Summary

We’re ending live coverage for the day, thanks for following along. Some links and developments you may have missed:

Trump falsely claims he didn't downplay Covid

In a clip from the town hall set to air this evening, the president falsely told a voter he did not downplay the coronavirus pandemic, saying, “Actually, in many I ways, I up-played it, in terms of action.”

Fact check: The president repeatedly downplayed the seriousness of the virus, for months, and as it was recently revealed this week, he explicitly admitted this to journalist Bob Woodward.

On 27 February, Trump said publicly: “It’s going to disappear. One day – it’s like a miracle – it will disappear.” In a tweet on 9 March, he explicitly compared Covid to the common flu, noting that “nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on” in flu season. “Think about that!” By 19 March, Trump declared a national emergency. But at the same time, he told Woodward, “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

In tonight’s segment Trump also responded to the voter’s question by repeating misleading claims about his early travel restrictions during Covid, falsely calling them “bans” on China and Europe.

Updated

Jared Kushner refuses to answer questions about Trump's false tweet

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and White House adviser, refused to answer questions about Trump promoting falsehoods and a baseless conspiracy theory accusing Joe Biden of being a pedophile. Kushner responded that he hadn’t seen the tweet.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer responded, “Please tell your father-in-law it’s really disgusting to retweet those kind of ugly disgusting tweets about his Democratic rival ... I was pretty upset when I saw that.”

Minnesota governor urges campaigns to follow Covid rules

Minnesota’s governor, Tim Walz, has sent a letter urging the Trump and Biden campaigns to abide by the state’s guidelines for slowing the spread of the coronavirus when the candidates visit the state on Friday, the AP reports.

The Trump campaign has openly defied state emergency orders and flouting his own administration’s guidelines in battleground state rallies. Trump has an airport rally scheduled for Friday in the north-central Minnesota city of Bemidji. Biden’s campaign hasn’t announced its plans yet.

A Trump event in Phoenix, Arizona on Monday where supporters did not wear masks or follow social distancing protocols.
A Trump event in Phoenix, Arizona on Monday where supporters did not wear masks or follow social distancing protocols. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The governor said masks are required inside and strongly encouraged outside, adding:

To comply with the relevant guidelines, your events generally must not exceed 25% capacity, not to exceed 250 people. You may be able to increase total attendance if you choose a venue with multiple event spaces with separate capacity limits, as long as you limit each separate space to the lesser of 250 people or 25% capacity. Attendees must maintain social distancing of at least six feet at all times, including when entering and exiting the event.”

Trump campaign pushes baseless claims on Biden and drugs

The Trump campaign has continued to push unsubstantiated claims accusing Joe Biden of taking performance enhancing drugs, this time with a highly misleading tweet.

After Trump, without any evidence, accused Biden of taking drugs in a Fox News interview on Sunday, the campaign has continued to spread similar misinformation.

In a recent interview, a reporter said to Biden, “President Trump is accusing you of being ‘mentally shot’, his words, even suggesting you’re taking something. How do you respond to this pre-debate accusation, and are you looking forward to the debate?”

The former vice president responded, “I’m looking forward to the debate, and he’s a fool. The comments are just foolish. Get ready, Mr President, here I come.”

The campaign has spun this exchange to misleadingly suggest that Biden did not deny that he is taking performance enhancing drugs:

Pro-Trump group enlists youth for 'troll farm' campaign, report says

The Washington Post has found that teenagers, including minors, are being paid to publish pro-Trump social media posts at the direction of Turning Point Action, an affiliate of Turning Point USA, a prominent conservative youth organization.

“The campaign draws on the spam-like behavior of bots and trolls, with the same or similar language posted repeatedly across social media. But it is carried out, at least in part, by humans paid to use their own accounts, though nowhere disclosing their relationship with Turning Point Action or the digital firm brought in to oversee the day-to-day activity,” the Post reported.

The posts are part of a large and secretive social media campaign that sought to evade the moderation rules of Facebook and Twitter. The Post found nearly 4,500 tweets containing identical content this summer, which likely is a fraction of the overall output.

Once the Post inquired about the suspicious activity, Twitter suspended at least 20 accounts today for “platform manipulation and spam” and Facebook removed accounts as part of an ongoing investigation.

Biden on Covid relief: Trump should 'get off the damn golf course'

Speaking to reporters in Florida just now, Joe Biden said his pitch to Latino voters is that Trump needs to “get off the damn golf course and sit down in the Oval Office” to hammer out a Covid relief bill:

Earlier today, the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said a $1.5 trillion coronavirus relief proposal from a bipartisan group of moderate lawmakers does not align with administration priorities but could provide a “real opening for further discussions”, Reuters reported.

“It’s a very thoughtful proposal. It certainly doesn’t align with a view of the priorities that the president has,” Meadows told the news agency.

A very 2020 headline in Oregon today from Willamette Week, explaining how to get your ballot and vote if wildfires destroyed your mailbox:

Kim Kardashian West protests Facebook over hate speech

Kim Kardashian West has criticised Instagram and Facebook for allowing the “spreading of hate” and said she would temporarily freeze her social media accounts on the platforms.

She added that inaccurate social media posts have “a serious impact on our elections and undermines our democracy”, and urged others to also suspend their accounts over the companies’ failure to tackle hate speech.

Facebook recently faced significant scrutiny for its failure to remove the “call to arms” of a Kenosha, Wisconsin, militia before a shooting that left two people dead and another injured at protests.

Outside investigation opened into South Dakota attorney general

South Dakota’s governor, Kristi Noem, said that she was bringing in outside investigators to look into how the state’s top prosecutor struck and killed a man with his car, the AP reports.

The attorney general, Jason Ravnsborg, struck a man walking near a rural highway on Saturday night. He has said he initially believed he hit a deer and realized that he hit a person only after he returned to the site the next day.

The state highway patrol is overseeing the investigation, but Noem’s administration has called in the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and a crash reconstruction expert from Wyoming.

Jason Ravnsborg.
Jason Ravnsborg. Photograph: Dirk Lammers/AP

Ravnsborg has promoted a tough-on-crime policies and pushed for the repeal of a program meant to give probation instead of prison time to certain lower-level offenses, according to the AP. Since 2014, he also accumulated eight traffic tickets, including six speeding tickets in different counties.

Updated

Here’s video of Trump’s comments after today’s agreement signed between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain at the White House:

Top US health spokesman apologizes after false Facebook comments, reports say

Michael Caputo, the US health department’s top spokesman who has been under fire for making false comments on Facebook, apologized in an emergency staff meeting today and signaled he might soon depart his role, according to a report in Politico.

The Trump appointee, who has faced accusations of trying to muzzle an important scientific report amid the pandemic, apologized for his Facebook live video in which he said scientists battling the virus were conspiring against the president. In the widely criticized social media comments, he also warned of shooting in the US if Trump loses the election.

