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President Trump hinted he might intervene if Republican senators don't support a second coronavirus stimulus package worth trillions of dollars, during an interview with Charles Benson of WTMJ4 Milwaukee on Saturday.
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"You have put $1.8 trillion on the table. Will there be more money by Election Day? Do you have a deal?" Benson asked the president.
Trump replied: "I want the money by tonight, but Nancy Pelosi doesn't want to approve it because she thinks it's good politically for her not to approve it… She wants to bail out poorly run Democrat states. And we don't want to do that. I don't think she wants to approve it anyway. I think even if we gave her the money for the poorly run Democrat states, I don't think she'd approve it anyway."
Benson asked if Trump was getting any resistance from GOP senators and the president said he "will take care of that problem in two minutes."
"If I had something that would be good, I think I could quickly convince the Republicans to do it," he added. "They're ready to do it, but Nancy Pelosi does not want to do it. I mean, I wish your governor would call up Nancy Pelosi and say, 'do it.' She wants to hold it until after the election and I think it's bad for the Democrats. But I'm ready willing, and able. If they sent a bill over, I am ready, willing, and able. And I wanted a higher number than [Pelosi] wanted."
When Benson pushed for a specific number, all Trump would say is that it would be more than Pelosi's proposal.
TRUMP CALLS NBC'S KRISTEN WELKER 'TERRIBLE AND UNFAIR' BEFORE SHE MODERATES NEXT DEBATE
"I'd go higher than her number," he said. "[COVID-19] was China's fault. They caused this problem and they're going to pay for this problem."
Pelosi appeared on ABC's "This Week" Sunday and said Trump has 48 hours to come up with an acceptable stimulus deal that Democrats can sign on to in order to pass legislation before November's election. She also claimed that when administration officials said Democrats agreed to language for a coronavirus testing plan, this was not entirely accurate.
“On this subject where we have agreement, we don’t have agreement on the language yet, but I’m hopeful,” Pelosi said. She said that the administration changed terms like “requirements” to “recommendations,” and “plan” to “strategy," and "shall" to "may."
"When you say 'may' you're giving the president a slush fund," Pelosi added. "He may do this, he may grant, he may withhold."
The Speaker of the House's office also sent out an email update on Sunday, highlighting the differences in language between GOP and Democratic proposals. Pelosi, however, said she is "optimistic that we can reach [an] agreement before the election. To that end, we are writing language as we negotiate the priorities, so that we are fully prepared to move forward once we reach agreement."
This news comes as Trump prepares to take on Democratic challenger Joe Biden in the final presidential debate Thursday, with topics ranging from the coronavirus to national security.
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The debate will be hosted by NBC at Belmont University in Nashville and is set to be moderated by Kristen Welker.
Lara Trump said on Sunday that President Trump's encouragement of "lock her up" chants used against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at a Saturday campaign rally was just him "having fun."
It has been less than two weeks since a plot to kidnap the governor was thwarted by the FBI.
Lara Trump said that it was "the president's Department of Justice that actually thwarted this attack against Gretchen Whitmer," so it was "ridiculous" to suggest he was trying to incite threats.
Jason Miller, a senior advisor on the Trump campaign, said on Fox News Sunday that the president did not regret his attacks against Whitmer and that Michigan residents "want to see the state open back up."
Whitmer has said publicly that the president's rhetoric is harmful and causes even greater safety risks.
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Two top campaign staffers for President Trump defended his encouragement of "lock her up" chants against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at a Saturday night rally held in her state.
On CNN's "State of the Union," Lara Trump, the wife of presidential son Eric Trump and a senior advisor on the Trump campaign, argued that the "lock her up" chants used against Whitmer were not meant to cause any harm to the Democratic governor who, less than two weeks ago, was targeted in a kidnapping plot thwarted by the FBI.
"He wasn't doing anything, I don't think, to provoke people to threaten this woman at all," she said. "He was having fun at a Trump rally. And quite frankly, there are bigger issues than this right now for everyday Americans. People want to get the country reopened … So I think people are frustrated. Look, the president was at a rally. It's a fun, light atmosphere. Of course he wasn't encouraging people to threaten this woman."
"I don't think 'lock her up' is fun," CNN host Jake Tapper said.
Lara Trump said that it was "ridiculous" to suggest that Trump was inciting violence against the governor and stated that it was "the president's Department of Justice that actually thwarted this attack against Gretchen Whitmer."
"No one should ever feel threatened, no one should ever have this thing happen to them," she added. "This was awful to happen to her."
Jason Miller, a senior advisor on the Trump campaign, made an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," where he stated that the president had no regrets about his rhetoric against Whitmer.
"I think the fact of the matter is many residents of Michigan are pretty frustrated with the governor," he said, and "they want to see the state open back up."
On Saturday, President Trump told a crowd at a rally in Muskegon, Michigan that Whitmer needed to remove the state's coronavirus restrictions, which led to them repeating the now-infamous "lock her up" chants which were also directed toward Hillary Clinton in 2016.
While also attacking Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Trump responded to the crowd by saying "lock 'em all up," which led Whitmer to take to Twitter on Saturday to explain why such language is harmful and created an unsafe situation for her family.
"This is exactly the rhetoric that has put me, my family, and other government officials' lives in danger while we try to save the lives of our fellow Americans," Whitmer tweeted. "It needs to stop."
On Sunday, Whitmer appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press," where she stressed that the president's actions are unacceptable.
"It's incredibly disturbing that the president of the United States — 10 days after a plot to kidnap, put me on trial and execute me — 10 days after that was uncovered, the president is at it again and inspiring and incentivizing and inciting this kind of domestic terrorism," she said. "It's dangerous, not just for me and my family, but for public servants everywhere who are doing their jobs and trying to protect their fellow Americans."
Tori Saylor, Whitmer's deputy digital director, also took to Twitter to state that the attacks create a dangerous atmosphere. Her message has since gone viral.
"I see everything that is said about and to her online," Saylor tweeted. "Every single time the President does this at a rally, the violent rhetoric towards her immediately escalates on social media. It has to stop. It just has to."
National Border Patrol Council endorses President Trump
Insight from Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council.
Anyone who cares about establishing an orderly immigration system and ending the flow of illegal drugs, violent criminals and human traffickers coming across our southern border should take heart from the undeniable fact that President Trump’s administration is winning the fight for border security.
After years of growth, net migration into the United States was already dramatically decreasing before the coronavirus pandemic. For the first time since the 1960s, the percentage of the U.S. population made up of people born in other nations is shrinking.
This is proof of a profound change in the dynamics of migration in a direction most Americans have long supported, and it represents the culmination of longstanding efforts to address both illegal immigration and the unintended abuse of our lawful immigration system.
FILMMAKER’S LOYALTIES SHAKEN AFTER MAKING ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION DOCUMENTARY: ‘THE TRUTH IS EYE-OPENING'
The refugee system — set up to provide refuge for victims of war and persecution who had nowhere else to go, often on an explicitly temporary basis — had long since become a racket. It provided prestigious jobs in Washington for “resettlement experts” and taxpayer money for glorified slumlords, while generating massive fallout for unsuspecting American communities.
Today the system has finally been returned to its proper role. The 18,000-migrant cap is the lowest since the U.S. Refugee Act of 1980 dramatically raised quotas and ushered in a decades-long era of widespread abuse.
As a result, the data shows that our refugee slots are finally being used for their intended purpose of helping genuinely oppressed people and groups, while excluding “refugees” from areas rife with terrorist groups.
The asylum system, too, has been reined in, and no longer serves as a backdoor visa program. Under the “Remain in Mexico” policy initiated by President Trump and related cooperative agreements with Mexico and other countries to the south, claiming a “credible fear” of oppression in one’s home country is no longer a free ticket into the United States.
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The Justice Department has finally halted the rapid expansion of hardships that qualified someone as an “asylum seeker,” which allowed economic migrants to avoid scrutiny of their claims for months or years.
Even these significant asylum reforms are merely one part of a wider series of President Trump’s policy successes that helped defeat the so-called caravan waves of 2018 and 2019 and made the border safer and more secure than at any point in recent memory.
Perhaps most importantly, we have made real progress on the border wall. More physical barriers go up every day, making our Border Patrol agents’ jobs easier and protecting our border communities.
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With the wall and other long-sought improvements to the border infrastructure, the Border Patrol is making tremendous gains in the fight against drugs and the brutal cartels that smuggle them into our country. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of violent gang members, including members of the vicious MS-13, have been evicted from our country.
If you support border security — no matter what your reason — then you should take comfort from the knowledge that we are now closer than ever before to solving what once seemed like a politically intractable issue.
Fox News contributors Rachel-Campos Duffy and Sean Duffy weigh in on ‘Fox & Friends Weekend.’
Focus on public policy!
This is what I have done, and advised others to do, since Donald J. Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
Some people, including otherwise intelligent and thoughtful free-market and cultural conservatives, cannot tolerate Trump’s larger-than-life persona, his often grandiose statements, his Twitter blasts, and the sneaking suspicion that he might be the reincarnation of P.T. Barnum. Some Americans find the president’s quirks and conduct amusing. Others are appalled.
President Trump’s antics make me grin more than they make me grimace, Regardless, I focus on public policy: What legislation has he signed? What has he vetoed? Do his actions as president make Americans freer, safer, and more prosperous? Do America’s enemies advance or retreat in his presence?
