Trump falsely claims COVID-19 cases down: US election news

President Trump, campaigning in Wisconsin where COVID-19 cases are surging, says the pandemic is going away

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally near La Crosse, Wisconsin, a battleground state [Evan Vucci/AP Photo]
  • Former President Barack Obama, campaigned for Joe Biden in Florida and slammed White House coronavirus outbreaks as indicative of Donald Trump’s botched response to the pandemic.
  • Trump campaigned in Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska as Biden heads to one-time Republican bastion Georgia.
  • Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administered judicial oath to newly confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
  • Melania Trump held her first solo event of the campaign in Pennsylvania.
  • More than 69 million US citizens have cast ballots in early voting with seven days until the election, smashing 2016’s total of 57.2 million who voted early.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the United States elections. This is Joseph Stepansky and William Roberts.

Trump cites Fox interview of former business partner of Hunter Biden

“The Biden family’s business partner revealed shocking, disturbing and explosive information about Joe Biden’s corrupt and illicit foreign business dealings while he was vice president,” Trump told a large crowd of supporters in Omaha, Nebraska, sparking chants of “Lock him up, lock him up, lock him up.”

Tony Bobulinski, who said he is a former business associate of Hunter Biden, the vice president’s son, told Fox News that Biden’s denials of knowledge of his son’s foreign business dealings are “a blatant lie”.

Trump and his Republican allies have been accusing the former vice president of influence-peddling.

Tony Bobulinski, who says he is a former business associate of Hunter Biden, was interviewed on Fox News [Evan Vucci/AP Photo]


Trump campaign website hacked, briefly defaced

“Earlier this evening, the Trump campaign website was defaced and we are working with law enforcement authorities to investigate the source of the attack. There was no exposure to sensitive data because none of it is actually stored on the site. The website has been restored,” Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesman, said in a statement.

Joe Biden campaigns in Atlanta, claims momentum in race for president, hits Trump on COVID-19 failures

Campaigning in Atlanta, Georgia, said Democrats have chance to win the state in the US election a President Donald Trump ignores the coronavirus pandemic.

“There aren’t a lot of pundits who would have guessed four years ago that a Democratic candidate for president in 2020 would be campaigning in Georgia on the final week of the election,” Biden said at a drive-in rally.

“Or that we’d have such competitive Senate races in Georgia. But we do, because something’s happening here in Georgia and across America,” Biden said.

Trump, who campaigned in the Midwest and claimed the virus is going away, “has waved the white flag, abandoned our families and surrendered to this virus,” Biden said, promising to “put in place plan to deal with this pandemic responsibly”.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden called on supporters at a drive-in rally in Atlanta to vote in the final days of the US election [Andrew Harnik/AP Photo]


Trump claims COVID-19 cases are going down in US as data shows cases rising

President Donald Trump campaigned in Wisconsin, where COVID-19 cases are rising fast, and claimed before a large crowd of several thousand supporters that the coronavirus is going away.

“We’re turning the corner. We’re turning the corner, We’re rounding like this racetrack, this is perfect, we’re rounding the curve. We will vanquish the virus,” Trump said.

“It’s all way down to really low numbers,” Trump claimed.

New cases are increasing in Wisconsin at a rate of 50 percent in the past two weeks. Nationwide, new cases are up 40 percent and have reached daily levels not seen since the last peak in July, according to data published by The New York Times.


Trump hits Biden on trade with Mexico, China, energy in Wisconsin

President Donald Trump, campaigning in Wisconsin, criticized his Democratic challenger Joe Biden for supporting free trade with Mexico and China and for advocating the US shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Trump played video clips of Biden and vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris on a big screen at a rally near La Crosse, Wisconsin, purporting to show Biden and Harris policies would hurt jobs in the Midwest.

“And ensure more products are proudly stamped with that wonderful beautiful phrase, ‘Made in the USA’, right,” Trump said, claiming he is up by 3 points in polls in Wisconsin and Michigan.

“Over the next four years we will make America into the manufacturing superpower of the world,” Trump said.


