1/ Trump refused to commit to a “peaceful transfer of power” if he loses the election, saying “We’re going to have to see what happens.” Trump – apparently referring to mail-in ballots, which he has repeatedly attacked as widely fraudulent, despite providing no evidence to support his claims – continued: “The ballots are a disaster. Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation.” On Wednesday, Trump said he wanted to quickly confirm a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg because he expects the Supreme Court to decide the result of the election, which could split 4-to-4 if a ninth justice is not seated. And in June, Trump declined to commit to accepting the results of the election if he lost, saying he would “have to see,” before claiming that mail-in voting would “rig the election.” Biden’s campaign, meanwhile, said “The American people will decide this election and the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.” (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / ABC News / CNN / Axios / CNBC / Bloomberg)

  • Eight times Trump said he won’t accept the election results or leave office if he loses. (CNN)

2/ Congressional Republicans dismissed Trump’s comments, but failed to directly criticize his remarks. Many Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, promised that there would be a peaceful transfer of power if Biden won, but didn’t explain what they’d do if Trump resisted leaving office. “The President says crazy stuff. We’ve always had a peaceful transition of power. It’s not going to change,” Sen. Ben Sasse said. Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, promised an “orderly transition.” Meanwhile, during a Fox News Radio interview, Trump said he would abide by a Supreme Court decision if the election results were contested, but before leaving the White House for North Carolina, Trump said he wasn’t sure the election could be “honest” because mail-in ballots are “a whole big scam.” (Politico / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN / New York Times / ABC News / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian)

  • Internal USPS documents link changes behind mail slowdowns to top executives. “Newly obtained records appear in conflict with months of Postal Service assertions that blamed lower-level managers for strategies tied to delivery delays” (Washington Post)

  • Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told a judge the U.S. Postal Service can’t reassemble the high speed mail-sorting machines that were taken apart this year. A nationwide injunction issued last week in Yakima, Washington, “requires the USPS to reverse disruptive operational changes implemented by DeJoy, including restrictions on overtime and changes to the handling of election mail, such as absentee ballots applications.” (Bloomberg)

  • Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said that Trump “is incorrect” when he says USPS isn’t equipped to handle the surge in mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic. “The Postal Service will do it’s job to deliver the ballots. When the President goes into that the Postal Service doesn’t – is not equipped to do it, which, he is incorrect with that,” DeJoy said. “We’re equipped to do it and we’re going to deliver ballots.” (CNN)

  • [Long read] The Election That Could Break America. If the vote is close, Donald Trump could easily throw the election into chaos and subvert the result. Who will stop him? (The Atlantic)

  • [Long read] The Legal Fight Awaiting Us After the Election. The aftermath of November’s vote has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish. (New Yorker)

3/ FBI Director Christopher Wray told senators that the U.S. has “not seen” large-scale voter fraud “by mail or otherwise.” Wray, testifying before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said “Americans must have confidence in our voting system and our election infrastructure,” because it would be a “major challenge” for a foreign country to attempt “any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election.” (Washington Post / Axios)

4/ Trump suggested that the White House would overrule the FDA if the agency issued new, tougher standards for the emergency authorization of a coronavirus vaccine. Trump questioned why the FDA would set a higher standard for granting emergency authorization for a vaccine, saying it “sounds like a political move.” The FDA is expected to soon announce new standards for an emergency authorization, which are meant to increase public trust and transparency in the vaccine process. FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, meanwhile, promised the Senate Health Committee that the “FDA will not authorize or approve any COVID-19 vaccine before it has met the agency’s rigorous expectations for safety and effectiveness.” He also said that the FDA “will not permit any pressure from anyone to change that.” Trump, however, said any new FDA guidance “has to be approved by the White House. We may or may not approve it.” (CNN / Bloomberg / The Hill / USA Today)

5/ Another 825,000 Americans filed for state unemployment benefits last week. An additional 630,000 people filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, an emergency federal program that covers freelancers and self-employed workers. (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

  • House Democrats are preparing a $2.4 trillion coronavirus relief package for possible negotiations with the White House and Senate Republicans. The bill would include enhanced unemployment insurance, direct payments to Americans, Paycheck Protection Program small-business loan funding, and aid to airlines, among other provisions. While the new legislation would be narrower in scope than the $3.4 trillion Heroes Act the House passed in May, it’s larger than what Senate Republicans said they could accept. Trump has indicated he’d be willing to go as high as $1.5 trillion. (CNBC / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News)

poll/ Biden leads Trump among likely voters in Iowa 45% to 42%. The two candidates are tied in Georgia at 45%, while Trump leads Biden 46% to 43% in Texas. Roughly 90% of voters in all three states say they have definitely made up their minds about whom to vote for. (New York Times)

✏️ Notables.

  1. Nearly 500 retired senior military officers, former Cabinet secretaries, service chiefs, and other officials signed an open letter supporting Biden for president, saying he has “the character, principles, wisdom and leadership necessary to address a world on fire.” The officers said Trump has failed “to meet challenges large or small.” (Washington Post / NBC News / CNN)

  2. Trump tweeted that he was “praying” for two police officers who were shot during protests after a grand jury brought no charges against Louisville police for killing Breonna Taylor. The only charges were against fired Officer Brett Hankison, who shot into the home next to Taylor’s with people inside. Trump also offered sympathy to Taylor’s family. (Associated Press / Politico)

  3. The Trump administration no longer recognizes Aleksandr Lukashenko as the legitimate president of Belarus. In a statement, a spokesperson for the State Department said the U.S. “cannot consider Aleksandr Lukashenko the legitimately elected leader of Belarus,” and that the country should begin “a national dialogue leading to the Belarusian people enjoying their right to choose their leaders in a free and fair election under independent observation.” A new round of protests began this week in the capital city of Minsk after news reports revealed that Lukashenko had held a secret inauguration ceremony. (Axios)

  4. Mary Trump sued Trump and his siblings for allegedly defrauding her out of tens of millions in inheritance decades ago by manipulating the value of properties and lying to her about the worth of her inheritance. “Fraud was not just the family business – it was a way of life,” the lawsuit says in its first sentence. (Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News / NBC News)