Former vice president Joe Biden accused President Trump of trying to dismantle insurance protections for preexisting health conditions, one day after the president named federal appellate judge Amy Coney Barrett as his choice to fill the vacancy left by the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Biden’s remarks underscored Democrats’ strategy of focusing on the effect that Barrett’s confirmation would have on the Affordable Care Act.

Trump, meanwhile, held a news conference at which he defended Barrett and pushed back against a bombshell New York Times report outlining his personal finances. According to the report, Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and paid nothing in income taxes for 10 of the previous 15 years. Trump dismissed the report as “totally fake news,” but did not give any details about how much he has paid in taxes.

With 37 days until the election …
  • A majority of Americans, 57 percent, say the winner of November’s presidential election should choose the next Supreme Court justice, while 38 percent say Trump should fill the seat.
  • Barrett, a disciple of the late justice Antonin Scalia, is poised to push the Supreme Court further right for decades to come.
  • After two political conventions, the continuing spread of the novel coronavirus, economic dislocation and more racial upheaval in the country, Biden holds a steady advantage over Trump, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
September 27, 2020 at 6:46 PM EDT
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Trump dismisses New York Times report that he paid nothing in income taxes for 10 years, but dodges questions about details

By Felicia Sonmez

At a White House news conference Sunday night, Trump pushed back against a bombshell New York Times report outlining his personal finances, dismissing it as “totally fake news.”

“It’s fake news. It’s totally fake news. Made up, fake," Trump said. "We went through the same stories -- you could have asked me the same questions four years ago. I had to litigate this and talk about it. Totally fake news.”

According to the report, Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and paid nothing in income taxes for 10 of the previous 15 years. The report also states that Trump “is personally responsible for loans and other debts totaling $421 million, with most of it coming due within four years.”

At the news conference, Trump dodged reporters’ questions about how much he claims to have actually paid in taxes, citing the reason he has given for the past several years: that his tax returns are under audit by the Internal Revenue Service.

“The IRS does not treat me well. They treat me like the tea party, like they treated the tea party. ... They treat me very badly," Trump said, in an apparent reference to the agency’s 2017 settlement with conservative-leaning groups that said they were being unfairly scrutinized. He added that when his returns are no longer under audit, “I would be proud to show it.”

At one point, a reporter asked Trump, “Can you give people an idea how much you actually are paying?”

“Yeah, basically -- well, first of all, I’ve paid a lot, and I paid a lot in state income taxes, too,” Trump replied. "New York state charges a lot. And I’ve paid a lot of money in state. It’ll all be revealed. It’s going to come out, but after the audit.”

He added that the IRS is “doing their assessment” and that “we’ve been negotiating for a long time.”

In response to another reporter’s question about the specific amount he has paid in federal income taxes, Trump first berated the reporter, then said, “I look forward to releasing that. I look forward to releasing many things. I’m going to release many things. People will be really shocked."

September 27, 2020 at 5:28 PM EDT
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Pelosi: Democrats must control more state delegations in the House in case they decide the election

By Hannah Knowles

Warning that state delegations within the House of Representatives could end up choosing the next president, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is urging fellow Democrats to boost candidates in key races.

Democrats control the House and have focused much of their efforts on retaking the Senate, especially as the Republican-dominated chamber looks poised to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. But in an email Sunday afternoon to colleagues, Pelosi laid out a scenario in which Republicans in the House give Trump another term.

Pelosi noted Trump’s recent comments that counting votes will take “forever” and that he would have an advantage if the election eventually “goes to Congress."

“He was suggesting that if GOP leaders can hold up the final election results so that Joe Biden doesn’t get 270 electoral votes certified, the 12th Amendment would require the House to decide the presidential contest,” Pelosi wrote. “But instead of giving every Member of Congress a vote, the 12th Amendment gives each state one vote, which is determined by a vote of the state’s delegation.”

Republicans control 26 of those delegations, Pelosi said, while two — Pennsylvania and Michigan — are tied and 22 are controlled by Democrats.

“In other words,” the speaker said, bolding and underlining, “how many state delegations the Democrats win in this upcoming election could determine who our next President is.” She said Democrats must take away Republicans’ majority of delegations and urged support for the House Majority PAC, which is supporting candidates in important districts.

