Donald Trump

Donald Trump Claims Joe Biden Wants to Cancel Remaining Debates—He Doesn’t – Newsweek

President Donald Trump said during a Minnesota campaign event that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was ready to cancel the two remaining presidential debates.

Trump’s comments the day after his first presidential debate with Biden, which many criticized as chaotic and lacking in substantive policy discussions. Trump offered no proof for his debate cancellation allegations, which Biden’s campaign had already repudiated.

“Joe Biden is too weak to lead this country,” Trump said to a crowd at Duluth International Airport. “You know Biden lost badly when his supporters are saying he should cancel the rest of the debates. Now I understand he’s canceling the rest of the debates. Let’s see what happens. I think that’s not gonna be a good move for him.”

Biden’s campaign said that Biden has no intention of canceling the debates. “I don’t know how many different ways we can say it,” Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in a press call after the Tuesday debate. “Yes, we are going to do the debates.”

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Biden’s running mate California Senator Kamala Harris said in a Tuesday interview with CNN that Biden would go through with the scheduled debates.

“Joe Biden’s never going to refuse to talk to the American people and have any opportunity that he can to speak directly to American families and speak about the issues, speak the truth, and address the facts of where we are now, but also address the hopes and dreams of the American families and where we could be and Joe’s got a plan for dealing with those hopes and aspirations as well,” Harris said.

donald trump
President Donald Trump claimed on Wednesday that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was going to cancel the remaining presidential debates, but Biden’s camp denied that allegation.
Drew Angerer/Getty

Newsweek reached out to the Biden campaign for further comment.

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Trump and Biden’s first scheduled debate was marked by moments of confusion. The two candidates often spoke over each other, sometimes raising their voices, leaving debate moderator Chris Wallace struggling to restore order.

Trump expressed frustration with Wallace’s attempts to guide the debate. “I guess I’m debating you, not [Biden],” Trump told Wallace.

On Wednesday, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) said it was looking at instituting new guidelines for upcoming debates.

During a Wednesday campaign stop, Biden criticized Trump’s debate performance. “I think it was just a national embarrassment,” Biden told reporters. “I just hope that the American people and those undecided voters try to determine what each of us has an answer for their concerns, and allows us to actually speak.”

“Last night’s debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues,” read a Wednesday statement from the CPD. “The CPD will be carefully considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly.”

In a Wednesday statement, Trump’s re-election campaign communication director Tim Murtaugh said the CPD was only considering changes because Biden lost the debate. “President Trump was the dominant force and now Joe Biden is trying to work the refs,” Murtaugh said. “They shouldn’t be moving the goal posts and changing the rules in the middle of the game.”

Trump and Biden are scheduled to meet again in October for the second presidential debate, expected to take place at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami, Florida.

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Renews Trump

Trump Renews Fears of Voter Intimidation as G.O.P. Poll Watchers Mobilize – The New York Times

Republicans are putting together what they call an army of Trump supporters to monitor election procedures.

Credit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

The group of Trump campaign officials came carrying cellphone cameras and a determination to help the president’s re-election efforts in Philadelphia. But they were asked to leave the city’s newly opened satellite election offices on Tuesday after being told local election laws did not permit them to monitor voters coming to request and complete absentee ballots.

On social media and right-wing news sites and in the presidential debate on Tuesday night, President Trump and his campaign quickly suggested nefarious intent in the actions of local election officials, with the president claiming during the debate that “bad things happen in Philadelphia” and urging his supporters everywhere to “go into the polls and watch very carefully.”

The baseless descriptions of the voting process in Philadelphia were the latest broad-brush attempt by the Trump campaign to undermine confidence in this year’s election, a message delivered with an ominous edge at the debate when he advised an extremist group, the Proud Boys, to “stand back and stand by” in his remarks about the election.

The calls for his followers to monitor voting activity are clear. What’s less apparent is how the Trump campaign wants this to play out.

Mr. Trump and his campaign often seem to be working on two tracks, one seemingly an amped-up version of mostly familiar election procedures like poll watching, the other something of a more perilous nature for a democracy.

In the first, Justin Clark, a lawyer for the Trump campaign, told a conservative group this year of plans to “leverage about 50,000 volunteers all the way through, from early vote through Election Day, to be able to watch the polls.” The head of the party in Philadelphia said Wednesday that there would be multiple poll watchers at every site in the city, which would mean at least 1,600 Republican watchers in Philadelphia alone.

Thea McDonald, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, said the operation was needed because “Democrats have proven their lack of trustworthiness time and again this election cycle.” She added, “President Trump’s volunteer poll watchers will be trained to ensure all rules are applied equally, all valid ballots are counted, and all Democrat rule-breaking is called out.”

In recent weeks, the Trump campaign has distributed carefully lawyered training videos to prospective poll watchers around the country describing what they can and can’t do while monitoring the voting process, imploring them to be courteous to “even our Democrat friends.” The poll watchers will challenge ballots and the eligibility of voters, but they are not supposed to interact with voters themselves.

Voting rights groups fear that effort could veer toward voter intimidation. But the question is how far Mr. Trump’s supporters will take the exhortations to protect a vote the president has relentlessly, and baselessly, described as being at risk of widespread fraud.

The Republican National Committee has been allowed to participate in poll watching only because the courts in 2018 lifted a consent decree that had barred them from doing so for three and a half decades, after the party undertook an operation to intimidate New Jersey voters in 1981.

Now, poll watchers are being instructed in specific detail. In Michigan, for instance, they are being told to record when any paper jams occur, while those in Arizona are being given a detailed breakdown of the state’s voter identification requirements.

But while the official poll watchers are being schooled in legal procedures, Mr. Trump and some of his closest surrogates, including his longtime confidant Roger J. Stone Jr. and his son Donald Trump Jr., have recently floated conspiracy theories that also sound like calls to arms.

During a recent appearance on “The Alex Jones Show,” a far-right radio program that peddles conspiracy theories, Mr. Stone said that ballots in Nevada should be seized by federal marshals, claiming that “they are already corrupted” and that Mr. Trump should consider nationalizing the state police. Mr. Stone, a felon whose sentence was commuted this year by the president, has ties to the Proud Boys.

In a video imploring Trump supporters to join a poll-watching brigade called “Army for Trump,” Donald Trump Jr. made similarly evidence-free claims of fraud.

“The radical left are laying the groundwork to steal this election from my father, President Donald Trump,” the younger Mr. Trump says on the video, posted on Twitter.


Credit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times

Even as President Trump failed to condemn violent white supremacists during the debate, his own Homeland Security analysts asserted in a threat assessment that such extremists represent the “most persistent and lethal threat in the homeland through 2021,” according to a September draft of the assessment obtained by The New York Times.

The assessment said that “open-air, publicly accessible parts of physical election infrastructure,” including polling places and voter registration events, could be “flash points for potential violence.”

Many have been aghast at the president’s tactics. Nevada’s attorney general, Aaron D. Ford, a Democrat, tweeted Tuesday that telling supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully” amounted to intimidation. “FYI — voter intimidation is illegal in Nevada,” he wrote. “Believe me when I say it: You do it, and you will be prosecuted.”

Lauren Groh-Wargo, the chief executive of Fair Fight Action, a voting rights group, said Mr. Trump and Republicans “continue to engage in these voter suppression efforts because they know if we have a free and fair election they will lose.”

And Benjamin L. Ginsberg, a retired elections lawyer for Republicans, said Mr. Trump’s debate comments went “several degrees farther than his campaign and the R.N.C. have gone in describing their Election Day operations plans,” adding that the remarks placed “his campaign’s and the R.N.C.’s lawyers in the position of having to answer how they plan to instruct their massive 50,000-person army of poll watchers to act on Election Day.”

While Mr. Trump and his allies give license to election discord, official party poll watchers are required to view training videos that define their legal parameters, which state election laws tightly limit.

Both parties recruit volunteer poll watchers, a process Republicans previously led at the state level amid the consent decree. In a new video tailored for Pennsylvania, prospective poll watchers are told they must wear identification and remain outside an enclosed space designated for voting. Questions must be directed to a party hotline or elections personnel, not voters.

But such legal niceties are already falling away as early voting begins. Mr. Trump and members of his family tweeted allegations against Philadelphia, and right-wing news outlets amplified the message of poll watchers being “barred” from early voting.

“As you know today, there was a big problem,” Mr. Trump said during Tuesday’s debate. “In Philadelphia, they went in to watch, they were called poll watchers, a very safe, very nice thing. They were thrown out, they weren’t allowed to watch. You know why? Because bad things happen in Philadelphia, bad things.”

But city officials said they were enforcing the law and would continue to do so.

“We have law enforcement officers, we have protocols in place to make sure all the voters are safe,” said Omar Sabir, a Democratic city commissioner in Philadelphia. “Don’t let anything or anyone intimidate you from exercising your right to vote.”

Additionally, Mr. Sabir noted, the seven locations in Philadelphia were satellite election offices where voters could request, fill out and submit absentee ballots; they were not official polling locations and therefore not open to poll watchers.


Credit…Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Those viewed as violating the rules and decorum that poll watchers must follow will be removed, said Nick Custodio, a deputy commissioner in Philadelphia.

“Watchers on Election Day are there to observe, and a lot of them will check tally sheets or which voters have shown up to vote so far, but they can’t be intimidating people,” Mr. Custodio said.

Martina White, chair of the Philadelphia County Republicans, said names were still being gathered to submit for certification amid a huge poll-watching effort. She disagreed with barring poll watchers from satellite election offices, saying there should be “oversight of what transpires in there, just like a poll watcher would on Election Day, as people are casting votes.”

The activity in Philadelphia came 10 days after Trump supporters chanting “four more years” disrupted early voting in Fairfax, Va., at one point forming a line that voters had to walk around outside the site.

The Republican establishment has ample reason to want to avoid accusations of voter intimidation. In the early 1980s, after the party sent hired workers sporting armbands reading “National Ballot Security Task Force” into Black and Latino precincts in New Jersey to challenge voters’ eligibility, it operated under an increasingly strict federal consent decree that eventually barred it from conducting or advising on any sort of “ballot security” activities — even by unpaid volunteers.

Richard L. Hasen, an election-law expert at the University of California, Irvine, said that because of the president’s influence, the Republican National Committee was at risk of being associated with the same kind of behavior that led to the consent decree. He noted that the 2017 federal court ruling lifting the consent decree stated in a footnote that Mr. Trump had clearly encouraged voter suppression during the 2016 presidential campaign, but that his behavior could not be tied to the national party.

