Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Monday that the “hellish” wildfires ravaging western states will become more frequent and more deadly if President Trump wins a second term, saying Trump has “no interest in meeting this moment” on climate change.

Biden’s comments, delivered from Delaware, come on a day when both campaigns are focusing on the crisis. Shortly after Biden spoke, Trump met in California with firefighters and emergency officials as he faces criticism for having largely remained silent about the situation. Trump later went to Arizona for an event for roundtable focused on Latinos.

With 50 days until Election Day . . .
September 14, 2020 at 8:08 PM EDT

Trump seizes on judge ruling that Pennsylvania lockdown is ‘unconstitutional’

Trump seized on a federal judge’s ruling that orders by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) to limit gatherings and close nonessential businesses to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus were unconstitutional, saying he hopes the decision is followed by similar pronouncements in other states.

The state’s restrictions violated the First Amendment and the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment, according to U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV, a Trump appointee. The case stemmed from a complaint by four Pennsylvania counties in May that argued businesses should be allowed to reopen.

“The court believes that defendants undertook their actions in a well-intentioned effort to protect Pennsylvanians from the virus,” the ruling said. “However, good intentions toward a laudable end are not alone enough to uphold governmental action against a constitutional challenge.”

Within hours after the decision was filed, Trump retweeted about two dozen posts about the blow to the Democratic governor’s orders. At an event Monday night, Trump claimed, without evidence, states will open everything Nov. 4 and said he hopes other judges will strike down coronavirus mandates.

“We hope that’s going to happen in North Carolina,” he said. “We hope it’s going to happen in Michigan, too, because it’s just totally shut down.”

The governor will seek a stay of decision and file an appeal, Wolf’s spokesperson, Lyndsay Kensinger, wrote in a statement to The Post.

Kensinger said the ruling would not impact current restrictions, with many already lifted as the state has partially reopened.

By Meryl Kornfield
September 14, 2020 at 8:01 PM EDT

Vindman says he believes Trump ordered him dismissed from National Security Council

Retired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman told NBC’s Lester Holt on Monday that he has “no doubt” that Trump personally ordered his dismissal from the National Security Council earlier this year, a charge the NSC denied. Vindman also said that if he had remained in the military, he would have suffered consequences for testifying in the House’s impeachment probe.

“Nobody told me that I had to leave; as a matter of fact, if the president were not to be reelected … I probably could have continued on,” Vindman said. “If he were to be reelected, the joke was that I would end up in a radar station in Alaska.”

National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot reacted to Vindman’s interview by calling it the product of “a disgruntled former detailee, seeking publicity, who is making allegations that are without merit."

Vindman, who was one of 17 witnesses to testify in the House impeachment investigation last year, said he was coming forward now in the hopes of reaching voters in “the most important election of our lifetime, and maybe persuade them to choose an alternative to what we have and an alternative to four more years of disaster.”

Vindman also gave an interview to Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, which was published earlier Monday.

Vindman additionally told Holt that while he was not a partisan while working for the government, “I am now a Never Trumper … absolutely.”

By Karoun Demirjian
September 14, 2020 at 6:53 PM EDT

We’re seeing a lot less of Trump’s rallies on TV news in 2020

You’re seeing a lot less of Trump’s campaign rallies on television this presidential cycle. Particularly when they’re held indoors, during a global pandemic, like his campaign stop in Henderson, Nev., on Sunday night.

Compared with coverage of his rallies during the 2016 election cycle, the major broadcast and cable news networks have been far less likely to go live with the president on the stump.

The one holdout has typically been Fox News, though the president’s favorite channel has lately been prone to cut in and out through parts of the speech that meander or conflict with its high-rated prime-time pundits.

But when the president spoke at the Xtreme Manufacturing facility on Sunday, even Fox didn’t broadcast it. None of the major networks did. Not even C-SPAN, which historically broadcasts his rallies as something of a public service for viewers.

By Jeremy Barr and Elahe Izadi
September 14, 2020 at 6:52 PM EDT

Pence defends Trump’s handling of wildfires, rallies support for Montana Republicans

Vice President Pence gave a spirited defense of Trump’s handling of the Pacific Northwest wildfires on Monday, telling those affected, “We’re with you.”

The vice president made the remarks at a rally for Republican Senate, House and gubernatorial candidates in Montana.

“To all in harm’s way, we encourage you to listen to your local authorities, but we’re going to stay with you every step of the way until we rebuild bigger and better than before,” Pence said, noting Trump’s approval of a disaster declaration for California and his visit to the state earlier Monday.

