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A politically thorny split-screen of two of Trump’s Supreme Court justices

27.10.2020 11:23

Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation was feted on the White House balcony, at about the same time Brett Kavanaugh issued an opinion full of curious claims.

From: www.washingtonpost.com

Republican former US Attorneys endorse Biden, call Trump threat to rule of law

27.10.2020 10:18

October 27, 2020 10:18 PM
Twenty former Republican US Attorneys have declared their support for Democratic White House candidate Joe Biden.

From: www.straitstimes.com

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner: What next for the White House's most divisive couple?

27.10.2020 9:22

Could Ivanka be the next President, and what will happen to Jared? David Marsland reports on Jarvanka's uncertain future

From: www.standard.co.uk

US election 2020: How long will Donald Trump stay in the White House if he loses?

27.10.2020 6:56

THE US election 2020 will take place in exactly one week, but how long will Donald Trump remain in the White House if he loses?

From: feedproxy.google.com

Republicans are on the verge of a spectacular upside-down achievement

27.10.2020 5:57


President Trump and congressional Republicans could be headed to a stinging, possibly historic defeat on November 3. With the president down nearly 10 points in national polling averages and looking up at Democratic nominee Joe Biden in every critical battleground state, five incumbent Republican senators trailing their Democratic challengers, another handful tied or barely ahead, and Republicans likely to lose at least a few seats in the House, too, it looks as though the verdict voters hand down about the last four years of our history will be sharp and, by the standards of our polarized, partisan era, incontrovertible.The president, due largely to his bottomless repertoire of repulsive antics and divisive hyper-partisanship, was on track to lose the election even before the COVID-19 nightmare upended the lives of everyone on Earth. His sociopathic indifference to our suffering caused his political standing to crater even further, whereas a simple determination to try to do the right thing — even had he failed — probably could have saved both him and his party. And his commitment since the summer to making it all so much worse by gallivanting around the country holding superspreader rallies full of unmasked, heedless acolytes bent on throwing their recklessness in the faces of everyone who has sacrificed so much for the past eight miserable months has almost certainly sealed his political fate and that of his party.If it happens, a Republican wipeout will also be close to a unique achievement in American history. It's been almost 130 years since a presidential candidate captured the office back from the other party, brought both houses of Congress with him, and then frittered it all away in four short years. The last person to notch this dubious achievement was Grover Cleveland, still the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms in office. In his second, disastrous spin through the White House, he brought a Democratic House and Senate with him after defeating the incumbent Republican President Benjamin Harrison. The panic of 1893 set in almost immediately after his inauguration (as did oral cancer, which he kept secret), and the ensuing economic depression dragged down his popularity.The Democrats were also — like the GOP today — swimming against a heavy partisan current. Cleveland was the only Democrat elected president between 1860 and 1912, and Republicans controlled Congress for the majority of those 52 years too. While Cleveland declined to run for a third term, the party's nominee in 1896, William Jennings Bryan, lost the election to Republican William McKinley after Republicans had seized both houses of Congress in the 1894 midterms. Due in part to Cleveland's mess of a presidency, it would be another 16 years before a Democrat would again win a presidential election. In hindsight, Cleveland's tenure looks like a blip in a long period of GOP dominance.The Republicans might be staring at a similar prognosis in the near future. Jimmy Carter might even live long enough to see an incumbent president lose by a larger popular vote margin than he did (9.7 points) to Ronald Reagan. What makes the political disaster of Trumpism a more monumental upside-down accomplishment than, say, Herbert Hoover losing the presidency and both chambers of Congress to FDR and the Democrats in 1932 is that like Cleveland, Trump and the Republicans were given a fresh mandate by voters in 2016, while Hoover's four years came on the heels of two-term Republican president Calvin Coolidge. No party has won a third consecutive presidential term since George H. W. Bush and the Republicans in 1988, but it is nevertheless rare for the public to turn this quickly and decisively against a party that so recently won total control of the government. To be sure, Trump lost the popular vote, and Republicans received fewer votes in the Senate, and won the House vote by just a point, but they still swept victoriously into Washington in January 2017, believing their stay in power would be lengthy.It doesn't look good for them anymore.Is a total Democratic takeover on Tuesday a slam dunk? Certainly not. While Trump himself looks like an almost certain loser based on today's polling, and while Republicans have almost no chance of retaking the House of Representatives, it is the Senate where the Democrats' dreams of unified government might still die.Thanks to a dreadful Senate map in 2018 that saw Democrats defending seats in red states like North Dakota, Missouri, and Indiana, the GOP actually increased its slim majority to 53 despite an extremely difficult national environment in which Democrats won the popular vote for the House by more than 8 points. The defeat of incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in Florida was particularly consequential, because he led Republican Rick Scott throughout the campaign, and his loss made this year's math much tougher.This year's map might not be as hostile as 2018's, but Democrats still have their work cut out for them. Republicans are defending just two seats in states that Hillary Clinton won — Cory Gardner's in Colorado and Susan Collins' in Maine. Therefore the path to a Democratic Senate would have to run through at least two states won by Trump in 2016. And Collins, who was re-elected by 37 points in 2014, is not a complete goner like Gardner and should not be underestimated.Thanks to the ongoing leftward shift in Arizona and incumbent Sen. Martha McSally's self-inflicted unpopularity, Democrats have what looks to be a high-likelihood pickup there with former astronaut Mark Kelly (and the husband of sympathetic shooting victim and former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords) as their nominee. McSally would be the first person in American history to lose both of her state's Senate seats to the other party in the span of two years. She would make three flips, but Democrats have yet another red state senator facing nearly insurmountable headwinds in Doug Jones (Ala.), who is down double digits in most polls to his challenger, former college football coach Tommy Tuberville.That means that even if Gardner, Collins, and McSally go down, Democrats will almost certainly need one more pickup to get to 50 seats — where Kamala Harris would break the tie as vice president, should Biden win. Democratic candidates lead polling averages in two more races: in North Carolina, where incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis has not led a single poll against challenger Cal Cunningham since June, and in Iowa, where Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield holds the narrowest of leads against incumbent and onetime rising GOP star Sen. Joni Ernst.If the polls are 100 percent accurate — and they won't be, especially not in Senate races — that is 51 seats for Democrats. To expand their majority from there, Democrats would have to win some races where they are tied, as in the two Georgia races, or trail ever-so-slightly, as in South Carolina, Montana, Alaska, and Kansas.If surveys are biased against the GOP by a few points, as they were in 2014, 2016, and in several red state Senate races in 2018, Democrats are not guaranteed to win the Senate at all. But there is some tantalizing evidence that this might be a year, like 2012, where the polls underestimate Democrats across the board. The extraordinary early voting turnout combined with the unprecedented number of heavily-Democratic leaning 18- to 29-year-olds saying they will definitely turn out to vote could be a perfect storm leading to a Biden win of 12 points or more and even longer coattails down-ballot than he already has. And if that's the case, Republicans could lose anywhere from 5 to 10 seats in the Senate.They certainly have it coming. On Monday night they confirmed hard-right Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court a mere eight days before November 3 after inventing a new principle to deny Barack Obama's nominee to the court, Merrick Garland, the courtesy of a hearing eight months before the 2016 election, Republicans will now have to face the consequences of their cynical, alienating, hardball political maneuvering. While anything is still statistically possible, it looks increasingly likely that voters have had enough — of McConnell, of Trump, and of minority rule whose only guiding principle is giving the middle finger to people who disagree.Want more essential commentary and analysis like this delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for The Week's "Today's best articles" newsletter here.More stories from theweek.com The very different emotional lives of Trump and Biden voters The 19 greatest and worst presidential campaign ads of the 2020 election The Trump administration has surrendered to the pandemic

