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News & Politics Thread (Part 5)

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    wolfali
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    This is horrible. RIP to the legendary RBG.

    I’m really scared now.

    FYC OSCARS : VANESSA KIRBY FOR "PIECES OF A WOMAN", GLENN CLOSE FOR "HILLBILLY ELEGY", ANTHONY HOPKINS FOR "THE FATHER", CHADWICK BOSEMAN FOR "MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM", PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN (BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY).

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    mellobruce
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    Blue check leftists on Twitter vowed violence in America if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) attempts to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who left us Friday night at age 87.

    CNN writer Reza Aslan tweeted: “If they even TRY to replace RBG we burn the entire fucking thing down.”  He later tweeted: “Over our dead bodies. Literally.”  Go eat some more brains, Reza, with fava beans and a good Chianti, of course.

    Writer Beau Willimon tweeted: “We’re shutting this country down if Trump and McConnell try to ram through an appointment before the election.”

    Writer Laura Bassett threatened riots: “If McConnell jams someone through, which he will, there will be riots.”  She followed up with: *more, bigger riots.

    And

    Angry leftists started protesting in front of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday around noon.

    The protest mob blocked the street and continued to grow all day.

    In typical Democrat fashion the mob believes if they use enough threats and brute force then McConnell will cave and cancel the vote on a new Supreme Court Justice.

    So McConnell issued a statement that said: “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

    Podcaster Katie Herzog said she hoped McConnell suffered a stroke and became “brain dead” before that happened.

    Media pundit Scot Ross tweeted to Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), who warned McConnell against filling Ginsburg’s seat: “Fucking A, Ed. If you can’t shut it down, burn it down.”

    In a statement, McConnell praised Bader Ginsburg for her work on the Supreme Court, noting she “overcame on personal challenge and professional barrier after another.” However, McConnell confirmed that the Senate would be voting on a pick from President Trump to replace her before the election.

    “In the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term,” the statement reads:

    Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year. By contrast, Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary. Once again, we will keep our promise. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United State’s Senate.

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    Bad News for Democrats

    As we saw in the case of BLM riot violence, Democrats couldn’t be bothered to call out the violence in any substantive way until polling apparently showed them that that it was being held against them. And even then, they still haven’t specifically called out the BLM or Antifa in connection with it.

    So we know that they can be motivated by polls, if not just by doing the right thing.

    That said, perhaps they should look at this latest poll, taken shortly before the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

    The poll revealed that an overwhelming majority of Americans supported holding hearings now in 2020 if an opening came up.

    From Washington Examiner:

    Marquette University released the survey results on Saturday that showed 67% of adults believed the Senate should hold a hearing if a vacancy occurred during 2020’s race, with only 32% opposition — and similar strong numbers across Republicans, Democrats, and independents, who supported holding confirmation hearings at 68-31%, 63-37%, and 71-28% respectively. The poll was completed three days before the death of Ginsburg, the 87-year-old liberal icon who was nominated by President Bill Clinton and confirmed in 1993. Ginsburg earned praise from Democrats and Republicans upon news of her death.

    The poll also showed that the majority disagreed with holding off on the confirmation hearing in 2016 for President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland.

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    Key GOP senator says she opposes taking up a Supreme Court nomination before Election Day

    by Devan Cole and Manu Raju, CNN
    Updated 1:29 PM EDT, Sun September 20, 2020

    (CNN) Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Sunday that she opposes taking up a Supreme Court nomination prior to Election Day, becoming the second GOP senator this weekend to voice opposition to Senate movement on the matter before the 2020 election.

    “For weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election. Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed,” the Alaska Republican said in a statement.

    “I did not support taking up a nomination eight months before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice Scalia. We are now even closer to the 2020 election — less than two months out — and I believe the same standard must apply.”

    Murkowski did not address whether she will oppose President Donald Trump’s nominee in a lame-duck session if Joe Biden wins the presidency.

    She joins another key GOP senator–Susan Collins of Maine–in her opposition to taking up whomever Trump nominates to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s vacant seat before November 3.

    Though Murkowski had stated her position on the matter prior to Ginsburg’s passing, her statement Sunday underscores how precarious a position Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could be in should other members of his party break ranks.

    In a message to GOP senators Friday night, McConnell urged his colleagues not to lock themselves into a position and counseled them to be cautious about what they are telling the media about their views on how to process the nomination, according to a person who saw the note.

    Senate Republicans, who hold the majority in the chamber, only need 51 votes to confirm a new justice once one is formally nominated. Currently, there are 53 GOP senators — meaning they can only lose three Republicans before Vice President Mike Pence could cast a tie-breaking vote.

    Should two more Republican senators also say they oppose movement on Trump’s forthcoming nominee, Democrats will have enough support to punt the nomination to the lame-duck session.

    This story is breaking and will be updated.

    CNN’s Kelly Mena contributed to this report.

