Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden campaigned in Michigan on Wednesday, while President Trump announced that he was adding 20 names — including three GOP senators — to his ongoing list of potential Supreme Court picks.

At a White House news conference, Trump also said he played down his assessment of the coronavirus earlier in the year to reduce panic and “show confidence.” The president’s acknowledgment that he intentionally misled Americans about the virus is among the revelations in a new Bob Woodward book, “Rage.”

Vice President Pence is stumping in Pennsylvania, as both the Democratic and Republican tickets maintain a focus on Rust Belt states that Trump narrowly carried four years ago.

Here are some significant developments:

12:50 a.m.
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Biden calls Trump’s downplaying of virus risk ‘almost criminal’

By Colby Itkowitz

Biden described what Trump said privately about the coronavirus threat as “almost criminal” and accused the president of downplaying the pandemic to protect the economy.

“It was all about making sure the stock market didn’t come down, that his wealthy friends didn’t lose any money,” Biden said in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. “He waved a white flag. He walked away; he didn’t do a damn thing. Think about it. Think about what he did not do. And it’s almost criminal.”

Biden, sounding incredulous, said that publicly Trump “was praising [Chinese President] Xi Jinping about transparency and this is nothing to worry about and this is going to go away like a miracle. What in God’s name would a man like — I don’t get it, I truly don’t get it.”

Tapper asked Biden about Trump’s claim that he downplayed the risk to project strength and said that “leadership is about confidence.” Biden replied, “That is why we have no confidence in his leadership.”

11:10 p.m.
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Barr defends DOJ involvement in Trump defamation lawsuit stemming from sexual assault allegation

By Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky

Attorney General William P. Barr on Wednesday defended the Justice Department’s decision to intervene in a lawsuit brought by a woman who claims President Trump raped her decades ago, saying legal precedent is on the government’s side and any uproar about the move is due to the “bizarre political environment.”

In a court filing in Manhattan federal court, Justice Department lawyers argued that the president was “acting within the scope of his office as President of the United States” when he denied during interviews in 2019 that he had raped journalist E. Jean Carroll more than two decades ago in a New York City department store. Carroll sued Trump over that denial in November. The Justice Department’s intervention, at a minimum, will slow the case and could ultimately kill it entirely.

That’s because if the government is substituted as a defendant for Trump, it will be protected by the concept of sovereign immunity — which grants the government broad protection from lawsuits. The Justice Department then is likely to make a separate motion to throw out the case, and it probably would be granted.

11:06 p.m.
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Biden removed Redskins logo from family photo

By Paul Farhi

Sharp-eyed viewers who watched CNN’s two-hour documentary about Joe Biden’s life and political career Monday were startled to see a familiar image appear with a notable alteration.

It was an old family photo of the Democratic nominee hugging one of his young sons. What was striking was what was missing from the picture when it appeared on TV: the Washington Redskins logo on the boy’s knit ski cap.

An aide said the campaign had previously scrubbed the logo from the photo when it used it in a campaign ad — to avoid any copyright issues that might draw a complaint from the team — and not because of the fraught debate over the football team’s former name.

9:31 p.m.
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Biden mixes up military and Michigan in citing number of dead from covid-19

By Amy B Wang, Colby Itkowitz and Seung Min Kim

Reading from a piece of paper, Biden told a crowd in Michigan that 6,000 military service members had died of covid-19. The actual number is seven.

A campaign official acknowledged that Biden “misspoke and accidentally cited Michigan numbers of covid-19 deaths instead of the military figure.” At least 6,887 people in Michigan have died of the virus since the pandemic began.

Biden was in Michigan, a crucial swing state, as he ramps up his in-person campaigning eight weeks before Election Day.

Biden’s slip-up came after his prepared remarks when he asked a staff member to hand him a piece of paper that contained his schedule and the number of U.S. troops lost in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was a note that he said he usually carried in his pocket.

Reading from the paper, Biden rattled off the other “daily U.S. updates” listed on the back, which included U.S. troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of covid-19 infections and deaths in the United States, and the number of covid-19 infections and deaths in the U.S. military. Except the number on the paper wasn’t for the military, it was for Michigan.

“Folks, every one of these lives mattered,” Biden said. “Every one of these lives left somebody behind and grieving. Can’t ever forget them.”

9:18 p.m.
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White House sets Sept. 15 peace ceremony for Israel, UAE; Kushner suggests backing for F-35 sale

By Anne Gearan

President Trump will welcome leaders of Israel and the United Arab Emirates at the White House next week for a formal signing of the historic peace accord between the two countries, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Wednesday.

Also Wednesday, White House adviser Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, suggested that he favors allowing the UAE to purchase advanced U.S.-made F-35 warplanes despite misgivings in Israel and some bipartisan opposition in Congress. The potential deal is still under discussion, Kushner said, but he then immediately addressed whether the sale would endanger Israel’s military advantage in the region, known as the “qualified military edge," or QME.

“It’s just something that’s being discussed. We’re going through consultations,” Kushner told reporters. “President Trump has shown that he understands Israel’s security probably more than any American president in decades.”

“... And we’re going to obviously work with the QME, and we’ll do what we can do to make sure that we accommodate that circumstance. But the United Arab Emirates is a great, you know, military partner of America. We work together on a lot of things. They’re right on the border with Iran and have real threats, and I think that there’s a lot of opportunity to be gained by working on this.”

The Sept. 15 ceremony will follow in the tradition of White House peacemaking events that celebrated Israel’s accords with Egypt and Jordan decades ago. Trump announced the breakthrough with the UAE last month. The deal normalizes relations between Israel and a wealthy Persian Gulf state with an advanced military.

8:31 p.m.
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Trump says he downplayed coronavirus to reduce panic and ‘show confidence'

By Colby Itkowitz

Peppered with questions about why he downplayed the coronavirus threat to the American people while sharing how deadly and worrisome it was with Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward, President Trump contends that he did so to prevent panic.

“So the fact is, I’m a cheerleader for this country. I love our country. And I don’t want people to be frightened,” Trump said at a Wednesday afternoon news conference. “I don’t want to create panic, as you say. And certainly, I’m not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy. We want to show confidence. We want to show strength.”

Pressed on how the American people are expected to trust him going forward, Trump said not inducing panic “is a really big part of trust.”

“We have to have leadership. We have to show leadership. And the last thing you want to do is create a panic in a country,” he said, adding that he was “very open” with Woodward while calling the book “another political hit job.”

Trump rejected the suggestion that if he had been more forthright about the dangers of the virus he could have saved more lives and that he had some responsibility in the nearly 200,000 U.S. lives lost. The president claimed, as he has before, that without his interventions millions of Americans could have died. Instead, he said the blame rested with China, repeating a previous claim that while Beijing “contained” the spread of the virus in China, it allowed the virus to spread to the United States and elsewhere.

We shouldn’t have lost anybody. Nobody should have lost — China released something that they shouldn’t have been allowed to — they should not have released,” he said. Now, we had to show calm … the last thing we can show is panic or excitement or fear or anything else.”

8:22 p.m.
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Trump adds 20 names to his list of potential Supreme Court picks, calls on Biden to release his list

By Seung Min Kim

Trump challenged Biden to publicly release names of people he would nominate to the Supreme Court as he announced Wednesday that he was adding 20 names to his own ongoing list of potential court picks.

In an event at the White House, Trump warned of a “growing radical left movement” that will bleed into the federal judiciary if Republicans didn’t retain power. Trump said the next president could nominate “one, two, three and even four Supreme Court justices.”

“He must release a list of justices for people to properly make a decision on how they will vote,” Trump said of his Democratic challenger. “It’s very important that he do so.”

The names on Trump’s list include: Judge Bridget Bade of the 9th Circuit; Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron; former U.S. solicitor general Paul Clement; Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.); Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.); Judge Kyle Duncan of the 5th Circuit; assistant U.S. attorney general Steven A. Engel; former solicitor general Noel Francisco; Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.); Judge James Ho of the 5th Circuit; Judge Gregory Katsas of the D.C. Circuit; Judge Barbara Lagoa of the 11th Circuit; Christopher Landau, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico; Carlos Muñiz, a justice on the Florida Supreme Court; Judge Martha Pacold of the Northern District of Illinois; Judge Peter Phipps of the 3rd Circuit; Judge Sarah Pitlyk of the Eastern District of Missouri; Judge Allison Jones Rushing of the 4th Circuit; Kate Todd, a deputy White House counsel; and Judge Lawrence VanDyke of the 9th Circuit.

As presidential candidate in 2016, Trump took the unusual step of releasing a name of potential Supreme Court nominees in an attempt to convince voters skittish about him that he would nominate a reliable conservative to the court. The unorthodox strategy came as a Supreme Court seat remained empty for much of the presidential election year following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused to hold confirmation proceedings for Merrick Garland, the nominee tapped for that vacancy by President Barack Obama.

8:00 p.m.
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Trump’s weekend campaign rallies in Nevada canceled, state campaign co-chair says

By Felicia Sonmez

Trump’s “Keep America Great” rallies scheduled for this weekend in Nevada have been canceled, according to the co-chairman of the president’s campaign in the state.

Trump was scheduled to rally supporters in Reno on Saturday and Las Vegas on Sunday.

“Outrageous! @realDonaldTrump rally venues in NV canceled,” former Nevada attorney general Adam Laxalt, co-chairman of the Trump campaign in Nevada, said in a tweet Wednesday afternoon. “Welcome to Sisolak’s Nevada — home of partisan political retribution. This is unprecedented — to cancel an incumbent President’s campaign stop inside 60 days of a major contested election in a swing state. This isn’t over!”

The Las Vegas Review-Journal cited a person with knowledge of the situation as saying that the rallies were canceled because of coronavirus restrictions imposed by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D). The newspaper said it was not immediately clear whether Trump would go ahead with a scheduled fundraiser in the state.

Sisolak tweeted Wednesday afternoon that his office “had no involvement or communication with the event organizers or potential hosts regarding the proposed campaign events advertised by the Trump campaign.”

“Current statewide emergency directives include mandatory face coverings, limitations on public and private gatherings to no more than 50 people, and other measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” he said. “The Nevada-specific White House recommendations have consistently included recommendations to limit the size of gatherings for weeks now.”

In a statement, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said Trump “will be traveling to Nevada on the dates planned” and that further details would be announced soon. He also accused Democrats, without evidence, of “trying to keep President Trump from speaking to voters.”

At a briefing Wednesday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended Trump’s decision to continue holding campaign rallies, such as the one he held Tuesday night in North Carolina, where many attendees were not wearing face masks and did not socially distance.

She described the president’s reelection rallies as “peaceful protests,” in an apparent reference to the large-scale demonstrations against systemic racism and police brutality that have taken place across the country in recent months.

“We believe that if people want to show up and express their political views, that is their choice to do so,” McEnany said, adding: “At the end of the day, if you want to join a peaceful protest, you can do so.”

7:26 p.m.
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Senior DHS official alleges he was told to stop providing intelligence analysis on threat of Russian interference

By Shane Harris and Nick Miroff

A senior Department of Homeland Security official alleges that he was told to stop providing intelligence analysis on the threat of Russian interference in the 2020 election, in part because it “made the president look bad,” an instruction he believed would jeopardize national security.

The official, Brian Murphy, who until recently was in charge of intelligence and analysis at DHS, said in a whistleblower complaint that on two occasions, he was told to stand down on reporting about the Russian threat.

On July 8, Murphy said, acting Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf told him that an “intelligence notification” regarding Russian disinformation efforts should be “held” because it was unflattering to President Trump, who has long derided Russian interference as a “hoax” that was concocted by his opponents to delegitimize his victory in 2016.

6:37 p.m.
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Schumer says Trump ‘treated covid-19 like a PR problem’; McConnell declines to weigh in

By Felicia Sonmez

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday declined to offer an opinion on Trump’s statements to Woodward about the coronavirus, referring reporters’ questions to the White House.

“Yeah, I haven’t looked at the Woodward book,” McConnell told reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon. “That’s a good question for the White House.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), meanwhile, called the book “damning proof that President Trump lied and people died."

“I cannot believe he deceived the American people the way he did,” Schumer said, adding that many more people would be alive if Trump had told the truth. “This just reveals the president treated covid-19 like a PR problem.”

Like McConnell, other Senate Republicans seemed hesitant to weigh in on Trump’s comments about the virus.

“My only guess is he’s probably talking about not creating a panic and, you know, some sort of overreaction to it,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said when asked about the president’s statement to Woodward on March 19 that he “wanted to always play it down.”

Rubio added that “a little more alarm about the seriousness early on could have made a little bit of a difference” toward getting more Americans to realize the importance of social distancing and masks. He noted, however, that “every country in the world, no matter how well they did initially, has ultimately found itself in a tough spot.”

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said he wasn’t able to weigh in on Trump’s remarks without specifically knowing the context in which he said them, even after a reporter read Portman the relevant passage from Woodward’s book.

“He did some things early on that were helpful,” Portman said of Trump. “And could we all have done things differently? Yes, including Congress.”

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said that while much of the current focus is on Trump’s words, “his actions — of shutting the economy down — were the right actions.”

“And I think the tone during that time sort of spoke for itself,” Graham said. “People knew it was serious. And here you are with different responses all over the country to this day.”

Paul Kane and Erica Werner contributed to this report.

6:35 p.m.
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Biden slams Trump’s comments about playing down coronavirus dangers: ‘It’s beyond despicable’

By Amy B Wang and David Weigel

At a campaign visit to Michigan on Wednesday, Biden slammed Trump for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic on the heels of reports that the president knew of the severity of the virus in February but intentionally minimized it.

“He knew and purposely played it down. Worse, he lied to the American people. He knowingly and willingly lied about the threat it posed to the country for months,” Biden said in front of the United Auto Workers training facility in Warren, Mich., where he had planned to give a speech on a “Made in America” plan for the economy.

Biden called Trump’s actions “a life and death betrayal of the American people.”

“It’s beyond despicable. It’s a dereliction of duty. It’s a disgrace,” Biden said angrily.

Biden then made prepared remarks, promising to sign executive actions, if elected, that would prioritize American workers and products. Among them, he vowed to convert the government’s fleet of vehicles to electric vehicles that had been manufactured in the United States. Throughout his speech, he criticized Trump’s record on the economy since taking office.

“He promised he’d bring back jobs, stop companies from leaving,” Biden said. “He makes his wild claims and now hopes we don’t notice what he said or won’t remember. … He’s hoping we just have poor memories. He doesn’t give as much credit that the American people are smart, honest, decent, and they’re hard-working. And we expect our president to be straight with us.”

Biden’s motorcade arrived at a UAW training facility shortly before 1:14 p.m. The campaign had not publicized the location, but members of UAW for Trump posted it on Facebook, attracting more than 30 counterprotesters who gathered nearby and shouted slogans: “Say no to Creepy Joe!” and “Back the Blue.” No Biden supporters were outside the event.

“If they’d said where Biden was going to be, there’d be 500 people here,” said Terry McLellan, 63, who said he had driven from local to local asking where Biden was going to arrive. “Biden comes here, and they’ve got to pay hourly wages for UAW members to show up.”

After Biden arrived, eight of his supporters showed up and positioned themselves across a street from the Trump supporters. Greg and Mary Alice Schulte, who had volunteered for Biden in Iowa, said that they had driven from UAW site to UAW site in Warren, looking for Biden, until they spotted the security and Trump protesters.

“It doesn’t surprise us that there aren’t big numbers out here for Joe,” Greg Schulte, 53, said. “He’s doing the right thing with these kind of events, trying to protect people. If boats and signs decided this election, he’d be in trouble, but they don’t.”

As reporters circled the Biden supporters, talking to them about their votes, Trump supporters circled the venue, honking their horns when they spotted Trump flags.

5:54 p.m.
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Jill Biden visits Minnesota school: ‘Joe is going to listen’

By Amy B Wang
Jill Biden on Sept. 9 said her husband, Joe Biden, knows the best policies come from educators during her campaign stop at an elementary school in Minnesota. (The Washington Post)

Jill Biden visited a Minnesota elementary school Wednesday as part of a “back-to-school” listening tour to campaign for her husband.

To a small, socially-distanced crowd at Jeffers Pond Elementary School, Biden spoke of the “possibility” she always felt at the beginning of every school year even after three decades as an educator. This year, the novel coronavirus has shuttered schools across the country and forced millions of children to attend classes online instead.

“These feelings of excitement have turned into anxiety,” Biden said. “The playgrounds are still, and some classrooms are dark as the bright young faces that should fill them are now confined to boxes on a computer screen. While some classrooms are open, they are filled with unknowns.”

She promised to take back to her husband’s campaign what school districts need during this time.

“Joe knows that the best policies don’t come from politics, they come from educators, parents and students,” she said. “And Joe is going to listen.”

5:43 p.m.
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Trump reports raising $210 million last month, lagging behind Biden’s record-breaking August haul

By Michelle Ye Hee Lee

President Trump’s campaign, the Republican National Committee and two affiliated fundraising committees Wednesday announced raising $210 million in August — a big amount that still lags behind Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s record-breaking haul last month.

The RNC said $76 million of the money raised last month came in during the four days of the Republican National Convention, and noted that August was the best online fundraising month for the reelection effort.

The Biden campaign, the Democratic National Committee and their affiliated fundraising committees announced a staggering $364.5 million haul for August alone, which shattered monthly presidential fundraising records. Previously, the record was $202.5 million in September 2008 by the Obama campaign, the national party and an affiliated committee, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan research group Campaign Finance Institute. (That amount equates to roughly $244 million in 2020, adjusted for inflation.)

The latest fundraising announcement comes as the campaign faces reports of financial challenges. Trump has discussed giving as much as $100 million to his campaign if necessary, according to Bloomberg News. Trump told reporters this week that he would spend “whatever it takes” if he ends up giving money to his own campaign.

In a statement, Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien said that the campaign is confident it will have plenty of resources for November.

“The Trump campaign will have all the resources we need to spread the message of President Trump’s incredible record of achievement, on the ground and on the air, and define Joe Biden as a tool of the radical left,” Stepien said in a statement.

5:43 p.m.
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Government watchdog asks N.C. authorities to investigate whether DeJoy broke state laws

By Jon Swaine

A government watchdog group asked North Carolina authorities on Wednesday to investigate whether Postmaster General Louis DeJoy broke state laws after former employees of the company he once led said that they were reimbursed for campaign contributions.

Common Cause made the request in a complaint to the North Carolina State Board of Elections after The Washington Post reported allegations that DeJoy used bonus payments to his employees at New Breed Logistics to defray donations they gave to his favored Republican candidates. The group also sent the complaint to North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, requesting that his office open a criminal investigation.

The complaint states that The Post’s findings suggest that DeJoy may have violated the state’s laws against making campaign contributions in the name of someone else, making corporate contributions, and exceeding contribution limits.

In a statement for The Post’s earlier article, a spokesman for DeJoy, Monty Hagler, did not directly address assertions that DeJoy had reimbursed workers for making contributions. Hagler said that DeJoy “believes that he has always followed campaign fundraising laws and regulations.”

DeJoy was chief executive of High Point, N.C.-based New Breed until 2015. DeJoy and his wife, Aldona Wos, were prolific fundraisers for Republican candidates in both federal and state races.

Common Cause’s complaint seeks an examination of state-level contributions, which are overseen by the State Board of Elections.

In 2012, DeJoy and multiple employees at New Breed made contributions totaling $170,000 to Pat McCrory’s campaign for North Carolina governor. In an earlier interview with The Post, McCrory said: “I’m not aware of any of these claims.”

If the State Board of Elections found that campaign finance laws were violated, it could order a civil penalty such as a fine, seek a financial settlement, or refer its findings to a district attorney for potential criminal prosecution, according to the board’s complaint policy.

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) said on Monday that the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which she chairs, would also be investigating the allegations against DeJoy.