Biden Faces US Voters At Town Hall, Trump Heads Back To Wisconsin

WILMINGTON, DE – SEPTEMBER 16: Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden waves as he leaves the Hotel Dupont after having internal campaign meetings on September 16, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Earlier in the day, Biden participated in a briefing with medical professionals about the coronavirus vaccine. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

 

White House hopeful Joe Biden on Thursday holds his first extended face-to-face with voters since winning the Democratic nomination, a town hall where he will likely savage President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

With less than seven weeks before Election Day, Biden has ramped up his public appearances after spending large chunks of time at his Delaware home, even as Trump repeatedly barnstorms swing states.

Now both candidates are hitting the physical campaign trail in earnest, although still in very different ways.

Trump returns to Wisconsin Thursday for a public rally fueled by his signature bravado — a contrast to Biden’s quieter style of connecting with blue collar and everyday voters.

Ahead of his departure, Trump railed on Twitter against the move by many states to encourage voters to mail in their ballots, thereby avoiding possible coronavirus risks in polling stations.

The shift, which is popular with Democrats, will promote “ELECTION MAYHEM,” he tweeted, claiming that the results of the November 3 vote “may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED.”

He offered no evidence for his claims, and mail-in voting, which has been regularly used in previous elections, has never been tied to any wide-scale fraud.

Biden is attempting to project a calming alternative to Trump’s fury.

At the CNN town hall, he will take questions from a live, socially distanced audience on what could be described as his home turf — Scranton, the scrappy Pennsylvania city where he was born.

But the town hall event carries risks for a candidate who has done few unscripted encounters in the last months.

The 77-year-old former vice president has largely kept close to his home in Delaware during the pandemic, which has so far killed nearly 200,000 Americans. His go-to events have been speeches, with reporters rarely able to ask questions.

He has traveled to swing states like Wisconsin, Florida and Pennsylvania, but has dodged crowds and engages with voters only in small, controlled settings.

Trump has badgered his rival for remaining cloistered in his “basement” and declining to engage in more traditional campaign events.

Local officials briefed on the town hall plans told US media that it will take place in a stadium parking lot, and that pre-approved attendees will drive in and park near the stage.

CNN said it will adhere to Pennsylvania pandemic guidelines, which limit gatherings to less than 250 people.

– Growing animosity –

The dueling events come one day after each candidate homed in on the pandemic as a campaign issue — and offered dramatically different views of how the Trump administration has responded.

Biden delivered a scathing speech in which he said “I don’t trust Donald Trump” to provide a vaccine free from any political interference.

The Republican incumbent meanwhile insisted a vaccine could be ready this year, directly contradicting the timeline offered by a top government health official.

Trump said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield, one of the most prominent experts overseeing US pandemic response, “made a mistake” and “was confused” when he testified to lawmakers Wednesday that a safe and effective vaccine would not be widely available until mid-2021.

Trump also criticized Redfield for renewing his call for Americans to wear face masks as their best defense against spreading Covid-19.

Biden routinely appears at functions wearing a mask. Trump almost never does, and he mocks Biden for doing so.

Biden’s town hall comes two days after Trump appeared in a similar setting, also in Pennsylvania — in Philadelphia.

Critics panned the president’s performance, including his insistence that he had not downplayed the coronavirus threat, even though he acknowledged doing just that in a taped interview with journalist Bob Woodward.

The animosity has ramped up between Trump and Biden ahead of their first debate, scheduled for September 29 in Ohio.

Biden has consistently led Trump in national polls.

He is also ahead in several key battlegrounds like Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — all states won by Trump in his shock 2016 election victory — although by dwindling margins.

AFP

Trump’s Aide, Kellyanne Conway Steps Down

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 06, 2020 Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, talks to reporters outside the White House, in Washington, DC. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

 

Kellyanne Conway, a long-serving advisor to President Donald Trump known for sparring with reporters, announced Sunday she will step down to focus on her family.

Conway, 53, has been at Trump’s side since day one, managing his 2016 campaign that catapulted the reality TV star into the world’s most powerful office.

But the past four years of singular loyalty to Trump, including defending him on TV and with informal “gaggles” with the press, have taken a toll on the combative spin doctor who coined the phrase “alternative facts.”

