• The second day of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination hearings concluded. Barrett dodged and deflected questions about her views on healthcare, abortion, presidential transfer of power, climate change, Donald Trump’s public statements, and many other issues.
  • Democrats reiterated their concerns that Barrett’s confirmation could jeopardize the ACA. “I’m not here on a mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act,” Barrett told the committee. “I’m just here to apply the law.” The court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in a case involving the ACA just one week after the presidential election.
  • Kamala Harris – in her prosecutorial style – made the case that Barrett’s views on abortion are clear based on public statements and career record. “I would suggest that we not pretend that we don’t know how this nominee views a women’s right to choose,” said Harris, who ended her questioning time by asking that letters from the NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Planned Parenthood opposing Barrett’s nomination be entered into the record.
  • Under intense questioning from Amy Klobuchar, Barrett declined to characterize Roe as a “super-precedent” case. Barrett has said she considers Brown v Board of Education, which ended racial segregation in schools, to be a super-precedent case because it will never be overturned given there are no challenges to it now. “I’m answering a lot of questions about Roe, which I think indicates that Roe doesn’t fall in that category,” Barrett said. She added that her characterization does not necessarily mean Roe should be overturned.
  • Trump called for a massive coronavirus relief package, as Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell announced plans to vote on a standalone bill for small business loans. “STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!” Trump said in a tweet.
  • The president held a rally for packed-in, maskless supporters in Pennsylvania. Lagging in polls, the president directly appealed to suburban women to “please” vote for him.


The Associated Press asks: where’s Melania?

The first lady, whose office last week said her Covid-19 symptoms had been mild, has been unseen since her diagnosis. The AP reports:

Mrs. Trump was last seen Sept. 29 accompanying the president to Cleveland for his nationally televised debate with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Before that trip, she attended a Sept. 26 gathering in the White House Rose Garden that is now believed to have been a “super spreader” event for the virus. The president introduced Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett to scores of guests who sat close together, many without face coverings. Several guests later tested positive for COVID-19.

The first lady’s office provided no update Tuesday on her condition. The president’s campaign referred questions to the White House.

A possible upside for the White House in the positive test results is that they overshadowed the release of audio recordings by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former confidante and adviser to the first lady, in which Mrs. Trump was heard complaining about having to decorate the mansion for Christmas. She also was heard downplaying the conditions in which migrant children were housed in U.S. detention centers after the administration separated them from their families at the Mexico border.

Wolkoff detailed her falling out with Mrs. Trump in a new book the White House has dismissed as full of “mistruths and paranoia.” Wolkoff also had confirmed she had Mrs. Trump on tape.

Read the full analysis here.


One other extraordinary dodge today: Barrett said that while she has “read things about climate change”, she does not have “firm views on it”.

Amy Coney Barrett tells Sen. Kennedy: “I have read things about climate change. I would not say I have firm views on it.”

— Johnny Verhovek (@JTHVerhovek) October 13, 2020

While it is convention for supreme court nominees to demur on questions about how they might rule on future cases, and not uncommon to avoid exposing firm stances on hot-button political issues – Barrett’s assertion that she has no views on and limited exposure to topics that most Americans have thought through to at least some extent is very difficult to believe.


Second day of Amy Coney Barrett nomination hearing concludes

The day was characterized by Barrett dodging questions on abortion, voting rights, the Affordable Care Act, and the presidential transfer of power.

Amy Coney Barrett answers questions during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, DC.
Amy Coney Barrett answers questions during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, DC. Photograph: Caroline Brehman/EPA

The hearing resumes at 9am ET tomorrow.

CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale’s excellent response to Trump’s assertion that he saw the TV network’s camera light go off when he insulted it: CNN “doesn’t use any visible camera light when recording at rallies”.

Trump does his usual lie-shtick about how he just saw CNN's camera light go off right after he insulted CNN.

CNN doesn't broadcast these rallies live, doesn't turn off its cameras when he insults CNN, and doesn't use any visible camera light when recording at rallies.

— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) October 14, 2020

Donald Trump holds a rally in Pennsylvania

The president, trailing in polls and fresh off a coronavirus infection, is addressing thousands at a packed rally in Johnstown.

rump holds a Make America Great Again rally as he campaigns at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
rump holds a Make America Great Again rally as he campaigns at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

“Suburban women, will you please like me?” Trump pleaded. “I saved your damn neighborhood!”

The president won the state by an 0.7-point margin in 2016, and is now trailing his opponent by seven points. White, politically moderate women, who helped him win four years ago, are now defecting to Biden per a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll.

As he did at his Florida rally yesterday Trump threatened to kiss “every man and woman” – now that he says recovered from Covid-19.


Harris: let's 'not pretend' that Barrett's views on abortion are unknown

US-VOTE-JUSTICEDemocratic vice-presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris speaks virtually during the second day of Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation.
Kamala Harris speaks virtually during the hearing. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AFP/Getty Images

Harris ended by making a carefully laid-out case that despite Barrett’s equivocation and insistence that she’s unbiased on the issue of reproductive rights – she is far from that.

“I would suggest that we not pretend that we don’t know how this nominee views a women’s right to choose to make her own healthcare decisions,” Harris said. The California senator noted that Ruth Bader Ginsburg – whom Barrett has cited as her model in declining to give any hints on how she’d vote on future cases – was much more forthcoming with her own personal views on a woman’s right to choose.

Harris then read out a list of public statements and evidence that Barrett’s views on abortion – and how she might vote on an abortion case - have already been made clear. She did not ask Barrett questions about Roe v Wade - driving home the point that everyone already knows the answer.

Harris ended by highlighting letters opposing Barrett’s nomination from the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Planned Parenthood.


Barrett is maintaining that before she was nominated to the Supreme Court, she was completely unaware of Donald Trump’s public statements that he wanted to appoint a judge that would tear down the ACA.

HARRIS: Prior to your nomination, were you aware of Trump's statements pledging to strike down the ACA?

CONEY BARRETT: I don't recall hearing or seeing such statements

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 13, 2020

“I would hope the committee would trust my integrity,” Barrett said, noting, as she’s done throughout, that she’s not made any commitments to rule a certain way on the healthcare law.

The assertion, and implication that she’d somehow completely tuned out the president’s loud, public criterion for judges he’d appoint, is strange - and difficult to believe.


Today, Harris is again using her famous prosecutorial style to question Barrett’s views on the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

After a long preamble about the importance of healthcare amid the ongoing pandemic, Harris’ first question for Barrett was how many months after Barrett wrote a law review article criticizing John Roberts’ decision upholding the ACA did she receive her nomination for her appeals court position.

“The Affordable Care Act and all of its protections hinge on this seat,” Harris said.

Harris’ sharp questioning of Trump’s last Supreme Court nominee – now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh – helped elevate her political profile.

Complete exchange between Sen. Kamala Harris and Judge Kavanaugh on Mueller Investigation.

Kavanaugh: "I would like to know the person you're thinking of."

Sen. Harris: "I think you're thinking of someone and you don't want to tell us."

— CSPAN (@cspan) August 11, 2020

Kamala Harris questions Barrett

The Democratic vice-presidential nominee has begun by addressing the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, and its economic consequences.

“People need help - they need help to pay their rent or mortgages. Parents need help putting food on the table,” she said, criticizing Republicans for rushing through their judicial nominee rather than focusing on passing a coronavirus relief bill.


Barrett has dodged questions about the presidential transfer of power and whether she would recuse herself from deciding a presidential election case.

When New Jersey Senator Cory Booker asked directly and pressed, Barrett initially equivocated before saying she believed in the peaceful transfer of power.

“One of the beauties of America from the beginning of the republic is that we have had peaceful transfers of power,” she said. “I think it is part of the genius of our Constitution and the good faith and goodwill of our people.”

But she declined – when pressed earlier by Vermont’s Patrick Leahy – to say whether she would recuse herself from deciding a presidential election case, after Donald Trump said he needs his nominee confirmed because he thinks his election will end up in court. She dodged - only saying she’d make a decision carefully.

Barrett also declined to say whether the president could pardon himself.


Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s lead over Donald Trump has surged to a record 17 points as the US election enters its final sprint, an Opinium Research and Guardian opinion poll shows.

Some 57% of likely voters intend to vote for Biden, while just 40% say they will vote for the incumbent president, the survey shows.

The 17-point gap is even bigger than than 57%-41% margin found by CNN earlier this month. It is just short of the lead in the popular vote that Ronald Reagan enjoyed in his second landslide victory in 1984. Four years later, Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis led George HW Bush by 17 points only to suffer defeat, but that poll was taken in July so Bush had ample time to recover.

With election day just three weeks away and millions of votes already cast, some Republicans fear a rout in the races for the presidency, Senate and House of Representatives. Ed Rollins, who advises a pro-Trump super political action committee, told the New York Times: “The president’s political environment is terrible. It’s an uphill battle.”

Asked by the Times if Trump can still turn things around, Rollins replied: “It’s cooked.”

Opinium’s findings for the Guardian suggest that a hectic month that saw the death of the supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Trump’s disastrous debate performance and a White House outbreak of coronavirus that infected the president himself swung the pendulum decisively in Democrats’ favour.

Biden has gained five percentage points among undecided voters since September. Democrats also injected momentum into existing supporters, with voters for Biden now more likely to turn out, up from 75% in September to 82% this month.

In other news, Chasten Buttigieg – the husband of the former presidential contender Pete Buttigieg – has condemned this esteemed new organization’s characterization of the couple’s dogs as “lazy”.

I know political spouses “aren’t supposed to” comment on what’s written about their families, but someone from @guardian is going to have to call @firstdogsSB and explain this insult.

— Chasten Buttigieg (@Chasten) October 13, 2020

My colleague Tom McCarthy characterized Truman and Buddy Buttigieg as such on a story about Pete Buttigieg’s effectiveness in doing rhetorical battle on Fox News.

still here hi

— truman and buddy buttigieg (@firstdogsSB) April 14, 2020

Read Tom’s full story here:


As the Amy Coney Barrett nomination hearings roll on into their ninth hour, it’s worth taking a beat to note that Barrett would not hold her current position on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals had Mitch McConnell not blocked Obama’s nominee Myra Selby.

Did you know Amy Coney Barrett is sitting in a stolen judicial seat right now? In May 2017, Trump nominated Barrett to IN seat on Seventh Circuit, which covers Indiana, Illinois & Wisconsin. This is same seat to which President Obama nominated Myra Selby, a Black woman, in 2016.

— Leslie Proll (@LeslieProll) September 26, 2020


Mazie Hirono, the Democratic senator of Hawaii, referred back to Amy Coney Barrett’s use of the term “sexual preference” – criticizing it as “offensive and outdated”.

Barrett told California senator Diane Feinstein earlier she “never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference.”

The term “is used by anti-LGBTQ activists to suggest that sexual orientation is a choice,” Hirono said. “It is not.” Barrett’s use of the term raised concerns about how she would rule on LGBTQ+ rights.

Barrett apologized but again refused to answer whether previous cases, including the one that ensured equal marriage rights, were decided correctly.


In her dissent, Sotomayor wrote: “The harms caused by rushing this year’s census count are irreparable. And respondents will suffer their lasting impact for at least the next 10 years.”

The Supreme Court ruling today put on hold a US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruling that said the Commerce Department, which runs the census, could not stop counting in early October. Plaintiffs in that case, which include the National Urban League, maintain that less time will result in an undercount of immigrants, low-income families, and other harder-to-count populations.

Supreme Court says Trump administration can shut down census count, as experts fear undercount

Hi there, it’s Maanvi Singh – reporting from the West Coast.

As senators continue to question supreme court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, the standing members of the court granted a Trump administration request to halt the census count while litigation continues.

BREAKING: The Supreme Court is setting aside for now a lower court order that extended #2020Census counting through Oct. 31, allowing the Trump administration to end counting soon

— Hansi Lo Wang • 1️⃣8️⃣? DAYS (@hansilowang) October 13, 2020

Sonia Sotomayor, an Obama appointee, was the only one to note her dissent.

The Trump administration said it needed to stop counting people immediately and move on to processing the data collected, in order to meet a statutory deadline. Lower courts ordered the census to go on through 31 October, but the administration filed an emergency request to put the counting on hold.

Census experts say stopping the count could result in significant undercounts.

The pandemic has significantly delayed census workers’ ability to count each person living in the US. But the administration – which in a separate court case is fighting to exclude undocumented immigrants from census counts used to apportion seats in Congress – is deeply invested in meeting a 31 December deadline to have state-by-state population totals sent to the president.

If Trump – who is lagging in national polls - loses the election, and the government is unable to process census data before he’d have to leave office at the end of the year, the new administration would be in charge of apportioning Congressional seats.


Today so far

That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, will take over the blog for the next few days.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • The second day of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination hearings is still unfolding. Members of the Senate judiciary committee have been posing questions to the supreme court nominee for eight hours, and six senators still have to speak.
  • Barrett deflected questions on her opinions of the Affordable Care Act, Roe v Wade and voting rights. Instead, the nominee repeatedly insisted that it would be inappropriate for her to offer opinions on major past cases until she joins the court.
  • Democrats reiterated their concerns that Barrett’s confirmation could jeopardize the ACA. “I’m not here on a mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act,” Barrett told the committee. “I’m just here to apply the law.” The court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in a case involving the ACA just one week after the presidential election.
  • Under intense questioning from Amy Klobuchar, Barrett declined to characterize Roe as a “super-precedent” case. Barrett has said she considers Brown v Board of Education, which ended racial segregation in schools, to be a super-precedent case because it will never be overturned given there are no challenges to it now. “I‘m answering a lot of questions about Roe, which I think indicates that Roe doesn’t fall in that category,” Barrett said. She added that her characterization does not necessarily mean Roe should be overturned.
  • Trump called for a massive coronavirus relief package, as Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell announced plans to vote on a standalone bill for small business loans. “STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!” Trump said in a tweet.

Maanvi will have more updates from the hearing coming up, so stay tuned.

Biden says Obama will hit the campaign trail

In case you missed it this morning: Joe Biden indicated Barack Obama would soon be hitting the campaign trail to stump for his former running mate, with three weeks to go until the presidential election.

“He’s doing enough for our campaign. He’ll be out on the trail,” Biden said before leaving for Florida.

Obama has participated in virtual fundraisers for Biden, and the two filmed a “socially distanced conversation” in July, which focused on criticizing Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden similarly focused his speech in Pembroke Pines, Florida, today on criticizing the president’s handling of the pandemic.

The Democratic nominee told senior voters that Trump had treated America’s older citizens like they were “expendable” and “forgettable.”

“I prayed for his recovery when he got Covid. And I hoped he’d at least come out of it somewhat chastened,” Biden said of the president.

“But what has he done? He’s just doubled down on the misinformation he did before and making it worse.”

Picking up the same line of questioning as Republican Josh Hawley, Democrat Richard Blumenthal asked Amy Coney Barrett about the 2006 newspaper ad she signed onto that criticized Roe v Wade.

Barrett appeared to get a bit frustrated as Blumenthal pressed her on why she had not disclosed the ad in the records she submitted to the Senate.

Blumenthal noted that senators would not even be aware of the ad if the Guardian had not reported on it earlier this month.

Barrett emphasized she had “no recollection” of signing on to the ad, noting that it was difficult to compile 30 years of documents from her career.

“I assure you I’m not trying to hide” anything, Barrett told Blumenthal.

The second day of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination hearings have now resumed, with Democrat Richard Blumenthal questioning the nominee.

Blumenthal opened his questioning by saying he was “disappointed” by Barrett’s refusal to commit to recusing herself from cases regarding the presidential election, given Trump has indicated he wants a ninth justice on the supreme court to help determine the winner of the race.

“It would be a dagger at the heart of the court and our democracy if this election is decided by the court rather than the American voters,” Blumenthal said.

Second break in Barrett nomination hearing

We have reached the second break in Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination hearing today. The Senate judiciary committee will reconvene in about 20 minutes.

Responding to questions from Republican Josh Hawley, Amy Coney Barrett addressed the 2006 newspaper ad she signed onto that criticized Roe v Wade.

“While I was free to express my private views at that time, I don’t feel like it is appropriate for me anymore, because of the canons of conduct, to express an affirmative view, at this point in time,” Barrett told Hawley.

The ad stated, “It’s time to put an end to the barbaric legacy of Roe v Wade and restore law that protects the lives of unborn children.”

Hawley later asked Barrett about her experiences raising seven children, noting she has a multiracial family.

Barrett said, “While my life experiences I think, I hope have given me wisdom and compassion, they don’t dictate how I decide cases.”

As Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination hearing continues in Washington, Joe Biden is campaigning in the crucial swing state of Florida.

The Democratic nominee kept his mask on as laid out his pitch to senior voters in Pembroke Pines.

Joe Biden arrives to speak at Southwest Focal Point Community Center in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
Joe Biden arrives to speak at Southwest Focal Point Community Center in Pembroke Pines, Florida. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP

Biden argued Trump had treated America’s elderly citizens like they were “expendable” and “forgettable” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“I prayed for his recovery when he got Covid. And I hoped he’d at least come out of it somewhat chastened,” Biden said of the president.

“But what has he done? He’s just doubled down on the misinformation he did before and making it worse.”

Biden later added, “The only senior Donald Trump cares about is the senior Donald Trump.”

Echoing other Democratic questioners, Chris Coons pressed Amy Coney Barrett on whether she would recuse herself from cases involving the presidential election.

Under questioning from Chris Coons, Amy Coney Barrett refuses to commit herself to recusing from 2020 election-related cases (Trump has publicly said he thinks seating her is important in case an election-related case comes before SCOTUS)

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 13, 2020

Barrett noted she has not been involved in hardly any cases involving election law since becoming a judge.

She pledged to “consider all factors that are relevant to that question” when determining whether to recuse herself from a case.

The Democrats on the Senate judiciary committee have repeatedly quoted Trump’s words indicating he wants a ninth justice on the supreme court in case the election comes before the court.

“I think this will end up in the supreme court,” Trump said late last month. “And I think it’s very important that we have nine justices.”

Barrett: 'I’m not here on a mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act'

Chris Coons read from an essay that Amy Coney Barrett wrote in 2017, criticizing the decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act.

In the essay, Barrett wrote, “Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute.”

Citing the essay, Coons expressed concern about how Barrett would rule in the case involving the ACA that is currently before the supreme court.

But Barrett emphasized she would show “no bias or hostility” toward the ACA when hearing the oral arguments in the case.

“I’m not here on a mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act,” Barrett said. “I’m just here to apply the law.”


Responding to questions from Chris Coons, Amy Coney Barrett said she has “no hostility” for the Affordable Care Act or any other law.

Democratic senators are having more fun with signs, as Coons brought a poster noting the supreme court will be listening to oral arguments in a case involving the ACA just one week after the November 3 elections.

Republican Ben Sasse is now posing questions to Amy Coney Barrett, and he noted we are about halfway through today’s questioners.

Sasse opened his questioning by mocking Sheldon Whitehouse’s “Beautiful Mind conspiracy charts,” referring to the Academy Award-winning film about Nobel Laureate John Nash.

Whitehouse used his 30 minutes of questioning to effectively present a lecture accusing Republicans of hypocrisy after refusing to hold hearings for Barack Obama’s supreme court nominee in 2016.

Whitehouse also noted Trump has explicitly said he hopes his supreme court nominee will rule to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

Barrett declines to characterize Roe as a 'super-precedent'

Under intense questioning from Amy Klobuchar, Amy Coney Barrett declined to characterize Roe v Wade as a “super-precedent” case.

Klobuchar noted Barrett has previously referred to Brown v Board of Education, which ended racial segregation in schools, as a “super-precedent.”

Here's Coney Barrett saying she does not believe that Roe v. Wade meets the criteria for "super precedent"

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 13, 2020

Asked by Klobuchar to define a “super-precedent,” Barrett said it referred to a case that would never be overturned because there are no longer challenges to the decision.

Barrett said, “I‘m answering a lot of questions about Roe, which I think indicates that Roe doesn’t fall in that category.”

But Barrett added that her characterization did not necessarily mean Roe should be overturned.

Amy Coney Barrett is committed to avoiding offering any opinions on voting rights, as Democrat Amy Klobuchar presses her on the issue.

Klobuchar has asked Barrett about the Voting Rights Act, gerrymandering and voter intimidation.

Each time, Barrett has said it would be inappropriate for her to offer opinions on the matter before she joins the court.

Senator Amy Klobuchar said she believed Amy Coney Barrett would be “the polar opposite of Justice Ginsburg,” who died last month.

“She and Justice Scalia were friends, yes, but she never embraced his legal philosophy,” Klobuchar said of Ginsburg and her court colleague, Antonin Scalia.

If confirmed, Barrett would be filling Ginsburg’s seat on the supreme court.

Following Ted Cruz’s criticisms of Democrats’ approach to religious liberty, Amy Klobuchar opened her questioning by noting Joe Biden is Catholic and “a man of faith.”

Klobuchar then asked Amy Coney Barrett what she thought of Trump’s tweet saying his supreme court nominee will dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

Barrett responded, “I can’t really speak to what the president says on Twitter.”

Senator Ted Cruz delivered a 20-minute speech on religious liberty, accusing Democrats of attacking Christians’ rights.

Cruz concluded the speech by saying to Amy Coney Barrett, “I’m not going to ask you to respond to any of that.”

Cruz then pivoted to asking Barrett how she was juggling virtual learning with her seven children and how she made the decision to adopt two children from Haiti.

Republican Ted Cruz opened his questioning of Sheldon Whitehouse by chastising him for essentially use him time to deliver a lecture.

But after asking Amy Coney Barrett a few questions, Cruz has now effectively launched into a lecture of his own.

Cruz also told Barrett that she had made it through Democrats’ “top of the lineup” of questioners, but arguably the three best Democratic questioners -- Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar -- have not yet spoken.

Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • The second day of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination hearings is underway. Barrett has taken questions from several members of the Senate judiciary committee, but 14 senators still haven’t spoken yet. The hearing will likely wrap up around 9 pm ET tonight.
  • Barrett dodged questions about her thoughts on the Affordable Care Act and Roe v Wade. The judge said she believed it was inappropriate to offer personal opinions on major past cases before she joins the court.
  • Trump called for a massive coronavirus relief package, as Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell announced plans to vote on a standalone bill for small business loans. “STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!” Trump said in a tweet.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse quoted Trump saying he wants supreme court nominees who will rule to scrap the Affordable Care Act and restrict abortion access.

“So when we react to that, don’t act as if we’re making this stuff up,” Whitehouse told Barrett, who has dodged questions about her opinions on Roe v Wade and the ACA.

