Stephen Miller, senior policy adviser to President Trump, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to two senior administration officials.

Miller is the latest among those in Trump’s orbit to contract the virus. The list of infected includes senior adviser Hope Hicks, campaign manager Bill Stepien, former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Trump’s inner circle helped him prepare for last week’s debate, where members gathered maskless in a room together. Miller’s wife, Katie, an aide to Vice President Pence, contracted the virus in May.

With 28 days until the election …
  • In a sweeping speech aimed equally at Democrats and Republicans, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden stood on the fields of Gettysburg, Pa., on Tuesday afternoon and pleaded for the end of the political division that threatens to tear the country apart.
  • Trump, who returned to the White House from the hospital on Monday, reported experiencing no symptoms and is doing “extremely well,” his physician said in a memo released Tuesday by the White House. The president also signaled in a tweet that he plans to participate in the next debate against Biden, scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami.
  • Economic relief talks screeched to a halt Tuesday as Trump ordered Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to stop negotiating with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi until after the election.
  • The Commission on Presidential Debates built a stage Tuesday for the vice-presidential debate in Salt Lake City with plexiglass barriers for both candidates, apparently overruling the objections of Vice President Pence.
  • Biden tested negative for the virus on Tuesday, his campaign said. The former vice president said Tuesday evening that if the president still has the coronavirus next week they shouldn’t go forward with the debate.
  • Biden leads Trump by 10 percentage points nationally, 52 percent to 42 percent, according to a Washington Post average of polls. Biden’s margin is smaller in key states: seven in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan; three in Arizona; and one in Florida.
October 6, 2020 at 9:59 PM EDT
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Trump’s determination to attend debate is seen as part of pattern of recklessness

By Amy Goldstein and Frances Stead Sellers

President Trump’s tweet Tuesday that he looks forward to next week’s presidential debate alarmed some medical and public health experts, who warned that his coronavirus infection might still be contagious then and could endanger others.

A day after the president was discharged from a three-night hospital stay, during which he was put on an aggressive mix of treatments usually reserved for the most severe cases of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, he continued to project an image of being fully in charge and able to conduct all of his regular activities.

Some outside health experts, however, said Trump’s determination to attend the Oct. 15 debate is part of a pattern of recklessness that has defined his response to the pandemic, with the president and his aides not wearing masks or observing social distancing. At least 19 people on his staff or his campaign, or who attended recent White House events, have tested positive for the virus in the past week.

October 6, 2020 at 9:32 PM EDT
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Trump draws early voters in rural Ohio town

By Kevin Williams

WAVERLY, Ohio — Long lines marked the start of early voting in the 2020 presidential election in Ohio’s urban centers, where many voters expressed anger and skepticism over the Trump presidency. But rural outposts show just how split Ohio is politically, and the energy and excitement surrounding early voting isn’t limited to those casting votes against the president.

Plenty of Trump support was evident in Waverly, the seat of Pike County on the edge of Ohio’s Appalachia region.

“Trump likes to say promises made, promises kept, and I think that has been true,” said Shannon Stewart, who was taking her daughter, Stefanie, to vote for her first time. The 18-year-old also cast her vote for Trump.

“He doesn’t have a filter, and there are times I wish he wouldn’t say anything,” she said.

Jerry Morkassel echoed the pro-Trump sentiment of others showing up for early voting.

“He is a president that is for the people, and he is not a politician, which is what we need. You sure as hell know where he stands,” said Morkassel, 79 and retired.

Like others, Morkassel wishes Trump wouldn’t tweet so much or would tone down his messages.

“That is just the way he is, he is like a friend who has a bad habit, you just accept it,” Morkassel said, adding that he was not upset by the recent reports about how little Trump paid in taxes.

Trump’s conduct did sway James Scaggs, who was voting for Biden.

“He doesn’t know when to shut his mouth,” said Scaggs, a military veteran now retraining in nursing. “I think of him from a military perspective, would I want him representing us in peace talks with anyone?”

Pike County Board of Elections Director Shawna Burton said the first day went smoothly. The county has about 17,000 registered voters, and 3,500 have requested absentee ballots. And plenty of people showed up to vote early in person.

“It has been steady all day,” Burton said, adding that about 130 people had shown up by midday.

October 6, 2020 at 8:52 PM EDT
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Commission installs plexiglass barriers for both candidates in VP debate, apparently overruling Pence’s objections

By Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey

The Commission on Presidential Debates built a stage Tuesday for the vice-presidential debate in Salt Lake City with plexiglass barriers for both candidates, apparently overruling the objections of Vice President Pence, who had requested that no plexiglass dividers be placed on his side of the stage.

The added protections against the spread of the coronavirus had become a heated point of contention this week, as both campaigns jockey over the threat of covid-19 after President Trump and several campaign and White House advisers tested positive for the virus.

The dispute over plexiglass barriers for the Wednesday night event, which were requested by the camp of Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), extended well into Tuesday as the Trump and Biden campaigns negotiated with the commission.

Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff, said earlier Tuesday that Pence’s team did not view plexiglass dividers as medically necessary, given other safety measures at the debate, including a 12-foot distance between the candidates.

“If she wants it, she’s more than welcome to surround herself with plexiglass if that makes her feel more comfortable,” Short said. “It’s not needed.”

The standoff led to uncertainty one day before the campaign’s only vice-presidential debate, as politics collided with the pandemic in a race still feeling the aftershocks of Trump’s hospitalization for covid-19.

Adding to the last-minute uncertainty, Stephen Miller, the husband of one of Pence’s top staffers, Katie Miller, who had traveled to Salt Lake City, tested positive for the coronavirus Tuesday. She had previously been infected, and it was not clear what effect her husband’s diagnosis would have on the Pence entourage.

October 6, 2020 at 8:04 PM EDT
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Biden says there shouldn’t be a debate if Trump still has coronavirus next week

By Colby Itkowitz

Biden, who previously said he’d be willing to debate Trump as long as it could be done safely, said Tuesday evening that if the president still has the coronavirus next week they shouldn’t go forward.

“I think if he still has covid, we shouldn’t have a debate,” Biden said.

Speaking briefly to reporters in Pennsylvania, Biden said he’ll be following the guidance of medical professionals.

“I think we’re going to have to follow very strict guidelines. Too many people have been infected,” Biden said. “It’s a very serious problem, so I will be guided by the guidelines of the Cleveland Clinic and what the docs say is the right thing to do.”

Biden and Trump are scheduled to meet in Miami on Oct. 15.

October 6, 2020 at 7:46 PM EDT
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Supreme Court order on mail ballots in South Carolina sparks worries about voter confusion

By Michelle Lee and Stephanie Hunt

The Supreme Court’s order Monday that South Carolinians must have a witness sign their mail ballots this fall sparked voter confusion in the state and fears among voting rights advocates that the requirement could impede people from casting their ballots.

The high court said in a brief order that mail-in ballots must contain the signature of one witness, siding with state Republicans and reversing a lower court’s recent decision to waive that long-standing requirement in response to concerns about exposure to the coronavirus.

With tens of thousands of ballots already mailed out across South Carolina, voters and election officials said they were worried that what has been a series of rapidly reversing court rulings in recent weeks would potentially lead to rejected ballots.

October 6, 2020 at 7:14 PM EDT
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Stephen Miller, senior White House aide, tests positive for the coronavirus

By Josh Dawsey and Colby Itkowitz

Stephen Miller, senior policy adviser to President Trump, has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to two senior administration officials.

Miller previously had a series of negative test results in the days since Trump’s diagnosis.

Miller is the latest among those in Trump’s orbit to contract the virus, a list that includes senior adviser Hope Hicks, campaign manager Bill Stepien, former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Trump’s inner circle helped him prepare for last week’s debate where they gathered maskless in a room together.

Miller’s wife, Katie, an aide to Vice President Pence, contracted the virus back in May. She tested negative this morning and is currently traveling with Pence who debates Democratic rival Sen. Kamala D. Harris on Wednesday night.

Pence last tested negative Tuesday afternoon, Pence’s physician, Jesse Schonau, said in a memo, adding the vice president is “encouraged to go about his normal activities and does not need to quarantine.”

October 6, 2020 at 7:02 PM EDT
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Biden hits Trump over ending stimulus talks, says Americans who are hurting don’t matter to president

By Colby Itkowitz

Biden told Americans struggling economically because of the coronavirus that Trump’s decision to end talks on additional relief shows they don’t matter to the president.

“Make no mistake: if you are out of work, if your business is closed, if your child’s school is shut down, if you are seeing layoffs in your community, Donald Trump decided today that none of that — none of it — matters to him,” Biden said in a statement.

Biden accused Trump of stopping talks on the stimulus bill to rush through his Supreme Court nominee, in what he described as a “mad dash” to take away people’s health care.

While Biden fares better than Trump in almost every category, from health care to race relations, when voters are asked who would handle it better, he and Trump are often neck and neck when it comes to who would best handle the economy.

October 6, 2020 at 6:57 PM EDT
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Republicans ask Supreme Court to block Montana’s mail voting plan

By Elise Viebeck

Montana Republicans asked the Supreme Court to block the state from allowing counties to mail ballots to voters, raising the number of cases pending before the high court that will directly affect the general election.

Plaintiffs in the case, represented by GOP attorney James Bopp Jr., filed an emergency application for an injunction on Tuesday shortly after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit denied their request for relief while an appeal proceeds.

Bopp recently argued in court that allowing counties to proactively mail ballots will open the door to voter fraud in Montana, a claim District Judge Dana L. Christensen rejected last week as “a fiction.”

“When pressed during the hearing in this matter, the Plaintiffs were compelled to concede that they cannot point to a single instance of voter fraud in Montana in any election during the last 20 years,” Christensen wrote, upholding the state’s plan. “Importantly, Montana’s use of mail ballots during the recent primary election did not give rise to a single report of voter fraud.”

The GOP's petition to the Supreme Court asked for action by Thursday, one day before ballots are scheduled to be sent to Montana voters.

In addition to the Montana case, Supreme Court action is pending on litigation related to the deadline for returning mail ballots in Pennsylvania. Republicans have urged justices to reject an extension of the deadline favored by Democrats and granted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The high court delivered a win for Republicans in South Carolina on Monday night, ruling that the state’s witness requirement for mail ballots will remain in place for the general election.

October 6, 2020 at 6:46 PM EDT
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CDC: Pence’s doctor says it’s safe for him to participate in debate

By Colby Itkowitz

Vice President Pence was cleared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to participate in the debate Wednesday night against Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.).

CDC Director Robert Redfield wrote in a memo that he consulted with Pence’s physician and concluded that Pence wasn’t in close contact to anyone contagious. Pence was at the Rose Garden ceremony for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. At least seven people who had been at that event have tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Based on the descriptions of the movements of the Vice President ... the Vice President is not a close contact of any known person with covid-19, including the president,” Redfield wrote.

Since Friday, when Trump’s diagnosis was disclosed, Pence’s coronavirus tests have all come back negative. Redfield cites the negative tests and the physician’s conclusions to determine “from a public health standpoint, it is safe for the Vice President to participate in the upcoming Vice-Presidential debate.”

October 6, 2020 at 6:08 PM EDT
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Democrats ask why Amy Coney Barrett’s name on an antiabortion ad wasn’t disclosed

By Colby Itkowitz

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to the Justice Department asking why Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett omitted from her disclosure forms an antiabortion advertisement she’d added her name to in support.

Last week, a 2006 open letter placed as an ad in a newspaper surfaced that included the names of hundreds of supporters, including Barrett. The ad, describing abortion as “barbaric” and calling for overturning Roe v. Wade, ran on the anniversary of the landmark court decision by an ardent antiabortion group of which Barrett and her husband were members.

The Democrats contend that the ad should have been included in Barrett’s Senate Judiciary questionnaire under a section that asks for disclosure of published materials they’ve written or edited. Republicans have defended Barrett, saying it wouldn’t be covered by that question.

The Democrats argue that even if it was ambiguous, Barrett’s default should have been to disclose more, not less. On a different question, the Democrats say, Barrett provided materials, which she “indicated was ‘not necessarily responsive;’ but which she nevertheless provided ‘out of an abundance.'"

“The failure to disclose the 2006 letter leads to additional questions about other potentially missing material,” the Democrats say. “The omission also raises concerns that the process of collecting materials responsive to the SJQ, like the nomination process itself, has been rushed, for no legitimate reason.”

October 6, 2020 at 5:41 PM EDT
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Contradictory and confusing White House statements offer an incomplete picture of Trump’s health

By Danielle Rindler, Leslie Shapiro and Kevin Uhrmacher

Information about Trump’s condition has been incomplete, confusing and at times contradictory since early Friday morning, when the commander in chief announced that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Trump’s medical team, led by White House physician Sean P. Conley, has been criticized for painting a rosy portrait of his condition Saturday, without disclosing that the president had been given supplemental oxygen or put on a steroid that is usually reserved for severely ill coronavirus patients.