NEWT GINGRICH: TRUMP'S COMPOSURE VS. GUTHRIE'S ALMOST MANIACAL HOSTILITY AT NBC'S TOWN HALL TELLS US THIS
As voters pick the Oval Office’s next occupant, they should imagine it’s Christmas morning. A large, mysterious box sits beneath a shimmering tree. Is it covered in soothing, lovely wrapping paper or in months-old newsprint? Who cares? The box’s contents matter.
Former vice president Joe Biden generally exudes a vaguely calming tone. His empathetic demeanor, perhaps forced by multiple family tragedies, also amplifies his appeal. For some people, that’s plenty. They, especially Republicans in their midst, should meditate long and hard on what Biden actually would do as president.
While Biden might seem warmer and toastier than Trump, his public policy will be colder than Siberia if he shutters Washington, D.C.’s school voucher program, as threatened.
Biden’s vaunted compassion will be lost on thousands of poor, mainly Black kids who would have no choice but to return to often-dangerous, reliably dysfunctional government schools. While their minds would be crushed, Biden’s teachers-union masters would cheer. They detest competition.
Conversely, a second Trump term promises school choice for every parent.
President Trump has created 8,700 Opportunity Zones, largely in low-income minority neighborhoods. Incentives have attracted some $75 billion in private investment to these communities.
If Biden kills the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as he has pledged, wave goodbye to Opportunity Zones.
Biden hopes to grant citizenship to 11 million illegal aliens. Most of them likely would vote Democrat. This would steepen GOP election prospects.
Free healthcare for illegal aliens? Biden’s prescription is malpractice for an already overburdened medical system and a morbidly obese federal budget.
Biden now claims he “will not ban fracking.” While this could become his “Read my lips: No new taxes” moment, he could keep this promise while also pleasing keeping his fossil-fuel-loathing far-Left base. Why kill fracking when you simply can study it nearly to death, as Obama-Biden did the Keystone Pipeline? Thankfully, President Trump greenlighted that pipeline.
Indeed, from the left’s perspective, it’s better not to kill projects. Doing so creates bad headlines, and entrepreneurs can move on with their lives. Instead, Team Biden might say: “Please conduct a study on your program’s impact on the Endangered Species Act.”
Two years and $3 million later, it could be, “Hmmmm. Interesting. Now tell us what your plan will do to Native American burial grounds.” And then, “Please forecast damage to fossils…clean air…urban sprawl.” If the potential frackers have not surrendered, Biden-Harris would deliver the coup de grace: “Please detail your initiative’s impact on racial justice.”
Far better, from the left’s view, to bog down disfavored businesses with these demands and slowly leech them white than slap them with a swift “No!” and let them relocate their dreams and undepleted capital.
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President Trump delivered American energy independence, largely through fracking. Biden would reverse this achievement in favor of habitat-chewing solar panels and eagle-shredding windmills.
While President Trump proposes patriotic education and Americanism in U.S. classrooms, Biden-Harris most likely would set the anti-American 1619 Project on a fast track via the Department of Education. After Trump ditched Critical Race Theory training within federal agencies, Biden-Harris would resurrect it in the U.S. government and perhaps impose it on the private sector.
As happened recently at the federal Sandia Laboratories, white males would be subjected to mandatory re-education sessions where they would be denounced as racists and forced to apologize for being born white.
“I will end the Muslim ban on Day One,” Biden said. This policy does not ban Muslims. Rather it limits arrivals by foreigners who have traveled through several nations designated by Obama-Biden as either tainted by terror or hobbled by insufficient security standards. Biden would throw the Golden Door open to these travelers, some from nations that sponsor terrorism. What could go wrong?
And, among other planned blunders, a President Biden would revive the Iran Nuclear Deal. Appeasing the ayatollahs surely will unravel the growing Middle East peace that President Trump has orchestrated by isolating Tehran.
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Voters are free to reject President Trump’s eccentricities. But if Joe Biden prevails, the ensuing far-left agenda will be the steep price that 330 million Americans pay to satisfy the Trump haters’ burning desire never to see his face again.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on whether President Donald Trump's administration can exclude undocumented immigrants from the total population count in the 2020 census.
The Trump administration has said it's unfair that some states get more congressional representation due to having a larger population of undocumented immigrants.
The census does not ask a citizenship question and it's unclear how this would be achieved.
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The Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether President Donald Trump's administration can exclude undocumented immigrants from the total population count in the 2020 census, several outlets reported.
The Trump administration's proposal could shift political representation and federal funding away from communities across the country.
Last month, a federal appeals court in Manhattan blocked the Commerce Department and the Census Bureau from including information on the number of undocumented immigrants.
