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President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden clashed over Covid-19 and race while trading corruption charges, in their final live TV debate which took place on Thursday night in Nashville, Tennessee.

The first debate was a chaotic, insult-filled exchange between the two candidates. But on October 22, the personal attacks were (mostly) out – instead audiences got the chance to hear some of what Biden and Trump had to offer to Americans.

The muted mics probably helped to cool temperatures and the moderator, Kristen Welker, has been celebrated for encouraging a higher standard of debate.

With arguments on coronavirus, race, climate change and corruption, both candidates made it clear how different their visions for the US were.

On the pandemic, Joe Biden would not rule out more lockdowns, while President Trump insisted it was time to reopen the US.

Donald Trump cited unsubstantiated claims Joe Biden personally profited from his son’s business dealings. The Democrat brought up President Trump’s opaque taxes.

Joe Biden has a solid lead with 11 days to go until the presidential election.

However, winning the most votes does not always win the election, and the margin is narrower in a handful of states that could decide the race either way.

More than 47 million people have already cast their ballots in a voting surge driven by the pandemic.

This is already more than voted before polling day in the 2016 election. There are about 230 million eligible voters in total.

In snap polls – from CNN, Data Progress and US Politics – most respondents said Joe Biden had won the debate by a margin of more than 50% to about 40%.

The final debate was a less acrimonious and more substantive affair than the pair’s previous showdown on September 29, which devolved into insults and name-calling.

Following that political brawl, debate organizers this time muted microphones during the candidates’ opening statements on each topic to minimize disruption.

However, the 90-minute debate, moderated by NBC’s Kristen Welker, was the scene of plenty of personal attacks between the opponents, whose mutual dislike was palpable.

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In individual closing argument to voters, they offered starkly different visions for the nation on everything from shutting down the US to tackle coronavirus, to shutting down the fossil fuel industry to confront climate change.

Nowhere was the distinction between the two candidates more apparent than in their approach to the pandemic.

Asked about his support for more lockdowns if the scientists recommended it, Joe Biden, a Democrat, did not rule it out.

Donald Trump, a Republican, said it was wrong to inflict further damage on the economy because of an infection from which most people recover.

“This is a massive country with a massive economy,” said the president.

“People are losing their jobs, they’re committing suicide. There’s depression, alcohol, drugs at a level nobody’s ever seen before.”

Donald Trump, 74, declared that the virus was “going away” and that a vaccine would be ready by the end of the year, while Joe Biden, 77, warned the nation was heading towards “a dark winter”.

President Trump said: “We’re learning to live with it.”

Joe Biden countered: “Come on. We’re dying with it.”

He laid blame for the 220,000-plus American deaths as a consequence of the pandemic at President Trump’s door.

“Anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain president of the United States of America,” he said.

During a back-and-forth on race relations, President Trump said: “I am the least racist person in this room.”

He brought up the 1994 crime bill that Joe Biden helped draft and which Black Lives Matter blames for the mass incarceration of African Americans.

However, Joe Biden said Donald Trump was “one of the most racist presidents we’ve had in modern history. He pours fuel on every single racist fire”.

He added: “This guy is a [racial] dog whistle about as big as a fog horn.”

President Trump brought up purported leaked emails from Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, about his business dealings in China.

However, Joe Biden denied the president’s unfounded insinuation that the former US vice-president somehow had a stake in the ventures.

“I think you owe an explanation to the American people,” said President Trump.

Joe Biden said: “I have not taken a single penny from any country whatsoever. Ever.”

He referred to the New York Times recently reporting that President Trump had a bank account in China and paid $188,561 in taxes from 2013-15 to the country, compared with $750 in US federal taxes that the newspaper said he had paid in 2016-2017 when he became president.

President Trump said: “I have many bank accounts and they’re all listed and they’re all over the place.

“I mean, I was a businessman doing business.”

Politics can be confusing. Opinions can change, and candidates are not always truthful. This is why researching and understanding who you are voting for is so important. Still, races often get messy and hard to follow, with candidates trading blows until the final bell. 

This is certainly the case in the feverish race between Rep. Max Rose and GOP State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis in the most hotly contested congressional election in the city. 

Representative Max Rose: A Blunt Candidate 

Democrat Rose is seeking reelection after his first win in 2018 following nearly 30 years of Republican winners in a district that includes Staten Island and South Brooklyn. His straight-as-an-arrow, honest approach likely resonated with voters. 

“Blunt” is the best word to describe Rose. He is an aggressive, call-it-like-he-sees-it candidate who pulls no punches. An example: In one short campaign advertisement, he said, “Bill de Blasio is the worst mayor in the history of New York City.” In fact, that was the entire 15-second ad.  

De Blasio, a progressive mayor and fellow Democrat, has been the subject of a lot of criticism due to his views and ineffective policies. Neal Kwatra says Rose was smart to distance himself this way, adding that Rose has “a very identifiable anti-de Blasio brand as a part of who he is, which is a huge asset in a district like that, frankly.”

This affinity for speaking bluntly extends into his remarks regarding Malliotakis. He has referred to her as a “rubber stamp” for Republicans on major issues who supports the President and his policies. 

Rose also noted that Malliotakis said in 2017 she regretted voting for President Trump, but then changed her mind when he backed her. As Election Day nears, both candidates are slugging it out before voters decide whether they prefer Rose’s honesty to Trump’s support for Malliotakis.  

Regardless of your political beliefs, Kwatra says it best regarding Representative Rose. “He’s very visceral and, frankly, New Yorkers appreciate that in their politicians,” Kwatra says. If that bears out, Rose certainly has a fighting chance of retaining his seat in the House of Representatives. 

About Neal Kwatra:

Kwatra founded Metropolitan Public Strategies (MPS) in 2013 and has since been at the forefront of some of the most fiercely contested political and advocacy campaigns in New York and across the nation. Kwatra has fought to uphold his ideals with great tenacity and continues to expand the reach of MPS into the strategic management of nationally recognized grassroots and issue advocacy campaigns. 

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A record numbers of voters casted their ballots ahead of Election Day on November 3, state election officials across the US have reported.

More than 22 million Americans had voted early by October 16, either in person or by mail, according to the US Election Project.

At the same point in the 2016 race, about 6 million votes had been cast.

According to experts, the surge in early voting correlates to the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused many people to seek alternatives to Election Day voting.

On October 13, Texas, a state that has relatively tight restrictions on who can qualify for postal voting, set a record for most ballots cast on the first day of early voting.

On October 12, the Columbus Day federal holiday, officials in Georgia reported126,876 votes cast – also a state record.

In Ohio, a crucial swing state, more than 2.3 million postal ballots have been requested, double the figure in 2016.

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Reports indicate that registered Democrats have so far outvoted registered Republicans – casting more than double the number of ballots. And of these early voting Democrats, women and black Americans are voting in particularly high numbers. Some are motivated by dislike for President Donald Trump, while others have been energized by racial justice protests throughout the summer following the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.

However, this early advantage does not mean that Democrats can already claim victory. Republicans, who claim postal voting is vulnerable to fraud, say Democrats may win the early vote, but that Republicans will show up in large numbers on Election Day.

According to a 2017 study by the Brennan Center for Justice, the rate of voting fraud overall in the US is between 0.00004% and 0.0009%.

The enormous numbers of voters have led to long queues, with some people waiting for up to 11 hours for an opportunity to vote.