Pence urged the crowd to vote for Trump; Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.); Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.), who is running for governor; and State Auditor Matt Rosendale (R), who is running to succeed Gianforte in the House. He took aim at Gov. Steve Bullock (D), who is seeking to unseat Daines, telling the crowd that a vote for Bullock “is a vote for the agenda of the radical left.”

He also criticized Biden at length, ridiculing his speech earlier Monday on the wildfires and climate change.

“I think he had some alfalfa behind him or something,” Pence said of Biden, who stood before a field as he delivered his remarks outside the Delaware Museum of Natural History. “He was touting his version of the Green New Deal.”

Pence also took aim at Biden’s support for the protests against systemic racism and police brutality, which have been largely peaceful.

“Joe Biden says that America is systemically racist and that law enforcement has — in his words — ‘an implicit bias against minorities,’” Pence said, falsely accusing Biden of seeking to defund the police.

By Felicia Sonmez
September 14, 2020 at 6:12 PM EDT

Wisconsin Supreme Court rules Green Party presidential ticket is ineligible for state ballot

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Green Party presidential ticket is ineligible to appear on the state ballot, a relief for state and local election officials who feared an addition at this late date would upend election preparations.

The decision comes after the Wisconsin Elections Commission declined Aug. 20 to put presidential contender Howie Hawkins and his Green Party running mate, Angela Walker, on the Nov. 3 ballot because their signature petitions featured two different addresses for Walker.

State election officials had argued that the campaign failed to fix the discrepancy according to state requirements. A reversal of that decision would have triggered a scramble across the state among election officials, who would have had to order new ballots — and find the money to pay for them — while facing imminent state and federal deadlines to send them to voters. Now cities and towns can get back to work mailing out ballots to the more than 1 million Wisconsin voters who have requested them.

In its 4-to-3 ruling, with one conservative voting with the majority, the court said that upending the election was one reason they denied the Green Party’s appeal.

“Even if we would ultimately determine that the petitioners’ claims are meritorious, given their delay in asserting their rights, we would be unable to provide meaningful relief without completely upsetting the election,” the opinion states.

By Amy Gardner
September 14, 2020 at 5:45 PM EDT

Biden campaign introduces program aimed at combating election issues

Biden’s campaign on Monday rolled out a “massive” election protection program that officials described as months in the making to counter foreign interference, misinformation and voter suppression efforts.

The effort will be “the largest in presidential campaign history,” according to the Biden campaign, announcing that longtime Democratic election lawyer Bob Bauer has joined the campaign as a full-time adviser.

“We have an extraordinary national team in place to ensure that every eligible voter is able to exercise their right to vote and have their vote counted,” Bauer said, accusing Trump of communicating “hollow threats” and misinformation about voter access.

In addition, a “national team for special litigation” will include two former solicitors general, Donald Verrilli and Walter Dellinger, as well as the law firm Perkins Coie, where Marc Elias has been leading litigation efforts on behalf of various Democratic committees all year.

Former attorney general Eric Holder will also play a role in the effort, the campaign said.

“We can and will be able to hold a free and fair election this November and we’re putting in place an unprecedented voter protection effort with thousands of lawyers and volunteers around the country to ensure that voting goes smoothly,” said Dana Remus, the Biden campaign’s general counsel.

By Amy Gardner
September 14, 2020 at 5:19 PM EDT

Biden says Justice Department has become Trump’s ‘private lousy law firm’

At the first of two virtual fundraisers Monday, Biden sharply criticized Trump’s use of the Justice Department.

“There’s a quote from Hartley Alexander engraved outside DOJ headquarters, you all know,” Biden said, referring to the late American philosopher and iconographer. “ ‘Where law ends, tyranny begins. Law alone can give us freedom.’ And I think it’s not an exaggeration to say — I’ve been around for a fair amount of time now — and never, never, never, including in the Nixon years when I was a young senator, … I never was as worried as I am today.”

He said one imperative is “making sure the Justice Department is no longer the private lousy law firm of the president of the United States of America.”

“He goes after his enemies. He has them take care of his private business,” Biden said of Trump. “It’s outrageous; those of you who have worked in the department, I can’t believe you even can fathom that it’s happening. It’s like ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ It’s like, what in God’s name is going on?”

Biden went over the ethics policy he would institute, one that he proposed last year. “DOJ can’t be interfered with, and I promise you I’d fire anyone who tries to,” he said.

He was also asked about balancing police restructuring without demonizing police. He indicated that he has been in touch with the police department in Los Angeles County, where two sheriff’s deputies were recently shot in an apparent ambush.

“I had very close relations with most police departments,” he said. “And I’ve been talking — for example, I’ve talked with the sheriff’s department in California where those two young deputy sheriffs were attempted to be assassinated and both alive, thank God. By the grace of God.”

