Trump refuses to commit to peaceful transition: US Election News

Trump says ballots are a problem and will wait to see how election unfolds before conceding if he loses.

Trump struck out at Senator John McCain after his widow endorsed Biden [Evan Vucci/the Associated Press]
  • Trump on Wednesday criticised Senator John McCain, who died in 2018, after his widow endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
  • Three days of tributes for late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg began in US capital on Wednesday, as Republicans prepare to confirm a nominee.
  • Biden headed to North Carolina, where polls show he and Trump neck and neck.
  • Trump held a news conference on coronavirus vaccine and economy.
  • Trump expected to urge Republican state Attorney Generals to do more about perceived social media election bias, with 40 days until November 3 Election Day.

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

Here are the latest updates:

Wednesday, September 23:

19:30 ET – Trump refuses to commit to peaceful transfer of power after election, again raises doubts about ballots

President Donald Trump, asked by a reporter at a White House press conference, declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the November election to his Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

“We’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump said. “You know that I have been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster.”

“You get rid of the ballots, you’ll have a very peaceful, there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation,” he said. “The ballots are out of control, you know it, and you know who knows it better than anybody else, the Democrats know it, better than anybody else.”

Levelling unsubstantiated claims about fraud, Trump has frequently complained about states planning to vote by mail to reduce risk of coronavirus infection of the population.

President Donald Trump speaking to reporters during a news conference at the White House, refuses to commit to peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election in November. [Tom Brenner/Reuters]

19:00 ET – Trump says no meeting planned with Judge Barbara Lagoa

President Donald Trump said he has no plans at this point to meet with Appeals Court Judge Barbara Lagoa ahead of his announcement of his nominee for the Supreme Court, now scheduled for Saturday.

“She is on my list. I don’t have a meeting planned,” Trump said. “I speak to people. I talk to people. But I don’t have a meeting planned.”

Trump said he would go to the Supreme Court tomorrow to pay his respects to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg whose casket is lying in repose on the portico of the Supreme Court building.

“It’s time for a woman to be chosen, with everything that’s happened and with Justice Ginsburg passing,” Trump said. The president met with Appeals Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett at the White House on Monday.

18:15 ET – Trump touts US progress on potential COVID-19 vaccines

President Donald Trump said at a White House news conference the United States is making rapid progress toward development of a vaccine against the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

“We have four candidates already in a very late stage” of clinical trials, the president said. “Late stage being a very positive word in this case.”

“Under ‘Operation Warp Speed’ and to some of the incredible scientists involved, they’ve reached phase three trials by September, far ahead of schedule,” Trump said.

Johnson & Johnson’s potential vaccine was cleared on Wednesday for a Phase 3 trial. Up to 60,000 volunteers will be needed and Trump encouraged the public to participate; “We encourage Americans to enroll in the vaccine trial.”

Operation Warp Speed is the name the Trump administration has applied to the accelerated approvals and pre-manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines. Three other vaccines being developed in the US by Moderna, AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech are already in Phase 3 trials.

President Donald Trump and White House pandemic adviser Scott Atlas speak to reporters during a news conference at the White House on September 23, 2020. [Tom Brenner/Reuters]

17:00 ET – Poll: Majority of Americans think new president should pick justice

A new CNN poll, conducted by SSRS, found that the majority of Americans think that the new president should pick the Supreme Court nominee.

The poll found 59 percent support for the next president picking a new justice. Among Democrats, that had 97 percent support. Meanwhile Independents support that scenario by 59 percent and Republicans support it by 17 percent.

The poll shows a switch from 2016, when 57 percent said President Barack Obama should have been the one to fill the vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia rather than the president elected. Just 41 percent of those polled this time around said Trump should make the appointment.

16:45 ET – Poll: Democratic challenger leads in Arizona Senate race

Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly leads Arizona’s Republican incumbent Martha McSally among likely voters, according to new Reuters/Ipsos opinion polls.

Kelly, a former astronaut, had 50 percent support among likely voters while McSally had just 41 percent, according to the poll from September 11 to 17.

Gabrielle Giffords with her husband, NASA astronaut Mark Kelly
Former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly leads the Republican incumbent in the race to represent Arizona in the Senate [AFP]

16:30 ET – Trump responds to charges in Breonna Taylor police killing

Trump gave his first response to recently announced charges in the police killing of Breonna Taylor, who was shot in her apartment in Kentucky in March.

One officer was charged in the incident on Wednesday, but not for Taylor’s killing. Instead he was charged for firing into a neighbors apartment. Two other officers involved did not face any charges.

When asked if he had a message in the wake of the announcement, Trump said: “Well, my message is that I love the black community. And I’ve done more for the black community than any other president. And I say, with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln – and I made opportunities zones and with criminal justice reform, with prison reform, with what we’ve done for historically black universities, colleges, schools. What we’ve done, nobody has done more.”

When asked about the particulars of the ruling, he said: “I don’t know enough about it. I heard the decision was just made. And we’ve been together here, and so we haven’t discussed it. But after I see what the decision is, I will have a comment on it.”

16:00 ET – Judge orders Eric Trump to testify in NY probe before election

Eric Trump must testify in a New York investigation into his family’s business practices before the November presidential election, a judge ruled Wednesday, rejecting his lawyers’ claims that his “extreme travel schedule” on the campaign trail warranted a delay.

State Judge Arthur Engoron said President Donald Trump’s middle son, a Trump Organization executive, must comply with a subpoena to give a deposition under oath no later than October 7, adding that the court is not “bound by the timelines of the national election.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James went to court to enforce Eric Trump’s subpoena after his lawyers abruptly canceled a July interview with investigators in her office’s probe, which is focused on whether the Trump Organization lied about the value of its assets in order to get loans or tax benefits.

15:30 ET – Trump thinks 2020 election results will end up at Supreme Court

Trump has said he thinks the results of the 2020 eleciton will end up at the Supreme Court.

Following remarks about ballot fraud, Trump was asked if that’s why he wanted to appoint a Supreme Court before the election.

“I think this will end up in the Supreme Court. And I think it’s important we have nine justices,” Trump answered.

“I think it’d be fairly quick,” he said of the confirmation. The president has repeatedly made unfounded claims that mail in voting, which is projected to happen at a record rate in 2020, leads to higher rates of fraud.

15:00 ET – Pompeo warns politicians to be alert to Chinese ‘influence and espionage’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned US politicians at the state and local level to be vigilant around Chinese diplomats who he said could be trying to woo them as part of Beijing’s propaganda and espionage campaign.

Speaking in the Wisconsin state capitol, Pompeo said the State Department was reviewing the activities of the US-China Friendship Association and the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification over suspicions they are trying to influence US schools, business groups and local politicians.

The two groups are linked to China’s United Front Work Department, an organ of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee, he said.

The warning comes in the run-up to the November election, in which Trump has made a tough approach to China an important foreign policy platform. Wisconsin is a key battleground state in the polls.

14:30 ET – Trump tightens Cuba sanctions as he woos Cuban-American vote

US citizens won’t be allowed to bring home cigars and rum from Cuba under measures Trump has announced to financially starve the island’s government, a move taken as he tries to boost his appeal among Cuban-Americans, a crucial voting bloc in the battleground state of Florida.

The action comes as the Republican president reaffirmed his administration’s “ironclad solidarity” with the Cuban people, whose descendants in the US often vote for Republican. It also comes as Trump considers a Cuban American from Florida for a seat on the US Supreme Court.

At a White House ceremony recognising nearly two dozen veterans of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961, Trump said US travelers will also be prohibited from staying at hotels and other properties owned by the Cuban government.

14:00 ET – Poll: Supreme Court vacancy important to half of respondents

A poll conducted before the death of Justice Ginsburg found that nearly half of the respondents said the choice of the next justice was very important to them.

The Marquette Law School Poll found that 48 percent of respondents said the choice of the next justice was very important. Meanwhile, 34 percent said was somewhat important and 17 percent said it was not too important or not important at all.

The poll was conducted from September 8 to 15.

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pay respects as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose under the Portico at the top of the front steps of the Supreme Court [File: Patrick Semansky/The Associated Press]

13:30 ET – Biden says debate preparation to begin on Thursday

Joe Biden, when asked about next week’s debate, said: “I’ve started to prepare but I haven’t really gotten into it heavily. I will be getting to tomorrow”.

Biden made the comment on his way to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he hosted a Black economic summit.

“When things get bad they’re the first ones in the hole,” Biden said of the Black community and the economy. “When things get better they’re the first ones out.”

13:00 ET – Trump launches attack on McCain after widow endorses Biden

Trump  launched a fresh attack on John McCain, the Republican senator who died in 2018, after McCain’s widow threw her support behind Joe Biden in the election.

In a particularly aggressive tweet the Republican leader once again criticised McCain, who was one of the few in the Republican party to openly castigate him.

“I hardly know Cindy McCain other than having put her on a Committee at her husband’s request,” he tweeted, adding “Joe Biden was John McCain’s lapdog.”

Denouncing “bad decisions on endless wars,” Trump said. “Never a fan of John. Cindy can have Sleepy Joe!”

12:30 ET – Exhibit to highlight Trump-Nixon letters

Letters between Richard Nixon and President Donald Trump from the 1980s, several years after the Watergate Scandal ended Nixon’s presidency, will soon be on display at an exhibit at Nixon’s Presidential Library & Museum.

The men engaged in a long-term exercise in mutual affirmation, according to the letters the museum exclusively shared with The Associated Press ahead of the exhibit’s opening.

“I think that you are one of this country’s great men, and it was an honor to spend an evening with you,” Trump writes to Nixon in June 1982, less than eight years after Nixon resigned the presidency during the Watergate scandal. The two had been spotted together at the “21” nightclub and Trump was writing Nixon to thank him for forwarding a photo.

“Let me be so presumptuous as to offer a little free advice (which is worth, incidentally, exactly what it costs!)” Nixon wrote in another letter, offering advice on how Trump should handle the recently purchased New Jersey Generals football team.