Younger people, who historically have been difficult to get to the polls, appear to be turning out in larger numbers this year. The youth vote may be the highest it’s been since 2008 for the election of Barack Obama – the US’s first black president.

A recent survey by Axios found that four in ten university students said they planned to protest if President Trump wins. Six in ten said they would shame friends who could vote but choose not to.

By contrast, only 3% of surveyed students said they would protest if Joe Biden was elected.

Image source: Getty Images

Vice-presidential contenders Kamala Harris and Mike Pence have clashed over the coronavirus pandemic in their only debate ahead of next month’s election.

Democrat Kamala Harris called President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic “the greatest failure of any presidential administration” in history.

Republican VP Mike Pence said the Democratic Party’s pandemic plan amounted to “plagiarism”.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden leads President Trump with 26 days to go to the vote.

Opinion polls indicate President Trump is trailing by single digits in a handful of battleground states that will decide who wins.

Vice-presidents have tie-breaking power in the Senate and are required to step in if a president is unable to perform their duties. Their day-to-day responsibilities vary with each administration, but they typically serve as top advisers and some take on specific policy portfolios.

October 7 meeting was a civil debate between two smooth communicators compared to last week’s belligerent showdown between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, which degenerated into insults and name-calling.

Mike Pence did not interrupt as much as the president last week, but when he did, Kamala Harris interjected: “Mr. Vice-President, I’m speaking, I’m speaking.”

The viral moment on October 7 was a fly landing on Mike Pence’s head and remaining there for some two minutes.

Presidential Debate 2020: Donald Trump and Joe Biden Clash in Bitter Debate

The 90-minute TV debate at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City was marked by disagreements over the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic.

The 55-year-old California senator accused VP Mike Pence and the president of deliberately misleading Americans about the lethality of coronavirus.

“They knew, and they covered it up,” she said, adding that they had “forfeited their right to re-election”.

Mike Pence accused the Biden-Harris campaign of copying the White House’s pandemic strategy, alluding to a blunder that ended Joe Biden’s 1987 run for the presidency when he plagiarized a speech by then-British Labour leader Neil Kinnock.

Kamala Harris was asked by the moderator whether she would take an approved Covid-19 vaccine distributed ahead of the election.

She said she would not take a jab touted by President Trump without the say-so of medical professionals.

Mike Pence, who heads the White House coronavirus task force, retorted: “The fact that you continue to undermine public confidence in a vaccine if the vaccine emerges during the Trump administration I think is unconscionable.”

The Plexiglas barriers separating the two debaters seated 12ft apart were a vivid reminder of the pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans.

President Trump – who is himself recovering from the virus – returned to the White House on October 5 after three nights in hospital, with his opinion poll numbers drooping.

On October 7, the president declared that catching the disease was a “blessing from God” that exposed to him to experimental treatments he vowed would become free for all Americans.

The virus, meanwhile, has spread through the West Wing of the White House and infected figures inside the president’s re-election campaign.

ABC News reported that an internal government memo, dated October 7, said “34 White House staffers and other contacts” had been infected in recent days.

The White House has not yet commented on this.

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President Donald Trump has been released from hospital and returned to the White House to continue his treatment for coronavirus after a three-night hospital stay.

The president, who is still contagious, removed his mask on the balcony of the White House, while posing for pictures.

Donald Trump’s physician said he would continue treatment from there, and he “may not entirely be out of the woods yet”.

Several of President Trump’s staff and aides have also tested positive for the virus in recent days.

Questions remain over the seriousness of the president’s illness after a weekend of conflicting statements.

The US remains the country worst-hit by Covid-19, with 210,000 deaths and 7.4 million cases.

President Trump’s diagnosis has upended his campaign for a second term in office, less than a month before the Republican president faces Democratic challenger Joe Biden in the presidential election.

Wearing a navy business suit, tie and mask, President Trump walked out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in the Washington DC suburbs on Monday evening pumping his fist.

After a short helicopter ride, the president was pictured alone on the Truman Balcony of the White House. He removed his protective face mask, before giving a thumbs-up and a military-style salute.

A couple of hours later, he tweeted a campaign-style clip of his return set to stirring music.

President Trump also recorded a video message, urging Americans to get back to work.

“You’re going to beat it [coronavirus],” he told them.

“We’re going to be out front. As your leader, I had to do that. I knew there’s danger to it, but I had to do it. I stood out front, and led.”

President Trump also speculated: “Now I’m better, maybe I’m immune, I don’t know”.

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President Trump Flown to Walter Reed Army Medical Center

President Trump and First Lady Test Positive for Covid-19

The WHO says it is too early to know if people who have recovered from Covid-19 are protected from a second infection, and if so, how long this protection might last. President Trump’s own medical team does not consider him to be fully recovered yet.

He also promised that vaccines were “coming momentarily”, although the CDC has said no vaccine is expected to be widely available before the middle of next year.

Before leaving hospital, President Trump told Americans in a tweet not to fear the disease and said he would be back on the campaign trail “soon”.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden said he was “glad” the president appeared to be “coming along pretty well”.

However, Joe Biden criticized President Trump, saying: “Anybody who contracts the virus by essentially saying masks don’t matter, social distancing doesn’t matter, I think is responsible for what happens to them.”

According to US public health guidelines, President Trump should remain in isolation for up to 10 days after symptoms first appear. The White House says the president first started to appear ill on October 1, and later tested positive.

His physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said on October 5 that the president, whose oxygen levels dipped twice over the weekend, would be “surrounded by world-class medical care 24/7” at the White House.

Dr. Conely refused to answer questions about when President Trump last received a negative test or to go into the specifics of his treatment. He would not offer details regarding the president’s scans to check for pneumonia, citing patient protection laws.

Image source Wikimedia

President Donald Trump has announced that he and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for Covid-19 and are now in quarantine.

Donald Trump, aged 74, and therefore in a high-risk group, tweeted: Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”

It comes after Hope Hicks, one of the president’s closest aides, tested positive.

President Trump’s announcement comes just over a month before the presidential elections on November 3 where he faces Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

Hope Hicks, 31, travelled with President Trump on Air Force One to the first presidential TV debate with Joe Biden in Ohio on September 29. Some of Donald Trump’s family members who attended the debate were seen not wearing masks.

President Trump has mostly spurned mask-wearing and has often been pictured not socially distanced with aides or others during official engagements.

More than 7.2 million Americans have been infected so far and the new coronavirus killed more than 200,000 of them.

Donald Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, released a statement on October 1, saying the president and the first lady were “both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence”.

“Rest assured I expect the president to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any future developments,” the statement said.

The physician provided no further details.

According to President Trump’s most recent physical examination earlier this year, he weighed 244lb. This is considered to be obese for his height of 6.3ft.

However, Dr Conley stated at the time that the president “remains healthy”. President Trump will also have the best medical care available.

The CDC says a person must go in quarantine for 10 days after a positive test.

President Trump said he and his wife, who is 50, were going into quarantine after Hope Hicks’s positive test.

The president tweeted: “Hope Hicks, who has been working so hard without even taking a small break, has just tested positive for Covid 19. Terrible!

“The First Lady and I are waiting for our test results. In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process!”

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It is not clear how President Trump’s positive test will affect arrangements for the second presidential debate, which is scheduled for October 15 in Miami, Florida.

