President Trump has resumed public events less than one week after he left Walter Reed hospital, where he was treated for COVID-19. Trump has repeatedly declared himself “immune” to COVID-19 in recent days and has also said he can’t spread the disease, with no evidence.
President Donald Trump: “I beat this crazy, horrible China virus. And it also gives you immunity. I mean, it does give you immunity. Even the — the people that just cannot accept anything, I mean, they just don’t want to accept anything. No, so, we — I passed the highest test.”
On Saturday, Trump held a small campaign rally on the South Lawn of the White House, where he spoke, unmasked, from the balcony to a group which included many Black and Latinx supporters. ABC News reports conservative activist Candace Owens paid travel and lodging costs for members of her so-called BLEXIT group to attend Saturday’s rally. Trump is scheduled to appear at a rally at the Orlando Sanford International Airport in Florida today, and his campaign is planning large rallies in Pennsylvania and Iowa later in the week. This comes as Minnesota’s Department of Health identified nine cases of COVID-19 stemming from Trump’s rally in Bemidji last month — including one person who was hospitalized in an intensive care unit.
Ahead of Trump’s release from Walter Reed last week, The New York Times reports the president proposed an idea to his aides for a stunt: Trump would walk past photographers appearing frail and weak, only to rip open his button-down shirt, revealing a Superman T-shirt underneath. On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced a bill that would create a congressional panel to judge the president’s capacity to carry out the job, invoking the 25th Amendment, which lays out the line of presidential succession.
Top U.S. infectious disease scientist Dr. Anthony Fauci is disavowing a Trump campaign commercial that he says took his words out of context. The ad features these remarks, selectively edited from an interview Fauci gave back in March.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: “I can’t imagine that … anybody could be doing more.”
Dr. Fauci has never endorsed a political candidate in more than 35 years of public service. In a statement, he responded, “The use of my name and my words by the G.O.P. campaign was done without my permission, and the actual words themselves were taken out of context, based on something that I said months ago regarding the entire effort of the task force.”
U.S. coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, as the overall caseload has now topped 7.7 million, with a death toll of nearly 215,000. New cases hit a two-month daily high Friday, with 10 states reporting record single-day rises, according to Reuters. In 31 states, new cases have gone up compared to the previous week.
The New York Times reports the White House last month blocked an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requiring face masks on all forms of public and commercial transportation across the U.S.
Meanwhile, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and his family will quarantine after a member of his security team tested positive for COVID-19.
On Capitol Hill, stimulus talks remain stalled, with both Democrats and Republicans rejecting a White House proposal for a $1.8 trillion stimulus. Last Tuesday, Trump tweeted that he was ending stimulus negotiations until after Election Day — only to reverse that announcement later in the day. Democrats say the latest White House offer is “insufficient,” citing shortfalls in funding for unemployment benefits, child care, and aid to state and local governments. Republicans say the bill is too costly and object to its expansion of the Affordable Care Act.
Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett begin in the Senate today. In her pre-released opening statement, Judge Barrett pledges to “apply the law as written.” However, more evidence has emerged that Barrett has publicly advocated against abortion rights, including supporting a reversal of Roe v. Wade. On Friday, Barrett amended her Senate questionnaire to include information about talks she gave in 2013 while she was a law professor at the University of Notre Dame. The talks were hosted by anti-abortion student groups. She also disclosed she signed a newspaper advertisement in 2006 that called for “an end to the barbaric legacy of Roe vs. Wade.”
The second presidential debate, which had been scheduled for this Thursday, was canceled after Trump refused to take part in a virtual debate, despite his recent COVID-19 diagnosis. Joe Biden will instead participate in an ABC News town hall on that date. The next and final presidential debate is scheduled for next Thursday, October 22.
In other election news, in Pennsylvania, a federal judge has rejected a Trump campaign lawsuit that sought to remove ballot drop boxes in the state, saying there was no evidence the drop boxes would lead to voter fraud. The court also rejected several other voter suppression attempts by the Trump campaign, including an effort to require signature matching for mail-in ballots.
Meanwhile, in Texas, the fate of a directive by Governor Greg Abbott limiting ballot drop box sites to one per county remains unknown after a court stayed a ruling by a judge Friday blocking Abbott’s move. Voting rights advocates say limiting ballot drop boxes will not only decrease voting, but will also put people at increased risk during the pandemic.
Azerbaijan has launched fresh air raids on the capital of the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, as a Russia-backed ceasefire between Azeri and Armenian forces broke down less than a day after it was implemented Friday. Armenia accused Azerbaijan of deliberately targeting a historic cathedral, while Azerbaijan accused Armenia of shelling a residential area in its second-largest city, Ganja. At least 300 people have been killed since fighting in the territory erupted two weeks ago.
In Nigeria, a controversial police unit has been abolished in response to mass protests calling for an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS. Recent videos posted on social media show SARS officers, who are usually unidentified and in plain clothes, brutalizing people, including in some cases apparently killing them. Activists warn, however, that simply reassigning violent officers will not solve the issue of police brutality.
In Iraq, armed groups backed by Iran have agreed to a conditional ceasefire on attacks on U.S. targets, provided the Iraqi government presents a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal. Last month, the Trump administration threatened to shut down the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad after a series of attacks on U.S.-linked targets.
Back in the United States, a New York Times investigation into Donald Trump’s tax history suggests Trump may have used part of a $30 million loan from City National Bank in Los Angeles to prop up his dwindling campaign funding in the weeks before the 2016 election. Trump’s tax records show over $21 million in unusual payments from a Las Vegas hotel he co-owned, that flowed through other Trump companies, which Trump may have then used to “self-finance” his campaign. Such funds would likely constitute illegal campaign contributions. Additionally, it would be illegal for Trump to claim a tax deduction on payments that were not actual business expenses.
In related news, New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating whether the Trump Organization inflated the value of a Westchester County property in order to reap a $21 million tax break as part of a conservation easement after Trump agreed to preserve 150 acres of woodlands on the estate.
A federal appeals court ruled Friday President Trump’s use of emergency powers in 2019 to divert billions of dollars from military construction funds to build the U.S.-Mexico border wall is illegal. We’ll have more on Trump’s border wall later in the broadcast as we head to Arizona to speak with O’odham water and land defender Nellie Jo David on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which scores of cities and states are observing today after rejecting the celebration of Columbus Day.
In immigration news, two Cameroonian asylum seekers, who fear they were unknowingly subjected to forced sterilizations at Irwin Detention Center in Georgia, are scheduled to be deported on Tuesday. The women are now imprisoned at Montgomery Processing Center in Conroe, Texas. Advocates are demanding Immigration and Customs Enforcement release them on humanitarian grounds.
Hurricane Delta has killed at least one person, cut power for hundreds of thousands and left towns under water as it pummeled Louisiana, just six weeks after Hurricane Laura ripped through the same region. Delta is the 10th Atlantic storm to hit the mainland this season.
Rapper and activist Killer Mike announced he is launching a Black-owned digital bank, Greenwood, along with Bounce TV founder Ryan Glover and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young. The online bank will provide financial services to Black and Latinx customers and is named after the former Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma, known as Black Wall Street, which was burned to the ground by a white mob in 1921. Killer Mike says Greenwood Bank, which will open in January, received tens of thousands of account requests within one day of its announcement. This is Andrew Young speaking with Killer Mike about wealth inequality.
Andrew Young: “We’ve got to put capital at the bottom of the pyramid, so that whoever else has brilliant ideas that will make life better for everybody can develop those ideas.”