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    Ex-officer Brett Hankison indicted in connection with Breonna Taylor’s death

    by Ray Sanchez and Elizabeth Joseph, CNN
    Updated 2:16 PM ET, Wed September 23, 2020

    (CNN) A former Louisville police officer has been indicted by a grand jury on three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree in connection with the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.

    The long-awaited charges against the former officer, Brett Hankison, were immediately criticized by demonstrators who had demanded more serious counts and the arrests of the three officers involved in the March shooting.

    The other two officers — Sgt. John Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove — were not charged following months of demonstrations.

    The findings of the grand jury probe into the fatal police shooting announced by Kentucky’s Attorney General Daniel Cameron Wednesday afternoon. He called the Taylor’s death “a gut-wrenching emotional case” where “the pain is understandable.”

    Demonstrators at makeshift memorial to Taylor in downtown Louisville called for Cameron to step down after the charges were announced in court and the former’s detective’s bond was set at $15,000.

    The charges come more than six months after Taylor, a 26-year-old Black EMT and aspiring nurse, was shot to death by Louisville police officers in her home. The officers broke down the door to her apartment while executing a late-night, “no-knock” warrant in a narcotics investigation on March 13.

    The grand jury was to present its report to Jefferson County Circuit Judge Annie O’Connell at 1:15 p.m., according to a statement from the Administrative Office of the Courts. Cameron’s news conference is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

    Depending on the grand jury’s findings, Cameron’s options range from declining to prosecute to charging one or more officers.

    Louisville has prepared for the possibility of unrest from the decision. For months, protesters have criticized the length of the investigation and demanded the arrests of all officers involved.

    Anticipating new protests, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Louisville Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder Wednesday afternoon announced a 72-hour countywide curfew starting 9 p.m. Government buildings will be closed.

    The Kentucky National Guard has been activated, Schroeder said.

    “I urge everyone to commit once again to a peaceful, lawful response, like we’ve seen here for the majority of the past several months,” Fisher said.

    The city and the police department had already declared states of emergency and set up barricades restricting vehicle access to downtown areas. Stores and restaurants have boarded up their windows, and some federal buildings closed for the week. Protesters started gathering Wednesday morning, hours before the expected announcement.

    Taylor’s death set off outrage across the country, chants of “say her name,” calls to arrest the officers, and a renewed focus on the Black women killed by police. Her story gained wider attention during nationwide demonstrations that followed the late May killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

    Cameron, the first Black person to hold the post and a Republican rising star, was made a special prosecutor in the case in May, and the FBI opened an investigation as well.

    A day after the grand jury convened, one officer who fired into Taylor’s home — Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly — sent a mass email to the department early Tuesday defending his actions and slamming the city’s leadership.

    In June, Det. Brett Hankison was fired for “wantonly and blindly” firing into Taylor’s apartment, Louisville’s police chief said. Six officers involved in the incident are under internal investigation, LMPD said on Tuesday.

    The city of Louisville announced on Sept. 15 a historic $12 million settlement of the family’s wrongful death lawsuit. The city also agreed to enact police reforms which include using social workers to provide support on certain police runs and requiring commanders to review and approve search warrants before seeking judicial approval.

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    Trump booed as he pays respects to Ginsburg at court

    (CNN) Emerging at the top of the Supreme Court steps on Thursday, President Donald Trump heard something he doesn’t often hear — at least directed toward him: booing.

    “Vote him out,” crowds began chanting when Trump appeared before the flag-draped coffin containing the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last week after a long bout with cancer.

    With his face concealed behind a mask — another rarity for the President, who does not often wear one in public — Trump glanced over to where the crowd had gathered nearby. His wife, first lady Melania Trump, looked straight ahead.

    The chants grew louder as the Trumps stood before the coffin, framed by massive Corinthian columns. After a few moments standing silently, the pair returned to their limousine and drove back to the White House. Outside the Oval Office, Trump was seen in animated conversation with top aides, including chief of staff Mark Meadows.

    It’s not often Trump finds himself confronted face-to-face with his opposition. He was loudly booed when attending Game 5 of the World Series last year in Washington. Afterward he scheduled visits to friendlier sports venues, such as the Daytona 500.

    When he travels around the country, Trump typically only meets with supportive crowds. At his rally in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Trump remarked it had been a while since someone heckled him at a campaign event.

    “You don’t see that much. I don’t want to bring it on, but you don’t see it much anymore,” he said.

    Trump had said he was visiting the court to pay his respects and has been careful this week to avoid maligning the late justice, who is revered on the left and once called him a “faker.”

    He quickly ordered flags lowered in her honor, voiced reverence for her in the hours after her death and pushed his announcement of Ginsburg’s replacement until after her memorial ceremonies.

    At the same time, he has written off her reported dying wish to be replaced by the winner of the 2020 election as a Democratic ploy, and has moved swiftly to identify a likely nominee to replace her.