Donald Trump is not the first world leader to have tested positive. Earlier this year, British PM Boris Johnson and Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro were infected. They both have since recovered, although Boris Johnson had to receive regular oxygen treatment to help his breathing during hospitalization.

In May, VP Mike Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller tested positive and later recovered.

That same month, a member of the US Navy who was serving as one of President Trump’s personal valets tested positive.

The White House said at the time that neither the president nor vice-president were affected.

National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, a number of Secret Service agents, a Marine One pilot and a White House cafeteria worker have also tested positive.

The White House tests aides and anyone else who comes into contact with the president daily.

Image source: Getty Images

President Donald Trump and Joe Biden have fiercely clashed in the first of the three White House debates.

The Republican president frequently interrupted, prompting the Democratic candidate to tell him to “shut up” as the two fought over the pandemic, healthcare and the economy.

Donald Trump was challenged over white supremacist support and refused to condemn a specific far-right group.

Opinion polls suggest Joe Biden has a steady single-digit lead over President Trump.

However, with 35 days until Election Day, surveys from several important states show a closer contest.

Polls also suggest one in ten Americans have yet to make up their mind how to vote. But analysts said the September 29 debate – the first of three – probably would not make much difference.

Overall, the 90-minute debate in Cleveland, Ohio, was light on serious policy discussion. Both candidates talked over each other but President Trump cut in some 73 times, according to a count by CBS News.

The tenor became clear early on as the two candidates sparred over healthcare. Hectoring from Donald Trump saw Joe Biden call the president a “clown”.

As they moved on to the Supreme Court, the rancor continued, with Joe Biden refusing to answer when asked if he would try to expand the number of judges.

“Will you shut up, man?” Joe Biden snapped at President Trump, later adding: “Keep yapping, man.”

President Trump responded: “The people understand, Joe. Forty-seven years [in politics], you’ve done nothing. They understand.”

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In one of the most talked about exchanges of the night, Donald Trump was asked by the moderator, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, if he was prepared to condemn white supremacists.

President Trump initially said he would but when asked to denounce the far-right Proud Boys group by name, he sidestepped.

He said: “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by, but I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.”

The Proud Boys, an anti-immigrant, all-male group, took to social media to celebrate.

“Standing down and standing by sir,” it posted on Telegram.

Antifa, short for “anti-fascist”, is a loose affiliation of far-left activists that often clash with the far right at street protests.

Joe Biden said Donald Trump had “panicked” over the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 200,000 Americans.

“A lot of people died and a lot more are going to die unless he gets a lot smarter, a lot quicker,” he said.

President Trump objected to Joe Biden using the word “smart”.

“You graduated either the lowest or almost the lowest in your class,” he said.

“Don’t ever use the word smart with me. Don’t ever use that word.”

Local rules required everyone in the room to wear masks but of the president’s family members present, only First Lady Melania Trump donned a face covering during the debate.

Due to the pandemic, the forum at Case Western Reserve University had a small, socially distanced audience and the traditional opening handshake was skipped.

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

President Donald Trump has announced he will next week nominate a woman to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, escalating a political row over her successor.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September 18 at the age of 87, just weeks before the presidential election.

Joe Biden insists the decision on her replacement should wait until after the vote.

The ideological balance of the nine-member court is crucial to its rulings on the most important issues in US law.

However, President Trump has vowed to swear in Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s successor “without delay”, a move that has infuriated Democrats, who fear Republicans will vote to lock in a decades-long conservative majority on the country’s highest court.

“I will be putting forth a nominee next week. It will be a woman,” President Trump said at a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina on September 19.

“I think it should be a woman because I actually like women much more than men.”

Some supporters chanted “Fill that seat!” as President Trump spoke, urging him to take the rare opportunity to nominate a third justice during one presidential term to a lifetime appointment on the court.

Earlier, President Trump praised two female judges who serve on federal courts of appeals as possible choices. Both judges – Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa – are conservatives who would tip the balance of the Supreme Court in favor of Republicans.

Democrats have vigorously opposed any nomination before November’s election, arguing that Senate Republicans blocked Democratic President Barack Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court in 2016.

At the time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell justified the move on grounds that it was an election year.

On September 18, Senator McConnell said he intended to act on any nomination President Trump made and bring it to a vote in the Senate before Election Day.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg, affectionately known as “The Notorious RBG”, a liberal icon and feminist standard-bearer, died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at her home in Washington DC, surrounded by her family. She was only the second-ever woman to sit on the Supreme Court.

The appointment of judges in is a political question which means the president gets to choose who is put forward. The Senate then votes to confirm – or reject – the choice.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who served for 27 years, was one of only four liberals on the nine-seat bench. Her death means that, should the Republicans get the vote through, the balance of power would shift decisively towards the conservatives.

President Trump, who has already chosen two Supreme Court justices during his presidency, is well aware that getting his nominee in would give conservatives control over key decisions for decades to come. Justices can serve for life, unless they decide to retire.

He tweeted on September 19: “We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices. We have this obligation, without delay!”

Earlier, Senator McConnell said in a statement – which included a tribute to Ginsburg – that “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate”.

The senator had argued in 2016 that “the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice” which meant “this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president”.

Now he says the Senate was within its rights to act because it was Republican-controlled, and Donald Trump is a Republican president.

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Image source Wikimedia

A letter containing ricin poison that was addressed to President Donald Trump has been intercepted before it reached the White House, officials told media.

It was discovered at a screening facility for White House mail earlier this week, the officials said.

They said a substance found inside the envelope was identified as ricin, a poison found naturally in castor beans.

The Trump administration is yet to comment on the reports.

The FBI and the Secret Service are investigating where the package came from and whether others have been sent through the US postal system.

“At this time, there is no known threat to public safety,” the FBI told CNN in a statement on September 19.

Shannon Richardson posted ricin letter to Barack Obama and Michael Bloomberg

Ricin letter sent to Barack Obama at White House

Ricin letter posted to Senator Roger Wicker intercepted at US Capitol

One official told the New York Times that investigators believe the package was sent from Canada. Reports say the presence of ricin was identified after two tests.

Ricin is produced by processing castor beans. It is a lethal substance that, if swallowed, inhaled or injected, can cause nausea, vomiting, internal bleeding and ultimately organ failure.

No known antidote exists for ricin. According to the CDC, if a person is exposed to ricin, death can take place within 36 to 72 hours, depending on the dose received.

The CDC said ricin – which has been used in terror plots – can be manufactured into a weapon in the form of a powder, mist or pellet.

The White House and other federal buildings have been the target of ricin packages in the past.

In 2014, a Mississippi man was sentenced to 25 years in prison for sending letters dusted with ricin to former President Barack Obama and other officials.

In 2018, a former Navy veteran was charged with sending toxic letters to the Pentagon and White House.

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Image source Wikimedia

Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, died on September 18 at the age of 87, just six weeks before the presidential election.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal icon and feminist standard-bearer, died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at her home in Washington DC, surrounded by her family. She was only the second-ever woman to sit on the US Supreme Court.

Supporters gathered outside the court on Friday night to pay tribute to the woman who had become affectionately known as “The Notorious RBG”.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who served for 27 years, was one of only four liberals on the nine-seat bench. Her death means that, should the Republicans get the vote through, the balance of power would shift decisively towards the conservatives.

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President Donald Trump has said he wants a new Supreme Court judge to be sworn in “without delay”, following the death of the long serving liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

His Democrat rival, Joe Biden, insists the decision on her replacement must wait until after the vote.

The ideological balance of the nine-member court is crucial to its rulings on the most important issues in US law.

In 2016, Senate Republicans blocked Democratic President Barack Obama’s pick for the US top court. At the time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell justified the move on grounds that it was an election year.

However, Senator Mitch McConnell said he intended to act on any nomination President Trump made.

The appointment of judges in the US is a political question which means the president gets to choose who is put forward. The Senate then votes to confirm – or reject – the choice.

President Trump, who has already chosen two Supreme Court justices during his presidency, is well aware that getting his nominee in would give conservatives control over key decisions for decades to come. Justices can serve for life, unless they decide to retire.

He tweeted on September 19: “We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices. We have this obligation, without delay!”

Earlier, Senator McConnell said in a statement – which included a tribute to Ginsburg – that “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate”.

The senator had argued in 2016 that “the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice” which meant “this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president”.

Now the senator says the Senate was within its rights to act because it was Republican-controlled, and President Trump is a Republican president.

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“Donald Trump” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Gage Skidmore

President Donald Trump has denied downplaying the severity of the new coronavirus, despite admitting in a recorded interview to having done that.

At the Q&A meeting with undecided voters, President Trump said he had “up-played” it.

The claim contradicts comments the president made to journalist Bob Woodward earlier this year, when he said he minimized the virus’s severity to avoid panic.

President Trump also repeated on September 15 that a vaccine could be ready “within weeks” despite skepticism from health experts.

No vaccine has yet completed clinical trials, leading some scientists to fear politics rather than health and safety is driving the push for a vaccine before the November 3 presidential elections.

More than 195,000 people have died with Covid-19 in the US since the beginning of the pandemic, according to data collated by Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, the magazine Scientific American on September 15 endorsed a presidential candidate for the first time in its 175-year history, backing Democrat Joe Biden for the White House.

The magazine said President Trump “rejects evidence and science” and described his response to the coronavirus pandemic as “dishonest and inept”.

At the town hall meeting held by ABC News in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, President Trump was asked why he would “downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities”.

The president responded: “Yeah, well, I didn’t downplay it. I actually, in many ways, I up-played it, in terms of action.”

“My action was very strong,” Donald Trump said, citing a ban imposed on people travelling from China and Europe earlier this year.

“We would have lost thousands of more people had I not put the ban on. We saved a lot of lives when we did that,” he added.

In its statement on September 15, Scientific American said despite warnings in January and February, President Trump “did not develop a national strategy to provide protective equipment, coronavirus testing or clear health guidelines.”

Bob Woodward, who broke the Watergate scandal in 1972 and is one of the US’s most respected journalists, interviewed President Trump 18 times from December 2019 to July 2020.

In February, President Trump indicated in an interview with Bob Woodward that he knew more about the severity of the illness than he had said publicly.

According to a recording of the call, President Trump said coronavirus was deadlier than the flu.

Later that month, he said that the virus was “very much under control”, and that the case count would soon be close to zero. He also publicly implied the flu was more dangerous than Covid-19.

Speaking on Capitol Hill on March 10, President Trump said: “Just stay calm. It will go away.”

Nine days later, after the White House declared the pandemic a national emergency, the president told Bob Woodward: “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

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Donald Trump, who is seeking re-election, repeated his earlier claim that the virus would disappear on its own because people would “develop… herd mentality”, likely referring to “herd immunity” when enough people have developed resistance to a disease to stop its transmission.

The president also again cast doubt on the scientific advice of his own administration on mask-wearing.

He said: “The concept of a mask is good, but… you’re constantly touching it. You’re touching your face. You’re touching plates. There are people that don’t think masks are good.”

The CDC strongly urges the use of face masks.

President Trump has made contradictory comments on face masks, on the one hand disparaging them as unsanitary, and on the other calling on Americans to “show patriotism” by wearing them.

The Q&A meeting with undecided voters on September 15 came as the presidential election battle entered its final stretches.

Joe Biden is expected to sit for a similar program in Pennsylvania that will air on September 17.

Pennsylvania is seen as a key battleground state in the race to the White House.

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According to a new book, President Donald Trump knew Covid-19 was deadlier than the flu before it hit the US but wanted to play down the crisis.

Bob Woodward, who broke the Watergate scandal and is one of the nation’s most respected journalists, interviewed President Trump 18 times from December to July.

President Trump is quoted as telling Bob Woodward the virus was “deadly stuff” before the first US death was confirmed.

Responding, Donald Trump said he had wanted to avoid causing public panic.

Some 190,000 Americans have been recorded as dying with Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Donald Trump” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Gage Skidmore

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On September 9, some media released parts of the interviews between the president and the journalist, revealing his reported remarks on the outbreak as well as race and other issues.

Here are some of the key quotes so far from Rage, which will be released on September 15.

President Trump indicated that he knew more about the severity of the illness than he had said publicly.

According to a tape of the call, President Trump told Bob Woodward in February that the coronavirus was deadlier than the flu.

“It goes through the air,” President Trump told the author on February 7.

“That’s always tougher than the touch. You don’t have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed.

“And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.” 

Later that month, President Trump promised the virus was “very much under control”, and that the case count would soon be close to zero. He also publicly implied the flu was more dangerous than Covid-19.

Speaking on Capitol Hill on March 10, President Trump said: “Just stay calm. It will go away.”

Nine days later, days after the White House declared the pandemic a national emergency, the president told Bob Woodward: “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

Speaking from the White House on September 9, President Trump told reporters: “I don’t want people to be frightened, I don’t want to create panic, as you say, and certainly I’m not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy.

“We want to show confidence, we want to show strength.”

President Trump – who is running for re-election in November – said the Bob Woodward book was “a political hit job”.

Responding to reporters’ questions on the book, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said: “The president never downplayed the virus, once again. The president expressed calm. The president was serious about this.”

In a tweet, Joe Biden said that “while a deadly disease ripped through our nation, [President Trump] failed to do his job – on purpose. It was a life or death betrayal of the American people”.

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Image source Wikimedia

President Donald Trump has announced he refuses to condemn Russia over the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, saying he has not seen proof.

He said the case was “tragic” but urged reporters to focus instead on China, which he said was a bigger threat to the world than Russia.

Germany and NATO say there is “proof beyond doubt” that Alexei Navalny was attacked with a Novichok nerve agent.

Alexei Navalny’s team says he was poisoned on the Kremlin’s orders. However, Russia denies this.

On September 5, the Russian foreign ministry suggested that if a Novichok-type nerve agent had indeed been used, it did not necessarily originate in Russia.

Alexei Navalny – an anti-corruption campaigner who has long been the most prominent face of opposition to President Vladimir Putin in Russia – is in a coma in a Berlin hospital having been airlifted there from Siberia, where he fell ill.

Speaking at a press event on September 4, President Trump said he had yet to see evidence of poisoning in the case.

He said: “So I don’t know exactly what happened. I think it’s tragic, it’s terrible, it shouldn’t happen. We haven’t had any proof yet but I will take a look.”

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President Trump also stopped short of criticizing Vladimir Putin and said Beijing posed a greater threat.

He said: “It is interesting that everybody’s always mentioning Russia and I don’t mind you mentioning Russia but I think probably China at this point is a nation that you should be talking about much more so.”

