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The president also declined to compare deaths by population with other countries, telling Axios’s Jonathan Swan that ”you can’t do that”, while downplaying the recent deaths of 1,000 Americans a day during the public health crisis and defending his administration’s response to the pandemic.
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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told CNN she was “disgusted” by the president’s remarks: “He doesn’t care anything about the history of this country. He doesn’t care anything about the future of this country. … He’s a narcissist and he is delusional.”
On Tuesday, the president reversed course on mail-in voting in Florida, a vital swing state, though absentee ballot procedures in other parts of the US are not substantially different, as he continues to argue that widespread mail-in ballots amid the pandemic will invite fraud, though no evidence suggests that is the case.
His press secretary Kayleigh McEnany railed against mass vote-by-mail efforts in other states, claiming they have been beset by “fraud, with delay, and that is what the president stands firmly against,” she said.
During a late press briefing on Tuesday, the president also dangerously suggested that a devastating series of explosions in Lebanon was an “attack” or a “bomb of some kind”, contradicting officials in Beirut who say several thousand tonnes of ammonium nitrate were improperly stored in a warehouse, triggering deadly blasts that have killed dozens of people and injured thousands of others.
Meanwhile, Mr Trump handed Microsoft a mid-September deadline to land a deal with TikTok in the US, after US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said the president would soon “take action” over security concerns surrounding the Chinese video app.
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Nevada governor signs mail-ballot legislation as Trump rages
Governor Steve Sisolak signed Nevada’s new bill on mail-voting into law on Monday night, making Nevada the seventh state to send ballots to all registered voters for the 3 November election.
That came some hours after Donald Trump complained that it was now “impossible” for Republicans to win in Nevada this November.
“This bill will help prevent Nevadans from experiencing the long lines at polling locations they faced during the Primary election, which will protect their safety, safeguard their right to make their voices heard, and help reduce the spread of COVID-19,” tweeted Mr Sisolak .
Mr Trump – who threatened to sue Nevada over the plans – has previously admitted that “Republicans would never be elected in this country again” if mail-voting took place across the US.
“We will be suing in Nevada. And that’s already been taken care of, we’ll probably file something tomorrow,” said Mr Trump during a White House briefing on Monday night.
Attorney Marc Elias, meanwhile, shared his thoughts on president Trump’s legal threat on Twitter:
Graig Graziosi has the latest on Nevada’s mail-ballot plans, here:
New York primary elections are ‘a disgrace’, says president
In another attack against mail-in ballots on Monday night, president Trump called on New York to re-do several close congressional primary races as the state struggles to count mail-in and absentee ballots more than a month after Election Day.
“Nobody’s ever seen anything like it. It’s a disgrace,” said Mr Trump. “They’re six weeks into it now — they have no clue what’s going on. … I think you’d probably have to take the Carolyn Maloney race and run it over again”.
Griffin Connollly reports:
Trump dismisses Covid-19 death toll comparisons, says “you cant do that”
The president avoided comparisons with other countries on Covid-19 on Monday night, telling Axios reporter Jonathan Swan that “you can’t do that”.
Mr Trump – who has overseen the world’s highest coronavirus death toll – tried to make comparisons based on deaths as a proportion of case numbers.
The excruciating interview comes less than a week after he lashed out at countries experiencing an uptick in coronavirus cases across the world,
“Oh, you’re doing death as a proportion of cases. I’m talking about death as a proportion of population. That’s where the US is really bad,” Axios’ reporter told the president. “Much worse than South Korea, Germany, etc”
Mr Trump added that American coronavirus deaths were “lower than the world”:
Anti-Trump Republicans tease president over Covid-19 claims
In a tweet on Monday, the president claimed that the United States had “done MUCH better than most other Countries in dealing with the China Virus”.
Naturally, The Lincoln Project – an anti-Trump political action committee – pointed to new US cases compared to other countries, on Monday.
That came as he blasted Dr Birx, the White House task force coordinator, for “pathetic” comments she provided in an interview this weekend.
As Graig Graziosi reports, Dr Birx had warned that Covid-19 was now “more widespread”:
Trump tells Axios: “I dont know John Lewis”
More on that Axios on HBO interview, here, with president Trump complaining that the legendary civil rights leader John Lewis did not attend many of his presidency’s major events, including his 2017 inauguration.