Here’s how things are going at the hearing: Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse has not yet asked Amy Coney Barrett any questions about the court.

Instead, Whitehouse condemned the hearings as “puppet theater” and displayed a poster with past quotes from Republicans opposing the confirmation of supreme court justices during election years.

Whitehouse accused his Republican colleagues of hypocrisy and again warned Barrett’s confirmation to the court couple jeopardize the Affordable Care Act.


Barrett's nomination hearing resumes

The hearing for supreme court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has now resumed.

Fifteen members of the Senate judiciary committee still need to ask questions, starting with Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse.

Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination hearing is expected to resume in just a few minutes, and 15 members of the Senate judiciary committee still have to pose questions to the supreme court nominee.

Given each member is allowed 30 minutes of questioning in this first round, the hearing could continue for another seven and a half hours.

If more breaks are taken, the hearing may end around 9 pm ET. It’s going to be a long day.

Romney condemns 'vile, vituperative, hate-filled morass' of current political scene

Mitt Romney has released an extraordinary statement, decrying a political scene which he said “has moved away from spirited debate to a vile, vituperative, hate-filled morass, that is unbecoming of any free nation, let alone the birthplace of modern democracy”.

Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney. Photograph: Erin Scott/Reuters

“The world is watching America with abject horror,” he said.

The presidential election is on 3 November. Donald Trump, the incumbent, trails challenger Joe Biden by double digits in many national polls and by smaller but significant margins in battleground states.

On Tuesday morning, Trump’s Twitter feed was as usual filled with abuse of Biden and other presidential hate figures. Romney, a Utah senator who was the 2012 Republican nominee for president, decried such attacks on Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer, recently the subject of a kidnap plot in which Virginia governor Ralph Northam, another Democrat, was on Tuesday revealed to have been another possible target.

But Romney also sought to blame both sides, saying: “Pelosi tears up the president’s State of the Union speech on national television. Keith Olbermann calls the president a terrorist.”

Why Romney felt it necessary to single out Olbermann, a former MSNBC and ESPN host and GQ columnist who campaigns online to save stray dogs, was not immediately clear.

Romney tweeted his statement under the title “My thoughts on the current state of our politics”.

“I have stayed quiet,” he said, “with the approach of the election.”

In fact the senator has spoken out on a range of issues recently, prominent among them Trump’s hugely controversial attempt to ram nominee Amy Coney Barrett on to the supreme court so close to election day, a key cause of bitter partisan debate.

Claiming the US was a “centre right” country, a position not supported by polling on key issues before the court including healthcare and abortion rights, Romney has said he supports the move to establish a 6-3 conservative majority.

“But I’m troubled by our politics,” the sole Republican to vote to impeach Trump added in his statement.

“The president calls the Democratic … candidate ‘a monster’. He repeatedly labels the Speaker of the House ‘crazy’. He calls for the justice department to put the prior president in jail. He attacks the governor of Michigan on the very day a plot is discovered to kidnap her.

“Democrats launch blistering attacks of their own, though their presidential nominee refuses to stoop as low as others.”

The “media”, Romney said in a statement released to the media via social media, “on the left and right, amplify, all of it.

“The rabid attacks kindle the conspiracy mongers and the haters who take the small and predictable step from intemperate word to dangerous action. The world is watching America with abject horror.”

First break in Amy Coney Barrett's hearing

Now the Senate is in recess for a 30-minute lunch break in Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination hearing.

Considering the number of senators who still have to question Barrett, there are likely several more hours of this hearing to go.

Senator Mike Lee’s questioning so far has not involved many actual questions to Amy Coney Barrett, with the Republican lawmaker instead choosing to offer his own thoughts on a number of legal issues.

That strategy has irritated some reporters watching the hearing.

Senator: Instead of asking you valuable questions that might enlighten us on your jurisprudence, allow me to enlighten everyone on my already well-known opinions

— Kathryn Watson (@kathrynw5) October 13, 2020

You have thirty minutes to ask basically any question you want to someone. You use that time to make a speech to that person.

— Kristin Wilson (@kristin__wilson) October 13, 2020

Senator Mike Lee opened his questioning by criticizing supreme court Chief Justice John Roberts for ruling in favor of upholding the Affordable Care Act.

Lee claimed Roberts “rewrote the Affordable Care Act -- not just once, but twice.”

“It is inexcusable that he did that,” Lee said.

But the Republican senator then added, “Water under the bridge.”

It’s worth noting that Lee, who tested positive for coronavirus less than two weeks ago, is again speaking in the hearing room without wearing a mask.


We are thirty minutes from the first lunch break in Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination hearing, with more than a dozen senators still left to question the supreme court nominee.


Senator Dick Dubrin, a Democrat of Illinois, asked Amy Coney Barrett how she reacted to the video of George Floyd’s death.

Floyd was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer, who kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as the African-American father said he could not breathe.

“Senator, as you might imagine, given that I have two black children, that was very, very personal for my family,” Barrett told Durbin.

Barrett has adopted two children from Haiti, Vivian and JP, both of whom are black. The nominee said watching the video was “very difficult” for Vivian.

“We wept together in my room,” Barrett said.

Trump: 'STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!'

As Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination hearing continues, Trump has once again weighed in on the ongoing coronavirus relief negotiations.

“STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!” Trump said in a tweet.

STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2020

This once again undermines the efforts of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, who announced this morning that the Senate would vote on a standalone bill for small business loans next week.

Trump’s tweet also undermines his own advisers, who sent a letter to lawmakers yesterday asking them to pass the standalone bill, as larger negotiations remain stalled.

In a funny aside during the nomination hearing, Lindsey Graham referenced his many golf course conversations with the president.

“I promise you, I’ve never talked about severability with the president,” the Republican chairman of the Senate judiciary committee said.

Senator Mike Lee, who is known for lengthy ruminations on the details of legal doctrines, then joked, “Speak for yourself.”

The severability doctrine refers to the legal question of whether a law can be upheld when one of its provisions has been declared unconstitutional. It is a central issue in the current supreme court case involving the Affordable Care Act.

Senator Patrick Leahy asked Amy Coney Barrett would commit to recusing herself from cases involving the presidential election if issues arose.

Barrett again dodged, saying, “Senator Leahy, I commit to you to fully and faithfully applying the law of recusal.”

Trump has indicated he wants a ninth justice on the supreme court because he believes it would help him get a favorable ruling if the election comes before the court.

“I think this will end up in the Supreme Court,” Trump said late last month. “And I think it’s very important that we have nine justices.”

He went on to say, “And I think having a four-four situation is not a good situation, if you get that. I don’t know that you’d get that. I think it should be eight-nothing or nine-nothing. But just in case it would be more political than it should be, I think it’s very important to have a ninth justice.”

Amy Coney Barrett said she had not had any conversations with the White House about how she might rule in the case on the Affordable Care Act or any other case before the court.

“I have had no conversation with the president or any of his staff in how I might rule in this case,” Barrett said in response to questioning from Democrat Patrick Leahy.

Barrett added, “It would be a gross violation of judicial independence for me to make such a commitment.”

Amy Coney Barrett has repeatedly cited the “Ginsburg rule” when explaining why she will not offer opinions on specific cases.

The rule comes from the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose supreme court seat could be filled by Barrett if she is confirmed.

During her nomination hearings in 1993, Ginsburg told senators, “It would be wrong for me to say or to preview in this legislative chamber how I would cast my vote on questions the supreme court may be called upon to decide.”

The supreme court justices nominated by Republican presidents have now cited this quote for years to justify dodging questions about major past cases.

