Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 25, 2020

Harold Maass
Ruth Bader Ginsburg's casket
Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images


Crowds pay respects to Ginsburg; Trump heckled

Crowds of admirers lined up Thursday to pay their respects to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Thousands filed by the leading liberal justice's casket, which was displayed Wednesday and Thursday at the top of the steps of the Supreme Court building. Numerous dignitaries also came to honor Ginsburg. President Trump and first lady Melania Trump visited on Thursday, but people in the crowd booed and heckled him, chanting, "Vote him out!" Trump, wearing a mask, looked away as the chants grew louder, then walked back into the Supreme Court building. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany called the heckling "appalling but certainly to be expected when you're in the heart of the swamp." Ginsburg will lie in state at the Capitol on Friday, the first woman to receive the honor. [The Associated Press, CNBC]


Kentucky attorney general urged to release evidence in Breonna Taylor case

Calls mounted Thursday for Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) to release the evidence in the Breonna Taylor case after authorities announced that the three police officers who killed her would not be charged. A grand jury decided to indict former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison, the only one charged, for firing recklessly and endangering lives in a neighboring apartment, but not for the five shots that hit and killed Taylor, a Black emergency medical worker. "We ought to be able to see the evidence and see the facts that led to that conclusion," Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) told CNN. "I trust the people of Kentucky with the truth." The three officers six months ago broke down Taylor's door while executing a search warrant, then opened fire when her boyfriend fired his gun, thinking intruders were breaking in. Protests broke out in Louisville and other cities across the country after the announcement that none of the officers were being charged over Taylor's death. [CNN]


Trump again declines to commit to peaceful transfer of power

President Trump doubled down on his refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the November election, saying he has concerns the vote won't be "honest." White House Press Secretary Kaleigh McEnany said Trump would "accept the results of a free and fair election." Trump faced bipartisan backlash over his comments. The Senate unanimously approved a resolution reaffirming its commitment to a peaceful transition. Despite walking back Trump's comments, McEnany repeated Trump's baseless allegation that Democrats are conspiring to cheat by manipulating mail-in ballots. FBI Director Christopher Wray testified to Congress on Thursday that there was no evidence that mail-in balloting, which is expected to be widespread due to the coronavirus crisis, will result in fraud. [Politico, The Hill]


Fauci says masks will be necessary after vaccine becomes available

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday that Americans will need to continue wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and diligently washing their hands even after an effective coronavirus vaccine is available. The precautions will be necessary because the vaccine won't be 100 percent effective, and not everyone will be able to get it. "It is not going to eliminate the need to be prudent and careful with our public health measures," Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a Facebook Live conversation with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D). Fauci said it would be "a really good accomplishment" if the U.S. could manage to vaccinate 75 percent to 80 percent of the population. President Trump has promised a vaccine will be available within weeks, but Fauci said a "large proportion" of Americans won't be vaccinated until several months into 2021. [CNN]


Democrats prepare proposal to limit Supreme Court terms to 18 years

House Democrats are preparing to introduce a bill next week seeking to limit Supreme Court justices to 18-year terms, instead of their current lifetime appointments, Reuters reported Thursday, citing a copy of the bill seen by the news agency. Supporters said the legislation would reduce the likelihood of partisan fights like the one looming over Republicans' plan to rapidly replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with just 40 days to go before the Nov. 3 election. Under the bill, justices' terms would rotate so that two would be appointed every four-year presidential term. Only new justices would be limited to 18 years. Current justices would continue to serve their lifetime appointments. [Reuters]


Hiring momentum slows as 870,000 file new jobless claims

The Labor Department said Thursday that 870,000 Americans filed new jobless claims last week, an increase of about 4,000 claims over the previous week. The number was slightly higher than the 850,000 new claims that economists were expecting, suggesting a loss of momentum for the labor market recovery. This was another week that the new jobless claims remained below one million, but months into the coronavirus crisis, they're still at a level that far surpasses the worst week of the Great Recession. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the record for most claims filed in a single week was 695,000 in 1982. Schmidt Futures labor economist Martha Gimbel told NBC News: "It is astonishing that we are getting used to a number every week higher than we have ever seen before." [CNBC]


Mnuchin, Pelosi say coronavirus relief talks will resume soon

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that the White House and Democrats would resume negotiations on a new round of coronavirus relief — "hopefully soon," Pelosi said. Pelosi, in a shift of course, has started work on a new relief bill that would be narrower than the $3.4 trillion Heroes Act that the House passed in May but Republicans in the Senate have rejected. Pelosi said Thursday in a meeting with House Democratic leaders that the new bill would cost around $2.4 trillion. Senate Republicans have pushed a $650 billion to $1 trillion relief package. Pelosi's shift came after protests from moderates, some of them in swing districts, who had threatened to join Republicans in a procedural effort to force a vote on renewal of aid for small businesses. [The New York Times, The Associated Press]


Judge blocks administration attempt to stop census count early

A federal judge ruled Friday that the 2020 census count must continue until Oct. 31 as scheduled, barring the Trump administration from ending the population count a month early. Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California also barred officials from delivering completed population data to the White House on Dec. 31 instead of the previously planned April 2021 delivery date. Koh found that the administration's shortened schedule for completing the count was likely to distort the figures on people of color, immigrants, and other historically undercounted groups, resulting in a potentially unfair redistribution of House seats based on the count. The ruling came after evidence filed this week indicated that Census Bureau officials believed cutting off the counting would hurt accuracy. [The New York Times, NPR]


Trump's niece files lawsuit accusing him and his siblings of fraud

Mary Trump, President Trump's niece, filed a lawsuit against the president and his siblings in New York on Thursday, accusing them of fraud. The lawsuit claims the president, his sister Maryanne Trump Barry, and his late brother Robert Trump "concocted scheme after scheme to cheat on their taxes, swindle their business partners, and jack up rents on their low income tenants." Mary Trump, who spoke out against the president in her book Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man, also claims that after the death of her father, Fred Trump Jr., the president and his siblings "fleeced her of tens of millions of dollars" of her inheritance. The White House dismissed the allegations. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Mary Trump had "really discredited herself" by secretly recording her aunt, Maryanne Trump Barry, saying that her brother was a liar with "no principles." [NBC News]


Trump signs order reinforcing key ObamaCare element

President Trump on Thursday signed an executive order declaring that it is federal policy to protect health insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, which already are shielded under the Affordable Care Act. Trump announced the move in North Carolina before a campaign trip to the key swing state of Florida, saying he was putting protection for patients with pre-existing conditions "in a stamp" because Democrats "like to constantly talk about it." The order marked a pivot from Trump's promise to replace ObamaCare with a health overhaul of his own, with Trump now taking credit for fixing the health-care reform law. "ObamaCare is no longer ObamaCare," Trump said. "What we have now is a much better plan. It is no longer ObamaCare because we got rid of the worse part of it — the individual mandate." [The Washington Post]