The court also blocked a July memorandum by Trump that would have allowed for undocumented immigrants to be excluded from the total population count, CNBC reported.
The Washington Post said that in 2019, the Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration's efforts to add a citizenship question on the census.
According to The Post, the current battle revolved are the fact that the number of representatives allotted to each state is based on the number of residents in that state, and that historically that has always meant all people living in that state, not just citizens.
In his July memorandum, Trump argued that some states would get more representation than they "deserved" because of undocumented immigrants.
Since the census does not ask about citizenship, it's not clear how the administration plans to assess this.
"The Census Bureau is still evaluating the extent to which, as a practical matter, administrative records pertaining to immigration status can be used to identify and exclude illegal aliens from the apportionment population count," acting solicitor general Jeffrey B. Wall said in a filing to the Supreme Court, The Post reported.
Amy Coney Barrett explains why she accepted Supreme Court nomination
SCOTUS nominee tells Sen. Thom Tillis that in order to protect freedom, ‘we need to participate in that work.’
President Trump on Friday said convincing Republican Sen. Susan Collins to vote in favor of his Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett is “not worth the work,” noting that the senator from Maine has not supported him on other issues in the past.
“There is a nasty rumor out there that @SenatorCollins of Maine will not be supporting our great United States Supreme Court nominee,” Trump tweeted Friday. “Well, she didn’t support Healthcare or my opening up 5000 square miles of Ocean to Maine, so why should this be any different.”
He added: “Not worth the work!”
The president’s comments come as Collins has maintained that she will not vote to confirm Barrett so close to the election.
“It’s no comment on her, it’s a comment on the process of rushing through a nomination in such a short time before a presidential election,” Collins has said.
Collins, 67, who has served in the Senate since 1997, is among a handful of Republican senators occasionally willing to break rank with her party.
Her crucial vote to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in 2018 angered many progressive women across the country, who opposed his nomination because of sexual assault allegations. Many Mainers are determined to unseat her.
Collins is up for reelection on Nov. 3 and is in a tight battle, with polls showing her opponent, Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, in the lead.
Meanwhile, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Ak., has not revealed how she will vote, though previously said she “would not support” the Senate taking up a potential Supreme Court nominee before the election.
Collins and Murkowski, as well as Senate Democrats, have objected to a confirmation so close to the election, citing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland in 2016.
McConnell, R-Ky., has said that the present situation is different because the White House and the Senate are not held by opposing parties.
Republicans, though, appear to have the votes to move forward and confirm Barrett. Republicans have 53 votes in the Senate and can therefore afford three defections if no Democrat votes for the nominee. In that instance, Vice President Mike Pence would be called in to break a tie.
On Wednesday, Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney said he will vote to confirm Barrett to the Supreme Court, after being the lone Republican to vote to convict President Trump during the impeachment hearings.
“After meeting with Judge Barrett and carefully reviewing her record and her testimony, I intend to vote in favor of her confirmation to the Supreme Court," Romney said in a statement released Thursday. "She is impressive, and her distinguished legal and academic credentials make it clear that she is exceptionally well qualified to serve as our next Supreme Court justice.”
He added: “I am confident that she will faithfully apply the law and our Constitution, impartially and regardless of policy preferences.”
C-SPAN suspends Steve Scully indefinitely over Twitter hacking lie
Fox News chief White House correspondent John Roberts joins ‘Your World’ with the latest
President Trump mocked now-suspended C-SPAN political editor Steve Scully on Friday morning after the veteran journalist admitted he lied that his Twitter account was hacked after his message to former Trump aide-turned-adversary Anthony Scaramucci emerged.
Scully, the "Washington Journal" host who was slated to moderate the now-canceled town hall debate between President Trump and Joe Biden, was suspended indefinitely on Thursday.
C-SPAN SUSPENDS STEVE SCULLY INDEFINITELY AFTER HE ADMITS HE LIED ABOUT HIS TWITTER BEING HACKED
Scully went viral last week after a tweet sent from his account indicated he had reached out to the former White House communications director – but he claimed his account was hacked before he admitted that he did send the message.
“Steve Scully of @cspan had a very bad week. When his name was announced, I said he would not be appropriate because of conflicts,” Trump tweeted. “I was right! Then he said he was hacked, he wasn’t. I was right again! But his biggest mistake was “confiding” in a lowlife loser like the Mooch. Sad!”
Scully issued his first statement addressing the controversy to CNN following his suspension.
"For several weeks, I was subjected to relentless criticism on social media and in conservative news outlets regarding my role as moderator for the second presidential debate, including attacks aimed directly at my family," Scully wrote. "This culminated on Thursday, October 8th when I heard President Trump go on national television twice and falsely attack me by name. Out of frustration, I sent a brief tweet addressed to Anthony Scaramucci. The next morning when I saw that this tweet had created a controversy, I falsely claimed that my Twitter account had been hacked."
MEDIA LARGELY AVOIDS STEVE SCULLY CONTROVERSY, TV NETWORKS SKIP DEBATE MODERATOR'S 'HACK' CLAIM
"These were both errors in judgment for which I am totally responsible. I apologize," Scully said.
He continued, "These actions have let down a lot of people, including my colleagues at C-SPAN, where I have worked for the past 30 years, professional colleagues in the media, and the team at the Commission on Presidential Debates. I ask for their forgiveness as I try to move forward in a moment of reflection and disappointment in myself."
C-SPAN also issued a statement, revealing that the network and the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) were made aware about Scully's fabrication on Wednesday.
"We are very saddened by this news and do not condone his actions," C-SPAN said. "Starting immediately, we have placed Steve on administrative leave. After some distance from this episode, we believe in his ability to continue to contribute to C-SPAN."
DEBATE MODERATOR STEVE SCULLY RAISES EYEBROWS WITH TWEET ASKING SCARAMUCCI 'SHOULD I RESPOND TO TRUMP'
Trump also touted Scully's suspension on Twitter on Thursday.
"I was right again!" the president exclaimed. "Steve Scully just admitted he was lying about his Twitter being hacked. The Debate was Rigged! He was suspended from @cspan indefinitely. The Trump Campaign was not treated fairly by the 'Commission'. Did I show good instincts in being the first to know?"
The event was canceled after Trump pulled out following the CPD's announcement that the event would be virtual. Many pondered if the CPD's decision to scrap the second debate so quickly had anything to do with Scully's false claim. Both C-SPAN and the CPD initially defended Scully. The day after Scully tweeted at Scaramucci, C-SPAN issued a statement saying Scully "did not originate the tweet" in question. The statement added that the CPD was investigating the incident "with the help of authorities."
CPD later stated "it had reported the apparent hack to the FBI and Twitter" as part of its investigation.
DEBATE COMMISSION BAILED OUT C-SPAN'S STEVE SCULLY BY CANCELING TRUMP-BIDEN SHOWDOWN, CRITICS SAY
The FBI and Twitter had both declined to confirm if they were investigating the hack that we now know didn’t happen.
Scully's initial tweet caused confusion and fury among critics, with many concluding the moderator meant to send his message to Scaramucci privately.
"@Scaramucci should I respond to trump," Scully wrote in the now-deleted tweet.
Scaramucci responded by telling Scully: "Ignore. He is having a hard enough time. Some more bad stuff about to go down."
Scaramucci told Fox News host Brian Kilmeade last week that he thought Scully's tweet was real, prompting his own response. He tweeted Thursday that Scully's suspension was a "[b]rutal outcome for a silly non political tweet. Nothing objectionable. Cancel culture going too far."
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Scully has a history of blaming "hackers" for posts made on his Twitter account, dating back to 2012 and 2013.
His credibility as an unbiased debate moderator was initially questioned after it became known that he previously worked as an intern for then-Sen. Biden and served as a staffer for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.
During the 2016 campaign, Scully also shared a New York Times op-ed headlined, "No, Not Trump, Not Ever."
Perhaps the most vexing question facing a Joe Biden presidency would be what to do about the last guy who had the job: Donald Trump.
The list is long of possibilities for what Trump could be in trouble for on the other end of his presidency, when he'd no longer enjoy the immunity from criminal prosecution that comes with occupying the White House.
"Even the fact you're considering those questions is itself earth-shattering," Norm Eisen, a former counsel for House Democrats during the Trump impeachment proceedings, said.
Many Democratic insiders and other law-enforcement experts said the best path would be to let the normal procedure play out, with FBI-led investigators providing evidence to the relevant US attorneys, who then would make their charging decisions alongside the top brass at the DOJ.
But the prospect of a Trump probe is so significant that a Biden administration may want to go outside the typical law-enforcement channels by appointing a new special counsel, impaneling a wider commission of outside legal experts, or even removing the federal government entirely from the picture in deference to state investigators.
During an ABC News town hall on Thursday, Biden said he'd stay out of the decisionmaking when asked directly what he'd do about prosecuting Trump. "What the Biden Justice Department will do is let the Justice Department be the Department of Justice," the Democratic nominee replied. "Let them make the judgments of who should be prosecuted."
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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will have a very full plate should the 2020 election break his way. He'd have to come up with plans for reviving the US economy and keeping Americans safe from COVID-19 while also juggling pent-up demands to address everything from racial disparity to climate change.
But perhaps the most vexing question that would face a Biden presidency is what to do about the last guy who had the job: Donald Trump.
Everything that has happened over the past five years of the Republican's roller-coaster political career suggests he could end up as a defendant in any number of criminal cases brought by federal or state prosecutors once he no longer enjoys the immunity that comes from being president of the United States.
That alone is enough to cause heartburn among Democrats and longtime law-enforcement officials who said tough decisions would loom for both Biden and his Department of Justice as they considered the evidence, history, and political implications swirling around what would be an unprecedented criminal case guaranteed to blot out the sun for pretty much anything else the new president hopes to accomplish on his agenda.
"The worst thing the new administration could do is give the appearance it's on some kind of witch hunt to go back in time and rereview everything that may have happened in the Trump administration," said Greg Brower, a former George W. Bush-appointed federal prosecutor and top FBI liaison to Congress who has also served in the Nevada Senate. "It's also equally bad for a new administration to just ignore it all and look the other way as it tries to move on."
Lock Trump up?
There are no easy answers here, but many Democratic insiders and other law-enforcement experts maintain the best path for a new Democratic president would be to let the normal procedure play out, with FBI-led investigators providing evidence to the relevant US attorneys, who then would make their charging decisions alongside the top brass at the DOJ.
But others say that the prospect of a Trump probe is so significant that the Biden administration would want to go outside the typical law-enforcement channels by appointing a new special counsel, impaneling a wider commission of outside legal experts, or even removing the federal government entirely from the picture in deference to state investigators.
Any of these ideas could help Biden avoid blame for the kind of 50-car collision that would be associated with a Trump criminal trial, a media spectacle unparalleled in US history that would subsume the country's attention and possibly cripple the new Democratic president's agenda before he can even put on his seat belt, let alone back out of the driveway.
Making matters even more complicated for Biden is that one of the central themes of Trump's presidency has been the politicization of federal prosecutions, both in threatening them against his political enemies ("Lock her up!") and in savaging any attempts by his own DOJ to target allies such as Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.
Trump's first term also still isn't up, and Biden-backing Democrats say there's no telling what else could happen that would give criminal investigators even more fodder should they have the green light to go where no other prosecutor has ever gone before: indicting a former US president.
There's plenty of fertile ground, but Democrats are bracing for the prospect that a lame-duck Trump who loses in November would be unburdened by any personal political consequences and could try to preemptively pardon himself or grant clemency to everyone else in his orbit who is facing legal exposure and whose cooperation with criminal investigators could spell more trouble for him.
"Even the decision to look at a decision is going to be earth-shattering, much less actually deciding to prosecute, to set aside a pardon or by arguing in court that it's not valid," said Norm Eisen, a former top Obama White House attorney who served as a lead counsel for House Democrats during the Trump impeachment proceeding. "Even the fact you're considering those questions is itself earth-shattering."
'Once he's out, he is like any other citizen and can be indicted'
Trump and his lawyers have said in legal briefs, courtroom arguments, and media interviews that they're prepared to play legal defense should the 2020 presidential election go to the Democrats.
"Once he's out, he is like any other citizen and can be indicted," Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal counsel, told Politico in December 2018.
The list is long of possibilities for what Trump could be in legal trouble for on the other end of his presidency.
For starters, US attorneys from the Southern District of New York labeled the president "Individual-1" as an unindicted coconspirator when his former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to several crimes, including campaign-finance violations and tax fraud. Federal prosecutors from the same Manhattan office have also subpoenaed Trump's 2016 inaugural committee as part of a probe into whether it was involved in criminal conduct, including whether it accepted illegal foreign contributions.
The DOJ's interests included investigating Giuliani over his business dealings in Ukraine and whether he failed to register as a foreign agent. SDNY has also charged two of the former New York mayor's associates with conspiring to violate foreign-money bans, with a criminal trial in that case looming in early 2021.
Then there's Robert Mueller, the former Russia special counsel who testified in the summer of 2019 about the prospect that the president would indeed be fair game for prosecutors if he were no longer president.
While Mueller didn't pursue his own charges against Trump, he nonetheless outlined in his final 2019 report 11 instances in which his office collected evidence of possible obstruction of justice committed by the president during the course of the Russia probe.
'It's hands-off completely'
George Stephanopoulos asked Biden directly Thursday night during an ABC News town hall what his DOJ would do with the evidence Mueller accumulated.
"What the Biden Justice Department will do is let the Justice Department be the Department of Justice," Biden replied. "Let them make the judgments of who should be prosecuted."
Pressed again on whether he''d weigh in on such an important decision affecting Trump, Biden answered, "I'm not going to rule it in or out. I'm going to hire really first rate prosecutors and people who understand the law like Democrat and Republican administrations have had and let them make the judgment."
Biden's answer just weeks before Election Day is no shift from where he was during the wide-open Democratic primaries. "It's hands-off completely," the former vice president said during an MSNBC town hall in mid-May 2019.
But it is a departure from where Biden's running mate previous was on the issue.
During an interview with NPR in June 2019, California Sen. Kamala Harris said her DOJ "would have no choice and that they should" prosecute Trump.
Notably, Barack Obama in 2009 when he was president-elect took a stance similar to where Biden is now when he faced down a left flank clamoring for prosecutions of President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and other GOP administration officials over allegations of crimes tied to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" programs.
Obama in January 2009 told Stephanopoulos in an ABC interview just before he and Biden were sworn in that he had "a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards."
'A sense of reckoning'
In interviews earlier this summer with a half dozen prominent Democrats and former law-enforcement officials, several downplayed the statements that Biden and his primary rivals made on the campaign trail. They said the White House candidates' answers weren't indicative of what a Democratic president and his DOJ would ultimately decide once the full picture was in front of them.
"There will be a strong presumption" of not relitigating the Trump era, Eisen said. But he added, "Presumptions can be overcome."
Eisen predicted any decisions by a Biden administration would be made only after the Trump era has ended and all the evidence has been obtained and examined, though he said there was already enough material just from the Mueller report to charge Trump with obstruction of justice and possibly a wider conspiracy.
Eisen suggested Biden, faced with the predicament of not being seen as dictating the results, could establish a commission of former lawmakers, state officials, and other neutral experts in criminal law from both sides of the political aisle to examine the record and make recommendations on any charges.
"Not never Trumpers, not anti-Trumpers, but people who will have credibility," Eisen said. "Everyone is going to be attacked but as much as credibility as is possible under the circumstances."
Others see the commission approach as a way to move the debate over Trump's fate outside both the DOJ and the White House.
"I see merits in creating a structure to channel the discontent, the anger, and the concerns about the breaking of all sorts of norms," said Joshua Geltzer, a former senior counterterrorism aide on Obama's National Security Council and a counsel to the DOJ's top national security official.
It's a structure that could generate "a sense of reckoning with the last few years but also doesn't plunge Joe Biden into meting out punishment against someone who will just have been his political rival," Geltzer said.
Others disagree. Brower said the notion of a comprehensive review of Trump's actions that takes the process outside the normal DOJ channels was the opposite approach that Biden should be aiming for.
"I'm not going to say it sounds crazy, but it doesn't seem necessary or advisable," he said. Instead, Brower said Biden should just back away and let the DOJ run the Trump case to the ground.
"They ought to be allowed to do their thing," Brower said. "The idea there should be some commission which will look political seems to be duplicative of the ordinary and to some extent ongoing efforts. I just don't see that making sense."
Ronald Weich, the former top Obama DOJ liaison to Congress, predicted Biden would follow the Obama administration model as it transitioned from the Bush administration.
"It was pretty serious stuff before. It was torture. Going to war with Iraq under false pretenses," Weich, a dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law, said. "I just think there'll be an inclination to run the government in a forward-looking manner."
Geltzer had another solution: Pull the DOJ out of the Trump probes entirely and let state and local prosecutors like Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance proceed with their efforts. Vance secured a Supreme Court victory in July allowing him to subpoena for the president's financial records as part of a grand-jury probe into whether the Trump Organization falsified records connected to hush-money payments used to silence women during the 2016 presidential campaign who alleged to have had romantic affairs with Trump.
Biden's predicament if he wins also comes with other challenges. For one, Trump himself is likely to remain a force all his own, and the prospects are high that he'd be unlike recent former presidents, who have quietly receded into the background to let their successors occupy the spotlight.
"I can't emphasize how loud I expect Donald Trump to be should he become an ex-president," Geltzer said.
There are also timing questions. Let the Trump prosecution issue hang around too long, and Biden risks seeing it dominate the early months of his new administration. But any quick or hasty moves he makes also have the potential to alienate allies who would look back on the Trump era expecting justice.
"My first impulse, whether they decide charges or not charges, they should wrap up sooner or later so it doesn't drag on," Geltzer said. "But then my competing impulse is to not make it about that."
"To set an arbitrary deadline then feels like the politically driven piece," he added. "It is another tension, and I guess the cop out where I land is I don't think political leadership should be intruding into investigations. That's a cop-out answer if I ever heard one."
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President Trump's 2020 presidential campaign has set its sights on Florida's rural voters, in an effort to repeat the electoral success that delivered the swing state for the commander-in-chief four years ago.
The president will rally in Ocala on Friday as he tries to appeal to rural and exurban voters with the election less than three weeks out, according to The Orlando Sentinel.
Trump exceeded 2012 Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s vote total in the state by the tens of thousands in Florida's rural areas when he faced former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 2016.
Counties like Lake, Marion, Brevard, Volusia, Hernando and Citrus north of Tampa are reportedly in the campaign's crosshairs and will be vital to capturing the state's 29 electoral votes.
Trump ultimately won the state in the last presidential election cycle by around 1.2 percent or just under 113,000 votes.
TRUMP CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF FLORIDA 'FIGHTERS AGAINST SOCIALISM' BUS TOUR
“He’s going to these areas because he needs them to show up,” election data analyst Matthew Isbell told The Sentinel.
“The last thing he wants is a sort of fatalistic attitude from his supporters who think that maybe the election is doomed and they don’t show up,” he continued. “So going into these areas does have a degree of logic to it. Those areas are where a rally is better.”
Isbell also said Democrats are hanging their hat on mail-in voting to put Biden over the top.
“There’s a push to get as many of those people as they can to vote, which kind of makes sense in an area like Ocala or these little blue pockets that exist across the state but are surrounded by a sea of red,” he added. “Getting [even] those small number of votes sent in is the best way to go.”
This news comes as Trump and Vice President Mike Pence rallied in Miami on Thursday, as the president prepares for a televised town hall, which is scheduled for the same time as his opponent Joe Biden's election forum, which will air on an opposing network.
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NBC’s one-hour Trump town hall is set to begin at 8 p.m., with Savannah Guthrie moderating, while ABC’s Biden town hall with moderator George Stephanopoulos will also kick off at 8 p.m., but is scheduled to fill a two-hour bloc.
Twitter’s decision to block NY Post’s Hunter Biden story ‘unacceptable,’ CEO says
Thank goodness Twitter boss Jack Dorsey stepped up, put his personal feelings about Trump aside and held his own company accountable, says Patrice Onwuka, a senior policy analyst at the Independent Women’s Forum.
Twitter suspended the official account of the Trump campaign on Thursday, saying Team Trump’s tweet calling Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden a “liar” and posting a video about Hunter Biden’s business dealings is a violation of their policy.
The action comes just 19 days before Election Day.
“Your account has been locked,” the standard Twitter message read. “What happened? We have determined that this account violated the Twitter Rules. Specifically, for: Violating our rules against posting private information.”
“You may not publish or post other people’s private information without their express authorization and permission,” the post reads.
The Trump campaign tweet in question read: “Joe Biden is a liar who has been ripping off our country for years.”
The campaign also posted a link to a video about Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings, specifically referring to the New York Post which published emails suggesting Hunter Biden introduced his father, then the vice president, to a top executive at Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings in 2015 at Hunter's request. Fox News has not independently verified the reporting.
The emails turned up in the hard drive of a laptop dropped off at a repair shop in 2019, the Post reported, adding that a copy of the hard drive ended up in the hands of Robert Costello, a lawyer for Rudy Giuliani, a personal attorney for President Trump.
However, a Trump campaign official pointed out that the campaign’s video that they posted is still visible on President Trump’s own Twitter account.
"This is election interference, plain and simple. For Twitter to lock the main account of the campaign of the President of the United States is a breathtaking level of political meddling and nothing short of an attempt to rig the election," Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told Fox News. "Joe Biden’s Silicon Valley pals are aggressively blocking negative news stories about their guy and preventing voters from accessing important information. This is like something from communist China or Cuba, not the United States of America.”
FACEBOOK, TWITTER LIMIT DISTRIBUTION OF NY POST HUNTER BIDEN STORY
“This is chilling censorship of a sitting President’s re-election campaign 19 days from an election, plain and simple,” Andrew Clark, Trump campaign Rapid Response Director told Fox News. “Twitter is interfering in the election and trying to stop the public from learning damning information about the Biden family’s corruption at all cost, but our campaign and our supporters will not be silenced.”
A spokesman for Twitter did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.
Twitter also blocked White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany for sharing the New York Post report on Hunter Biden on her personal account.
The Trump campaign shared what appears to be a screenshot of an email McEnany received from Twitter, alerting her that her account "has been locked."
"We have determined that this account violated the Twitter Rules. Specifically, for: Violating our rules against distribution of hacked material," the email read.
McEnany's tweet that was flagged by the tech giant read, "**NEW** Email from Ukrainian executive to Hunter Biden asks Hunter to 'use his influence' on behalf of the firm paying him $50K/mo in email with subject 'urgent issue' obtained by @nypost Father @JoeBiden was in charge of Ukraine relations at time.!!”
"Twitter has locked the personal account of White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany for sharing news Democrats don’t like," the Trump War Room tweeted on Wednesday evening.
McEnany fired back at Twitter from her official government account.
Censorship should be condemned! cc: @Twitter & Facebook NOT the American way!!" McEnany tweeted from her @PressSec handle.