Donald Trump has continued his attacks on expanded mail-in voting access amid the coronavirus pandemic, tweeting that activists who “protest in person” should be able to “vote in person” after lashing out at former president Bill Clinton for “lecturing” people on how to behave in the White House during a speech at the Democratic National Convention.
Meanwhile, a former senior official at the Department of Homeland Security named Miles Taylor, who endorsed Joe Biden for president, has claimed that Mr Trump was “infuriated” by attempts to stop Russian election meddling.
His remarks came on the same day that a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee released its fifth and final report, finding that the Trump administration has hindered its investigation and embraced Russian help in 2016.
Check out The Independent’s live updates and coverage below:
Why AOC backed Sanders, not Biden, in her DNC speech — and how we’ve seen this before
But the move was not quite the snub of Mr Biden that some made it out to be, despite the insinuations of several premature, incomplete, and otherwise poorly edited tweets from prominent media outlets, including NBC News and its affiliate MSNBC.
As Ms Ocasio-Cortez later explained via Twitter, it wasn’t her role to heap praise on Mr Biden: She was pegged specifically by the Democratic National Committee to second the nomination of Mr Sanders in a show of party unity and reconciliation between its competing factions.
“If you were confused, no worries!” she tweeted shortly after her speech aired.
“Convention rules require roll call & nominations for every candidate that passes the delegate threshold. I was asked to 2nd the nom for Sen. Sanders for roll call. I extend my deepest congratulations to [Mr Biden] — let’s go win in November,” she wrote.
US drops death penalty for ‘Isis Beatles’ accused of beheading American journalists, report says
Alex Woodward writes: The US Department of Justice will not seek the death penalty against two British-raised Islamic State members accused of killing US journalists and taking part in gruesome filmed beheadings, according to reports.
In a letter to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel seeking the government’s cooperation, US Attorney General William Barr has signalled that the possibility of the death penalty will be dropped against the men, who are being held in indefinite military detention in Iraq, on the condition that the UK provides evidence in the case.
Voting rights advocates say changes to the postal service must be reversed to ensure a fair election
Richard Hall writes: Voting rights groups are suing the head of the postal service to reverse reforms which have caused backlogs and delays across the country months before an election in which record numbers are expected to vote by mail.
The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Maryland, accuses Louis DeJoy of “weaponising the United States Postal Service to disenfranchise Americans who choose to vote by mail.”
Mr DeJoy, a major donor to Donald Trump who was named head of the postal service in May, has overseen a raft of changes to working practices since his arrival — including the removal of mail processing machines and a ban on overtime — which caused severe delays to mail delivery.
Following an outcry from voting rights advocates and Democrats who said the delays amounted to election interference, he announced that he would suspend the reforms until after the November vote “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”
Kanye West’s presidential campaign runs into trouble in Wyoming after signature-gathers got too close to polling places
Danielle Zoellner writes: Rapper Kanye West‘s presidential campaign has run into trouble on his first day of attempting to get on the ballot in Wyoming after election officials said signature-gatherers were too close to polling stations.
People who were gathering signatures for West and another presidential candidate for the upcoming election were stationed too close to polling stations, election officials said, the Associated Press reported.
Police were called to polling locations in and around Cheyenne after election officials approached signature-gathers who were not staying 100 feet away from places.
“Some of them became quite aggressive and refused to leave,” Laramie County Clerk Debra Lee told the Associated Press.
One concern about the signature-gathers at polling places in Wyoming was the signs that they carried. Ms Lee told the publication that one side had “registered voters sign here” on the front and then “Kanye West” on the back, with the concern voters would think they needed sign-up in order to vote.
Similar violations were also reported in Casper.
Pelosi confronts Trump USPS official over efforts to undermine mail-in vote
The Trump administration announced its decision on Tuesday ostensibly to appease Democrats, and even some Republicans, who were concerned the recent diminution of postal services would suppress voter turnout and erode Americans’ faith in the integrity of the ballot count.
“This morning, I spoke with Postmaster General DeJoy and conveyed to him that his announcement is not a solution and is misleading,” Ms Pelosi said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The Postmaster General’s alleged pause is wholly insufficient and does not reverse damage already wreaked. The Postmaster General frankly admitted that he had no intention of replacing the sorting machines, blue mailboxes and other key mail infrastructure that have been removed and that plans for adequate overtime, which is critical for the timely delivery of mail, are not in the works. All of these changes directly jeopardize the election and disproportionately threaten to disenfranchise voters in communities of color,” Ms Pelosi said.
President calls on GOP leaders to move hearings so as not to distract from the important moment for his re-election campaign
Trump criticizes McConnell for holding hearings during Republican convention
Donald Trump has lashed out at Republican leaders on Capitol Hill for moving forward with hearings over controversial changes to the US Postal Service during next week’s Republican National Convention.
The president wrote in a tweet: “Why are Republicans allowing the Democrats to have ridiculous Post Office hearings on Saturday & Monday, just before and during our Convention. Let them hold them NOW (during their Convention) or after our Convention is over.”
Tagging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Mr Trump added: “Always playing right into their hands!”
Story to come…
Gold star father Khizr Khan returns to DNC stage to nominate Joe Biden after impassioned speech against Trump
Danielle Zoellner writes: Gold star father Khizr Khan, who clashed with Donald Trump in 2016, returned to the Democratic National Convention (DNC) stage to nominate Joe Biden for president on behalf of Virginia.
The Charlottesville resident appeared as Virginia’s representative for the delegation.
“Three years ago, my beloved city, Charlottesville, Virginia, was attacked by white supremacists and a young woman was killed,” Mr Khan said at the start of his delegation speech on Tuesday evening.
“We were attacked again when Donald Trump praised those racists, turning his back on a community that just wanted peace,” he added. “That was the day Joe Biden decided to join this battle for the soul of America. Over time, my wife, Ghazala, and I have come to know his soul. He’s a decent, compassionate man. He will bring this nation together.”
Voters will remember that Mr Khan first stepped into the political limelight during the 2016 Democratic Convention with his impassioned speech about his Muslim son, all while slamming the then-Republican presidential candidate Mr Trump.
Trevor Noah jokes that Trump will be ‘pardoning himself mid-crime’ if re-elected
“I’m really impressed with Bernie Sanders because he’s doing everything in his power right now to take down Donald Trump,” the comedian said. “He was telling his base that progressives cannot afford to cast protest votes like they did in 2016.
“Because this s*** we lived through? This was four years of Trump caring about being re-elected. Imagine what he’d be like totally unleashed? Forget pardoning other people, second term Trump will be pardoning himself mid-crime.
Laura Loomer: Far-right ‘proud Islamophobe’ wins Republican primary in Florida
Laura Loomer, who has described herself as a “proud Islamophobe” and earned a reputation for staging one-woman “stunts” both online and off, is now the Republican nominee for the safely Democratic Palm Beach district which covers the president’s Mar-a-Lago Resort, and where Mr Trump himself votes.
Ms Loomer was banned from Twitter in 2018 for violating its rules on hateful conduct; she responded by handcuffing herself to the front door of the company’s headquarters. She was also permanently barred from ride-sharing platforms Uber and Lyft after ranting online about being late for a meeting because she couldn’t find a non-Muslim cab driver.
“Someone needs to create a non Islamic form of Uber or Lyft because I never want to support another Islamic immigrant driver,” she tweeted before her Twitter account was shut down.
She has also been banned from a string of other platforms and events, from Medium and PayPal to New York City’s Shakespeare in the Park festival, where she interrupted a 2017 performance of Julius Caesar by storming the stage during the lead character’s assassination and shouting “Stop the normalisation of political violence against the right! This is unacceptable!”
Trump launches rant aimed at Goodyear Tires
Opinion: I’m a relationship therapist — this is how Jill and Joe Biden’s marriage compares to Donald and Melania Trump’s
Seeing patients, I’ve learned that the healthiest romances are those in which the partners are “securely attached.” The two questions that define a securely attached connection are “Can I count on you?” and, “Can I trust you?” At an event in March in Los Angeles, Jill blocked a protestor from rushing her husband. She literally had Joe’s back. Many wives might instinctually do the same, but when Jill speaks about Joe, it’s evident that besides being his romantic partner, she is also his best friend.
When she met him as a 30-year-old widowed senator, 26-year-old Jill, though enamored, thought long and hard about accepting his marriage proposal because she did not want his sons to experience additional loss if it didn’t work out. They married and reached for each other when times were tough, talking frankly about the shared pain of losing their 46-year-old son to cancer in 2015. Joe said of that experience, “We can be completely open and let our grief show.”
Losing a child is one of the hardest things a couple can endure. The trauma that ensues often causes them to either split apart or do just the the opposite: bond together in a deeper way than they ever imagined.
Trump condemns Republicans for ‘allowing’ Democrats to hold hearings
The president posted a tweet attacking members of his own party for allegedly “allowing the Democrats to have ridiculous Post Office hearings on Saturday & Monday, just before and during our Convention.”
He added: “Let them hold them NOW (during their Convention) or after our Convention is over. Always playing right into their hands! “
Covington catholic teenager seen in MAGA hat viral video to speak at RNC
A Kentucky teenager seen in a viral video last year wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat during a reported incident with a Native American elder will speak at the upcoming Republican National Convention.
Nicholas Sandmann confirmed he would speak at the four-day event next week in a tweet, writing: “I can’t tell you all enough about how excited I am to be apart [sic] of this years RNC!”
He became part of a national news cycle after a viral video showed him standing close to Nathan Phillips, a 66-year-old Native American activist, as he sang a chant near the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
The teenager was with his classmates from Covington Catholic High School for a trip to the nation’s capitol, where they attended the annual March for Life rally, when the encounter occurred.
A shortened video clip of his encounter with the activist drew controversy, as some viewers said the teen and his classmates were allegedly attempting to intimidate Mr Phillips. A second video that subsequently went viral days later appeared to provide more context, while the teen said in a statement released following the incident that he had been trying to remain calm and diffuse the situation.
ICYMI: Federal court blocks Trump administration rule erasing health care protections for transgender people
With just one day left before it went into effect, a federal judge has blocked a new rule created by the Trump administration that would have erased health care protections for transgender people.
US District Court Judge Frederic Block cited the Supreme Court’s ruling in June on job discrimination for the preliminary injunction on Monday.
“When the Supreme Court announces a major decision, it seems a sensible thing to pause and reflect on the decision’s impact,” the judge wrote. “Since [Health and Human Services] has been unwilling to take that path voluntarily, the court now imposes it.”
The Trump administration’s new rule — which would have gone into effect Tuesday — rolled back protections for transgender patients facing discrimination from doctors and hospitals, as well as insurance companies.
But the rule may no longer be valid after the Supreme Court extended sex discrimination protections to transgender Americans during the historic June ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga.
Trump attacks Democrats in tweet claiming he’s lowering drug prices
Trump slams protestors demanding mail-in voting access amid pandemic
The president is out with a fresh new talking point, claiming protestors who go out to partake in demonstrations should be able to vote in person. However, many protestors say they are demonstrating so those most at-risk of the coronavirus can vote safely by mail.
ICYMI: 6 key takeaways from the Senate’s scathing Russia report
The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released the fifth and final volume of its report on Russian election interference that claims the Trump administration obstructed its investigation and embraced and encouraged help from the Russians in 2016.
As several national security and legal experts have already pointed out on Twitter, the Senate’s report goes into more granular detail over its thousands of pages about Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia than any of its antecedents, such as the House Intelligence Committee’s partisan 2018 reports and former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
That’s because Mr Mueller was constrained by the need to keep his evidence within criminally prosecutable confines. As his report outlines, those issues were compounded by a robust (and possibly criminal) Trump administration obstruction effort.
The Senate’s report had no such legal guardrails. At their core, congressional enquiries are fact-finding missions meant to educate the public and inform future legislation.
Opinion: Trump’s Democratic Convention strategy is probably going to backfire
And like so many longstanding traditions in America’s political life, Donald Trump has cast it aside.
As Democrats were gearing up for the first ever virtual party convention — a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic that, as of this moment, has killed more than 170,000 of their fellow Americans — Donald Trump was firing up Air Force One for the first of four day-long trips to swing states.
Since the novel coronavirus brought an end to campaigning-as-usual in mid-March, most of Trump’s appearances outside Washington have been billed as “official” trips (which lets him bill the taxpayer for the full cost of travel.) Yet he has never shied away from attacking his political enemies — real or perceived — even at events meant to showcase the country’s response to the pandemic. And Monday’s triple-header, which placed him before adoring crowds in a trio of midwestern airport hangars, let him throw off any pretense of speaking as if he were an incumbent president trying to lead the country.
The president spoke to reporters during a trip to Arizona on Tuesday about an hour after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the House will move ahead with a Saturday vote on a bill that would give the post office $25bn more to deal with a massive influx of mail-in ballots as states prepare to send them out to coronavirus-fearing voters. Mr Trump earlier in the day did not directly answer a question about whether he supports that bill.
But when asked again about the postal scandal, hours after his hand-picked postmaster general announced he would freeze policies Democrats said were aimed at suppressing votes in the fall for former Vice President Joe Biden, that party’s presumptive presidential nominee, the president had another plan.
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