“I don’t know John Lewis. He chose not to come to my inauguration,” said Mr Trump. “I never met John Lewis, actually, I don’t believe.”
During a wide-ranging conversation, Axios interviewer Jonathan Swan asked Mr Trump how history would remember Lewis, who at the time was lying in state at the US Capitol.
The president declined to visit Lewis’s body last week, and was not in attendance at the late congressman’s funeral service on Friday.
Andrew Naughtie reports:
US still wants to ban TikTok, say Chinese owners
The White House does not want to see TikTok sold in the US, but wants to see the app banned, says the Beijing-based technology company who owns the video app.
Citing misconceptions about the situation, ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming said the United States’ goal was not to see TikTok’s US operations sold-off, but rather to ban the app.
The internal staff letter, which was reported by Chinese media and confirmed by a source to Reuters, was sent only to ByteDance’s Chinese employees after news that ByteDance was in talks to sell parts of TikTok to Microsoft prompted online criticism of the firm and Mr Zhang.
Mr Trump had announced hours earlier that Microsoft, the US technology giant, had until 15 September to agree a deal with TikTok.
Alex Woodward reports:
Trump on Ghislaine Maxwell: “I wish her well”
President Trump said again that he wished Maxwell well, after Axios’ reporter Jonathan Swan challenged him on his admission last week that he wished the ex-British socialite well.
Maxwell denies charges that she provided Jeffrey Epstein – her former partner and a convicted sex offender – with underage girls to abuse.
Mr Trump said last week at the White House: “I have met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach and they lived in Palm Beach, but I wish her well.
“Mr President, Ghislaine Maxwell has been arrested on allegations of child sex trafficking,” said Axios’ reporter. “Why would you wish such a person well?”
He responded: “I’d wish a lot of people well”.
Investigation into bank fraud is ‘continuation of witch hunt’, says president
Mr Trump dismissed a Manhattan prosecutor’s bank fraud investigation into his businesses as “just a continuation of the witch hunt”, and that Democrats and intelligence holdovers from the Obama administration have been after him for years.
“They failed with Mueller, they failed with everything. They failed with Congress. They failed at every stage of the game,” Mr Trump said at a press conference on Monday. “This has been going on for three and a half, four years, even before I got in”.
Griffin Connolly has the latest:
Trump complains US had no coronavirus tests before coronavirus
In another apparent attack on Barack Obama’s administration, Mr Trump claimed in an interview with Axios that “when I took over we didn’t even have a test [for Covid-19]”
“We didn’t have a test because there was no test”, added Mr Trump.
“Of course”, said Axios’ reporter Jonathan Swan. “Why would you have a test? The virus didn’t exist?”
When the pandemic started in March, Mr Trump appeared to blame the Obama administration and said: “we were given a — a set of circumstances, and we were given rules, regulations and specifications from a different time”.
Trump emails supporters with advice on mask wearing
The president – who denied international comparisons on coronavirus during his interview with Axios on Monday night – suggested that the United States was performing better than other countries during the pandemic.
But as deaths surpassed 155,000 on Monday, he appealed to his own supporters with an email encouraging them to wear masks to stop Covid-19 spreading, reports CNN.
“I don’t love wearing them either. Masks may be good, they may be just okay, or they may be great,” said Mr Trump in the email, whilst suggesting that masks would “help us get back to our American way of life”.
The advice to his own supporters comes amid concerns about poll numbers showing him trailing Democrat Joe Biden, who Mr Trump previously mocked for wearing a face covering during the pandemic.
Andrew Naughtie reports on the president’s comments on Covid-19:
Joe Biden says Trump comments on mail ballots are “bald-faced lies”
The Democrat used an online campaign event on Monday to bemoan president Trump’s unsubstantiated attacks on mail-ballots, whilst claiming the incumbent would do everything in his power to “argue this election is fraudulent.”
“He suggested we should postpone the election, full of just bald-faced lies about how mail-in votes were fraud, and how it was so terrible,” said Mr Biden. “Well look, he’s calling out any effort to exploit this pandemic for political purposes. It distracts from his complete failure”.
Meanwhile, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said the president was “rightfully calling attention to the clear fact” that universal mail-in voting creates “nightmare election scenarios”.
“Joe Biden and the radical left are fearmongering as they capitalise on the coronavirus crisis in an effort to scare voters into staying home on Election Day,” claimed Mr Murtaugh.
Arguments over mail ballots and in-person voting come despite the United States enduring the world’s highest coronavirus death toll, an economic slowdown, and nationwide protests against police violence and racism.
Could baseless attacks on mail-ballots lower Republican turnout in November?
Senior Trump advisers, including RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, have warned the president that his broad rhetoric is complicating Republican turnout efforts.
Ms McDaniel and Justin Clark, Mr Trump’s deputy campaign manager, have repeatedly encouraged the president to promote the use of absentee ballots – but that is being drowned-out by the president’s blanket attacks on all types of mail voting.
GOP officials around the country said more clarity from the president would help voters. “I think that is the distinction he is trying to draw,” said Alabama’s secretary of state John Merrill. “I would hope that he would be more specific in his explanation so people understand what the difference is.”
Amy Gardner and Josh Dawsey report:
‘May karma find you’, says widow to Trump and non-mask wearers
The family of a Texas man who recently died of Covid-19 have published an obituary blaming his death on “politicians who did not take this pandemic seriously” and people who refuse to wear masks.
The obituary, which went viral on social media after it was published in a local newspaper last week, said 80-year-old David W. Nagy had “suffered greatly from the ravages of Covid-19”.
He died in hospital on 22 July, with his family not allowed to attend his bedside because of the risk of transmission, according to the paper.
It comes as Mr Trump emails supporters with advice to wear face coverings for the first time, after months of ignoring the recommendation.
Andrew Naughtie reports:
Trump ‘has no idea what TikTok is’, says Seth Meyers
The comedian and NBC host told viewers on Monday night that Mr Trump’s possible ban on TikTok was a distraction amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The president could be focusing on any of that,” said Mr Meyers about coronavirus. “But instead, he’s decided to bring the full power of the presidency to bear on this.”
“I’m almost certain Trump has no idea what TikTok is. I’m betting TikTok was one of the answers he wrote on his cognitive test,” joked Mr Meyers.
Annabel Nugent has the latest:
Congressional primaries taking place in five US states
Primary elections for Congress are taking place across five states, with outcomes in Kansas, Michigan, Arizona, Missouri and Washington setting the stage for November’s elections to the House of Representatives and Senate – and ultimately who holds the power in Washington.
Two candidates from the edges of the Republican and Democratic parties, Kansas’ Kris Kobach and Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, are among those on Tuesday’s ballots.
The election’s are also set to test whether or not voters for each party will steer to the right or left, or stay closer to the political centre.
Mr Kobach previously advised Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign on immigration, whilst Ms Tlaib became one of the first two Muslim women ever elected to Congress in 2018.
She has not endorsed the party’s more moderate presumptive nominee, Joe Biden.
New video of George Floyd arrest emerges
Bodycam video from Thomas Lane, one of the four Minneapolis police officers who were involved in the arrest of George Floyd in May, shows the fired officer approaching Floyd as he sat in his car.
Floyd, who becomes visibly distressed, can be seen begging for his life, and says: “Mr. Officer, please don’t shoot me. Please man”.
The emergence of new video comes as Portland experienced its 66th night of protests over systemic racism and police violence, following Floyd’s death in police custody.
Lane face charges of aiding and abetting both second degree murder and manslaughter.
Matt Mathers has the latest:
Trump campaign concerned about convention backdrop
Mr Trump’s advisers are still pushing for some version of the Republican national convention to go on, say reports, after events in Florida and North Carolina were cancelled amid the pandemic.
Annie Karnie explains why Trump insiders want the president to pick a historic location as the backdrop for his renomination speech, here:
Eric Trump complains Biden doesn’t do interviews
The president’s 36-year-old son has hit-back at critics mocking Donald Trump after his interview with Axios.
Although, instead of defending his father’s comments, Eric Trump has complained that Joe Biden was “dodging interviews”.
Here’s a highlight from that Axios interview, in case you missed it earlier:
LA mayor adds to speculation around Biden’s VP pick
Los Angeles’ mayor Eric Garcetti says the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee will select a running mate who will provide the same relationship he had with Barack Obama.
And that, according to the Democratic mayor, includes “amazing women” who have all passed a vetting process.
Mr Biden is expected to take two more weeks to name his vice presidential candidate, after originally suggesting he would make a decision in the first week of August.
Here’s mayor Garcetti’s interview with MSNBC on Tuesday morning: