Subsequent debate ought to be cancelled if president nonetheless sick, says Biden – because it occurred | US information

Next debate should be cancelled if president still sick, says Biden – as it happened | US news

9.08pm EDT21:08

The Guardian’s global coverage of the coronavirus continues now on this blog, and will take in all the latest developments in the White House and the US.

at 9.33pm EDT

8.43pm EDT20:43


From me and Joanna Walters:

  • Mike Pence is expected to debate Kamala Harris tomorrow, as planned. Despite Pence being in contact with Donald Trump and others who have tested positive for Covid-19, the White House physician has given him the go-ahead to resume normal activity, contradicting CDC guidelines to quarantine for two weeks after exposure to the virus.
  • Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to Trump, is the latest person in the president’s orbit to test positive for Covid-19. The immigration hardliner who has espoused white nationalist views said he will quarantine following his diagnosis. His wife Katie Miller, who is the press secretary to Mike Pence, contracted the coronavirus earlier this year.
  • Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden gave a speech on the historic fields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Biden expressed concern that America is so divided it’s in a “dangerous place” but not irretrievable. He also called on Americans to follow the “scientific recommendations” for how to protect themselves against coronavirus, including wearing a mask and social distancing, in his campaign speech this afternoon.
  • Speaking to reporters on Tuesday evening, he said the next presidential debate should be cancelled if Donald Trump remains positive for Covid-19 by then. He will be “guided by the guidelines of the Cleveland Clinic and what the docs say is the right thing to do”, he said.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the White House is “in complete disarray” after Trump abruptly crushed talks between Democrats and Republicans on a fresh coronavirus economic relief bill. News that negotiations failed triggered an immediate stock market selloff. Pelosi accused Trump of “putting himself first at the expense of the country”.
  • The White House will reportedly bow to Federal Drug Administration standards on the correct process for approving any safe and effective US vaccine against coronavirus. The FDA said it will require at least two months of safety data before considering authorizing a coronavirus vaccine, thwarting Trump’s attempts to deliver a vaccine by election day.

at 9.21pm EDT

8.25pm EDT20:25

Stephen Miller, the top Trump adviser who has tested positive for Covid-19, was among the most ardent defenders of the administration’s policy too separate children from parents.

The immigration hardliner who has publicly espoused racist and white nationalist ideas that migration and amnesty for immigrants would “decimate” the US, was a key player in the president’s decision to ratchet up zero-tolerance policies that resulted in at least 5,400 children being separated from their parents.

at 9.22pm EDT

8.17pm EDT20:17

US attorneys along the border with Mexico were told in 2018 by top Trump administration officials to prosecute undocumented immigrants who crossed the border, even if it meant separating them from their children who were barely more than infants.

A draft report summarizing a two-year inquiry into Trump’s “zero tolerance” family separation policy reviewed by the New York Times recounts that Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general, told prosecutors in a conference call, “We need to take away children.”

Rod Rosenstein, then the deputy attorney general, on a later call added that it did not matter how young the children were, and said that government lawyers shouldn’t have refused to prosecute two cases involving very young kids.

From the New York Times:

The draft report also documented other revelations that had not previously been known:

    • Government prosecutors reacted with alarm at the separation of children from their parents during a secret 2017 pilot program along the Mexican border in Texas. “We have now heard of us taking breastfeeding defendant moms away from their infants,” one government prosecutor wrote to his superiors. “I did not believe this until I looked at the duty log.”
    • Border Patrol officers missed serious felony cases because they were stretched too thin by the zero-tolerance policy requiring them to detain and prosecute all of the misdemeanor illegal entry cases. One Texas prosecutor warned top Justice Department officials in 2018 that “sex offenders were released” as a result.
    • Senior Justice Department officials viewed the welfare of the children as the responsibility of other agencies and their duty as tracking the parents. “I just don’t see that as a D.O.J. equity,” Mr. Rosenstein told the inspector general.
    • The failure to inform the U.S. Marshals Service before announcing the zero-tolerance policy led to serious overcrowding and budget overruns. The marshals were forced to cut back on serving warrants in other cases, saying that “when you take away manpower, you can’t make a safe arrest.”

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8.01pm EDT20:01

Joe Biden said if Trump remains covid-positive by the next presidential debate, they should cancel the event.

“I’m not sure what President Trump is all about now. I don’t know what his status is. I’m looking forward to being able to debate him, but I just hope all the protocols are followed,” Biden said, speaking to journalists Hagerstown, Maryland.

But if Trump still had Covid-19, “we shouldn’t have a debate”, Biden said. “Too many people have been infected. It’s a very serious problem, so I will be guided by the guidelines of the Cleveland Clinic and what the docs say is the right thing to do.”

So far, Biden has been testing negative for the virus, despite having interacted with Trump during the first presidential debate last Tuesday – when the president may have been infectious.

at 8.21pm EDT

7.38pm EDT19:38

Mike Pence, who is scheduled to debate Kamala Harris tomorrow, “does not need to quarantine”, per White House physician Jesse Schonau.

The CDC recommend that people who have been exposed with anyone who has the virus quarantine for at least two weeks regardless of whether they test negative. Contradicting that recommendation, Schonau said in a memo that Pence is “encouraged to go about his normal activities”.

The commission organizing the debates have allowed Pence to participate without a plexiglass barrier to contain potentially contagious droplets, but Harris and the debate moderator will be allowed to erect barriers to protect themselves.

at 8.21pm EDT

7.14pm EDT19:14

Stephen Miller tests positive for Covid-19

Stephen Miller, a top aide to Donald Trump, has tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Over the last 5 days I have been working remotely and self-isolating, testing negative every day through yesterday. Today, I tested positive for Covid-19 and am in quarantine,” Miller said in a statement.

More than a dozen White House officials and others in the president’s orbit have now tested positive for the virus, according to counts by multiple news organizations. Earlier this year, Miller’s wife, Katie Miller – who is Mike Pence’s press secretary – contracted the virus.

at 10.02pm EDT

6.51pm EDT18:51

The Trump administration’s energy department is rolling out a lengthy report touting oil and gas as “providing energy security and supporting our quality of life”, without acknowledging that fossil fuels are the main cause of the climate crisis.

Released a month before the election, the report is strikingly at odds with the realities of climate change that the American public has been coping with over the past few months, from huge wildfires to destructive derecho storms and a series of intense hurricanes.

The cover of the report features verdant produce and a happy couple cooking over a gas stove. The department uses the word “climate” in the report only once, in reference to an industry initiative. The department estimates it spent about $200,000 on the project.

“Over the past two decades, Americans have witnessed dramatic growth in our nation’s ability to produce the oil and natural gas needed to power our vibrant economy and support our modern lifestyle,” the introduction says.

The report doesn’t cover any of the industry’s downsides – from fueling climate change to polluting communities where it operates and providing the feedstock for plastic waste that is covering the earth. It focuses on the national security values of US energy independence but does not mention that the defense department frequently names the climate crisis as a threat.

Assistant secretary of fossil energy Steve Winberg said the report is meant to assist in the department’s goal of increasing oil and gas production in the US, which president Donald Trump made official in an executive order early in his term. Already, the US is a net exporter of oil and gas.

6.17pm EDT18:17

Whistle-blowing vaccine expert quits NIH over politicization of coronavirus response

Dr Rick Bright, the senior government scientist who said he was demoted from his role heading a federal agency in charge of vaccines this spring, has resigned from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In an addendum to a whistleblower complaint that Bright filed in May, his lawyers say NIH colleagues rejected his recommendations to scale up Covid-19 testing “because of political considerations” and because of fears that the “Trump administration would not approve a plan that called for broad-based testing of asymptomatic people.”

Bright was the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority – but he says he was removed after he resisted pressure by the administration to make “potentially harmful drugs widely available”, including chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.

After being reassigned to the NIH, he was again sidelined, Brights lawyers said. “I have 25 years of vaccine development and 12 years of drug development experience that is under-utilized,” he said on 25 September to Dr Francis Collins, the director of the institutes. “For now, I am not being fully utilized for the breadth of my experience as the pandemic rages and Americans die. In short, I long to serve the American people by using my skills to fight this pandemic. The taxpayers who pay my salary deserve no less.”

at 6.25pm EDT

5.56pm EDT17:56

Donald Trump’s election campaign may claim the president has beaten Covid-19, but it fell foul of the NFL’s copyright rules on Tuesday.

The campaign tweeted a video of the San Francisco 49ers’ Brandon Aiyuk leaping over a Philadelphia Eagles defender on his way to scoring a touchdown during Sunday’s game between the two teams. The campaign superimposed Trump’s head on Aiyuk’s body with Covid-19 as the Eagles defender. The video was a reference to the president’s release from hospital after treatment for Covid-19. He also told Americans that they shouldn’t be “afraid of Covid”, a virus that has killed more than 200,000 people in the US.