More from the AP:

The department is standing by Caputo so far in the face of calls by congressional Democrats for his dismissal and also for the resignation of his boss, the Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary, Alex Azar. But Caputo, a Trump loyalist and former New York political operative, has become a significant new problem for a White House that has struggled all year with its coronavirus response.

He can be heard on an HHS podcast asserting that Democrats don’t want a coronavirus vaccine before the election in order to punish Trump. Trump has made the same assertion, with no evidence to support it, but such broadsides are not in a department spokesman’s normal portfolio. News reports alleged last week that Caputo’s office tried to take over and muzzle a scientific weekly published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that publishes what is supposed to be authoritative, unvarnished information about disease-fighting efforts, including, most importantly at present, Covid-19.

Then on Monday came an account of the video on Caputo’s personal Facebook page in which he accused government scientists of conspiring against Trump and suggested violence could break out after the election.

More here:

Updated

Ice deports witness in sexual assault investigation, lawyers say

The US government has deported a key witness in an ongoing investigation into sexual assault and harassment at a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) detention center, according to a new report in the Texas Tribune.

Late Monday, Ice deported a 35-year-old woman who was held at an El Paso immigrant detention center for a year and spoke up about a “pattern and practice” of abuse that included guards assaulting her and other detainees, the paper reported, citing the witness’s lawyers.

The Department of Homeland Security launched an investigation into her accusations after the Texas Tribune and ProPublica reported on them in August. She filed a complaint alleging several guards assaulted her, and at least two more women have since come forward, the journalists reported today.

The news comes one day after a whistleblower complaint filed on behalf of a nurse in Georgia alleged that immigrants in Ice detention were subjected to horrific conditions and treatment, including “jarring medical neglect” and a high rate of hysterectomies:

Updated

Kamala Harris tours fire damage in California

Hi all - Sam Levin here, taking over from Los Angeles.

Kamala Harris is continuing her tour of fire damage here in California, which is continuing to suffer from unprecedented infernos and terrible air quality.

Standing at a burned-down elementary school playground in the Fresno area, which has been hit hard by the devastating Creek fire, the vice-presidential nominee said, “The chimneys remind me of tombstones.” Next to her, Governor Gavin Newsom pointed out that it was “snowing ashes”.

Harris didn’t mention Trump by name, but said ideology shouldn’t play a role in the response to wildfires and the climate crisis.

Updated

Today so far

That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague Sam Levin will take over the blog for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed agreements to normalize relations. Speaking shortly before the agreements were signed at the White House, Trump said, “We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history. After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East.”
  • The mayor of Louisville announced the family of Breonna Taylor would receive a $12m settlement. Mayor Greg Fischer also outlined reforms to the city’s police force amid ongoing outcry over the death of Taylor, who was shot and killed by officers as they carried out a no-knock warrant in March.
  • Trump claimed a coronavirus vaccine would be available “within weeks”, contradicting experts. Dr Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, has said he is cautiously optimistic a vaccine will be developed by the end of the year or early next year. But even if that happens, the vaccine will probably not be widely distributed until well into 2021.
  • The justice department has reportedly opened a criminal investigation into the publication of John Bolton’s book, which was released in June. The Trump administration previously claimed the former national security adviser had illegally disclosed classified information in the book, but Bolton’s publisher has dismissed those allegations as politically motivated.
  • A new poll showed Joe Biden opening up a small lead in the crucial swing state of Florida. According to the new Monmouth University poll, Biden leads Trump by 5 points among Florida’s registered voters, 50%-45%. Among likely voters in Florida, Biden has a 3- to 5-point lead depending on the level of voter turnout.

Sam will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Updated

Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris traveled to California today to see some of the damage from the recent wildfires.

Harris and California Governor Gavin Newsom toured the area surrounding Pine Ridge Elementary School in Auberry. The school still stands, but the building is now surrounded by burned trees and a destroyed playground.

California Governor Gavin Newsom and Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris assess wildfire damage in Auberry, California.
California Governor Gavin Newsom and Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris assess wildfire damage in Auberry, California. Photograph: Gary Kazanjian/AP

Speaking at the site, Harris praised the firefighters who have worked to control the blazes, and she said, “It is incumbent on us, in terms of the leadership of our nation, to take seriously these new changes in our climate, and to do what we can to mitigate against the damage.”

On a lighter note, when Newsom greeted Harris, he delivered this severe understatement: “What a year, you guys.”

Ahead of Trump’s ABC News town hall in Philadelphia tonight, Joe Biden released a statement condemning the president’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and its effect on Pennsylvania.

“After four years of failed leadership and broken promises from President Trump, Philadelphians see this president for what he is,” Biden said in the statement.

“Long before COVID-19 spread to Philadelphia, President Trump’s failed leadership was felt in every corner of the city. Pennsylvanians deserve better.”

Biden is scheduled to hold his own town hall in the pivotal swing state later this week. CNN will host the event with the Democratic nominee in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on Thursday.

Trump won Pennsylvania by less than 1 point in 2016, and Democrats hope Biden will be able to flip the state in November. A recent Marist College poll of Pennsylvania showed Biden leading by 9 points among the state’s likely voters, 53%-44%.

Trump is en route to Philadelphia, where he will participate in an ABC News town hall with voters in the key swing state of Pennsylvania.

Before boarding Marine One, the president took some questions from reporters on climate change and the wildfires devastating the west coast.

Trump doubled down on his previous comments blaming the wildfires primarily on poor forest management. Climate experts have said the surge in deadly wildfires in recent years is due to record levels of heat and drought, which have been attributed to climate change.

“I’m a big believer in forest management,” Trump said. “When you let the floors of the forest build up with leaves and build up with broken timber that’s dry as a bone, you’re causing forest fires.”

He added, “So I believe in a lot of things, but I definitively believe in forest management.”

Receiving a wildfire briefing in California yesterday, Trump suggested (with no evidence) that climate change would soon subside. When a California official noted science does not support that claim, Trump said, “I don’t think science knows.”

Poll shows Biden with a small lead in Florida

A new poll shows Joe Biden with a small lead in the swing state of Florida, which is considered a must-win state for Trump.

According to the new Monmouth University poll, Biden leads Trump by 5 points among Florida’s registered voters, 50%-45%. Among likely voters in Florida, Biden has a 3- to 5-point lead depending on the level of voter turnout.

The results should provide some relief to Biden’s team, considering an NBC News/Marist poll released last week showed the Democratic nominee tied with the president among the state’s likely voters, 48%-48%.

Interestingly, the Monmouth poll also found that Biden has a 16-point lead among Florida’s Latino voters, while the NBC survey indicated Trump had an advantage with that demographic. The new Monmouth poll also showed the president performing better with senior voters than other recent surveys had indicated.

Trump carried Florida by 1 point in 2016, and election experts say the president has virtually no path to reelection unless he can carry the Sunshine State again.