Barrett herself relied upon the rule during her 2017 nomination hearings for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Moments ago, Amy Coney Barrett was asked about Antonin Scalia’s criticism of the ruling that established the right for same-sex couples to marry.

Again relying on the “Ginsburg rule,” Barrett declined to offer an opinion on Scalia’s criticism.

But she said, “I have never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference and would not ever discriminate on the basis of sexual preference.”

Some commentators immediately took issue with Barrett’s use of the term “sexual preference” in reference to same-sex marriage.

From an MSNBC producer:

"Sexual preference," a term used by Justice Barrett, is offensive and outdated. The term implies sexuality is a choice. It is not. News organizations should not repeat Justice Barrett's words without providing that important context.

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 13, 2020

Questioning has turned to Chuck Grassley, the former Republican chairman of the Senate judiciary committee.

Grassley opened his questioning by arguing it was “absurd” to suggest Amy Coney Barrett would rule in favor of scrapping the Affordable Care Act because she is the mother of seven children, some of whom have preexisting conditions.

It’s worth noting that this argument runs counter to what Republicans have said about how Barrett would rule on cases involving abortion.

Republicans have repeatedly insisted, as Barrett asserted today, that the supreme court nominee’s personal experiences and her Catholic faith would not affect her rulings, including on abortion cases.

Barrett deflects question on whether federal law allows delayed elections

Amy Coney Barrett deflected a question about whether federal law allows for elections to be delayed, an idea that Trump raised this summer.

Barrett said that if a case involving delayed elections came before the court, she would have to research the issue and consider the arguments before her.

“If I give off-the-cuff answers, I would basically be a legal pundit,” Barrett said.

Trump suggested in July that the November presidential election should be delayed due to concerns about voter fraud, which is very rare.

The Constitution does not grant the president any authority to delay elections, and Trump would only be able to do so with cooperation from Congress, where Democrats control the House.

Dianne Feinstein’s questioning has turned to the Affordable Care Act, which has become a central focus for Democrats arguing against Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the supreme court.

Barrett previously criticized supreme court Chief Justice John Roberts for voting to uphold the ACA when it came before the court in 2012.

Feinstein noted another case involving the ACA is now before the court, with oral arguments set for November 10.

Barrett said the case before the court was different from the 2012 decision because the current case focused on “severability” -- the question of whether a law can stand when one of its provisions is declared unconstitutional.

“The issue in the case is this doctrine of severability, and that’s not something that I have ever talked about with respect to the Affordable Care Act,” Barrett said. “Honestly, I haven’t written anything about severability that I know of at all.”

Barrett added of the ACA decision, “It’s a case that’s on the court’s docket, and the canons of judicial conduct would prohibit me from expressing a view.”

Although Amy Coney Barrett would not give her opinion on Roe v Wade today, it should be noted the supreme court nominee signed on to a 2006 advertisement that called the landmark decision “barbaric.”

“It’s time to put an end to the barbaric legacy of Roe v Wade and restore law that protects the lives of unborn children,” the ad states.

Barrett dodges questions on Roe v Wade

Democrat Dianne Feinstein asked Amy Coney Barrett about her opinion on Roe v Wade, the landmark supreme court case that established a woman’s right to abortion access.

Unsurprisingly, Barrett declined to offer a direct answer, instead saying she was hesitant to offer her opinion on major past cases before she sits on the bench.

Feinstein repeated the question in a slightly different manner, but Barrett again responded by simply saying she would follow the law.

“It’s distressing not to get a straight answer,” Feinstein said. “That makes it difficult for me.”

Of note: Amy Coney Barrett is not using any notes as she responds to questions from the Senate judiciary committee.

Judge Barrett is using no notes.

— Trish Turner (@caphilltrish) October 13, 2020

Questioning has now shifted to Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate judiciary committee.

Feinstein opened her questioning by asking Amy Coney Barrett to introduce her family members who are in the hearing room.

Barrett introduced six of her seven children who are present for the hearing, as well as her six siblings.

When Feinstein asked if she had a secret for how well-behaved her children are, Barrett said, “I have eyes in the back of my head.”

While questioning Amy Coney Barrett, Lindsey Graham has had a few asides about his own reelection race back in South Carolina, which has become incredibly close.

Referring to campaign finance issues, Graham noted a lot of money was being raised in his race -- most of it by his Democratic opponent, Jaime Harrison.

“I’d like to know where the hell some of it’s coming from,” Graham said of the money being raised.

Harrison raised $57 million in the third quarter of this year, a record-shattering sum for Senate candidates.

Responding to questions from Lindsey Graham, Amy Coney Barrett said her family did own a gun.

Graham used her answer to make a point about whether she could be objective about cases despite her personal opinions.

Asked if she could still be objective about a gun case despite owning a gun, Barrett said yes.

Graham then pivoted to discussing Barrett’s religion, asking if she was able to set aside her own Catholic beliefs in her court decisions.

“I can,” Barrett responded. “I have done that in my time on the 7th Circuit.”

Amy Coney Barrett said she considered herself an originalist, which means she considers the Constitution to “have the meaning that it had at the time that people ratified it,” in 1790.

In his questioning, Lindsey Graham repeatedly mentioned the late Justice Antonin Scalia, for whom Barrett clerked.

But Barrett told Graham, “I want to be careful to say, if I am confirmed, you would not be getting Justice Scalia. You would be getting Justice Barrett.”

Senator Lindsey Graham used the beginning of his questioning of Amy Coney Barrett to lay out his complaints about the Affordable Care Act.

The Republican chairman of the Senate judiciary committee argued the ACA (“Obamacare”) has given an unfair advantage to large states like California, Massachusetts and New York.

Graham’s comments come one day after Democrats on the committee used their opening statements to warn that Barrett’s confirmation to the supreme court could jeopardize the ACA.

A couple things to note: Republicans have been unable to repeal and replace the ACA, even during the first two years of Trump’s presidency, when the party controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress.

Graham is also locked in a very close reelection race back in South Carolina, where he is being severely outraised by his opponent, Democrat Jaime Harrison.

Second day of Barrett nomination hearings gets underway

The second day of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination hearings is now underway.

Each of the 22 members of the Senate judiciary committee will get 30 minutes to question the supreme court nominee in the first round of questioning.

The Republican chairman of the panel, Lindsey Graham, said he hoped to complete the first round today, so ... settle in because it will be a long day.


This is Joan Greve in Washington, taking over for Martin Belam.

The second day of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination hearings will get underway in just a couple minutes, so follow along with the blog for updates and analysis.

Today marks the first of two days of questioning of the supreme court nominee, giving Democrats their first chance to grill Barrett on her legal record.

However, Democrats acknowledge they have few options when it comes to blocking Barrett’s confirmation because Republicans control the Senate.

The best-case scenario for Democrats is that this week’s hearings will inspire some American voters to reach out to their Republican senators and pressure them to oppose Barrett’s nomination. But even that is unlikely to change the end result of this process.

Josh Gerstein for Politico has this guide on how to watch the Amy Coney Barrett hearings like a pro. The site bills it as ‘cheat sheet for the phrases you’re about to hear tossed around as senators question the woman seeking to be the next Supreme Court justice’.

It’s a lengthy piece, but it will see you set fair if you start hearing mention of ‘legislating from the bench’, ‘the Ginsburg rule’, ‘the McConnell (Graham) Rule’ and ‘Griswold v. Connecticut’.

Read it here: Politico – How to watch the Amy Coney Barrett hearings like a pro

Of course, if you keep it tuned to the live blog here, you’ll not only be able to watch a live stream of today’s session, but you’ll be accompanied by a pro too, as Joan E Greve will be here shortly to take over and guide you through the rest of the day…

Along the way as part of his morning Twitter salvo, Donald Trump has again claimed that the administration’s pandemic response has saved two million lives, and also lobbed an insult at Dr Anthony Fauci.

