1/ The United States surpassed 7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19. The U.S. reached six million cases less than a month ago, on Aug. 30. The World Health Organization, meanwhile, warned that the global death toll could double to 2 million people before a vaccine is widely administered. “If we look at losing 1 million people in nine months and then we just look at the realities of getting vaccines out there in the next nine months, it’s a big task for everyone involved,” Mike Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s health emergencies program, said. Dr. Anthony Fauci, meanwhile, said that a “large proportion” of the U.S. will not be vaccinated against the coronavirus this year, challenging Trump’s repeated assertions that a vaccine will be ready by Election Day. (CNN / The Guardian / Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~32,391,000; deaths: ~986,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~7,021,000; deaths: ~204,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • 💻 COVID-19 Live Blogs: Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNBC / The Guardian / ABC News / CNN

  • Trump has reportedly lost patience with CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield and other public health experts on the coronavirus task force because their statements about the pandemic conflict with his assessments. (CNN)

  • Virginia public health officials warned of a “severe public health threat” if Trump’s planned campaign rally is allowed. Roughly 4,000 people are expected to attend the event, despite Gov. Ralph Northam’s order banning gatherings of more than 250 people. Hours before Trump arrived, Northam announced that he and his wife had tested positive for the coronavirus. (NBC News)

2/ White House chief of staff Mark Meadows called for FBI Director Christopher Wray to quit. The comment comes a day after the director testified to Congress that there was no evidence to support Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud, and a week after Wray warned that “Russia continues to try to influence our elections” and is seeking to “primarily to denigrate” Biden’s campaign. Meadows, meanwhile, suggested that Wray “needs to get involved on the ground” and, “with all due respect,” Wray “has a hard time finding emails in his own FBI, let alone figuring out whether there’s any kind of voter fraud,” Meadows said, presumably referring to deleted anti-Trump texts between FBI officials on Robert Mueller’s team. (CBS News / Politico / New York Times / Axios / Associated Press)

3/ The Department of Justice announced that it opened an inquiry into nine ballots found “discarded” in northeastern Pennsylvania, an unusual move since DOJ policy calls for voter fraud investigations to be kept under wraps to avoid affecting the election outcome. While the press release didn’t elaborate on what “discarded” meant other than seven of the nine ballots were cast for Trump, the U.S. attorney for central Pennsylvania later said FBI investigators were examining mail-in ballots from military members in Luzerne County after finding nine ballots “improperly opened” by elections staff. The press release didn’t specify a crime or allege any wrongdoing. The White House, meanwhile, knew in advance and teased the department’s announcement earlier in the day, with White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany saying: “I can confirm for you that Trump ballots, ballots for the president, were found in Pennsylvania. And I believe you should be getting more information on that shortly.” Attorney General William Barr also personally briefed Trump about the investigation. Trump carried Luzerne County by about 20 points in 2016. (Politico / New York Times / ABC News / Washington Post)

  • More than 28 million mail-in ballots have been requested and another 42 million are scheduled to be automatically sent to voters across the country. The total number of pre-election ballots due to be distributed exceeds the roughly 50 million pre-Election Day ballots cast in 2016. Requests from registered Democrats outpace those from Republicans by more than 1.3 million ballot requests. Nationally, more than half a million ballots have already been cast in the 12 states reporting. Roughly two dozen states have now started absentee voting or in-person early voting. (CNN)

  • Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said USPS can’t reassemble the high speed mail-sorting machines taken apart this year because they’ve already been stripped for parts. DeJoy also asked that a nationwide injunction be amended to acknowledge that the machines can’t be put back together. (Bloomberg)

4/ Senior Pentagon leaders have discussed what to do if Trump invokes the Insurrection Act and orders the active-duty military to quell protests during the election. Defense Department officials said there have been no preparations for military force during the elections, but suggested that top generals could resign if Trump ordered the active-duty military into the streets to quell protests. Pentagon officials also said under no circumstances would the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff send Navy SEALs or Marines to remove Trump from the White House – that task would fall to U.S. Marshals or the Secret Service. Last month, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, told Congress “I do not see the U.S. military as part of this process […] In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. Military.” Trump, meanwhile, has repeatedly refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power no matter who wins the election. (New York Times / CNN)

  • 😱 Dept. of “We’re going to have to see what happens.”

  • Trump “seemed to get a real kick” out of making the press “go crazy” with his refusal to commit to a peaceful, orderly transition of power. “According to a Justice Department prosecutor, there is internal concern in some department circles that Attorney General William Barr will join post-election lawsuits on behalf of the Trump campaign or its allies.” (Daily Beast)

  • “Everyone sees the train wreck coming”: Trump reveals his November endgame. “After more than four years of nonstop voter fraud claims and insinuations that he might not accept the election results, the president isn’t keeping his intent a secret.” (Politico)

  • ‌The apocalypse scenario. “Democratic lawyers are preparing to challenge any effort by President Trump to swap electors chosen by voters with electors selected by Republican-controlled legislatures. One state of particular concern: Pennsylvania, where the GOP controls the state house.” (Axios)

  • Trump’s escalating attacks on election prompt fears of a constitutional crisis. “Trump escalated his months-long campaign to undermine the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 election with comments Wednesday that, taken together and at face value, pose his most substantial threat yet to the nation’s history of free and fair elections.” (Washington Post)

  • Turbulent 2020 Presidential Campaign Approaches a Storm. “Impending Supreme Court pick, first Trump-Biden debate will test an election landscape no shock seems to alter.” (Wall Street Journal)

5/ Trump will nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Aides, however, cautioned that until it is announced, there is always the possibility that Trump makes a last-minute change. Trump is scheduled to make the announcement on Saturday afternoon and the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to hold confirmation hearings the week of October 12. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN / CNBC)

6/ A federal judge ordered the 2020 Census to continue through the end of October. In July, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, directed all counting efforts to end by Sept. 30 — a month earlier than planned — in order to deliver the results to Trump by the end of the year. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh granted a preliminary injunction to stop the Census from finishing at the end of September, saying a shortened schedule would likely produce inaccurate results. The Trump administration is appealing to the Supreme Court. The Census, conducted once every ten years, is used to determine the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal spending each and the number of congressional seats each state receives. (Associated Press / NPR)

7/ The Trump administration rescinded an award recognizing the work of a Finnish journalist after discovering she had criticized Trump on social media posts. The State Department then lied to the public and Congress about the reasons it rescinded the award, according to the agency’s internal watchdog. At the time, the department said it made a mistake in notifying Jessikka Aro that she had won an International Woman of Courage award in 2019 for her work in exposing Russian propaganda and misinformation. The agency’s inspector general, however, said that her social media posts critical of Trump were the reason the award was rescinded. (ABC News / Washington Post)

poll/ 57% of Americans say the replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should be left to the winner of the presidential election and a Senate vote next year. 38% say Ginsburg’s replacement should be nominated by Trump and confirmed by the current Senate. (Washington Post)

poll/ Biden leads Trump 65% to 27% among voters born after 1996. 70% of Generation Z voters have negative opinions about Trump, including 61% who view him “very” unfavorably. (Morning Consult)