October 7, 2019

President Trump seemingly set out to quell fears Monday that the White House was creating an opening for Turkey to attack U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in Northern Syria.

The White House announced Sunday night that U.S. troops would leave northern Syria and that Turkey would launch an invasion in the region. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan considers the Kurdish fighters "terrorists," as a result of a longstanding separatist movement among Kurds in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey, but the U.S. considered the Kurdish forces in northern Syria their strongest allies in the fight against the Islamic State, which is why Trump has received bipartisan criticism for leaving them vulnerable to Turkish forces.

Trump, though, said that Turkey won't do anything he, in his "great and unmatched wisdom," considers "off limits" or else he'll "totally destroy and obliterate" the Turkish economy — again.

Trump doesn't mention the Kurds by name, but he has boasted about preventing Erdogan from attempting to "wipe out" the Kurds in the past, so it stands to reason he was referring to them. Tim O'Donnell

1:30 a.m.

President Trump briefly shared the spotlight with Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) during a rally in Goodyear, Arizona, on Wednesday, telling her she had "one minute" to talk to the crowd, adding, "They don't want to hear this."

McSally is trailing her Democratic opponent, Mark Kelly, in the polls, but at the rally, Trump gave more speaking time to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), and controversial British politician and key Brexit leader Nigel Farage, who flew all the way to the desert to call Trump "the most resilient and brave person" he has ever met.

When it was time for McSally to address the crowd, Trump said, "Martha, come up fast. Fast. Fast. Come on. Quick. You got one minute! One minute, Martha! They don't want to hear this, Martha. Come on. Let's go. Quick, quick, quick. Come on." It was, Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts wrote, "how you might call your dog."

Watching the scene unfold was "painful," Roberts said, as "the president who dodged the draft" was treating "the nation's first female combat pilot with such disrespect."

This wasn't the first uncomfortable moment between Trump and McSally at a rally; earlier this month, Trump was in Tucson, where he heaped praised upon Kelli Ward, chair of the Arizona Republican Party. Ward, he said, was "a warrior" and "a fighter" who is "a friend that's so loyal, and strong and a good person." In 2018, Ward lost to McSally in a three-way GOP Senate primary, and Trump lamented that "she would have been, oh, if she didn't have three or four people running at the same time, she would have been your senator. Hate to say it, she would have been your senator." McSally was in attendance at the rally but never got a chance to speak, Roberts said, adding, "It's baffling that Trump would treat McSally almost as an annoyance in her own state, at a time when she is fighting for every vote." Catherine Garcia

1:27 a.m.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden enters the final week of the 2020 election with a lead of 12 percentage points over President Trump, according to a CNN/SSRS poll released Wednesday. In the poll, 54 percent of likely voters are backing Biden while 42 percent favor Trump. The CNN polls is better for Biden than the national averages from RealClearPolitics, 7.5 points (51.1 percent to 43.6 percent), and FiveThirtyEight, where Biden's 9-point lead (51.8 percent to 42.9 percent) is paired with 88 in 100 odds of winning the Electoral College.

Trump trailed by 16 points in CNN's last national poll, so this is an improvement, but the race has been remarkably steady. "Biden has held a lead in every CNN poll on the matchup since 2019, and he has held a statistically significant advantage in every high-quality national poll since the spring," CNN reports. "All of the data point to an election that is a referendum on an unpopular president, and a sizable share of both candidates' supporters are making their decisions based on their feelings about Trump," whose approval rating sits at 42 percent. CNN broke down some of the big demographic splits on air.

CNN's poll wasn't the only one national survey released Wednesday, "and although there are some outliers in both directions, they tell a fairly consistent story, overall: A steady race nationally, perhaps with some gains for Joe Biden in the Midwest," Nate Silver writes at FiveThirtyEight. Biden appears to be losing a tiny bit of ground in post-debate national polls but gaining in state polls, and he's doing better in higher-quality polls like CNN's than in lower quality ones.

SSRS conducted the CNN poll Oct. 23-26 among 1,005 U.S. adults reached by phone, including 886 likely voters. The poll or likely voters has a margin of sampling error of ± 3.8 percentage points. Peter Weber

12:14 a.m.

Minnesota's last four governors seem determined to make a stand for the state's "Minnesota nice" ethos, while also refuting baseless fears of vote fraud. Gov. Tim Walz (D) came up with the idea to invite his three predecessors — Mark Dayton (D), Tim Pawlenty (R), and Jesse Ventura (I) — to make and ad with him last Friday, they filmed it Monday, and Walz's office released it Wednesday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The governors agree that this is "the most important election of our lifetime" and urge Minnesotans to show patience, "civility, and decency" throughout the process.

"I asked some friends to help me explain why Election Day might be a little different this year," Walz tweeted. "The four of us don't agree on everything. But we do agree on this: The 2020 election is too important to sit out. Go vote."

Along with President Trump's frequent, false assertions about rampant mail-in vote fraud and calls for his followers to "watch" people vote, Minnesota had to swat down a plan by a Tennessee-based company to send private armed guards to "protect" the polls, the Star Tribune reports.

