On eve of first debate, Trump taxes in question: US election news

Two decades of records reportedly show Trump’s finances under stress as he prepares to face Joe Biden in first debate

President Donald Trump's company paid no taxes in 10 of the 15 years prior to his run for the presidency in 2016, according to the New York Times. [Evan Vucci/AP Photo]
President Donald Trump's company paid no taxes in 10 of the 15 years prior to his run for the presidency in 2016, according to the New York Times. [Evan Vucci/AP Photo]
  • Vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, has said Trump’s Supreme Court pick will “undo” the life’s work of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
  • President Donald Trump announced the US will begin distributing millions of rapid coronavirus tests this week.
  • Senator Kamala Harris, the vice presidential candidate, was in North Carolina, a swing state in the battle for the White House.
  • A report on Trump’s finances showed he may owe the US $100 mn in taxes, tarnishing his image as a successful businessman.
  • Jill Biden visited Wisconsin, a key battleground state that has received special attention from both parties with 36 days until November 3.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the US elections. This is Joseph Stepansky and William Roberts.

Here are the latest updates:

Monday, September 28:

19:45 ET – Kamala Harris says she will get ‘involved’ in Senate hearings on Amy Coney Barrett

Vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris told reporters traveling with her in North Carolina she would likely meet with President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

“I’m sure that’s going to happen, we’ll see how it works out …I haven’t made a plan one way or another,” Harris said according to a pool report.

“I am definitely going to be involved in the hearings and performing my role and responsibility on the Senate Judiciary Committee,” she said.

Some Democratic senators have said they would not meet with Barrett because they object to her nomination so close to the election. In 2016, Republicans had refused to meet with Obama nominee Merrick Garland.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris campaigned in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Monday. She is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee which will hold hearings on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett next week. [Gerry Broome/AP Photo]

19:00 ET – Two-thirds of US voters do not expect to know results on election night

Most voters believe they will have to wait past election night on November 3 to find out who won the presidential race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, according to a new poll.

Just 20 percent of voters say they think the winner will be called on election night, while 66 percent expect it to happen sometime later, according to a survey by Politico/Morning Consult.

The results suggest the public expects to see ballot-counting delays as more ballots than ever are cast by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic.

18:00 ET – Don Jr. pushes back on NYT report on father’s taxes

After a bombshell report by the New York Times showing the Trump Organization paid zero taxes in 10 of 15 prior years, Donald Trump Jr. defended his father in a television appearance on Fox News. [File: Susan Walsh/AP Photo]
“It’s ridiculous. My father has paid tens of millions of taxes,” Donald Trump Jr. said in an appearance on Fox News.

The reason the Trump Organization showed little in taxes was because of government credits awarded for the development of the historic post office building in Washington, DC, now a Trump hotel, and other accounting measures, Donald Trump Jr. said.

“People don’t understand what goes into a business,” Trump Jr. said. “Of course, the New York Times does this, they put out a selective, you know, picture of all these things, the day before the debate to try to give someone like Joe Biden, you know, an attack line,” he said.

17:00 ET – Parscale hit wife, had ten guns: Report

Senior Adviser to Trump’s re-election campaign, Brad Parscale, had hit his wife and had ten guns inside of his home when police responded to reports of an attempted suicide, according to police reports cited by the Politico news site.

Parscale’s wife also said that he cocked a gun in front of her, according to Fort Lauderdale Police Department body camera footage.

Candice Parscale described her husband as ranting and pacing around the house. The body camera footage showed police throw Parscale, who was wearing only shorts and holding what appeared to be beer, to the ground after he agreed to come outside without a gun, Politico reported.

Parscale in July was demoted from the position of Trump’s campaign manager, but was still involved in the campaign’s digital operation. His work on digital campaign targeting is credited with helping Trump’s victory in 2016.

Brad Parscale, a campaign adviser and former campaign manager for Trump reportedly hit his wife and had ten guns in his home when police were called [File: Andrew Harnik/the Associated Press]

16:30 ET – Trump says millions of rapid coronavirus tests being sent to states

President Donald Trump has announced that the federal government will begin distributing millions of rapid coronavirus tests to states this week and urging governors to use them to reopen schools for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

The move to vastly expand testing comes as confirmed coronavirus cases remain elevated at more than 40,000 per day and experts warn of a likely surge in infections during the colder months ahead.

In remarks delivered in the Rose Garden, Trump said the announcement was “a massive and groundbreaking expansion in our testing capability for the China virus”.

Biden has continually seized on Trump’s response to the coronavirus during the campaign.

Admiral Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, swabs his nose as he demonstrates a new rapid result coronavirus test during a event with President Donald Trump [Evan Vucci/the Associated Press]

16:00 ET – Biden campaign mocks Trump drug test demands

Biden’s campaign has ridiculed repeated demands from Trump that the Democratic challenger take a drug test before Tuesday’s debate.

“Joe Biden just announced that he will not agree to a Drug Test. Gee, I wonder why?” Trump tweeted Monday.

When asked by reporters about the demand over the weekend, Biden laughed before declining to comment.

But his deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield had a blunt respone: “Vice President Biden intends to deliver his debate answers in words. If the president thinks his best case is made in urine he can have at it.”

