Former President Barack Obama on Friday sent a message of support to White House successor Donald Trump and his wife Melania, setting aside the bitter election battle to wish them a rapid recovery from COVID-19.
“Although we’re in the midst of a big political fight, and we take that very seriously, we also want to extend our best wishes to the president of the United States, the first lady,” Obama said at the start of a fundraising event with vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris.
“Michelle and I are hopeful that they and others that have been affected by Covid-19 around the country are getting the care that they need, that they are going to be on the path to a speedy recovery.” he said.
“We’re all Americans and we’re all human beings, and we want to make sure everybody is healthy.”
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden raised more than $364 million in August, reportedly breaking the record for monthly campaign donations even though his fundraising efforts were largely online because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The former vice president and the Democratic National Committee pulled in a total of $364.5 million, of which $205 million were pledged online from small donors, his campaign team said Wednesday.
The previous record was set by Barack Obama and the DNC in September 2008, when he raised almost $200 million, according to CBS and New York Times reports.
“That figure blows me away,” said the 77-year-old Biden in a statement thanking his supporters.
“Over $205 million, or 57 percent of the money we raised, came from online donations, from people like you, chipping in $5, $10, $20 at a time,” the candidate added.
Having prepared his re-election campaign since he arrived in the White House in early 2017, 74-year-old President Donald Trump still has a larger overall war chest, but Biden has been drawing in ever larger sums since winning the Democratic primary in April.
“We have to keep breaking records if we want to ensure a fighting chance at winning this thing,” Biden urged his supporters.
“Trump’s money machine remains and it’s bolstered by outside, dark money — not grassroots donors like all of you,” Biden said.
“And you better believe they will pour it all into attacks and smears against me, against Kamala, and against our campaign.”
Biden’s pick of California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, making her the woman of color on a major party presidential ticket, fired up his donor base, raising $26 million in 24 hours, Biden revealed on August 12.
In July, Trump and the Republic National Committee raised $165 million, against $140 million for the Democrats the same month.
US President Donald Trump has stoked false claims that Democratic vice-presidential contender Kamala Harris is ineligible to hold that office because her parents were foreign-born.
The claims about Harris — who was born in the United States, making her constitutionally eligible to be both vice president and president — echo a baseless theory that Trump long promoted about his predecessor Barack Obama.
“I heard it today that she doesn’t meet the requirements,” Trump said at a White House news conference on Thursday, referring to an August 12 opinion piece in Newsweek.
The article by conservative law professor John Eastman says that “before we so cavalierly accept Senator Harris’ eligibility for the office of vice president, we should ask her a few questions about the status of her parents at the time of her birth.”
Trump said that Eastman, of Chapman University “is a very highly qualified, very talented lawyer. I have no idea if that’s right.”
Eastman was also an unsuccessful Republican challenger, losing in the primary for the 2010 California attorney general’s election won by Harris, who served in that post before becoming a US senator.
Harris, 55, was born in Oakland, California to a mother from India and a father from Jamaica. She is the first black woman and woman of South Asian heritage to be granted the honor of a place on the ticket of a major US party.
Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, 77, who on Tuesday named Harris as his running mate, blasted Trump’s rhetoric Friday, with his campaign calling the false claim “abhorrent.”
– A historic choice – Eastman’s article followed claims shared thousands of times on Facebook that Harris could not become president because her parents hailed from abroad.
Article 2, Section 1 of the US Constitution says that “no person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States” shall be eligible for the presidency. They must also be at least 35 years old.
And Section 2 of the 14th Amendment says that: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.”
Under that clause and an 1898 Supreme Court ruling, “anyone born on US soil and subject to its jurisdiction is a natural born citizen, regardless of parental citizenship,” Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute says.
Harris could not become vice president if she failed to meet requirements for the presidency.
David A. Super, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law and Economics at the Georgetown University Law Center, said that “no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States,” according to the 12th Amendment to the Constitution.
This means, Super said in an email to AFP, that “someone who is not a native-born US citizen, or someone who is not 35 years old, could not take office as vice president.”
As Trump parlayed his TV fame into a political career, he adopted and promoted the “birther” lie that Obama, America’s first black president, was not born in the United States.
Obama was born in Hawaii to a Kenyan father and a white American mother. Trump grudgingly acknowledged late in his 2016 presidential campaign that Obama was American-born.
Since then, Trump has faced accusations of racism, and has embraced other conspiracies.
Polls show him losing the November vote.
On Wednesday, he praised Georgia Republican congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene, a follower of the QAnon conspiracy theory who has called white men the most oppressed group in America.
The official Twitter accounts of Apple, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and others were hijacked on Wednesday by scammers trying to dupe people into sending cryptocurrency bitcoin, in a massive hack.
The list of accounts commandeered grew rapidly to include Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Uber, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, bitcoin specialty firms and many others.
“Tough day for us at Twitter,” chief executive Jack Dorsey said in a tweet.
“We all feel terrible this happened. We’re diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened.”
The Biden campaign told AFP that Twitter locked down the hacked account quickly and removed the bogus tweet.
Twitter disabled the ability to tweet from validated accounts, those with the official blue checkmarks, for about two hours while working on a fix.
“Most accounts should be able to Tweet again,” the Twitter support team said in an evening update of the situation.
“As we continue working on a fix, this functionality may come and go. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.”
The duplicitous posts, which were largely deleted, were fired off from the array of high-profile accounts telling people they had 30 minutes to send $1,000 in bitcoin in order to be sent back twice as much.
“This is a SCAM, DO NOT participate!” Gemini cryptocurrency exchange co-founder Cameron Winklevoss warned from his official account on Twitter.
“This is the same attack/takeover that other major crypto twitter accounts are experiencing. Be vigilant!”
BitTorrent chief executive Justin Sun is offering a $1 million reward for finding the Twitter hackers and bringing them to justice, according to media reports.
-‘Giving back’- The site Blockchain.com, which monitors transactions made in cryptocurrencies, said a total of 12.58 bitcoins, worth almost $116,000, had been sent to the email addresses mentioned in the fraudulent tweets.
The tweet that appeared on Musk’s Twitter feed said, “Happy Wednesday! I am giving back Bitcoin to all of my followers. I am doubling all payments sent to the Bitcoin address below. You send 0.1 BTC, I send 0.2 BTC back!”
It added that the offer was “only going on for 30 minutes.”
The fake messages that appeared on the accounts of other famous personalities made similar promises of instant riches.
The account of US President Donald Trump, which has more than 83 million followers, was not among those hacked.
“Given the accounts that got hacked more recently (Apple, Uber, Gates, Musk, etc), I am now leaning towards this being an internal compromise of a Twitter system, not an API attack from a social aggregator service,” bitcoin authority and author Andreas Antonopoulos said in a tweet from his @aantonop account.
Rachel Tobac of cyber-security firm SocialProof Security theorized that hackers got control of a Twitter employee’s administrative access to “take over a prominent account and tweet on their behalf.”
As evening arrived on Twitter home turf in San Francisco, the company continued to investigate what happened.
A version of the scam invited people to click on a link at which they would be exploited.
“All major crypto Twitter accounts have been compromised,” Winklevoss warned in a tweet.
Among the hacked accounts was @gemini, used by the crypto-exchange, according to his twin brother and co-founder Tyler Winklevoss.
Twitter has been targeted by hackers in the past.
In March 2017, the accounts of Amnesty International, the French economics ministry and the BBC’s North America service were broken into by hackers believed to have been loyal to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Last August, a series of insulting or racist messages were posted on the personal account of Twitter founder Dorsey without his knowledge.
US President Donald Trump’s administration asked the Supreme Court Thursday to strike down Obamacare, which has provided health insurance to tens of millions of Americans.
The third challenge to the landmark law, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, comes as the United States records some of its highest coronavirus infection rates since the contagion hit the country.
Under Obamacare, millions of Americans are required to buy health insurance or face a tax penalty.
But in 2017 Congress eliminated the fine for people who failed to sign up — known as the individual mandate — removing a key part of former President Barack Obama’s policy.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) argues “the individual mandate is not severable from the rest of the Act.”
Because of that “the mandate is now unconstitutional as a result of Congress’s elimination … of the penalty for noncompliance,” it said in a late filing.
As a result “the entire ACA thus must fall with the individual mandate.”
The DoJ also argues that ACA coverage protecting people with pre-existing conditions — rules that mean insurers cannot refuse customers because of their age, gender, or health status — should also be overturned.
The Supreme Court will hear the case in its next term starting October, but US media reported that it is unlikely to be examined before the presidential election in November.
Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned the Trump administration’s move and called it an “act of unfathomable cruelty” during the pandemic.
She claimed if passed 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions could lose the ACA’s protections, and as many as 23 million citizens could be left without any insurance.
“There is no legal justification and no moral excuse for the Trump Administration’s disastrous efforts to take away Americans’ health care,” she said.
The US has been particularly badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic — and unlike Europe and parts of East Asia, has never climbed down from its peak.
Twenty-nine states are now experiencing fresh surges, with almost 40,000 new cases recorded, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
US health officials now believe based on antibody surveys that about 24 million people may have been infected at some point — 10 times higher than the officially recorded figure of around 2.4 million.
The US Supreme Court dealt President Donald Trump’s efforts to choke off immigration a fresh blow Thursday when it rejected his cancellation of the DACA program protecting 700,000 “Dreamers,” undocumented migrants brought to the United States as children.
The high court said Trump’s 2017 move to cancel his predecessor Barack Obama’s landmark Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was “arbitrary and capricious” under government administrative procedures.
The judgement on a five-to-four vote, with Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the court’s four liberal members, stressed that it was not an assessment of the correctness of the 2012 DACA program itself.
Instead, they said the Trump administration had violated official government procedures in the way they sought to quickly rescind DACA in September 2017 based on weak legal justifications.
The ruling suggested there are legal administrative methods Trump could cancel DACA, putting the onus back on the administration if it wants to pursue the issue.
‘The American way’
Immigration champions and Dreamers cheered the narrow ruling.
“Eight years ago this week, we protected young people who were raised as part of our American family from deportation,” Obama tweeted.
“Today, I’m happy for them, their families, and all of us. We may look different and come from everywhere, but what makes us American are our shared ideals.”
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the ruling prolonged the life of a program she said was supported by three-quarters of Americans, Democrats and Republicans alike.
“This way is the American way and I’m very proud of it,” she said.
Jesus Contreras, a Houston paramedic under DACA who came to the US from Mexico as a child, said he had prepared for the worst.
“I know it is not the end of the battle,” he said.
“We still have to fight for legislation but right now it is a good feeling to know that we are protected and safe at least for now,” he said.
On Twitter, Trump turned the decision into a call to support him in the November presidential election so that he can appoint more conservative justices to the high court.
“These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives,” Trump wrote.
“We need more Justices or we will lose our 2nd. Amendment & everything else. Vote Trump 2020!”
The decision came three and a half years after Trump entered office promising to halt almost all immigration and to expel the more than 10 million people estimated living in the country, many for decades, without legal immigration documents.
The Obama administration had sought to address this issue in 2012 with the DACA policy offering protection at renewable two-year periods, including authorization to work, to people brought into the United States illegally as children, and then growing up here.
DACA, and the subsequent DAPA program — Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents — were executive actions by Obama to eliminate the constant threat of deportation for more than 4 million undocumented migrants.
Obama ordered the programs due to Congress’s inability to pass the so-called Dream Act, which would have created a law offering essentially permanent residency to millions of immigrants long settled in the country, families with homes, businesses, and professions.
Trump cancelled DAPA just after coming to office and then went after the more established DACA, but immediately faced a series of court battles over it.
Former US president Barack Obama on Wednesday applauded the “profound” protests by Americans demanding racial justice and said demonstrations over last week’s killing of a black man in police custody could spark nationwide reforms.
In his first video comments since George Floyd’s death on May 25 in Minneapolis triggered unrest across the country, President Donald Trump’s predecessor also urged state and local authorities to review their policies on the use of force.
Obama directed his comments at young black men and women who he says have often witnessed or experienced too much violence.
“Too often some of that violence has come from folks who were supposed to be serving and protecting you,” Obama said in a webcast with activists.
“I want you to know that you matter. I want you to know that your lives matter, your dreams matter.”
He also said that in the last few weeks, Americans have witnessed “the kinds of epic changes and events in our country that are as profound as anything that I’ve seen in my lifetime.”
The 58-year-old, who remains popular among Democrats, noted the deadly upheaval of the 1960s civil rights movement and said “a far more representative cross-section of America” is protesting now than as compared to half a century ago.
“There is a change in mindset that’s taking place, a greater recognition that we can do better,” Obama said.
Young protesters, in particular, have been galvanized, he said, and their motivation could serve as inspiration for broader change.
“It’s very important for us to take the momentum that has been created as a society, as a country, and say ‘Let’s use this’ to finally have an impact,” Obama said.
He also addressed the country’s local leaders, saying “I’m urging every mayor in this country to review your use-of-force policies with members of your community and commit to report on planned reforms.”
Obama did not directly address Trump’s handling of the unrest, including the president’s controversial demand that authorities “dominate” protesters.
But Obama was reportedly outraged by the use of chemical dispersants on protesters outside the White House Monday before Trump walked to a nearby church and held up a Bible.
Former President Barack Obama said on Friday he shared the “anguish” of millions of Americans over the death of a black man killed by police in Minnesota and that racism cannot be “normal” in the United States.
“This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America,” Obama said of the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd and several other recent racial incidents in the country.
“It can’t be ‘normal,'” the first African-American president of the United States said in a statement. “If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must do better.”
Floyd’s death on Monday sparked three nights of rioting in Minneapolis and protests against police brutality in other US cities.
Floyd, 46, died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for more than five minutes while he was handcuffed and on the ground.
In his statement, Obama referred to Floyd’s death but also two other high-profile recent racial incidents in the US, one involving a black jogger who was shot dead by two white men in Georgia and a black man who had a confrontation with a white woman while bird-watching in a park in New York.
“It’s natural to wish for life ‘to just get back to normal’ as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us,” Obama said. “But we have to remember for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly ‘normal’ — whether it’s while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park.”
Obama said Americans need “to work together to create a ‘new normal’ in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts.
Former President Barack Obama has launched a scathing attack on Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, calling it an “absolute chaotic disaster.”
In a leaked web call Friday night with former members of his administration, Obama also said the Justice Department’s decision to drop charges against Michael Flynn, the former Trump national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in the Russia probe, endangers the rule of law in the US.
In the audio, first obtained by Yahoo News, Obama urges former staffers to join him in rallying behind Joe Biden as he prepares to take on Trump in the November presidential election.
The United States by far leads the world in the number of coronavirus infections, at nearly 1.3 million, and deaths, with more than 77,000.
Trump has been criticized as essentially abdicating any leadership role in guiding the country through one of its worst crises in a century, leaving states on their own to grapple with the pandemic and even bid against each other to obtain critical medical equipment on the open market or abroad.
Critics say Trump, after first downplaying the threat posed by the virus, squandered precious time in February as the pathogen spread in America and his administration did little to stock up on testing kits and other medical gear or to develop a cohesive national strategy.
With an eye to re-election, the president has also been blasted as putting his own political interests before human life by aggressively pushing states to reopen their devastated economies without a clear blueprint for how to do it safely.
‘Being selfish, being tribal’
“What we’re fighting against is these long-term trends in which being selfish, being tribal, being divided, and seeing others as an enemy — that has become a stronger impulse in American life,” Obama told his former staffers.
“It’s part of the reason why the response to this global crisis has been so anemic and spotty,” Obama said.
“It would have been bad even with the best of governments. It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset — of ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘to heck with everybody else’ — when that mindset is operationalized in our government,” he said.
Obama said that the dropping of charges against Flynn was ominous.
“That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk,” he said.
Obama endorsed Biden’s candidacy last month and has said he would be deeply involved in his campaign against Trump.
He told the Obama Alumni Association: “I am hoping that all of you feel the same sense of urgency that I do.”
President Donald Trump’s spokeswoman claimed Tuesday that Barack Obama staffers left behind catty notes in White House offices for the incoming administration, telling them “you will fail.”
Press secretary Stephanie Grisham’s comment, first made to a CNN reporter, prompted swift denials from ex-Obama officials and a torrent of online mockery from Trump opponents.
“We came into the WH, I’ll tell you something. Every office was filled with Obama books and we had notes left behind that said ‘you will fail,’ ‘you aren’t going to make it,'” a tweet from CNN’s Abby Phillip quoted Grisham as saying.
“This is a complete and utter lie,” tweeted Obama administration lawyer Daniel Jacobson.
“Quite the opposite – we left them briefing books to try to help with the transition as much as possible,” he said.
Jon Wolfsthal, a former senior director at Obama’s National Security Council, called it “an outrageous lie…. Shameless and [email protected] should be fired.”
Faced by the heated denials — and snarky online gags about the “you will fail” prediction proving true — Grisham said her remark had been over-played.
“I don’t know why everyone is so sensitive!” she told AFP.
Grisham said she “certainly wasn’t implying every office had that issue” and recalled finding a “lovely note” for her in the White House East Wing.
“I just saw it as kind of a prank, and that it was something that always happened,” Grisham said.
A famous case of such humor was the reported practical joke by aides of president Bill Clinton who are said to have removed the “W” key from White House computers ahead of George W. Bush taking office.