1/ [DEBATE RECAP] Pence repeatedly interrupted Sen. Kamala Harris, ignored the moderator, went over time, and refused to directly answer the questions asked during the vice presidential debate. “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking … I’m speaking,” Harris repeatedly had to say when Pence interrupted her. And, about an hour into the debate, moderator Susan Page noted that Pence had spoken more than Harris while trying to stop Pence from taking more time than allotted. Harris, meanwhile, called the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic “the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” saying “this administration has forfeited their right to reelection” due to its “ineptitude” and “incompetence.” Harris added “they knew what was happening and they didn’t tell you.” A fly also landed in Pence’s hair for two minutes. Other than that, the debate was more civil and substantive than last week’s failure, which was driven by Trump’s constant interruptions. (CNN / Bloomberg / NBC News / Politico / ABC News / New York Times / The Guardian)

2/ Trump refused to participate in the next presidential debate after the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced that it would be held virtually due to coronavirus concerns. The decision was made “in order to protect the health and safety of all involved,” the commission said in a statement. While Biden’s campaign agreed to the new format, Trump tweeted: “I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. It’s not what debating is all about. It’s ridiculous.” Hours later, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien proposed pushing the October 15 debate back a week and then move the third debate to October 29 – days before the November 3 election. Biden’s campaign, however, rejected the proposal, saying: “Trump chose today to pull out of the October 15th debate” and his “erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar, and pick new dates of his choosing.” Biden will instead participate in a town hall moderated by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in Philadelphia on Oct. 15, taking questions directly from voters. According to Stepien, Trump will “pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead.” Candidates are not required to participate in presidential debates. (CNN / Axios / CNBC / ABC News / New York Times / Politico / NBC News / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

3/ The coronavirus outbreak has infected “34 White House staffers and other contacts,” according to an internal FEMA memo. D.C. Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt and health officers from nine counties and cities across the Washington region are asking anyone who worked in the White House in the past two weeks to get tested. (ABC News / Washington Post)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~36,359,000; deaths: ~1,059,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~7,592,000; deaths: ~213,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

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

  • The assistant commandant of the Marine Corps tested positive for the coronavirus. Gen. Gary Thomas is the second senior uniformed official to announce a COVID-19 diagnosis this week. (Washington Post)

  • Mitch McConnell hasn’t visited the White House since August because “their approach” to the coronavirus pandemic “is different than mine.” (NBC News)

  • White House chief of staff Mark Meadows hosted an Atlanta wedding for his daughter in May, despite statewide and city orders banning gatherings of more than 10 people to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Roughly 70 guests attended the May 31 wedding. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

4/ Trump suggested that he might have contracted COVID-19 from Gold Star family members despite the veterans’ group involved in organizing the event confirming all attendees tested negative before the ceremony and all are “doing well and exhibit no symptoms of COVID-19.” The Sept. 27 event was held indoors at the White House – one day after a Supreme Court event in the Rose Garden, where multiple attendees have subsequently tested positive. It is not publicy known where Trump contracted COVID-19 because the White House has refused to provide a timeline of Trump’s coronavirus tests in the days leading up to his diagnosis. Nevertheless, Trump said that he “figured there would be a chance” he would become infected with the coronavirus, because Gold Star family members “come within an inch of my face, sometimes. They want to hug me, and they want to kiss me. And they do.” (Politico / NBC News / CNN)

5/ Trump spent an hour downplaying his COVID-19 infection, attacking Kamala Harris, accusing political opponents of conspiring against him, and demanding that Attorney General William Barr indict Biden, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton for unspecified crimes. In the interview with the Fox Business – his first since testing positive for the coronavirus – Trump claimed that “I‘m back because I’m a perfect physical specimen, and I’m extremely young,” adding “Remember this: When you catch it you get better, and then you’re immune.” Trump also called Harris, the first woman of color on a major party ticket, a “monster.” (New York Times / Politico / NBC News / CNN / Vox / CNN)

  • The experimental antibody cocktail that Trump received as part of his COVID-19 treatment relied on human fetal tissue his administration opposes. In June 2019, the Trump administration suspended federal funding for most new scientific research involving fetal tissue derived from abortions. Trump has praised Regeneron’s treatment as “miracles coming down from God,” calling it a “cure” for COVID-19 and promising to provide it free to any patient who needed it. (Washington Post / New York Times)

6/ Trump required personnel at Walter Reed Medical Center to sign nondisclosure agreements in Nov. 2019 before they could be involved in his treatment. At least two doctors refused to sign nondisclosure agreements during Trump’s Nov. 16 visit and were not permitted to be involved in his care. Trump required signed NDAs from both physicians and non-medical staff, most of whom are active-duty military service members. The reason for Trump’s visit last year is still unknown. Existing legal protections under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act automatically prohibited anyone providing medical services from disclosing a patient’s health information without consent. It is unknown whether any Walter Reed personnel were asked to sign nondisclosure agreements during Trump’s recent treatment of COVID-19. (NBC News / Washington Post / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 1033: Trump made an unscheduled visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to “begin portions of his routine annual physical exam” that included a “quick exam and labs,” according to the White House.

  • 📌 Day 1219: Trump hasn’t completed his annual 2020 physical after claiming six months ago that he had started the process. The White House declined to explain why.

  • 📌 Day 1321 Trump denied that his unscheduled visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last November was because he had “suffered a series of mini-strokes.” No media outlets have reported that Trump had a series of mini-strokes. Trump, however, tweeted that it “Never happened to THIS candidate – FAKE NEWS.” Hours later, Trump’s physician issued an official statement saying Trump has not had a stroke, mini-stroke or heart-related emergencies. (@realDonaldTrump / The Guardian / CNBC / Washington Post)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Federal prosecutors charged a top GOP fundraiser for conspiring to act as a foreign agent. The charging document says Elliott Broidy, a former top fundraiser for Trump, agreed to lobby the Trump administration and the Justice Department to drop or favorably resolve the investigation of a foreign national for his role in the embezzlement of billions of dollars from the Malaysia state development fund. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC)

  2. Facebook permanently banned a U.S. marketing firm working on behalf of pro-Trump student organization Turning Point USA and Inclusive Conservation Group. The groups used fake personas to comment on news stories to praise Trump and criticize Biden. Experts described the operation as a domestic “troll farm.” (Axios / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  3. Federal and state officials in Michigan arrested and charged 13 men in connection with a failed plan to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer. That group repeatedly met throughout the summer for firearms training and combat drills. They attempted to build explosives, surveilled Whitmer’s vacation home, and had indicated that they wanted to take her hostage before the election in November. In April, thousands of people gathered at the State Capitol to protest Whitmer’s executive orders to shut down most of the state to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Trump encouraged the protests, tweeting, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” The FBI-led probe began in March and focused on militia groups’ discussing the “violent overthrow” of government and law enforcement officials. (NBC News / New York Times / The Detroit News)


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