Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the US elections. This is Joseph Stepansky.
The first of three presidential debates between Trump and rival Joe Biden attracted a smaller television audience than the record set four years ago, according to Nielsen data released on Wednesday.
An estimated 73.1 million people tuned in to the chaotic face-off on Tuesday night across 16 networks, below the record 84 million viewers who watched Trump debate former first lady Hillary Clinton, his rival in the 2016 election. This represents a 13 percent decline from the 2016 record.
The figures do not capture the full extent of online viewing, which has grown in popularity as traditional TV audiences decline. The debate was streamed live on Twitter, YouTube, network websites and other digital platforms.
Facebook said on Wednesday that it was immediately banning ads that call voting fraud widespread, or election results invalid, or impugn any one method of voting.
The company announced the new rules in a blog post, adding to earlier restrictions on premature claims of election victory.
The right-wing Heritage Foundation, after examining 36 years of mail-in ballots, found only 1,285 cases of voter fraud out of nearly two billion votes cast — a rate of .0000007 percent.
That’s about the same probability as being hit by an asteroid.
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) September 30, 2020
The move comes a day after President Donald Trump used the first televised debate with Democratic challenger Joe Biden to amplify his baseless claims that the election will be “rigged.”
The Senate approved on Wednesday a temporary funding bill to keep the government open through December 11, sending the measure to the White House for Trump’s signature.
Government funding runs out at midnight Wednesday (04:00 GMT on Thursday). The legislation, which had previously passed the House of Representatives, and passed the Senate on a vote of 84-10, continues funding most programs at current levels.
Assuming Trump signs the bill, it will avoid a government shutdown in the middle of a pandemic and ahead of the elections.
The Vatican said on Wednesday it had denied a request from Mike Pompeo for an audience with Pope Francis, and accused the secretary of state of trying to drag the Catholic Church into the US presidential election by denouncing its relations with China.
Vatican diplomats said Francis had declined a request from Pompeo for an audience, as the pope avoids meeting politicians ahead of elections.
“Yes, he asked. But the pope had already said clearly that political figures are not received in election periods. That is the reason,” Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said.
The Vatican has a two-year-old agreement with Beijing which gives the pope some say over the appointment of Chinese bishops. It was due to expire next month, but is expected to be renewed.
For his part, when asked at a briefing if he was “picking a fight” with the Vatican over China and what impact that could have on Catholic and other Christian voters, Pompeo replied: “That’s just crazy.”
Biden’s campaign has announced the candidate raised $10 million from 9 PM to 12 AM the night of the first presidential debate.
The haul included a recorded breaking hourly high for the campaign of $3.8 million from 10 PM to 11 PM. About 215,000 individuals donors contributed to Biden’s campaign during the chaotic debate.
Trump has departed for Minnessota, one of a few states he lost in 2016 that his campaign hopes to turn.
The president has sought to capitalise on an apparently growing divide between the state’s rural white voters and those living in city centres, following months of unrest following the police-involved death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in Minneapolis.
Heading to Minnesota today. Saved Minneapolis after the Dem LEFT almost let it be TOTALLY destroyed! #MAGA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2020
The Trump campaign has criticised the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates, which manages the three televised presidential debates of the election, for plans to change their structure following Tuesday night’s chaotic debate.
“Last night’s debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues,” the commission said in a statement. “The CPD will be carefully considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly”.
Trump campaign spokesman, Tim Murtaugh, responded to the announcement: “They’re only doing this because their guy got pummeled last night. President Trump was the dominant force and now Joe Biden is trying to work the refs.”
“They shouldn’t be moving the goalposts and changing the rules in the middle of the game,” he said.
Trump has said that the Proud Boys group, which is identified as a hate group, should let law enforcement do its work, adding he does not know what they are.
Trump made his remarks to reporters at the White House a day after he refused to condemn white supremacist groups during his debate with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. When asked to specifically condemn the far-right Proud Boys, Trump said: “Proud Boys — stand back and stand by.”
“I don’t know who the Proud Boys are, if you want to give me a definition… Because I really don’t know who they are,” Trump said on Wednesday. “I can only say they have to stand down, let law enforcement do their work. Law enforcement will do their work.”
A religious organisation tied to Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, sought to erase all mentions and photos of her from its website before she meets with lawmakers and faces questions at her Senate confirmation hearings.
Barrett, a federal appeals judge, has declined to publicly discuss her decades-long affiliation with People of Praise, a charismatic Christian group that opposes abortion and holds that men are divinely ordained as the “head” of the family and faith.
A spokesman for the organisation has declined to say whether the judge and her husband, Jesse M Barrett, are members, but an analysis by The Associated Press shows that People of Praise erased numerous records from its website during the summer of 2017 that referred to Barrett and included photos of her and her family.
Last week, when Barrett again emerged as a front-runner for the court, more articles, blog posts and photos disappeared. After an Associated Press reporter emailed the group’s spokesman Wednesday about members of Jesse Barrett’s family, his mother’s name was deleted from the primary contact for the South Bend, Indiana, branch. All issues of the organisation’s magazine, “Vine and Branches,” were also removed.
Biden has branded Trump’s debate performance a “national embarrassment” for not addressing concerns of everyday Americans and failing to clearly denounce white supremacist groups.
“Maybe I should not say this, but the president of the United States conducted himself the way he did – I think it was a national embarrassment,” Biden said during a stop in Alliance, Ohio as part of a train tour through battleground state Ohio and neighboring battleground Pennsylvania.
Trump and Biden engaged in a fierce verbal brawl Tuesday in Cleveland where they faced off in their first presidential debate.
Both men launched biting personal attacks, but political pugilist Trump was widely seen as interrupting his rival more often — to the point that Biden told him to “shut up”.
The group that manages presidential election debates has said it will take steps to “ensure a more orderly discussion” after a fractious first debate between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden.
“Last night’s debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues,” the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) said in a statement. “The CPD will be carefully considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly.”
Senator Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the chamber, said Trump misspoke during Tuesday’s debate when he said failed to condemn white supremacists.
“I think he misspoke in response to Chris Wallace’s comment,” Scott answered. “He was asking Chris what he wanted to say, I think he misspoke. I think he should correct it. If he doesn’t correct it, I guess he didn’t misspeak.”
When pressed to denounce white supremacist and militia groups during the debate, Trump demurred.
“Who would you like me to condemn?” Trump said. When Biden said the name of the far-right group Proud Boys, Trump responded: “Proud Boys – stand back and stand by.”
Biden has said US citizens would not stand by if Trump loses the election and refuses to step down, one day after the Trump again refused to say whether he would accepts the results of the November 3 election.
“The president will step down. The American people will not stand for it. No agency would stand for that happening,” Biden, said at a campaign stop in Ohio during a train tour.
He also denounced a right wing group that Trump declined to condemn in Tuesday night’s debate, saying: “My message to the Proud Boys and every other white supremacist group is: cease and desist.”
“The American people will decide who the next president is. Period,” Biden added.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro reacted angrily on Biden’s call for a world effort to offer Brazil $20 billion to end Amazon deforestation or face unspecified “economic consequences.”
Bolsonaro wrote on Facebook he interpreted Biden’s comment in the debate on Tuesday night as a threat of economic sanctions if Brazil did not take the offer.
Bolsonaro wrote in Portuguese and English that he does not accept “bribes” or “coward threats”.
The president said Brazil was taking action on deforestation and reasserted that he views foreign interest in the Amazon as financially motivated and an attempt to undermine Brazilian sovereignty.
Marc Racicot, the former governor of Montana and Republican National Committee chair has become the most recent high-profile Republican to break from the party and support Biden.
“I regret that I will cause consternation perhaps in some corners, but even as a Republican, I will not be supporting Donald Trump for president, and I will not be voting for him,” Racicot said in a radio interview, according to the Missoulian news site. “That means I will be voting for Joe Biden for president.”
“I’m not going to march lockstep with him every step of the way or with the administration. I’ll have disagreements, I’m certain. But the content of a man’s character or a woman’s character to serve in that capacity is more important than any other issue that I have to consider as a matter of conscience,” he said.
Biden has begun a train tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania a day after a contentious debate with Trump
“This election is a choice between Scranton and Park Avenue values,” said Biden before boarding an Amtrak train with his wife, Dr Jill Biden.
“Does any president, does your president understand at all what you’re going through? What so many other people are going through?” Biden asked train passengers. “Does he care? Does he try to walk in your shoes to try and understand what’s going on in your life, or does he just ignore you and all the folks all over America who are in a similar situation.”
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Wednesday accused his rival, Republican President Donald Trump, of failing to condemn white supremacists during their chaotic first debate.
“There’s no other way to put it: the President of the United States refused to disavow white supremacists on the debate stage last night,” Biden said in a tweet.
In a heated back-and-forth about racism and policing, Trump was pressed repeatedly to denounce white supremacists and militia groups.
“Who would you like me to condemn?” Trump said. When Biden said the name of the far-right group, Trump responded: “Proud Boys – stand back and stand by.”
There’s no other way to put it: the President of the United States refused to disavow white supremacists on the debate stage last night. pic.twitter.com/Q3VZTW1vUV
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 30, 2020
Biden’s campaign broke its single-hour fundraising record as the Democrat’s debate with President Donald Trump wrapped up on Tuesday pulling in $3.8m, a campaign official said.
Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, announced the online fundraising haul on a phone call with reporters.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden cast doubt during Tuesday night’s debate on whether President Donald Trump would ever release his tax returns.
“You’ll get to see it,” Trump said repeatedly as moderator Chris Wallace pressed him to commit to a firm timeline. Biden retorted, “When? Inshallah?”
While the Arabic language phrase translates to “God willing”, it also has colloquial connotations of ambiguous commitment.
Social media users were quick to react with humour at the remark. Some referred to it as an “historic moment in America”. Others expressed their surprise while noting that “anything is possible in 2020”, a year marked with unprecedented events.
Read more here.
If my parents had told me when I was growing up that a major presidential candidate would one day say the words "inshallah" in a nationally televised debate, I would have assumed they were crazy. But anything is possible in 2020.
— Shadi Hamid (@shadihamid) September 30, 2020
President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden engaged in a heated and at times ugly exchange of words in the first presidential debate of the US election.
Trump accused Biden of being a “leftist” and promoting socialism. Biden openly called Trump a racist and told him to “shut up” as Trump repeatedly tried to goad Biden with interruptions.
The debate did little to illuminate the policy choices facing Americans in the election and probably did not shift the dynamic of a race in which the incumbent, Trump, is fighting from behind.
Read more here.
Read all the updates from Tuesday, (September 29) here.