September 20, 2020

Polling concerning the new Supreme Court vacancy is starting to roll out, and the early indication is most Americans would prefer that the winner of the general election on Nov. 3 select a nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Sunday shows 62 percent of Americans oppose President Trump's plan to nominate and confirm Ginsburg's replacement as soon as possible, regardless of whether it happens before the election. The poll naturally came with partisan leanings — 80 percent of Democratic voters said the nominee should be chosen by the next president — but half of Republicans agreed as well, suggesting there may be some divide over how voters want the GOP-led Senate to approach the situation. As things stand, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is aiming to go through with a confirmation vote.

The survey also hints that the vacancy could affect the election, with 30 percent of voters responding that they're now more likely to vote for the Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, and 25 percent are more likely to vote for another term for President Trump.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online between Sept. 19-20, gathering responses from 1,006 American adults. The margin of error is four percentage points. Read more at Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

1:58 a.m.

The Supreme Court late Wednesday lifted an injunction put in place by a federal judge, allowing Alabama to ban curbside voting in counties that wanted to allow it this election. The court's five conservative justices did not give a reason for their decision, but Justice Sonia Sotomayor explained in a dissent she would have left the injunction in place to allow people with disabilities or other risk factors to vote from their cars during the COVID-19 pandemic. The court's two other liberal justices signed on to her dissent.

"The Alabama dispute is the latest in a flurry of election-related fights to reach the justices in recent weeks," including a 4-4 deadlocked decision Monday that allowed Pennsylvania to count mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day for three days after the election, Politico reports. "The series of decisions suggests the high court, in its current configuration after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month, is poised to block election-related changes ordered by federal courts, while allowing state officials to make adjustments even without clear buy-in from the state legislature."

Democrats lost another voting rights battle on Wednesday when the Iowa Supreme Court upheld a state law that makes it harder for county officials to process absentee ballot requests with information missing, Reuters notes. "Opinion polls suggest a larger share of Democrats will cast absentee ballots — which include those returned by mail — than will Republicans." Peter Weber

1:13 a.m.

Before President Trump abruptly ended an interview with Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes on Tuesday, his aides handed the veteran CBS journalist a large hardcover book that White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said contained Trump's health care accomplishments.

When Trump tweeted out more photos of Stahl and the book, what was "supposed to be a cheeky illustration of an administration hard at work" turned into "a tidal wave of online snark," Rob Crilly writes at The Washington Examiner. That's mostly because the book appeared to be full of blank pages.

Well, "The Washington Examiner has obtained a PDF of the contents, which shows its 512 pages contain 13 executive orders and 11 other pieces of health care legislation enacted under Trump," Crilly writes. The legislation includes the part of Trump's 2017 tax overhaul that reduced the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate to zero, several executive orders, and "pages of another document, entitled 'America First Healthcare Plan.'" Is this the long-promised, never-delivered Trump health care plan? Crilly doesn't say.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on MSNBC Wednesday night that the bigger point for him is that the American people want "a president who is not going to create hysteria every single day, not gonna be firing people, not gonna be attacking people, not going to be arguing with Lesley Stahl or with Dr. Fauci," but rather "would focus on their needs: How do we get health care for all? How do we deal with the pandemic?" Peter Weber

12:25 a.m.

"President Trump and his advisers have repeatedly discussed whether to fire FBI Director Christopher A. Wray after Election Day," less than four years into his 10-year term, The Washington Post reports. "Trump often complains about members of his Cabinet and contemplates dismissing them, without doing so," the Post concedes, but he is "increasingly frustrated" that "federal law enforcement has not delivered his campaign the kind of last-minute boost that the FBI provided in 2016."

Specifically, the Post says, Trump is agitated that neither Wray nor Attorney General William Barr has announced that "Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden, or other Biden associates are under investigation," as then-FBI Director James Comey did with Hillary Clinton 11 days before the last presidential election, sending Clinton's poll numbers sliding.

Comey's decision to publicly disclose a reopened, ultimately fruitless investigation of Clinton's emails so close to the election was sharply criticized by Democrats and the Justice Department inspector general. It was also the official reason Trump fired Comey four years into his 10-year term.

Trump hasn't exactly kept his feelings secret. As his poll numbers remain dire weeks before Election Day, Trump "has intensified public calls for jailing his challenger, much as he did for Hillary Clinton," the Post notes. "Trump has called Biden a 'criminal' without articulating what laws he believes the former vice president has broken."

"Trump considers Wray one of his worst personnel picks," the Post reports, and many of his top aides and conservative media allies are similarly critical. Trump has also publicly floated the idea of firing Attorney General Barr, citing the lack of a pre-election report on the Russian investigation from U.S. Attorney John Durham.

"Trump was so focused on the Durham report that he would turn up the television volume when segments would air about it," the Post reports. "Trump has told allies that he once believed Barr would deliver 'scalps' in the form of Durham's findings, according to an adviser who recently spoke to Trump about it. 'But they aren't doing s---,' the president said, according to this person." Read more at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

October 21, 2020

Vivian "Millie" Bailey has had a lot of adventures during her 102 years of life, and over the weekend, she made another memory when she fulfilled her dream of going skydiving.

Bailey said said was inspired by former President George H.W. Bush, who celebrated his 75th, 80th, 85th, and 90th birthdays by jumping out of a plane. "I just always thought it would be a thrill," Bailey told WJZ.

The Howard County, Maryland, resident is a World War II veteran; in 1942, she joined the U.S. Women's Army Auxiliary. Bailey received the American Theater Medal, Women's Army Corps Medal, and World War II Victory Medal, and after being honorably discharged in 1946 as a first lieutenant, she worked for nearly three decades with Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration.

Bailey has spent her retirement giving back — since the Vietnam War, she has sent care packages to troops, and she raises on average $10,000 a year to donate to local schools. "I try every day to do something for someone else," Bailey said. In 2018, the Howard County Police Department celebrated her 100th birthday by renaming its annual Making a Difference Award in her honor.

"There are a lot of things that I can look back on," Bailey told WJZ. "I am thoroughly happy and feel blessed that I've been able to do whatever I've been able to do." There's still one more thing she wants to cross off her bucket list: meeting former first lady Michelle Obama. Catherine Garcia

October 21, 2020

Former President Barack Obama on Wednesday said dealing with the coronavirus pandemic "would have been challenging for any president, but this idea that somehow this White House has done anything but completely screw this up is just not true."

Obama made his remarks in Philadelphia during a drive-up rally for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Obama said that South Korea recorded its first COVID-19 case at the same time as the United States, "and its per capita death toll is just 1.3 percent of what ours is. Canada is just 39 percent of what ours is. Other countries are struggling with the pandemic, but they're not doing as bad as we are because they've got a government that's actually been paying attention."

Comparing Biden to President Trump, Obama declared that "Joe's not going to screw up testing, he's not going to call scientists idiots, he's not going to host a superspreader event at the White House." The United States is eight months into the pandemic, and cases are again on the rise across the country, but "Donald Trump isn't suddenly going to protect all of us," Obama said. "He can't even take the basic steps to protect himself."

Trump can't say Obama didn't try to warn him — before leaving office, his administration passed along a 70-page document on how to fight pandemics, the former president stated, with information included on novel coronaviruses. "We literally left this White House a pandemic playbook," Obama said. "They probably used it to prop up a wobbly table somewhere."

Obama didn't just focus on the pandemic. He also made the pitch for Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), promising voters they "are going to fight for you every day. They care about you and they care about this democracy. ... They believe that no one, especially the president, is above the law. They understand that protests on behalf of social justice isn't un-American, that's the most American thing there is. That's how this country was founded: protesting injustice." Catherine Garcia

October 21, 2020

Russia and Iran have obtained voter registration information and Iran is using it to send disinformation to voters, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced during a Wednesday night news conference.

Ratcliffe said these "actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries," while Wray stated Americans "should be confident that your vote counts. Early, unverified claims to the contrary should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism."

Democratic voters in Florida, Pennsylvania, and at least two other battleground states have reported receiving emails claiming to be from the Proud Boys, a far-right group. The intimidating emails tell recipients if they don't vote for President Trump, "we will come after you."

Ratcliffe, a Trump appointee, said Iran was behind some threatening emails sent to Americans, and while he did not give any specific details, he did say they were "designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest, and damage President Trump." This immediately received pushback from Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), who tweeted, "Actually, [Department of Homeland Security] officials say that Iran sent spoofed emails to intimidate voters FOR Donald Trump. Are you being fully honest with the American people?"

Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner tweeted a copy of an email his friend received, purportedly from the Proud Boys, and he said "by its very terms, it's designed to HURT Biden!" Ratcliffe, Kirschner added, shared "disinformation" in an attempt to "energize Trump's base." Catherine Garcia

October 21, 2020

Former President Barack Obama had a little fun on Wednesday during his drive-up rally for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, telling the crowd in Philadelphia that he doesn't think a certain news channel would have been as easy on him regarding his taxes as they are on President Trump.

Obama brought up a New York Times article published on Tuesday night, which said Trump's tax records show he maintains a bank account in China. "Can you imagine if I had a secret Chinese bank account when I was running for re-election? Obama said. "You think Fox News might have been a little concerned about that? They would have called me Beijing Barry."

The Times also reported late last month that in 2016 and 2017, Trump only paid $750 in federal income taxes, and Obama quipped that as a teenager scooping ice cream at Baskin Robbins, "I think I might have paid more taxes. How is that possible?" Catherine Garcia

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