Letters between former President Richard Nixon and Donald Trump show a supportive relationship [File: Henry Burroughs/the Associated Press]

12:00 ET – Pence’s jet returned to airport on Tuesday after hitting bird

Vice President Mike Pence’s airplane struck a bird Tuesday on takeoff in New Hampshire, causing the pilot to return to the airport out of caution, the White House said.

Pence was flying home to Washington from a campaign event at an airport hangar in nearby Gilford, New Hampshire.

When Air Force Two took off from Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, it struck a bird. A senior administration official, who wasn’t authorised to address the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press news agency the vice president and his entourage were in no danger.

Pence ended up flying home on a cargo aircraft that the Secret Service uses to transport his vehicles during his travel.

Donald Trump Holds Campaign Rally In Tulsa
Pence returned to Washington in a cargo plane[Win McNamee/Getty Images]

11:30 ET – Democrats propose sweeping bill to curb presidential abuses

House Democrats are proposing sweeping bill to curb presidential abuses, a pitch to voters weeks ahead of Election Day as they try to defeat President Donald Trump, capture the Senate from Republicans and keep their House majority.

The legislation, a wide-ranging package of new and revised bills, will be announced Wednesday morning by the heads of seven House committees.

It would, among other measures, limit the president’s pardon power, strengthen laws to ban presidents from receiving gifts or payments from foreign governments, better protect independent agency watchdogs and whistleblowers from firing or retribution and require better reporting by campaigns of foreign election interference.

Each of the bill’s provisions is a response to actions by Trump or his administration that Democrats saw as abuses of presidential power. It builds on an election and ethics reform package from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that the House passed soon after Democrats assumed the majority in 2019.

11:00 ET – Senate report on Biden son alleges conflict of interest

Two Republican-led Senate committees have issued a politically charged report  alleging that the work Biden’s son did in Ukraine constituted a conflict of interest for the Obama administration at a time when Biden was engaged in Ukraine policy as vice president.

But the report said it was ultimately “unclear” what impact Hunter Biden’s position on the board of a Ukrainian gas company had on Obama administration policy with regard to Ukraine. And it offered no evidence to support one of President Donald Trump’s more incendiary allegations – that Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor as a way to protect his son.

Biden’s campaign immediately panned the report, released six weeks before the election, as an effort by an ally of Trump to damage his election opponent.

Trump has repeatedly drawn attention to Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine even as his own administration has warned of a concerted Russian effort to denigrate Joe Biden and asserted that a Ukrainian lawmaker who is involved in spreading anti-Biden claims is an “active Russian agent”.

Joe Biden and Hunter Biden
Former US Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden [File: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

10:30 ET – Trump to pay respects to Ginsburg on Thursday

The White House says Trump will pay his respects to the late Justice Ginsburg on Thursday at the Supreme Court.

Trump has said Ginsburg was an “amazing woman” who led an “amazing life,” while supporting Republicans plans to more quickly to name her successor before the election. That goes against Ginsburg’s reported dying wish.

10:15 ET – John Roberts remembers Ginsburg

Chief Justice John Roberts remembers colleague Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as tough and brave, a fighter and a winner.

Roberts spoke during a private ceremony honouring Ginsburg in the court’s Great Hall. He said she was also careful, compassionate and honest. He spoke of her undying devotion to the law and to her family.

Roberts said Ginsburg’s opinions and her famous dissents will steer the court for decades. He says they are written with the “unaffected grace of precision”.

“The voice in court and in our conference room was soft. But when she spoke, people listened,” Roberts said.

10:00 ET – Trump to meet with state attorney generals over social media censorship issues

Trump is expected to urge Republican State attorney generals to investigate allegations social media sites censor content supportive of conservative causes, according to the Washington Post.

The issue is expected to be raised at a meeting of at least eight Republican state officials, according to the newspaper citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation.

The White House and Silicon Valley have been increasingly at odds since some companies began labelling content posted by the president that contain false or misleading information.

09:30 ET – Ginsburg’s coffin arrives at Supreme Court

The coffin of Justice Ginsburg has arrived at the Supreme Court for the start of two days of public viewing.

Clerks of the court wearing black masks filed down the steps as the coffin arrived, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Following a private ceremony in the court’s Great Hall, the coffin will be moved to the top of the court’s front steps so members of the public can pay their respects in line with public health guidance for the coronavirus pandemic.

Thousands are expected to pay their respects. Ginsburg will then lie in state at the Capitol on Friday.

Former law clerks walk out and stand for the coffin of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Supreme Court [Patrick Semansky/AP]

09:00 ET – Polls shows close race in Florida and Arizona

New Washington Post-ABC News polls show a close race in two critical states Trump won in 2016.

In Florida, which is considered essential for an electoral college victory for Trump, he had 51 percent support compared with Biden’s 47 percent among likely voters. Among registered voters, that split was 47 percent for Trump and 48 percent support for Biden.

Meanwhile, in Arizona, Trump was ahead with 49 percent of likely voter support, compared with 48 percent support for Biden. Of registered voters, Trump had 47 percent support and Biden had 49 percent support.

Both campaigns have targeted Florida, as it is considered essential to any electoral college victory for Trump [File: Patrick Semansky/AP]


Read all the updates from yesterday (September 22) here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies