Live 2020 Presidential Debates News Tracker and Updates
Republican lawmakers reacted with nearly complete silence on Monday to a New York Times investigation that revealed President Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 and that he oversees a network of businesses that are riddled with debt and losing hundreds of millions of dollars.
Spokesmen for Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the top two Republicans in the Senate, declined to comment on the article Monday.
A Republican involved in writing tax law, Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said Monday afternoon that he had read the Times article, but declined to comment on how little Mr. Trump paid in taxes.
“The thought that comes to my mind is how come it’s taking the I.R.S. so long to get the audits done,” he told reporters. Asked about the $750 tax payments, Mr. Grassley said: “I want to wait until the I.R.S. gets done so I know how much he owes.”
Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Trump initially called the Times article “totally fake news” on Sunday, and then shifted to accusing the paper of basing the report on illegally obtained information about his finances.
Democrats quickly seized on the investigation. House lawmakers, who have spent years fighting in the courts for access to the president’s tax records, hailed the revelations in the report as proof that their inquiries were justified.
“Trump hides his tax returns because, unlike most working Americans, he is a freeloader who doesn’t believe in paying taxes, only personally benefiting from taxes others pay,” Representative Lloyd Doggett, Democrat of Texas, said in a statement. “Most any American who pays taxes has paid more than Trump. He is a taker, not a maker.”
The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said on MSNBC Monday that the report raised national security concerns because of the amount of money that the president owes to lenders.
“This president appears to have over $400 million in debt, 420, whatever it is, million dollars in debt,” she told Andrea Mitchell, the show’s host. “To whom? Different countries? What is the leverage they have? So for me, this is a national security question.”
While Republican lawmakers dodged questions about Mr. Trump’s taxes, and the reliably friendly morning show “Fox and Friends” enlisted his press secretary and his oldest son to comment, a few others in the party weighed in. John Kasich, the former Republican governor of Ohio who has endorsed Joseph R. Biden Jr., told CNN that the article could affect blue-collar voters who are not yet decided.
“These folks are scraping to make a living and they’re going to wake up to find out this incredible mogul paid $750? I don’t care what his excuses are,” Mr. Kasich said on “Anderson Cooper 360.” “It doesn’t pass the smell test. It’s not going to disrupt those people who were for him totally. They’ll still be for him. But it’s those people on the fence.”
Not all of the president’s conservative allies were silent on how little Mr. Trump paid in federal income taxes over the past decade.
Rush Limbaugh, the conservative talk show host who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in February at Mr. Trump’s State of the Union address, said on his show on Monday that Mr. Trump’s penchant for minimizing his taxes was something to be proud of, not scorned.
“He’s a master at this,” Mr. Limbaugh said. “These tax returns show that he is a master at using the tax code legally. If Trump had done all of this illegal stuff after all of these years, it would have caught up with him by now.”
Senator Kamala Harris warned on Monday of far-reaching consequences to American society if Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed to the Supreme Court, saying that the health coverage and abortion rights were in peril.
In a speech in Raleigh, N.C., Ms. Harris amplified an argument that Joseph R. Biden Jr. has been making in the aftermath of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, putting a focus on the fate of health care for millions of Americans.
“This relentless obsession with overturning the Affordable Care Act is driven entirely by a blind rage toward President Obama,” Ms. Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, said. “And it’s happening at a moment when our country is suffering through the ravages of a pandemic that has claimed more than 200,000 lives in our country.”
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments a week after Election Day in a case challenging the Affordable Care Act, and the Trump administration is asking the court to strike down the law.
Ms. Harris also spoke of other issues at stake as President Trump tries to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat, such as abortion rights and voting rights. The president, his party and Judge Barrett “have made clear that they want to overturn Roe v. Wade and restrict reproductive rights and freedoms,” Ms. Harris said.
“Judge Barrett has a long record of opposing abortion and reproductive rights,” she continued. “There is no other issue that so disrespects and dishonors the work of Justice Ginsburg’s life than undoing the seminal decision in the court’s history that made it clear a woman has a right to make decisions about her own body.”
Ms. Harris is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hold confirmation hearings for Judge Barrett. Ms. Harris has drawn notice in the past for her tough questioning during Senate hearings, and her spot on the committee will place her at center stage in the confirmation process shortly before Election Day.
Mr. Biden has urged the Senate to refrain from confirming a replacement for Justice Ginsburg before the election, noting that voting is already underway.
Ms. Harris echoed that argument on Monday and offered a message for voters.
“Let’s vote for health care,” she said. “Vote for the Affordable Care Act. Vote as if your life, your choice, depends on it, because it does. Make it clear to President Trump and to every Republican senator that if they’re determined to get rid of your health care, you’ll be just as determined to vote them out of office.”
President Trump shifted his position overnight on a sweeping New York Times investigative report on his taxes, accusing the paper on Monday of using “illegally obtained information” after initially saying on Sunday that the article was “totally fake news.”
In a series of tweets Monday morning, Mr. Trump did not explicitly deny the revelations that he paid only $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, and that he paid almost no taxes in other years because of huge losses in many of his businesses.
Instead, Mr. Trump lashed out at the suggestion that he is not as wealthy and successful as he has repeatedly claimed to be, insisting — without providing any evidence — that his finances are in very good shape.
“If you look at the extraordinary assets owned by me, which the Fake News hasn’t, I am extremely under leveraged — I have very little debt compared to the value of assets,” he insisted on Twitter.
In fact, as the article notes, Mr. Trump is heavily in debt, and much of what he owes to lenders will have to be paid back in just a few years.
“He is personally responsible for loans and other debts totaling $421 million, with most of it coming due within four years,” the report says. “Should he win re-election, his lenders could be placed in the unprecedented position of weighing whether to foreclose on a sitting president.”
Mr. Trump also said Monday that he “might release” financial statements that show “all properties, assets and debts,” but did not say when he might do that. “It is a very IMPRESSIVE Statement,” he wrote.
The report revealed that Mr. Trump paid no federal income taxes in 11 of 18 years that The Times examined because of huge losses in other businesses that Mr. Trump owns. The president used provisions in the tax law to offset his tax obligations with the losses.
The article notes that The Times “obtained tax-return data extending over more than two decades for Mr. Trump and the hundreds of companies that make up his business organization, including detailed information from his first two years in office.”
Despite Mr. Trump’s allegation that the report was based on information that was gotten illegally, the report noted that “all of the information The Times obtained was provided by sources with legal access to it.”
It added: “The Times was able to verify portions of it by comparing it with publicly available information and confidential records previously obtained by The Times.”
On Sunday night, Mr. Trump told reporters at a news conference that he had paid “a lot” in taxes. He also claimed that he was not contacted before the article ran, despite the fact that it quotes a lawyer for the Trump organization.
By Monday morning, he was insisting on Twitter that he had paid “many millions of dollars” in taxes. He did not specify whether he meant federal income taxes, and he complained that he “was entitled, like everyone else, to depreciation and tax credits.”
“The Fake News Media, just like Election time 2016, is bringing up my Taxes & all sorts of other nonsense with illegally obtained information & only bad intent,” he wrote on Twitter.
Not long after The New York Times published an investigation into President Trump’s long-sought tax returns, the campaign of Joseph R. Biden Jr. turned one of its most revealing findings — that Mr. Trump paid only $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency — into a 30-second video comparing that tax bill to those paid by American workers.The Message
One of Mr. Trump’s enduring strengths has been his appeal to white working-class voters, many of whom view him as a billionaire who made personal sacrifices to run for, and serve as, president. The video seeks to undercut that, comparing Mr. Trump’s tax bill to those typical of elementary school teachers ($7,239), firefighters ($5,283), nurses ($10,216) and construction managers ($16,447).
In recent weeks, Mr. Biden has tried to frame the presidential race as “Scranton versus Park Avenue,” and the findings of the Times investigation could help him further that effort by casting Mr. Trump as not just a rich candidate who is detached from the experiences of average Americans, but someone who deployed complex tax-avoidance schemes to avoid paying his fair share.Fact Check
Mr. Trump broke with the modern tradition of major-party presidential candidates releasing their tax returns. The Times report, the first look at his recent filings, showed that he paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency and another $750 in his first year in the White House. He also paid no income taxes in 10 of the previous 15 years, mostly because he reported losing much more money than he made.
The Biden campaign said it obtained the average earnings for each profession from 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics data, and that the average paid in income taxes was calculated for a single person, age 40, with $0 in state and federal withholdings.Where It’s Running
The video was shared online organically enough to rack up more than 3 million views on Twitter alone in less than a day. This particular video, which features only words flashing on the screen and no narration, was designed for social media but its message could find its way into the Biden campaign’s large paid-media budget.The Takeaway
The Biden campaign hopes to cut into Mr. Trump’s support among white working-class workers and hopes the specificity of the $750 tax figure helps it break through.
There was one very simple takeaway from a complicated New York Times exposé analyzing two decades of the president’s tax return data: $750.
That’s how much President Trump paid in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017.
In some ways, the figure’s specificity was more visceral than if he had paid zero dollars — which he did for11 of 18 years that the Times examined. The $750 figure may stick in the minds of blue-collar voters who earn far less than a president, and who pay far more in federal taxes.
Democrats hope they can turn any feeling of unjustness the number evokes to their advantage. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Sunday that she had paid thousands of dollars in federal taxes in 2016 and 2017 — when she was still working as a New York bartender. “He contributed less to funding our communities than waitresses & undocumented immigrants,” she wrote.
The Biden campaign on Sunday night used the report to press its case that Mr. Trump is out of touch with the working Americans he says he is fighting for. The campaign quickly put out a video showing the typical income taxes paid by an elementary school teacher, a firefighter and a nurse. Each paid thousands of dollars in taxes per year.
At a Sunday evening news conference, Mr. Trump dismissed the reporting as “totally fake news” and claimed he was never contacted about the report, despite the fact that a lawyer for the Trump Organization was quoted in the article.
But it’s inevitably a story he will face questions about in the first presidential debate on Tuesday night. And with five weeks left in the race, every day that Mr. Trump is on defense is one when he isn’t able to shift the dynamics of a race that public polls show he is currently losing.
Revelations like the fact that Mr. Trump deducted $70,000 for hairstyling expenses during “The Apprentice” also risk contributing to a sense that the president views his supporters — those who serve in the military, or pay their tax bills, or attend his rallies in the middle of a pandemic — as fools.
To wit: The tax revelations followed a report in The Atlantic this month that said the president had privately referred to American troops killed in combat as “losers” and “suckers.”
And a former official on the coronavirus task force, Olivia Troye, has gone on the record in recent weeks to recall that Mr. Trump, during a meeting she attended, said there was an upside to the virus: He would no longer have to shake hands with “disgusting” people, referring to his own supporters.
There is a battle brewing among Washington Democrats that is set to boil over if Democrats take back the Senate and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. defeats President Trump.
Even as Republicans line up behind Mr. Trump, Democrats are navigating fault lines in their own ranks over how they would govern as the controlling party. Some Democrats, and not just on the party’s left, are increasingly embracing structural changes to the political system — including eliminating the Senate filibuster, ending the Electoral College and granting statehood to Washington, D.C. — while others reject these ideas as norm-busting power grabs that are unpalatable to a majority of voters.
These tensions have only intensified with the looming battle over President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett. The potential for a decades-long conservative majority on the court, after Republicans broke precedent four years ago by refusing to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee for a vacancy,has prompted change-seeking Democrats to add another item to the policy list: expanding the size of the Supreme Court.
“If Republicans confirm Judge Barrett, end the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court,” Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts said in a tweet on Saturday. Even Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, said last week that “everything is on the table.’’
But the momentum for structural change faces a six-foot roadblock, hand delivered by the primary voters within their own party: Mr. Biden.
A consummate Washington institutionalist who served in the Senate for nearly four decades, Mr. Biden often speaks in fond and wistful terms about Senate customs of yore. From a policy standpoint he has largely rejected calls to eliminate the filibuster, only recently signaling some openness to doing so, or to expand the Supreme Court.
Compared to many of his Democratic predecessors, Mr. Biden would be a very progressive president should he succeed in his White House bid. On issues of climate, education and even health care, he has proposed an agenda that has moved leftward since he entered the primaries. Yet on institutional change, Mr. Biden has not matched the urgency from the left that the election and the Supreme Court fight have stirred.
The discord could set Democrats on an inevitable collision course: a party that is increasingly seeking to play by different rules led by a figure who helped create the current ones. The outcome of the fight will help define a party that has rallied around the mission of defeating Mr. Trump and Senate Republicans in November but remains ideologically fractured.
Two federal judges ruled against the Postal Service in three separate cases, ordering temporary injunctions to force it to suspend changes to its operations that have contributed to widespread delays in the delivery of mail.
Gerald Austin McHugh Jr., a federal judge in Pennsylvania, issued a preliminary injunction Monday ordering the Postal Service to halt efforts to reduce work hours and change carrier schedules, among other policies, unless the agency were to obtain an advisory opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission.
Six states and the District of Columbia had sued the postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, last month, claiming that recent changes violated federal law. The coalition asserted that the agency had failed to submit the proposed changes to the regulatory commission, the body responsible for issuing advisory opinions before nationwide changes.
The Postal Service’s “ability to fulfill its mission during a presidential election taking place in the midst of a public health crisis is vital,” Judge McHugh wrote. “The delays that have occurred as a result of the initiatives described above clearly pose a threat to the delivery of Election Mail to and from the voters.”
In a separate ruling on Sunday, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of United States District Court for the District of Columbia found that several new policies had put “the timely delivery of election mail at risk.” In his decision, which came in response to a lawsuit filed by New York State and several other states and cities, Judge Sullivan reasoned that mail delays were also likely to cause more residents to vote in person and risk spreading the coronavirus.
“It is clearly in the public interest to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, to ensure safe alternatives to in-person voting, and to require that the U.S.P.S. comply with the law,” Judge Sullivan wrote.
In a third case, eleven voters and four voting rights organizations had alleged that the recent Postal Service changes had violated the constitutional right to vote. Judge Sullivan sided against the Postal Service in that case on Monday, writing that the plaintiffs could suffer “irreparable harm” from the policies if their votes were not counted.
He ordered the Postal Service to reverse a policy that had cut back on late and extra delivery trips.
The rulings follow similar decisions in Washington State and New York that ordered the Postal Service to halt several operational changes. In an interview with the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., last week, Mr. DeJoy said his agency was working to settle the lawsuits.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. was frustrated as he tried last year to prepare for an unwieldy debate season that stuffed as many as 11 other Democratic rivals onto a single stage. At some mock sessions, he was flanked by “Elizabeth Warren,” played by Jennifer Granholm, the former governor of Michigan, and “Bernie Sanders,” portrayed by Bob Bauer, the former White House counsel, as they peppered him with progressive lines of attack.
Mr. Biden lamented privately to advisers — and occasionally in public — that it was nearly impossible to debate with such a crowd. “If you had a debate with five other people, you might actually get a chance to say something,” Mr. Biden told donors in Hollywood last fall. He would deliver more forceful performances as the field narrowed, he promised.
Now, Mr. Biden will get his chance. The former vice president will debate President Trump for the first time on Tuesday, a date circled for months as one of the most consequential on the 2020 political calendar, and one of a dwindling number of chances for Mr. Trump to chip into Mr. Biden’s lead in the polls.
Given Mr. Biden’s current polling edge, his advisers have been downplaying the debate’s significance even as the former vice president has plunged himself into days of intense preparation. He is rehearsing and studying his briefing books — Mr. Biden has long preferred the Arial typeface, 14 point — in a process overseen by his longtime adviser and former chief of staff, Ron Klain, who similarly ran Hillary Clinton’s debate camp.
“It is definitely one of the last things that could move the race,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary under former President Barack Obama and a former adviser to Mr. Biden. “The odds of it moving the race are not high. But there are not that many opportunities.”
In a close race, the presidential election could be decided by an unlikely spot: Nebraska’s Second Congressional District, which includes Omaha and most of its suburbs.
If the race is decided there, Joseph R. Biden Jr. appears to have the advantage, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll. He leads President Trump by seven points, 48 percent to 41 percent.
Unlike most states, Nebraska awards its Electoral College votes by congressional district: The statewide winner receives two votes, and the winner of each district receives one. And while one electoral vote isn’t much, it could prove decisive in an increasingly plausible set of circumstances.
Nebraska’s Second District would give Mr. Biden exactly 270 electoral votes, the number needed to win, if he held the states that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016 and flipped Arizona, Wisconsin and Michigan. It would allow him to win the presidency without Pennsylvania or Florida.
The district has long loomed as a potential vulnerability for the president. It is traditionally Republican, but Mr. Trump carried it by only two points in 2016. The district was even closer than familiar battleground states like Arizona or North Carolina.
Its demographics have made it an even more plausible pickup opportunity for Mr. Biden. It’s relatively white, metropolitan and well educated, and national polls routinely show Mr. Biden running ahead of Mrs. Clinton’s performance among all three of those groups.
National polls released on Sunday continued to show Joseph R. Biden Jr. hanging on to a significant lead as his first debate with President Trump approaches. The polls, one by The New York Times/Siena College and two from ABC News/The Washington Post, found Mr. Biden ahead by an average of eight points.
Mr. Biden also got some good news over the weekend in NBC/Marist polls from the battleground states of Wisconsin, showing Mr. Biden leading among likely voters by 10 points, and Michigan, showing him leading by 8. But one big caveat: those polls were not weighted by education, which means they probably have too many college graduates represented and overstate support for Mr. Biden (Failing to weight by education is one of the main things that went wrong with polls in 2016.)
In Georgia and North Carolina, which Mr. Trump won by more than five points and nearly four points in 2016, CBS/YouGov joined a long list of pollsters to show very close presidential races in those states, with Mr. Trump up by one point in Georgia and Mr. Biden up by two points in North Carolina.
CBS/YouGov polls also offered promising news for Democrats in some of the most hotly contested Senate races, finding the Democrat Cal Cunningham up by 10 points against the Republican incumbent, Thom Tillis, in North Carolina, and the Republican stalwart Senator Lindsey Graham locked in a tight race with Jaime Harrison in South Carolina.
President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. will not be the only ones in the spotlight at their first debate on Tuesday night. Chris Wallace, the Fox News anchor who is moderating, will face intense scrutiny on how he handles the evening, particularly given Mr. Trump’s tendency to hurl false and baseless claims at his opponents.
But Mr. Wallace warned that viewers should not expect him to fact-check either candidate.
“My job is to be as invisible as possible,” Mr. Wallace said during a Fox News segment on Sunday. “I’m trying to get them to engage, to focus on the key issues, to give people at home a sense of, ‘why I want to vote for one versus the other.’”
Mr. Wallace, who has regularly argued that fact-checking is outside the purview of a debate moderator, called it “a step too far.”
“I do not believe it is my job to be a truth squad,” he said in the run-up to his 2016 debate between Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton. “It’s up to the other person to catch them on that.” Those comments caused a minor stir at the time, but the debates’ organizers have made clear they agree, and his stewardship of that debate earned praise at the time.
Tuesday’s debate, which airs commercial-free from 9 to 10:30 p.m. Eastern time on every major network, is likely to attract a television and livestreaming audience of close to 100 million for the kind of civic gathering increasingly rare in a polarized, pandemic-stricken age.
Like many things this year, the presidential and vice-presidential debates will look a little different. There will only be one moderator per debate, and we’re still not sure if there will be a crowd — and, if there is, how many people will be allowed in. Each debate will start at 9 p.m. Eastern time and will run uninterrupted for an hour and a half, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Here’s a rundown of what we know for each debate so far:Sept. 29: First Presidential Debate
Location: President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, will meet at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
How to watch: The Times will livestream the event, and our reporters will provide commentary and analysis. It will also be carried on channels including CNN, Fox News, CBS, ABC, C-SPAN, NBC and MSNBC.
The moderator: Chris Wallace, the anchor of “Fox News Sunday,” will moderate.
Topics announced: The moderator has full discretion in picking the debate topics. For the first round, Mr. Wallace chose Mr. Trump’s and Mr. Biden’s records, the Supreme Court, the pandemic, the economy, race and violence in cities, and the integrity of the election.Oct. 7: Vice-Presidential Debate
Location: Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
How to watch: The Times will have an uninterrupted livestream and will provide insight and analysis. It will also be carried on the news networks.
The moderator: Susan Page, USA Today’s Washington bureau chief.
Topics announced: They will be made public a week before the debate. There will be nine topics.Oct. 15: Second Presidential Debate
Location: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami.
How to watch: The Times will stream the event and provide live analysis. It will also be carried on the news networks.
The moderator: Steve Scully, the political editor at C-SPAN, will moderate a town-hall-style event with undecided voters from South Florida.
Topics announced: They will be made public a week before the debate.Oct. 22: Third Presidential Debate
Location: Belmont University in Nashville.
How to watch: The Times will have an uninterrupted stream along with a live chat and a live briefing with analysis from our reporters. It will also be carried on the news networks.
The moderator: Kristen Welker, NBC News White House correspondent and co-anchor of “Weekend Today.” She is only the second Black woman to serve as the sole moderator of a presidential debate.
Topics announced: They will be made public a week before the debate, but there will be six topics.
Many voting rules have changed this year because of the pandemic, making it harder than usual to figure out how to cast your ballot. So we did the work for you, in hopes of helping make sure your vote is counted.
MIAMI — President Trump’s former campaign manager, Brad Parscale, was hospitalized after the police were called to his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., by his wife, who said he had guns and was threatening to hurt himself, officials said on Sunday evening.
The episode took place outside a home that, records show, Mr. Parscale bought in 2019.
“When officers arrived on scene, they made contact with the reportee (wife of armed subject) who advised her husband was armed, had access to multiple firearms inside the residence and was threatening to harm himself,” the Fort Lauderdale Police Department said in a statement. “Officers determined the only occupant inside the home was the adult male. Officers made contact with the male, developed a rapport, and safely negotiated for him to exit the home.”
A police report said that the officers who responded to the house had recovered 10 firearms from Mr. Parscale, including handguns, shotguns and rifles. In the report, Officer Timothy J. Skaggs wrote that when he arrived as the scene he “observed several bruises on both arms” of Mr. Parscale’s wife, Candice Parscale, which “she advised occurred a few days ago, during a physical altercation with Bradley, which she did not report.”
The police said Mr. Parscale was taken to Broward Health Medical Center for an evaluation.
Mr. Parscale was replaced as campaign manager in July, after complaints from Mr. Trump about how the campaign’s money had been spent and as the president sank in the polls, largely because of his own performance handling the coronavirus pandemic.
Nonetheless, Mr. Parscale remained a target of criticism, in part because of his public presence representing the campaign. He has remained as an adviser to the campaign, primarily dealing with digital fund-raising and digital advertising.
In a statement, Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the campaign, said: “Brad Parscale is a member of our family and we all love him. We are ready to support him and his family in any way possible.”
If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources. Here’s what you can do when a loved one is severely depressed.