Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 30, 2020

Harold Maass
Trump and Biden debate


Trump, Biden clash in chaotic first debate

President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden clashed Tuesday in a chaotic debate, the first of three scheduled ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election. Trump repeatedly steamrolled the moderator, Fox News' Chris Wallace, and interrupted Biden. The Democratic nominee denounced Trump as a "clown," and once told him to "shut up." Trump defended his push to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Supreme Court seat, saying "elections have consequences." Biden said mail-in voting has started so the winner should pick Ginsburg's replacement. The candidates also argued about the economy, the coronavirus response, and race. Trump declined to denounce white supremacists and called for the far-right Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by." Biden called Trump's debate performance "so unpresidential." [NBC News, The New York Times]


Biden releases tax returns hours before debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, and his wife, Jill Biden, on Tuesday released their 2019 tax returns. They show a reported income of $944,737, and total tax payment of $346,204. Biden has released his tax info before, but Tuesday's timing was notable because it came hours before Biden's first debate with President Trump, and two days after The New York Times published a report on Trump's tax information, which Trump has declined to release as other presidents have done. The Times revealed that Trump paid no federal income tax for 10 of the last 15 years, and in 2016 and 2017 he paid just $750, raising questions about Trump's personal wealth and debts to foreign lenders. [HuffPost]


Democrats outnumber Republicans in battleground state mail-in voting

Democrats have far outnumbered Republicans in a surge of early mail-in voting in key battleground states, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. More than 9 million voters had requested mail ballots in Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maine, and Iowa as of Monday. Fifty-two percent of the requests came from Democrats, while just 28 percent came from Republicans. Unaffiliated voters accounted for the rest. Democrats are returning the ballots at higher rates than Republicans in North Carolina and Florida, the only two states where that information is available. In Brooklyn, election officials acknowledged Tuesday that nearly 100,000 New York City voters received misprinted mail-in ballots, raising questions about the city's ability to handle an expected surge in voting by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic. [The Washington Post, The New York Times]


Security officials warn extremists pose threat ahead of election

U.S. national security officials have warned in recent memos that violent domestic extremists could threaten the fall presidential election. Homeland Security officials said political tensions, civil unrest, and foreign disinformation campaigns were creating a toxic environment that could erupt in violence. "You have this witch's brew that really hasn't happened in America's history," said Jared Maples, director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, which published the threat assessment. President Donald Trump last week twice declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses to Democrat Joe Biden. Trump leveled baseless accusations that Democrats are trying to steal the election with fraudulent heavy mail-in balloting, as states gear up for unprecedented numbers of absentee votes due to the coronavirus crisis. [Reuters]


Barrett meets with GOP senators in confirmation push

Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Tuesday met with nine Republican senators as her supporters prepare to hurry her confirmation to get it done before the Nov. 3 presidential election. President Trump nominated the conservative Barrett on Saturday, just over a week after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a leader of the high court's liberal minority. The Senate Judiciary Committee sent Barrett the usual nominee questionnaire on Sunday and is preparing to start at least three days of confirmation hearings on Oct. 12. Democrats, who say the winner of the election between Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden should fill the seat, are still weighing the ways they can oppose or delay the process, including demanding more documents about Barrett's record. [The Washington Post]


Wildfire kills at least 3 in California

Explosive new wildfires continued to spread rapidly in Northern California on Tuesday. At least three people were killed by the Zogg Fire in Shasta County. The Zogg Fire and the Glass Fire in nearby Sonoma County, in the heart of Northern California's wine country, multiplied in size, fueled by gusty winds. Both started Sunday and remained 0 percent contained on Tuesday. The August Complex Fire "grew significantly," covering another 60,000 acres or more than 90 square miles in a single day. It had scorched a total of 938,000 acres as of Tuesday, Daniel Berlant of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection or Cal Fire said. He added that 19 new wildfires had broken out on Monday. [NPR]


Disney laying off 28,000 employees as pandemic devastates theme parks

Disney on Tuesday told employees it was going to have to lay off 28,000 employees across the entertainment giant's parks, experiences, and consumer products division. The cuts were necessary to offset losses at parks that have remained closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and low attendance at parks that have reopened. About 67 percent of the employees being laid off were part-timers, Josh D'Amaro, head of parks at Disney, wrote in the letter. Disney's theme parks in Florida, Paris, Shanghai, Japan, and Hong Kong have reopened but with limited capacity, while both California Adventure and Disneyland in Anaheim, California, have remained closed. D'Amaro wrote in the letter that management had "worked tirelessly" to avoid layoffs, but cutting expenses and capital projects didn't save enough money. [CNBC]


Report: ICE raids to target 'sanctuary' jurisdictions ahead of election

The Trump administration plans to conduct an immigration crackdown in "sanctuary cities" across the country next month, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing three U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers' "sanctuary op" is expected to start in California as part of an effort echoing President Trump's law-and-order campaign theme. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf is expected to travel to one of the targeted cities to amplify Trump's claims that he is a "law and order president" who is doing more to protect Americans than their local leaders. ICE agents could start arresting undocumented immigrants in California as early as this week, the Post reports, and operations are also expected to take place in Denver and Philadelphia. [The Washington Post]


JPMorgan Chase agrees to $920 million market-manipulation settlement

JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to pay $920 million to settle Justice Department market-manipulation investigations. The fine is the biggest the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission have ever imposed over a type of market manipulation called spoofing, in which people enter and quickly cancel large orders to deceive others about the supply and demand associated with a commodity or bond. Under the settlement, JPMorgan also will admit misconduct tied to manipulation of precious-metals and Treasury markets, the CFTC said. "The conduct of the individuals referenced in today's resolutions is unacceptable and they are no longer with the firm," said Daniel Pinto, co-president of JPMorgan Chase and CEO of the Corporate & Investment Bank. [The Wall Street Journal]


'I Am Woman' singer Helen Reddy dies at 78

Helen Reddy, the Grammy Award-winning singer whose hit "I Am Woman" became a feminist anthem, died Tuesday in Los Angeles. She was 78. Reddy's death was announced by her children Traci and Jordan, who said in a statement she was a "truly formidable woman," and while their "hearts are broken" they "take comfort in the knowledge that her voice will live on forever." Born in Australia, Reddy rose to stardom in the United States during the early 1970s. Her biggest hit was "I Am Woman," which earned her the 1973 best female vocal pop performance Grammy. The song has been used in countless movies and television shows, and a biopic about Reddy's life and music was released earlier this month. [The Associated Press]