Authorities in Michigan have arrested 13 men with ties to right-wing militias, including six men who allegedly plotted to kidnap the governor of Michigan, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, ahead of the November election. Seven other men linked to a militia group called the Wolverine Watchmen face state terrorism, conspiracy and weapons charges for plotting to storm the state Capitol in Lansing with the intent of starting a civil war.
Governor Whitmer blamed President Trump for instigating the violent plots. In April, Trump sent a tweet reading ”LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” — and just last week Trump told a far-right hate group known as the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: “When our leaders meet with, encourage or fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions, and they are complicit.”
President Trump responded by attacking Governor Whitmer in three tweets on Thursday.
President Trump said Thursday he’s planning to resume in-person campaigning as early as Saturday with a rally in Florida — even though he remains sick with COVID-19 at the White House and may still be contagious. Trump also rejected a proposal Thursday by the Commission on Presidential Debates to have Trump and Biden join next Thursday’s debate from separate remote locations. But late Thursday, Trump’s campaign manager reversed course, saying Trump does want to debate Biden after all.
Trump’s personal doctor said in a statement he “anticipates” the president can return to public engagements on Saturday — even though the White House continues to withhold critical details about the president’s mental and physical health, including when Trump had his last negative test for coronavirus. On Thursday morning, Trump told Fox Business he has recovered completely from COVID-19.
President Donald Trump: “I’m back because I’m a perfect physical specimen and I’m extremely young.”
Trump also repeated his claim that his bout with COVID-19 has made him immune to the coronavirus — even though there’s evidence some people can become reinfected.
President Donald Trump: “Remember this: When you catch it, you get better, and then you’re immune.”
Throughout the day, Trump continued to lash out against his political opponents on Twitter, demanding that Attorney General William Barr lock up Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. And on Thursday evening, Trump coughed his way through an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity.
President Donald Trump: “Absentee is OK. [coughs] Absentee ballots [coughs] — excuse me — absentee ballots are fine.”
At another point in the telephone interview, Trump appeared to mute his microphone, only to cough again before he resumed speaking.
President Donald Trump: “We had three debates with Hillary. And on, I think, the first debate [coughs], they [silence] — excuse me — on the first debate, they oscillated the mic.”
On Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday President Trump is in an “altered state right now,” and announced a plan to create a commission to review Trump’s fitness for office.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “His disassociation from reality would be funny if it weren’t so deadly.”
Any move by the House to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump would require the agreement of Vice President Mike Pence. On Thursday, Pence canceled plans to travel to Indiana today, where he was scheduled to cast an early vote. Pence is instead heading to Washington, D.C. His abrupt schedule change set off a flurry of speculation on whether the vice president might also have COVID-19, though a spokesperson told reporters late Thursday, “Nobody’s sick. There’s no positive tests.”
A top U.S. vaccine scientist who blew the whistle on President Trump’s disastrous handling of the coronavirus pandemic spoke publicly Thursday for the first time since he resigned his post at the National Institutes of Health, where he had been demoted after speaking out. This is Dr. Rick Bright, speaking on CNN.
Rick Bright: “The messaging that President Trump gave to America and the world when he left the hospital, about there is no need to be afraid of this virus, is probably the most reckless and deadly piece of information I have ever heard. This virus is deadly. It is airborne. And now, finally, the CDC is being allowed by the White House to tell the world it is airborne. It spreads person to person very easily. Look at the hot spot from that Rose Garden ceremony for the Supreme Court nominee.”
At least two drugs used to treat President Trump’s coronavirus infection were tested on cells derived from fetal tissue — contradicting the Trump administration’s opposition to the use of human embryonic cell lines in medical research. The drugs are remdesivir, an antiviral, and an experimental cocktail of monoclonal antibodies produced by Regeneron. A similar experimental drug produced by Eli Lilly was also tested using cells derived from fetal tissue. Last year, the Trump administration cut federal funding to many projects that use fetal tissue or embryonic stem cell lines, meeting a core demand of anti-abortion activists.
President Trump declared this week he was “cured” of COVID-19 after he received the Regeneron antibody treatment. The drug is still in clinical trials and is not FDA approved. Regeneron’s billionaire CEO has been a member at President Trump’s golf resort in Westchester, New York, and met with Trump in May. After the meeting, in July, Regeneron received $450 million in government funding as part of the Trump administration’s vaccine program known as “Operation Warp Speed.” Trump’s 2017 filing with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics shows Trump was invested in both Regeneron and Gilead Sciences — the maker of remdesivir, which Trump is also taking.
In Ohio, a federal judge has blocked an order from Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose limiting the installation of ballot drop boxes to just one location per county. The Thursday ruling allows for ballot drop boxes to be placed in multiple areas, where they are needed.
In related news, a federal appeals court in Wisconsin has reversed a ruling from last week that granted extra time to receive and count absentee ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic. Absentee ballots in the state will now only be counted if they are returned by Election Day.
A warning to our audience: The following headline contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault.
Two friends of former model Amy Dorris — the 26th woman to accuse President Trump of sexual misconduct — say Dorris told them about the 1997 assault shortly after it happened. Last month, in an interview with The Guardian, Dorris said Trump grabbed her, forcibly kissed her and groped her at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in 1997.
In related news, President Trump lashed out at Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris in an interview with Fox Business Thursday following Wednesday’s vice-presidential debate.
President Donald Trump: “And this monster that was on stage with Mike Pence, who destroyed her last night, by the way, but this monster” —
Trump repeated the “monster” insult on Twitter, also calling Kamala Harris a “communist”.
Human Rights Watch is condemning ongoing violence against LGBTQ people in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala and denouncing the United States for denying refuge to LGBTQ asylum seekers from the region. The report, published this week, is based on over 100 interviews with LGBTQ people from the three countries as they detail brutal violence and discrimination at the hands of law enforcement, gangs and their own families.
In related news, protests continue in Guatemala demanding justice for two women killed in the region of Zacapa, just one week apart from each other. Laura Daniela Hernández was shot to death in late September, and Litzy Cordón was kidnapped Monday and found dead the next day. So far this year, at least 350 women have been violently killed in Guatemala.
In immigration news, BuzzFeed reports a new Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy allows ICE agents to arrest and quickly deport undocumented people who have been in the U.S. for less than two years, without first seeing an immigration judge. This comes after an appeals court in the District of Columbia lifted a preliminary injunction against the rule in June.
Meanwhile, The Intercept reports ICE has admitted to wrongfully deporting a Guatemalan asylum seeker in August, before his scheduled hearing in immigration court and without a judge’s order for removal. Cesar Marroquín reportedly fled Guatemala after surviving torture and political persecution. He crossed into the U.S. in March, immediately turned himself in to Border Patrol and was sent to an immigration prison in Louisiana. ICE has called Marroquín’s extrajudicial removal an “administrative error.”
Louisiana officials are warning of a “life-threatening storm surge” as Hurricane Delta bears down on the Gulf Coast with sustained winds of 120 miles per hour. The storm is forecast to make landfall Friday afternoon as a Category 2 storm near Lake Charles, Louisiana — the fourth named storm to hit the area during this year’s unprecedented hurricane season. Just weeks ago, Hurricane Laura came ashore near Lake Charles as the strongest storm to hit Louisiana in over a century, destroying homes and leaving residents without power for weeks.
The Trump administration imposed sanctions Thursday on 18 major banks in Iran, effectively shutting off the Iranian financial sector from the global economy. The move drew alarm from European Union officials who say it will exacerbate shortages of food and medicine during the pandemic. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted, “conspiring to starve a population is a crime against humanity. Culprits & enablers—who block our money—WILL face justice.”
In Oslo, Norway, the Nobel Peace Prize committee has awarded the 2020 prize to the World Food Programme, the United Nations’ largest specialized agency and the world’s biggest humanitarian group addressing hunger. Last year, it provided assistance in 88 countries to close to 100 million people.
Longtime Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy has been charged with conspiring to serve as a foreign agent for lobbying the Trump administration on behalf of the Malaysian and Chinese governments. Broidy is accused of accepting $6 million in bribes to end a U.S. investigation into a billion-dollar embezzlement of a Malaysian state investment fund, while separately seeking the return of a Chinese exile to his home country. Broidy was a major fundraiser for Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Pioneering transgender activist and journalist Monica Roberts passed away Monday in her hometown of Houston, Texas. Roberts founded the award-winning blog TransGriot in 2006, where she covered the trans community. Roberts described herself as a “proud unapologetic Black trans woman speaking truth to power.” She was 58 years old.