tax break, according to two independent appraisers who reviewed the document at The Post’s request.
The appraisal was written by Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate firm that has worked with Trump over many years and whose New York City headquarters are in a building co-owned by Trump.
The firm established the value of the 212-acre estate by assuming a future buyer could build and sell 24 mansions on the land, without providing evidence that such a subdivision would meet local regulations. Over two decades, Trump himself tried and failed to build on Seven Springs — first a golf course and later various housing developments — but the projects were stymied amid local opposition and environmental disputes.
Broadway will stay dark until May 30, 2021, the Broadway League announced this morning, extending its reopen date by four months.
The announcement means that Broadway shows will have been shut down for over a year over the course of the pandemic, having closed down on March 12, 2020 as cases started to surge in New York City. At the time, 31 shows were running, including 8 shows that were in preview, according to Broadway World.
Individual productions will decide when to resume performances once the shutdown is lifted. Broadway League says there are nearly 97,000 workers who will remain out of work until the theatre district is reopened.
Good morning, this is Lauren Aratani taking over for Martin Belam.
Just over 7 million Americans have casted their votes for the general presidential election, according to the US Election Project, which has been monitoring mail ballot activity.
The data confirms that an unprecedented number of Americans will be casting their ballots by mail this year. Around the same time in October 2016, about 430,000 people had cast their votes by mail.
Using data from over 30 states, Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida, has been keeping track of early voting reports that states release ahead of Election Day on November 3.
While most states do not include party registration information with their data, nine states include that information, including California, Florida and Ohio, a major swing state. In the nine states with data on 2.9 million early voters, 1.6 million are registered Democrat while 714,000 are Republicans. Over 500,000 of those voters are registered independents.
Qasim Rashid, who is standing for the Democratic party in Virginia’s 1st congressional district, has just joined in Twitter’s current meme for posting pictures showing how it started and how it’s going – and it’s a doozy.
And that is it from me in London this week, I’ll see you here on Monday. Lauren Aratani will be along to take you through the rest of the day…
Kayliegh McEnany has just raised again the completely unsubtantiated claims by the Trump campaign that Joe Biden uses artificial aides to help him during public appearances and debates. She is citing this as a reason that Trump will not debate Biden virtually.
Last week the Trump campaign issued Facebook ads using a manipulated image to falsely claim that Joe Biden had used an earpiece during the first TV debate.
We are getting an update on the president’s health from Kayleigh McEnany, who, of course, has coronavirus herself. She just told Fox News that Trump’s doctor has said he believes Trump will be ‘ready to go’ on Saturday. They added that the president will be tested for Covid-19, will not go in public if he still can transmit the virus.
Isaiah Murtaugh reports for us today on how mail-in voting isn’t fixing voting access for rural Native Americans this year.
“Mail voting just does not work for the Navajo Nation,” said Lauren Bernally, an attorney with the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission (NNHRC).
Tribal advocates estimate that some voters have to drive anywhere from 40 to 150 miles roundtrip to pick up their mail. But the Arizona lawsuit Yazzie v Hobbs also pointed out that the reservation’s 27,425 square miles are covered by just 24 post offices and 15 postal service providers. The slightly smaller state of West Virginia has roughly 10 times the population, but it’s covered by 725 post offices and postal service provider sites.
If a potential voter shares a PO box with family or friends but their name isn’t registered to it they might not have a way to receive a mail ballot at all. If they do manage to receive a ballot and drop it back at the post office, it could go through a routing maze that adds days to its delivery time, even in a normal year.
In August, the voting rights group Four Directions tracked test pieces of mail sent from local post offices to their corresponding county recorder’s office, and found that mail posted on the reservation has to travel as much as 244 miles further than mail posted off-reservation. There are currently no 24/7 ballot drop boxes and just one early voting site for every 1,532 square miles, according to the Four Directions attorney OJ Semans. And that’s if voters can get registered.
‘Naked ballots’ has entered the public consciousness this year in the way that ‘hanging chads’ did in 2000.
ABC News report on the decision by the state supreme court that Pennsylvania will become the first and only state to disqualify ballots received without a required secrecy envelope – the ‘naked ballots’ – while giving voters no recourse to fix the mistake.
Election officials have warned that new enforcement of the longstanding rule, mandated last month by the state’s supreme court, could result in the rejection of as many as 100,000 ballots statewide by one estimate.
“This is a state that Donald Trump won by 44,000 votes. So when you think about a hundred thousand votes potentially being tossed out, it’s a really big issue,” said Bethany Hallam, a member of the Allegheny County Board of Elections.
State law requires voters to seal mail-in ballots in a second envelope “printed, stamped or endorsed ‘Official Absentee Ballot.’” The process was aimed at protecting voter privacy in an age when ballots were extracted by hand, sometimes in public view.
But for years, amid a shift toward automation and ballot processing at secure election offices, officials have shown leniency counting otherwise valid ballots that only arrive in a single, outer envelope.
“It’s not a fatal flaw,” said Amber McReynolds, CEO of the National Vote At Home Institute and a leading nonpartisan expert on election administration and policy. “It doesn’t have anything to do with the voter’s eligibility, and it has nothing to do with the voter successfully marking their ballot.”
Pennsylvania will be closely fought for, though our swing state polls tracker currently gives Joe Biden the edge for the state’s 20 electoral college votes.
Associated Press report that the mother and sisters of a Black teen who was killed by a suburban Milwaukee police officer have been arrested by police who were cracking down on protesters out after a curfew following a decision not to charge the officer.
Alvin Cole’s mother, Tracy Cole, and his sisters, Taleavia and Tristiana Cole, were arrested about 8:30pm Thursday along with several others in a church parking lot in Wauwatosa, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, citing multiple witnesses.
Cole family attorney Kimberley Motley tweeted that Tracy Cole was arrested “for peacefully protesting” and “ended up in the hospital.”
Motley later tweeted that Tracy and Tristiana Cole were released from the hospital. Details on why they were at the hospital weren’t immediately known.
A Facebook livestream that captured only audio of Tracy Cole was made by a third daughter, the newspaper reported. On a recording of it, Tracy Cole could be heard screaming in pain as she was being arrested, saying police injured her arm, hit her in the head and used a stun gun on her.
Wauwatosa police tweeted Thursday night that “several” people were arrested, and said one woman requested medical attention and was taken to a hospital.
The city was under a 7pm curfew during a second night of protests after Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm decided not to charge Wauwatosa Officer Joseph Mensah, who is also Black, with the shooting death of Cole, 17, in February outside Mayfair Mall.
According to investigators’ reports, Cole had a gun and fired it. Chisholm said it appeared he shot himself in the arm. Officers said Cole refused commands to drop the weapon, prompting Mensah to fire.
Motley, the Cole family attorney, has said she plans to file a federal lawsuit against Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah.
The death of Alvin Cole was the third fatal shooting by Mensah in the last five years. Mensah shot and killed Antonio Gonzales in 2015 after police said Gonzales refused to drop a sword. A year later Mensah shot Jay Anderson Jr. In that case, Mensah found Anderson in a car parked in a park after hours.
Mensah said he saw a gun on the passenger seat and thought Anderson was reaching for it, so he shot him. Mensah wasn’t charged in either shooting.