President Trump said he would announce his Supreme Court pick on Saturday, and with Mitt Romney coming out in favor of holding a vote Republicans appeared to have the support they needed. A Georgia poll showed a close race between Joe Biden and Mr. Trump, as well as in both of the state’s Senate contests.
The C.I.A. reasserts that Putin is likely directing efforts to influence the election and aid Trump.
Democrats, lacking the votes to stop Trump from filling Ginsburg’s seat, attack Republicans for going along.
‘It affects virtually nobody,’ Trump says, minimizing the effect of the coronavirus on young people as the U.S. death toll hits 200,000.
It’s National Voter Registration Day, and more than 61.4 million absentee ballots have already been requested or sent out.
Senate Democrats lashed out at Republicans on Tuesday for vowing to confirm whomever President Trump nominates to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, accusing them of rank hypocrisy.
“If Leader McConnell presses forward, the Republican majority will have stolen two Supreme Court seats four years apart — using completely contradictory rash analysis,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, in remarks on the Senate floor.
Standing next to a poster quoting Senator Mitch McConnell’s objections to allowing President Barack Obama to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016, he declared that the majority leader had “defiled the Senate like no one in this generation — and Leader McConnell may very well destroy it.”
The harsh words came as Republicans swung into line behind Mr. McConnell, making it clear that he would have the votes for an election-season Supreme Court confirmation that Democrats would be powerless to prevent.
“I’ve been around here a few years,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat. “You can slow things down, but you can’t stop them. And there comes a point when we would use whatever tools we have available. But ultimately there will be a vote.”
Still, Democrats were moving quickly to try to extract whatever political advantage they could from the fight. Led by Mr. Schumer, they sought to frame the Supreme Court battle as a referendum on Affordable Care Act, which the Trump administration is seeking to overturn in a case that is to be heard by the court the week after Election Day in November.
Mr. Trump’s nominee, whom he said he plans to name on Saturday, is expected to be a staunch conservative who would tip the court further to the right, potentially casting a deciding vote to invalidate the health care law.
“If tens of millions of people lose their health care coverage, these Republicans seem to be saying they just don’t care, and I think that’s wrong,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts.
“What we are doing right now is making clear what’s at stake, and getting everyone in the fight,” she said. “This fight touches the lives of every single person in this country. It’s all on the table.”
I think at this stage, it’s appropriate to look at the Constitution and to look at the precedent, which has existed over — well, since the beginning of our country’s history. And in a circumstance where a nominee of a president is from a different party than the Senate then more often than not, the Senate does not confirm. So the Garland decision was consistent with that. On the other hand, when there’s a nominee of a party that is in the same party as the Senate, then typically they do confirm. I came down on the side of the Constitution and precedent, as I’ve studied it, and made the decision on that basis. So I recognize that we may have a court, which has more of a conservative bent than it’s had over the last few decades. But my liberal friends have over many decades gotten very used to the idea of having a liberal court. And that’s not written in the stars. And I know a lot of people are saying, “Gosh, we don’t want that change.” I understand the energy associated with that perspective, but it’s also appropriate for a nation which is, if you will, center-right, to have a court which reflects a center-right point of view, which again, are not changing the law from what it states. But instead following the law and following the Constitution.
Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said on Tuesday that he would support moving forward to fill the Supreme Court seat left open by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, all but assuring that President Trump has the votes he needs for an election-season confirmation to cement a conservative majority on the high court.
In a statement Tuesday morning, Mr. Romney echoed Republican leaders who have said that historical precedent supported filling the seat in an election year when the presidency and Senate were controlled by the same party.
“The Constitution gives the president the power to nominate and the Senate the authority to provide advice and consent on Supreme Court nominees,” he said. “Accordingly, I intend to follow the Constitution and precedent in considering the president’s nominee. If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications.”
Mr. Romney, the 2012 presidential nominee who is one of the few Republicans who have been willing to criticize Mr. Trump, had been closely watched as a potential defector given his past breaks with the president, including when he voted to convict him in the impeachment trial and remove him from office.
But with the rest of his party quickly swinging into line, it had become clear that Mr. Romney’s opposition would not have been sufficient to block a swift march toward confirmation.
Speaking with reporters, Mr. Romney indicated he would defer to party leaders on whether to try to hold a vote before Election Day or after, but said it was only fitting that Republicans have the chance to install a conservative on the nation’s highest court.
“My liberal friends have over many decades gotten very used to the idea of having a liberal court, but that’s not written in the stars,” he said. “I know a lot of people are saying, ‘Gosh, we don’t want that change.’ I understand the energy associated with that perspective. But it’s also appropriate for a nation that is, if you will, center-right to have a court which reflects center-right points of view.”
It appeared Tuesday that Republican leaders and Mr. Trump would hold defections within their own party to just two: Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, who have said they would not support filling the vacancy so close to the election. Given Republicans’ 53-to-47 majority, and Vice President Mike Pence’s ability to break a tie, Democrats would have needed four defectors to join them in defeating a nominee.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, made no mention of the timing of a confirmation vote in remarks Tuesday morning, instead excoriating his Democratic colleagues for “the outcry and hysteria that has already erupted.”
“I’ll tell you what really could threaten our system of government — it’s not Senate Republicans doing legitimate things squarely within the Senate rules and within the Constitution the Democrats happen to dislike,” Mr. McConnell said. “No, what could really threaten our system is if one of our two major parties continues to pretend the whole system is automatically illegitimate whenever they lose.”
Mr. McConnell’s top deputy, Senator John Thune of South Dakota, told reporters he believed it was “a good idea for us to move forward” before the election.
When President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. meet for their first presidential debate next Tuesday, the questions will focus on six topics that have dominated the news and have been central focuses of their campaigns in recent months.
The issues, which were announced on Tuesday by the Commission on Presidential Debates, will include the coronavirus pandemic; the Supreme Court, which has been at the center of the political debate since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death on Friday; and “race and violence in our cities,” a discussion that has been reanimated after the deaths of several Black Americans led to protests throughout the summer and one that Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden have approached from starkly different viewpoints.
All six topics — the others are Mr. Trump’s and Mr. Biden’s records, the economy and the integrity of the Nov. 3 election — were chosen by the debate’s moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News, the debate commission said.
The debate, which will start at 9 p.m. Eastern time, will be organized into 15-minute segments, each of which will be devoted to one topic. The format is intended “to encourage deep discussion of the leading issues facing the country,” the commission said.
Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump will meet in a second debate on Oct. 15, which will be moderated by Steve Scully, the political editor at C-SPAN. Their third debate will be held on Oct. 22 and will be moderated by Kristen Welker, a White House correspondent for NBC News and an anchor of the weekend “Today” program.
The vice-presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris is scheduled for Oct. 7.
Playing down the dangers the coronavirus poses to young people, President Trump falsely told supporters in Ohio on Monday night that the virus “affects virtually nobody,” hours before the country reached the grim milestone of 200,000 recorded deaths linked to the pandemic, according to a New York Times database.
Mr. Trump, who has veered back and forth between claiming that he takes the crisis seriously and dismissing it as a transient problem that will disappear on its own, made his remarks during a rambling late-night rally at an airport hangar in Dayton. They were part of a chain of assertions Mr. Trump made about the virus centered around the misleading claim, made by the president and other Republicans, that the virus only sickens the old and the ill.
“It affects elderly people, elderly people with heart problems, if they have other problems, that’s what it really affects, in some states thousands of people — nobody young — below the age of 18, like nobody — they have a strong immune system — who knows?” Mr. Trump said.
“It affects virtually nobody,” he added. “It’s an amazing thing — by the way, open your schools!”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has rejected that argument. He told CNN on Tuesday that 25 to 30 percent or more of the population has an underlying condition, like obesity, that contributes to their risk of severe illness.
Mr. Trump’s comments, made in passing, were embedded in a long digression that began with a discussion of tax cuts and ended with his familiar exhortation for local officials to reopen their schools.
His mishandling of the virus, and his administration’s attempts to downplay or distort information about its severity, has emerged as a major vulnerability heading into the election, especially among educated suburban voters.
Mr. Trump continues to talk about the virus in dismissive terms, against the advice of advisers, who have urged him to talk less about the pandemic and more about the economy, law enforcement and other issues.
The true number of Americans killed by the virus — including thousands of people under 65 and some victims who seemed to be in good health before the illness struck — exceeds official death counts and is likely much higher than 200,000 already, according to a recent analysis of deaths in excess of normal levels compiled by The New York Times.
The United States has recorded about 20 percent of the world’s fatalities even though the country is home to just 4 percent of the global population.
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is most likely continuing to approve and direct interference operations aimed at raising President Trump’s re-election chances, a recent C.I.A. analysis concluded, a signal that intelligence agencies continue to back their assessment of Russian activities despite the president’s attacks.
The assessment was disseminated in support of sanctions imposed this month on Andriy Derkach, a pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker who has spread information critical of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. It is consistent with intelligence officials’ warning to lawmakers in January that Russia was interfering on Mr. Trump’s behalf, a briefing that outraged Republicans and eventually helped oust Joseph Maguire from his post as acting director of national intelligence.
The C.I.A. has moderate confidence in its analysis, a lower degree of certainty than its 2016 assessment of Mr. Putin’s preferences, in part because the intelligence community appears to lack intercepted communications or other direct evidence confirming his direction of Mr. Derkach’s efforts. Mr. Putin, a former intelligence agent, is careful not to use electronic devices.
According to people familiar with the matter, the new analysis was published ahead of the sanctions in the C.I.A. Worldwide Intelligence Review, a classified document that circulates to members of Congress and the Trump administration. The Washington Post earlier reported the assessment.
Mr. Trump himself remains hostile to arguments that Russia is intervening to support him. After the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, testified last week that Russia was trying to sow discord in the United States and “denigrate Vice President Biden,” Mr. Trump chastised him publicly, saying he should have also emphasized China’s election interference efforts.
Joseph R. Biden has not sewn up battlegrounds in the Midwest, but the former vice president has managed to make durable inroads in the suburbanizing South, according to a new poll of likely voters in Georgia, which showed him in a 47-to-47 tie with President Trump there.
The state’s two Senate races also remain close, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution/University of Georgia poll, which was conducted before the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and released on Tuesday.
In one race, Senator David Perdue, the Republican incumbent, is just two points up on his Democratic challenger, Jon Ossoff, 47 to 45 percent — an advantage within the poll’s margin of error, which is plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.
Senator Kelly Loeffler, also a Republican, leads with 24 percent in the free-for-all special election to fill the seat that she was appointed to last year when Johnny Isakson retired last year.
But the race is very close and shows signs of volatility, according to the poll. Representative Doug Collins, a Republican close to President Trump, and the Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, each polled at roughly 20 percent.
Two other Democrats are both trailing. Matt Lieberman, the son of former Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, has 11 percent support. Ed Tarver, a former federal prosecutor, polled at 5 percent. A substantial share of voters, 17 percent, said they were undecided.
Both Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Tarver have faced calls to withdraw from the race to allow Democrats to consolidate support around Dr. Warnock, the pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, who has been endorsed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Last week, Majority Forward, a group aligned with Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, announced it was pumping $6 million into Georgia for voter mobilization efforts on behalf of Mr. Ossoff and Mr. Warnock.
Under Georgia’s special-election rules, candidates from all parties are competing on the same ballot in the special election. If one candidate does not earn a majority of the vote, the election will then go to a January 5 runoff between the two candidates with the highest vote totals.
In the wake of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, Democratic strategists working on Senate campaigns from Alaska to Maine to North and South Carolina described a spontaneous outpouring of donations the likes of which they had never seen.
The influx of cash will allow Democrats the financial freedom to broaden their map of pickup opportunities, or press their financial advantage in top battlegrounds already saturated with advertising.
By Monday, Democratic contributors had given more than $160 million online through ActBlue, the leading site for processing digital donations. ActBlue broke one record after another — its biggest hour in 16 years, its busiest day, its busiest weekend — after Justice Ginsburg’s death.
An estimated tens of millions of dollars went toward efforts to retake the Senate, where the acrimonious confirmation fight to replace Justice Ginsburg will occur.
At least 13 Democratic candidates or senators raised more than $1.3 million each since Friday from a single fund-raising effort.
And in a closely contested race in North Carolina that could tip the balance in the chamber, Cal Cunningham, the Democrat challenging Senator Thom Tillis, enjoyed a $6 million influx of cash.
As impressive as Mr. Cunningham’s haul was, the Democratic candidates in Maine, Arizona, Kentucky and South Carolina are believed to have fared even better.
“Righteous anger is being translated into political action,” said Senator Brian Schatz, Democrat of Hawaii, who helped raise $122,000 in online donations for Mr. Cunningham over the weekend.
With six weeks until Election Day, more than 61.4 million absentee ballots have already been requested by or sent to voters in 28 states and the District of Columbia for the general election, a New York Times analysis found.
The data offers yet another indication that the number of Americans who plan to vote early or by mail this year will set records.
A record number of voters will be able to cast mail ballots in the general election. So far, Democrats are requesting more absentee ballots than Republicans.
Concerns that the coronavirus could spread at polling places provoked a huge shift to mail-in ballots this year. Many states have expanded their absentee voting eligibility rules, and requests for absentee ballots have already surpassed total 2016 requests in at least 11 states.
The pandemic has also altered the voter registration process, cutting opportunities for in-person events. On Tuesday, as groups around the country participated in National Voter Registration Day, a mass effort to register voters before the Nov. 3 election, many — though not all — of their efforts moved to online campaigns.
Although deadlines vary, many states allow voters to request mail ballots less than two weeks before Election Day. The Postal Service has recommended that voters request them by Oct. 19 to ensure that ballots are returned on time. Early voting has also started in a handful of states this month.
A Texas lawsuit over the mailing of absentee ballots to everyone over 65 but no one else. A Nevada case on whether to count mail ballots that lack postmarks. A Florida lawsuit over the right of former felons to vote.
Any number of legal battles over the rules for the Nov. 3 election could wind up this fall before a Supreme Court whose liberal minority was further diminished by the death on Friday of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And any Supreme Court ruling in some of those cases could resonate nationwide, influencing similar suits filed in other jurisdictions.
But whether Justice Ginsburg’s death could shape the outcome of the presidential race is no simple question, some experts on election law said. Her loss shifts further to the right a court that already took a largely conservative stance on questions of voting rights and election procedures, especially when Election Day is close.
Absentee and early voting in the general election are already underway in some states, and Justice Ginsburg’s death has made the court itself a central issue in the most bitterly partisan presidential race in memory.
That makes it less clear that the justices would want to risk fanning those partisan fires by taking on cases where its rulings might be seen as overtly political, some election scholars said.
“I think Chief Justice Roberts is very sensitive to perceptions of the legitimacy of the court,” Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford University law professor and an expert on constitutional and election law, said of John G. Roberts Jr. “Whether it’s deciding to take a case, or how they end up deciding it, he knows that if it’s seen as breaking along partisan lines or taking advantage of the death of Justice Ginsburg, that is a real threat” to the Supreme Court’s public standing.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers urged their party leaders on Tuesday to keep the House in session in Washington until Congress passes another pandemic relief bill, underscoring the simmering frustration among centrist lawmakers in both parties — many of whom are facing difficult re-election battles — about the failure to reach agreement on another round of aid.
“It has been suggested by some that Members of Congress are anxious to return to their districts to campaign in advance of the November 3rd election, even if that means leaving Capitol Hill without passing another COVID-19 relief bill,” the lawmakers, led by Representative Jared Golden, Democrat of Maine, wrote.
“We want to be very clear that we do not in any way agree with this position,” they continued, adding that “our constituents do not want us home campaigning while businesses continue to shutter.”
20 Democrats and 14 Republicans signed onto the letter, which was addressed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader.
Facing complaints from moderate Democrats frustrated by the lack of progress, Ms. Pelosi last week pledged to keep the House in session until there was a deal.
But under the remote voting rules the House adopted during the pandemic, representatives have largely stayed at home in their districts while waiting for a vote to be called. That posture is untenable for many politically vulnerable members, who prefer the optics of being seen working toward a solution in Washington rather than campaigning at home.
Many lawmakers and aides on Capitol Hill have all but given up on passing a new relief bill into law before Election Day, a stance that has unnerved those facing re-election who dread returning to their constituents without having approved more aid.
The House passed a $3.4 trillion stimulus measure in May, but Senate Republicans rejected it in favor of a narrower measure, which failed.
President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. are tied for support, 47 percent to 47 percent, among likely voters in Iowa, a state Mr. Trump won by 9 percentage points in 2016, according to a poll released on Tuesday and conducted for the Des Moines Register by Selzer & Co.
The survey, one of the most highly regarded polls in a perpetual battleground state, found a dramatic and widening gender divide: Mr. Trump leads, 57 to 36 percent, among men, while Mr. Biden holds a virtually identical advantage, 57 to 37 percent, among women.
“I don’t know that there’s any race in the history of presidential polling in Iowa that shows this kind of division,” said J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., told the Register.
Mr. Trump carried men in Iowa by 28 percent four years ago. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, won women voters by 7 percent, a much smaller margin than what the poll found for Mr. Biden.
The poll represents a static race likely to be decided by relatively small movement on the margins. Only 3 percent of respondents were undecided, with 4 percent throwing their support to third-party candidates.
The survey of 658 likely voters was conducted Sept. 14 through 17, and has a margin of error of 3.8 percent.
Iowa, known for its role at the start of the presidential primary process, has carved out a unique niche at the end of this general election.
Virtually every race in the state this year, from the presidential race, to the Senate contest between the incumbent Republican, Joni Ernst, and her Democratic opponent, Theresa Greenfield, to the fight over its four House seats, is more or less deadlocked, polls have found.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. declined on Monday to say whether he would consider adding seats to the Supreme Court, sidestepping an idea being pushed by some progressives after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
In an interview on Monday with WBAY, a Wisconsin television station, Mr. Biden was asked if he would consider adding justices to the court if President Trump succeeded in appointing a successor to Justice Ginsburg, Mr. Biden won the election and Democrats won the Senate.
“It’s a legitimate question, but let me tell you why I’m not going answer that question,” responded Mr. Biden, who had previously expressed opposition to expanding the court. “Because it would shift all the focus. That’s what he wants. He never wants to talk about the issue at hand. He always tries to change the subject.”
Instead, Mr. Biden said, “the discussion should be about why he is moving in a direction that’s totally inconsistent with what the founders wanted.” The former vice president added that filling the seat now, as votes are already being cast, would be a “fundamental breach of constitutional principle.”
In a speech on Sunday, Mr. Biden urged Senate Republicans to “follow your conscience” and refrain from rushing a nominee through the Senate in the final six weeks before the election.
Mr. Biden and other Democrats are facing pressure from some progressives to add seats to the court if Mr. Trump succeeds in installing a nominee and pushing the court’s ideological tilt further to the right.
Democrats up and down the ballot have been focusing on health care in their paid advertising campaigns. Now, with a vacancy on the Supreme Court upending the presidential and Senate races, Priorities USA, a major Democratic super PAC, is using a new ad to remind voters that the Trump administration is seeking to invalidate the Affordable Care Act in a case heading to the Supreme Court.
The ad begins with a different focus, aimed at undercutting the support Mr. Trump has been seeing in polls regarding his ability to rebuild the economy. It frames the 2017 tax law as one that helped “the rich get richer” and states that his proposed budget would have included cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. “But that’s not all,” a deep-voiced narrator intones.
The ad claims that the Trump administration “asks Supreme Court to Strike Down Affordable Care Act,” a reference to a current lawsuit that the court has not yet decided. The ad continues to another repetition of a common Democratic attack: that the gutting of the Affordable Care Act, whether through the courts or legislation, would end coverage for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions. The ad concludes its focus on health care by noting that all these efforts are ongoing “in the middle of a pandemic.”
It is true that billionaires paid a lower tax rate than the working class in 2018. While the 2017 federal tax law wasn’t the sole cause of the tax rate, it was “the tipping point” by lowering the top income tax rate and cutting corporate taxes, according to a study by economists at the University of California at Berkley.
It is also true that the president’s budget in 2020 sought to cut many safety net programs. But perhaps with an eye toward the coming election, Mr. Trump’s budget avoided some hot-button issues — notably by not reducing Social Security or Medicare benefits. Most of the administration’s initiatives to save money on Medicare are cost-reduction proposals first offered under President Barack Obama. Earlier this year, Mr. Trump suggested to an interviewer at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland that he would “at some point” look at cutting entitlement programs.
The Trump administration is seeking to eliminate the Affordable Care Act in court, which would also eliminate provisions in the law that protect people with pre-existing conditions. In the past, Mr. Trump has expressed support for a bill sponsored by Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, that would prohibit insurers from denying coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions. However, it would allow certain states to request an exception that would allow insurers to charge more based on a person’s health status.
The 2018 midterms were a windfall for Democrats largely over the issue of health care and prescription drug costs. In the midst of many crises of 2020, from the coronavirus to natural disasters to the sudden vacancy on the Supreme Court, it appears many Democratic groups will keep the message, at least somewhat, on health care.
The North Carolina Republican Party spent $213,000 on glossy mailers sent out in August to voters believed to be supporters of President Trump.
“Urgent Notice,” the mailers warned, alongside a photo of the president. On the flip side, voters found a tear-off application for an absentee ballot.
“Are you going to let the Democrats silence you?” the mailers asked, urging Republicans to fill out the application and send it in to obtain a mail-in ballot.
Similar appeals have flooded mailboxes in Georgia, Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin and other battleground states, part of a multimillion-dollar effort by state Republican parties to promote absentee voting, reinforced by text-message blasts and robocalls from Mr. Trump’s campaign and its surrogates.
Yet those efforts may have been undercut by Mr. Trump himself, whose repeated assertions that the mail-in voting is rigged, including several focusing on North Carolina, may have scared away his own supporters. His messaging could be one reason Republicans lag far behind Democrats in requesting mail ballots in North Carolina and elsewhere, experts said.
“It’s unbelievable and obviously at cross purposes with maximizing the Republican vote,” said Bill Weld, a former Republican governor of Massachusetts who challenged Mr. Trump for the Republican nomination this year. “The president is definitely inflicting a leak below the water line.”
7 p.m. — Delivers remarks at a campaign rally in a hangar at Pittsburgh International Airport.
Afternoon — Tours small businesses that have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic in Flint, Mich.
6:25 p.m. — Participates in a voter mobilization event to mark National Voter Registration Day in Detroit.
3 p.m. — Delivers remarks at a campaign rally at the AutoServ Hangar in Gilford, N.H.
President Trump will name his Supreme Court pick on Saturday, and he appears to have the G.O.P. votes he needs. The election is six weeks away. Get live updates here.
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News – 2020 Election Live Updates: Democrats, Conceding They’re Powerless on Court Vacancy, Accuse Republicans of Hypocrisy