Now, however, he effectively controls the party.

“While I was worried about Trump norm-breaking in 2016, it is far worse for a sitting president to be undermining the integrity of the election,” Dr. Hasen said. “Whether Trump means the things he says or not, he’s convincing his most ardent supporters that the only way he loses is if the Democrats cheat.”

He added, “That’s profoundly destabilizing and scary.”

Jennifer Steinhauer, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Robert Draper contributed reporting.

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Trump Winked

Trump Winked and Nodded at Proud Boys, and Fears of Far-Right Election Intimidation and Violence Exploded – The Daily Beast

The truck-revving, banner-waving, loudspeaker-blaring pro-Trump rally took place, conveniently, on Sept. 19, the first Saturday of early voting in the swing state of Virginia, in a parking lot where voters in Democratic-leaning Fairfax County were lined up to cast their ballots. Some Trump supporters drove circles around the voters while others—many without face masks—mingled with the line, chanting and waving flags.

“We had a couple poll observers there that had to actually escort voters in because we saw people that would get to the edge of the parking lot, and see this giant group of Trumpers yelling and screaming,” Jack Kiraly, executive director of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, told The Daily Beast, adding that the scene reminded him of the volunteers who escort people past anti-abortion protesters outside women’s health clinics.

So during Tuesday night’s remarkably unhinged presidential debate, when President Donald Trump urged his supporters to take unsanctioned actions at polling places, Kiraly was reminded of what Fairfax County voters had witnessed earlier this month.

During the debate, Trump appeared to tell the far-right paramilitary group the Proud Boys to “stand by” and urged fans to “go into the polls and watch very carefully” for voter fraud, an exceedingly rare phenomenon Trump has crafted into a cornerstone of his political identity. For close observers of the far right, as well as officials like Kiraly, the remarks amounted to the latest warning that an embattled president might use his supporters to impede fair elections, or to cast the results of those elections in doubt.

If the prospect of election-related violence was already looming over the first presidential contest since Trump effectively welcomed the paramilitary far-right into the Republican Party, the debate made the alarm bells ring even louder.

    “The two things that concerned me most were the remarks about the Proud Boys, basically incentivizing these armed militiamen who are loyal to him to show up at polling places,” Kiraly said, “and then his comment saying they’re going to have observers there. They are related. I think he was incentivizing those Proud Boys to go inside.”

    The Proud Boys are an explicitly violent right-wing group with extensive ties to white supremacists and disturbing connections to more mainstream Republicans. Trump’s comments about the group came when debate moderator Chris Wallace asked him to condemn “white supremacists and right-wing militias.” Trump’s debate opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, specifically urged Trump to condemn the Proud Boys, who are often visible in Portland, Philadelphia, and New York, where two members were convicted of gang assault and other crimes in 2018.

    Trump did not do so. “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” he said. “But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.”

    On Wednesday, Trump attempted to walk back the comments, claiming that he did not know who the Proud Boys are, and that they should stand down. (The current leader of the Proud Boys sat directly behind Trump at a 2019 rally, and was a Florida director of Latinos for Trump as of last year.)

    Even if Trump were telling the truth on Wednesday, his words have already energized the far right around elections, according to Kathleen Belew, history professor at the University of Chicago and author of Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America.

    “He didn’t tell the Proud Boys to stand down. He told them to stand back and stand by,” Belew told The Daily Beast.

    “That’s a call for readiness,” she explained. “Of course that leads us to a set of questions about readiness for what. One of the things to understand about this movement is that adherence to ‘stand back and stand by’ does not necessarily mean adherence to the person that gave that marching order, or to what might come afterward. I think part of the concern here is that he simply can’t unring the bell in this kind of situation.”

    The Proud Boys capitalized on Trump’s comments even before the debate’s end, putting his words on memes and t-shirts. But the far-right glee at the prospect of presidential permission for election-related violence wasn‘t confined to one group.

    Andrew Anglin, the founder of the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer, wrote a post-debate blog post that reiterated Trump’s baseless claims that Democrats would attempt election fraud, and claimed that “Trump is ready for a war in the streets.” (Anglin cannot personally participate in said war on the streets because he has gone AWOL while avoiding an ongoing lawsuit and tens of millions in civil penalties from previous lawsuits.)

    Far-right interference with free elections has a long history, especially when aimed at Black people, Belew noted.

    “During Reconstruction, after the Civil War, during the 1920s, during the Civil Rights movement, attempts to keep people from exercising their legal right to vote were as intrinsic to white supremacy and white power groups as a burning cross,” she said. “It’s one of the textbook, central strategies.”

    Election trickery also has a history with less-fringe right groups. Devin Burghart, executive director of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, a social justice non-profit, pointed to the so-called “Brooks Brothers Riot” in late November 2000. While election canvassers in Florida’s hotly contested Miami-Dade County gathered to count ballots, a mob of paid operatives pounded on doors and windows, and punched a Democratic official, intentionally interfering with ballot counting.

    Burghart noted that the riot was allegedly organized in part by GOP operative Roger Stone, who is now closely affiliated with the Proud Boys. The group has provided security for him, and in turn he has recently endorsed one of them for office in Hawaii and appeared to participate in a Proud Boy initiation stunt.

    “Given the Trump orbit’s connection to the Proud Boys and given his advisors’ connections to previous voting meddling efforts,” Burghart said, “there is certainly a concern both for violence on Election Day coming from groups like the Proud Boys and, should there not be a clear victor on November 3, for potential violence and meddling in the electoral process after Election Day.”

