with Mariana Alfaro

In Pennsylvania, women favor Joe Biden by 23 points and men narrowly prefer President Trump by seven points, according to a fresh Washington Post-ABC News poll, which has the Democratic nominee edging the president by nine points overall among likely voters in the Keystone State.

Nationally, a Post-ABC poll released Sunday showed Biden leading Trump by 31 points among female likely voters and Trump leading Biden by 13 points among male likely voters. Trump’s lead among men is about the same as his final margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016, but Biden’s lead among women is more than twice as large as Clinton’s.

These disparities are in line with a flood of other surveys. Barring a significant change in the contours of this contest, the polling indicates that 2020 will probably see the largest gender gap of any presidential election since the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment granted women the right to vote a century ago.

One way to define the gender gap is the difference between the percentage of women and men who back the winning candidate. In 2016, it was 11 points – with 41 percent of women and 52 percent of men backing Trump, according to exit polling. That tied the record set by President Bill Clinton in 1996, when he won reelection with 55 percent support among women and 44 percent among men. (In Pew’s study of validated 2016 voters, it was a slightly larger 13-point margin, with 52 percent of men and 39 percent of women supporting Trump.)

Women have favored the Democratic candidate in every election since 1992. But the gender gap did not emerge as a meaningful factor in presidential politics until 1980. Ronald Reagan won that year with support from 46 percent of women and 55 percent of men.

The culture wars of the 1970s, including the emergence of abortion as a major voting issue in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision and the clashes over ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, fueled a divergence in male and female attitudes toward the two parties.

Not only is Trump himself the most polarizing president in modern history, but the fight over his nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg appears to be supercharging long-term trends. Between her paper trail as a law professor at Notre Dame and her record as a judge for nearly three years, Barrett has left little to no doubt about her hostility toward abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act, which helped millions get insurance and expanded access to contraception for women.

With the election five weeks away, as polls show the potentially record-breaking gender gap translating to down-ballot races, three Senate Republicans found themselves on the defensive over these issues in debates on Monday night:

In Maine, Sen. Susan Collins’s support has tanked ever since she voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in 2018. With polls showing Collins trailing, after garnering 69 percent of the vote six years ago, the incumbent announced that she will oppose confirming any new justice before the election. But Monday’s debate opened with her Democratic challenger, Sara Gideon, attacking Collins for confirming Trump’s other judicial nominees. “What we have to focus on is how we get back to a judiciary that is independent once again,” said Gideon, according to CNN.

In Iowa, Sen. Joni Ernst struggled to explain her flipflop from opposing a vote for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, to supporting a rapid confirmation for Barrett. Ernst, trailing in the latest polls, sought to downplay the probability that Barrett would undo abortion rights. “I think the likelihood of Roe v. Wade being overturned is very minimal,” Ernst said, according to the Des Moines Register. “I don’t see that happening. Truly, I don’t see that happening.” Ernst joined 38 Senate Republicans and 168 House Republicans earlier this year in asking the Supreme Court to revisit and potentially overturn Roe.

In Montana, Sen. Steve Daines tried to argue that it is unlikely Barrett, if confirmed, and the Supreme Court would actually strike down the ACA. “The experts are saying it’s highly unlikely they’ll overturn the ACA. That’s the consensus of many legal experts,” Daines claimed. HuffPost notes that, in July, a Daines spokesman told local newspapers that the senator supports the Trump administration’s legal effort to get rid of the “failed law” with “whatever mechanism.” 

Similar themes will ostensibly come up Tuesday night in Cleveland during the first presidential debate. The Supreme Court is one of the six topics that moderator Chris Wallace said he plans to cover, devoting 15 minutes to the vacancy.

Biden holds an eight-point advantage over Trump on whom Americans trust to handle the Supreme Court appointment. The Post-ABC national poll found that women trust Biden more on the vacancy by a margin of 26 points, 59 percent to 33 percent. Men trust Trump more by 11 points, 52 percent to 41 percent. Similarly, women trust Biden more than Trump to handle health care by a margin of 35 points, 65 percent to 30 percent. Men are split: 47 percent trust Trump, and 43 percent trust Biden. 