He added: “In talking to the chief of police, talking to the union head and all the rest — you know what people don’t realize is that cops hate bad cops as much as anybody else. The vast majority are decent, honorable people over at an inflection point here, as a nation. It’s past time we fully confront systemic racism.”

The main hosts of the fundraiser, according to the Biden campaign, were former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder; former deputy U.S. attorney general Sally Yates; and several former U.S. attorneys.

By Matt Viser and Felicia Sonmez
September 14, 2020 at 4:46 PM EDT

Kentucky begins printing absentee ballots, but a coronavirus case temporarily shuts down one county election office

The second-largest county in Kentucky on Monday temporarily shuttered its elections department because of a positive coronavirus case, just as the state’s absentee-ballot printing process began across the state for the November election.

Elections employees in Fayette County, home to Lexington, will be isolated in self-quarantine for at least two weeks because of a positive case in the office, with officials hoping to reopen the department on Sept. 28, according to an announcement by the county clerk’s office Monday.

The temporary closure is expected to lead to delays in mailing out ballots to voters who have already requested them. Some may receive their ballots in early October, and others may receive them by the end of this month, the clerk said.

“This is a devastating setback for us,” Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins Jr. said in a statement. “We are in the process of establishing backup processes, but this will definitely have a significant impact.”

Statewide, Democrats have far outpaced Republicans in requesting absentee ballots for November. As of Monday, about 242,000 voters had applied to receive a mail ballot, and nearly 80 percent of those requests were from Democrats, state officials said.

The party breakdown in Kentucky mirrors national trends. A recent Washington Post-University of Maryland poll found that Democrats were far more likely than Republicans to prefer voting by mail in the fall, amid unfounded attacks by President Trump and GOP leaders on the reliability of the mail voting system.

States have seen a surge in requests for absentee ballots as voters seek alternatives to in-person voting because of the coronavirus pandemic. Counties in Kentucky began printing absentee ballots Monday and are expected to begin mailing them out this week. Kentucky is one of as many as 20 states that are scheduled to begin the absentee-ballot printing and mailing process in mid-September, according to The Post’s analysis.

Elise Viebeck contributed to this report.

By Michelle Lee
September 14, 2020 at 4:18 PM EDT

Harris promises immigration reform, coronavirus ‘restart package’ to hospitality union

Sen. Kamala D. Harris, Democratic nominee for vice president, held a virtual town hall Monday with members of UNITE HERE, a major hospitality-workers union that represents many Latino voters in swing states including Nevada, Arizona, Florida and Michigan.

Several Democrats outside the Biden-Harris campaign have urged the ticket to make more of a pitch to Latino voters, particularly in Florida. In her pitch to UNITE HERE members, Harris emphasized the plan of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for immigration reform, and union President D. Taylor advised Harris to talk about the issue more.

“Clearly there’s a large number of folks, whether they be Dreamers or others, that I think need to hear repeatedly how the administration is going to be totally different, not putting kids in cages, not deporting people, but valuing people,” Taylor said. Taylor also announced the union’s endorsement of the Biden-Harris ticket on the call.

In her opening remarks, Harris promised that the Biden-Harris administration would restore DACA on their first day in office, end family separation, and stop work site immigration raids. She also touched on her usual points, saying that President Trump has failed to address the covid-19 crisis, and the economic crisis has hit people of color harder than others.

Members from Nevada, Arizona, and Florida — some of whom lost their hospitality jobs to the coronavirus pandemic — asked Harris questions about how she and Biden would help bring those jobs back. Harris emphasized the need for a “restart package” that would include funding to “state, tribal and local public health departments to certify businesses as ‘safe for shoppers.' " She said the administration would also plan to authorize FEMA to pay restaurants to make meals for the hungry.

“I think [Trump] underestimates the strength of the people of our country," Harris said. "We can deal with just about anything, but deal with us straight. Don’t play games and don’t play us.”

By Chelsea Janes
September 14, 2020 at 4:09 PM EDT

Analysis: The president who says the coronavirus will go away makes the same prediction about global warming

There are a range of policy issues on which Trump’s approach varies dramatically from that of his opponent in this year’s presidential contest. But on none is the difference more stark than on the issue of climate change.

Even on the coronavirus pandemic, Trump at least will occasionally pay lip service to the need to follow the lead of scientific experts. But on atmospheric warming — manifested dramatically in recent weeks in massive wildfires on the West Coast — Trump is far more likely to smirk.

By Philip Bump
September 14, 2020 at 3:26 PM EDT

Trump denies climate change in exchange with California official: ‘I don’t think science knows, actually’

During a briefing with local and federal fire and emergency authorities in McClellan Park, Calif., Trump pushed back against a top official’s assertion that climate change is the primary reason for the wildfires that are devastating much of the Pacific Northwest, declaring that “it’ll start getting cooler.”

Trump did not provide any evidence to back up his claim.

The exchange took place when California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot urged the president to acknowledge that climate change, and not just vegetation management, is a primary driver of the wildfires.

“I think we want to work with you to really recognize the changing climate and what it means to our forests and actually work together with that science,” Crowfoot said. “That science is going to be key, because if we ignore that science and sort of put our head in the sand and think it’s all about vegetation management, we’re not going to succeed together at protecting Californians.”

Trump then interjected: “It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch.”

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

Also participating in the briefing was California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), who, like Crowfoot, emphasized the role that climate change has played in causing the wildfires.

“We feel very strongly the hots are getting hotter, the dries are getting drier,” Newsom said. “Something has happened to the plumbing of the world. And we come from a perspective, humbly, that we assert the science that climate change is real. Please respect the difference of opinion out here with respect to the fundamental issue of climate change.”

“Absolutely,” Trump replied.

Newsom also noted that a majority of California’s forests are owned by the federal government and said that the Trump administration, not just state officials, must take responsibility to improve forest management.

By Felicia Sonmez
September 14, 2020 at 2:43 PM EDT

Biden says he will ‘work like the devil’ to turn out Latino vote

Biden pledged Monday to “work like the devil” to turn out the Latino vote in November, as prominent Latino Democrats are voicing growing concern about his campaign.

Many Latino activists and officials worry that Biden is now playing catch-up, particularly in the pivotal state of Florida, where he will campaign Tuesday — the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month — for the first time as the presidential nominee. Biden’s campaign has said he will be in Tampa and Kissimmee, two areas with large Puerto Rican populations.

“I will talk about how I am going to work like the devil to make sure I turn every Latino and Hispanic vote,” Biden told reporters in Delaware when asked about his plans for Tuesday.

Recent polls by NBC News/Marist and Quinnipiac University show Biden and Trump running about even among Latino voters in Florida — while Clinton outpaced Trump by 27 points with the group four years ago. Similarly, a poll of voters overall in Miami-Dade County, home to many Latinos, showed Trump trailing Biden by 17 points; he lost there by 30 points in 2016.

Biden on Monday acknowledged that he still has work to do. Asked why his polling numbers among Latinos are as low as they currently are, he replied that they are “much higher than his,” referring to Trump.

“But they gotta go higher,” he added.

By Sean Sullivan and Felicia Sonmez
September 14, 2020 at 2:28 PM EDT

Federal judge temporarily blocks Postal Service from sending election mailer to more voters in Colorado

A federal judge late Saturday temporarily blocked the U.S. Postal Service from sending a notice about the November elections to more people in Colorado, finding that the mailer “provides patently false information” about the state’s voting system that could sow confusion among voters.

The ruling arrived hours after the state filed a lawsuit in response to the national mailer, which urges “postal customers” nationwide to “request your mail-in ballot (often called ‘absentee’ ballot) at least 15 days before Election Day."

Voters in Colorado, eight other states and D.C. do not need to request mail ballots for November because their states are already proactively sending them out. Those jurisdictions either conduct universal mail elections or are holding them this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In his order, Judge William J. Martinez of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado wrote that the mailer “provides false or misleading information about the manner of Colorado’s elections” and “likely interferes with Colorado citizens’ fundamental right to vote.”

By Elise Viebeck
September 14, 2020 at 2:16 PM EDT

Biden calls Trump a ‘climate arsonist,’ says his reelection would be catastrophic for the environment

In a speech outside the Delaware Museum of Natural History on Monday afternoon, Biden upbraided Trump for blaming the recent wildfires on residents of western states and warned that the country will face further environmental devastation if the president is reelected.

“The West is literally on fire, and he blames the people whose homes and communities are burning,” Biden said of Trump.

In recent weeks, Trump has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that Democrats will “destroy” America’s suburbs. In his remarks Monday, Biden turned that message on his head, arguing that the suburbs are at greater risk from the environmental damage that would accompany a second Trump term.

“If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires?” Biden said. “How many suburban neighborhoods will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms? If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more of America ablaze?”

He noted that 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.”

While he harshly criticized Trump’s record on climate change, Biden also struck a tone of bipartisanship, calling for a response based on science rather than politics.

“Here’s the deal: Hurricanes don’t swerve to avoid red states or blue states,” he said. “Wildfires don’t skip towns that voted a certain way. The impacts of climate change don’t pick and choose. That’s because it’s not a partisan phenomenon. It’s science. And our response should be the same — grounded in science.”

By Felicia Sonmez