Fauci has objected to the Trump campaign using his words out of context in an ad, but this morning the president has retorted that “Tony’s pitching arm is far more accurate than his prognostications”.

Actually, Tony’s pitching arm is far more accurate than his prognostications. “No problem, no masks”. WHO no longer likes Lockdowns - just came out against. Trump was right. We saved 2,000,000 USA lives!!!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2020

Two different states, and two different approaches to ballot boxes from the Republicans. In California they are trying to add some in, in Texas they are getting them taken away.

California authorities have launched a criminal investigation into unauthorized ballot boxes the party has placed in several counties, with authorities warning the set-ups are illegal.

The secretary of state issued a memo to county registrars this weekend clarifying that unofficial drop boxes are illegal and ballots must be returned by mail or to official polling places, vote centers or ballot drop-off locations.

Republicans have defended the move, saying that convicted felons and individuals with a criminal history are allowed by the state to go door to door and collect ballots from voters, claiming “The Democrat anger is overblown when state law allows organizations, volunteers or campaign workers to collect completed ballots and drop them off at polling places or election offices.”

Jump across a couple of state lines, however, and it is a very different GOP approach indeed, as Slate report:

A federal appeals court reinstated a Texas order late Monday night that limits the number of ballot drop boxes in the state to one per county. Civil rights groups and Democrats pushing for expanded access to different ways to cast a ballot during the pandemic filed suit in response to Gov. Greg Abbott October 1 order curtailing the number of drop boxes in the state. Last Friday, a federal court struck down the Republican governor’s limit on ballot boxes, which came after a gubernatorial proclamation in July expanding early and absentee voting options. But over the weekend a federal appeals court stayed that decision, allowing the October order to continue to be enforced, and on Monday—the eve of the start of early voting in Texas—the appeals court ruled that Abbott’s order would stand.

Early voting starts in Texas today, and people are already getting in line to vote early some two hours ahead of the Houston voting centre opening.

HOUSTON: Early voting kicks off today in TX and with just one ballot box per county, colleague and early-riser @PriscillaWT reports people showed up as early as 5AM at Houston’s NRG arena site which doesn’t even open til 7.

— Morgan Chesky (@BreakingChesky) October 13, 2020

Yesterday there were more than 10-hour waits and long lines as early voting started in Georgia in scenes that you just simply rarely see in any other major democracy.

An election date for your diary. We’ve got a live online discussion of the US election coming up on Tuesday 20 October at 2pm ET – that’s 7pm BST if, like me, you are based in the UK. It will feature a panel of our leading US journalists.

Senior political reporter Daniel Strauss, political correspondent Lauren Gambino and columnist Richard Wolffe will be chaired by our columnist and Politics Weekly Extra podcast presenter Jonathan Freedland.

There are more details and the ability to book your tickets here: Guardian Newsroom: The US presidential election

Adrian Horton writes for us this morning about Totally Under Control, a project from New York City-based film-makers Alex Gibney, Ophelia Harutyunyan and Suzanne Hillinger which recounts the early days of the pandemic in the US, revealing in clinical detail a disastrous federal response to a preventable crisis.

The resulting film is a clinical, point-by-point recounting of America’s preventable slide into the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a damning list of mistakes, foreseeable crises, and political squabbling splayed across a coherent timeline intended to be released just ahead of the election, “so that people could render a judgment about how the federal response had been”, Gibney told the Guardian.

The two-hour film focuses primarily on the early days of the pandemic: the missed opportunities from January through April which led to America’s spiraling coronavirus present, an unending “first wave”. Though there’s plenty of sense still to be made from the pandemic summer – the surge of cases in the US Sunbelt and, more recently, an outbreak within the White House (a title card reveals the film wrapped just one day before Trump announced his positive diagnosis via 1am tweet) – the film-makers generally stuck to their mandate of early-stage diagnostics: forensic re-evaluation of January, February, and March, “because that’s when all the death, all the economic destruction could’ve been prevented”, said Gibney.

“As human beings, we forget things really quickly,” Harutyunyan said. “Especially when you’re living through it, you might forget what happened three months ago.” The film offers a chance to be “reminded about the decisions and actions made by this administration”.

Read more here: ‘They refused to act’: inside a chilling documentary on Trump’s bungled Covid-19 response

Speaking of the coronavirus relief bill, it cropped up as a topic in the TV debate between Mitch McConnell and Amy McGrath who are contesting a Kentucky Senate seat in November, and the Republican senate majority leader attempted to laugh off the criticism. Martin Pengelly in New York writes:

“The House passed a bill in May and this Senate went on vacation,” McGrath said.

As McConnell chuckled, she continued: “I mean, you just don’t do that. You negotiate. Senator, it is a national crisis, you knew that the coronavirus wasn’t gonna end at the end of July. We knew that.”

As McConnell tried to interrupt, still chuckling, McGrath said: “If you want to call yourself a leader … you got to get things done and those of us who served in the Marines, we don’t just point fingers at the other side. We get the job done.”

McConnell blamed the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, saying: “Look, I know how to make deals. I made three major deals with Joe Biden during the Obama era. What the problem is here is the unwillingness of the speaker to make a deal.”

McConnell’s “one job” as Senate majority leader, she said, “is to help America through this crisis right now in passing legislation to keep our economy afloat so that people can make ends meet.

“And instead of doing that, he is trying to ram through a supreme court nominee right now, instead of negotiating, which is what he should have been doing all summer long.”

During the debate, @AmyMcGrathKY brought up Mitch McConnell's failures to address the Covid-19 pandemic, and emphasized the need to employ a proper strategy FIVE TIMES.

Every time she made these important points, Mitch McConnell just laughed.

— Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) October 13, 2020

If you are confused as to what is happening with the proposed coronavirus stimulus, you are possibly not alone. Last night the president tweeted that Republicans “should be strongly focused” on getting a relief package passed.

Republicans should be strongly focused on completing a wonderful stimulus package for the American People!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2020

That was in contrast to his statement from 6 October, when he announced that “I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election”.

...request, and looking to the future of our Country. I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business. I have asked...

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 6, 2020

That, in turn, had been a total reverse on where the president had stood four days previously. On 3 October, Donald Trump had tweeted:


— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 3, 2020


It’s been a Republican campaign mantra to keep pushing for Joe Biden to answer the question of whether he would ‘pack the court’ if he were to be elected in November.

Biden has refused to rule it out, although last night in Cincinnati he said “I’m not a fan of court packing.”

Speaking to WKRC, he went on to say “The president would like nothing better than to fight about whether or not I would in fact pack the court or not pack the court, et cetera. The focus is, why is he doing what he’s doing now?”

Court packing’s going on now. Never before, when an election has already begun and millions of votes already cast, has it ever been that a Supreme Court nominee was put forward,” the Democratic party nominee added.

As well as Cincinnati, yesterday Biden appeared in Toledo, Ohio, where he told a drive-in rally in Ohio that Donald Trump ‘turned his back on you’ during the pandemic and its economic fallout.

He questioned why Republicans had time for supreme court hearings but no time to come to an agreement with House Democrats on another economic relief package to help individuals, businesses and city and state governments.

There’s more on the Biden campaign trail in Ohio from Joan E Greve here: Biden campaigns in red state Ohio, hoping to expand battleground map

41,653 new coronavirus cases and 317 new Covid deaths in the US

Here’s the latest update on the pandemic figures. Yesterday the Johns Hopkins university tracker recorded 41,653 new coronavirus cases and 317 new Covid deaths in the US. New daily cases are running at about 19% higher than they were a fortnight ago.


Stephen Collinson has written an analysis piece for CNN looking at what he describes as Trump’s “potential superspreader sprint” to try and win reelection.

Taken in isolation, Trump’s rally looked like any other big campaign event three weeks before an election day. While some supporters wore masks behind him in the camera shot, many people in the big, outdoor crowd did not.

And despite presiding over a botched pandemic response, Trump claimed he had saved millions of lives. After turning his White House into a superspreader event that caused multiple infections, the president also criticized Biden for holding socially distanced events in which attendees sit in designated circles.

“They only have the circles because that’s the only way they can fill up the room,” the President said, before gazing out at his own large and raucous crowd that contravenes every government recommendation on combating the virus and saying: “These are the real polls.”

But medical experts expressed despair at Trump’s decision to gather huge crowds. “I promise you, the virus is there, whether it is an indoor event or an outdoor event in these large gatherings,” said Dr. William Schaffner, professor of health policy and preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University. He added that the images of Trump’s rally made him “weep.”

“Some of those people will become sick, they will spread it to others when they get home and they will become sick. These are accelerator events that promote the distribution of the virus,” Schaffner said.

Trump’s mockery of his own government’s recommendations – his rallies are almost the only mass participation events taking place in the world right now – came amid fast darkening warnings about the months ahead.

Read it here: CNN – Trump mocks virus as he launches potential superspreader sprint to win reelection

Nina Lakhani has been in Pennsylvania for us, reporting on how the ‘untouched mass power’ of Latino voters could be the secret to a Biden victory.

While polls continue to show Biden leading nationally, analysts agree that Pennsylvania is a must-win battleground state if the Democrats are to reclaim the White House, and the state’s rapidly growing and diverse Latino communities could play a crucial role – if they vote.

“The path to victory is through our communities of colour and the Latino vote is an untouched mass of power that has to be unblocked to win the state, but they’re mostly ignored. Even Biden’s campaign still isn’t taking the Latino vote seriously, there’s been little outreach,” said Maegan Llerena, state director of nonprofit social justice group Make the Road Action.

While Latinos do lean Democrat overall, they do not vote as a bloc and the size and diversity of this electorate means they could be key to victory for both candidates in several important swing states from Florida to Pennsylvania.

Yet one poll found that by mid-September, almost 60% of registered Latino voters nationwide had still not been contacted by any candidate or political party – even though a record 32 million are eligible to vote, making them the largest non-white electorate.

Read more here: The ‘untouched mass power’ of Latino voters could be the secret to a Biden victory

Senator Thom Tillis to leave Covid isolation, attend Amy Coney Barrett hearing in person

North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis looks like he’ll be appearing at the Senate judiciary committee hearing in person today, following his positive Covid test earlier this month which kept him away from the opening session. He’s released a letter from his doctor Jack Faircloth MD saying that:

I’m happy to report that since you have had such a mild case of Covid-19 and have a strong immune system you are free to return to work without any restrictions.

Tillis tested positive on 2 October, and so his doctor says that because he has carried out 10 days isolation, has been fever free for at least 24 hours, and any symptoms he showed have improved, Tillis was able to leave isolation from 4pm yesterday.

Jill Filipovic’s verdict on yesterday’s opening to the Amy Coney Barrett hearing is in:

The hearing itself was practically a caricature of how conservative men approach accomplished women. There’s no question that Barrett is well-regarded among her Notre Dame colleagues and that the conservative lawyers and judges she has clerked for and worked with say she is a sharp legal mind. Yet every Republican given a chance to speak mentioned Barrett’s status as a mother, and typically emphasized that she has seven children, many of them still school-aged. Her maternal capacity, as much as her professional accomplishments, was invoked as evidence of her leadership abilities and her status as a role model to young girls.

There’s nothing wrong with recognizing that Barrett is a mom, or welcoming her children into the room. It’s not unusual for the judiciary committee to mention a nominee’s parental status. What is unusual, though, is to have every member of one party bring it up, often more than once, and even emphasize it as a qualification for the bench. Multiple Republican senators noted, for example, that Barrett would be the first female justice with school-aged children – something it’s hard to imagine being said about a man. Do we know who the first male supreme court justice with school-age children was? Would that even register?

Read it here: Jill Filipovic – Amy Coney Barrett’s day one hearing was rank hypocrisy from start to finish

It seems incredible that we are so close to November’s election and there are still states in the process of settling how the vote is to be conducted. It’s a consequence of some authorities attempting to make it easier for people to vote during an ongoing pandemic, with others seemingly determined to oppose any rule changes at every step of the way.

Yesterday the Alaska Supreme Court confirmed a lower-court decision that for the election the state’s usual requirement for a witness signature on absentee ballots will be waived. James Brooks reports for the Anchorage Daily News that:

State law ordinarily requires absentee voters to sign their ballots and get the signature of a witness who is at least 18 years old, but the witness requirement will not be enforced this year, though ballots’ written instructions will still say that a second signature is required.

More than 111,000 Alaska voters have requested absentee ballots, tens of thousands have already been mailed to voters and 10,915 have already been voted and returned, according to statistics published by the Division of Elections.

The division is planning to release an instructional video about how to properly fill out an absentee ballot, it said after the ruling. The division also said nothing prohibits a voter from having their ballot witnessed — a ballot will be counted with or without a witness signature as long as it meets all other requirements.

Last month, the tribal government of Arctic Village, the League of Women Voters of Alaska and two older women who are vulnerable to COVID-19 sued the state, saying the second-signature requirement doesn’t make sense during the pandemic.

Meanwhile this morning the president’s son, Eric Trump, has continued to push the Trump campaign line that mail-in voting will lead to widespread fraud.

Absolutely infuriating. This is California. The Campaign will be notifying Law Enforcement and will be taking immediate legal action... cc. @GavinNewsom

— Eric Trump (@EricTrump) October 13, 2020

Eric Trump posted a video clip shared by the Real American Politics that they claim shows someone filling out seven ballots for Joe Biden in California. The video provides no evidence that these are legitimate ballot papers, or that the seven papers being filled in have all been addressed to the same voter.

Sam Levine looked for us earlier in the year at whether mail-in voting leads to fraud.

Activists pull down obelisk dedicated to victories over 'savage' Native Americans in Santa Fe

At least two people were arrested yesterday in Santa Fe, New Mexico, after a crowd toppled a monument in the city. Native American community members have long called for it to be removed.

The monument was originally inscribed that it was dedicated to “the heroes who have fallen in various battles with savage Indians in the territory of New Mexico”. The word ‘savage’ had been chiselled out some years later.

Activists used chains to pull it down in sections during the course of Monday afternoon, as New Mexico celebrated Indigenous People’s Day.

Protesters topple a second section of the Soldiers Monument, better known at the Plaza obilisk, in Santa Fe.
Protesters topple a second section of the Soldiers Monument, better known at the Plaza obilisk, in Santa Fe. Photograph: Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal/ZUMA/REX/Shutterstock

Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber has condemend the actions, saying “There is no place for people taking the law into their own hands. There is no place for people destroying historic monuments on their own. It is a violation of the ties between people in our community.”

The mayor had announced a commission back in June to decide the fate of monuments in the city, but 150 days later there had been no action.

Alex De Vore, writing for the Santa Fe reporter, stated that one participant who did not wish to be identified said they feel vindicated, but that organizers didn’t want to make a comment on the day.

CNN report that one person was arrested for battery on a peace officer and resisting an officer, and a second person was arrested for resisting an officer and criminal trespass.

The president is still busy tweeting. He’s retweeted several messages of praise for himself from Brigitte Gabriel, the founder of the anti-muslim ACT! for America group. He’s also retweeted an accusation that his election opponent Joe Biden was involved in a conspiracy which led to the deaths of US Navy SEALS.

Another retweet has featured a British newspaper’s self-selecting online vote which had him leading against Joe Biden. He may not have read the small print on the latter, as one of the voices supporting him in the poll is quoted by the Express website as saying “The orange buffoon is causing the least amount of damage so should continue.”


Kanye West launches first campaign video for his 2020 presidential bid

Kanye West has launched his first campaign video for his 2020 presidential bid just 22 days before the election, centring the importance of religious faith as key to America’s future. we stepping out on faith

— ye (@kanyewest) October 12, 2020

“What is America’s destiny? What is best for our people? What is just?”, Kanye begins, speaking against a background of a black and white American flag.

He adds, speaking to camera intercut with a montage of American people: “We as a people will revive our nation’s commitment to faith. Through prayer, faith can be restored. We as a people are called to a greater purpose than ourselves. We are not only a beacon to the world, but we should be servants to each other, to encourage each other, to help each other, to lift up each other, our fellow Americans, that we may all prosper together … By turning to faith we will be the kind of nation, the kind of people, God intends us to be”.

West also emphasised the importance of families, calling them “the building blocks of society, of a nation”.

The rapper, producer, fashion designer and entrepreneur missed the deadline for a number of state ballots, and was barred from appearing by judges in Arizona and Virginia. In California, he was added to the ticket of independent candidate Roque De La Fuente Guerra, as vice-president.

A California ballot for the 2020 US presidential election listing Kanye West as running mate to Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente Guerra.
A California ballot for the 2020 US presidential election listing Kanye West as running mate to Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente Guerra. Photograph: Chris Delmas/AFP/Getty Images

The video closes with the statement “Write in Kanye West”, encouraging voters to add his name to their ballots if he does not appear in the printed list of candidates.

His 10-point platform listed on his campaign website includes support for the environment and arts, an anti-interventionist foreign policy, and reforms to the legal system and policing.


There’s a rather odd off-shoot to that Gretchen Whitmer kidnap plot story today, as Eric Trump has been forced to cancel a campaign event in Michigan that was due to take place in a gun shop. One of its former employees was linked to the domestic terror plot against the state’s governor.

Natasha Dado reported yesterday for Click On Detroit that the event scheduled to take place at Huron Valley Guns in New Hudson was off after the shop posted to Facebook saying:

In February 2020 we had a young man that worked on the range who would show up for work in a LOT of tactical gear. We found that a little odd. We weren’t comfortable with him for a few other reasons and fired him after 3 weeks. He ended up being one of the fringe characters arrested for the Governor Whitmer kidnapping. The Governor would have had a field day against the Trump campaign. They would accuse the administration of sending his son to a facility where terrorists work and train. This could not be further from the truth, but imagine the left spin.

Read it here: Click On Detriot – Eric Trump cancels event at Michigan gun shop after former employee is linked to domestic terror plot against governor

Five men accused of Gretchen Whitmer kidnap plot to appear in federal court today

Five men accused in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will appear in federal court today, for a hearing on whether they should be detained before trial.

Associated Press report that US Magistrate Judge Sally Berens will oversee the bail and detention proceeding in Grand Rapids for Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta, who are all Michigan residents. A sixth man, Barry Croft, was being held in Delaware.

The FBI made arrests last week after using confidential sources, undercover agents and clandestine recordings to foil the alleged kidnapping conspiracy. Some defendants had conducted coordinated surveillance of the Democratic governor’s vacation home in northern Michigan in August and September, according to a criminal complaint.

The men were trying to retaliate against Whitmer due to her “uncontrolled power” amid the coronavirus pandemic, authorities said. They said four of the men had planned to meet last week to pay for explosives and exchange tactical gear.

The state capitol Lansing has been the site of many rallies, including ones with gun-toting protesters calling for her ouster.

The scenes in April near the steps of the Michigan State Capitol building in Lansing, Mich as armed protestors gathered to criticise Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
The scenes in April near the steps of the Michigan State Capitol building in Lansing, Mich as armed protestors gathered to criticise Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Photograph: Paul Sancya/AP

Whitmer put major restrictions on personal movement and the economy, although many of those limits have been lifted since spring.

The investigation is ongoing, and the defendants face up to life in prison if convicted.

In the wake of the FBI’s announcement last week, Whitmer was highly critical of president Donald Trump, accusing him of failing to discourage white supremacist groups.

“Each time he has tweeted about me, each time that he has said ‘liberate Michigan’ and said I should negotiate with the very people who are arrested because they’re ‘good people’, that incites more domestic terror,” Whitmer told ABC News.

“And I am not the only governor going through this. Certainly it’s been worse for me than most, but it is not unique to me, it is not even unique to Democrats. This White House has a duty to call it out and they won’t do it – in fact, they encourage it.”

President Donald Trump is already up and tweeting this morning, opening today’s campaigning by suggesting that his election opponent Joe Biden has dementia.

Mitt can’t be thrilled about this! Joe also said yesterday he’s running for the U.S. Senate (again) and totally forgot where he was (wrong State!). Joe has never been a nice or kind guy, so it’s easier to find this obvious & rapidly getting worse “dementia” unacceptable for USA!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2020

The president is due to appear in Johnstown, Pennsylvania early this evening.

Yesterday he made a campaign stop in Florida, arriving on Air Force One to a packed outdoor rally. Trump was without a protective mask himself, but tossed out masks to the crowd.

He boasted about his recovery from Covid, claiming he was now ‘immune’ to the virus. ‘I feel powerful,’ he said. ‘I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women and everybody.’

If you need a reminder, here’s our clip-reel from Amy Coney Barrett’s opening statement before the Senate judiciary committee yesterday. She told senators she was humbled to be considered to fill the seat left by Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Good morning and welcome to our US politics live blog for Tuesday. The main focus of the day will again be the Senate proceedings around the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the supreme court, but there’s plenty going on elsewhere as well. Here’s a catch-up on where we are, and what we might see later on…

  • The nomination hearings for Amy Coney Barrett will resume at 9am ET, with the first of two days of questioning. Yesterday was taken up with opening statements.
  • Barrett emphasized judges should not try to legislate from the bench. “Courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life,” Barrett said. “The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the people.”
  • Senate Republicans accused Democratic colleagues of attacking Barrett’s Catholic faith, even though Democrats did not mention her faith.
  • Donald Trump held his first rally since contracting Covid-19. Lagging in the polls, he was eager to appear healthy as he downplayed the severity of the pandemic and returned to classic stump talking points about the border wall and unfriendly media.
  • There were long lines as people queued for 10 hours for early voting in Georgia.
  • California is investigating unauthorized ballot boxes installed by Republicans in the state.
  • A Nevada man has caught coronavirus for the second time – believed to be a first in the US.
  • Trump will hold a campaign rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania today at 7pm ET. Yesterday Dr Anthony Fauci cautioned against large rallies as “asking for trouble”.
  • Joe Biden is traveling to Broward County, Florida. He will deliver remarks in Pembroke Pines on “his vision for older Americans.” He will later attend an event in Miramar to encourage Floridians to make a plan to vote.
  • We’re hosting an online discussion panel on the US election on Tuesday 20 October, featuring senior political reporter Daniel Strauss; political correspondent Lauren Gambino; columnist Richard Wolffe; chaired by Jonathan Freedland. There’s more details and tickets here.

I’m Martin Belam, and I’ll be taking you through the run-up to the start of the Amy Coney Barrett Senate hearing, which you’ll be able to watch right here in the company of Joan E Greve later on.


Maanvi Singh (now), Joan E Greve and Martin Belam (earlier)

The GuardianTramp

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