Tests at a military laboratory in Germany show “beyond doubt” the presence of a Novichok nerve agent, the German government and NATO say.

On September, NATO called for Russia to disclose its Novichok nerve agent program to international monitors. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said members were united in condemning the “horrific” attack on Alexei Navalny.

Jens Stoltenberg said it required an international response, but gave no further details.

The US National Security Council has pledged to “work with allies and the international community to hold those in Russia accountable”.

The brief statement released by the foreign ministry on September 5 noted “multiple hostile statements made against Russia” over Alexei Navalny’s illness.

However, experts in Western states and NATO had, it said, for years worked on compounds used to make Novichok nerve agents.

“For example, in the USA, over 150 patents were officially issued to developers of technologies for their combat use,” the Russian foreign ministry said.

Under the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention, Russia and the US committed themselves to eliminating all of their nerve agents and other chemical weapons. The US is expected to destroy its final stockpile be the end of 2023 while Russia officially completed the process in 2017.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement in Alexei Navalny’s case.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Germany had not yet shared any findings with Moscow prosecutors and said Russia had “nothing to hide”.

Meanwhile a toxicologist in Omsk – where Alexei Navalny was initially treated after the plane he was flying on made an emergency landing – insisted no poison had been found by doctors who examined him there.

“Any external factors could have triggered a sudden deterioration. Even a simple lack of breakfast,” said Alexander Sabayev, chief toxicologist for the Omsk region.

Alexei Navalny fell ill last month while on a flight from Siberia to Moscow.

The plane made an emergency landing in Omsk and Russian officials were persuaded to allow him to be airlifted to Germany two days later.

A nerve agent from the Novichok group identified by Germany in the Navalny case was also used to poison ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. They both survived but a local woman, Dawn Sturgess, died after coming into contact with the poison.

Speaking on the final night of the Republican convention, President Donald Trump has warned Joe Biden will “demolish” the American dream if he wins the White House in November.

The president depicted his Democratic challenger as “the destroyer of American greatness”.

Donald Trump said the Democrats would unleash “violent anarchists” upon US cities.

Joe Biden has a steady single-digit lead in opinion polls over President Trump with 68 days until voters return their verdict.

The end of the RNC heralds a 10-week sprint to Election Day, and the coming campaign is widely expected to be one of the ugliest in living memory.

On August 27, President Trump asked voters for another four years in office, vowing to dispel the coronavirus pandemic that has ravaged the US economy and quell civil strife ignited by police killings of African Americans.

He accepted the GOP’s re-nomination from the South Lawn of the White House.

Donald Trump said: “This election will decide whether we save the American dream, or whether we allow a socialist agenda to demolish our cherished destiny.”

He added: “Your vote will decide whether we protect law-abiding Americans, or whether we give free rein to violent anarchists, agitators and criminals who threaten our citizens.”

His reference to the sometimes violent racial justice protests that have swept the nation in recent months came as hundreds of Black Lives Matter demonstrators gathered outside the White House gates.

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DNC 2020: Michelle Obama Launches Stinging Attack on President Trump

Some of their shouts and car horns could be heard on the South Lawn despite new fencing being erected this week along the White House perimeter to keep protesters at a distance.

President Trump said the Democrats at their party convention last week had disparaged America as a place of racial, social and economic injustice.

He said: “So tonight, I ask you a very simple question – how can the Democrat party ask to lead our country when it spends so much time tearing down our country?

“In the left’s backward view, they do not see America as the most free, just and exceptional nation on earth. Instead, they see a wicked nation that must be punished for its sins.”

In a blistering attack on his opponent’s decades-long political life, Donald Trump continued: “Joe Biden spent his entire career outsourcing the dreams of American workers, offshoring their jobs, opening their borders and sending their sons and daughters to fight in endless foreign wars.”

While President Trump portrayed his challenger as “a Trojan horse for socialism”, Joe Biden’s lengthy record as a political moderate was a hindrance for him as he competed to capture his party’s nomination.

Donald Trump mentioned Joe Biden more than 40 times; the Democrat did not once name Donald Trump in his speech last week, though criticism of the president permeated Joe Biden’s remarks.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama has launched a stinging attack on President Donald Trump as Democrats prepared to crown Joe Biden as their White House challenger.

“Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” Michelle Obama in an emotional recorded message to the Democratic convention.

Disaffected members of President Trump’s Republican Party also piled in on him at the Democratic National Convention.

This year’s election takes place on Tuesday, November 3.

Because of the coronavirus outbreak, Democrats scrapped plans for a crowded party extravaganza with balloon drops and all the other political razzmatazz in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

However, it is unclear whether the largely virtual schedule of pre-recorded speeches with no live audience can generate the same level of enthusiasm as pre-pandemic gatherings of the party faithful.

Image source: Handout/DNCC via Getty Images

White House 2020: Biden Campaign Responds to President Trump’s Kamala Harris Birther Conspiracy

Kamala Harris Named as Joe Biden’s Running Mate

Barack Obama accused of sexism for publicly remarking Kamala Harris’ good looks

Republicans will face the same challenge as they make their case for four more years in the White House at a drastically scaled-down convention next week.

Michelle Obama, who recorded her keynote address before Joe Biden announced his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, six days ago, launched a blistering attack on President Trump.

“You simply cannot fake your way through this job,” she said in remarks that closed the first night of the convention on August 17.

The former first lady added: “Our economy is in shambles because of a virus that this president downplayed for too long.”

“Stating the simple fact that a black life matters is still met with derision from the nation’s highest office,” Michelle Obama continued.

“Because whenever we look to this White House for some leadership, or consolation or any semblance of steadiness, what we get instead is chaos, division and a total and utter lack of empathy.”

Michelle Obama said the last four years had been difficult to explain to America’s children.

“They see our leaders labeling fellow citizens enemies of the state, while emboldening torch-bearing white supremacists.

“They watch in horror as children are torn from their families and thrown into cages and pepper spray and rubber bullets are used on peaceful protests for a photo op,” she said.

Michelle Obama continued: “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head.

“He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.”

Barack Obama’s wife described Joe Biden as a “profoundly decent man”, touting the Democratic White House candidate’s experience as vice-president under her husband.

“We have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it,” Michelle Obama said, wearing a necklace that said “Vote”.

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Joe Biden’s campaign team has issued a scathing response after President Donald Trump amplified a conspiracy theory about Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris.

President Trump said he had “heard” that Kamala Harris – a US-born citizen whose parents were immigrants – “doesn’t qualify” to serve as vice-president.

The fringe theory has been dismissed by constitutional experts.

The Biden campaign called the comments “abhorrent” and “pathetic”.

They noted that President Trump spent years promoting a false “birther” theory that ex-President Barack Obama was not born in the US.

On August 11, Kamala Harris, a senator from California, became the first black woman and the first Asian-American to be named as a running mate on a main-party presidential ticket.

A Biden campaign spokesman said in an email: “Donald Trump was the national leader of the grotesque, racist birther movement with respect to President Obama and has sought to fuel racism and tear our nation apart on every single day of his presidency.

“So it’s unsurprising, but no less abhorrent, that as Trump makes a fool of himself straining to distract the American people from the horrific toll of his failed coronavirus response that his campaign and their allies would resort to wretched, demonstrably false lies in their pathetic desperation.”

Kamala Harris was born to a Jamaican father and Indian mother in Oakland, California, on October 20, 1964. As such, she is eligible to serve as president or vice-president.

Constitutional scholars have dismissed the fringe legal theory that President Trump was referring to.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Kamala Harris Named as Joe Biden’s Running Mate

Barack Obama accused of sexism for publicly remarking Kamala Harris’ good looks

To be vice-president or president, Kamala Harris “has to be a natural-born citizen, at least 35 years old, and a resident in the United States for at least 14 years”, Juliet Sorensen, a law professor at Northwestern University, told the Associated Press.

“She is. That’s really the end of the inquiry.”

Anyone born in the US and subject to its jurisdiction is a natural born citizen, regardless of the citizenship of their parents, says the Cornell Legal Information Institute.

After a conservative law professor questioned Kamala Harris’ eligibility based on her parents’ immigration status at the time of her birth, President Trump was asked about the argument at a press conference on August 13.

President Trump said: “I just heard it today that she doesn’t meet the requirements and by the way the lawyer that wrote that piece is a very highly qualified, very talented lawyer.

“I have no idea if that’s right. I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen to run for vice-president.

“But that’s a very serious, you’re saying that, they’re saying that she doesn’t qualify because she wasn’t born in this country.”

The reporter replied there was no question that Kamala Harris was born in the US, simply that her parents might not have been permanent US residents at the time.

Twitter announced that it was banning 7000 QAnon accounts and limiting the spread of 150,000 others in an effort to address violations of their terms of service, and how Qanon activities on Twitter often led to harmful actions in real spaces beyond the internet.

The social media giant said it would also stop recommending content linked to QAnon and block URLs associated with it from being shared on the platform.

QAnon is a sprawling conspiracy theory whose followers support President Donald Trump.

Twitter said it hoped the action would help to prevent “offline harm”.

In a statement shared on the platform, Twitter said it would permanently suspend accounts that violate its policies while tweeting about QAnon.

The suspensions will be applied to accounts that are “engaged in violations of our multi-account policy, coordinating abuse around individual victims, or are attempting to evade a previous suspension – something we’ve seen more of in recent weeks,” the statement said.

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Donald Trump Twitter account hacked

The suspensions are expected to impact about 150,000 accounts worldwide. More than 7,000 accounts have been removed in recent weeks for violations, Twitter said.

Followers of QAnon believe “deep-state” traitors are plotting against President Donald Trump. The conspiracy theory has jumped from fringe social media sites to mainstream attention.

QAnon supporters have been linked to numerous other false claims that have spread online, including a bizarre conspiracy theory involving a US furniture company and allegations of child trafficking.

In 2019, the FBI issued a warning about “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists” and designated QAnon a potential domestic extremist threat.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci has described recent efforts by the Trump administration to discredit him as “bizarre” and “nonsense”.

In an interview with The Atlantic,  the infectious disease expert said: “Ultimately, it hurts the president to do that.”

“It doesn’t do anything but reflect poorly on them.”

On July 12, a White House official shared a list detailing past apparent erroneous comments by Dr. Fauci.

However, on July 14, President Donald Trump insisted he had a “good relationship” with him.

“We’re all in the same team including Dr. Fauci,” the president said.

“We want to get rid of this mess that China sent us, so everybody’s working on the same line and we’re doing very well.”

The White House statement attacking Dr. Fauci criticized him for what it said was conflicting advice on face coverings and remarks on Covid-19’s severity.

Responding to the criticism, the expert told The Atlantic that targeting him was “completely wrong”.

“I cannot figure out in my wildest dreams why they would want to do that,” Dr. Fauci said.

“I think they realize now that that was not a prudent thing to do, because it’s only reflecting negatively on them,” he added.

Image source: Wikipedia

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Dr. Fauci was also criticized by Peter Navarro, President Trump’s top trade adviser, in an opinion piece for USA Today in which he said the disease expert had been “wrong about everything I have interacted with him on”.

However, the White House distanced itself from Peter Navarro’s remarks, with communications chief Alyssa Farah tweeting that the article “didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes” and was “the opinion of Peter alone”.

Asked about Peter Navarro’s piece as he departed the White House for Atlanta, President Trump said he should not have written it.

“Well he made a statement representing himself. He shouldn’t be doing that,” the president said.

In his interview with The Atlantic, Dr. Fauci said he was not thinking of resigning over the attacks on him.

“I think the problem is too important for me to get into those kinds of thoughts and discussions. I just want to do my job. I’m really good at it. I think I can contribute. And I’m going to keep doing it,” he said.

Dr. Fauci has also told Reuters that he believes the US will successfully develop a vaccine against the coronavirus by the end of the year.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the US has reported more than 3.4 million cases of coronavirus, and more than 136,000 deaths nationwide.

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Leading Democrats have condemned President Donald Trump’s decision to commute the prison sentence of his former adviser and friend Roger Stone.

Joe Biden’s spokesman accused President Trump of abuse of power and “laying waste” to US values.

The move – sparing Roger Stone from jail but not a pardon – came just after a court denied Stone’s request to delay the start date of his 40-month prison term.

Roger Stone, 67, was convicted of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering.

He was the sixth Trump aide found guilty on charges linked to a justice department probe that alleged Russia tried to boost the Trump 2016 campaign.

Roger Stone had been due to report to a federal prison in Jesup, Georgia, on July 14.

The White House said Roger Stone was the victim of an attempt by opponents to undermine the presidency.

President Trump has been accused by political critics of undermining the justice system by criticizing criminal cases against Roger Stone and other former aides.

The president has also publicly complained about the prosecutions of onetime campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

“Donald Trump” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Gage Skidmore

Joe Biden’s spokesman Bill Russo said President Trump could not be shamed and could only be stopped at the ballot box.

“President Trump has once again abused his power, releasing this commutation on a Friday night, hoping to yet again avoid scrutiny as he lays waste to the norms and the values that make our country a shining beacon to the rest of the world,” he said.

House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff condemned President Trump’s clemency.

He said: “With this commutation, Trump makes clear that there are two systems of justice in America: one for his criminal friends, and one for everyone else.”

Donald Trump Fires Campaign Adviser Roger Stone

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said it showed Donald Trump was the most corrupt president in history.

However, President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, welcomed the news, saying Roger Stone’s sentence was draconian.

Roger Stone himself told reporters that under the terms of the commutation he could now appeal against his sentence, and was confident that he could expose “an enormous amount of corruption” at his trial.

The White House said in a statement: “Roger Stone is a victim of the Russia Hoax that the Left and its allies in the media perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump Presidency.”

It said that Department of Justice prosecutors under special counsel Robert Mueller only charged Roger Stone out of frustration after failing to prove the “fantasy” that the Trump campaign had colluded with the Kremlin.

The White House also suggested that the FBI had tipped off CNN about their pre-dawn raid on Roger Stone’s house, noting that a camera crew for the cable network was on the scene to record the arrest.

President Trump had been hinting about a reprieve for Roger Stone for months, including on July 9 in an interview with a Fox News host.

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Image source Flickr

President Donald Trump has used his Independence Day speech to tout America’s “progress” against Covid-19, despite a nationwide spike in cases.

Amid criticism of his handling of the pandemic, the president said China – where the new coronavirus originated – must be “held fully accountable”.

President Trump also berated protesters who toppled monuments of historical figures in recent anti-racism protests.

“Their goal is demolition,” he said.

In a combative tone that echoed his Friday night speech at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, President Trump pledged to defeat the “radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters”.

He spoke from the White House lawn, flanked by First Lady Melania Trump, to a crowd that included soldiers and frontline medical staff.

Praising “our nation’s scientific brilliance,” President Trump said the US “will likely have a therapeutic and/or vaccine solution long before the end of the year”.

The head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned in June that scientists may never be able to create an effective vaccine against the coronavirus, observing: “The estimate is we may have a vaccine within one year. If accelerated, it could be even less than that, but by a couple of months. That’s what scientists are saying.”

The US has the world’s highest number of Covid-19 deaths and infections, and confirmed more than 43,000 new cases in 24 hours on July 4, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. Florida, where the outbreak is especially acute, saw 11,458 new cases.

President Trump made no reference to the nearly 130,000 US deaths linked to the pandemic. He said the US had tested almost 40 million people, adding that 99% of coronavirus cases were “totally harmless” – a claim for which he gave no evidence.

His comments were followed by a military flyover involving various aircraft, including B-52 bombers and F-35 fighter jets.

A massive firework display was later held in Washington DC, watched by spectators who gathered on the National Mall.

Ahead of President Trump’s speech, Black Lives Matter protesters gathered outside the White House – the scene of many recent anti-racism demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in police custody.

Addressing America’s coronavirus battle, President Trump said his administration had “made a lot of progress” and “our strategy is moving along well”, despite the nationwide surge in infections.

Donald Trump, who faces re-election this year and appears keen to fire up his conservative base with appeals to nationalism, accused China of trying to conceal the virus outbreak – a charge Beijing denies.

He alleged: “China’s secrecy, deceptions and cover-up allowed [the virus] to spread all over the world.”

Trump Administration Asks Supreme Court to Invalidate ObamaCare

Elaborating on his plan to create a “National Garden of American Heroes” featuring statues of renowned Americans, President Trump said the country’s rich heritage belongs to citizens of all races.

“The patriots who built our country were not villains,” he said.

“They were heroes.”

Many 4th of July events were canceled on public health grounds, with beaches in Florida and California closed, city parades canceled and firework displays curtailed.

Joe Biden tweeted that “this Fourth of July, one of the most patriotic things you can do is wear a mask”.

Firework displays are a traditional highlight of 4th of July, but an estimated 80% of cities and towns have canceled their shows.

New York City usually holds an hour-long extravaganza, but this year it was replaced by five-minute displays through the week, organized by Macy’s department store, with a final televised one on July 4 – all at undisclosed locations.

Major League Baseball canceled its 2020 All-Star Game for the first time since World War Two.

The Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court to invalidate Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, which has provided health insurance to millions of Americans.

According to government lawyers, Obamacare became invalid when the previous Republican-led Congress axed parts of it.

Democratic challenger Joe Biden attacked the move, saying President Donald Trump had put millions of lives at risk during the coronavirus pandemic.

Health care will be a key battleground in this year’s presidential election.

Some 20 million Americans could lose their health coverage if the court overturns the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was introduced by President Barack Obama.

Obamacare’s popular provisions include banning insurers from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26. Millions of low-income Americans were able to obtain insurance due to the act.

President Trump says the scheme costs too much and has promised a different plan to replace it, preserving some popular elements of the existing law but covering fewer people.

Under Obamacare, millions of people in the US must purchase health insurance or face a tax penalty.

In 2017, Congress removed a key plank of the policy, eliminating the federal fine for those who did not sign up, known as the “individual mandate”.

In its filing to the Supreme Court on June 25, the justice department argued “the individual mandate is not severable from the rest of the act”.

As a result, it said: “The mandate is now unconstitutional as a result of Congress’s elimination… of the penalty for non-compliance.”

President Trump cannot rely on Congress to complete the dismantling of Obamacare because the Democrats took control of the lower house in 2019.

Image source Wikimedia

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Joe Biden, who wants to rally the public behind an expanded Affordable Care Act, said some coronavirus survivors could lose their comprehensive healthcare coverage if the act was overturned.

He said: “They would live their lives caught in a vice between Donald Trump’s twin legacies: his failure to protect the American people from the coronavirus, and his heartless crusade to take healthcare protections away from American families.”

In a statement on June 26, White House spokesman Judd Deere said Obamacare was “an unlawful failure”.

The statement said: “It limits choice, forces Americans to purchase unaffordable plans, and restricts patients with high-risk preexisting conditions from accessing the doctors and hospitals they need.”

The US has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, recording 2.4 million confirmed Covid-19 cases and 122,370 deaths – more than any other country.

However, the true number of infections is likely to be 10 times higher than the reported figure, according to the latest estimate by health officials.

The Supreme Court is unlikely to hear the case before voters go to the polls in November, media report.

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President Donald Trump’s request to stop the publication of a memoir by his former National Security Adviser John Bolton has been rejected by Washington DC District Court Judge Royce Lamberth.

The justice department argued that the book had not been properly vetted.

The judge said the government had “failed to establish that an injunction would prevent irreparable harm”.

John Bolton had “gambled” with US national security and already “exposed his country to harm”, the judge said.

Hundreds of thousands of copies of the book – The Room Where It Happened – have been printed and distributed, and are due to go on sale on June 23.

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

In the memoir, John Bolton paints an unflattering picture of a president whose decision-making was dominated by a desire to be re-elected in November.

President Trump has said the book is “made up of lies and fake stories”.

The justice department’s lawyers argued that John Bolton had breached an obligation to complete a pre-publication review of his manuscript to ensure that it contained no classified information.

John Bolton’s lawyers dismissed the claim. They insisted that the manuscript was thoroughly examined and that President Trump simply did not like the contents.

In his 10-page ruling, Judge Lamberth wrote that John Bolton had opted out of the pre-publication review process before its conclusion and that he “likely jeopardized national security by disclosing classified information in violation of his non-disclosure agreement obligations”.

John Bolton nevertheless denied the government’s injunction request.

He wrote: “In taking it upon himself to publish his book without securing final approval from national intelligence authorities, Bolton may indeed have caused the country irreparable harm.

“But in the internet age, even a handful of copies in circulation could irrevocably destroy confidentiality. A single dedicated individual with a book in hand could publish its contents far and wide from his local coffee shop. With hundreds of thousands of copies around the globe – many in newsrooms – the damage is done. There is no restoring the status quo.”

Shortly after the decision, President Trump alleged on Twitter that John Bolton “broke the law by releasing Classified Information (in massive amounts)”.

“He must pay a very big price for this, as others have before him. This should never to happen again!!!” the president added.

Later, President Trump tweeted: “BIG COURT WIN against Bolton. Obviously, with the book already given out and leaked to many people and the media, nothing the highly respected Judge could have done about stopping it…BUT, strong & powerful statements & rulings on MONEY & on BREAKING CLASSIFICATION were made….”

A lawyer for John Bolton, Charles Cooper, welcomed the judge’s decision to deny the injunction request.

However, he took issue with the conclusion that his client did not comply fully with his contractual pre-publication obligation to the government.

“The full story of these events has yet to be told – but it will be,” John Bolton added.

His publisher, Simon & Schuster, said: “We are grateful that the Court has vindicated the strong First Amendment protections against censorship and prior restraint of publication.”

John Bolton became President Trump’s national security adviser in April 2018.

He left his post in September 2019, after disagreeing strongly with the president over how to handle major challenges like Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan.

In The Room Where It Happened, John Bolton portrays President Trump as an “erratic”, “impulsive” and “stunningly uninformed” leader.

Among the allegations, which are based on private conversations and are impossible to verify, are:

  • President Trump sought help from Chinese President Xi Jinping to win the 2020 vote, stressing the “importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome”;
  • John Bolton also said China’s construction of internment camps in the Xinjiang region was the “right thing to do”;
  • President Trump was willing to intervene in criminal investigations “to, in effect, give personal favors to dictators he liked”. John Bolton said President Trump was willing to assist Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over a case involving a Turkish company;
  • President Trump said invading Venezuela would be “cool” and that the South American nation was “really part of the United States”;
  • President Trump was unaware the UK was a nuclear power and once asked a senior aide if Finland was part of Russia.

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President Donald Trump has threatened to send in army to end growing civil unrest in the US over the death of George Floyd.

The president said if cities and states failed to control the protests and “defend their residents” he would deploy the army and “quickly solve the problem for them”.

Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man in police custody, have escalated over the past week.

On June 2, Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden criticized President Trump for “serving the passions of his base”.

He said: “We’re not going to allow any president to quiet our voice.”

On June 2, the Las Vegas sheriff said an officer died in a shooting after police attempted to disperse a crowd.

Dozens of people have been injured as authorities used tear gas and force to disperse protests which have swept more than 75 cities.

Four officers meanwhile were shot and injured on June 1 during unrest in St Louis, Missouri.

Dozens of major cities have imposed overnight curfews.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

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In New York, the iconic department store Macy’s was broken into, as shops were looted and windows smashed.

Curfew in the city will resume at 20:00 on June 2.

In Chicago, two people were reported killed amid unrest, although the circumstances are unclear.

The chief of police in Louisville, Kentucky has been sacked after law enforcement officers fired into a crowd on Sunday night, killing the owner of a nearby business.

Australian PM Scott Morrison has demanded an investigation into the alleged assault by police of two Australian journalists covering protests in Washington DC.

Music channels and celebrities have pledged to mark #BlackoutTuesday pausing for eight minutes – the length of time a police officer knelt on George Floyd’s neck.

The protests began after a video showed George Floyd, 46, being arrested in Minneapolis on May 25 and a white police officer continuing to kneel on his neck even after he pleaded that he could not breathe.

Officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and will appear in court next week. Three other police officers have been fired.

The Floyd case has reignited deep-seated anger over police killings of black Americans and racism. It follows the high-profile cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner in New York; and others that have driven the Black Lives Matter movement.

President Trump delivered a brief address from the White House Rose Garden, amid the sound of a nearby protest being dispersed.

The president said “all Americans were rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of George Floyd” but said his memory must not be “drowned out by an angry mob”.

He described the scenes of looting and violence in the capital on May 31 as “a total disgrace” before pledging to bolster the city’s defenses.

President Trump said: “I’m dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults and the wanton destruction of property.”

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President Donald Trump has revealed he is taking hydroxychloroquine to ward off coronavirus, despite public health officials warning it may be unsafe.

Speaking at the White House, the president told reporters he started taking the malaria and lupus medication recently.

President Trump said: “I’m taking it for about a week and a half now and I’m still here, I’m still here.”

There is no evidence hydroxychloroquine can fight coronavirus, and regulators warn the drug may cause heart problems.

Dr. Marcos Espinal, director of the Pan American Health Organization – part of the WHO – has also since stressed that no clinical trials have recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus.

President Trump, 73, was hosting a meeting devoted to the struggling restaurant industry on May 18, when he caught reporters unawares by revealing he was taking the drug.

“You’d be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the frontline workers before you catch it, the frontline workers, many, many are taking it,” he told reporters.

“I happen to be taking it.”

“Donald Trump” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Gage Skidmore

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Asked what was his evidence of hydroxychloroquine’s positive benefits, President Trump said: “Here’s my evidence: I get a lot of positive calls about it.”

He added: “I’ve heard a lot of good stories [about hydroxychloroquine] and if it’s not good, I’ll tell you right I’m not going to get hurt by it.”

Though some people in the White House have tested positive for coronavirus, President Trump said again he had “zero symptoms” and was being tested frequently.

He added that he had been taking a daily zinc supplement and received a single dose of azithromycin, an antibiotic meant to prevent infection.

When asked whether the White House physician had recommended he start taking the disputed remedy, President Trump said he himself had requested it.

Dr. Sean Conley, physician to the president, said in a statement issued through the White House later on May 18 that President Trump was in “very good health” and “symptom-free”.

The US Navy officer added: “After numerous discussions he and I had regarding the evidence for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine, we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.”

The FDA last month issued an advisory saying that hydroxychloroquine has “not been shown to be safe and effective”.

The agency cited reports that the drug can cause serious heart rhythm problems in Covid-19 patients.

The FDA warned against use of the medication outside hospitals, where the agency has granted temporary authorization for its use in some cases. Clinical trials of the drug are also under way.

The CDC says there are no approved drugs or therapeutics to prevent or treat Covid-19, which is confirmed to have infected more than 1.5 million people in the US, killing more than 90,000 patients.

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President Donald Trump has said a sobering warning by Dr. Anthony Fauci, his top infectious diseases expert, about lifting pandemic restrictions too soon was unacceptable.

The president accused Dr. Fauci of wanting “to play all sides of the equation” in his testimony to lawmakers on May 12.

He said he was especially dissatisfied with Dr. Fauci’s caution around reopening schools too quickly.

Nearly 1.4 million people have been infected with Covid-19 in the US. Another 84,000 people have been killed by the new coronavirus, while ravaging the economy.

Image source Wikipedia

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Speaking on May 13 at the White House, President Trump took issue with Dr. Fauci’s comments to a Senate hearing a day earlier about the risks to children of reopening and his assessment that a vaccine was unlikely before classes could begin this autumn.

He said: “Look, he wants to play all sides of the equation.”

“I was surprised by his answer actually, because, you know, it’s just to me – it’s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools,” the president told reporters.

The president said “the only thing that would be acceptable” is giving older teachers and professors a few more weeks before they return.

“Because this is a disease that attacks age, and it attacks health,” he said.

“But with the young children, I mean, and students, it’s really – just take a look at the statistics. It’s pretty amazing,” he added.

President Trump is keen to get Americans back to work and has praised governors who are moving to do so while criticizing others for not acting aggressively enough.

The US is split over President Trump’s focus on protecting livelihoods, critics accuse him of gambling with lives to serve his own political interests ahead of November’s re-election bid.

His latest comments come amid reports of some young children being severely affected by an inflammatory syndrome that could be linked to the virus.

Speaking to lawmakers on May 12, Dr. Fauci, a White House task force coronavirus expert, warned that relaxing stay-at-home rules too quickly could bring more “suffering and death”.

The director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases emphasized the importance of not being “cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects” of the disease.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said: “We just have to see on a step-by-step basis as we get into the period of time with the fall, about reopening the schools, exactly where we will be in the dynamics of the outbreak.”

He also said the real US death toll is probably higher than the official figure.

On May 12, Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan said he was lifting that state’s stay-at-home measure, replacing it on May 15 with a “safer-at-home” order.

The Republican, who has been critical of President Trump, cited a two-week decline in severe cases and deaths that federal guidelines recommend.