Bloomberg corrects report to say Republican National Committee is picking up $4 mn TV ad buy in Florida for Trump

“The president’s campaign still has $350,275 budgeted to spend on ads in Florida through Election Day, but has canceled $5.5 million in the final two weeks of the campaign, according to data compiled from ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics,” Bloomberg reported in a corrected version of an earlier story.

“The RNC is picking up some of that slack, buying $4 million in ads beginning last week. It’s now airing an ad in Florida attacking Biden on Medicare, falsely claiming that the Biden health care plan would eliminate private health insurance.”


Trump campaign denies Bloomberg report it pulled TV ads from Florida

“The campaign, with the RNC coordinated buy, is up with a seven figure buy in Florida on broadcast TV alone. In addition in Florida, we are up with six figures in local cable, six figures in Spanish language, and six figures on radio. Our ad buying week by week in the state has been consistent,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtagh said in a statement.

Citing data compiled from ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics,  Bloomberg reported that the Trump campaign has all but pulled its advertising out of Florida amid a funding shortfall.

“Last week we announced a $55 million buy over the final two weeks, which is a 40 percent increase over our previous levels. Just yesterday we added $6 million on top of that for the final week. Including Florida, the Trump campaign is on television in 12 states and also nationally,” Murtagh said.

Trump begins three-state tour with Michigan rally

Trump kicked off a day of battleground campaigning with a rally in Lansing, Michigan, where he continued to downplay the coronavirus and portrayed Biden as a candidate who would raise taxes and hobble the economy.

Trump won Michigan by the slimmest of margins, just 0.3 percentage points, in 2016. However, polls show him trailing Biden by a wide margin in the state.

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday showed Biden widening his lead to nine percentage points, with 52 percent support among likely voters compared to 43 percent support for Trump.

Michigan is one several key battleground states that has seen a spike in coronavirus cases in recent days, making Trump’s cavalier approach to the virus, and in-person rallies, more politically fraught.

Trump will also campaign in Wisconsin and Nebraska on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Lansing, Michigan [Carlos Osorio/The Associated Press]

Trump winds down TV advertising in Florida: Analysis by political editor Steve Chaggaris

When a presidential candidate stops running television advertising in a battleground state it usually means one of two things: either the candidate’s campaign is cash-strapped or they’re giving up on the state.

Bloomberg reported today that Trump’s campaign has “all but pulled its advertising out of Florida”, a state in which polling shows he and Joe Biden virtually tied. We know Trump’s campaign, which reported having only $63 million on hand as of October 14, compared to the Biden camp’s $177 million, is at a competitive disadvantage financially. But does this mean Trump is giving up on the state he claims as his residence?

Trump’s camp will insist they’re not giving up and will point to their superior “ground game” to get out the vote. However, virtually shutting down television advertising in a state that is this close is quite the risk this close to an election, especially in a state that has 29 important electoral votes.

Bloomberg reports that the Trump campaign is shifting their advertising dollars to Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Ohio, all states where he’s currently behind in the polls. If Trump ultimately winds up winning Florida, this spending decision will be yet another political norm broken, and another successful Trump political move that runs completely counter to conventional wisdom.

Supporters of Donald Trump arrive for an election campaign rally at Orlando Sanford International Airport in Sanford, Florida [Ricardo Arduengo/Reuters]

Homeland Security agency faulted for election planning around potential violence

The Department of Homeland Security’s watchdog body has said that officials at its Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency had not adequately planned for potential violence at polling places and vote counting stations.

The DHS Office of the Inspector General noted that the department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency – the DHS arm generally responsible for protecting US infrastructure from digital and physical threats – offers an array of cybersecurity support to state and local governments.

But it said that while CISA’s plans covered potential digital disruptions to state and local election systems, those plans “do not adequately address other elements such as physical security risk, threats of terrorism, and targeted violence at related storage facilities, polling places, and centralized vote tabulation locations that support the election process.”
CISA’s director, Christopher Krebs, pushed back against the watchdog’s report, saying it was poorly timed and “leads readers to believe that the election is not secure”.