    Long lines have formed outside the court this week to pay respects to Ginsburg, including parents bringing young daughters to honor the first female justice to lie in repose at the court.

    Democrats have also used the vacancy to mobilize their supporters, raising hundreds of millions of dollars for candidates and causes.

    Trump and his aides have appeared cognizant that any sign of disrespect for the late justice could be used by his opponents to further advance their cause. When her death was announced, aides decided not to interrupt his ongoing campaign rally in Minnesota, preventing a negative reaction from the crowd if Trump announced the development from stage.

    Still, the reaction from those assembled at the court on Thursday was a good indication that even Trump’s attempts at demonstrating respect are unlikely to lower the temperature surrounding the court vacancy, which is playing out in the heated final stretch of the presidential election.

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    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to lie in repose at the Supreme Court Wednesday and Thursday

    (CNN) Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will become the first woman in history to lie in state in the US Capitol when her casket is placed in National Statuary Hall on Friday, according to congressional historians.

    The historic event, which was announced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday, will feature a formal ceremony for invited guests only because of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Lying in state is a tribute reserved for the most distinguished government officials and military officers, while lying in honor is a distinction given to private citizens.

    Earlier in the week, Ginsburg’s body will lie in repose at the Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday so that members of the public can pay their respects, the court announced on Monday.

    The casket will arrive in front of the Supreme Court just before 9:30 a.m. ET Wednesday and a private ceremony with family, close friends and the justices will take place in the Great Hall at the court. Following the ceremony, the casket will be moved under the portico at the top of the building’s front steps.

    Former law clerks will serve as honorary pallbearers, lining the steps as the casket arrives.

    A private interment will be held next week at Arlington National Cemetery.

    Ginsburg died Friday at the age of 87 due to complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. She served on the court for more than 27 years and was nominated by then-President Bill Clinton in 1993.

    A makeshift memorial adorned with flowers and candles paying tribute to Ginsburg lines the sidewalk outside of the Supreme Court. Lawmakers from both parties, entertainers, and athletes have also paid tributes to Ginsburg. Inside the Supreme Court, her bench chair and the bench in front of it have been draped in black in memoriam.

    Ginsburg’s death has reignited a debate over filling a Supreme Court vacancy during a President’s last term of an election year, in which Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have united behind President Donald Trump’s push to move forward ahead of the November election.

    This story and its headline have been updated with historical context.

    CNN’s Paul LeBlanc, Ali Zaslav and Chandelis Duster contributed to this report.

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    Fauci cautions that a Covid-19 vaccine won’t eliminate the need for masks and public health measures

    (CNN) Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday that even an effective Covid-19 vaccine won’t replace the need for other public health measures, such as wearing a mask, social distancing and washing hands.

    Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the vaccine will not be 100% effective and taken by 100% of the population — which means there still will be room for Covid-19 to spread.

    “It is not going to eliminate the need to be prudent and careful with our public health measures,” he said in a Facebook Live conversation with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.

    Fauci said he’s being “practical” when he says, “I think if we can get 75 to 80% of the population vaccinated, I think that would be a really good accomplishment.”

    Fauci’s comments were made as nearly half of US states now report a rise in new Covid-19 cases. In addition, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said preliminary results on the first round of a CDC study show more than 90% of the population — or more than 295 million Americans — is susceptible to the virus.

    Redfield spoke at the Senate Health Committee Wednesday along with several other leading coronavirus political figures, including Fauci, testing czar Adm. Brett Giroir and FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn.

    Together, the group advocated for a fact-based response to the pandemic and pushed back against concerns that the vaccine approval process would be hampered by political interference.

    “We do feel the urgency of the moment. We do take very much…. very seriously our responsibility to protect American lives,” Hahn said. “We will not delay, but we will not cut corners in our process.”

    Hours later, though, President Trump stomped on that united front by claiming he may override the FDA if the agency released tougher standards for the authorization of a vaccine.

    The presidents of the US National Academies of Sciences and Medicine called out political interference in science in a statement released Thursday, saying they are “alarmed” by recent reports of the politicization of science.

    “Policy-making must be informed by the best available evidence without it being distorted, concealed, or otherwise deliberately miscommunicated,” said Marcia McNutt, president of National Academy of Sciences, and Dr. Victor Dzau, president of the National Academy of Medicine.

    “We find ongoing reports and incidents of the politicization of science, particularly the overriding of evidence and advice from public health officials and derision of government scientists, to be alarming,” the statement said.

    About 6.9 million people across the country have already contracted the illness and more than 200,000 people have died since the start of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University.

    The US continues to lead the world in both deaths and infections and now experts warn that the spread of the virus could get much worse with schools now open and flu season on its way.

    At least 21 states — mostly across the US heartland and Midwest — are reporting an increase in new Covid-19 cases compared to the previous week.

    Nationwide, the US is averaging more than 43,000 new cases per day — about double what the country was averaging back in June when lockdown restrictions were easing.

    Researchers with the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predict a total of more than 378,000 Americans will have died from Covid-19 by January 1.

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    Trump nominates Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court

    by Maegan Vazquez and Kevin Liptak, CNN
    Updated 5:50 PM ET, Sat September 26, 2020

    (CNN) President Donald Trump on Saturday said he is nominating Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative federal appeals court judge, to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the US Supreme Court, setting off a fierce partisan battle in the waning days of a hotly contested presidential election.

    Calling it a “very proud moment indeed,” Trump called Barrett a woman of “towering intellect” and “unyielding loyalty to the Constitution” who would rule “based solely on the fair reading of the law.”

    In a flag-bedecked Rose Garden designed to mimic Ginsburg’s own nomination ceremony in 1993, Trump recounted Barrett’s educational and professional background, noted her seven children and hailed her ties to another late Supreme Court justice, Antonin Scalia, for whom she clerked.

    “I looked and I studied and you are very eminently qualified for this job,” Trump told his nominee. “You are going to be fantastic.”

    Barrett, Trump declared before an audience that included Scalia’s widow, Republican senators and several figures from the conservative media, is “one of our nation’s most brilliant and gifted legal minds.”

    In her own remarks, Barrett offered only a glimpse of what type of justice she would be and did not delve into specifics.

    “A judge must apply the law as written,” she said. “Judges are not policy makers.”

    Instead she sought to cast herself as a public servant — one who, at 48, could potentially serve on the court for decades.

    “If confirmed, I would not assume that role for the sake of those in my own circle, and certainly not for my own sake, I would assume this role to serve you,” she said.

    The nomination comes at a critical time in history, as the President openly questions the integrity of the upcoming election and has not committed to a peaceful transfer of power in the event he loses. He’s repeatedly said that the Supreme Court needed to have all nine seats filled ahead of Election Day, in case the court needed to weigh in on the legality of mail-in ballots being sent to Americans across the country amid the coronavirus pandemic. And several weighty cases loom on the immediate horizon, should she be confirmed as swiftly as Republicans hope, including one that could determine the fate of the Affordable Care Act.

    Trump seemed to momentarily shrug off the looming battle, even if Barrett herself said Saturday she was under no illusions about how difficult her confirmation might be.

    “This should be a straightforward and prompt confirmation,” Trump said. “I’m sure it will be extremely non-controversial. We said that last time, didn’t we?”

    But Democrats were already writing off her nomination, which had been widely expected.

    “By nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, President Trump has once again put Americans’ healthcare in the crosshairs,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer wrote in a statement, adding a vote for Barrett amounted to “a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act.”

    Barrett was appointed by Trump to the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017 and advocates on the right have backed her nomination because of her writings on faith and the law. The 7th Circuit is based in Chicago and covers cases from Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. If her Senate confirmation is successful before the November election, the appointment would mark Trump’s third US Supreme Court pick in one presidential term, cementing a conservative stronghold in the court for a generation.

    Barrett graduated from — and now works part-time as a professor at — Notre Dame Law School. She was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and now lives in South Bend, Indiana, with her husband Jesse M. Barrett.

    Following Ginsburg’s death last week, Trump expressed eagerness to appoint her replacement, arguing that he had a constitutional duty to fill her seat and committed to appointing a female nominee. Barrett will be the fifth woman ever appointed to the court and second conservative, if confirmed.

    In the week Trump deliberated his latest Supreme Court choice, Barrett, once a finalist for the Supreme Court spot that went to Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, emerged as the favorite among his shortlist, after meeting with the President at the White House, according to sources familiar.

    Barrett’s Senate nomination process is set to begin swiftly as conservatives aim to seat her before Election Day.

    Two Republican senators have said they do not support voting on the nomination of a Supreme Court justice ahead of the election, but now that Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney has signaled that he is on board with moving ahead with a vote, Barrett’s likely to be confirmed barring any potential missteps.

    Legal philosophy

    Since joining the appellate bench, Barrett has been a cautious jurist, plainly aware that she remains under a national microscope for any Supreme Court confirmation battle. Still, she has demonstrated her conservative bona fides on Second Amendment gun rights, immigration and abortion — positions Democrats are poised to voice opposition against in upcoming confirmation hearings.

    Last year, she dissented alone when a 7th Circuit panel majority rejected a Second Amendment challenge from a man found guilty of felony mail fraud and prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal and Wisconsin law.

    In 2018, she joined a dissent with fellow conservatives in an Indiana abortion dispute and referred to a provision that made it unlawful for physicians to perform an abortion because of the race, sex or disability of the fetus was a “eugenics statute.”

    More recently in June, she dissented as a 7th Circuit panel left intact a US district court decision temporarily blocking a Trump policy that disadvantaged green card applicants who apply for any public assistance.

    And religious conservatives were especially energized by an exchange with Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, during Barrett’s 2017 confirmation hearing for her current judgeship.

    In a tense back-and-forth, the Democratic senator sharply questioned whether the judicial nominee could separate her Catholic views from her legal opinions.

    “The conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein pointedly said. “And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country.”

    Barrett supporters believed the nominee was being disparaged for her Catholicism. But Democrats said the exchange was in reference to Barrett’s own writings on the topic that had prompted questions from both parties — and concerns from progressives that she would chip away at abortion rights.

    At the hearing, Barrett testified that her religious beliefs would not interfere with her rulings as a federal judge. But Democrats, including Feinstein, were not convinced, worried that Barrett’s views meant that she would strike against abortion rights as a federal judge.

    Should Barrett be confirmed before Election Day or shortly thereafter, one of her earliest cases would be on the latest Obamacare challenge. The court is scheduled to hear that case on November 10.

    Barrett has also cast doubt on the Affordable Care Act, authoring a 2017 law review essay which criticized Chief Justice John Roberts’ legal rationale for saving the law.

    CNN’s Joan Biskupic and Manu Raju contributed to this report.

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    New York Times: Trump paid no income taxes in 10 of past 15 years

    Updated 6:12 PM ET, Sun September 27, 2020

    Washington (CNN) – Donald Trump has paid no income taxes whatsoever in 10 of the past 15 years since 2017 as a result of reporting that he was losing significantly more than he made, according to an explosive report released Sunday by the New York Times.

    The President paid just $750 in federal income taxes in both the year he won the presidency and his first year in the White House, according to more than two decades of his tax information obtained by The Times.

    Trump’s taxes have been largely a mystery since he first ran for office. During the 2016 campaign, the then-candidate broke with presidential election norms and refused to produce his tax returns for public review. They have remained private since he took office, and Trump has repeatedly said he’s under audit by the IRS, which has been ongoing since at least 2016, according to the President.

    In response to a letter summarizing the newspaper’s findings, Trump Organization lawyer Alan Garten told the Times that “most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate” and requested the documents.

    The New York Times said it will not make Trump’s tax-return data public so as not to jeopardize its sources “who have taken enormous personal risks to help inform the public.”

    At a briefing Sunday, Trump denied the New York Times story, saying that it was “fake news.”

    The tax-return data obtained by the newspaper does not include his personal returns for 2018 or 2019.

    Being under audit by the IRS does not preclude someone from releasing their tax returns publicly. But that hasn’t stopped Trump from using it as a defense against releasing his financial information.

    In 2016, Trump released a letter from his tax attorneys that confirmed he was under audit. But the letter also said the IRS finished reviewing Trump’s taxes from 2002 through 2008. Trump did not release his tax returns from those years, even though the audits were over.

    A previous New York Times investigation published in 2018 reported that Trump had helped “his parents dodge taxes” in the 1990s, including “instances of outright fraud” that allowed him to amass a fortune from them

    Trump received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, starting at the age of 3.

    This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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    Tax bombshell reveals Trump’s image is a sham

    Updated 12:00 AM ET, Mon September 28, 2020

    (CNN) – It was the moment when Donald Trump’s “Art of the Deal” fabulism, billionaire tycoon bluster and populist standard-bearing for forgotten Americans was revealed to be what it always looked like: a sham.

    A stunning New York Times exposé of the President’s tax returns Sunday revealed a pitifully inept businessman and a serial tax avoider crushed by massive debts that could expose him to conflicts of interest given his position as President and power to help undisclosed lenders.

    Trump refused to talk about his tax returns and blasted the Times report as “totally fake news” on Sunday. But the article portrays the anti-elite crusader who rails against a corrupt system as actually using its loopholes to avoid paying any federal taxes at all in 10 of 15 years beginning in 2000 by writing off his own staggering losses.

    In 2016 and 2017 each, Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes — far less than many Americans who are working hard amid a deep recession to stay afloat. Trump took huge deductions — including $70,000 to take care of his hair — and also appeared to write off hundreds of thousands of dollars paying his daughter Ivanka as a consultant to the Trump Organization, according to the Times report. The story also reveals the extent to which Trump’s status as President is being used to shore up his losing ventures — for example his hotel in Washington, DC, and his golf resorts.

    “This is a con man in the White House,” presidential historian Douglas Brinkley told CNN Sunday, referring to a President who shattered convention by refusing to release his tax records to the public while running for office.

    Tony Schwartz, who penned Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal,” said even he was surprised by the “sheer brazenness” of Trump’s behavior, remarking to CNN’s Anderson Cooper that it revealed the “kind of mind that would think ‘I can get away with paying no taxes on hundreds of millions of dollars in income.'”

    The publication of the deeply reported article, based on more than two decades of his tax information obtained by The Times, comes just two days before the first presidential debate and 37 days before an election in which he is trailing Democrat Joe Biden. It poses a grave challenge to a presidency that we now know Trump may need to preserve to outrun creditors with hundreds of millions of dollars in loans soon coming due.

    It leaves the President facing multiple questions about his morals, behavior — and patriotism since he appears to be paying more in taxes to several foreign nations than he is to Uncle Sam. The reporting also raises the possibility that Trump’s deceptive accounting, already the focus of several investigations in New York, could open him up to serious legal issues when he leaves office.

    The Times report, for instance, says that the President has been battling the Internal Revenue Service for years over whether losses he claimed should have resulted in a staggering tax refund of $73 million.

    A debate opening for Biden

    In the short-term, the New York Times report gives Biden a golden opportunity to put Trump on the defensive during their first debate in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday evening.

    In recent days, Biden has sought to undermine Trump’s good approval ratings on the economy by billing the election as a contest between Scranton, Pennsylvania — where he was born — and Park Avenue. Trump’s complicated and self-serving tax arrangements play directly into this construct. While the President’s most loyal devotees may not be shifted by such an attack, it is hard to see how it does not damage him among wavering blue-collar voters in the post-industrial heartland in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which are crucial to Trump’s narrow pathway to 270 electoral votes.

    Biden campaign communications director Kate Bedingfield told CNN on Sunday that the report clarified the contrast between the President and the Democratic nominee.

    “You have in Donald Trump a President who spends his time thinking about how he can work his way out of paying taxes of meeting the obligation that every other working person in this country meets every year … with Joe Biden you have somebody who has a completely different perspective on what it means to be a working family in this country,” Bedingfield said.

    The key figure — that Trump paid just $750 in taxes in two straight years — might be the most damning, since it is so identifiable and strikes such a clear comparison to the larger figure almost all Americans pay. If a man with his own airliner, gold-leafed homes and string of golf resorts can get away with that, who is to argue that system is not irretrievably biased against regular people?

    “I’m telling you there are people out there, and I know, I come from blue collar, hard-working, these folks are scraping to make a living and they’re going to wake up and find this incredible mogul paid $750,” said former Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich, who is now a CNN political commentator.

    “I don’t care what his excuses are. It doesn’t pass the smell test. It’s not going to disrupt those people who were for him totally. It’s those people on the fence,” Kasich said.

    Within hours of the report’s publication, the Biden campaign had already put vinyl stickers up for sale on its website — reading, “I paid more income taxes than Donald Trump.”

    The report also sheds some light on the President’s clear desperation to cling to power. He, for example, intensified his false claims on Sunday that Democrats were trying to steal the election, making a new and factually empty assault on mail-in ballots that he claims are plagued by massive fraud.

    The Times reports that within the next four years, more than $300 million in loans — for which Trump is personally responsible — will come due. That opens the extraordinary possibility that the lenders could be called upon to decide whether to foreclose on businesses owned by the US President while he is in office if he is unable to pay the money back. Trump is therefore in danger of becoming deeply compromised.

    His personal debts also underscore a long-time fear about his administration — that he is managing US diplomacy in order to prioritize his own personal and financial goals rather than the wider national interests. Trump, for instance, derives millions of dollars in income from countries like Turkey and the Philippines that are led by autocrats whom he has praised but who infringe traditional US values like human rights.

    And while he has paid little federal tax to the Treasury, the President or his companies have paid more in taxes to foreign powers, including $145,400 to India and $156,824 to the Philippines in 2017.

    Trump’s supporters likely to be unmoved

    With the election so close, the President needs to spend every day trying to destroy the Democratic nominee’s credibility — even as he tries to escape the consequences of his disastrous management of a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans and is again gathering strength. But the story of his taxes may defy even a distraction artist as proficient as the President.

    Trying to deflect from the New York Times report, Trump at a Sunday news conference touted his new Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett and issued another demand for Biden to submit to a test for performance enhancing drugs before they clash in the debate.

    Yet given Trump’s strong emotional and tribal connection to his followers, his success in constructing alternative political realities while discrediting journalists, and the propaganda from conservative media, the October-surprise style bombshell may have less immediate political impact than might be expected.

    Stories about Trump’s refusal to pay his creditors, casino bankruptcies and morally questionable business practices have been circulating for years and did not stop him from winning in 2016 or tarnish his self-created mystique as the hard-driving real estate shark that he portrayed on NBC’s “The Apprentice.”

    Throughout a tumultuous political career, Trump has rarely paid a price for scandals, outrages and insults — any one of which would have doomed a normal politician. His brand is well known; he is a rule breaker. And in the past, he has explained that avoiding taxes shows he is a smart businessman and is an approach anyone would take if they could.

    On Sunday, Trump quickly adopted his characteristic tactics to try and pass off the hugely serious revelations as nothing to concern voters.

    “It’s fake news. It’s totally fake news. Made-up, fake. We went through the same stories, you could’ve asked me the same questions four years ago,” the President said, again inaccurately saying he couldn’t release his tax returns because he was under audit.

    “I mean the stories that I read are so fake. They’re so phony,” he said, claiming to pay a lot in taxes.

    The Trump Organization’s lawyer, Alan Garten, told the Times that “most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate” and requested the documents.