"Our state is proud to have one of the safest and most secure election systems in the whole country," Pawlenty said. "With so many of us voting by mail, it may take a little longer to verify a winner," Walz added. "And that's okay, it's by design," Pawlenty continued. "A delay just means out system is working," Ventura said, "and that we're counting every ballot."

In a time of deep and sometimes violent polarization, this is pretty nice, Minnesota. Peter Weber

October 28, 2020

During a press conference last week, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe strayed from his approved remarks when he claimed Iran was sending emails to American voters as a way to "damage President Trump," two senior administration officials with knowledge of the matter told Politico.

This allegation was not in his prepared statement, which was shown to and signed off by FBI Director Christopher Wray and Chris Krebs, director of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency, Politico reports. The press conference was held so the officials could explain to voters ways foreign actors were trying to influence the U.S. election.

Democrats in several states reported receiving emails that claimed to be from the far-right Proud Boys group, threatening them and saying if they didn't vote for Trump, "we will come after you." Ratcliffe said those emails were sent by Iran, and then asserted that they were "designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest, and damage President Trump." The officials told Politico that while the Proud Boys were named several times in his prepared remarks, Ratcliffe omitted those references.

Ratcliffe made the decision to hold the briefing on his own, officials told Politico, and it was quickly put together and timed so it would not air on television at the same time as a Trump rally. Before becoming DNI, Ratcliffe was one of Trump's most vocal supporters.

When asked for comment, Amanda Schoch, the assistant DNI for strategic communications, told Politico that "literally no one is disputing the 100 percent factual accuracy of the DNI's remarks. The rest of this is just pointless process noise, most of which is inaccurate or taken out of context." Catherine Garcia

October 28, 2020

The Supreme Court on Wednesday night let stand a lower court ruling allowing North Carolina to extend its deadline for accepting mail-in ballots.

With the extension, ballots that are postmarked by Election Day can arrive up to nine days later and still be counted. Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who joined the Supreme Court on Tuesday, did not participate in the 5-3 decision. A spokesperson said she sat this one out "because of the need for a prompt resolution and because she has not had time to fully review the parties' filings."

In June, North Carolina's state legislature moved the mail ballot deadline from Nov. 3 to Nov. 6, but the North Carolina Board of Elections extended it even further, to Nov. 12, saying this protected "lawful North Carolina voters from having their votes thrown out because of mail delays that the Postal Service had explicitly warned the state about." Under state law, the board has the authority to make temporary changes to election rules during an emergency, like the coronavirus pandemic, NBC News reports.

North Carolina's Republican Party and President Trump's campaign challenged the extension, saying it posed "an immediate threat to the integrity of the federal elections process," but a federal district court judge and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals both refused to block the change.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein (D) said it was "a disgrace that Republicans are trying to block eligible voters from having their votes counted. If voters comply with the statute and mail in their ballots on or before Election Day, they should not be penalized by slow mail delivery in a pandemic." Catherine Garcia

October 28, 2020

The president of the FBI Agents Association sent letters to both President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Wednesday, asking that the winner of next week's election keep FBI Director Christopher Wray in his position.

Earlier this week, people close to the president told Axios that if Trump is re-elected, he plans on immediately firing Wray; he reportedly became enraged in September when Wray testified there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, contradicting Trump's claims.

The FBI Agents Association represents more than 14,000 agents, and its president, Brian O'Hare, wrote in his letters that since 1976, FBI directors have had 10-year terms, which keeps the position nonpartisan. While the president is able to remove FBI directors, "doing so could lead to instability and damage to the Bureau's operations," O'Hare said.

Wray has been leading the FBI since August 2017, after Trump fired its former director, James Comey, that May, as he investigated Russian meddling in the 2016 election. O'Hare said in his letters that Wray is "an asset to the Bureau and a trusted leader of agents in the field" and "the country is safer because of him." He has "not led the Bureau in a political manner," O'Hare added, "and politics should not determine his fate as director."

The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to The Washington Post's request for comment, and White House spokesman Judd Deere said in an email, "If the president doesn't have confidence in someone he will let you know. The White House does not speculate or comment on personnel matters." Catherine Garcia

October 28, 2020

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to expedite a request from Pennsylvania Republicans to stop the state from counting mail-in ballots received in the three days after Election Day.

This means the case won't be heard before Nov. 3, but in a statement, Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch said it could be reviewed by the court after the election.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court deadlocked on the issue, leaving in place the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's ruling that ballots postmarked by Election Day can be counted if they arrive up to three days later. Wednesday's brief order did not say why the Supreme Court declined to expedite consideration of this similar case, The New York Times reports.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whose first day on the job was Tuesday, did not cast a vote on Wednesday, with a spokesperson for the court saying she "did not participate in the consideration of this motion because of the need for a prompt resolution of it and because she has not had time to fully review the parties' filings." Catherine Garcia

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