This national poll, which was conducted after Ginsburg died but before Trump named Barrett, found that 31 percent of women said Trump should nominate and confirm a Ginsburg replacement, compared to 64 percent who said the winner of the November election should get to choose. Half of men also said the winner of the election ought to decide. Finally, 64 percent of Biden supporters in the poll say the court vacancy makes it “more important” that he win the election, compared with 37 percent of Trump supporters who said the same about the president.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) attacked Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett over abortion and reproductive rights in a speech in Raleigh, N.C., on Sept. 28. (The Washington Post)

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), her party’s vice-presidential nominee, referenced the polling that shows most Americans prefer to wait until after the election for Ginsburg’s seat to be filled. “We’re not in the middle of an election year — we’re in the middle of an election, an ongoing election. Almost a million Americans have already voted,” Harris said in a speech on Monday in Raleigh, N.C. 

Harris, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee whose national profile rose during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, plans to leave the campaign trail the week after next to question Barrett. Unlike other Democratic senators, she said that she also plans to sit down with the judge. In her first public remarks since Trump unveiled his selection on Saturday at the White House, Harris emphasized Barrett’s record on the ACA, including her criticism of Chief Justice John Roberts’s decision to uphold the health-care law in 2012, and her writings on reproductive rights.

“President Trump and his party and Judge Barrett will overturn the Affordable Care Act, and they won’t stop there. They have made clear that they want to overturn Roe v. Wade and restrict reproductive rights and freedoms,” Harris said. “There is no other issue that so disrespects and honors the work of Justice Ginsburg’s life than undoing the seminal decision in the court’s history that made it clear a woman has a right to make decisions about her own body.”

Harris would be the first female vice president if Biden wins. She is the fourth woman on a major party ticket, following in the footsteps of Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, Sarah Palin in 2008 and Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Republican senators, their advisers and outside allies involved in the effort say they hope Democrats will overplay their hands in the confirmation hearing scheduled to start Oct. 12 by focusing excessively on Barrett’s Catholic faith rather than her paper trail on health care, abortion and other hot-button issues where she’s out of step with most American women.

“The Women’s March organization said it is planning a ‘socially distant march’ in Washington and more than 30 other cities on Oct. 17, days before Senate Republicans aim to vote on Trump’s pick,” Samantha Schmidt reports. “The organization plans to organize a rally in Freedom Plaza, followed by a march to the Supreme Court, and estimates that about 10,000 people will participate, according to an application for a permit submitted on Wednesday with the National Park Service.”

Many women who voted for the president in 2016 have come to regret that decision. The AP interviewed two dozen Republicans in three traditional swing states and Texas who say they will not support Trump a second time. “My heart will not let me do it. I can’t vote for someone who is that ugly to other people,” said Shawna Jensen, 47, a school librarian in Texas. “I’m pro-life, but I just feel that Republicans have become so hung up on our abortion stance that we are letting this man ruin us.” 

Dee Stoudemire, 64, a retired legal administrator in Jacksonville, Fla., stopped supporting Trump after he ordered the withdrawal of troops from Syria. “That was a bat signal to me, that he’s not listening to his military leaders,” she told the AP. “When you have a leader that cannot and will not listen to his military leaders when it comes to world affairs, you’ve got a problem.”

A new Monmouth University poll shows that 74 percent of registered voters say they plan to watch the first debate tonight, but only 3 percent said they think they are very likely to hear something that will affect their vote.Another 10 percent say that is somewhat likely, while 87 percent say that is not likely.