October 6, 2020 at 5:23 PM EDT
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Pelosi rips Trump in letter to Democrats over his killing of stimulus relief talks

By Colby Itkowitz

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sent a letter to her Democratic colleagues, ripping Trump for his decision to stop work on a coronavirus relief package that she’d been negotiating with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Calling it “an act of desperation,” Pelosi accused the president of backing away from stimulus talks to focus on the confirmation of his Supreme Court nominee.

“His irresponsible statement and policies have damaged lives, livelihoods and the life of our democracy, instead of crushing the virus, honoring our heroes — in health care, first responders, sanitation, transportation, food workers, teachers, teachers, teachers and others — and putting money in workers’ pocket,” she wrote, listing other policy funding needs that will go unmet.

Pelosi continued, “Trump showed his true colors: putting himself first at the expense of the country, with the full complicity of the GOP Members of Congress.”

October 6, 2020 at 5:21 PM EDT
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Biden, in Gettysburg speech, tells Americans ‘we must come together’

By Amy B Wang

In a sweeping speech aimed equally at Democrats and Republicans, Biden stood on the fields of Gettysburg, Pa., on Tuesday afternoon and pleaded for the end of the political division that he said threatens to tear the country apart.

“There’s no more fitting place than here today in Gettysburg to talk about the cost of division,” Biden said. “And how much it has cost America, in the past, but how much it is costing us now. And about why I believe at this moment, we must come together as a nation.”

There was little subtlety in his choice of words or his location, on now-verdant rolling hills that were the site of the most casualties of any battle in the Civil War. Behind Biden, six American flags fluttered in a gentle breeze as he spoke of “this sacred ground” where “Abraham Lincoln reimagined America itself.” It was time for the country to engage in deep reflection again, he said.

“Today, once again, we are a house divided. That, my friends, can no longer be. We are facing too many crises. We have too much work to do,” Biden said. “We have too bright a future to leave it shipwrecked on the shoals of anger and hate and division.”

Biden spoke of being concerned, of a country where hope seemed elusive.

“Too many Americans see our public life not as an arena for the mediation of our differences. Rather, they see it as an occasion for total, unrelenting partisan warfare. Instead of treating the other party as the opposition, we treat them as the enemy. This must end,” he said. “We need to revive a spirit of bipartisanship in this country, a spirit of being able to work with one another.”

Partway through his speech, he focused on the coronavirus pandemic and how hyper-partisan divisions had politicized even basic science in the United States.

“Wearing a mask is not a political statement — it’s a scientific recommendation. Social distancing is not a political statement — it’s a scientific recommendation,” Biden said. “This virus doesn’t care where you live, what political party you belong to. It’s a virus. It’s not a political weapon.”

October 6, 2020 at 5:09 PM EDT
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Dispatch from New Mexico: Distrust in voting system drives people to cast ballots early in person

By Will Ford

ALBUQUERQUE — Biden and Trump voters lined up here on the first day of early voting, distrustful that their votes would count otherwise.

“Right now, I just don’t trust anybody,” said Nancy Cross, a retired 61-year-old hairdresser, who had never voted before but was casting her ballot for Trump. “So there are going to be questions when I go in there, and I want to make sure my vote is counted.”

“I just wanna make sure my vote gets counted,” echoed Susan, who declined to give her last name and profession. “I have some concerns about the absentee or mail-in ballot process and potential challenges on both sides.”

Previously, Susan had voted for both Democrats and Republicans in elections, but she was now voting for every Democrat on the ticket. “I just think our president is a national and global disgrace,” she said.

The first, and for now only, early-voting site opened at a small downtown commercial plaza here this morning. Other voting locations will open statewide on Oct. 17.

At opening time, a line stretched around the plaza, under an adobe walkway adjoining the plaza, and then down the street behind it. Yellow lines were drawn on the ground, noting proper social distancing. Everyone wore a mask. After about two and a half hours, Gabriel Montoya, the presiding judge of the site, said 180 people had voted.

“Seems like we’ve had more than the last year,” he said, referring to the 2016 presidential election.

Sheri McMahan, 45, a personal trainer and massage therapist, said she’d changed her affiliation because of Trump.

“Now a Democrat,” she said. “Was always independent up until now.”

What changed?

“Donald Trump,” she said.

McMahan was confident in her state’s election system but said she still chose to come vote in person because “I don’t want to contribute to someone being able to say it was [rigged].”

“I think Trump says everything he can to put things in people’s heads so that they’ll believe it,” she said. “You say it enough times, it makes it true — that’s what his MO is. It’s his way of ‘heads I win, tails you lose.’ ”