Democrats are clearly aware of the significance of Florida in the presidential race. Biden traveled to Florida today for a roundtable with veterans and a celebration of Hispanic heritage month.

The Guardian’s Sam Levine reports:

Ohio’s top election official acted “arbitrarily” and unlawfully when he issued an order in August only allowing each of the state’s 88 counties to offer a single drop box for voters to return their absentee ballot, a judge in the state ruled Tuesday in a significant decision for this fall’s presidential election.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, acted unreasonably when he issued an August directive blocking county election officials from setting up absentee ballot drop boxes at locations other than the board of elections, Judge Richard Frye of the Franklin Court of Common Pleas.

A person drops applications for mail-in-ballots into a mail box in Omaha, Nebraska.
A person drops applications for mail-in-ballots into a mail box in Omaha, Nebraska. Photograph: Nati Harnik/AP

Election officials around the country are turning to ballot drop boxes as an alternative for voters to return their ballots amid an expected surge in mail-in balloting and expected mail delays. Ohio is one of a handful of key battleground states in America that could swing the presidential election.

“The factual record contains no evidence from which one can reasonably question the wisdom of allowing local boards of elections to consider additional ballot drop boxes, or perhaps other ways that permit voters to safely deliver absentee ballots,” Frye wrote.

“No evidence has been produced that allowing additional boxes or other new means for delivery of ballots will result in a partisan advantage to one party over another.”

Frye added LaRose’s decision was “unreasonable and unlawful.” While he noted there was no legal requirement in Ohio that counties offer just one ballot drop box, he stopped short of striking down LaRose’s August directive entirely.

While he suggested he may do so in the future, he noted that LaRose had previously said he supported allowing additional drop boxes in counties, if a court clarified he had the authority to do so.

But on Tuesday, a LaRose spokeswoman, suggested LaRose would appeal the ruling.

“Today’s ruling didn’t change anything and the Secretary’s Directive remains in place. The law is clear: absentee ballots must be delivered by mail or personally deliver[ed] to the director’ of their county board of elections and ‘in no other manner’,” she said in an email. “Ohioans are fortunate that the judicial branch offers the opportunity to appeal a single trial judge’s opinion.”

The ruling is a victory for the Ohio Democratic Party, who sued the state in August over LaRose’s restriction. Had the restriction remained in place, it would have meant only allowing a single drop box for hundreds of thousands of voters in some of the state’s most populous counties.

LaRose had also said the drop boxes could only be located at board of election offices, which are not always located in convenient locations. This week, LaRose blocked a plan in Cuyahoga County, home of Cleveland, to allow drop boxes at county libraries.

Charles Booker has said that Breonna Taylor’s family “has endured more pain than most of us can imagine”, in comments on the settlement with Taylor’s family over her fatal shooting by police in Louisville, Kentucky.

Kentucky state Representative Charles Booker speaks during the “Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” protest against racism and police brutality, on August 28, 2020, in Washington, DC. Anti-racism protesters marched on the streets of the US capital, after a white officer’s shooting of African American Jacob Blake and amid protests over other police shootings and killings of Black Americans in recent months. The protester also marked the 57th anniversary of civil rights leader Martin Luther King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech delivered at the Lincoln Memorial.
Kentucky state Representative Charles Booker speaks during the “Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” protest against racism and police brutality, on August 28, 2020, in Washington, DC. Anti-racism protesters marched on the streets of the US capital, after a white officer’s shooting of African American Jacob Blake and amid protests over other police shootings and killings of Black Americans in recent months. The protester also marked the 57th anniversary of civil rights leader Martin Luther King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech delivered at the Lincoln Memorial. Photograph: Jacquelyn Martin/AFP/Getty Images

The progressive politician who surged through and ran Amy McGrath to a close finish in the Democratic primary for the chance to challenge Senate majority leader and leading Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell for his seat, issued a statement a short time ago.

Booker said of the Taylor family:

Their grief has been laid out before our entire nation. They have carried the deep rooted trauma of our city on their shoulders whenever one of us cries out Breonna’s name. Even after Breonna’s murder, her family has had to face tremendous heartache, anxiety, and hardship in the aftermath of that tragedy. So I’m genuinely heartened that the Taylor family will have one less thing to worry about today, and that the city is acknowledging that Breonna’s life deserved to be accounted for in more than rhetoric.

Booker said that justice is still sought for Breonna Taylor and the federal and state investigations into her killing continue.

He added that being Black in America:

Can mean you might be seen as a deadly weapon justified in your own death. We know structural racism is ever present. We know institutional inequity shapes many decisions that govern our daily lives. We know Louisville still faces segregation and concentrated poverty. We know our communities are criminalized and our jail is overcrowded. Those are deep, systemic challenges that don’t end today.

Updated

Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor, briefly spoke at the press conference in Louisville, where the mayor confirmed a financial settlement for the family and police reforms in response to the shooting of Taylor.

Palmer said, “It is time to move forward with the criminal charges because she deserves that and much more.”

Taylor was fatally shot by police in March, while officers were carrying out a no-knock warrant. No criminal charges have yet been filed in the case.

Activist Tamika Mallory also spoke at the press conference, and she demanded that the mayor of Louisville, Greg Fischer, fire the officers involved in the shooting if they are not indicted.

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, another lawyer representing Breonna Taylor’s family, said the $12 million settlement was the largest ever distributed in a wrongful death lawsuit involving a black woman killed by police.

Crump said the settlement and the police reforms announced by Louisville officials were “very significant,” but he reiterated demands for Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron to “immediately” bring charges against the officers involved in the shooting of Taylor.

Crump emphasized that African Americans are currently suffering from the coronavirus pandemic as well as “the 1619 pandemic,” referring to the year when the first enslaved Africans were brought to America.

“Breonna Taylor is a light to help heal what is happening in America,” Crump said.

Updated

Louisville mayor confirms $12 million settlement to Breonna Taylor's family

The mayor of Louisville confirmed the family of Breonna Taylor would receive a financial settlement of $12 million after the 26-year-old African American woman was fatally shot by police.

Signs are held up showing Breonna Taylor during a rally on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort.
Signs are held up showing Breonna Taylor during a rally on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort. Photograph: Timothy D Easley/AP

During a press conference today, Mayor Greg Fischer also outlined reforms to the city’s police force amid ongoing outcry over Taylor’s death in March.

Specifically, Fischer said search warrants would be subject to a higher level of scrutiny, a warning system would be established for officers who engage in misconduct and officers would be allowed to be paid for two hours of community work each week.

Attorney Lonita Baker, who is representing the Taylor family, celebrated the reforms, but she made clear that the Taylors would not give up efforts to hold the officers involved in the shooting accountable.

“Justice for Breonna Taylor is multi-layered,” Baker said, adding that Taylor’s legal team has faith an indictment will soon be coming in the case.

Taylor was shot and killed by Louisville police while officers were carrying out a no-knock warrant. As of now, no criminal charges have been filed in the case.

Updated

Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed agreements to normalize relations. Speaking shortly before the agreements were signed at the White House, Trump said, “We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history. After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East.”
  • Trump claimed a coronavirus vaccine would be available “within weeks,” contradicting experts. Dr Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, has said he is cautiously optimistic a vaccine will be developed by the end of the year or early next year. But even if that happens, the vaccine will likely not be widely distributed until well into 2021.
  • The justice department has reportedly opened a criminal investigation into the publication of John Bolton’s book, which was released in June. The Trump administration previously claimed the former national security adviser had illegally disclosed classified information in the book, but Bolton’s publisher has dismissed those allegations as politically motivated.

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

Rockets fired from Gaza amid normalization ceremony - reports

Rockets were fired from Gaza during the White House normalization signing ceremony with Israel, the Untied Arab Emirates and Bahrain, reportedly injuring at least two Israelis.

Haaretz reports:

Rocket sirens blared in southern Israeli cities during the signing ceremony of agreements between Israel and two Gulf states, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in the White House.

Sirens sounded off in the port city of Ashdod and the coastal city of Ashkelon, north of Gaza, according to the Israeli army. Residents reported hearing blasts in the area.

Emergency services said that paradmedics were treating two men lightly wounded by glass shards and four people suffering from shock.

Israel, UAE and Bahrain sign normalization agreements

Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have now signed agreements to formally normalize diplomatic relations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign ministers of the UAE and Bahrain each signed copies of the agreements, as did Trump.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign ministers of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates sign historic accords normalizing ties.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign ministers of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates sign historic accords normalizing ties. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The White House has not yet released the exact text of the agreements, but officials have said that will be released later today.

Speaking at the White House, the foreign minister of Bahrain said the normalization deal represented a “historic step on the road to genuine and lasting peace” in the Middle East.

The foreign minister, Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, thanked Trump and his advisers, such as Jared Kushner, for helping to craft the deal.

“Your tireless efforts brought us here today and made peace a reality,” Al-Zayani said.

Trump predicted the normalization deal would “serve as the foundation for a comprehensive peace across the entire region —something which nobody thought was possible.”

Taking the podium, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Trump for “unequivocally” standing by Israel’s side since taking office.

The prime minister discussed being wounded in battle and losing his brother to war to underscore the importance of the agreement.

Trump says normalization deal will 'change the course of history'

Trump is delivering remarks at the White House, congratulating Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on the “outstanding achievement” of agreeing to normalize relations.

The US president said he was “honored to welcome to the White House” leaders from the three nations, as they signed the normalization deal.

“We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history,” Trump said. “After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East.”

Updated

While presenting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a “key to the White House,” Trump described it as a “special token of affection given by myself and the first lady.”

“It’s a key, we call it a key to the White House. And it’s a key to our country and to our hearts,” Trump said shortly before the normalization signing ceremony between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Before the normalization signing ceremony, Trump met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office and presented him with a “key to the White House.”

Netanyahu responded by telling Trump, “You have a key to the hearts of the Jewish people.”

The US president claimed that the White House was “very far down the road” with five additional countries ready to join the normalization agreement. He declined to name those countries.

During his presidency, Trump has taken a number of steps to cozy up to Netanyahu, including moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Guests are starting to take their seats at the White House for the normalization singing ceremony between the United Arab Emirates, Israel and Bahrain.

The chairs on the South Lawn appeared to be closely packed together, in violation of recommendations on physical distancing to limit the spread of coronavirus. Many of the guests were also not wearing face masks.

The event comes less than a month after Trump hosted roughly 1,500 guests on the South Lawn for his nomination acceptance speech to close out the Republican convention.

CNN polls: A Biden lead in Wisconsin and a virtual tie in North Carolina

Joe Biden has pulled ahead in Wisconsin, while he and Trump are running neck and neck in North Carolina, according to a new pair of CNN polls.

The CNN poll of Wisconsin found that Biden is 10 points ahead of Trump among the state’s likely voters, 52%-42%.

But the CNN poll found the race in North Carolina to be much closer, with Biden attracting the support of 49% of likely voters while Trump is the preferred candidate for 46% of likely voters. Given the poll’s margin of error of 4.4 points, that translates to a virtual tie in North Carolina.

Trump won Wisconsin by less than 1 point in 2016, and he carried North Carolina by 4 points. Biden cannot win the electoral college by solely flipping Wisconsin, but polls indicate the Democrat has the advantage in other swing states like Michigan and Pennsylvania.

If Biden can win all three of those states, which went for Trump in 2016, he can capture the White House.

Trump met with the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates in the Oval Office, shortly before the planned normalization signing ceremony between the UAE, Israel and Bahrain.

Trump welcomed the foreign minister to the White House and said of the UAE, “Your country is a great country.”

When asked what message today’s ceremony would send to Palestinians, Trump said, “I think we’ll see the Palestinians at some point. ... You’re going to have peace without blood in the sand.”

Palestinian leaders have previously criticized the deal, even describing the UAE’s decision to normalize relations with Israel as a “betrayal.”

Justice department opens criminal investigation into Bolton's book - reports

The department of justice has reportedly launched a criminal investigation into the publication of John Bolton’s book, after the Trump administration failed to block the former national security adviser from releasing the book in June.

The New York Times reports:

The department has convened a grand jury and subpoenaed for communications records from Simon & Schuster, which published Mr. Bolton’s memoir, ‘The Room Where It Happened,’ a highly unflattering account of his 17 months working in the Trump administration.

The investigation marks a significant escalation in the fraught publication of the book. The Trump administration had sought earlier to stop publication, accusing Mr. Bolton in a lawsuit of moving forward with publication without receiving final notice that a prepublication review to scrub out classified information was complete. The director of national intelligence referred the matter to the Justice Department last month, two of the people said.

The Trump administration has accused Bolton of unlawfully disclosing classified information in his book, but Simon & Schuster dismissed those allegations as politically motivated.

The publisher previously said the administration’s lawsuit attempting to block the book’s release was “nothing more than the latest in a long-running series of efforts by the Administration to quash publication of a book it deems unflattering to the president”.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi said she thought the chamber should stay in session until a deal is reached on the next coronavirus relief package.

“We are committed to staying here until we have an agreement, an agreement that meets the needs of the American people,” the Democratic speaker told CNBC this morning, echoing earlier comments in a call with her caucus.

The House is currently scheduled to to break for the elections on October 2.

Pelosi also told CNBC, “We are optimistic that the White House at least will understand that we have to do something.”

Negotiations between the White House and Democratic congressional leadership have been stalled since early last month, so it’s unclear whether this pronouncement will spur any momentum toward passing another relief package.

Democrats have pushed for a $2.2 trillion package, but Republicans have said that top-line cost is a non-starter.

Schumer calls on HHS secretary to resign 'immediately'

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer is calling on Alex Azar, the secretary of health and human services, to resign “immediately” over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Schumer expressed frustration with Azar’s leadership of the department, specifically citing reports over the weekend that a senior HHS official, Michael Caputo, had pushed for changes to key reports on coronavirus because they “would undermine the president’s optimistic messages about the outbreak.”

“Too many people within HHS are trying to suppress the science,” Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor. “[Azar] has been almost entirely silent about the chaos and mismanagement in his own agency.”

The New York Democrat argued Azar had failed to stand up to Trump when it came to political influence over the country’s pandemic response, instead allowing HHS to become “subservient to the president’s daily whims.”

“So today, I’m calling on Secretary Azar to resign immediately,” Schumer said. “We need a secretary of health and human services who will look out for the American people, not President Trump’s political interests.”

Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani has arrived at the White House for the normalization signing ceremony with Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

As the foreign minister arrived, Trump gave a thumbs up to reporters. Asked about the historic day, the president said he felt “fantastic,” but he ignored other questions from reporters.

At the White House, a military honor guard is awaiting the arrival of leaders from Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates for today’s normalization signing ceremony.

The White House will host the normalization signing ceremony today between the United Arab Emirates, Israel and Bahrain.

Details of the deal remain scarce, but according to Axios, the agreement will include a mention of the two-state solution.

Axios’ Barak Ravid reports:

The agreement between the UAE and Israel that will be signed on Tuesday mentions the Palestinian issue and the two-state solution as part of a reference to previous agreements which were signed, UAE minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash told me in a zoom briefing. ...

Gargash said in the briefing that the agreements with Israel will give the UAE and also Bahrain ‘real leverage’ over Israel and will allow both countries to make it clear to Israel that it needs to compromise and have a more rational policy on the Palestinian issue.

He added the UAE received clear commitments from Israel and the U.S. that there will be no West Bank annexation for a long period of time. ‘The Palestinians should take advantage of the situation and reengage – an empty chair policy will not bring any results,’ he said.

Gargash said that the Palestinian issue will be mentioned in the preamble while the rest of the agreement will deal with bilateral issues like the opening of embassies, trade and tourism.

Updated

Trump will participate in an ABC News town hall tonight, two days before CNN hosts a town hall with Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Trump’s town hall will be in Philadelphia, while Biden’s will be in Scranton, meaning both of the presidential nominees will be in the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania.

The town halls represent the first time in months that Trump and Biden will take questions from voters, which could help them to prepare for the first presidential debate later this month.

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

As Martin mentioned, Trump was on “Fox and Friends” this morning for an interview, during which the president dodged questions about climate change and insisted the coronavirus vaccine would be available in “weeks,” despite experts’ assertions to the contrary.

But perhaps the most bizarre moment of the interview came just before the president hung up, when he told the Fox hosts that he would be calling into the show once a week before the election, mostly on Mondays.

Host Steve Doocy replied, “You may want to do [an interview] every week, but Fox is not committed to that. We’re going to take it on a case-by-case basis.” Fellow host Brian Kilmeade appeared a bit stunned as Doocy said this.

A former senior adviser to Republican senator Ted Cruz said this about the awkward exchange:

Updated

Louisville expected to announce financial settlement with family of Breonna Taylor

There’s a quick snap from Reuters here that the city government of Louisville, Kentucky, is expected to announce on Tuesday a financial settlement with the family of Breonna Taylor, the Black woman fatally shot by police in March.

The Courier Journal has reported locally that the “substantial” settlement will be accompanied by police reforms, including a requirement that commanders approve search warrants before they are put to a judge.

Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was killed in March when Louisville police burst into her apartment using a so-called “no-knock” arrest warrant that did not require them to announce themselves. Taylor has been widely remembered during the summer of Black Lives Matter protests.

The settlement could be announced as early as 2pm, the newspaper said. A spokeswoman for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for comment.

Signs used during protests and rallies are gathered around a memorial for Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky.
Signs used during protests and rallies are gathered around a memorial for Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. Photograph: Bryan Woolston/Reuters

And that is it from me, Martin Belam, in London this morning. Joan Greve in Washington will be taking over now.

Forecasters say Hurricane Sally could dump flooding rains on a path from Mississippi to the Carolinas this week after the storm makes landfall on the Gulf Coast.

The National Weather Service says after the storm comes inland Wednesday, rainfall of 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) is likely across portions of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas.

The Associated Press reports that significant flash flooding and minor to moderate river flooding is expected through the end of the week, and rainfall could reach 12 inches (30.5cm) in isolated inland areas.

Hurricane Sally was creeping at 2 mph Tuesday toward the Gulf Coast morning, with landfall near the Mississippi-Alabama state line expected late Tuesday or early Wednesday. The storm was forecast to reach land as a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (137 kph). Sally was expected to weaken rapidly after coming ashore.

Here’s the latest satellite image I’ve had through of the storm by the way, it is from about forty minutes ago.

This RAMMB/NOAA satellite image shows Hurricane Sally off the US Gulf Coast on September 15, 2020, at 12:00 UTC.
This RAMMB/NOAA satellite image shows Hurricane Sally off the US Gulf Coast on September 15, 2020, at 12:00 UTC. Photograph: RAMMB/NOAA/NESDIS/AFP/Getty Images

Caitlin Oprysko is trying to cheer us up a little this morning over at Politico with her report on new polling which suggests that “more than 7 in 10 Americans believe they have more in common with one another than many people think”, and that there is a greater degree of “bipartisan consensus among the American public on the rights and values key to the country’s national identity” than is generally given credit.

The survey was conducted for Harvard University’s Carr Center for Human Rights and Institute of Politics and found:

Several of the rights and freedoms that an overwhelming bipartisan majority viewed as essential to being an American go far beyond those provided directly by the Constitution, like freedom of speech and religion.

The right to clean air and water, for example, was considered important by 93 percent of those surveyed; protection of personal data, by 93 percent; the right to a quality education, by 92 percent; racial equality, by 92 percent; affordable health care, by 89 percent; and the right to a job, by 85 percent.

Of 16 rights and values polled, a majority considered every single one either very or somewhat important to being American today.

Read more here: Politico – Americans united on a slew of issues, despite contentious election season

While he was the UK’s ambassador to the US in Washington in 2019, Kim Darroch’s private comments about president Donald Trump were published by a British newspaper. They weren’t terribly favourable, and ultimately he ended up leaving the role. He will not have endeared himself to the administration any more with some comments he’s made now about the prospect of violence during the November election.

“Postal voting is clearly going to play a big part in this election, and it feels to me like the Trump campaign are building this up, especially if it’s close, to declare it rigged or invalid,” the former ambassador, now Lord Darroch of Kew, said.

“If Biden wins, there is a question whether the Trump base will really support or accept that as the outcome. Equally, if it looks like postal votes have been under counted or there is serious voter suppression you worry about the other side of the argument,” he added. “It feels very volatile.”

Asked about the risk of violence on the streets, Darroch said: “I think it’s there. All of us have watched Portland and Kenosha, and it feels like a genuine risk. That 17-year-old who shot the demonstrators and the reaction in alt-right circles is really scary.

Read it here: ‘The US feels very volatile’: former ambassador warns of election violence

Trump falsely claims Covid vaccine will arrive 'within weeks'

Donald Trump has been on Fox & Friends this morning. Among the tidbits are that he said he had read Bob Woodward’s book Rage last night, and that it was “boring”. The book runs to some 400 pages.

He suggested there were limited choices that meant he had to hold his Covid regulation defying rally in Nevada at the weekend.

The president has promised there will be a coronavirus vaccine within “weeks”. “I’m not doing it for political reasons. I want the vaccine fast” he said.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, has said he is cautiously optimistic a vaccine will be approved by the end of the year or early next year. But Fauci has also emphasized the vaccine will likely not be widely distributed until well into 2021.

Note the poll earlier [see 6:27] that suggest the majority of Americans do not trust what Trump says about a vaccine and that fewer than 40% would agree to take a government-approved vaccine at the moment.

Trump was also pressed on the environment

He doesn’t appear to have an intense preparation plan for the debates.

We can expect some more sessions like this before election day, but maybe not as many as Donald Trump was hoping for.

And while that session was happening, in a perfectly normal thing to be happening in a functioning democracy, the official Donald J. Trump Twitter account of the president of the United States retweeted something that was using the hashtag #PedoBiden.

As a reminder, the president is doing a very rare non-Fox News TV appearance tonight at 9pm ET when he is in Philadelphia to do an event with ABC News.

Read more here: Trump to take questions from uncommitted voters in ABC News town hall from Philadelphia

Updated

Impeachment witness Vindman accuses White House of leaking classified information to Republicans to use against him

Retired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman revealed last night in an interview on NBC that he has become, perhaps unsurprisingly, a “never Trumper”.

The witness in Trump’s impeachment trial retired from the military earlier this year after what he said was a ‘campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation’ against him, run by the president.

Last night on NBC Nightly News he said he was speaking out so that the US might “choose an alternative to what we have”. Claiming that previously he had been non-partisan, Vindman said:

In taking a very sober view of where this president is taking this country, the divisions, the catering to our adversaries, the undermining of national security interests, [it is true] that I am absolutely a never-Trumper

He went on to accuse the White House of specifically leaking classified documents to Republicans in order for them to be used against him. When Vindman testified in the impeachment inquiry he was asked whether he had been offered a job by Ukraine. He had documented such an approach in a classified memo. He says:

That memorandum that I had classified, the White House leaked to the Republicans, a classified memo, to try to trip me up. That could have only come from one place, could have only come from the White House.

Read more here: NBC News – Alexander Vindman says he’s become a ‘never-Trumper’

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner has been on the airwaves this morning defending his father-in-law’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic from the White House.

He also said that he hoped a bill could be agreed on more coronavirus economic relief, but that it may not happen before the election. Kushner also confirmed that the review of Oracle’s proposed acquisition of TikTok was happening right now.

And a reminder that this is coming up shortly…

The election may only be a couple of months away, but there’s still a final little bit of primary business to be conducted in Delaware today, as voters go to the polls – or at least wait for their mail-in ballots to be tallied, anyway. The state Department of Elections says that roughly 63,000 votes have already been returned by post of the more than 100,000 requested.

There’s a couple of races to look out for – highlighted in this scene-setter from Katherine Tully-McManus at Roll Call. Firstly, can Sen. Chris Coons hold off a challenge from the left. Tully-McManus writes:

Hoping to join a pool of younger progressive Democrats who have toppled established incumbents, 34-year-old Jessica Scarane is challenging Coons as he makes a bid for a second full term.

Scarane is hoping to join the ranks of progressive Democrats such as New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman who defeated House Democratic incumbents in deep-blue districts in 2018 and earlier this year, respectively.

Scarane has endorsements to match, including from Brand New Congress, The Sunrise Movement and 350 Action, groups that have supported other progressive challengers across the country. Her campaign platform includes support for universal health care, a reimagined criminal justice system and the Green New Deal.

Republican voters in their Senate primary also have a choice between the traditional and new wings of the party. In this case 62 year old fiscal conservative Jim DeMartino is facing off against Lauren Witzke

Witzke, 32, is among a new brand of Republicans, drawn to the GOP by Trump’s “America first” message. She has worked to differentiate herself from DeMartino with her online presence and has found a voice in hard-line conservative circles on Twitter and as a guest on One America News Network, a far-right channel.

She has voiced support for the wide-ranging QAnon conspiracy theory that alleges a “deep-state” plot against Trump.

Witzke says her life experience, including falling into opioid addiction and working for cartels before her recovery, make her qualified to tackle issues, including immigration, health care and the opioid epidemic, because she has seen each system personally.

They both could be fascinating races. Read more here: Roll Call – What to watch in Delaware’s primaries this week

If you’ve woken up to hazy skies again in the north-east of the US, then that too is being attributed to the climate emergency on the west coast. It is the result of smoke from the wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington state becoming caught in the jet streams and traveling across to the east coast.

ABC News meteorologist Lee Goldberg said, for New York, “Even though we have a sunny and dry forecast coming up, don’t be surprised if it’s more of a milky sun, or filtered sun.”

If, like me, you’ve had trouble comprehending just how big the areas being burned in the wildfires are, this from our interactive team might help. It places the size of the fire over an area you may be familiar with, like New York or London.

Biden to target Latino voters in first campaign visit this year to Florida

Later today Joe Biden will make his first campaign visit of the year to Florida. Opinion polls show a tight race against President Donald Trump amid signs of lagging support for Biden among the battleground state’s crucial Hispanic voters. Trump carried the state in 2016, and its vital 29 Electoral College votes, by just 1.2 percentage points.

Trevor Hunnicutt and John Whitesides report for Reuters that with less than 50 days until the election now, the Biden campaign is trying to overcome concerns about enthusiasm among Florida Latinos.

A recent NBC News/Marist poll showed the two White House contenders in a dead heat in Florida and Trump with a 4-point edge over Biden among the state’s Latinos - a group Hillary Clinton won by 27 percentage points in 2016, according to exit polls. Other polls have shown Biden leading among state Hispanics, but still trailing Clinton’s support.

“Clearly, there has been some hemorrhaging of Hispanic support going on, mainly Cuban Americans,” said Democratic state Senator Annette Taddeo, a Colombian American. “The Republicans have worked really, really hard, and they have been constantly present.”

The steady drumbeat of Republican attacks on Biden as a socialist has also taken a toll, Florida Democrats said. The Republican convention last month featured a Cuban-born Florida businessman, Maximo Alvarez, who compared Biden’s agenda to the promises of Fidel Castro’s Communist rule.

“We are seeing a massive disinformation campaign in Spanish aimed at our community calling Biden and Democrats socialists, and it is having an effect,” said Evelyn Perez-Verdia, a Colombian-American Democratic strategist in south Florida.

Florida, where Hispanics make up about 20% of the state electorate, is a linchpin in Trump’s re-election strategy. No Republican has won the presidency without Florida since Calvin Coolidge in 1924.

Ahead of events on Tuesday in Tampa and Kissimmee, two Florida cities with heavy Puerto Rican populations, Biden said: “I am going to work like the devil to make sure I turn every Latino and Hispanic vote.”

He will get some help from former Democratic primary rival Michael Bloomberg, who will spend $100 million on Biden’s behalf in Florida with a particular focus on Latino voters.

Polls show Biden running ahead of Clinton’s level of 2016 support among seniors in Florida, another crucial voting bloc, and among white voters, giving him plenty of pathways to reach a majority, Democrats said.

Israel-UAE-Bahrain due to sign peace accord at the White House at noon today

There’s a big diplomatic set-piece due at the White House today, as Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Israel come together to sign the Abraham Accord on the south lawn at noon. President Trump will have bilateral meetings with representatives from each, including Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Oliver Holmes in Jerusalem reports for us:

“We now have two historic peace agreements, with two Arab countries, which were established in one month,” Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting on Sunday before departing for the United States. “We are at the threshold of a new era.”

Israel has only previously made peace deals with Egypt and Jordan, and the US-brokered announcements have been seen as the materialisation of a growing closeness between Israel and some Arab states, in large part due to a shared enmity towards Iran. Israeli media speculated that other nations such as Morocco and Oman could also make deals. The aircraft on which Netanyahu flew to DC was painted with the word peace in Arabic, English and Hebrew.

However, the recent agreements have also been dismissed as spectacle. Neither Gulf monarchy has ever been at war with Israel, and both had already established extensive informal ties.

Netanyahu has been in some political trouble domestically, and even on the day he is due to sign the deals in Washington, there are protests against him being staged in Tel Aviv.

Balloons installed, on September 15, 2020 in Habima Square in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv to symbolise promises made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he failed to keep.
Balloons installed, on September 15, 2020 in Habima Square in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv to symbolise promises made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he failed to keep. Photograph: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images

You can read Oliver’s full report here: Netanyahu flies to Washington to sign deals as Israeli lockdown looms

Hurricane Sally declared a Category 1 storm – NHC warns of 'historic flooding' in Alabama and Florida

Hurricane Sally is now a Category 1 storm, reports the Associated Press, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (137 kph). Despite this being a smaller hurricane than we’ve seen earlier this year, Stacy Stewart, a senior specialist with the National Hurricane Center, says portions of Alabama and the Florida panhandle could see “historic flooding.”

Residents in these areas “need to understand there is going to be extremely heavy rainfall, like what they may have never seen before,” Stewart said. “You don’t have to have a very powerful hurricane like a Category 3 hurricane to get significant storm surge.”

Some places could be inundated with 4 to 6 feet of water, and people can drown in the flooding, Stewart said. “If people live near rivers, small streams and creeks, they need to evacuate and go somewhere else,” he said.

It seems an age away, but prior to Trump’s explosive comments about playing down the impact of the coronavirus on the nation being reported as Bob Woodward promoted his new book, the president was heavily invested and devoting a lot of Twitter energy to trying to deny that he had disparaged American military war dead during a 2018 visit to France.

He returned to that theme at his Covid-19 restriction defying Nevada rally at the weekend, saying:

They have some sleazebag reporter from a third-rate magazine having some source quoting me saying, I won’t even use the term, but saying bad things. … We had 25 people that were witnesses that are on the record already that have said that never took place. It never took place — what they said.

This has prompted the Washington Post to fact-check his claim. They note:

The White House has collected the names of 25 people who claim to refute Goldberg’s reporting [for The Atlantic] on the cemetery decision. Trump called them “witnesses,” but that’s wrong. Eleven people on the list were not with Trump. They are mostly current administration officials serving at the pleasure of the president or communications aides, and so can offer only bromides.

Strikingly, two people who figure prominently in the article — then-White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. — have not commented. Their silence on this explosive story certainly is important in evaluating its accuracy. Both men would have the credibility to refute the story, so readers could consider their refusal to comment as some sort of confirmation.

Read it here: Washington Post – Trump says there are 25 ‘witnesses’ disputing the Atlantic. Nope.

Federal judge chastises government attorneys for failing to produce documents in US Census Bureau case

The court battle over the US census in San Jose continued yesterday, with a federal judge chastising government attorneys for failing to produce documents that showed how the US Census Bureau made its decision to cut short by a month the head count of every US resident.

The Associated Press report that US District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose told government attorneys that they weren’t complying with her order to produce administrative records during a hearing in a lawsuit over whether the once-a-decade census will finish at the end of September or the end of October.

The documents that government attorneys had produced so far were already publicly available, for the most part, she said. Koh said she was “very disappointed and surprised.”

When Koh asked government attorneys whether they would ever be able to produce the documents before the end of the head count on 30 September, government attorney Brad Rosenberg said, “We are not in a position to make that kind of statement.”

Government attorney Alexander Sverdlov said the attorneys had been hampered by trying to review more than 8,000 documents in a short amount of time.
“We have been working around the clock on these issues,” Sverdlov said.

Earlier this month, Koh issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the Census Bureau from winding down 2020 census field operations. The temporary restraining order was requested by a coalition of cities, counties and civil rights groups that had sued the Census Bureau.

They are demanding it restore its previous plan for finishing the census at the end of October, instead of using a revised plan to end operations at the end of September. The coalition had argued the earlier deadline would cause the Census Bureau to overlook minority communities in the census, leading to an inaccurate count.

During Monday’s virtual hearing, Koh also expressed concern for residents displaced by wildfires in the West and hurricanes along the Gulf Coast. She asked the government attorneys to provide details on how the Census Bureau plans to continue counting households in disaster areas, noting she was in San Jose where there have been health warnings against going outside for almost a month because of wildfires.

“Are you saying, ‘We are cutting our losses and we don’t care?’” Koh said. “What is the Census Bureau planning to do?”

While on the subject of coronavirus, Christina Jewett has been reporting on the working conditions that medical staff have suffered during the Covid-19 outbreak, and how that has ultimately led to deaths.

The California Nurses Association has filed complaints to Cal/Osha, the state’s workplace safety regulator. Similar concerns have swept across the US, according to interviews, a review of government workplace safety complaints and health facility inspection reports.

Covid patients have been mixed in with others for a variety of reasons. Limited testing has meant some patients carrying the virus were identified only after they had already exposed others. In other cases, they had false-negative test results or their facility was dismissive of federal guidelines, which carry no force of law.

As recently as July, a National Nurses United survey of more than 21,000 nurses found that 32% work in facilities that do not have dedicated Covid units. At that time, the coronavirus had reached all but 17 US counties, data collected by Johns Hopkins University shows.

Federal work-safety officials have closed at least 30 complaints about patient mixing in hospitals nationwide without issuing a citation. They include a claim that a Michigan hospital kept patients who tested negative for the virus in the Covid unit in May. An upstate New York hospital also kept Covid patients in the same unit as those with no infection, according to a closed complaint to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

You can read it here: ‘Just a matter of time’: nurses die as US hospitals fail to contain Covid-19

Poll: Majority of Americans do not trust Trump comments on Covid vaccines

As well as the climate emergency gripping both coasts, the country is still in the middle of a pandemic. NBC News have a poll this morning showing that:

  • A majority of American adults (52%) don’t trust what president Donald Trump has said about a coronavirus vaccine. If you ask people who identify as Democrats, that number drops to a staggering 3%.
  • The share of people who say they would get a government-approved vaccine has decreased. Just 39% of adults say they would, 23% say they wouldn’t and 36% percent say they aren’t sure. About a month ago, 44 percent of adults said they would get a government-approved vaccine.

You can read more here: NBC News – Poll: Majority of adults don’t trust Trump’s comments on Covid-19 vaccine

On the other side of the country, Gabrielle Canon has been in Oakland for us reporting on the wildfires, and here is the latest despatch:

It was always going to be a hard year for California’s firefighters. Even before freak summer lightning storms lit up the state weeks earlier than expected and Covid-19 and the climate crisis became dueling calamities, fire crews were bracing for season of record-breaking infernos across the west.

Now, fatigued first responders are facing fires that are burning hotter, faster, and more frequently than ever before – and it’s only expected to get worse as the season goes on. The strain is already starting to set in.

“I have never seen something at this level,” said James Bowron, Oakland Fire Department’s battalion chief. In nearly three decades on the job, he has never witnessed this many fires burning at once.

California saw a fierce and early start to its annual fire season. By the first week of September, a record 3.3m acres had already gone up in flames. That’s 26 times more than the area that had burned last year by this time. Firefighters are battling nearly 30 major blazes. Officials report that roughly 4,900 structures have been reduced to rubble and 24 people have lost their lives so far. More than 14,800 first responders are out fighting to contain the fires, according to state officials.

Read it here: Firefighters pushed to the limits as unprecedented infernos rage across US west coast

Hurricane Sally has been described as ‘powerful but plodding’ by the Associated Press this morning.

Hurricane warnings have been replaced by a tropical storm warning from the Mouth of the Pearl River westward to Grand Isle, Louisiana, including in New Orleans, the National Hurricane Center said. A tropical storm warning west of Grand Isle has been discontinued.

Nevertheless, Sally, with winds of 85 mph, crept toward the northern Gulf Coast early Tuesday, with forecasters warning of potentially deadly storm surges, flash floods spurred by up to 2 feet (.61 meters) of rain and the possibility of tornadoes.

An aerial view from a drone shows boats and vehicles along the side of route 46 as people try to put them on higher ground before the possible arrival of Hurricane Sally.
An aerial view from a drone shows boats and vehicles along the side of route 46 as people try to put them on higher ground before the possible arrival of Hurricane Sally. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Hurricane warnings had stretched from Grand Isle to Navarre, Florida, but forecasters while stressing “significant” uncertainty kept nudging the predicted track to the east.

That eased fears in New Orleans, which once was in the storm’s crosshairs. But it prompted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to declare an emergency in the Panhandle’s westernmost counties, which were being pummeled by rain from Sally’s outer bands early Tuesday. The threat of heavy rain and storm surge was exacerbated by the storm’s slow movement.

This RAMMB/NOAA satellite image shows Hurricane Sally off the Gulf of Mexico on September 14, 2020, at 15:10UTC.
This RAMMB/NOAA satellite image shows Hurricane Sally off the Gulf of Mexico on September 14, 2020, at 15:10UTC. Photograph: RAMMB/NOAA/NESDIS/AFP/Getty Images

President Donald Trump issued emergency declarations for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Monday, and on Twitter urged residents to listen to state and local leaders.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey sought the presidential declaration after the National Weather Service in Mobile, Alabama, warned of the increasing likelihood of “dangerous and potentially historic flooding,” with waters rising as much as 9 feet (2.7 meters) above ground in parts of the Mobile metro area.

Five cyclones are currently churning in the Atlantic Ocean for only second time in history.

Here’s a reminder of two of the key moments from yesterday, with both Joe Biden and Donald Trump addressing the issues of the west coast’s fires and climate change. In his speech, the Democratic presidential candidate said:

Donald Trump’s climate denial may not have caused these fires and record floods and record hurricanes. But if he gets a second term, these hellish events will continue to become more common, more devastating, and more deadly.

The president, meanwhile, was in California, where he told Wade Crowfoot, the secretary of California’s Natural Resources Agency, that the climate “will start getting cooler, you just watch”.

Crowfoot responded: “I wish science agreed with you,” to which Trump retorted: “I don’t think science knows, actually.”

Good morning, welcome to our live coverage of US politics for Tuesday. It was a busy day news-wise yesterday and there’s a lot in the diary for today too.

  • Joe Biden called Donald Trump a ‘climate arsonist’ as the president denied climate science during his wildfire tour. Oregon wildfires kill at least 10 while 22 people are still missing, and west coast cities face the world’s worst air quality.
  • Tropical Storm Sally is forecast to hit the Louisiana and Mississippi coastline, with a hurricane watch in effect from the Mississippi-Alabama border to the Alabama-Florida border. Five cyclones are churning in the Atlantic Ocean for only second time in history.
  • There were 447 new coronavirus deaths and 36,836 new Covid-19 cases reported in the US yesterday.
  • A whistleblower alleges that Ice detainees faced medical neglect and hysterectomies. Nurse Dawn Wooten says she was demoted and reprimanded when she spoke out about practices at Georgia detention center.
  • Progressive Jess Scarane is trying to pull off an upset over incumbent Sen. Chris Coons in the Democratic Delaware primary.
  • It’s a big day for diplomacy at the White House. Trump will have a series of bilateral meetings with Bahrain and UAE’s foreign ministers, and then Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. After those, at noon, the “Abraham Accords” signing ceremony will take place on the south lawn. There will be speeches, and then a working lunch.
  • After that, Trump heads to Philadelphia to take part in an ABC News town hall event. That’s at 9pm ET.
  • Biden will be campaigning in Florida. He will hold a roundtable with veterans in Tampa, and later attend a Hispanic Heritage Month event in Kissimmee.

You can get in touch with me at [email protected]