“It’s sad we have to have to plan this way, but it’s what we must do to ensure the election is not stolen,” Pelosi said.

September 27, 2020 at 4:59 PM EDT
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Everything you need to know about the 2020 presidential debates

By Amber Phillips

The first debate between Trump and Biden is scheduled to take place Tuesday, and two more presidential debates are set for Oct. 15 and 22. The debate between Vice President Pence and Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) is slated for Oct. 7.

The candidates will appear onstage but far apart, and the audience will be smaller than in years past. The first debate will have about 80 to 90 people in the audience. The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates said that it will follow all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and that it has retained Cleveland Clinic as a health security adviser for the debates.

September 27, 2020 at 4:09 PM EDT
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Appeals court halts injunction that gave extra time for mail ballot counting in Wisconsin

By Elise Viebeck and Hannah Knowles

A federal appeals court on Sunday stayed a lower court’s injunction that would have allowed mail ballots in Wisconsin to count if postmarked by Election Day and received up to six days later. The typical deadline for mail ballots to be received is 8 p.m. on Election Day.

The injunction, a victory for Democrats in a closely watched swing state, is on hold pending further review, according to the order issued Sunday afternoon by the Seventh Circuit. District Judge William Conley, who issued the injunction last week, had expressed fears that tens of thousands of voters could be disenfranchised.

“Election workers’ and voters’ experiences during Wisconsin’s primary election in April, which took place at the outset of the COVID-19 crisis, have convinced the court that some, limited relief from statutory deadlines for mail-in registration and absentee voting is again necessary to avoid an untenable impingement on Wisconsin citizens’ right to vote,” Conley wrote in a 69-page opinion.

The Seventh Circuit’s judges include Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. Pushing for Barrett’s swift appointment, which would cement a conservative majority, Trump has suggested the Supreme Court could play a decisive role in the presidential election.

The Seventh Circuit’s order was not signed and did not include an explanation or the number of judges who agreed.

Conley had also told the state to extend its online and mail-in voter registration deadline by one week, from Oct. 14 to Oct. 21. He said voters who requested but did not receive mail ballots must have the option of accessing replacement ballots online or via email between Oct. 22 and Oct. 29.

Conley had put his injunction extending ballot-counting time on hold for seven days to allow the other side time to appeal.

September 27, 2020 at 3:48 PM EDT
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‘All in’ for Trump: These White men, the strongest Trump supporters, say they can’t be swayed

By Jenna Johnson

SANDUSKY, Ohio — The parade of boats was decked out in flags and banners screaming support for Trump, led by a barge that had been used in previous summers for bikini-tops-optional parties on Sandusky Bay but was now laden with 10 cannons and a crane holding up a 22-by-15-foot American flag. It flapped in the wind as the cannons fired.

There were motorcycles and pickup trucks on the shore and an antique military plane in the sky. Trump flags seemed to far outnumber American ones; at least one Confederate flag flew among them. The dozen or so men firing the cannons wore red hats embroidered with Trump’s name and praise for the president. They shouted strings of excited obscenities as they marveled at the hundreds of boats behind them.

“There are still people coming to get into the parade!” exclaimed Shaun Bickley, 54, the barge owner who organized the parade and would later change into a black tank top with “Trump 2020” and an expletive written around an American-flag skull. “Man, do you see all of these people?”

September 27, 2020 at 3:09 PM EDT
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Schumer says he won’t meet with Barrett because ‘the whole process has been illegitimate’

By Felicia Sonmez

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday that he will not meet with Barrett, becoming the most prominent Senate Democrat to spurn a meeting with Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.

At a news conference in New York, Schumer said he doesn’t plan to meet with Barrett “because I believe, first, that the whole process has been illegitimate, and, second, because she has already stated that she is for overturning the ACA.”

Protecting the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, has become a cornerstone of Democratic messaging efforts in the wake of Trump’s nomination of Barrett.

Several Senate Democrats, including Richard J. Durbin (Ill.) and Cory Booker (N.J.), said Sunday that they are open to meeting with Barrett. But others, including Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), have signaled they won’t meet one on one with Trump’s nominee.

“If Judge Barrett’s views become law, hundreds of millions of Americans living w/pre-existing conditions would lose access to their health care. In the middle of a pandemic, rushing confirmation of an extreme jurist who will decimate health care is unconscionable,” Blumenthal tweeted Saturday. “I will refuse to treat this process as legitimate & will not meet with Judge Amy Coney Barrett.”

Gillibrand tweeted a similar message Sunday: “I will not meet with Judge Amy Coney Barrett. This nomination process is illegitimate. I refuse to participate in the further degradation of our democracy and our judiciary.”

September 27, 2020 at 2:08 PM EDT
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Biden leads Trump in Michigan and Wisconsin, NBC News polls show

By Felicia Sonmez

Two new NBC News-Marist polls show Biden leading Trump in the battleground states of Michigan and Wisconsin, with a majority of likely voters in both states saying the winner of the November election should get to choose a nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In Michigan, Biden wins the support of 52 percent of likely voters compared with 44 percent for Trump. In Wisconsin, Biden is leading Trump 54 percent to 44 percent among likely voters.

Trump narrowly won Michigan and Wisconsin over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016. In both states, his margin of victory was among the slimmest of any that year.

As the battle over the Supreme Court ramps up, 54 percent of likely voters in Michigan say the winner of the November election should decide the nominee to succeed Ginsburg. Fifty-six percent of likely voters in Wisconsin say the same. By contrast, 35 percent in Michigan and 37 percent in Wisconsin say Trump should immediately fill the seat.

The Michigan poll was conducted Sept. 19-23 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points among likely voters. The Wisconsin poll was conducted Sept. 20-24 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.

September 27, 2020 at 1:21 PM EDT
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New polls show Biden and Trump tied in North Carolina, Georgia

By Felicia Sonmez

New polling by CBS News shows Biden and Trump locked in a virtual tie in two key states — Georgia and North Carolina — with a majority of Democratic voters in both states saying the Supreme Court fight has made them more energized about voting in November.

Trump is winning the support of 47 percent of likely voters in Georgia, while 46 percent back Biden, according to the survey. In North Carolina, 46 percent of likely voters back Trump and 48 percent support Biden.

Sixty percent of likely Democratic voters in both states say the debate over the Supreme Court makes them more motivated to vote in November. Forty-six percent of likely GOP voters in Georgia and 47 percent in North Carolina said the same.

The poll also shows that 58 percent of likely voters in North Carolina approve of the Affordable Care Act, while 42 percent disapprove. Those figures could help explain why Democrats are focusing on health care — rather than on abortion rights — in the battle over Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.

Last month, a CBS News poll showed Biden taking 48 percent to Trump’s 44 percent among likely voters in North Carolina, while in Georgia, Biden took 46 percent to Trump’s 45 percent.

In South Carolina’s Senate race, former state Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison is winning the support of 44 percent of likely voters, compared with 45 percent for Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R). And in North Carolina, former state senator Cal Cunningham (D) is leading Sen. Thom Tillis (R) 48 percent to 38 percent.

The latest CBS News polls were conducted Sept. 22-25 and have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points in Georgia and 3.6 percentage points in North Carolina.

September 27, 2020 at 1:01 PM EDT
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Biden says health-care coverage at risk as he implores Senate Republicans not to move forward on Barrett

By Matt Viser

Biden pilloried Trump for naming a Supreme Court pick just about a month before the presidential election, and he implored Senate Republicans to defer a confirmation vote until the election is decided.

Moving forward on Barrett, Biden said Sunday in Wilmington, Del., “would be an irreversible step toward the brink. And a betrayal of a single quality that America is born and built on: The people decide.”

“Just because you have the power to do something doesn’t absolve you of your responsibility to do right by the American people,” he added. “Uphold your constitutional duty, summon your conscience, stand up for the people, stand up for our cherished system of checks and balances.”

Biden declined several questions about whether he would support installing additional justices on the Supreme Court if Republicans proceed with the Barrett confirmation, a threat that some Democrats have been weighing as a way to make the consequences clear to the Republicans.

