Democratic nominee Joe Biden paid his respects Friday to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she became the first woman to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol, while President Trump was putting in a full day on the campaign trail with stops in Florida, Georgia and Virginia and a fundraiser at his hotel in Washington.

Biden and top congressional Democrats stood before Ginsburg’s flag-draped casket to honor her. Missing from the ceremony at the Capitol was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is pressing ahead with confirmation of Ginsburg’s replacement despite her dying wish that she not be replaced until a new president is inaugurated.

With 39 days until the election …
  • Biden dismissed Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, offering confidence that Trump will leave the White House if he loses the election.
  • Trump promised that if reelected he will create 3 million new jobs for Black Americans, promote creation of 5,000 new Black-owned businesses, increase access to capital in Black neighborhoods and make Juneteenth a national holiday. He did not say how he would fund the proposals.
  • Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, were among the dignitaries who honored Ginsburg on Friday as she lay in state in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall.
  • Biden leads Trump by eight percentage points nationally, 51 percent to 43 percent, according to a Washington Post average of polls. Biden’s margin is the same in Michigan and Pennsylvania and smaller in other key states: seven points in Wisconsin, five in Arizona and one in Florida.
  • Are you planning on watching the first presidential debate? The Washington Post wants to hear from you.
September 25, 2020 at 5:44 PM EDT
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LGBT rights group argues Democrats can win on ‘equality’ in swing states

By David Weigel

The Human Rights Campaign is urging candidates to emphasize their support for LGBTQ rights and the Equality Act in swing states, arguing that transgender rights — a target of some conservative advertising — is a political winner.

“Where candidates are running against equality, we can use that against them,” said JoDee Winterhof, the HRC’s vice president for political affairs. “It actually makes people more likely to support the pro-equality candidate when they know the other person on the ballot is against this.”

The HRC, which is conducting its own polling in battleground states, is focused on issues such as the transgender military ban, religious liberties exceptions that allow business to deny service to LGBTQ customers and the Equality Act, which the Democratic-led House passed in 2019.

The American Principles Project, an 11-year-old conservative group, has been running digital ads since last year that warn against expanded transgender rights. Last month, APP began a $5 million digital ad buy in Michigan that warned voters that Biden and Democratic Sen. Gary Peters (Mich.), by supporting the Equality Act, would force schools to let boys compete in girls’ sports, and risk psychological damage by allowing minors to identify with a gender they were not assigned at birth.

“Children need time,” says Kevin Whitt, a former drag queen, in one of APP’s ads. “Politicians like Gary Peters, who support gender change treatment for minors, are taking that time away.”

APP, which ran similar ads in 2019′s race for governor of Kentucky, has focused on the Midwest this cycle, targeting voters who it thinks might be motivated to switch their vote when they hear about the effects of the Equality Act. The HRC casts the bill as an effort to ban “discrimination against LGBTQ people in government-funded programs and housing” as well as denying services to LGBTQ people. The right’s focus on the issues affecting children, argued Winterhof, suggested it was a response to the waning power of other messages, like the campaign to stop businesses from opening gender-neutral bathrooms.

“The right has gone after us on myriad issues,” Winterhof said. “They keep trying to pick something new. It’s like a game of whack-a-mole.”

Public polling has found Biden and Peters ahead in Michigan, and Biden also leading in Wisconsin, where the APP recently began running the ads. Terry Schilling, the APP’s executive director, said that the group’s research found voters moving away from Democrats when the effects of pro-transgender policy changes were presented on APP’s terms.

“The Human Rights Campaign is deluding themselves,” Schilling said. “Americans have equality in their hearts, and have since the founding of this country. But once they start figuring out what ‘equality’ means in the Equality Act, they oppose it. It means letting boys compete against our girls in sports. It means banning children from getting professional help to feel comfortable in their own bodies.”

September 25, 2020 at 4:18 PM EDT
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Ginsburg’s final class of clerks recall her unwavering dedication to law and life

By Emily Davies

It was a challenge for almost everyone to transition from in-person to virtual work when the pandemic took hold in March. But Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg mastered Zoom with apparent ease.

“We were all hesitant about how well the justice would handle Zoom on her own, but it turned out she was a Zoom pro,” said Alyssa Barnard-Yanni, who clerked for Ginsburg in what would be her final full term. “Apparently she had been Zooming with her family every week.”

The young lawyers who scored Ginsburg’s last full-term clerkship saw her through a historic pandemic and, ultimately, some of her final days on the court. They describe their late boss as a woman full of drive and joy, whose famous conviction went uninterrupted by one health crisis that gripped the world and another one that transpired quietly inside her own body.

Even while she was in and out of the hospital, Ginsburg lived up to her reputation as a stickler for clear and concise prose. When her clerks handed in drafts of opinions, they knew that the justice would fill the margins with notes before she called them into her office for hours (and often days) of reviews. Come March, the same process unfolded over the phone.

September 25, 2020 at 3:47 PM EDT
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Biden on Trump’s refusal to commit to peaceful transition: ‘He’ll leave.’

By Colby Itkowitz

Joe Biden dismissed President Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, offering confidence that Trump will leave the White House if beat.

“Look this is typical Trump distraction, trying to make everyone wonder whether the election will be legit,” Biden said. “I just think the people of this country are going to be heard Nov. 3, every vote in this country is going to be heard, they’ll not be stopped."

American voters will “not be stopped, and I’m confident — all the irresponsible, outrageous attacks on voting — we’ll have an election in this country as we always have had. And he’ll leave,” Biden said, delivering the last sentence with a chuckle.

The Democratic presidential nominee gave that assessment during a Friday afternoon interview with MSNBC in which he was asked what he would do if Trump loses but refuses to concede.

Biden was first asked about Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transition a few days ago, and said incredulously, “What country are we in?”

The former vice president has previously given assurances that Trump will be forced out if he refuses to leave. In June, Biden said, “I promise you, I’m absolutely convinced they will escort him from the White House with great dispatch.”

Biden said Friday he’s not worried about Trump not leaving, but is concerned that the president’s rhetoric about the results “unsettles society, or causes some kind of violence...but I think the American people are on to this guy.”

In the MSNBC interview, Biden also had a warning for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“My message to Vladimir Putin is that if I’m elected, I’m coming,” Biden said. “It’s a violation of our sovereignty...but i promise you there will be consequences if I win."

September 25, 2020 at 3:41 PM EDT
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Trump campaign’s second-term agenda for Black Americans would make Juneteenth a federal holiday

By Anne Gearan

President Trump promised Friday that if reelected he will create 3 million new jobs for Black Americans, promote creation of 5,000 new Black-owned businesses, increase access to capital in Black neighborhoods and make Juneteenth a national holiday.

“I keep my promises,” Trump said at an event unveiling the “Platinum Plan” for what the campaign called “Black Economic Empowerment.”

He did not say how he would fund those proposals.

Trump noted that most Black Americans have voted Democratic and argued that their economic prospects are better with him.

“But every day more Black Americans are deciding that the old way is not working,” he said to applause.

Trump also pledged to continue to work toward criminal justice reform and to create “a new national clemency project” to revisit unjust prosecutions or overly long sentences.

Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865, the day a few months after the end of the Civil War when some enslaved people in Texas learned they were free. It is honored as a holiday in some cities and by some workplaces, but Trump’s program would make the observance nationwide.

Trump predicted he will win with a record percentage of the Black vote, and he repeated a controversial appeal to Black voters: “What the hell do you have to lose?” he said, to laughter.

The event in suburban Atlanta included addresses by Trump’s only Black Cabinet member, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Black ministers and former NFL star Herschel Walker.

A video that aired before Trump took the stage included Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s annoyed response earlier this year that “you ain’t Black” if you can’t tell whether he or Trump would do more for Black people.

Trump mocked Biden for conducting most of his presidential campaign virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“By the way, he’s staying in again today,” Trump joked.

Biden issued a statement about Trump’s campaign stop in Georgia that focused on the president’s handling of the pandemic.

“Four years ago, President Trump ran on a platform to make America great again. Yet under President Trump’s failed leadership, nearly 6,800 Georgians have died from the coronavirus,” nearly half of them Black, Biden said.

“And, in the midst of this global health pandemic and economic crisis, President Trump is still working to tear down the Affordable Care Act and take away protections for Georgians with preexisting conditions,” Biden said.

September 25, 2020 at 3:00 PM EDT
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Harris calls Black Lives Matter ‘the most significant agent for change within the criminal justice system’

By Chelsea Janes

Sen. Kamala D. Harris would not say exactly how she, a former prosecutor, would have charged the officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s shooting. When interviewed by Angela Rye as part of a virtual address to the NAACP’s annual convention Friday, the vice-presidential candidate said only that the decision was “a gut punch” and “there needs to be transparency about what happened, and that family and that community deserve justice.”

But Harris was more direct about the influence of the Black Lives Matter movement, which stirred awareness of the circumstances of Taylor’s death and drew millions into the streets across the country to protest the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police.

“History is going to show [BLM] was an inflection point in the ongoing fight for justice and to reform the criminal justice system,” Harris said. “I actually believe, as a former prosecutor, that Black Lives Matter has been the most significant agent for change within the criminal justice system because it has been a counterforce to the force within the system that is so grounded in status quo and in its own traditions.”