Who are these few undecided voters still left? In rural Minnesota, Erin Tollefsrud teaches refugee children and is a single mother of her own son. She wants a president who is openhearted yet tightfisted. “Tollefsrud, 35, thought early this year that she’d finally found a candidate who reflects her concerns about climate change, education and racial justice. She liked Andrew Yang in the Democratic primary race, but now she’s torn. She’s suspicious of Democrats like Biden who she sees as unfamiliar with and unsympathetic to rural residents and gun owners,” Marc Fisher, Christine Spolar and Amy Wang write. “But she’s appalled by Trump’s Twitter persona and coarse rhetoric at rallies. And she’s worried that ‘there’s no fiscal conservative in this race.’ Still, she likes the attention Trump pays to rural America and she thinks of him as someone who doesn’t flip-flop, who tells it like it is. ‘Neither candidate represents me,’ she said. …

“Tollefsrud is a classic swing voter, casting ballots for George W. Bush and Barack Obama before going with a third-party candidate in 2016. On Tuesday, she wants to hear whether Biden can hold his own against Trump’s insults. ‘His age is concerning,’ she said. ‘If you look at pictures of presidents after their term, they look older, stressed, harried.’”

What to expect tonight

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and President Trump debate for the first time on Sept. 29. Here’s a look at Biden’s strategy in previous debates. (The Washington Post)

The debate starts at 9 p.m. Eastern and runs 90 minutes without commercial interruption. The Washington Post will air live coverage. I will join anchor Libby Casey in our newsroom for a preview show starting at 8 p.m. and 45 minutes of post-debate analysis. You can stream our programming on washingtonpost.com or here on YouTube.

Due to health guidelines, only about 80 people will be allowed in the audience in Cleveland, compared to about 900 in a normal year. Each person will be required to wear a mask and get tested for the coronavirus. Each candidate is allowed just 20 guests in the hall. Frank Fahrenkopf, co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, said that Trump and Biden will not wear masks onstage, but they also will not shake hands. Trump will get the first question.

“Incumbent presidents have, more often than not, stumbled in their first debates, in part because they approach them both overconfident and underprepared,” Karen Tumulty notes. “It happened to Gerald Ford in 1976, Jimmy Carter in 1980, Ronald Reagan in 1984, George W. Bush in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2012. For George H.W. Bush, disaster struck in the second debate of 1992, when television cameras caught him checking his watch as an audience member asked him how deeply the recession had personally affected him. Years later, the elder Bush acknowledged what he had been thinking at that moment: ‘Only 10 more minutes of this crap.’ The current president appears to be following this historical trend. Trump has said he doesn’t need to buckle down on briefing books or load down his schedule with practice sessions and mock debates.”

After the debate, Joe and Jill Biden plan to leave Cleveland for a train tour that will take him to Alliance, Ohio; Pittsburgh; Greensburg, Pa.; Latrobe, Pa.; and finish in Johnstown, Pa. “The trip is meant to help Biden connect with voters who supported Trump in 2016,” reports Annie Linskey, who will accompany Biden for the trip. “This train tour will help Biden drive home the ‘Scranton vs. Park Avenue’ contrast that he’s been trying to draw to highlight his humble roots and Trump’s privileged upbringing. During the tour, Biden is set to meet with workers, including union members, to hear ‘how they have struggled to get ahead in Trump’s economy,’ according to the campaign.” 

The final stop in Johnstown, one of the poorest places in Pennsylvania, will take place near where Trump held a massive rally in 2016. He promised to bring back jobs to the area if elected. Biden will deliver an economic address that will point out Trump’s failure to do so and highlight his own plan for recovery.

More on the election

Voting in 2020 is already different than any election ever before. Here are a few key voting terms to best understand how to make sure your vote counts. (The Washington Post)
Judges are skeptical of GOP claims of electoral fraud. 

“A review by The Post of nearly 90 state and federal voting lawsuits found that judges have been broadly skeptical as Republicans use claims of voter fraud to argue against such changes, declining to endorse the GOP’s arguments or dismissing them as they examined limits on mail voting,” Elise Viebeck reports. “In no case did a judge back Trump’s view — refuted by experts — that fraud is a problem significant enough to sway a presidential election. Some of the Democrats’ wins have been preliminary. And in many cases, judges issued split decisions, granting some of the changes sought by liberal plaintiffs and otherwise maintaining the status quo as favored by Republicans. 

“But The Post found that judges appointed by Republicans and Democrats alike have been dubious of GOP arguments that lowering barriers to mail voting could lead to widespread fraud. … Many important rules for voting remain in flux after hundreds of cases were filed in more than 44 states. … So far, GOP lawyers have scored several defensive wins related to mail ballots, such as maintaining North Carolina’s witness requirement and keeping in place limitations on third parties collecting and returning ballots or applications, which Republicans deride as ‘harvesting,’ in Florida, Minnesota and Michigan.”

  • Pennsylvania’s Republican legislative leaders asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop a decision by the state’s high court to count mail-in ballots received up to three days after Election Day. (Robert Barnes)
  • A federal judge ordered emergency paper backups of voter records at every Georgia polling place, a safeguard allowing voters to continue casting ballots if computers fail on Election Day. The ruling comes after the state struggled with its new voter check-in tablets during its June 9 primary. Some voters waited for hours because of a combination of high turnout, social distancing and difficulties operating the equipment. (Journal-Constitution)
  • Voters in Brooklyn received absentee ballot envelopes with the wrong names and addresses, meaning their votes could be voided. (Gothamist)
  • Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) introduced a bill requiring mail-in ballots to be counted within 24 hours of Election Day. (Fox News
  • Senate Majority PAC, the main super PAC supporting Democrats in the upper chamber, launched a $6.5 million ad campaign in South Carolina against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R), who will chair the Barrett hearings. (Seung Min Kim)
  • Former aides say Trump is not a religious guy and mocks his Christian supporters behind their backs. “They’ve heard Trump ridicule conservative religious leaders, dismiss various faith groups with cartoonish stereotypes, and deride certain rites and doctrines held sacred by many of the Americans who constitute his base,” the Atlantic’s McKay Coppins reports.
Fresh evidence shows the Trump campaign sought to dissuade African Americans from voting in 2016. 

“A database built by Cambridge Analytica, the Republican-aligned firm that unraveled over allegations of improper use of Facebook data, disproportionately identified Black voters as ripe for ‘Deterrence’ in profiles prepared for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, according to a report Monday from Britain’s Channel 4 News,” Craig Timberg and Isaac Stanley-Becker report. ”The firm was founded in part by the Trump campaign’s onetime chief executive, Stephen K. Bannon … A database of nearly 200 million American voters, obtained by Channel 4, sorted likely Democratic voters into several categories, such as ‘Core Clinton’ or ‘Disengaged Clinton.’ The database put 3.5 million African Americans into a third category called ‘Deterrence,’ in an apparent bid to single them out for messages designed to dissuade them from voting … 

"The database, in Channel 4′s telling, was ‘used by Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign’ — an allegation the campaign denied. … Trump’s 2016 campaign paid Cambridge Analytica $5.9 million … Cambridge Analytica’s former director of business development, Brittany Kaiser, called the new findings consistent with her understanding of how Cambridge Analytica and Republicans targeted Black voters in 2016.” Brad Parscale worked as the digital director on Trump's 2016 campaign. His success at capitalizing on the kind of data that Cambridge Analytica provided is what earned him a promotion to run the president's reelection apparatus for 2020.

The Fort Lauderdale Police Department on Sept. 28 released partial video of the detainment of Brad Parscale following a a call that he was threatening suicide. (The Washington Post)
A police report includes domestic abuse allegations against Parscale.

“Parscale, who managed [Trump’s] campaign for nearly 2½ years until he was demoted in July, was hospitalized for his own safety after threatening suicide while holding a handgun during a confrontation with his wife at his Florida home, local police said Monday. Parscale’s wife, Candice, called authorities shortly before 4 p.m. Sunday to report that he had loaded a gun in front of her, prompting her to flee the house out of fear for her safety,” Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey report. "Several of the officers who responded to the incident wrote in their reports that Candice Parscale exhibited physical signs of what she said was previous abuse by her husband. One officer wrote that she ‘had several bruises on both of her arms as well as scratches and bruising on her face,’ and another wrote that they noticed ‘several large sized contusions on both of her arms, her cheek and forehead.’ … In an audio recording released by the police, Terry Behal — a real estate agent who was showing a house in the neighborhood when Candice Parscale flagged her down for help — can also be heard noticing her bruises. …  

“Parscale was angry over being demoted by Jared Kushner — Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, with whom he had been close — rather than by the president himself … But Parscale had spoken to Trump in recent weeks and had returned to the campaign’s Arlington, Va., headquarters for meetings. … Parscale, who was still employed by the campaign as of Monday, did not respond to requests for comment. … Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh offered a statement Monday supportive of Parscale: ‘Our thoughts are with Brad and his family as we wait for all the facts to emerge.’  … The police reports describe Brad Parscale as ‘clearly intoxicated,’ and a video released by the police shows him, shirtless, holding a beer as he exits his house to come down his driveway to talk to the officers. As he stands in his driveway starting to explain his version of events to an officer, another officer can be heard telling him several times to ‘get on the ground,’ before tackling him and detaining him with handcuffs.”

The Post’s Editorial Board endorses Biden for president.

“He would restore decency, honor and competence to America’s government,” writes the board, which is independent from the newsroom. “In contrast to Mr. Trump’s narcissism, Mr. Biden is deeply empathetic; you can’t imagine him dismissing wounded or fallen soldiers as ‘losers.’ To Mr. Trump’s cynicism, Mr. Biden brings faith — religious faith, yes, but also faith in American values and potential. … 

“If he takes the oath in the midst of the pandemic’s second wave, as is quite possible, with the economy in a tailspin, we can be confident Mr. Biden will rise to the occasion. Why? Because when President Barack Obama and he took office in 2009, the nation was in a similarly frightening tailspin. Mr. Obama trusted his vice president to work with Congress to deliver a bipartisan recovery package and then to help administer it, helping save America’s auto industry and the economy more broadly.”

The Trump presidency

In September 2020, The Washington Post’s David A. Fahrenthold analyzed revelations about then-President Donald Trump’s tax returns and finances. (The Washington Post)
Intelligence pros say Trump’s debts and foreign deals pose national security risks.

“Security teams at U.S. spy agencies are constantly scouring employee records for signs of potential compromise: daunting levels of debt, troubling overseas entanglements, hidden streams of income, and a penchant for secrecy or deceit to avoid exposure,” Greg Miller and Yeganeh Torbati report. “Trump would check nearly every box of this risk profile based on revelations in the New York Times from his long-secret tax records that former intelligence officials and security experts said raise profound questions about whether he should be trusted to safeguard U.S. secrets and interests. The records show that Trump has continued to make money off foreign investments and projects while in office; that foreign officials have spent lavishly at his Washington hotel and other properties; and that despite this revenue he is hundreds of millions of dollars in debt with massive payments coming due. … 

The revelations add to long-standing suspicions about Trump’s approach to foreign policy and seeming deference to leaders of countries where he has either pursued real estate projects or could do so upon leaving office. The list includes Russia, Turkey and the Philippines, where Trump has sought to erect office towers bearing his name or made millions of dollars from licensing deals and other ventures. … Intelligence officials said the magnitude of Trump’s debts pose a vulnerability that is compounded by his determination to prevent his financial records from becoming public. ‘It’s the hiding of a vulnerability that is a real indicator’ of potential security risk, said Jeffrey Edmonds, a former CIA analyst who served in the Trump White House as deputy director for Russia on the National Security Council. ‘The more you try to hide something like that, the greater lengths you will go to keep it concealed.’”

Quote of the day

“From a national security perspective, that’s just an outrageous vulnerability,” said Larry Pfeiffer, who previously served as CIA chief of staff. Pfeiffer, who now serves as director of the Hayden Center for Intelligence at George Mason University, said if he had faced even a fraction of Trump’s financial burden “there is no question my clearances would be pulled.”

Tax records show how “The Apprentice” rescued Trump. 

“From the back seat of a stretch limousine heading to meet the first contestants for his new TV show ‘The Apprentice,’ Trump bragged that he was a billionaire who had overcome financial hardship. … It was all a hoax,” the Times reports. “Months after that inaugural episode in January 2004, Mr. Trump filed his individual tax return reporting $89.9 million in net losses from his core businesses for the prior year. … While the returns show that he earned some $197 million directly from ‘The Apprentice’ over 16 years … they also reveal that an additional $230 million flowed from the fame associated with it. The show’s big ratings meant that everyone wanted a piece of the Trump brand, and he grabbed at the opportunity to rent it out. There was $500,000 to pitch Double Stuf Oreos, another half-million to sell Domino’s Pizza … There were seven-figure licensing deals with hotel builders, some with murky backgrounds, in former Soviet republics and other developing countries. …  

"Divorced for the second time, and coming off the failure of his Atlantic City casinos, Mr. Trump faced escalating money problems and the prospect of another trip to bankruptcy court. On his income tax returns, he reported annual net losses throughout the 1990s, some of it carried forward year to year, a tide that would swell to $352.8 million at the end of 2002. Few people knew this, however, because he kept up the relentless self-promotion … Trump had only two open golf courses and two more undergoing renovations at the time of his plunge into television, but golf … always seemed destined to become his next financial sand trap. … Beginning in 2006, and continuing over the next decade, he would accumulate 11 more golf courses, forming a new core of what he describes as his empire. … Meanwhile, Mr. Trump’s main source of income — ‘The Apprentice’ and licensing deals — went into a steep decline starting in 2011, falling along with the show’s ratings … [His tax records] reveal that as he was pouring money into the golf resorts, he also pulled money out of other places in ways that suggested an immediate need. … In addition, he has huge balances on loans, soon to come due, from Deutsche Bank.”

Flashback: When President Jimmy Carter faced a zero-tax bill in 1977, he voluntarily gave the Treasury $6,000. “In 1977, Carter had a problem, according to presidential tax historian Joseph Thorndike. Carter’s federal tax burden for 1976 had been zeroed out by a massive investment tax credit he earned for purchasing equipment and buildings related to his peanut farm,” Christopher Ingraham reports. “Carter was upset because he had a ‘strong feeling’ that wealthy people like him should pay at least some taxes. So he voluntarily paid the Treasury Department $6,000, the equivalent to 15 percent of his adjusted gross income and slightly more than the 14 percent paid by average taxpayers that year. How times have changed.” 

Dave Fahrenthold, who has spent five years studying Trump’s finances, says we still don't know the answers to these three questions: “1. Will Trump’s tax practices increase the legal trouble he is already facing? The president is already facing at least two state-level investigations of his business. … 2. How much worse are the Trump Organization’s finances now, because of the pandemic? Earlier this year, the pandemic and related shutdown measures caused 17 of Trump’s golf resorts and hotels to shut down temporarily and triggered layoffs of more than 1,500 employees. … 3. As Trump’s companies struggled, how much money did they get from U.S. taxpayers? So far, we’ve found at least $1.1 million in such payments — including room rentals at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in Florida, where the president’s company charged taxpayers $650 per night. The actual number is likely to be higher, though.”

The coronavirus

Economic talks between the White House and Nancy Pelosi resume, as Democrats make a new offer. 

Democrats “offered a $2.2 trillion package and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin immediately engaged in talks,” Erica Werner reports. “Pelosi and Mnuchin spoke Monday evening and agreed to talk again Tuesday … They are running out of time to reach an agreement before the November election, but their planned talks this week appear to be their most extensive engagement in more than a month. … Senate Republicans and Mnuchin have also said $2.2 trillion is too much to spend, but Mnuchin has said he is open to negotiations. It was not immediately clear whether the talks would bear fruit or whether Democratic leaders would use the bill to provide political cover for moderate House Democrats, who have grown increasingly anxious over Congress’s recent inaction on pandemic relief legislation. … 

“Mnuchin has said his priorities in a new round of spending would be aid for small businesses and children, among others. He has also talked about providing more assistance to the airline industry and approving another round of stimulus checks. There is some overlap in the White House’s goals with the things Democrats included in their new bill. … The bill would fund a range of other programs, including many that Republicans have supported. It would, for example, extend the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses and provide $182 billion for K-12 schools and $39 billion for postsecondary schools. … The biggest budget item in the package would be $436 billion in aid to states, cities, and territorial and tribal governments that have experienced a major budget crunch this year. … The bill would support an assortment of other programs, including $75 billion for coronavirus testing and tracing. … But some Senate Republicans oppose spending any more money at all. … It’s unclear how that dynamic — coupled with the Senate’s focus on filling the Supreme Court vacancy — could affect the chances for a deal.”

The CDC’s credibility has been eroded by internal blunders and external attacks. 

“The agency’s response to the worst public health crisis in a century … has been marked by technical blunders and botched messaging. The agency has endured false accusations and interference by Trump administration political appointees. Worst of all, the CDC has experienced a loss of institutional credibility at a time when the nation desperately needs to know whom to trust,” Lena Sun and Joel Achenbach report. “This harsh assessment does not come from political or ideological enemies of the CDC. It comes from the agency’s friends and supporters — and even from some of the professionals within the agency’s Atlanta headquarters. … One veteran researcher … said Friday that morale is at an all-time low. … Inside the CDC, staffers acknowledge [Director Bob] Redfield’s limitations as a leader but are fearful that, if he is ousted or quits, the White House will install someone of a more distinctly political or ideological bent — such as Scott Atlas, a Stanford University neuroradiologist … who has said pandemic fears are overblown."

The CDC will decide which people should receive the initial doses of a coronavirus vaccine once it is approved by the FDA: “There is no precedent for a vaccine rollout of this scale, said Michael Fraser, chief executive of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. That’s why the CDC’s troubles are so inopportune. ‘It’s just unnerving,’ he said. … The agency’s most chronic problem has been the inability to speak directly and persuasively to the American public. To a large extent, that’s because it has been muzzled — and sometimes directly criticized — by political operatives in the Trump administration. … The public has not heard consistently from CDC scientists who possess the expertise to help people understand the virus … The CDC has not held a briefing in three months. … A person close to Redfield said the former Army physician has struggled with his ethics because of a belief in the importance of the chain of command. … Redfield has told colleagues he plans to leave at the end of his term, regardless of who wins in November.”

Documents show White House officials pressuring the CDC on school opening guidance. 

“The effort included Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator,” the Times reports. Olivia Troye, who worked as Vice President Pence’s homeland security, counterterrorism and coronavirus adviser until she left the White House last month, “said she was repeatedly asked by Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff, to get the C.D.C. to produce more reports and charts showing a decline in coronavirus cases among young people. … According to Ms. Troye, Mr. Short dispatched other members of the vice president’s staff to circumvent the C.D.C. in search of data he thought might better support the White House’s position. … 

“In another instance, Dr. Birx took a direct role in an effort to push the C.D.C. to incorporate work from a little-known agency inside the Department of Health and Human Services, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The document worked on by the mental health agency struck a different tone from the cautious approach being proposed by the C.D.C., warning that school closures would have a long-term effect on the mental health of children. … C.D.C. scientists pointed out numerous errors in the document … But the gist of the mental health agency’s position — stressing the potential risks of children not attending school — became the introductory text of the final C.D.C. policy, leaving some officials there dismayed."

A Mississippi teacher is alternating between two groups of students and knows that one is falling behind. 

“Danielle Whittington teaches 40 fourth-grade students each day but she has not met all of them in person. In her hybrid classroom, 15 are at home, and the rest are in school — and, she says, she is worried that the two groups are not getting the same education,” Sarah Fowler reports. “For students at home, Whittington gets to school each morning at 6:30 to record 15-minute videos, which walk the remote learners through the day’s online assignments. … She said she is certain many of the students at home are alone, doing their work with no help from an adult. ‘They will be delayed,’ she said of the virtual learners. ‘They’re not going to be as advanced as the kids that are sitting in this class.’ … At night, she responds to parent emails — but she doesn’t have Internet access at home, so she parks her car on the highway where she can get a signal." 

  • A police officer Tasered a maskless woman at a youth football game in Logan, Ohio, after telling her that she either needed to cover her face or leave. After she refused both requests, she was zapped and hauled away in handcuffs. (Tim Elfrink)
  • Some small groups of students will be able to return to D.C. public school buildings this week for the first time since March. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said a decision is imminent on whether all students can return to classrooms in November. (Perry Stein
  • Some public schools in Maryland have opened for kids who need it the most, including children with disabilities, homeless children and children learning the English language. (Donna St. George)
  • Coronavirus cases dropped to their lowest level since mid-July in the greater Washington region last week, but health experts and local officials say infections will probably rebound this fall and winter, and that could force authorities to reverse course and tighten restrictions on public activities. (Bob McCartney)
  • “After months of promising signs in its fight against the coronavirus, New York reported a spike in its rate of new cases on Monday, including a rise in New York City and in its northern suburbs,” the Times reports.
  • The University of Notre Dame’s president is facing heat for failing to wear a mask and then shaking hands with multiple people during the White House ceremony nominating Barrett, one of his law professors. The Rev. John Jenkins appears to have violated safety protocols that he has asked students to follow. (Antonia Farzan)
  • Nine of 10 patients who tested positive for the coronavirus reported at least one side effect of the disease following their recovery, according to a new study of more than 900 people by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. These side effects include loss of taste and smell, fatigue and psychological issues, with fatigue being the most commonly reported one. (Jennifer Hassan)

Other news that should be on your radar

Kentucky's attorney general will share a recording of grand jury proceedings in Breonna Taylor’s case.

The announcement was made “hours after an unidentified juror filed a court motion criticizing the attorney general’s statements and asking to share details so that ‘the truth may prevail,’” Hannah Knowles reports. “The attorney general said he will provide the information Wednesday on a judge’s order, despite concerns the release could compromise an ongoing investigation and cause other repercussions. Lawyers for Taylor’s family and a slew of leaders, including Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D), have urged Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) to make the secretive grand jury process public, as questions mount over last week’s charging announcement. … ‘There is a compelling public interest for these proceedings to be released of a magnitude the city and Commonwealth have never seen before that could not be confined, weaving its way across the country,’ reads the juror’s motion to release information. It suggests the attorney general has used jurors ‘as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility.’”

The family of William Green, a Black man killed by a Prince George’s County police officer in Maryland, will receive $20 million in what is believed to be among the nation’s largest one-time settlements involving someone killed by law enforcement. Authorities say Green was shot six times while his hands were cuffed behind his back in the front seat of a police cruiser by Cpl. Michael Owen Jr. Owen is awaiting trial on charges of second-degree murder. (Keith Alexander and Rachel Chason)

The typical White family had eight times the wealth of a typical Black family and five times the wealth of a typical Hispanic family in 2019, during the height of a record economic expansion. Last year, the median wealth for Black families was less than 15 percent that of White families, according to new data released by the Federal Reserve. White families had median family wealth of $188,200, compared to that of Black families, which was $24,100. (Rachel Siegel)

  • New California wildfires erupted from wine country in the north to Los Angeles in the south, killing at least three. (Andrew Freedman)
  • A brain-eating amoeba in the water supply killed a 6-year-old in Lake Jackson, Tex., leading the state to declare a disaster. (Paulina Villegas)
  • We’re still in the peak period of hurricane season in the Atlantic and Pacific, yet the seas are eerily silent. But this hiatus won’t last long. The slumber began Friday, when former Tropical Storm Beta dissipated and Teddy became fully nontropical. (Matthew Cappucci)
  • Mesmerizing curtains of colorful lights shimmered across the night skies above the Arctic Circle over the weekend amid an ongoing solar storm. (Cappucci)
  • An NHL season unlike any other ended with the Tampa Bay Lightning winning the Stanley Cup. (Samantha Pell)

Social media speed read

Large swaths of our most populous state continue to look like a hellscape:

A former Trump Organization employee who is undocumented said she pays a greater share of her income in federal taxes than the president. She also says the president's company was aware of her immigration status:

And then there's this reminder of another way Trump tried to minimize his tax bill:

Jill Biden, a proud “Philly girl,” expressed support for the Phillies after the team failed to make the baseball playoffs:

And a CBS correspondent says the raccoon problem at the White House is out of hand:

Videos of the day

On NBC, Seth Meyers accused Trump of being one of the greatest tax cheats in U.S. history:

And, as a distraction, Stephen Colbert talked on CBS about the 59-foot tall robot made in Japan: