The Commission on Presidential Debates rejected the Trump campaign’s bid to move up the debates.
Members of the Commission on Presidential Debates rejected the Trump campaign’s request for either a fourth debate or for one of the existing ones to be moved to early September. In a letter to Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s campaign adviser, they said that people who vote early by mail can wait until after viewing the debates to turn in their ballots if they so choose.
“While more people will likely vote by mail in 2020, the debate schedule has been and will be highly publicized,” the commission said in the letter. “Any voter who wishes to watch one or more debates before voting will be well aware of that opportunity.”
President Trump on Thursday had continued to lobby for this fall’s presidential debates to be held earlier than planned, arguing that their current timing would render them all but useless to the many Americans who will by then have voted by mail.
“How can voters be sending in Ballots starting, in some cases, one month before the First Presidential Debate. Move the First Debate up,” Mr. Trump said Thursday morning in a tweet. “A debate, to me, is a Public Service. Joe Biden and I owe it to the American People!” The president’s urging came one day after Mr. Giuliani sent a list of two dozen journalists “for consideration as moderators” to the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates and sought to discuss the timing of the debates.
The Commission also sidestepped Mr. Giuliani’s wish-list of 24 candidates to serve as the debate moderators, saying simply that it would choose the moderators “with great care, as always, to ensure that the selected moderators are qualified and fair.” Mr. Giuliani’s list was heavy on Fox News personalities and conservative talk-show hosts.
Campaigns have no formal say in the debate schedule, which was set months ago, and at least technically speaking, the commission has sole discretion when it comes to selecting moderators.
The first debate is scheduled for Sept. 29 in Ohio, with two others on Oct. 15 and Oct. 22, and a vice-presidential debate scheduled for Oct. 7.
In a letter to debate officials, Mr. Giuliani wrote that “as many as eight million Americans in 16 states will have already started voting” early by the time the first debate takes place.”
“Simply put, the commission’s current approach is an outdated dinosaur and not reflective of voting realities in 2020,” Mr. Giuliani wrote. “For a nation already deprived of a traditional campaign schedule because of the Covid-19 global pandemic, it makes no sense to also deprive so many Americans of the opportunity to see and hear the two competing visions for our country’s future before millions of votes have been cast.”
Joseph. R Biden Jr.’s campaign had mostly dismissed his opponent’s proposals, calling it a “distraction,” while affirming that Mr. Biden will take part in the events as planned.
Michael P. McDonald, a political science professor at the University of Florida who studies American elections, said he has discussed the timing of the debates and early voting with the commission. He said Mr. Giuliani was correct in asserting that millions of Americans will have received their ballots and have had the opportunity to vote by mail by Sept. 29.
But he said that based on his estimates from the previous presidential election, far fewer people will have actually voted by that time. And those who have voted, he added, would not likely be swayed by a television debate.
“These are people who are hard partisans,” Mr. McDonald said of those who cast early ballots. “They’ve made up their mind a long time ago, as to who they’re going to vote for,” adding that “no debate is really going to sway them one way or another.”
Mr. McDonald said that although his data was incomplete, his best estimates suggested that only about 10,000 people had actually voted by late September during the 2016 election. Many signs point to increased turnout this fall, meaning that tens of thousands more voters could potentially vote very early, he said. But in all likelihood, he added, “it’s not going to be millions.”
Pence’s harsh words for Roberts could be a preview of the Supreme Court as a 2020 issue.
Vice President Mike Pence assailed Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Wednesday as a “disappointment to conservatives,” criticizing him for siding with liberals in several major decisions during his Supreme Court tenure and arguing that re-electing Mr. Trump was critical to ensuring a strong conservative majority on the court.
With Mr. Trump trailing in the polls amid his administration’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic and its dire economic consequences, his team appears especially likely to place the courts, an area of unambiguous conservative triumph, at the center of his case for re-election.
In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Mr. Pence said the record of the Roberts court served as “a reminder of just how important this election is for the future of the Supreme Court,” citing the chief justice’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act in 2012, as well as more recent rulings this year on abortion and church services in which he was also the swing vote.
The abortion case specifically, in which Chief Justice Roberts joined the court’s four more-liberal members to strike down a Louisiana law that could have left the state with just one abortion clinic, had been “a wake-up call for pro-life voters around the country who understand, in a very real sense, the destiny of the Supreme Court is on the ballot in 2020,” Mr. Pence said.
If this pitch rings familiar to conservative voters, that is precisely the point. Four years ago, a Supreme Court vacancy — made possible when Senate Republicans refused to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick B. Garland, to replace Justice Antonin Scalia — helped lift Mr. Trump to victory, according to exit polls and top Trump allies.
“It’s an issue that looms every bit as large in 2020 as it did in 2016,” Carrie Severino, president of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, said in an interview on Thursday.
Mr. Trump has long highlighted the confirmation of his two conservative Supreme Court nominees, Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh, as among his greatest accomplishments in office — an argument that has sometimes been persuasive among Republicans weary of his tweets and temperament but eager to see a conservative-leaning judiciary.
In June, Mr. Trump celebrated the confirmation of his 200th lifetime appointment to the federal bench. “He’s already made a huge impact,” Ms. Severino said. “And that life tenure works in your favor once you get these great people on the bench.”
“He did that in 2016. He kept his word. He’s going to do that in the fall of 2020,” Mr. Pence said. “And in the next four years, he’ll keep his word and appoint more principled conservatives to our courts.”
Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday as he prepared to greet Mr. Trump on the airport tarmac in Cleveland during the president’s arrival to the state, his office said.
“Governor DeWine has no symptoms at the present time,” Mr. DeWine’s aides said in a statement. They said that he and his wife would be tested again in Columbus later today, but that the governor would quarantine at his home for the next two weeks.
Mr. DeWine is one of the highest-ranking officials to test positive as part of routine screening conducted for people coming in close contact with Mr. Trump. He did not meet with the president.
Others close to Mr. Trump who have tested positive include the national security adviser, Robert O’Brien.
Mr. DeWine, who has drawn bipartisan praise for his response to the virus, is the second governor known to have tested positive. Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma received a positive test result last month.
After Air Force One landed in Ohio, where Mr. Trump was set to give remarks on the economy, the president wished Mr. DeWine well.
“A very good friend of mine just tested positive,” Mr. Trump said, adding, “We want to wish him the best. He’ll be fine.”
In Tennessee, voters will decide between two candidates trying to out-Trump each other.
Tennessee voters are deciding on Thursday whether to give Bill Hagerty, a candidate endorsed by Mr. Trump, the Republican nomination for a Senate seat. Mr. Hagerty, who served as the president’s first ambassador to Japan, has coasted through the primary to succeed the retiring Senator Lamar Alexander, in large part on Mr. Trump’s stamp of approval.
Despite styling himself as an outsider of sorts, Mr. Hagerty has also received the backing of a veritable who’s who of Tennessee Republican politics, including Senator Marsha Blackburn and former Gov. Bill Haslam, as well as kind words from Mr. Alexander himself.
But the dissonance between Mr. Hagerty’s Trump-centered campaign and his more establishment-friendly background — stints in private equity, a longtime friendship with Senator Mitt Romney of Utah — has made the race take a competitive turn in recent weeks.
Manny Sethi, an orthopedic surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, has used his insurgent campaign to put Mr. Hagerty’s ties to Mr. Romney, for one, front and center, and has tried to fashion himself as the race’s most authentic conservative and ally of Mr. Trump’s agenda. He’s managed to collect his own cast of prominent Republican supporters, including Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.
The two candidates’ final push to out-Trump one another has made the primary one of the nastiest in the country, with seemingly each morning bringing a new slew of attack ads, many of them misleading.
The result has been a race in which voters know a great deal about Mr. Hagerty and Mr. Sethi’s pledges of allegiance to the president, but perhaps not so much about the candidates themselves.
“I’m not sure people have learned much about either candidate in the course of the race that’s going to be relevant to their service as senator,” said Tom Ingram, a former chief of staff to Mr. Alexander.
Mr. Biden said he had narrowed his list of potential running mates and confirmed that Senator Kamala Harris of California was “very much in contention” in an interview that aired Thursday morning.
Mr. Biden would not say when he would announce his pick for vice president, telling reporters with the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists that they would “find out shortly” how many women were on his shortlist.
But in comments at the journalism organizations’ joint virtual convention on Tuesday, Mr. Biden also appeared to confirm a report that former Senator Christopher J. Dodd, a member of Mr. Biden’s vice-presidential search committee, had complained privately about Ms. Harris having shown “no remorse” for a tense exchange with Mr. Biden during a Democratic primary debate last July.
Ms. Harris, who was running for president at the time, had confronted Mr. Biden about having worked with segregationists during his time in the Senate and discussed her personal experience with school busing.
Politico reported last week that Mr. Dodd had been upset that Ms. Harris had not apologized.
“Well, he didn’t say that to the press,” Mr. Biden said of Mr. Dodd. “He was talking to somebody offline, and it was repeated.” Mr. Biden said he did not “hold grudges.”
“It was a debate. It’s as simple as that,” he added. “And she’s very much in contention.”
In a roughly 50-minute interview, Mr. Biden continued to criticize Mr. Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and said he was receiving his own briefing on the crisis “four times a week, an hour a day.”
In response to a question about whether he could envision Mr. Trump being prosecuted after leaving office, Mr. Biden said he believed the Justice Department should “pursue the prosecution of anyone that they think has violated the law.” But he steered clear of saying himself that Mr. Trump should be pursued criminally.
“In terms of saying, ‘I think the president violated the law. I think the president did this, therefore, go in and prosecute him.’ — I will not do that,” Mr. Biden said.
New York’s attorney general sues to shut down the N.R.A.
New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, filed suit Thursday seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association, alleging that years of corruption and misspending had irreparably undermined its ability to operate as a nonprofit.
The lawsuit sets up a legal confrontation that could take years to play out and could leave the 148-year-old N.R.A. — long the nation’s most influential gun-rights lobby but recently hobbled by financial woes and infighting — fighting for survival.
The N.R.A. is a stalwart ally of Mr. Trump and has long wielded immense power in the nation’s politics. But it has kept an unusually low profile this election season amid deepening legal and fund-raising troubles.
The suit by Ms. James, a Democrat, poses further challenges to the organization less than three months before Election Day, but could also rally conservatives to its side.
Ms. James’s office previously presided over the dissolution of Mr. Trump’s scandal-marred charitable foundation, but the N.R.A., with more than five million members, is a far larger organization and is expected to put up a prolonged fight.
Ms. James also sued four current or former top N.R.A. leaders, seeking tens of millions of dollars in restitution, including Wayne LaPierre, the longtime chief executive.
The civil suit, filed in state court in Manhattan, accuses the N.R.A. and the executives of “violating numerous state and federal laws” by enriching themselves, as well as their friends, families and allies, and taking improper actions that cost the organization $64 million over three years.
The attorney general has regulatory authority over the N.R.A. because it is chartered as a nonprofit in New York.
The lawsuit was swiftly followed by two others: The N.R.A. filed a suit against Ms. James’s office in federal court in Albany, claiming her action was politically motivated and violated the organization’s First Amendment rights. In addition, Karl Racine, the attorney general of Washington, D.C., filed suit against the N.R.A. and its charitable foundation, which is based in the city. Mr. Racine is seeking changes to the foundation and alleges that the N.R.A. misused millions of dollars of the foundation’s funds.
After months of increasingly vocal protestations that social media companies are letting Mr. Trump play by a different set of rules, two warning shots were fired this week.
First, Facebook announced on Wednesday that it was removing a post from the president’s page featuring a clip of an interview he had given earlier in the day to Fox News, in which he falsely said that children were “almost immune” to the coronavirus. It was the first time that Facebook had taken such a move against Mr. Trump, despite repeated entreaties.
Several hours later, Twitter announced that it had frozen the president’s campaign account, @TeamTrump, for a post linking to the video. The campaign was, a spokesman said, in “violation of the Twitter Rules on Covid-19 misinformation.” At issue was the statement made by Mr. Trump denying established scientific facts about the virus.
The post was removed a short time later and the account was unlocked.
But both measures represented a turning point in the relationship that major social media companies have with Mr. Trump, who has used their platforms to advance his political aims and to harness energy from supporters, but who has never felt compelled to adhere to their rules.
Mr. Trump’s conservative allies have repeatedly complained that such rules are arbitrarily enforced. But in the pandemic era, in which misinformation about the virus has been hard to stamp out, tech companies have gotten somewhat more serious about enforcement.
To be sure, freezing the campaign Twitter account is nowhere near the wound to Mr. Trump that taking action against his personal feed would be. But after months of stasis, social media firms appear to be showing the president, the White House and his political aides that their pliability goes only so far.
Snap, the company that owns Snapchat, will make a major effort to register first-time voters.
Snap, the company behind the popular social media app Snapchat, is planning a major push to register first-time voters within its app and guide them through the ballot process ahead of the election on Nov. 3.
Beginning in early September, the social media app, which is popular with young smartphone users, will introduce a new tool in partnership with TurboVote that allows users to register from within their Snap account with a streamlined set of prompts. The process is intended to eliminate the more complex process of having to go to the website of TurboVote and other registration sites.
The company will also promote a voter guide for users searching for terms associated with voting and the election. The guide will contain content from partners like the N.A.A.C.P., the American Civil Liberties Union and the Latino Community Foundation. Also starting in September, the N.A.A.C.P. and other partners will begin to flood Snap with short videos, postcards and pithy guides to information around policies promoted by candidates.
In 2018, Snap conducted a similar voter campaign and helped direct more than 400,000 young voters to register for the first time. An estimated 15 million Americans have turned 18 since the last presidential election.
“That voting bloc has as much to gain and much to lose if the election doesn’t turn out to their advantage,” said Jamal Watkins, a vice president of civic engagement for the N.A.A.C.P.
Top Democrats and White House officials remained nowhere close to an agreement for a new rescue package to address the coronavirus’s toll on the economy, growing increasingly pessimistic that they could meet a self-imposed Friday deadline as Mr. Trump again threatened to act on his own to provide relief.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday suggested that he should do so on at least one issue, reinstating an expired federal moratorium on evictions.
“He can extend the moratorium, and I hope that he does” Ms. Pelosi said in an interview with CNBC. But she took aim at Republicans who she said were refusing to agree to critical aid, saying, “perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn.”
Even as they vowed to continue talks, negotiators remained dug in on crucial points of any potential deal, jeopardizing additional relief for small businesses and laid-off workers — and all but guaranteeing that senators who had planned to go home for a scheduled recess next week would instead stay in Washington awaiting a deal.
Given the number of outstanding policy issues, including the revival of expanded unemployment benefits and Mr. Trump’s rejection of a key Democratic demand for nearly $1 trillion for struggling state and local governments, the prospect of votes on such a package next week appeared remote.
Mr. Biden had out-raised Mr. Trump in the two previous months, the first time that the presumptive Democratic nominee had out-raised the Republican incumbent. Mr. Biden had raised $141 million in his shared accounts with the Democratic National Committee in June, compared to $131 million for Mr. Trump with the R.N.C.
The sums for both parties are far higher than four years ago, when Hillary Clinton raised $89 million with the party in July and Mr. Trump collected $80 million.
Both campaigns announced their dueling July figures on Wednesday evening, with Mr. Biden’s campaign going first and Mr. Trump’s soon following.
“Silent Majority Donors,” Gary Coby, Mr. Trump’s digital director, wrote on Twitter, surrounding the phrase with four American flag emojis.
The Biden campaign cheered how much of its haul it had saved for the fall.
“The Biden campaign is on the march, building off the incredible momentum from this summer with another lights-out fund-raising month, banking another $50 million for the final stretch to Election Day,” Mr. Biden’s campaign manager, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, said in a statement.
She said the campaign and party entered August with $294 million in the bank. Mr. Trump’s campaign said it and the party had more than $300 million cash on hand.
“The enthusiasm behind President Trump’s re-election continues to grow as July’s massive fund-raising totals prove,” said Bill Stepien, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager. The Trump campaign said that July was its biggest online fund-raising month ever, as donations poured in even as Mr. Trump trails Mr. Biden in national and key battleground polls.
When Bernie Sanders lost to Mr. Biden, the left mourned what could have been, worried that it had faltered at a once-in-a-generation crossroads for the Democratic Party.
But in the time since Mr. Sanders dropped out of the 2020 presidential race in early April, progressives have had a number of victories to celebrate, in Missouri, New York, Michigan and Illinois — congressional primary triumphs that demonstrate a new path for building political power and grass-roots momentum that threatens the position of longtime Democratic leadership.
This week, the progressive activist Cori Bush defeated Representative William Lacy Clay Jr. of Missouri, a 10-term incumbent and member of a political dynasty that had represented the St. Louis area for more than 50 years. Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan also cruised in her primary against the more moderate Detroit City Council president, proving the staying power of the group of progressive congresswomen known as the “Squad.”
Earlier primary contests led to other victories for the left: Jamaal Bowman, a former middle school principal, ousted the longtime incumbent Representative Eliot L. Engel in the Bronx and Westchester, the progressive lawyer Mondaire Jones won a House primary for an open seat in New York’s Rockland County, and Marie Newman defeated an anti-abortion Democrat in Illinois. And so what began for the party’s left wing as a year of “what could’ve been” is turning into a promise of “what can be,” as the successes provide a new road map of political possibilities.
“People are ready to elect people who they see actually doing the work,” Ms. Bush said in an interview.
Mr. Sanders hosted Ms. Tlaib, Ms. Bush, and Mr. Bowman in a livestreamed conversation Wednesday night, an event that drew nearly 100,000 viewers.
Mr. Sanders said the trio would “take the progressive banner” and bring it into “conflict with the establishment politicians and the corporate elite” who hold the reins of power in Congress.
As they recounted their resounding victories, the trio heaped praise on Mr. Sanders for continuing to provide leadership for them and progressives even after he lost his presidential bid.
“You didn’t become the Democratic nominee, but you didn’t give up on this movement,” Ms. Tlaib told Mr. Sanders.
Reporting was contributed by Luke Broadwater, Reid J. Epstein, Matt Flegenheimer, Sheera Frenkel, Katie Glueck, Shane Goldmacher, Maggie Haberman, Danny Hakim, Astead W. Herndon, Cecilia Kang, Sarah Mervosh, Elaina Plott and Matt Stevens.