Justice Kavanaugh seems to argue no votes should be counted after Election Day. He may get his wish in key states.

27.10.2020 5:29


The Supreme Court sided with Republicans in Wisconsin on Monday, ruling 5-3 along ideological lines that Wisconsin can count only those absentee ballots that arrive by Election Day — even if they were mailed days earlier. Since first-class mail has been taking an average of 10 days to be delivered in the state, Wisconsin's Democratic Party urged mail-in Democrats to hand-deliver their absentee ballots or vote in person.The practical issue involves what happens with Wisconsin's 700,000 outstanding absentee ballots. "But the deeper issue is about the extent to which a ballot should be considered as valid," Phillip Bump writes in The Washington Post. In a factually sloppy concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh evidently embraced President Trump's baseless conspiracies about voter fraud and bizarre demand that the winner be announced election night.Many states require absentee ballots to arrive by Election Day because they "want to avoid the chaos and suspicions of impropriety that can ensue if thousands of absentee ballots flow in after election day and potentially flip the results of an election," Kavanaugh wrote. "And those states also want to be able to definitively announce the results of the election on election night, or as soon as possible thereafter."Justice Elena Kagan, in her dissent, noted that "there are no results to 'flip' until all valid votes are counted. And nothing could be more 'suspicio[us]' or 'improp[er]' than refusing to tally votes once the clock strikes 12 on election night."More broadly, Kavanaugh — and Justice Neil Gorsuch — embraced late Chief Justice William Rehnquist's concurring opinion in 2000's Bush v. Gore, which invented a legal theory "so radical, so contrary to basic principles of democracy and federalism, that two conservative justices" rejected it, even as they agreed to hand the White House to George W. Bush in what was supposed to be a one-off decision, Mark Joseph Stern writes at Slate.> Kavanaugh favorably cites Bush v. Gore two pages later. So much for "limited to the present circumstances." (Kavanaugh worked on Bush's legal team in that case.) pic.twitter.com/3Q7E9Y6Kiy> > — Matt Ford (@fordm) October 26, 2020Rehnquist argued that state courts cannot interpret state election laws in federal elections, Stern writes, "a breathtaking assault on state sovereignty" that would transform the Supreme Court "into a national board of elections with veto power over each state's election rules." With Judge Amy Coney Barrett put on the court, the conservatives likely have five votes enact Rehnquist's theory, throwing out ballots in Pennsylvania and North Carolina as well as Wisconsin, he added. "In other words, Barrett's first decisions as a justice may determine the outcome of the election."More stories from theweek.com The very different emotional lives of Trump and Biden voters The 19 greatest and worst presidential campaign ads of the 2020 election The Trump administration has surrendered to the pandemic

Pence Will Not Preside Over Amy Coney Barrett Vote after Possible Coronavirus Exposure

27.10.2020 5:29


Vice President Mike Pence will not preside over Monday's Senate vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.Pence is currently on the campaign trail and is scheduled to make a stop in Minnesota on Monday despite an outbreak of coronavirus cases among people in the the vice president's inner circle over the weekend.Five cases of the coronavirus were reported among the vice president's close associates on Saturday, including Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short. Pence and his wife Karen both tested negative for the coronavirus on Saturday.Pence aides told multiple outlets that he will not preside as Senate president over Barrett's confirmation vote after Senate Democrats sounded the alarm that his attendance would amount to a health hazard for other members.“Not only would your presence in the Senate Chamber tomorrow be a clear violation of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, it would also be a violation of common decency and courtesy,” Senate Democrats including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote Monday in a letter to Pence, adding that his presence is "is not a risk worth taking."In the event of a tie, Pence would cast the tie-breaking vote to confirm Barrett. However, Republicans appear to have 52 Republican votes in favor of her confirmation to the high court. The only Republican expected to vote against Barrett is Senator Susan Collins of Maine.The confirmation vote is expected to take place around 7p.m. Monday evening and President Trump is scheduled to swear Barrett in shortly thereafter in an outdoor ceremony at the White House.

Pelosi rips into the Trump administration over virus testing as the odds of coronavirus relief before the election dwindle

27.10.2020 5:29


Democrats seek $2.2 trillion in federal spending, while the White House has offered nearly $1.9 trillion. Both sides want $1,200 stimulus checks.

From: news.yahoo.com

Trump Had One Last Story to Sell. The Wall Street Journal Wouldn't Buy It.