    Contacted via text message about Trump’s Proud Boy comments, Stone responded with a paragraph-long rant about anti-fascists, and did not respond to a follow-up question.

    The threat isn’t just from Proud Boys, Burghart emphasized, but also from the larger network of paramilitary groups that have voiced support for Trump. Some of those groups are not cohesive militias, but recurring pro-Trump rallies, like a series of caravans in Oregon organized by pro-Trump Facebook pages.

    Those Oregon events often begin much with truck caravans and Trump flags—much like the event in Fairfax County that saw pro-Trump activists cross through an early voting line.

    “It’s no longer an election day, it’s an election season,” Kiraly said. “We need to be vigilant at all times, and we need to call out these instances of voter intimidation, of encouraging voter intimidation that way that the president did last night.

    “We need to shame that stuff.”

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    claims Trump

    Trump claims he paid ‘millions of dollars’ in taxes, amid debate over NYT story – ABC News

    Trump claims he paid ‘millions of dollars’ in taxes, amid debate over NYT story – YouTube

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    Donald Trump

    Did Donald Trump Condemn the Proud Boys and White Supremacists? – Newsweek

    President Donald Trump told the Proud Boys to “stand back” after being asked by Fox News moderator Chris Wallace to condemn white supremacists and militia groups during the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio on Tuesday night.

    “Are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities as we saw in Kenosha and Portland?” Fox News moderator Chris Wallace asked the president.

    “Sure I’m willing to do that,” Trump responded. “I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not the right wing. I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace.”

    “Then do it, sir,” Wallace pressed. “Say it,” Democratic nominee Joe Biden added.

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    “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said. “But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s gotta do something about Antifa and the left. This is not a right wing problem. This is a left-wing problem.”

    Gavin McInnes, co-founder of Vice Media turned prominent far-right figure, launched the the Proud Boys in 2016. Members of the group, who describe themselves as “western chauvinists,” are frequently seen in coordinated clothing consisting of black Fred Perry polo shirts with yellow stripes and red MAGA hats.

    Shortly after the debate ended, the Proud Boys appeared to celebrate Trump’s remarks on their social media networks. On Telegram, a cloud-based instant messaging service, the group reportedly shared an image with the phrase “stand back and stand by” surrounding its logo.

    In 2018, the FBI listed the Proud Boys as an “extremist group with ties to white nationalism.” The group has also been called a hate group “known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric” by The Southern Poverty Law Center.

    The far-right group has hosted several rallies in Portland, Oregon in recent months to condemn Black Lives Matter protests and the ongoing unrest following the May death of George Floyd in police custody.

    Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency in Portland earlier this month ahead of an organized Proud Boys rally over fears that “white supremacist groups from out of town will “intimidate, instigate and inflame” tensions in the city.

    But the Saturday rally, held at Portland’s Peninsula Park, ended without the violence that is often seen at gatherings held by the group. While organizers had estimated that as many as 10,000 supporters would attend, only a fraction of that figure turned up and a large portion of the group dispersed after only a few hours.

    Newsweek reached out to Trump’s campaign for further comment.

    U.S. President Donald Trump participates in the first presidential debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio.
    Win McNamee/Getty

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    Former Trump

    Former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale hospitalized following reported suicide attempt – CNN

    (CNN)President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale was hospitalized Sunday following reports of a suicide attempt at his Florida home, CNN has learned.

    According to Fort Lauderdale Police Department Sgt. DeAnna Greenlaw, Fort Lauderdale police officers responded to Parscale’s residence “in reference to an armed male attempting suicide.” Officers later identified him to CNN as Bradley Parscale and said his wife had called the police.
    “When officers arrived on scene, they made contact with the armed subject’s wife, who advised her husband was armed and had access to multiple firearms inside the residence and was threatening to harm himself,” Greenlaw told CNN in a statement. The officers determined the only person inside the home was the adult male.
    The South Florida Sun Sentinel was the first to report the story.
    Greenlaw said officers contacted Parscale, “developed a rapport, and safely negotiated for him to exit the home. The male was detained without injury and transported to Broward Health Medical Center for a Baker Act.”
    Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Karen Dietrich told CNN over the phone there was a concern that Parscale may harm himself, and his wife reported there were weapons in the home. The SWAT team responded and after a short time Parscale surrendered to police, Dietrich said.
    “He came out and we got him some help,” Dietrich said.
    Parscale was demoted from his position this summer after Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Though he maintained a senior position on the campaign, he was rarely seen inside the headquarters following his demotion.
    Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications manager, told CNN in a statement, “Brad Parscale is a member of our family and we all love him. We are ready to support him and his family in any way possible.”
    The Baker Act is a Florida law that enables families to provide emergency mental health services and temporary detention for people impaired by mental illness, according to University of Florida Health.
    Parscale has not been seen much at the campaign’s office since his demotion, a campaign source told CNN’s Jim Acosta. The day he was demoted, he cleaned out his office and left. He was in the office about 10 days ago, the source said.
    Parscale was lauded by the President and his allies as a digital guru who helped secure Trump’s first election effort. He worked for the Trump family years before Trump launched a presidential bid and he ascended to a role leading the campaign’s data analytics team in June 2016.
    After Trump won, Parscale worked with America First Policies, a pro-Trump political organization, and became campaign manager in February 2018.
    This story has been updated to include additional reporting.
    How to get help: Call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It provides free and confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week for people in suicidal crisis or distress. You can learn more about its services here, including its guide on what to do if you see suicidal language on social media. You can also call 1-800-273-8255 to talk to someone about how you can help a person in crisis. For crisis support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.

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    campaign Trump

    Trump campaign questions why Biden is ‘silent’ on anti-Catholic bigotry aimed at Amy Coney Barrett – Fox News

    The Trump campaign on Sunday questioned why Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is being “silent” on what it calls anti-Catholic bigotry aimed at Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

    During a “Catholics for Trump” phone call Sunday, Deputy Campaign Manager Justin Clark said he is “really, really, really concerned” about Barrett’s confirmation battle on Capitol Hill,  slated to begin on Oct. 12.


    “The stakes in this nomination couldn’t be higher,” Clark said. “Our faith as Catholics is under attack currently, and it is going to ramp up and get even worse.”

    Clark described President Trump’s nomination of Barrett to the high court as a “landmark nomination” for the country and the court, but added that it is a “seminal moment for the left to reimpose bigoted and unconstitutional religious tests on our nominees for high office.”

    “Religious bigotry as Catholics isn’t new in this country,” Clark said, adding that the “new radical left has embraced many of the hateful and destructive tendencies of anti-Catholicism of the past.”

    “A renewed anti-Catholic movement in this country has been growing for some time,” Clark said, adding that it has “exploded onto the scene again.”

    Clark went on to cite the scrutiny Barrett faced over her faith by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017 when she was appointed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

    During the hearing, Barrett, a Catholic mother of seven, had to assert numerous times that her faith would not influence her jurisprudence.

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Barrett at the time that she was concerned over her Catholic beliefs, and particularly how she would apply them in cases involving abortion.

    “Why is it that so many of us on this side have this very uncomfortable feeling that dogma and law are two different things, and I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different,” Feinstein told Barrett, a Notre Dame law professor. “And I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.”

    Clark, on Sunday, slammed Democrats during that hearing in 2017, saying: “If this isn’t the imposition or application of some kind of religious test on people, I don’t know what is.”

    But Clark shifted, pointing to the former vice president, and questioning where he stands in the midst of the attacks on Barrett’s faith.

    “Where is Joe Biden in all of this? Silent. He’s dead silent,” Clark said. “Just like he was silent when his administration persecuted the Little Sisters of the Poor, or when his own vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris disqualified someone based on their membership to the Knights of Columbus.”

    Clark added: “I am very concerned about where we’re headed down this road, where Democrats are headed down this road, and we’ve got to stop it because this is creeping back into our culture and our society and it is not okay.”

    Clark urged those on the call to “be aware” and to “engage” with Catholics who support the president.

    “This is something that is going to impact all Americans,” Clark said. “It’s hateful and disgusting rhetoric that’s going to be seeping its way back into our culture and our political lives.”

    Clark described the upcoming battle surrounding Barrett’s confirmation as “long” and “hard.”

    “We need to stand up to this, and we need to stand with the president and Judge Barrett and win in her confirmation, and win on November 3,” he said.

    Clark’s comments come as Democrats have questioned whether Barrett’s religion would influence her decisions on cases should she be confirmed to the Supreme Court.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., cautioned her fellow Democrats in the Senate against bringing up Barrett’s Catholicism during her confirmation hearing.


    Pelosi, who is a Catholic, argued that a person’s religious beliefs should not matter to the senators questioning the potential Supreme Court justice, but instead they should focus on Barrett’s views on the Constitution.

    “I think it’s appropriate for people to ask her about how faithful she would be to the Constitution of the United States, whatever her faith,” Pelosi said Sunday during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It doesn’t matter what her faith is or what religion she believes in. What matters is, does she believe in the Constitution of the United States?”

    Pelosi added: “Does she believe in the precedent on the Supreme Court that has upheld the Affordable Care Act? This is, again, directly related to a major concern of the American people, as it was in 2018. Health care, health care, health care. The three most important issues in this election.”

    When Barrett’s name first arose in 2018 as a possible Supreme Court pick by President Trump, even some conservatives worried her sparse judicial record made it too hard to predict how she might rule. Nearly three years on, her judicial record now includes the authorship of around 100 opinions and several telling dissents in which Barrett displayed her clear and consistent conservative bent.

    She has long expressed sympathy with a mode of interpreting the Constitution, called originalism, in which justices try to decipher original meanings of texts in assessing if someone’s rights have been violated. Many liberals oppose that strict approach, saying it is too rigid and doesn’t allow the Constitution to change with the times.

    Barrett’s fondness for original texts was on display in a 2019 dissent in a gun-rights case in which she argued a person convicted of a nonviolent felony shouldn’t be automatically barred from owning a gun. All but a few pages of her 37-page dissent were devoted to the history of gun rules for convicted criminals in the 18th and 19th centuries.

    In the 2017 White House questionnaire, Barrett was asked if it was her view that abortion was always immoral. She didn’t answer the question directly but said: “If I am confirmed (to the 7th Circuit), my views on this or any other question will have no bearing on the discharge of my duties as a judge.”