However, on Tuesday the video was removed from Twitter with a message that said “this media has been disabled in response to a report by the copyright owner”. The video also showed a brief clip of an anti-Trump protester from an ITV News report. It is unclear if ITV News or the NFL, which Trump has regularly criticised over player protests, requested the removal.

Trump’s attempts to downplay the dangers of Covid-19 have been attacked by public health experts and doctors. There has also been speculation that the president has downplayed the toll the virus has taken on his health. There may be a warning from the video too: the Eagles came back from 14-8 down to win Sunday’s game 25-20.

The president often depicts himself as a model of sporting excellence. He is proud of his golf game, although there are many stories of him cheating. He has also claimed he could have played baseball professionally, although his record in high school suggests otherwise.

at 6.27pm EDT

5.54pm EDT17:54

Failure to provide more support for households and businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic could have “tragic” economic consequences, the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell, warned.

As Congress remains gridlocked over a new round of stimulus in the wake of the coronavirus recession, Powell warned: “The expansion is still far from complete.”

“At this early stage, I would argue that the risks of policy intervention are still asymmetric. Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship,” he told a virtual economics conference.

Republicans have warned against providing too much money for the unemployed, arguing the cash is a disincentive for people to return to work. But the risks associated with overly generous relief were smaller, Powell said: “Even if policy actions ultimately prove to be greater than needed, they will not go to waste.”

In contrast a prolonged slowdown could exacerbate existing racial and wealth disparities in the economy, which “would be tragic, especially in light of our country’s progress on these issues in the years leading up to the pandemic”, Powell said.

5.52pm EDT17:52

Joe Biden has maintained a lead in Michigan, a swing state, per a Reuters/Ipsos poll that questioned likely voters and people who’ve already cast their mail-in ballots.

Biden led Trump 51% 5o 43%, with the Democratic candidate up two points since mid-September. Voters said they trusted Biden over Trump to handle the coronavirus pandemic and the economy. Of those polled, 10% said they had already voted.

In North Carolina, another key swing state, the president was locked in a tie with Biden – with both polling at 47%.

5.45pm EDT17:45

The Guardian’s Kari Paul reports:

Companies including Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple have amassed to much power and should be reined in with new legislation, US lawmakers concluded in a major report resulting from a 16-month inquiry into America’s largest tech platforms.

These companies “wield their dominance in ways that erode entrepreneurship, degrade Americans’ privacy online, and undermine the vibrancy of the free and diverse press,” the House Judiciary Committee concluded in its nearly 500-page report.

“The result is less innovation, fewer choices for consumers, and a weakened democracy.”
The report follows the committee’s 16-month inquiry into the effects of market dominance by major web platforms. That investigation saw America’s leading tech figures – including Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg, and Sundar Pichai – testify before lawmakers during historic Congressional hearings in July. However the report was critical of their testimony, saying that the CEOs’ “answers were often evasive and non-responsive … raising fresh questions about whether they believe they are beyond the reach of democratic oversight”.

To address this monopoly, the committee offered a list of nearly a dozen changes, including “structural separations” of some of the companies. It also suggested the prevention of future mergers that could lead to monopolization, and to reform antitrust laws to better rein in such explosive growth and domination before businesses are able to grow to this size

at 5.48pm EDT

5.31pm EDT17:31

Today so far

Well, that was a lively afternoon. It’s still going helter-skelter so hang onto your hats. Signing over the blog to my colleague in California, the incomparable Maanvi Singh. Do stay with us.

Main events in the last few hours:

  • Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden gave a speech on the historic fields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, a little earlier in which he expressed concern that America is so divided it’s in a “dangerous place” but not irretrievable – if you put him in the White House.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the White House is “in complete disarray” after Donald Trump abruptly crushed talks between Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill over a fresh coronavirus economic relief bill.
  • The White House will reportedly bow to Federal Drug Administration standards on the correct process for approving any safe and effective US vaccine against coronavirus coming out of trials – which is likely to make the process slower than the president would like (ie before the election).
  • US stocks plunged as the axe fell on coronavirus economic relief talks.
  • The US president, being treated in the White House for coronavirus, abruptly tweeted that he had intervened to stop talks on a new round of relief for American people, businesses and institutions suffering economic hardship during the Covid-19 pandemic. Talks off until after the election, apparently.

at 5.40pm EDT


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