Harris has been a consistent messenger in support of Black Lives Matter since the deaths of Taylor, George Floyd and others in recent months. While opponents often criticized her record as a prosecutor during the Democratic primary, Harris has spent months reaching out to Black activists and championing causes — such as criminal justice reform and eliminating racial disparities in health-care outcomes — in her role as a California senator. Since joining presidential candidate Joe Biden on the Democratic ticket, she has conducted several events with Black voters, and Rye asked her what she would say to undecided Black Americans after President Trump’s campaign released its plan for Black Americans on Friday.

“There is not a Black woman or man who gives birth to their son who, from the first time they hold that baby in their hand, do not start praying that the life of that child through his life will be safe and respected and valued. And that’s a reality in America,” Harris said.

“We need leadership in our country who respects and values that life from the day he is born through the course of his life in a way that understands and respects the role historically he has played to help build this nation and the role he plays around the world in his role of leadership. We have so many examples of that — that history Donald Trump is trying to ignore or erase, see the 1619 project.”

September 25, 2020 at 2:23 PM EDT
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Analysis: What we know about those discarded Trump ballots in Pennsylvania

By Philip Bump

Luzerne County, Pa., is Trump country. The president won the county by nearly 20 points four years ago and has returned multiple times since, holding rallies in the county seat of Wilkes-Barre in 2018 and at a manufacturing facility in the county in the past month.

It is not, in other words, the sort of place where you’d assume that Democratic operatives would launch an effort to subvert the 2020 election. Yet over the past 24 hours, that’s been the subtext to assertions made by the president, the White House and the Department of Justice — a subtext which by now seems almost entirely false.

The apparent first mention of a problem with ballots cast by military voters in the county came from Trump himself in a radio interview with Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade.

“These ballots are a horror show,” Trump said, continuing his long-standing — and false — claims about mail-in ballots. “They found six ballots in an office yesterday in a garbage can. They were Trump ballots — eight ballots in an office yesterday in — but in a certain state and they were — they had Trump written on it, and they were thrown in a garbage can.”

September 25, 2020 at 2:18 PM EDT
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Majority says winner of presidential election should nominate next Supreme Court justice, Post-ABC poll finds

By Scott Clement and Emily Guskin

A majority of Americans oppose efforts by Trump and the Republican-led Senate to fill a Supreme Court vacancy before the presidential election, with most Biden supporters saying the issue has raised the stakes of the election, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The Post-ABC poll, conducted Monday to Thursday, finds 38 percent of Americans say the replacement for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last week, should be nominated by Trump and confirmed by the current Senate, while 57 percent say it should be left to the winner of the presidential election and a Senate vote next year.

Partisans are deeply divided on the issue, though clear majorities of political independents (61 percent) and women (64 percent) say the next justice should be chosen by the winner of this fall’s election, including about half of each group who feel this way “strongly.”

September 25, 2020 at 1:41 PM EDT
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Bloomberg announces $40 million in spending on pro-Biden ads in Florida

By John Wagner

A political action committee funded by former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg on Friday announced $40 million in television ads in Florida aimed at mobilizing voters to support Biden over Trump.

In a statement, Bloomberg, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination before endorsing Biden, will focus on key election issues, including “Trump’s mismanagement of the pandemic, Trump’s numerous attempts to repeal the [Affordable Care Act] and Biden’s economic plan that will lift middle class families.”

Bloomberg said the ads would air daily until Election Day in all 10 Florida media markets on broadcast and cable television.

The ads are part of a commitment by Bloomberg to spend at least $100 million in Florida to help elect Biden.

Earlier this week, a pair of advocacy groups announced Bloomberg was underwriting the cost of a $6 million Spanish-language ad campaign focused on Latino voters in Florida.

That campaign, directed by Priorities USA Action and the Latino Victory Fund, will include television and radio ads in the Miami, Orlando and Tampa markets, the groups said.

Bloomberg and his team have come under scrutiny in recent days for raising more than $16 million to pay the court fines and fees of nearly 32,000 Black and Hispanic Florida voters with felony convictions, an effort aimed at boosting turnout for Biden.

Earlier this week, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) requested an investigation of “potential violations of election laws.”

September 25, 2020 at 1:40 PM EDT
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Georgia Democrats see Peach State as a bona fide battleground

By Vanessa Williams

Democrats in Georgia are touting big increases in registrations among traditionally liberal voters and polls showing the presidential contest tied as evidence that the Peach State is a bona fide battleground for the November election.

Stacey Abrams, the former gubernatorial candidate and national voting rights activist, said this week that Georgia Democrats are “on the cusp of delivering 16 electoral votes for the presidency” and are “hyper competitive” in two Senate races on the ballot.

Trump is scheduled to visit Atlanta on Friday for a rally with Black supporters, at which he plans to tout an economic empowerment program.

Abrams, founder of Fair Fight, which focuses on challenging laws and policies that restrict access to voting, said during a Zoom call with reporters this week that since her narrow loss to Gov. Brian Kemp (R) in 2018, “a record 800,000 new voters have been added to the rolls in Georgia.”

