Biden calls Trump ‘totally irrational’: US election news

At town hall in Pennsylvania, Biden says Trump’s inept response to COVID ‘close to criminal’, Trump speaks in Wisconsin

Democratic US presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a televised town hall in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on September 17, 2020. [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]
Democratic US presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a televised town hall in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on September 17, 2020. [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]
  • US President Donald Trump: Black Lives Matter protests are leftist and anti-American.
  • Trump flies to Mosinee, Wisconsin for a campaign rally 47 days before election day.
  • Joe Biden took part in a Scranton, Pennsylvania town hall on Thursday night.
  • Attorney General William Barr said potential pandemic lockdowns are akin to slavery.

22:15 ET – Crowd greets Trump at campaign event in Wisconsin

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Central Wisconsin Airport on Thursday in Mosinee, Wisconsin. [Evan Vucci/AP Photo]

A crowd of several hundred supporters, most not wearing masks, assembled at an airport in Mosinee, Wisconsin to hear President Donald Trump speak on Thursday night.

“Has there been a clearer choice between two parties, two visions, two philosophies, or two agendas for the future, then these two parties? You got law and order on one side and you have chaos on the other,” Trump said.

“Biden’s plan is to appease the domestic terrorists. My plan is to arrest the domestic terrorists,” Trump said, claiming there is “something off” with Biden’s mental state.

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the Central Wisconsin Airport in Mosinee, Wisconsin. [Morry Gash/AP Photo]

21:15 ET – Biden promises to reach out to Trump supporters if elected

Asked by a voter how he would reach out to Trump supporters, Biden said he would seek to work with Republicans in Congress.

“I said when I announced the next president of United States is going to inherit two things – a divided nation and a world in disarray,” Biden said.

“I have made my whole career based on bringing people together and bringing the parties together,” Biden said.

“I am confident that with President Trump out of the way and his vitriolic attitude and his way of getting after people with revenge … there are going to be something like six or seven (Senate) Republicans who are willing to work together.”

Democratic US presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden struck a populist chord in an outdoor town hall meeting in Scranton, Pennsylvania, [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

21:00 ET – Scranton vs. Park Avenue – Biden strikes populist tone on town hall question about wages

In the Pennsylvania town hall, Biden was asked by a patient advocate making $15 an hour at a cancer treatment center what he would do for health care workers.

Biden said he would seek to raise wages and cast the choice between his economic policies and Trump’s as “a campaign between Scranton and Park Avenue.”

“All Trump can see from Park Avenue is Wall Street. All he thinks about as the stock market,” he said. “Nobody in Scranton owns stock.”

20:45 ET – Biden says AG Barr comparison of COVID shutdowns to US Slavery is ‘outrageous’

“What Bill Barr recently said is outrageous,” Biden said.

Attorney General Bill Barr, speaking to a conservative audience on Wednesday, compared the idea of a national coronavirus lockdown to “house arrest” and said it would be the worst government restraint on freedom since slavery.

“I will tell you what takes away your freedom, not being able to see your kid, not being able to go to the football game or baseball game, not seeing your mom or dad sick in the hospital, not being able to do the things, that’s what is costing us our freedom,” Biden said.

20:27 ET – Biden says in Pennsylvania town hall Trump is ‘totally irrational’

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said in a televised town hall said President Trump has been “totally irrational” in his handling of the coronavirus pandemic resulting in the loss of thousands of lives.

“If the president had done his job from the beginning all the people would still be alive,” Biden said at the event broadcast by CNN.

Trump failed to warn the American public about the serious risks of infection and has misled people about the value of wearing masks, Biden said.

“The idea that you’re going to not tell people what you’ve been told, that this virus is incredibly contagious, seven times more contagious than the flu … He knew it and did nothing is close to criminal,” Biden said.

People gather to listen to Democratic US presidential nominee Joe Biden speak during a televised, drive-in town hall in Scranton, Pennsylvania, [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

18:58 ET – Trump campaign denies sexual assault allegation against the president

“The allegations are totally false. We will consider every legal means available to hold The Guardian accountable for its malicious publication of this unsubstantiated story,” Jenna Ellis, a legal advisor to Trump’s campaign told the Reuters news service.

The Guardian newspaper reported that former model Amy Dorris alleges Trump assaulted her in 1997 in his VIP box at the US Open tennis tournament.

18:45 ET – Trump in Wisconsin to announce $13 bn in farm aid

President Donald Trump will announce a new, $13 bn round of aid to US farmers at a campaign rally in Wisconsin on Thursday night, the Reuters news agency reported citing an unnamed person familiar with the president’s plan.

Wisconsin’s dairy and farming sector has been hard hit by both the White House’s trade policies and the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a battleground state in Trump’s presidential contest with Democrat Joe Biden.

Trump’s margin of victory in Wisconsin in 2016 over Democrat Hillary Clinton was by less than 1 percent of the vote and marked the first time the state went for a Republican presidential candidate since 1984.