In a message directed at voters, Krebs said that while CISA “can certainly update plans, use more resources, and coordinate better with partners, I am confident that the work we have done to protect the 2020 election means your vote is secure and you should vote with confidence.”

Iowa elections officials concerned over surge in virus cases

Elections officials in Iowa are worried about the state’s rising number of coronavirus cases, saying that any illnesses or absences among key workers and volunteers could hinder their services through Election Day, according to the Associated Press.

A week before the election, Iowa is reporting a new high 7-day average of about 1,300 daily infections, record numbers of hospitalizations and a surge in deaths. The state is a battleground in the presidential race, with Pence and Biden both expected to visit this week. It’s also home to one of the nation’s most important Senate races between Joni Ernst and Theresa Greenfield.

County elections commissioners who have small full-time staffs and rely on experienced poll workers for help said they are hoping the virus does not sideline any of them. They have already replaced some volunteers, who opted out rather than risk working long shifts and interacting with voters who could be carrying the virus.

Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz said she’s asked her employees and polling place workers to self-quarantine until Tuesday to avoid the possibility of catching the virus.
“I asked them to take that call upon themselves and to think about if they get sick what that means to our community on Tuesday,” Moritz, the chairwoman of the Iowa State Association of County Auditors, told the Associated Press. “My concern is that if they get taken out, who fills that position? We’re already struggling as it is.”

Chris Helps, of Earlham, Iowa, makes his way to the ballot box during early voting [Charlie Neibergall/The Associated Press]

Latino voters face disinformation wave ahead of US elections

Latino voters in important swing states like Florida are being hit with a wave of Spanish-language misinformation ahead of the November 3 United States elections, in which their votes could play a key role in the outcome.

Ranging from unproven voter fraud allegations to “Deep State” plots against President Donald Trump, Florida Latinos are facing a “major spike” in exposure to conspiracy theories related to the election and its candidates across social media, messaging apps, the radio and YouTube, according to local reports.

In Florida, the Spanish-language misinformation has largely targeted Democrats and progressive causes. One conspiracy theory, which claims that Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden has a “problem” with paedophilia, has been amplified by a Venezuela-focused news website and also by a Puerto-Rican born pastor on Facebook, according to Politico.

Other misinformation includes comparisons between Black Lives Matter protesters and Nazis, as referenced in an advertisement in Miami’s local Spanish-language newspaper, El Nuevo Herald, and accusations by radio guests that absentee voting is “throwing your ballot into a tomb”.

Read more here.

Florida resident Valentine Lugo casts his mail-in ballot at the Winter Garden Library polling station as early voting begins ahead of the election in Orlando, Florida, the United States [File: Octavio Jones/Reuters]

Trump says it would be ‘totally inappropriate’ if election result takes weeks

Trump told Reporters on Tuesday it would be “totally inappropriate” if ballots needed to be counted for two weeks after the election to declare a winner.

“It would be very, very proper and very nice if a winner were declared on November 3rd instead of counting ballots for two weeks, which is totally inappropriate,” Trump said as prepared to board Air Force One for campaign stops in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nebraska. “And I don’t believe that that’s by our laws. I don’t believe that. So we will see what happens.”

While a winner could be declared on November 3 or within the next few days, some less likely scenarios could see ballot counting take longer, due to an unprecedentedly high number of mail ballots and the fact that some state’s accept mail ballots postmarked by election day, even if they are delivered days later.

Any disputes over election administration in states across the country, particularly over rejected mail ballots, could also delay final results.

President Donald Trump talks to reporters  before boarding Air Force One for a day of campaign rallies in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nebraska [Evan Vucci/The Associated Press]

Biden calls for healing in Georgia

Biden, campaigning in red-leaning Georgia on Tuesday, called for healing from the “lasting wound” the coronavirus pandemic has left.

The former vice president is making his closing pitch to voters, concentrating on a message of unity that has been a throughline during his campaign. Biden has used the theme to draw a distinction to Trump’s more divisive style of politics.

Biden asked if the heart of the nation “turned to stone,” and replied: “I don’t think so. I refuse to believe it”.