She said that 45 percent of those new voters are under the age of 30 and that 49 percent are people of color. The data was collected from the Georgia Secretary of State’s office and Georgiavotes.com.

Abrams also reported an increase in voters requesting absentee ballots.

Abrams, who came within 1.4 percentage points of becoming the nation’s first Black female governor, said her group and others have been in court and will continue their fight against efforts by Republican officials and activists to restrict mail-in voting or require ballots be received on Election Day.

A poll this week commissioned by the Atlanta Journal Constitution had Trump tied with Biden at 47 percent, with only 4 percent of voters saying they were undecided.

Stewart Bragg, executive director of the Georgia Republican Party, said he was busy preparing for Trump’s visit and was unable to immediately comment.

Abrams called the president’s visit “a fool’s errand.”

September 25, 2020 at 1:00 PM EDT
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Female lawmakers gather on steps as Ginsburg’s coffin departs Capitol

By John Wagner

With four rows of female lawmakers lined up on the east steps of the Capitol to pay their respects, Ginsburg’s flag-draped coffin was carried back to the hearse in which it had arrived a little more than three hours earlier.

The bipartisan group of House and Senate members placed their hands across their hearts as the coffin was carried down the steps, and then waved goodbye as the hearse left the Capitol complex.

Ginsburg will be buried in a private ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery next week.

September 25, 2020 at 12:56 PM EDT
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Trump courts Latinos, warning America is turning into countries they fled

By Colby Itkowitz

In courting Florida Latinos, a crucial slice of the electorate in a state integral to his reelection, Trump warned of a future America that resembles the socialist Latin America countries their families left.

“You know, it could happen here,” Trump said. “This would be a Venezuela on major steroids, okay? This would be Venezuela. That would be a very large version of it, but it could happen … But we’re not going to let it happen. It doesn’t happen with me, but you put the wrong people in office, though, it could happen, it could happen and rapidly.”

Trump’s pitch — that he’s the one standing between America the free and America a socialist nation — has strong appeal to some Hispanic voters. One woman from Nicaragua echoed Trump’s rhetoric, telling him: “I saw my country change in a few years. When people say it’s not going to happen or it would take forever to change, that’s not the reality. It happens quick.”

The Trump campaign’s strategic outreach to Latino voters in Florida has the potential to swing the state. A Washington Post/ABC News poll released this week showed Trump with a slight lead over Biden there. The poll, which surveyed voters in Florida and Arizona, found Biden’s support among Hispanics across the two states to be lagging that of Hillary Clinton’s in 2016.

Biden’s average support among Latino voters across the two states was 13 points higher than Trump’s with that demographic. Clinton beat Trump with Florida Hispanics by 27 points and still lost the state.

September 25, 2020 at 12:41 PM EDT
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Defense secretary and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff honor Ginsburg

By Donna Cassata

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff joined lawmakers and Capitol Hill aides in paying tribute to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Most of the joint chiefs were accompanied by their spouses as they stood in front of the coffin, heads bowed and hands clasped in front for several minutes.

Capitol Hill staff members also had the opportunity to say their goodbyes, keeping a distance in the hall.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) brought his young daughter, who carried a book titled “I Look Up to … Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”

September 25, 2020 at 11:59 AM EDT
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Trump administration rescinded Courage Award for woman who criticized Trump

By John Hudson

The Trump administration rescinded an award recognizing the work of a journalist from Finland last year after discovering she had criticized Trump in social media posts, then gave a false explanation for withdrawing the honor, according to a report by the State Department’s internal watchdog.

The report tracks how the discovery of the journalist’s remarks worried senior U.S. officials and prompted a decision to withdraw the honor to avoid a possible public relations debacle.

The report’s release is likely to worsen tensions between the department’s leadership and the inspector general’s office, which has undergone several shake-ups following the firing of Inspector General Steve Linick in the spring at the request of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

September 25, 2020 at 11:38 AM EDT
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Harris says Ginsburg cleared a path ‘knowing that people like me could follow’

By John Wagner

Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala D. Harris said Friday that Ginsburg had cleared a path for women like her to thrive.

“It’s very important, I think, that in the midst of being 39 days away from an election that we honor one of the, I think, greatest Americans, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in terms of all that she did, all that she inspired, all that she empowered, both legally and just in terms of the way she lived her life,” Harris told reporters after she attended a memorial service for Ginsburg at the Capitol.

Asked whether Ginsburg had cleared a path for her, Harris, who served as attorney general in California before her election as a U.S. senator, said, “Absolutely.”

“Because she first of all made America see what leadership looks like, and in the law, in terms of public service, and she broke so many barriers,” Harris said. “And I know that she did it intentionally, knowing that people like me could follow.”