16:50 ET – Bloomberg cash funding ads in Florida criticising Trump’s handling of pandemic

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg promised to help his former Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden to the tune of $100m. This weekend, $5.4m of that is being spent to run new television ads in the battleground state of Florida that slam Donald Trump’s response to the pandemic, according to McClatchy DC.

Bloomberg officials say this is just the beginning of their advertisement campaign which will expand to other battleground states between now and the election. The officials told McClatchy DC that some of those ads will be aimed toward Latino and Black voters.

16:30 ET – VP Pence’s former aide says Trump did not take coronavirus seriously

A former top aide to Vice President Mike Pence, Olivia Troye, has accused US President Donald Trump of not taking the novel coronavirus seriously earlier this year.

“It was awful. It was terrifying,” said Troye, who left the White House in July, in an online video advertisement produced by Republican Voters Against Trump, about the administration’s response to the global pandemic.

“Towards the middle of February, we knew it wasn’t a matter of if COVID would become a big pandemic here in the United States, it was a matter of time,” said Troye, who served as Pence’s lead aide on the White House’s Coronavirus Taskforce. Pence chaired that taskforce.

“But the president didn’t want to hear that because his biggest concern was that we were in an election year and how is this going to affect what he considered to be his record of success,” Troye said in the video.

16:00 ET – Biden says Trump trying to undermine the election

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said US President Donald Trump is trying to de-legitimise the upcoming November election and is encouraging foreign interference.

“It’s not an exaggeration to suggest that he’s trying to lay the seeds that the election is not legitimate,” Biden told supporters in a virtual fundraising event in Colorado.

Biden referenced classified briefings he is now receiving as the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee to back up his statement.

“It goes beyond what he’s saying. It goes to what he’s encouraging,” Biden said, according to a pool report.

“I’m hopeful, but I am concerned. And it won’t be over until it’s over.”

15:45 ET – US military police considered using ‘heat ray’ at DC protest

A US military whistle-blower has said federal officials sought to use a controversial crowd control device called a “heat ray” to deal with protesters outside the White House on June 1 when law enforcement forcibly cleared protesters from Lafayette Square in front of the White House.

National Guard Major Adam DeMarco told Congress a top military police officer had asked if the DC National Guard troops possessed a long-range acoustic device – used to transmit loud noises – or an “Active Denial System”, the so-called “heat ray”.

Federal law enforcement in riot gear cleared peaceful protesters from the public square using tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and batons.

15:30 ET – Outgoing US ambassador to China will help Republican campaigns

Terry Branstad, a former Republican governor of Iowa, told a Hong Kong television outlet that he will work to help President Donald Trump, Senator Joni Ernst and others win in Iowa.

“My son is very involved in [Trump’s] campaign, and I will be a volunteer to help him, to help Joni Ernst and other friends for the election in Iowa,” said Branstad, stressing that he will not hold an official role “but … will strictly be a volunteer”.

US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad, a former Iowa governor, is leaving his diplomatic post to help campaign for Trump and Republican candidates [File: Mark Schiefelbein/Reuters]

15:00 ET – Trump decries BLM protests as leftist and anti-American

President Donald Trump launched a new rhetorical broadside against slogans and thinking emerging from the Black Lives Matter protests and “The 1619 Project”, a long-form journalism project that explores the history of slavery in the United States.

“The left has warped, distorted and defiled the American story with deceptions, falsehoods and lies,” Trump said in a speech.

The president said he sought to reject “the narratives being pushed by the far left and chanted in the streets” about systemic racism in the country.

Trump signed an executive order that he said would promote “patriotic education” in the US and encourage teachers to convey to students the story of the nation’s “miracle” founding, beginning in 1776 when the American colonies declared independence from Great Britain.

“The left-wing rioting and mayhem are the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools,” he said.

President Donald Trump speaks at the White House Conference on American History at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, September 17, 2020 [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

14:30 ET – Austria minister rejects Trump’s talk of ‘forest cities’ and ‘exploding trees’

Austria’s minister of agriculture Elisabeth Kostinger has rebuked President Trump for misleading comments on September 15 about forest management in Europe.

“To clarify: No, we don’t have any exploding trees in Austria,” Koestinger said in an op-ed in the UK’s Independent newspaper. She confirmed Trump’s assertion that “we have found a way to give our trees the space they need”, but called on the US president to take global warming seriously.

“This does not make us ‘forest people’, but shows how important understanding our environment and our natural resources is,” Koestinger said, adding that “taking climate change seriously and mitigating its effects is a huge part of this”.

13:15 ET – Obama to publish memoir, ‘A Promised Land’

Former US president Barack Obama has penned a 768-page memoir to be published shortly after the November election, publisher Penguin Random House announced.

The book covers his early life, the 2008 presidential campaign and the first part of his presidency up to the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011. A second volume is planned.

“I’ve tried to provide an honest accounting of my presidential campaign and my time in office: the key events and people who shaped it, my take on what I got right and the mistakes I made, and the political, economic, and cultural forces that my team and I had to confront then – and that as a nation we are grappling with still,” Obama said in a statement.

Former US President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama reached a $65m deal in 2018 with Penguin Random House for their memoirs [Jim Bourg/Reuters]

12:45 ET – FBI Director tells Congress Russia engaged in ‘disinformation’ campaign

FBI Director Chris Wray told a US House of Representatives panel that Russia is trying to influence the upcoming election through disinformation to “denigrate” Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

“The intelligence community consensus is that Russia continues to try to influence our elections,” Wray told the Homeland Security Committee.

“We certainly have seen very active efforts by the Russians to influence our elections in 2020.”

12:30 ET – Trump accused of sexual assault by former model: Guardian

A former model has accused Donald Trump of groping and kissing her at the US Open tennis tournament more than two decades ago, in an alleged incident that left her feeling “sick” and “violated”, The Guardian newspaper has reported.

Amy Dorris alleged that Trump accosted her outside the bathroom in his VIP box at the tennis tournament in New York City on September 5, 1997.

Dorris, who was 24 at the time, accuses Trump of forcing his tongue down her throat, assaulting her all over her body and holding her in a grip she was unable to escape from, the newspaper reported.

Trump denied the claims through his lawyers. The newspaper said it was able to document Dorris’ story over the past 15 months with corroboration from other people. Photographs show Dorris with Trump at the tournament.

11:30 ET – Trump-Biden voter in ad: Trump ‘totally negligent’ on virus

Democrat Joe Biden’s campaign released two new ads Thursday, one featuring a Pennsylvania Biden backer who voted for Trump in 2016 and who is not pleased with the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“President Trump, he’s not responsible for this virus,” the voter, Rick, said in the ad. “But he was totally negligent on how he informed the people. I mean, the guy gets the blame for what’s happening.”

The advertisement will run in Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota on television and digital platforms.

11:00 ET – New Trump ad features voters expressing fear of Biden presidency

“I would be very scared if Joe Biden became president,” begins a new advertisement from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign focused on the economy.

A diverse group of Trump supporters participating in what the campaign calls an “economic roundtable” took turns trashing what a Biden presidency would do Americans’ economic security. “Joe Biden will raise taxes and kill jobs,” says one woman in the ad. “And the only barrier between us and socialism is President Trump.”

The TV advertisement will run North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nebraska and Maine.

10:00 ET – Trump ramps up attacks on mail-in voting

US President Donald Trump posted a strongly worded tweet claiming, without evidence, that the election results may be illegitimate due to “unsolicited ballots” being sent to voters.

Trump’s focus on “unsolicited ballots,” or ballots sent by states to all registered voters, is a shift from his previous criticism of all “mail-in ballots,” which include absentee ballots requested by voters.

The majority of states are running their mail-in efforts this way and Republicans expressed deep concern with the president’s rhetoric, worried that his comments would depress Republican turnout, especially among older voters who tend to vote Republican and may be leery of voting in person during the pandemic.

There are 10 states that will send ballots to all registered voters; five of those states have been conducting all-mail voting for years and election experts agree that fraud is rare in those.

09:30 ET – Arizona is ‘slipping away’ from Trump: Analyst

Following a recent rash of polling, the Cook Political Report, which handicaps US elections, said Trump’s problems in the key battleground state of Arizona are mounting. Trump won Arizona in 2016 by 3.5 percent over Hillary Clinton.

Suburban Phoenix voters have “soured” on Trump, Arizona Republican voters “are not as committed to voting for him”, and “Trump is also struggling with Latino support,” writes Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report.

Walter cites a new poll showing Biden leading Trump 45 percent to 40 percent in Arizona and writes, “The new data in this poll, combined with other recent polling in the state, all find Arizona slipping away from Trump.”

09:15 ET – Barr compares lockdown with slavery

US Attorney General William Barr slammed the idea of a national coronavirus lockdown telling a conservative audience that it is like “house arrest” and akin to slavery.

“You know, putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders, is like house arrest. Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history,” Barr said on Wednesday at an event hosted by the conservative Hillsdale College.

Barr speaks on Operation Legend, the federal law enforcement operation, during a news conference in Chicago, Illinois, on September 9, 2020 [File: Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP]

Barr also addressed criticism from Justice Department employees who say he is too hands-on with politically sensitive cases, including ones that involve Trump. He argued that “under the law”, his involvement is proper and he’s not “interfering with” anything. He then slammed lower-level staff, suggesting they keep their opinions to themselves.

09:00 ET – Trump and Biden hit the campaign trail again

A day after spending the day in their respective home cities, President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden will hit the road on Thursday for campaign events in key battleground states.

Trump will fly to Mosinee, Wisconsin, for a 9pm (01:00 GMT Friday) rally on Thursday after spending most of the day at the White House. A series of polls released this week show Biden maintaining a lead in Wisconsin, a state Trump won by a slim 0.77 percent margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Biden heads to his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he will take voters’ questions during an 8pm (00:00 GMT Friday) town hall meeting hosted by CNN and moderated by Anderson Cooper.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the US elections. This is William Roberts.

Read all the updates from yesterday (September 16) here.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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