The Biden campaign decision to travel to Georgia, which hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992, underlines an optimistic footing in the final days of the race. However, the move risks losing important travel time in key battlegrounds states.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks in Warm Springs, Georgia [Andrew Harnik/The Associated Press]


Poll roundup: Nevada is looking less like a battleground

Two new polls released today show Biden with a lead in Nevada, a state Trump hopes to flip this year.

A New York Times/Siena College poll released today has Biden up 49-43 percent over Trump among likely voters (margin of error +/-3.8 percent) while a new University of Nevada, Las Vegas poll has Biden leading among likely voters, 50-41 percent (margin of error +/-4 percent).

Trump, who lost Nevada to Hillary Clinton in 2016 by a slim 2.4 percentage points, will campaign along the Nevada-Arizona border tomorrow. Vice President Mike Pence will visit the state on Thursday. For their part, the Biden campaign is sending Kamala Harris to the state today for two stops.

Meanwhile, yet another Florida poll shows a statistically tied race there. Fifty percent of likely Florida voters back Biden while 48 percent support Trump, according to a new Florida Atlantic University poll. The margin of error is +/-3.1 percent.

After Supreme Court ruling on Wisconsin mail-ballot extension, spotlight on North Carolina, Pennsylvania

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down an attempted deadline extension for ballots to be received.

Based on the ruling, ballots must be received by election officials by the close of polls on election day. Democrats in the state had sought to allow ballots post-marked by election day to be counted if they arrived up to six days later, amid concerns over US Postal Service slowdowns.

The decision turns attention to two key states that have pending litigation that will possibly be heard by the Supreme Court.

Republicans are attempting to undo a policy in North Carolina that allows ballots post marked by election day to be counted if they arrive by November 12.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Republicans have sought to fast track a case to the high court that would overturn a policy that allows ballots post-marked by election day to be counted if they arrive up to three days later. The Supreme Court had already deadlocked 4-4 on the matter, upholding a lower courts deadline extension. However, with the ascension of conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, creating a 6-3 conservative majority on the bench, Republicans hope a new ruling on the matter would be in their favor.

Obama slams Trump for allowing outbreak in the White House

Obama, campaigning for Biden in the key battleground of Florida, urged residents to vote as soon as possible, while slamming Trump for allowing a coronavirus outbreak in the White House.

“Let me say this, I lived in the White House for a while. It’s a controlled environment,” Obama said in Orlando Florida. “You can take some preventive measures in the White House to avoid getting sick. Except this guy can’t seem to do it. He’s turned the White House into a hot zone. Some of the places he holds rallies have seen new spikes right after he leaves town.”

Obama also slammed comments by Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, who on Sunday said in an interview “we’re not going to control the pandemic”, while adding “we are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas”.

Former President Barack Obama had also campaigned for Biden in Florida on Saturady [Lynne Sladky/The Associated Press]


Barrett sworn in to Supreme Court

Amy Coney Barrett was formally sworn in Tuesday as the Supreme Court’s ninth justice, her oath administered in private by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Barrett was confirmed Monday by the Senate in a 52-48 virtual party line vote. She is expected to begin work as a justice on Tuesday after taking the second of two oaths required of judges by federal law.

No justice has assumed office so close to a presidential election or immediately confronted issues so directly tied to the incumbent president’s political and personal fortunes. At 48, she’s the youngest justice since Clarence Thomas joined the court in 1991 at age 43.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administers the judicial oath of office to Judge Amy Coney Barrett as Judge Barrett’s husband Jesse Barrett holds the Bible [Reuters]

Washington Times, Boston Herald endorse Trump

The conversvative Washington Times and the Boston Herald tabloid have endorsed Trump for president.

Both papers made the announcement in editorials on Tuesday, with the Herald writing that Trump is “what America needs right now, decisive action to get us back to pre-pandemic strength – not an unfeasible spending spree in the name of a progressive utopia.”

Beyond the two endorsements on Tuesday, only five major papers have endorsed Trump, according to the University of California’s American Presidency Project. That’s compared to 44 who have endorsed Biden.