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    mellobruce
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    New York Times: Trump paid no income taxes in 10 of past 15 years Updated 6:12 PM ET, Sun September 27, 2020 Washington (CNN) – Donald Trump has paid no income taxes whatsoever in 10 of the past 15 years since 2017 as a result of reporting that he was losing significantly more than he made, according to an explosive report released Sunday by the New York Times. The President paid just $750 in federal income taxes in both the year he won the presidency and his first year in the White House, according to more than two decades of his tax information obtained by The Times. Trump’s taxes have been largely a mystery since he first ran for office. During the 2016 campaign, the then-candidate broke with presidential election norms and refused to produce his tax returns for public review. They have remained private since he took office, and Trump has repeatedly said he’s under audit by the IRS, which has been ongoing since at least 2016, according to the President. In response to a letter summarizing the newspaper’s findings, Trump Organization lawyer Alan Garten told the Times that “most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate” and requested the documents. The New York Times said it will not make Trump’s tax-return data public so as not to jeopardize its sources “who have taken enormous personal risks to help inform the public.” At a briefing Sunday, Trump denied the New York Times story, saying that it was “fake news.” The tax-return data obtained by the newspaper does not include his personal returns for 2018 or 2019. Being under audit by the IRS does not preclude someone from releasing their tax returns publicly. But that hasn’t stopped Trump from using it as a defense against releasing his financial information. In 2016, Trump released a letter from his tax attorneys that confirmed he was under audit. But the letter also said the IRS finished reviewing Trump’s taxes from 2002 through 2008. Trump did not release his tax returns from those years, even though the audits were over. A previous New York Times investigation published in 2018 reported that Trump had helped “his parents dodge taxes” in the 1990s, including “instances of outright fraud” that allowed him to amass a fortune from them Trump received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, starting at the age of 3. This is a breaking story and will be updated.

    So What?

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    Emmyfan
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    The delusion of some is very real and scary.

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    Atypical
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    First presidential debate devolves into chaos as Trump derails the night with insults and interruptions

    by Maeve Reston and Stephen Collinson, CNN
    Updated 10:49 PM ET, Tue September 29, 2020

    (CNN) The first presidential debate devolved into chaos and an unrelenting volley of personal attacks Tuesday night as President Donald Trump derailed the night by repeatedly talking over former Vice President Joe Biden, who responded with jabs at the President — at one point calling him a clown and “the worst president that America has ever had.”

    Trump attacked Biden and interrupted him during his answers on every subject. The technique led Biden to lose his train of thought on key points early in the debate, though he grew more and more used to Trump’s attacks as the night went on.

    During a discussion about the explosive new reports from The New York Times that Trump paid little or no federal income taxes during much of the past two decades, Biden had tried to pivot into an argument about fairness, noting that the average schoolteacher paid more in taxes than Trump, but the President derailed him with his interruptions.

    The dynamic emerged during the first sharp exchange over health care and continued through the debate.

    “Donald, would you just be quiet for a minute,” Biden said. He repeatedly called out the President for attempting to bulldoze the debate, saying he wouldn’t even try to fact check Trump’s volley of untruths.

    “Everything he is saying right here is a lie.”

    Frustrated by the inability to carry a coherent thought, he broke into Trump’s retorts at one point, saying, “Will you shut up, man?”

    When Biden was asked why voters should elect him over Trump, the former vice president said Trump has made the country “sicker, poorer, more divided and more violent.”

    “When I was vice president, we inherited a recession. I was asked to fix it. I did. We left him a booming economy and he caused the recession,” Biden said. “With regard to being weaker — the fact is that I have gone head to head with (Russian President Vladimir Putin) and made it clear to him we’re not going to take any of his stuff.”

    “He’s Putin’s puppy,” Biden said of Trump. “He refuses to say anything to Putin about the bounty on the heads of American soldiers –” as Trump began to interrupt him with an attack on his son, Hunter.

    Moderator Chris Wallace jumped in, saying, “Mr. President. Your campaign agreed that both sides would get two-minute answers. Uninterrupted. Well, your side agreed to it. Why don’t you observe what your campaign agreed to as a ground rule.”

    “He never keeps his word,” Biden quipped.

    The debate was divided into six topics, but many Americans tuning in would have had a hard time finding any clarity about either man’s positions, as the debate devolved into shouting, rancor and cross talk that at times made it impossible to follow what either man was talking about.

    Messy start

    Trump entered the debate looking to change the race as he trailed Biden, but instead played up to his most base instincts by going on the attack from the opening.

    The President entered this first of three presidential debates in a far more vulnerable position than in his 2016 match-ups with Hillary Clinton, when he had no presidential record to defend and attempted to rattle the former secretary of state with frequent interruptions and by reeling off one-liners, including the quip in one debate that if he had been in the White House “you’d be in jail.” Many voters have already made up their minds about Trump, giving him poor marks for his handling of both the pandemic and the tension over race relations and police violence this year.

    He returned to that 2016 playbook on Tuesday.

    As expected, Trump repeatedly insulted Biden during the first 30 minutes of the debate, cutting him off at one point when he used the word smart.

    “Don’t ever use the word smart with me,” Trump said. “There’s nothing smart about you, Joe.”

    Trump’s performance was a microcosm of his entire life and career: Break all the rules and seek to dominate every room and personal interaction with bulldozing personality.

    Biden, a far more conventional politician, appeared flustered at the start and struggled to make his own points with Trump interrupting. He eventually found a moment to counterattack, blasting Trump for trying to get rid of Obamacare.

    “He doesn’t have a plan. The fact is this man doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” Biden said.

    Trump’s strategies to take down the former vice president — including his unproven charges of corruption about Biden’s son Hunter, which he plans to raise on Tuesday — have so far been less effective than those he unfurled on Clinton. The President also may have miscalculated by setting a low bar for Biden Tuesday night as he repeatedly questioned the former vice president’s mental acuity and called him “dumb as a rock.”

    Biden rips Trump for his handling of the coronavirus

    When the conversation shifted to the pandemic, Biden excoriated the President’s handling of the coronavirus, noting that more than 200,000 people have died and some 40,000 people are still contracting Covid-19 each day.

    “The President has no plan. He hasn’t laid out anything,” Biden said.

    Trump disputed Biden’s comparisons with the number of cases in other countries and promised that a vaccine and life-saving treatments were right around the corner.

    “It’s China’s fault. It never should have happened,” Trump said.

    “We’ve done a great job,” Trump added, accusing the “fake news” of distorting his record on the virus.

    Turning to Biden, he charged: “You would have lost far more people.”

    Biden told Trump to get out of his bunker, and “get out of the sand trap and your golf course” to bring Democrats and Republicans together to do what needs to be done to save lives.

    Trump tried to deflect the criticisms that he rarely wears a mask and has drawn thousands of people to his rallies with no social distancing, by claiming that Biden could never draw the crowds that he does. He also repeatedly accused Biden of wanting to keep the country shut down at the cost of businesses all over the country.

    “This guy will close down the whole country and destroy this whole country,” Trump said as Biden laughed off the suggestion.

    Trump on the defensive over taxes

    During an exchange over the new revelations about Trump’s tax returns in The New York Times — which showed the President has paid no federal income taxes in 10 of the last 15 years — Biden noted that Trump paid less in taxes than most school teachers, but he fumbled a chance to drill the President on his tax liabilities and questionable business record, given that Trump evaded taxes largely by writing off his losses.

    “You’re the worst president America has ever had,” Biden said.

    Trump disputed the New York Times report by claiming that he has paid millions in taxes, but he also defended his approach of paying as little as possible in taxes as an aspect of his sharp business acumen.

    Biden used The New York Times report to try to dismantle Trump’s claim to be a champion of the middle and working classes in Midwestern swing states. The former vice president argued that Trump’s actions in the White House have mainly benefited himself and his uber-rich allies.

    In a preemptive strike to use the tax return issue to his advantage, the Biden campaign released the former vice president’s 2019 tax returns earlier Tuesday, which showed he paid nearly $300,000 in federal income tax last year.

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    Trump refuses to condemn white supremacists

    From CNN’s Maegan Vazquez

    President Donald Trump participates in the first presidential debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

    President Trump refused to call out white supremacists for inciting violence at anti-police brutality demonstrations across the country, saying during Tuesday’s debate that the violence wasn’t an issue cause by the right.

    When debate moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump if he was ready to condemn white supremacists and say they need to stand down during ongoing demonstrations across the country, Trump told one group to “stand back and stand by.” He also asserted that violence at the protests was not an issue caused by conservatives.

    “Sure, I’m willing to (tell them to stand down), but I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing. I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace,” Trump said.

    “Say it. Do it. Say it,” Biden responded, encouraging Trump to condemn the groups.

    “Who would you like me to condemn?” Trump asked Wallace. “Proud Boys — stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what. I’ll tell you what. Somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right wing problem(.)”

    Members of the Proud Boys, a far-right group, have been seen in their black and yellow polo shirt uniform at multiple 2020 Trump campaign rallies.

    CNN has reported on how white supremacists have posed as Antifa online, calling for violence. Before it emerged the account was run by white supremacists, Donald Trump Jr., the President’s son, pointed his 2.8 million Instagram followers to the account as an example how dangerous Antifa is.

    And the President has previously defended the actions of Trump supporters who apparently fired pepper spray and paintballs at demonstrators. Trump also previously said that Kyle Rittenhouse — who faces homicide charges as well as a felony charge for attempted homicide in Kenosha, Wisconsin — “probably would have been killed” had he not acted as an armed vigilante during anti-police violence protests, claiming that the 17-year-old had been “very violently attacked.”

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