While she made a name for herself as one of Trump’s sharpest defenders, her husband, prominent Washington lawyer George Conway, is a strident critic of the president, repeatedly and loudly questioning his mental fitness for office.

“I will be transitioning from the White House at the end of this month,” she said in a statement.

“George is also making changes. We disagree about plenty but we are united on what matters most: the kids.”

White House Senior Counselor Kellyanne Conway (C) speaks during a briefing on the opioid crisis at the White House in Washington, DC.    NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP

 

She said their four children would be starting the new academic year remotely.

“As millions of parents nationwide know, kids ‘doing school from home’ requires a level of attention and vigilance that is as unusual as these times,” she said.

“For now, and for my beloved children, it will be less drama, more mama.”

Her announcement came a day after her 15-year-old daughter Claudia tweeted that she was “devastated” that her mother would speak at the Republican convention, and pledged to seek legal emancipation “due to years of childhood trauma and abuse.”

 ‘Alternative facts’ 

Separately, George Conway said he would be stepping back from the Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans he co-founded, and taking a break from Twitter, which he frequently used to assail the president.

The dislike was mutual, with Trump calling him the “husband from hell.”

Kellyanne Conway came to prominence just days after Trump took office for coining the term “alternative facts” while defending the debunked White House claim that the 45th president’s inauguration crowd was larger than Obama’s.

In 2017 she referred to a non-existent terrorist attack, “the Bowling Green massacre,” to defend Trump’s immigration ban.

During Trump’s term she was both famous and notorious for sparring with the media, often by finding a way to change the topic, turn the question back on the reporter, or merely complain.

She did all of it with a flamboyant fashion sense — snake-skin pattern dress one day, a bright red one the next — standing out in an often-gray city.

Her work led her at one point to be depicted on the long-running US comedy show Saturday Night Live as “Kellywise”, a spoof of the murderous, sewer-dwelling clown from horror novel and film “It”.

A lawyer and pollster by training, she also stuck out her White House role while a parade of other aides was forced out, quit or left in humiliation.

In her statement, Conway described her time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as “heady” and “humbling” and said her departure was her call.

“This is completely my choice and my voice. In time, I will announce future plans.”

AFP

Trump Ushered From Briefing After Shots Fired Near White House

US President Donald Trump is being removed by a member of the secret service from the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on August 10, 2020. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

 

Secret Service guards shot a person, who was apparently armed, outside the White House on Monday, President Donald Trump said just after being briefly evacuated in the middle of a press conference.

The president was abruptly ushered out of the press event and black-clad secret service agents with automatic rifles rushed across the lawn north of the White House.

Minutes later, Trump reappeared at the press conference, where journalists had been locked in, and announced that someone had been shot outside the White House grounds.

 

 Trump said he knew nothing about the identity or motives of the person shot, but when asked if the person had been armed, answered: “From what I understand, the answer is yes.” (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

The Secret Service tweeted that it “can confirm there has been an officer involved shooting at 17th Street and Pennsylvania Ave.”

“Law enforcement shot someone, it seems to be, the suspect. And the suspect is on the way to the hospital,” he said.

Trump said he knew nothing about the identity or motives of the person shot, but when asked if the person had been armed, he answered: “From what I understand, the answer is yes.”

“It might not have had anything to do with me,” Trump added, saying the incident took place “on the outside” of the White House perimeter.

“I don’t believe anything was breached, they were relatively far away,” he added.

 

Police activity at the entrance to Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House shortly after Secret Service guards shot a person who was apparently armed, outside the White House on August 10, 2020 while US President Donald Trump was speaking to the press in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC.(Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

Outside the White House, the situation was calm, but a portion of the surrounding streets had been blocked off, with a number of police and other official vehicles converging towards the corner of 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Philipos Melaku, a protester who has been camping in front of the White House for years, said he had heard a shot fired at around 5:50 pm (2150 GMT).

“I heard a gunshot and before that I heard screaming,” he told AFP.

“It was a male voice,” he said. “After that immediately, pointing their AR-15s, at least eight or nine men came in running.”

 

Police cars block the entrance to Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House shortly after Secret Service guards shot a person who was apparently armed, outside the White House on August 10, 2020 while US President Donald Trump was speaking to the press in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC.(Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

Following the security scare, Trump returned almost immediately to the White House podium where he resumed his scheduled press conference.

Asked if he was rattled by the incident, he replied: “The world’s always been a dangerous place. It’s not something that’s unique.”

Trump went onto praise the Secret Service as “fantastic people, the best of the best.”

“I feel very safe with Secret Service,” he said. “A lot of terrific looking people ready to go if something was necessary.”

 

A US Secret Service uniform officer’s bike is seen laying on the sidewalk on Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House in Washington, DC, on August 10, 2020. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP)

 

-AFP

Twitter Flags President Trump’s Tweet For ‘Glorifying Violence’, White House Responds

In this photo illustration, a Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile phone with President Trump's Twitter page shown in the background on May 27, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia.  Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this photo illustration, a Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile phone with President Trump’s Twitter page shown in the background on May 27, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

Social media platform, Twitter, on Friday flagged US President Donald Trump’s tweet about the protests and violence in Minneapolis, Minnesota for “glorifying violence,” leading to a response from the American White House.

Trump had tweeted about the protests which followed the death of a black man, George Floyd who was filmed saying he could not breathe as a white police officer used his knee to pin him down.

“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” Trump had tweeted. “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

According to Twitter, the company flagged the tweet in what it tagged a “public interest notice.”

The implication is that the tweet will not be taken out of the social media platform but hidden under a notice reading: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence.”

Twitter, has, however, said, “As is standard with this notice, engagements with the Tweet will be limited. People will be able to Retweet with Comment, but will not be able to Like, Reply or Retweet it.”

In response, the official White House account called Twitter’s bluff by retweeting the same post. This time, Twitter responded by saying that while it violated its rules, the company “determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”

The White House later defended Trump’s tweet, saying, “The President did not glorify violence. He clearly condemned it.”

And Trump’s social media director and Twitter feed manager, Dan Scavino, had his own response.

“Twitter is full of shit — more and more people are beginning to get it,” he wrote on Twitter.

The latest spat came a day after Trump signed an executive order in the Oval Office seeking to transform the way social media companies are regulated. That followed Trump’s fury over Twitter tagging two of his tweets with fact checks, which was also an unprecedented measure.

Executive Order

On Thursday, Trump had issued an executive order seeking to strip social media giants like Twitter of legal immunity for content posted by users.

If this was enacted, the likes of Twitter and Facebook would become open to lawsuits and greatly increased government regulation.

Trump — angered this week after Twitter tagged one of his tweets for the first time with a fact-check notice — said regulation was needed because the companies are no longer neutral forums but engaging in “political activism.”

According to Trump, such platforms have “unchecked power to censor, restrict… virtually any form of communication between private citizens.”

“We can’t let that happen,” he said, “especially when they go about doing what they’re doing because they’re doing things incorrectly, they have points of view.”

Trump Signs Executive Order To Keep Meat Processing Plants Open

In this file photo US President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up during a "Keep America Great" campaign rally at Wildwoods Convention Center in Wildwood, New Jersey, January 28, 2020.
In this file photo, US President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up during a “Keep America Great” campaign rally at Wildwoods Convention Center in Wildwood, New Jersey, January 28, 2020.

 

President Donald Trump will sign an executive order compelling meat packing plants to stay open, despite a string of coronavirus deaths, in a bid to secure US food supplies, the White House said Tuesday.

“President Trump is signing an Executive Order providing the authority to ensure the continued supply of beef, pork, and poultry to the American people,” the White House said in a statement.

“Under the order, the Department of Agriculture is directed to ensure America’s meat and poultry processors continue operations uninterrupted to the maximum extent possible.”

The statement added that the processing plants will be fully compliant with the CDC guidelines on health and safety during the pandemic.

Trump had said earlier in the White House that the details of order were being drawn up for signing but gave no specifics.

The facilities, where animals are slaughtered and processed into food sold in shops, have long struggled with safety and sanitary issues.

Facing alarming rates of the novel coronavirus among workers in the often tightly packed work spaces, some suppliers have closed down.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Trump Speaks With Buhari, ‘To Send Ventilators’ – Lai Mohammed

As warnings mount that stores will run out, Trump will invoke the Defense Production Act to compel the meatpacking businesses to keep working.

United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), the nation’s largest meatpacking union, said more safety precautions were needed.

“At least 20 meatpacking workers have tragically died from coronavirus while more than 5,000 workers have been hospitalized or are showing symptoms,” UFCW President Marc Perrone said in a statement.

“While we share the concern over the food supply, today’s executive order to force meatpacking plants to stay open must put the safety of our country’s meatpacking workers first,” he added.

“Simply put, we cannot have a secure food supply without the safety of these workers.”

Last week, meatpacking giant Tyson Foods announced the temporary closure of its plant in Pasco, Washington state, which it says usually produces enough beef in a day for four million people.

A big pork plant in South Dakota run by Smithfield Foods and two JBS cattle slaughterhouses are among the others to have shut their doors.

AFP

White House To Take Temperature Of All Visitors, Staff

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media in the press briefing room at the White House on March 15, 2020, in Washington, DC. PHOTO: TASOS KATOPODIS / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Anyone entering the White House will have their temperature taken, an official said on Sunday, tightening preventive measures against the coronavirus one day after US President Donald Trump tested negative.

Fever is a symptom of COVID-19, the new disease that has killed more than 6,400 people worldwide and which the United States is scrambling to contain.

Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said the checks would be carried out from Monday morning on anyone who comes into the White House complex — including officials, advisors, and journalists.

“As was announced over the weekend, additional temperature checks will be conducted on individuals who are in close contact with the president and vice president throughout the day,” he added.

Trump, 73, was tested for the virus after coming in contact with several members of a Brazilian presidential delegation visiting his Florida resort who have since tested positive.

His physician said Saturday that the result was negative and the president was symptom-free.

Over the weekend, the White House began checking the temperature of people in close contact with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence as a precaution.

AFP

Why I May ‘Likely’ Take Coronavirus Test – Trump

US President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a press conference on COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, March 13, 2020.
SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

US President Donald Trump said Friday he would “likely” be tested soon for the novel coronavirus, although he stressed he is “displaying no symptoms.”

Trump was pressed repeatedly during a White House news conference on whether he should be tested after coming into contact with a Brazilian official now known to have COVID-19.

The president initially shut down the question, saying that per the advice of White House doctors, “I don’t have any of the symptoms.”

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: Trump ‘May’ Add Britain To European Travel Ban

“And we don’t want people without symptoms to go and do the test,” he told reporters.

But when grilled by reporters about his encounter with the official at his Florida resort, he changed tack, saying: “I didn’t say I wasn’t going to be tested” and that he “most likely” would be, “fairly soon.”

“Not for that reason but because I think I will do it anyway,” Trump said.

AFP

Trump Declares State Of Emergency On Coronavirus

US President Donald Trump speaks at a press conference on COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, March 13, 2020. Trump is declaring coronavirus a national emergency.
SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

US President Donald Trump announced a national state of emergency on Friday, freeing up $50 billion in federal funds for the battle against the coronavirus pandemic as he vowed to “vastly” ramp up testing capacity.

“To unleash the full power of the federal government, I’m officially declaring a national emergency,” Trump told a news conference on the White House lawn.

“The next eight weeks are critical,” he said. “We can learn and we will turn a corner on this virus.”

Trump called on all US states to set up emergency operation centers and said the government was partnering with the private sector to “vastly increase and accelerate our capacity to test” for the virus, amid criticism about a lack of test kits nationwide.

“I’m also asking every hospital in this country to activate emergency preparedness plan to meet the needs of Americans everywhere,” Trump said.

“We’ll remove or eliminate every obstacle necessary to deliver our people the care that they need and that they’re entitled to. No resource will be spared, nothing whatsoever,” he added.

READ ALSO: US Summons Chinese Ambassador For Spreading COVID-19 Conspiracy Theory

The national emergency would also confer broad new authority on the US health secretary to waive a series of regulations, including on telemedicine or allowing hospitals to bring additional staff on board.

US authorities have come under fire for lagging behind in deploying test kits, which leading health experts have said allowed the virus to spread beyond the country’s ability to detect it.

The Trump administration announced earlier Friday it was providing almost $1.3 million in funding to two labs to develop tests that return results in about one hour — DiaSorin Molecular of California and QIAGEN of Maryland.

The US Food and Drug Administration has already given emergency approval to Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche for a new and much faster coronavirus test.

As a result of the Roche approval, Trump said half a million additional tests were expected to be available “early next week,” with details on test locations to be announced Sunday night.

He said he hoped another 1.4 million tests could be available next week, and five million within a month.

AFP

Trump Tells Congress To ‘Expunge’ His Impeachment After Senate Acquittal

US President Donald Trump announces his Middle East peace plan in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on January 28, 2020. Trump says his plan ‘could be the last opportunity’ for Palestinians.
MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

President Donald Trump called Friday on Congress to “expunge” his impeachment for abuse of power following his acquittal in the Senate.

“Should they expunge impeachment in the House? They should because it was a hoax,” he told reporters at the White House.

Trump was impeached in December on two charges related to his campaign to get Ukraine’s government to start a corruption investigation into his Democratic election opponent Joe Biden.

On Wednesday, the Republican majority in the Senate cleared Trump in only the third impeachment trial of a president in history.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: Canada Repatriates 174 Citizens From China

Trump has emerged from his victory in a furious mood, describing his Democratic opponents as “evil.”

The Republican minority leader in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, has said that if his party wins back control of the chamber in the November general election it will seek to overturn, or expunge, the impeachment.

Trump also turned his anger on the Democratic speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who demonstratively ripped up a copy of his State of the Union speech in Congress on Tuesday after Trump delivered it.

“That was terrible, it was a terrible — so disrespectful,” he said, “and actually very illegal.”

AFP

Democrat Kamala Harris Ends Her 2020 White House Bid

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 16, 2019, Democratic presidential hopeful, California Senator, Kamala Harris speaks at the California Democratic Party 2019 Fall Endorsing Convention in Long Beach, California. 
Mark RALSTON / AFP

 

Democrat Kamala Harris announced Tuesday she is ending her 2020 White House bid following a period of campaign turmoil and disappointing fundraising that saw her fail to break out of a crowded field.

“I’ve taken stock and looked at this from every angle, and over the last few days have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life,” the senator from California told supporters in an email.

“My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.”

Harris, 55, was the only African-American woman seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

She rocketed toward the top of the field with a promising campaign launch in January but saw her prospects slide in recent months as she struggled to define her positions on various domestic issues including health care.

Harris is one of the biggest names to date to drop out of the race, along with former congressman Beto O’Rourke of Texas and New York mayor Bill de Blasio.

READ ALSO: Finland PM Rinne Resigns After Losing Support

After stagnating in fifth place in the polls, with about 3.4 per cent support, she was bumped to sixth spot out of 16 candidates after billionaire former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg recently threw his hat in the presidential contest.

“I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign,” she wrote to supporters. “As the campaign has gone on, it’s become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete.”

It was a biting and unveiled swat at some of her rivals, including Bloomberg and billionaire activist Tom Steyer, and a telling revelation about the piles of cash a candidate needs to mount a viable campaign in today’s overheated political environment.

Harris has been one the fiercest critics of Donald Trump among the 2020 candidates, directly attacking the embattled president and repeatedly calling for his impeachment.

She also challenged Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden head-on in the party’s first presidential debate, a move that proved a strategic mistake as her support slid while Biden’s largely held steady.

Harris quickly received accolades from other candidates on Twitter after her premature exit from the race.

“Her campaign broke barriers and did it with joy. Love you, sister,” said fellow Senator Cory Booker, the other black candidate in the 2020 race.

Harris was the third candidate to drop out in recent days, along with low-polling Democrats Montana Governor Steve Bullock and former congressman Joe Sestak.

AFP

White House On Lockdown After Unidentified Plane Enters Restricted Area

A uniformed Secret Service officer patrols the grounds at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 26, 2019, during an air space violation.
JIM WATSON / AFP

 

The US Air Force scrambled jets Tuesday after reports of an unidentified aircraft in restricted airspace over Washington forced a brief lockdown in the White House.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command said in a statement that its jet fighters “are on-site and responding.”

The plane that allegedly violated the airspace of the US capital city “is not considered hostile at this time,” they said.

Washington airspace restrictions were severely tightened after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

AFP

Trump Spokeswoman Says Obama’s Aides Left Mean Notes In White House

 

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.