The Trump-endorsing newspapers include the New York Post, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, and the Las Vegas Review Journal, which is owned by Trump mega-donor businessman Sheldon Adelson.

Senator Cruz does not think Hunter Biden attacks working

Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, has said in an interview that he does not think the Trump campaign’s focus on the dealing’s of Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, has been effective with voters.

“I don’t think it moves a single voter,” Cruz said, when asked about a dubious report on Hunter Biden’s emails that suggested Biden used his influence as vice president to help his son’s business dealings.

Cruz also added: “One of Biden’s best points was when he said, ‘All of these attacks back and forth about my family and his family, they don’t matter. What matters is your family.'”

Trump, while on the campaign trail, has repeatedly seized on the report on Hunter Biden. The younger Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine were the centre of House impeachment proceedings against Trump.

Senator Ted Cruz has said he does not think attacks on Hunter Biden are connecting with voters [File: Ken Cedeno/The Associated Press]

Biden campaigns in Georgia, in show of optimism

Leading his Republican rival in national opinion polls, Biden journeys to Georgia on Monday, which has not supported a Democrat in a presidential election since 1992.

Meanwhile, Trump will hold rallies in three states key to his re-election hopes: Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska.

In Georgia, opinion polls show the race to be tight, and a win by Biden there would likely be a severe blow to Trump’s chances. Biden told reporters on Monday he believes he has a “fighting chance” to take Georgia.

He will hold an afternoon event in Warm Springs, Georgia, before capping the day with an evening rally in Atlanta. The aggressive move also carries risks for Biden, whose trip to Georgia precludes visits to more traditional battleground states that can swing toward either party’s candidate.

A voter drops their ballot off during early voting in Athens, Georgia [John Bazemore/The Associated Press]

Judge rejects DOJ request to shield Trump from rape accuser’s defamation lawsuit

A federal judge has rejected a US government request to drop Donald Trump as a defendant in a defamation lawsuit by a writer who said the president falsely denied raping her in a Manhattan department store a quarter century ago.

District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan refused to let the government substitute itself for Trump as a defendant in former Elle magazine columnist E Jean Carroll’s lawsuit.

Kaplan’s decision is a defeat for Trump, because dropping him as a defendant would have shielded him from liability and likely doomed Carroll’s defamation claim. Acting at the behest of Attorney General William Barr, the Department of Justice has argued that Trump acted in his official capacity when denying Carroll’s accusations, and therefore could not be sued personally for defamation.

But the judge said Trump was not an “employee of the government” entitled to be shielded from Carroll’s claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Kaplan also said Trump did not make his statements within the scope of his “employment” as president.

E Jean Carroll
Former Elle Magazine columnist E Jean Carroll has said Trump raped her in a Manhattan department store [File: Craig Ruttle/Reuters]

Barrett to be given judicial oath by Chief Justice Roberts

Amy Coney Barrett is set to be given the judicial oath by Chief Justice John Roberts in a private ceremony on Tuesday, cementing her place on the court.

Barrett’s first votes on the Supreme Court could include two big topics affecting the man who nominated her. The court is weighing a plea from Trump to prevent the Manhattan district attorney from acquiring his tax returns as well as appeals from the Trump campaign and Republicans to shorten the deadline for receiving and counting absentee ballots in the battleground states of North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Barrett will also rule on any challenges related to the election, as the Supreme Court did in the 2000 election between former President George Bush and former Vice President Al Gore.

Bloomberg funding late Biden push in Texas, Ohio: Report

Billionaire former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg is planning to spend about $15 million to help Biden defeat Trump in Texas and Ohio during the final week of the campaign, the New York Times has reported, citing a senior Bloomberg aide.

Bloomberg, who lost to Biden in a crowded field for the Democratic nomination, has promised to spend up to $100 million of his personal fortune to support Biden’s campaign for the November 3 election. He has been targeting Florida as a state he could push into the Biden column and on Monday he agreed to add Texas and Ohio for a late television advertising blitz, after his team presented polling data showing them as competitive, the report said.

He will also increase pro-Biden advertising in Florida, the report said.

Read all of the election news from October 26 here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies