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11 political days like we've never seen before – CNN

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It began when Trump nominated a new Supreme Court justice. Then came a bombshell New York Times story revealed just how little the President paid in taxes. And while a story like that normally would have led national headlines for weeks, all eyes pivoted toward Trump’s positive coronavirus diagnosis and subsequent hospitalization.
It all comes less than a month before the 2020 presidential election.
The latest CNN poll out Tuesday showed Democratic nominee Joe Biden with the widest lead in the election cycle and both vice presidential nominees gearing up for a debate Wednesday night.
Trump, meanwhile, is promising a return to the campaign trail, even though it’s not clear when he’ll recover from the virus.
Here’s a look back at the last 11 days:

Saturday: Trump nominates Barrett to the Supreme Court

A nomination so close to the election marked an opportunity for the President to set himself apart in the race — nominating a third Supreme Court justice in one presidential term, and potentially cementing a conservative court for a generation.
The event brought in prominent supporters and Senate allies from across the country, most of whom declined to wear a face mask. Cameras captured audience members in the Rose Garden sitting close together and some were seen greeting one another with close hugs and kisses.
In the days after the announcement, several of those audience members caught getting close on camera or listed as attendees — including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Utah Sen. Mike Lee — tested positive for the coronavirus. And at least three journalists and several White House aides near the President would test positive, too.

Sunday and Monday: New York Times publishes the Trump taxes story, backlash ensues

A comprehensive report published by The New York Times indicated that Trump paid no federal income taxes whatsoever in 10 out of 15 years beginning in 2000 because he reported losing significantly more than he made.
In both the year he won the presidency and his first year in the White House, Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes, the Times reported.
Detailing payments gleaned from more than two decades of tax information, the Times report outlines extensive financial losses and years of tax avoidance that deal a blow to the business-tycoon brand Trump has built his political career on.
Trump has denied the Times’ reporting and claimed that he pays “a lot” in federal income taxes.
The likelihood that Trump personally owes unknown creditors hundreds of millions of dollars, as revealed by the Times, has also raised concerns about how the President’s financial entanglements could influence his national security decisions, former officials and experts told CNN.
The report also fueled fresh attacks on the President in the final weeks of the presidential campaign, including Tuesday’s presidential debate.
Also on Sunday, Trump’s former campaign manager, Brad Parscale, was hospitalized following reports of a suicidal threats at his Florida home. He later resigned from his role as a senior adviser to the campaign.

Tuesday: The first presidential debate of 2020

Trump and Biden took part in the first US presidential debate on Tuesday.
Throughout the night, Trump interrupted Biden and moderator, Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace. Biden called Trump a clown and told him to shut up. At one point, Trump refused to denounce White supremacists — a comment he had to grapple with throughout the rest of the week. He also mocked Biden for wearing a mask.
And once again, the President questioned the legitimacy of the election results and continued misleading attacks on voting by mail.
“If it’s a fair election, I am 100% on board. But if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can’t go along with that,” Trump said.
After their face-to-face, six in 10 debate watchers said Biden did the best job in the debate, and just 28% said Trump did, according a CNN Poll of debate watchers conducted by SSRS.
Trump also repeatedly touted the state of the economy during the debate, but that same day, Disney announced it would be laying off 28,000 employees.

Wednesday: Trump holds a rally in Minnesota, his aide gets sick on Air Force One

Trump held a rally and private fundraiser in Minnesota on Wednesday, and despite backlash over his refusal to denounce White supremacists the night before, Trump resurfaced racist attacks on Somali refugees and Minnesota’s Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar.
On the way back to Washington after the rally officials said one of the President’s top aides, Hope Hicks, began developing coronavirus symptoms. She was isolated in a separate cabin and was seen deplaning from the rear steps of Air Force One.
American Airlines and United Airlines also announced that they would be laying off a total of 32,000 employees, after it was made clear that Congress and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were unable to reach a deal to help their industry.

Thursday: Trump holds a fundraiser in New Jersey despite aide’s coronavirus diagnosis

Officials at the White House were aware that Hicks had tested positive for coronavirus, though it’s not clear exactly when her results came back. Still, Trump went ahead with his schedule, holding a fundraiser at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Sometime after his return from Bedminster, Trump received a preliminary positive coronavirus rapid test result.
He revealed Friday at nearly 1 a.m. that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive, tweeting: “Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”

Friday: Trump heads to Walter Reed

The President was initially being treated within the White House, but Friday afternoon, the President boarded Marine One en route to Walter Reed Military Medical Center, where White House officials said he would stay for treatment for a few days.
White House officials had serious concerns about Trump’s health on Friday evening, CNN reported. A Trump adviser said, “This is serious,” describing Trump as very tired, very fatigued and having some trouble breathing.

Saturday: White House doctors hold a news conference

White House physician Dr. Sean Conley and other members of the President’s medical team briefed reporters on Saturday, offering a rosy assessment of Trump’s condition.
Conley claimed Trump was doing well and has been fever-free for 24 hours, contradicting CNN’s reporting.
After the briefing, a White House official offered a more alarming assessment of Trump’s health to reporters, saying: “The President’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning … We are still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”
Later, The Associated Press and The New York Times identified that official as White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Sunday: Trump takes a drive outside the hospital to wave at supporters

One of the physicians treating Trump, Dr. Brian Garibaldi, said Sunday the President is being given the steroid drug dexamethasone as part of his Covid-19 treatment.
Sealed inside an SUV with Secret Service agents donning masks, eye protection and gowns, Trump — also masked — waved at supporters alongside the road.
Afterward, members of the Secret Service voiced escalating concern at what many of the agency’s personnel have determined is total disregard for their well-being amid the pandemic.
Agents have tested positive for the virus while traveling for the President’s political rallies, which he insisted on maintaining even against federal health guidelines. As employees self-quarantine or isolate in place, others have been forced to work longer hours to fill the void.

Monday: Trump returns to the White House

The President announced that he would be leaving the hospital Monday afternoon via Twitter.
Conley said that Trump’s condition “continued to improve” and “met or exceeds all standard hospital discharge criteria.” Conley also acknowledged that the President “may not be entirely out of the woods yet,” but said Trump’s current condition supported a “safe return home.”
Trump, who continued to be heavily medicated, appeared to be breathing with some difficulty on Monday evening after he mounted the South Portico steps to pose for cameras while saluting his Marine One helicopter. A White House official and a separate source close to the White House said there remain lingering health concerns, even after Trump returned home.
Trump removed his mask upon his arrival at the White House. And in a propaganda video produced about his return, the President, who remains infected with the virus, mused, “Now, I’m better and maybe I’m immune? I don’t know.”

Tuesday: CNN poll has largest Biden lead yet, Trump resumes tweeting

Biden’s advantage over Trump expanded in a nationwide CNN Poll conducted by SSRS that was released Tuesday, leading the former vice president to hold his widest lead of the election cycle.
Among likely voters, 57% say they back Biden and 41% Trump in the poll that was conducted entirely after the first debate and mostly after the President’s coronavirus infection was made public.
The White House did not announce any public events for the President’s first full day out of the hospital. And offices once buzzing with activity within the White House complex amid the pandemic were largely empty, as many decamped to work from home or quarantined following multiple positive coronavirus test results from the President’s closest aides.
“Will be back on the Campaign Trail soon!!! The Fake News only shows the Fake Polls,” Trump wrote, responding to CNN’s latest poll.
The President also declared that he would be attending next week’s presidential debate in Miami, despite his uncertain prognosis and the potential that he could still be contagious by then. In another tweet, he wrote, “FEELING GREAT!”
Later, he dramatically pulled the plug on a deal to supply more stimulus funding to combat the economic losses caused by the pandemic, causing the markets to plunge just before close.

Wednesday: Vice presidential debate

Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris are set to face off at a debate Wednesday night.
Pence and Harris have tested negative for coronavirus since Trump’s diagnosis, but they will now be seated 12 feet apart, after the Biden campaign raised health concerns over the initial seven feet of distance planned.
It will mark the candidates’ first face-to-face since Trump’s diagnosis.

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Politics Chat: Trump And Biden Reach Final Stretch Of Their Presidential Campaigns – NPR

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It’s nine days until Election Day, and a historic number of Americans have already voted. More will do so in the coming days.



LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

We are almost there, people. Just over a week until Election Day and a new reminder of just how unprecedented and unpredictable this campaign is. Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff is now in quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus. That’s on a weekend where a record number of Americans have also been confirmed positive. Let’s check in now with our own Mara Liasson, NPR national political correspondent.

Good morning to you, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Marc Short is considered a close contact of the vice president’s.

LIASSON: Yes, he is, and the White House said that the vice president and Mrs. Pence both tested negative. They’re in good health. Pence – even though he is considered a close contact of Marc Short’s, he’s also classified as an essential employee, and the White House says he’s going to keep on traveling, maintain his campaign schedule. Per the CDC guidelines, essential workers who have been exposed to COVID can continue to work if they monitor for symptoms and wear a mask at all times. We know that Short himself is quarantining.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK. As we know, it can take some time, though, for there to be enough virus to show up on a test, so obviously, we’re going to keep a close eye on this. But let’s zoom out a little bit now and look at both campaigns. Where are the candidates going in these final days, and what does that tell us about the state of the race?

LIASSON: Well, it tells us a lot. Donald Trump was in North Carolina and Ohio and Wisconsin yesterday. North Carolina and Ohio aren’t states that are usually considered battleground states. They’re states that Republicans should be able to take for granted. Wisconsin – obviously a big, important swing state.

Joe Biden was in Pennsylvania, so it shows you that he’s not taking his birth state for granted. That’s a state that Donald Trump won last time. The Democrats want to get it back. And the Democrats are sending Barack Obama to campaign in Miami. They sent him there. That – he is the most popular person in the Democratic Party, and Florida is a state that Donald Trump has to win to get to 270 votes. So it shows you that Democrats are trying to at least force the Trump campaign to spend a lot more time and money in Florida.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. And there are a lot of statistics being passed around about how many votes have been cast already and by whom and how all that compares to 2016 and other elections, so I’m going to put this to you. What’s your take on all those numbers?

LIASSON: The numbers are really interesting. Right now, 50 million votes have been cast so far. That’s early voting and by-mail voting. That is a third of the total votes cast in 2016, so I would say we are on our way to a historically high turnout election. In Florida and in Texas, the votes cast so far are greater than the number of total votes cast for Donald Trump in those two states in 2016. We don’t know by whom.

We also do know that a Tufts University study of young voters aged 18 to 29 in Florida, North Carolina and Michigan show that they are voting early by – in multiples of the numbers they voted four years ago. And, of course, we do know that young voters tend to split for Democrats 2-to-1. So it’s hard to say what early voting means.

There was an early advantage for Democrats in the states that do report party ID, but now we’re hearing from Florida that Republicans are turning out to vote early in numbers that could offset that advantage. And it’s hard to draw conclusions about early voting because we don’t know if it’s a sign of greater turnout advantage or is a party just banking votes early that they would get anyway on Election Day?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. And speaking of big numbers, let’s talk about money. I mean, we’ve seen just huge sums of money being paid out during this election. Is a cash advantage that – like the Democrats have as important as it used to be? And where are the candidates spending all that money?

LIASSON: A cash advantage is important. Money doesn’t equal votes, but it really helps. And what’s interesting about this year is that it is very unusual that an incumbent president, especially a Republican incumbent who – there are just more deep pockets on the Republican side – is being outraised and outspent by the Democrats.

Now, plenty of rich people are also giving to Joe Biden, but his average donation is $44. That’s a sign of enthusiasm. He also has much more cash on hand right now than the Trump campaign. It shows you how much money the Trump campaign has kind of blown through. And we also know that big donors are now – on the Republican side are now sending their money to Senate races, not to Donald Trump. They’re trying to build that firewall, and that’s going to be – he’s not going to be able to raise a lot of money in the last couple of days.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. You mentioned Senate races. There’s a big race in South Carolina between Senator Lindsey Graham and his Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison. Just briefly, what other big races are you watching?

LIASSON: Well, watching Maine and Colorado. Those are the two blue states won by Hillary Clinton where there’s a Republican Senate incumbent up for reelection. In both those states, the Republican has been trailing. The next state I’m watching is Arizona – again, a Republican incumbent who’s been polling behind the Democratic challenger. And then there are all sorts of sleeper races. South Carolina is one of them, as you mentioned – Alaska, Kansas. There’s a lot of – I would say the Senate is a jump ball right now.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That’s NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson.

Thank you so much.

LIASSON: Thank you.

Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Showdown on Parliament Hill pushes tension between science, politics into the spotlight – Global News

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OTTAWA — Monday’s vote on a Conservative motion to launch an in-depth review of the Liberal government’s COVID-19 response highlights a key challenge of pandemic politics: how to hold a government accountable for decisions based on science, when the science itself is changing nearly every day.

The opposition wants a committee probe into everything from why regulators are taking so long to approve rapid testing to an early decision not to close the border to international travel, and what concerns the Liberals is how that probe is being framed.

“One of the narratives that I find most distressing coming from the opposition, is that somehow because advice changed at some point that the government was hiding information or that the government was giving misinformation,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said late last week.

“And nothing could be further from the truth.”

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Read more:
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It’s not the science itself that’s up for debate, said Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.

“In a pandemic, borders, since the Middle Ages, have been part of a stop of spreading of the virus and that was a failure of elected officials to put the health of Canadians first,” O’Toole told reporters last week.

“There has been conflicting information on masks and other things. My concern is that the Trudeau government relies more on open source data from China than our own science and intelligence experts.”

The relationship between a nation’s scientists and their senior politicians is a challenging one, said Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides the scientific evidence there is, but at the end of the day, it is the politicians who make the call, he said.

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A decision on whether or not to close the borders is a good example, he said.






2:07
Tories want Liberals’ pandemic response investigated


Tories want Liberals’ pandemic response investigated

In the early days of the pandemic, the World Health Organization cautioned against widespread border closures. Scientific research has suggested there’s little medical benefit to them and the economic impacts can be severe and wide-ranging.

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But the optics of border closures, the idea that if countries can keep out a virus out they will be immune, creates political pressure to act, Culbert said .

“The tension between what is in the public’s good, as opposed to all of the varying political considerations the politicians have to take into consideration — there’s always a tension there,” Culbert said.

Read more:
Liberals will not view second Conservative committee motion as confidence vote

While heated, the interplay between Liberal government and Opposition Conservatives is a far cry from the hyper-partisanship around pandemic response in the U.S., where even the president has circulated misinformation and challenged that country’s top scientists.

Canadian researchers studying the response of political elites here in the early days of the pandemic found no evidence of MPs casting doubt on the seriousness of the pandemic, or spreading conspiracy theories about it. In fact, there was a cross partisan consensus around how seriously it needed to be taken.


Click to play video 'Singh says NDP doesn’t want ‘witch hunt’ with WE Charity investigation'



1:50
Singh says NDP doesn’t want ‘witch hunt’ with WE Charity investigation


Singh says NDP doesn’t want ‘witch hunt’ with WE Charity investigation

“As far as we can tell, that story hasn’t changed,” said Eric Merkley, a University of Toronto political scientist who led the study.

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Both he and Culbert said a review of the Liberals’ pandemic response is warranted, but a balancing act is required.

READ MORE: Liberals survive confidence vote, avert imminent election with NDP help

“Everyone has 20/20 hindsight and thinks that they can go, look back, and and point to points at which bad decisions were made,” Culbert said.

“But that’s with the knowledge that we have today. We didn’t have that knowledge back in March.”

The Liberals have sometimes hit back at criticism by pointing to how the previous Conservative government handled the science and health files, including budget cuts and efforts to muzzle scientists.


Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Trudeau defends making Tory committee motion a confidence vote, risking election'



1:25
Coronavirus: Trudeau defends making Tory committee motion a confidence vote, risking election


Coronavirus: Trudeau defends making Tory committee motion a confidence vote, risking election

But critics can’t be painted as anti-science for asking questions, Merkley said.

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“There’s plenty of scope for democratic debate about proper responses to the pandemic, there’s plenty of scope for disagreement,” Merkley said.

“And just because there’s that disagreement and an Opposition party holding government accountable, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that’s a sign of a healthy democracy.”

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Commons showdown highlights tension between politics and science – Humboldt Journal

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OTTAWA — Monday’s vote on a Conservative motion to launch an in-depth review of the Liberal government’s COVID-19 response highlights a key challenge of pandemic politics: how to hold a government accountable for decisions based on science, when the science itself is changing nearly every day.

The opposition wants a committee probe into everything from why regulators are taking so long to approve rapid testing to an early decision not to close the border to international travel, and what concerns the Liberals is how that probe is being framed.

article continues below

“One of the narratives that I find most distressing coming from the opposition, is that somehow because advice changed at some point that the government was hiding information or that the government was giving misinformation,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said late last week.

“And nothing could be further from the truth.”

It’s not the science itself that’s up for debate, said Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.

“In a pandemic, borders, since the Middle Ages, have been part of a stop of spreading of the virus and that was a failure of elected officials to put the health of Canadians first,” O’Toole told reporters last week.

“There has been conflicting information on masks and other things. My concern is that the Trudeau government relies more on open source data from China than our own science and intelligence experts.”

The relationship between a nation’s scientists and their senior politicians is a challenging one, said Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides the scientific evidence there is, but at the end of the day, it is the politicians who make the call, he said.

A decision on whether or not to close the borders is a good example, he said.

In the early days of the pandemic, the World Health Organization cautioned against widespread border closures. Scientific research has suggested there’s little medical benefit to them and the economic impacts can be severe and wide-ranging.

But the optics of border closures, the idea that if countries can keep out a virus out they will be immune, creates political pressure to act, Culbert said .

“The tension between what is in the public’s good, as opposed to all of the varying political considerations the politicians have to take into consideration — there’s always a tension there,” Culbert said.

While heated, the interplay between Liberal government and Opposition Conservatives is a far cry from the hyper-partisanship around pandemic response in the U.S., where even the president has circulated misinformation and challenged that country’s top scientists.

Canadian researchers studying the response of political elites here in the early days of the pandemic found no evidence of MPs casting doubt on the seriousness of the pandemic, or spreading conspiracy theories about it. In fact, there was a cross partisan consensus around how seriously it needed to be taken.

“As far as we can tell, that story hasn’t changed,” said Eric Merkley, a University of Toronto political scientist who led the study.

Both he and Culbert said a review of the Liberals’ pandemic response is warranted, but a balancing act is required.

“Everyone has 20/20 hindsight and thinks that they can go, look back, and and point to points at which bad decisions were made,” Culbert said.

“But that’s with the knowledge that we have today. We didn’t have that knowledge back in March.”

The Liberals have sometimes hit back at criticism by pointing to how the previous Conservative government handled the science and health files, including budget cuts and efforts to muzzle scientists.

But critics can’t be painted as anti-science for asking questions, Merkley said.

“There’s plenty of scope for democratic debate about proper responses to the pandemic, there’s plenty of scope for disagreement,” Merkley said.

“And just because there’s that disagreement and an Opposition party holding government accountable, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that’s a sign of a healthy democracy.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2020.

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