15:30 ET – Harris says Trump Supreme Court nominee Barrett will ‘undo’ Ginsburg’s life work

In an impassioned speech in North Carolina, Harris said Republicans were ignoring the dying wishes of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, citing their “their determination to appoint a justice who will undo her life’s work”.

Harris is a senator on the Judiciary Committee and will be directly involved in the confirmation hearings of Trump pick Amy Coney Barrett. She warned that Barrett, whose confirmation would give the court a 6-3 conservative majority, would rule against the Affordable Care Act, abortion rights and voting rights.

“President Trump and his party and judge Barrett will overturn the Affordable Care Act. And they won’t stop there,” Harris said.  “They have made clear that they want to overturn Roe vs Wade and restrict reproductive rights and freedoms.

“Judge Barrett has a long record of opposing abortion and reproductive rights. There is no other issue that so disrespects and dishonors the work of Justice Ginsburg’s life than undoing the seminal decision in the court’s history that made it clear a woman has a right to make decisions about her own body,” she added.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks at Shaw University during a campaign visit in Raleigh, N.C., Monday,Gerry Broome/the Associated

15:00 ET – Washington Post endorses Joe Biden

The Washington Post has endorsed Biden for president, calling the veteran Democrat a leader of “decency, honor and competence” who stands in stark contrast to incumbent Donald Trump.

The leading paper in the nation’s capital joins other recent notable Biden endorsements, including Pennsylvania’s Republican ex-governor Tom Ridge, senator John McCain’s widow and the actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Many Americans might be willing to vote for nearly anyone “in order to expel the worst president of modern times,” the Post’s editorial board wrote, citing Trump’s bungled coronavirus pandemic response and attacks on democratic norms.

“Fortunately, to oust President Trump in 2020, voters do not have to lower their standards.” Former vice president Biden, they said, “is exceptionally well-qualified, by character and experience, to meet the daunting challenges that the nation will face over the coming four years.”

The Washington Post has endorsed Joe Biden [Leah Millis/Reuters]

14:30 ET – Five takeaways from Trump tax report

A New York Times report saying President Donald Trump paid just $750 in federal income tax the year he entered the White House has added yet another dynamic to a contentious and fast-developing election season.

The report, which included the revelation that thanks to colossal losses, Trump paid no federal income tax at all in 11 of the 18 years the Times reviewed, is set to tarnish the president’s decades-crafted image as a successful businessman. That carefully maintained brand helped Trump capture the presidency in 2016.

The president has vehemently denied the report, on Sunday calling it “fake news” and on Monday tweeting he had paid “many millions of dollars in taxes” but was entitled to depreciation and tax credits. He also said he was under-leveraged, meaning he has more assets than debt.

Read more here.

A new report reveals details of Trump’s much-sought tax returns [File: Evan Vucci/AP]

14:00 ET – Over half of voters bothered by Trump non-committal on peaceful transfer

Over half of voters are bothered by Trump’s lack of commitment to a peaceful transition of power, according to a new Monmouth University poll.

The poll found that 41 percent are a “great deal” bothered by Trump’s statements, while 14 percent said they are somewhat bothered.  Meanwhile, 12 percent of voters are not bothered much by Trump’s lack of commitment, and 32 percent said they were not bothered at all.

The concern is largely split along party lines, with 72 percent of Democrats saying they are bothered a great deal by the president’s statements and 57 percent of Republicans saying they are not bothered at all. Among Independents, 39 percent are bothered a great deal and 29 percent are not bothered at all, the poll found.

Meanwhile, 80 percent of voters expressed some concern that election meddling could undermine the integrity of the election.

13:30 ET – New Biden ad targets Trump taxes

A new Biden ad features revelations in a New York Times report on Trump’s much-sought taxes returns.

The ad, which was tweeted by the Biden campaign on Monday, showed the “typical income tax” paid by several US workers, which included teachers paying $7,239, firefighters paying $5,283 and nurses paying $10,216.

The ad ends highlighting that Trump, despite being a reported billionaire with business multiple ongoing business ventures, paid only $750 in income taxes in 2016 and 2017.

13:00 ET – Cindy McCain to join Biden transition advisory board

Cindy McCain, the wife of late Senator John McCain, is joining the advisory board of Biden’s presidential transition team, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The update comes after McCain endorsed Biden last week, prompting Trump to renew attacks on her husband, one of the few Republican senators to repeatedly oppose the president.

If Biden wins, the advisory board will be charged with helping to oversee turning campaign promises into policy.

McCain, who died in 2018, was a long-time friend of Biden’s.

John McCain was the Republiacn presidential candidate in 2008 [File: Rick Wilking/Reuters]

12:30 ET – Pelosi calls Trump’s reported debts national security issue

Trump’s debts reported by the New York Times on Sunday raise national security issues, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said, adding that the public deserves to know to whom he owes money.

Pelosi, in an interview with MSNBC, said it was not clear who held the debts and if it involved different countries, which could hold leverage over the Republican president.

“To me this is a national security question,” she said.

12:00 ET – Fourth US judge issues order blocking Postal Service cuts

A fourth judge on Monday issued a preliminary injunction barring the US Postal Service from making service changes ahead of the November presidential election that critics have said could prevent timely ballot deliveries.

US District Judge Gerald McHugh in Pennsylvania joined three other judges who have issued similar orders since September 17 after the Postal Service in July restricted late trips by trucks and letter carriers and instituted overtime restrictions.

11:30 ET – Trump former campaign manager hospitalised

President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale has been hospitalised after he threatened to harm himself, according to Florida police and campaign officials.

Police officers talked Parscale out of his Fort Lauderdale home after his wife called police to say that he had multiple firearms and was threatening to hurt himself when he was hospitalized Sunday under the state’s Baker Act. That act allows anyone deemed to be a threat to themselves or others to be detained for 72 hours for psychiatric evaluation.

“Brad Parscale is a member of our family and we love him,” said Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh. “We are ready to support him and his family in any way possible.”

Parscale was demoted from the campaign manager’s post in July but remained part of the campaign, helping run its digital operation. The demotion came after Parscale hyped a million ticket requests for the president’s comeback rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Just 6,000 people attended, reportedly drawing the president’s ire.

Parscale was demoted from the campaign manager position in July, but still helped to run the digital operation [Evan Vucci/the Associated Press]

11:00 ET – Former campaign official says Trump suggested daughter as running mate

Rick Gates, the former deputy campaign manager to Trump’s successful 2016 presidential bid, details in his new book how Trump suggested his daughter Ivanka be his vice president, according to the Washington Post.

“I think it should be Ivanka. What about Ivanka as my VP?” Trump asked a group of campaign aides during a June 2016 meeting. “She’s bright, she’s smart, she’s beautiful, and the people would love her!”

Gates book says that Trump repeated the idea for weeks, and his team conducted polls twice to see how it would play.

Then-candidate Trump ceased pushing the idea only after Ivanka herself intervened and said it was not a good idea, according to the new book, as reported by the newspaper.

Trump gives a thumbs up as his campaign manager Paul Manafort and daughter Ivanka look on during Trump”s walk through at the Republican National Convention in 2016 [File: Rick Wilking/Reuters]

10:30 ET – Trump says he paid ‘millions’ in taxes

Trump has said that he paid “many millions of dollars in taxes” but was entitled to depreciation and tax credits and also said he was under-leveraged, having more assets than debt.

The Republican president was responding to a New York Times report that he paid just $750 in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017, after years of reporting heavy losses from his business enterprises.

“I paid many millions of dollars in taxes but was entitled, like everyone else, to depreciation & tax credits,” he wrote on Twitter. “I am extremely under leveraged – I have very little debt compared to the value of assets.”

10:00 ET – Pelosi prepares Dems for possible House decision on election: Report

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been preparing Democrats for a scenario where neither Biden nor Trump wins an outright Electoral College victory in November, which would send the outcome of the election to the House of Representatives, according to a Politico report.

In the rare event that both candidates receive 269 Electoral College votes, each state delegation in the chamber would cast a single vote to determine the winner. While Democrats have a majority in the House, Republicans control 26 delegations, while Democrats control 22, according to Politico.

In a Sunday letter to House Democrats, Pelosi urged them to consider that the chamber might be pulled into deciding who is president as they determine where to focus resources on winning seats in November, according to the news site.

According to the constitution, the winner of the presidential election is not officially chosen until Congress certifies the Electoral College tally on January 6, after new members are sworn in. That means any changes in seat could affect the balance of state delegations per party.

09:30 ET – Supreme Court nominee Barrett readies on Capitol Hill meetings

Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, will begin meeting with senators this week as Republicans push ahead with a rapid Senate confirmation process ahead of November’s presidential election over the objections of Democrats.

Trump on Saturday announced Barrett, 48, as his selection to replace liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on September 18 at the age of 87.  Barrett’s confirmation by the Senate would result in a 6-3 conservative majority on the court.

Barrett is set to start meeting with senators ahead of a multi-day confirmation hearing scheduled to begin on October 12, when she will face questions about her judicial philosophy and approach to the law.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who chairs the committee, told Fox News on Sunday the panel will likely vote on the nomination on October 22, setting up a final vote on the Senate floor by the end of the month.

09:00 ET – Trump Jr says tax report paints ‘selective picture’

Trump’s son on Monday accused the New York Times of publishing a “selective picture” of his father’s taxes in its explosive investigative report.

“Of course the New York Times does this, they put out a selective picture of all of these things the day before the debate to try to give someone like Joe Biden an attack line,” Donald Trump Jr told Fox News, referring to the upcoming debate between the president and his Democratic rival on Tuesday.

The New York Times on Sunday reported Trump paid just $750 in federal income tax in both 2016 and 2017, and nothing at all in 10 of the 15 previous years largely because he lost so much more money than he made. The paper said it had acquired more than 20 years’ worth of tax documents.

“It doesn’t include so many of the things that he’s been paying taxes on forever as he’s also putting thousands and thousands of people to work on an annual basis,” Trump Jr said. “People don’t understand what goes into a business.”

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Read all the updates from Friday, (September 24) here.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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