“The American public will vote on the Senate races this election, and they’ll vote Republicans out of office,” he said. “That’s the consequence.”

Biden largely focused on the potential threat to the Affordable Care Act as the Supreme Court hears another challenge to President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law in the week after Election Day.

“Before Justice Ginsburg could be laid to rest and after 100,000 Americans had already cast their ballots, the president nominated a successor to her seat,” Biden said. “It’s no mystery about what’s happening here. President Trump is trying to throw out the Affordable Care Act, and he’s been trying to do it for the last four years.”

Biden pointed to Barrett’s past objections to the ACA and said Trump’s goal in nominating her is to dispatch with the law altogether.

“More than 100 million people with preexisting conditions like asthma, diabetes and cancer could once again be denied coverage,” Biden said. “Complications from covid-19 like lung scarring and heart damage could become the next flood of preexisting conditions used as an excuse to deny coverage to millions of people.”

September 27, 2020 at 12:47 PM EDT
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Meadows defends Pa. ballot investigation, questions need for stricter coronavirus vaccine standards

By Paige Winfield Cunningham

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows denied that Trump is undermining confidence in the election process by repeatedly suggesting there will be widespread voter fraud.

“I don’t know that he’s publicly undermining confidence as much as promoting the facts,” Meadows said Sunday morning on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.”

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud; a Washington Post analysis found that Trump has peddled false claims or imaginary threats about voting by mail at least 100 times this year.

Meadows said Trump believes the Justice Department’s recently announced investigation into a handful of discarded mail-in ballots warrants a widespread look at the possibility of voter fraud happening in other places, too.

Last week, the Justice Department said it is investigating nine discarded ballots found in northeastern Pennsylvania. The Trump campaign immediately seized upon the news to claim evidence of a Democratic conspiracy to tamper with the election.

Meadows didn’t answer directly when pressed by host Margaret Brennan on whether Trump has confidence in FBI Director Christopher A. Wray.

“They need to investigate it and make sure that the voting populace makes sure that their vote counts and no one else’s does,” Meadows said. “We want to make sure he’s doing his job. There are different degrees of confidence in different Cabinet members. And, certainly, he’s still there.”

Meadows also questioned whether the Food and Drug Administration should issue stricter standards for approving a coronavirus vaccine. The move could help shore up public trust in the vaccine development process, but Trump has publicly threatened to block the guidance, which is being considered by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

According to a report by The Post, Meadows told FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn on Wednesday that the agency must provide a detailed justification for the new guidance. Asked by Brennan about that conversation, Meadows didn’t deny it took place and reiterated his skepticism that stricter guidance is needed.

“We’re trying to make sure that the guidance we give is not a inhibitor to getting things out fast but it also doesn’t detract from it,” he said.

September 27, 2020 at 11:59 AM EDT
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Booker says Supreme Court will be ‘further delegitimized’ if Barrett participates in any election-related decisions

By Felicia Sonmez

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said Sunday he plans to meet with Barrett but argued that, if confirmed to the Supreme Court, the newest justice should recuse herself from any decisions related to the November election.

If she does not, Booker said, the Supreme Court “will be further delegitimized.”

“It’s my intention to do so,” the senator said when asked on NBC News’s “Meet the Press” whether he intends to meet with Barrett. “I think you know my spirit, which is to sit down and meet with people and talk to them. And I’m going to make it very clear. One of the things I want to ask her is, will she recuse herself in terms of any election issues that come before us, because if she does not recuse herself, I fear that the court will be further delegitimized.”

Booker noted Trump has suggested he won’t accept the results of the election unless he wins and that he plans to take the matter to the Supreme Court if he loses.

“My larger hope is that the Republican Party realizes they’re undermining their legitimacy [and] the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, and that they stop what they’re doing and wait until the American public has spoken in this election,” Booker told host Chuck Todd.

September 27, 2020 at 11:52 AM EDT
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‘I think I prepare every day’: Trump declines to detail preparations for debate against Biden

By Felicia Sonmez

President Trump on Sunday declined to detail the steps he is taking to prepare for his first presidential debate next week against Joe Biden, suggesting serving as president every day gives him all the preparation he needs.

“I think I prepare every day,” Trump said in a “Fox & Friends” interview that aired Sunday morning. “I think, you know, when you’re president, you sort of see everything that they’re going to be asking. And they may disagree with you, but we’ve done a great job.”

The president went on to defend his record on handling the economy, the coronavirus pandemic and other issues, without providing any specifics on his debate preparation.

Trump and Biden are set to face off Sept. 29 at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland in a 90-minute debate moderated by Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace.

In contrast to Trump, Biden last week took some time off the campaign trail to prepare for this week’s debate.

Trump also on Sunday weighed in on the Supreme Court confirmation process, saying he believes Barrett will be confirmed “probably long before the election” but also argued “you have all the way to January 20th.”

“So, I mean, who would not do this?” he said on “Fox & Friends.” “They say, ‘Well, why didn’t you wait for the next —.’ Well, elections have consequences. And we won the election. We have the Senate. We have the presidency.”

September 27, 2020 at 11:31 AM EDT
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Cotton says ‘of course’ Trump will concede if Supreme Court rules that he lost the election

By Felicia Sonmez

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Sunday dismissed President Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the November election, arguing “what the president was saying is that he is not going to concede in advance.”

“We have been transferring the office of the presidency from one person to the next since 1796,” Cotton said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I’m confident it’s going to happen again in January 2025, after President Trump finishes his second term.”

Pressed on whether he was alarmed by Trump’s comments, Cotton pointed to the president’s concerns about mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic.

“He’s since said that if there is a clear winner, if the court settles the contested election, that, of course, he will” concede, Cotton said. “But the premise of the question that you just played me is the president’s going to lose. I don’t think the president is going to lose. The president is going to win.”

Trump has repeatedly asserted if he doesn’t win, it will be because of fraudulent mail-in voting and not because more Americans voted against him. His remarks have prompted some Republican lawmakers to affirm the role the peaceful transfer of power has played in U.S. democracy — although, notably, most of them did not mention Trump directly.

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Trump’s former national security adviser, on Sunday was one of the few to directly criticize the president over the remarks.

“Well, what I think is, is that it’s a gift to our adversaries — right? — who want to shake our confidence in who we are, shake our confidence in our democratic principles and institutions and processes,” McMaster said on NBC News’s “Meet the Press” when asked about Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power.

McMaster noted that Russia, in particular, “has engaged in this campaign of disruption, disinformation and denial. And if the Russians can just use our own words against us, that’s the best way to pull us apart from one another.”

September 27, 2020 at 11:00 AM EDT
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Trump wants Supreme Court nominee seated quickly to ‘overturn the Affordable Care Act,’ Pelosi says

By Felicia Sonmez and Amanda Erickson

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday that President Trump and Republicans want Amy Coney Barrett confirmed quickly so she can “overturn the Affordable Care Act,” keeping the focus on health care rather than on the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision ahead of the November election.

“What I am concerned about is anyone that President Trump would have appointed was there to undo the Affordable Care Act,” Pelosi said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “That is why he was in such a hurry, so he could have been in place for the oral arguments which begin November 10. … If you have a preexisting medical condition, that benefit will be gone."

She urged Americans to “vote, vote, vote,” describing it as “the antidote” to “whatever he does.”

“Vote for affordable care. Vote for your preexisting condition. Vote for your safety. And vote for your health,” Pelosi said.

The speaker also defended Barrett against attacks on her Catholic faith, arguing the judge’s religion should not be an issue. Like Barrett, Pelosi, too, is Catholic.

I think it’s appropriate for people … to ask her about how faithful she would be to the Constitution of the United States, whatever her faith,” Pelosi said. “It doesn’t matter what her faith is or what religion she believes in. What matters is, does she believe in the Constitution of the United States? Does she believe in the precedent on the Supreme Court that has upheld the Affordable Care Act?”

In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) echoed Pelosi’s comments about health care, highlighting Barrett’s past statements on the Affordable Care Act.

“For me, this is all about in the middle of a … once-in-a-lifetime health pandemic,” Stabenow said. “It’s very clear from her writings, multiple writings, that she will be the vote that takes away health care for millions of Americans, including people — 130 million people and counting with preexisting conditions.”