27.10.2020 5:29


By early October, even people inside the White House believed President Donald Trump's reelection campaign needed a desperate rescue mission. So three men allied with the president gathered at a house in McLean, Virginia, to launch one.The host was Arthur Schwartz, a New York public relations man close to Trump's eldest son, Donald Jr. The guests were a White House lawyer, Eric Herschmann, and a former deputy White House counsel, Stefan Passantino, according to two people familiar with the meeting.Herschmann knew the subject matter they were there to discuss. He had represented Trump during the impeachment trial early this year, and he tried to deflect allegations against the president in part by pointing to Hunter Biden's work in Ukraine. More recently, he has been working on the White House payroll with a hazy portfolio, listed as "a senior adviser to the president," and remains close to Jared Kushner.The three had pinned their hopes for reelecting the president on a fourth guest, a straight-shooting Wall Street Journal White House reporter named Michael Bender. They delivered the goods to him there: a cache of emails detailing Hunter Biden's business activities, and, on speaker phone, a former business partner of Hunter Biden's named Tony Bobulinski. Bobulinski was willing to go on the record in The Journal with an explosive claim: that Joe Biden, the former vice president, had been aware of, and profited from, his son's activities. The Trump team left believing that The Journal would blow the thing open and their excitement was conveyed to the president.The Journal had seemed to be the perfect outlet for a story the Trump advisers believed could sink Biden's candidacy. Its small-c conservatism in reporting means the work of its news pages carries credibility across the industry. And its readership leans further right than other big news outlets. Its Washington bureau chief, Paul Beckett, recently remarked at a virtual gathering of Journal reporters and editors that while he knows that the paper often delivers unwelcome news to the many Trump supporters who read it, The Journal should protect its unique position of being trusted across the political spectrum, two people familiar with the remarks said.As the Trump team waited with excited anticipation for a Journal expose, the newspaper did its due diligence: Bender and Beckett handed the story off to a well-regarded China correspondent, James Areddy, and a Capitol Hill reporter who had followed the Hunter Biden story, Andrew Duehren. Areddy interviewed Bobulinski. They began drafting an article.Then things got messy. Without warning his notional allies, Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor and now a lawyer for Trump, burst onto the scene with the tabloid version of the McLean crew's carefully laid plot. Giuliani delivered a cache of documents of questionable provenance -- but containing some of the same emails -- to The New York Post, a sister publication to The Journal in Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Giuliani had been working with the former Trump aide Steve Bannon, who also began leaking some of the emails to favored right-wing outlets. Giuliani's complicated claim that the emails came from a laptop Hunter Biden had abandoned, and his refusal to let some reporters examine the laptop, cast a pall over the story -- as did The Post's reporting, which alleged but could not prove that Joe Biden had been involved in his son's activities.While the Trump team was clearly jumpy, editors in The Journal's Washington bureau were wrestling with a central question: Could the documents, or Bobulinski, prove that Joe Biden was involved in his son's lobbying? Or was this yet another story of the younger Biden trading on his family's name -- a perfectly good theme, but not a new one or one that needed urgently to be revealed before the election.Trump and his allies expected the Journal story to appear Monday, Oct. 19, according to Bannon. That would be late in the campaign, but not too late -- and could shape that week's news cycle heading into the crucial final debate last Thursday. An "important piece" in The Journal would be coming soon, Trump told aides on a conference call that day.His comment was not appreciated inside The Journal."The editors didn't like Trump's insinuation that we were being teed up to do this hit job," a Journal reporter who wasn't directly involved in the story told me. But the reporters continued to work on the draft as the Thursday debate approached, indifferent to the White House's frantic timeline.Finally, Bobulinski got tired of waiting."He got spooked about whether they were going to do it or not," Bannon said.At 7:35 Wednesday evening, Bobulinski emailed an on-the-record, 684-word statement making his case to a range of news outlets. Breitbart News published it in full. He appeared the next day in Nashville, Tennessee, to attend the debate as Trump's surprise guest, and less than two hours before the debate was to begin, he read a six-minute statement to the press, detailing his allegations that the former vice president had involvement in his son's business dealings.When Trump stepped on stage, the president acted as though the details of the emails and the allegations were common knowledge. "You're the big man, I think. I don't know, maybe you're not," he told Biden at some point, a reference to an ambiguous sentence from the documents.As the debate ended, The Wall Street Journal published a brief item, just the stub of Areddy and Duehren's reporting. The core of it was that Bobulinski had failed to prove the central claim. "Corporate records reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show no role for Joe Biden," The Journal reported.Asked about The Journal's handling of the story, the editor-in-chief, Matt Murray, said the paper did not discuss its newsgathering. "Our rigorous and trusted journalism speaks for itself," Murray said in an emailed statement.And if you'd been watching the debate, but hadn't been obsessively watching Fox News or reading Breitbart, you would have had no idea what Trump was talking about. The story the Trump team hoped would upend the campaign was fading fast.The Gatekeepers ReturnThe McLean group's failed attempt to sway the election is partly just another story revealing the chaotic, threadbare quality of the Trump operation -- a far cry from the coordinated "disinformation" machinery feared by liberals.But it's also about a larger shift in the American media, one in which the gatekeepers appear to have returned after a long absence.It has been a disorienting couple of decades, after all. It all began when The Drudge Report, Gawker and the blogs started telling you what stodgy old newspapers and television networks wouldn't. Then social media brought floods of content pouring over the old barricades.By 2015, the old gatekeepers had entered a kind of crisis of confidence, believing they couldn't control the online news cycle any better than King Canute could control the tides. Television networks all but let Donald Trump take over as executive producer that summer and fall. In October 2016, Julian Assange and James Comey seemed to drive the news cycle more than the major news organizations. Many figures in old media and new bought into the idea that in the new world, readers would find the information they wanted to read -- and therefore, decisions by editors and producers, about whether to cover something and how much attention to give it, didn't mean much.But the past two weeks have proved the opposite: that the old gatekeepers, like The Journal, can still control the agenda. It turns out there is a big difference between WikiLeaks and establishment media coverage of WikiLeaks, a difference between a Trump tweet and an article about it, even between an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal suggesting Joe Biden had done bad things, and a news article that didn't reach that conclusion.Perhaps the most influential media document of the past four years is a chart by a co-director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, Yochai Benkler. The study showed that a dense new right-wing media sphere had emerged -- and that the mainstream news "revolved around the agenda that the right-wing media sphere set."Bannon had known this, too. He described his strategy as "anchor left, pivot right," and even as he ran Breitbart News, he worked to place attacks on Hillary Clinton in mainstream outlets. The validating power of those outlets was clear when The New York Times and Washington Post were given early access in the spring of 2015 to the book "Clinton Cash," an investigation of the Clinton family's blurring of business, philanthropic and political interests by writer Peter Schweizer.Schweizer is still around this cycle. But you won't find his work in mainstream outlets. He's over on Breitbart, with a couple of Hunter Biden stories this month.And the fact that Bobulinski emerged not in the pages of the widely respected Journal but in a statement to Breitbart was essentially Bannon's nightmare, and Benkler's fondest wish. And a broad array of mainstream outlets, unpersuaded that Hunter Biden's doings tie directly to the former vice president, have largely kept the story off their front pages, and confined to skeptical explanations of what Trump and his allies are claiming about his opponent."SO USA TODAY DIDN'T WANT TO RUN MY HUNTER BIDEN COLUMN THIS WEEK," conservative writer Glenn Reynolds complained Oct. 20, posting the article instead to his blog. Trump himself hit a wall when he tried to push the Hunter Biden narrative onto CBS News."This is '60 Minutes,' and we can't put on things we can't verify," Lesley Stahl told him. Trump then did more or less the same thing as Reynolds, posting a video of his side of the interview to his own blog, Facebook.The media's control over information, of course, is not as total as it used to be. The people who own printing presses and broadcast towers can't actually stop you from reading leaked emails or unproven theories about Joe Biden's knowledge of his son's business. But what Benkler's research showed was that the elite outlets' ability to set the agenda endured in spite of social media.We should have known it, of course. Many of our readers, screaming about headlines on Twitter, did. And Trump knew it all along -- one way to read his endless attacks on the establishment media is as an expression of obsession, a form of love. This week, you can hear howls of betrayal from people who have for years said the legacy media was both utterly biased and totally irrelevant."For years, we've respected and even revered the sanctified position of the free press," wrote Dana Loesch, a right-wing commentator not particularly known for her reverence of legacy media, expressing frustration that the Biden story was not getting attention. "Now that free press points its digital pen at your throat when you question their preferences."On the Other Side of the GateThere's something amusing -- even a bit flattering -- in such earnest protestations from a right-wing movement rooted in efforts to discredit the independent media. And this reassertion of control over information is what you've seen many journalists call for in recent years. At its best, it can also close the political landscape to a trendy new form of dirty tricks, as in France in 2017, where the media largely ignored a last-minute dump of hacked emails from President Emmanuel Macron's campaign just before a legally mandated blackout period.But I admit that I feel deep ambivalence about this revenge of the gatekeepers. I spent my career, before arriving at The Times in March, on the other side of the gate, lobbing information past it to a very online audience who I presumed had already seen the leak or the rumor, and seeing my job as helping to guide that audience through the thicket, not to close their eyes to it. "The media's new and unfamiliar job is to provide a framework for understanding the wild, unvetted, and incredibly intoxicating information that its audience will inevitably see -- not to ignore it," my colleague John Herrman (also now at The Times) and I wrote in 2013. In 2017, I made the decision to publish the unverified "Steele dossier," in part on the grounds that gatekeepers were looking at it and influenced by it, but keeping it from their audience.This fall, top media and tech executives were bracing to refight the last war -- a foreign-backed hack-and-leak operation like WikiLeaks seeking to influence the election's outcome. It was that hyper-vigilance that led Twitter to block links to The New York Post's article about Hunter Biden -- a frighteningly disproportionate response to a story that other news organizations were handling with care. The schemes of Herschmann, Passantino and Schwartz weren't exactly WikiLeaks. But the special nervousness that many outlets, including this one, feel about the provenance of the Hunter Biden emails is, in many ways, the legacy of the WikiLeaks experience.I'd prefer to put my faith in Murray and careful, professional journalists like him than in the social platforms' product managers and executives. And I hope Americans relieved that the gatekeepers are reasserting themselves will also pay attention to who gets that power, and how centralized it is, and root for new voices to correct and challenge them.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

US Election explained: How many eligible voters in the US, what's the turnout?

27.10.2020 3:53

THE US election 2020 is now two weeks away, as Donald Trump and Joe Biden eye the White House amid a global pandemic, which will see voters take a different tack in their approach to the ballot. How many eligible voters are there in the US, and what is the average turnout?

From: feedproxy.google.com

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