    In a 2013 Texas Law Review article, Barrett listed fewer than 10 cases she said are widely considered “super-precedents,” ones that no justice would dare reverse even if they believed they were wrongly decided. Among them was Brown vs. Board of Education, which declared racial segregation in schools unconstitutional.

    One she didn’t include on the list: Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that affirmed a woman’s right to abortion. Scholars don’t include it, she wrote, because public controversy swirling around it has never abated.

    Abortion and women’s rights were the focus of a bruising 2017 confirmation process after Barrett’s nomination to the 7th Circuit.

    Others pointed to Barrett’s membership of the University of Notre Dame’s “Faculty for Life” group – and that she had signed a 2015 letter to Catholic bishops affirming the “value of human life from conception to natural death.”

    The Senate eventually confirmed her in a 55-43 vote, with three Democrats joined the majority.

    Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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    Biden Trump

    Trump, Biden have one debate goal: Don’t lose | TheHill – The Hill

    President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick ‘threatens’ Affordable Care Act MORE and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Joe Biden should enact critical government reforms if he wins MORE will meet face to face for the first time on Tuesday for a highly anticipated debate that could set the course for the five remaining weeks of the campaign.

    The clash will present both candidates with an opportunity to frame the choice before voters this November, to lay out their case and prosecute the case against each other.

    But it will also give both candidates the opportunity to commit gaffes that will define them in the minds of voters. In an election in which so few voters remain undecided, the prospect of a self-inflicted wound — a forgetful moment, an awkward line, a slip of the tongue — is a greater threat to either Trump or Biden than anything they might say about each other.

    “A debate does not change a lot of minds. Most people come to the debate when we get to this point in a long campaign and they’re committed. They’re viewing the debate for reinforcement and motivation,” said Mitchell McKinney, director of the Political Communication Institute at the University of Missouri.

    The primary goal Trump and Biden must achieve isn’t to win, debate historians and experts said. It’s to not lose.

    “What you want to do is you want to hold your base, so you try not to lose, basically. You try to avoid the big gaffe, the misstatement,” said Joseph Tuman, a political communications expert at San Francisco State University.

    The challenge will be especially difficult for President Trump, as the incumbent. Sitting presidents have had rocky first debates in recent history, partly because they are used to being the unquestioned center of attention in every room they enter. For four years, Trump has not stood on stage with an equal.

    “There is a long history of incumbent presidents struggling, especially in their first debates. They’re out of practice,” said Aaron Kall, the dean of students and director of debate at the University of Michigan. “You’re the president. You have people that work for you, and they’re unlikely to tell you what you really need to hear.”

    In 2012, President Obama stumbled so badly in his first clash with Republican nominee Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyCrenshaw looms large as Democrats look to flip Texas House seat The Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by Facebook – Republicans lawmakers rebuke Trump on election Trump dumbfounds GOP with latest unforced error MORE that he apologized afterward to his staff. In 2004, President George W. Bush was caught flat-footed by then-Sen. John KerryJohn Forbes KerryThe Memo: Warning signs flash for Trump on debates Divided country, divided church TV ads favored Biden 2-1 in past month MORE’s (D-Mass.) aggressive attacks.

    In 1984, President Ronald Reagan seemed unfocused and forgetful in his first debate against former Vice President Walter Mondale. That raised questions about Reagan’s age and mental fitness — questions he turned back with a memorable quip in their second meeting.

    “I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign,” Reagan said at the subsequent debate. “I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

    Obama acknowledged to staffers he had not prepared for the first debate against Romney, and he turned in a stronger performance in his second outing. Trump has said he is doing little formal preparation, too. He is unlikely to sit for sessions in which aides pepper him with criticism to gird him for Biden’s attacks.

    “In Mr. Trump, we have a person who doesn’t take criticism well,” Tuman said. “This is a guy with thin skin.”

    Still, rocky debate performances are not a death knell for a sitting president. Obama, Bush and Reagan may have lost some voters in their first outings with rivals, but all three won reelection — Reagan won 49 states.

    Where Trump may be out of practice standing next to a rival who will challenge him directly, Biden has much more recent experience. He struggled to stand out in many of the early debates during the Democratic primary, and he was especially taken aback by the criticism lobbed his way — most notably by Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisPelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick ‘threatens’ Affordable Care Act What Kamala Harris’ VP nomination means to us Harris slams Trump’s Supreme Court pick as an attempt to ‘destroy the Affordable Care Act’ MORE (D-Calif.), who is now his running mate.

    But Biden grew more comfortable on the debate stage. He attacked former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergBloomberg rolls out M ad buy to boost Biden in Florida Democratic groups using Bloomberg money to launch M in Spanish language ads in Florida Bloomberg pays fines for 32,000 felons in Florida so they can vote MORE in the last multi-candidate forum just before Super Tuesday, and he turned in perhaps his best performance in a one-on-one matchup against Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Sanders tells Maher ‘there will be a number of plans’ to remove Trump if he loses Sirota reacts to report of harassment, doxing by Harris supporters MORE (I-Vt.), just before primaries that effectively ended Sanders’s chance at the nomination.

    In vice presidential debates in 2008 and 2012, Biden effectively parried critiques from Republican nominees Sarah Palin and Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanKenosha will be a good bellwether in 2020 At indoor rally, Pence says election runs through Wisconsin Juan Williams: Breaking down the debates MORE.

    “He didn’t do great when there were a half dozen, ten people on stage and there wasn’t a lot to contrast. But he did do well against Bernie Sanders, who’s a formidable debater,” Kall said. “His debate performance against Sarah Palin in 2008 and Paul Ryan in 2012 were both above average.”

    Trump has helped Biden, in a way, by setting expectations of the former vice president artificially low. Trump has questioned Biden’s mental stamina, and his surrogates have wondered whether Biden would show up, though Biden’s campaign has never uttered even the suggestion that he would not participate.

    Some in Trump’s orbit have belatedly changed course, pointing to Biden’s long career in the Senate and his experience on the debate stage in hopes of raising expectations. But the bar has been set, most prominently by the president himself.

    “What [Trump] has done, in many ways, is lower expectations for voters, who are now watching these debates looking to see if Biden is going to confirm Mr. Trump’s characterization of him,” Tuman said. “All Biden has to do in this first debate is sound like a guy with a pulse and someone who can do subject-verb-object in sentence construction and he’ll get over the low bar Trump has set for him.”

    The wild card in any one-on-one matchup will be the third man on stage, Fox News Sunday host Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceTrump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Will Chis Wallace’s debate topics favor Biden over Trump? House to vote on resolution affirming peaceful transition of power MORE. Wallace has already laid out the six topics he will focus on: the candidates’ respective records; the coronavirus pandemic; the economy; race and violence in American cities; the open Supreme Court seat; and the integrity of the election.

    But what will remain unclear until the klieg lights are on and the cameras are rolling is how active a role Wallace wants to play.

    “He’s a good moderator, he has a lot of experience. He’s not going to be intimidated by the candidates,” Kall said of Wallace, who is moderating his second general election debate. “The main question will be how much does he want to inject himself.”

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    Minimal Trump

    Trump Paid Minimal Income Taxes in 2016, 2017, Times Reports – Bloomberg

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    announces Trump

    Trump announces Judge Amy Coney Barrett is his pick for the Supreme Court – The Washington Post

    Trump introduced Barrett in a Rose Garden ceremony attended by a who’s who of Republicans and conservative activists, a reminder that shifting the Supreme Court to the ideological right has been a decades-long focus for Republicans.

    “Amy Coney Barrett will decide cases based on the text of the Constitution as written,” Trump said, as the nominee stood beside him. “As Amy has said, being a judge takes courage. You are not there to decide cases as you may prefer. You are there to do your duty and to follow the law, wherever it may take you.”

    Neither Trump nor Barrett wore face masks as recommended by public health officials to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, and few in the crowd did either. Guests were seated close together, rather than the recommended six feet apart, and hugged and kissed one another.

    Trump and Barrett praised Ginsburg as a trailblazer, and Barrett said she would do the job of a justice “mindful of who came before me.”

    Their views and backgrounds could not be more different, however, as the deeply conservative Barrett made clear with a tribute to the late Antonin Scalia, the conservative jurist for whom she was a law clerk and who she said was her legal role model.

    “I have no illusions that the road ahead of me will be easy, either for the short term or the long haul. I never imagined that I would find myself in this position, but now that I am, I assure you that I will meet the challenge with both humility and courage,” Barrett said, adding that she looked forward to meeting with senators.

    The judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit is expected to be confirmed swiftly by the Republican-majority Senate and could be seated before the Nov. 3 election, the resolution of which Trump has predicted could end up before the Supreme Court.

    Democrats, with little chance of derailing the nomination, say they are being steamrolled. Some in the party are refusing to meet with Coney Barrett, while liberal activists are pushing Democratic lawmakers for more drastic moves such as boycotting the confirmation hearings.

    Senate Republicans were preparing to accelerate the confirmation process as soon as the announcement was made, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) planning to meet with Barrett on Tuesday, according to an aide.

    Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) confirmed in an interview with Fox News on Saturday night that the hearings for Barrett will begin Oct. 12 with opening statements, with questions set to take place Oct. 13 and 14. There will be testimony from outside witnesses at some point, he said, and the committee process will begin Oct. 15 — meaning a panel vote on Barrett’s nomination could come as early as Oct. 22 under Judiciary rules.

    “I expect they’re going to throw the kitchen sink at us,” Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), the No. 3 in Senate GOP leadership, said in an interview Saturday. But he said he was confident Barrett would be confirmed before the election “if everything moves along smoothly.”

    The prospect of conservative judges and a shift on the high court helped Trump, with few ideological lodestars, win over skeptical Republicans in 2016, and he has been unapologetic about using this surprise vacancy to further his chances for reelection.

    “Fill that seat” has been a featured chant at Trump’s political rallies over the past week, and his campaign is raising money with messages to supporters that tout the president’s Supreme Court pick. Republicans also started selling a T-shirt Saturday that appropriated Ginsburg’s pop-culture-inspired nickname, “Notorious RBG.” The shirts say “Notorious ACB.”

    Ginsburg lay in state at the U.S. Capitol this past week — the first woman to be so honored — and is expected be buried alongside her husband, Marty, at Arlington National Cemetery in the coming week.

    The election was not mentioned during the White House announcement, nor was abortion, the issue on which many senators of both parties are likely to base their vote on Barrett.

    Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden issued a statement on the nomination that focused on the coronavirus and the future of the Affordable Care Act, which is back before the high court in the term that begins Oct. 5.

    “She has a written track record of disagreeing with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act” in 2012, Biden said, noting that Barrett had also criticized Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. for his deciding vote in that case.

    The 16 days from Barrett’s nomination to the start of her confirmation hearings would be the shortest in recent memory. Since 1990, it has taken an average of 50 days from a Supreme Court pick’s nomination to the start of his or her confirmation hearings — significantly shortcutting the time available for senators to examine Barrett’s record, read through her writings and to prepare questions for the hearings.

    GOP leaders are aiming for a final confirmation vote just days before Election Day, a goal they say is feasible in part because Barrett’s record and background were already scrutinized during her bitter 2017 confirmation to the federal bench.

    Democrats cited McConnell’s 2016 refusal to hold hearings for President Barack Obama’s last Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, on the theory that voters in that year’s presidential election should have their say first.

    McConnell and Graham have reversed themselves to say that Trump’s confirmation pick should go forward before the election.

    In a statement Saturday, Graham pledged to seek “a challenging, fair, and respectful hearing” but did not spell out a timeline.

    White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows declined to predict Saturday whether a pre-election confirmation is likely.

    “That would be a discussion for the senators. I would believe that they’re going to try to move through the process and review her credentials in an expeditious manner,” Meadows told reporters at the White House.

    “The authority of the chairman to rush this process in a way that he’s determined to do is such a mockery and travesty,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, said in an interview.

    Blumenthal has said he does not plan to meet with Barrett, a departure from past confirmations.

    Barrett is already well known to Republican senators, many of whom had hoped Trump would pick her for the next vacancy. When Trump said he would consider only women to fill Ginsburg’s seat, Barrett became the automatic favorite.

    Trump said he considered five women, but Barrett is the only one he is known to have interviewed in person.

    McConnell made known to Trump his preference for Barrett, since his ranks were the most familiar with her. Although her writings on precedent and personal antiabortion views could be a significant obstacle for Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — who support access to abortion — both have said they do not support holding a confirmation vote before the election anyway. That cleared the way for Trump and McConnell to push through the most conservative candidate possible.

    As he departed the White House for a Saturday night rally in Pennsylvania, Trump told reporters he did not discuss abortion with Barrett during their interview. “I never discussed that with Amy” and the court itself is “going to have to make that decision,” he said.

    At the rally, he said that “most important of all she will defend your God-given rights and freedoms.” People behind Trump wore MAGA hats and MAGA masks and held signs saying “Fill That Seat” and “Peaceful Protester.”

    Senators such as Todd C. Young (R-Ind.) have spoken personally with the president to lobby for Barrett, and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has had eight conversations with Trump to push for her as an eventual Supreme Court nominee.

    “In the Scalia tradition of originalism and textualism, she’s just got a giant brain,” Sasse, one of Barrett’s most fervent advocates, said in an interview. “So first of all, there’s that half of the equation, or more than half of the equation. But then you combine a giant brain with just three-dimensional humanity.”

    Sasse noted that a wide cross-section of Notre Dame faculty — from traditional conservatives to liberal Catholics — have admired Barrett, even if they don’t agree with her jurisprudence.

    Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said it would be a “major disappointment” if Senate Republicans do not confirm Barrett before Election Day. He anticipated that it would only be delayed until after Nov. 3 if there are “some of the antics that were pulled during the Kavanaugh hearing.”

    Trump has told allies that Barrett would be a justice in the mold of Scalia, and Scalia’s son, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, attended Saturday’s ceremony and a fundraising reception Friday at the Trump International Hotel, where Trump polled supporters on what they thought of his choice.

    Although the group expressed strong support for her, it was not unanimous, according to people familiar with the closed-door event, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the confidential discussion.

    When Brian Ballard, a top donor and Florida lobbyist, suggested that he liked federal appellate Judge Barbara Lagoa, Trump said that Ballard should tell Lagoa that she would eventually have her time, two people familiar with the comments said.

    Lagoa was considered the other front-runner. Although Trump had said he would probably meet with Lagoa when he visited Florida on Thursday and Friday, he told reporters Friday that he had not done so.

    Trump has asked outside allies such as Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie to help work on the confirmation on the outside of the White House apparatus, officials said.

    Less influential in this year’s discussions was Leonard A. Leo, the powerful Republican activist who originally helped get Barrett on a list of conservative candidates that Trump said he would use to make his court picks, although Leo said he supports the choice.

    “In nominating Amy Barrett to the Supreme Court, President Trump has again fulfilled his promise to appoint justices who are not only exceptionally qualified, but willing to bravely stand up for the Constitution as it’s written and not bend to political pressures or personal preferences,” Leo said. “Judge Barrett will be a great role model for future generations seeking to ensure that the rule of law advances the dignity of all people.”

    Barrett would join Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh, both in their 50s, as Trump’s choices for the Supreme Court. All could serve for decades, ensuring that Trump’s stamp on the court would last far beyond his presidency, whether he is reelected this year or not.

    Youth activists representing the advocacy groups March for Our Lives and Demand Justice drew a massive chalk mural on the street in front of McConnell’s D.C. home.

    “Hey Mitch. We Call BS. Let The People Decide,” it reads.

    Demand Justice, a liberal group that advocates against conservatives’ stacking of federal courts, also unveiled a new domain name Friday night: The URL opens to a page on the group’s website dedicated to blocking her confirmation.

    “Amy Coney Barrett would threaten your health care and your reproductive freedom. We have to stop her,” it says.

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