US Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff Marc Short tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday, said a spokesman.
Vice President Mike Pence will continue with his aggressive campaign schedule after his chief of staff, Marc Short, tested positive for the coronavirus.
Pence spokesman Devin O’Malley says Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, both tested negative for the virus on Saturday and remain in good health.
Short is Pence’s closest aide and the vice president is considered a “close contact” under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
O’Malley says that “in consultation with the White House Medical Unit, the Vice President will maintain his schedule in accordance with the CDC guidelines for essential personnel.”
Those guidelines mandate that essential workers exposed to someone with the coronavirus closely monitor for symptoms of Covid-19 and wear a mask whenever around other people.
After a day of campaigning Saturday, Pence was seen wearing a mask as he returned to Washington aboard Air Force Two once the news of Short’s diagnosis was made public.
Two top advisers to Vice President Mike Pence have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past few days, people briefed on the matter said, raising new questions about the safety protocols at the White House, where masks are not routinely worn.
A second person familiar with the outbreak, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said that Pence adviser Marty Obst also tested positive in the past few days.
US President Donald Trump, the first lady and several aides and advisers tested positive for the virus roughly three weeks ago.
Trump spent three nights at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and he was treated with a cocktail of medicine that included an experimental antibody treatment, as well as the steroid dexamethasone.
President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden fought over how to tame the raging coronavirus in Thursday’s final 2020 debate, largely shelving the rancor that overshadowed their previous face-off in favor of a more substantive exchange that highlighted their vastly different approaches to the major domestic and foreign challenges facing the nation.
With less than two weeks until the election, Trump sought to portray himself as the same outsider he first pitched to voters four years ago, repeatedly saying he wasn’t a politician. Biden, meanwhile, argued that Trump was an incompetent leader of a country facing multiple crises and tried to connect what he saw as the president’s failures to the everyday lives of Americans
The night in Nashville was centered on a battle over the president’s handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 225,000 Americans and cost millions of jobs. Trump declared that the virus will go away while Biden warned that the nation was heading toward “a dark winter.” Polling suggests it is the campaign’s defining issue for voters, and Biden declared, “Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America.”
Trump defended his management of the nation’s most deadly health crisis in a century, dismissing Biden’s warning that the nation had a dire stretch ahead due to spikes in infections. And he promised that a vaccine would be ready in weeks.
“It will go away,” said Trump, staying with his optimistic assessment of the pandemic. “We’re rounding the turn. We’re rounding the corner. It’s going away.”
The president said the worst problems are in states with Democratic governors, a contention that is no longer broadly true as it once was.
Biden vowed that his administration would defer to scientists on battling the pandemic and said that Trump’s divisive approach on suffering states hindered the nation’s response.
“I don’t look at this in the way he does--blue states and red states,” Biden said. “They’re all the United States. And look at all the states that are having a spike in he coronavirus--they’re the red states.”
With Trump trailing and needing to change the campaign’s trajectory, the debate could prove pivotal though more than 47 million votes already have been cast and there are fewer undecided voters than at this point in previous election years. Their first debate was defined by angry interruptions but Thursday night featured a mostly milder tone until near the end when Trump resumed his tactic of loudly butting in.
In a campaign defined by ugly personal attacks, the night featured a surprising amount of substantive policy debate as the two broke sharply on the environment, foreign policy, immigration and racial justice.
When Trump repeatedly asked Biden if he would “close down the oil industry,” the Democratic standardbearer said he “would transition from the oil industry, yes,” and that he would replace it by renewable energy “over time.” Trump, making a direct appeal to voters in energy producing states like Texas and the vital battleground of Pennsylvania, seized upon the remark as “a big statement.”
As the debate swept to climate change, Trump explained his decision to move to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord negotiated in 2015, declaring it was an “unfair” pact that would have cost the country trillions of dollars and hurt businesses.
Trump repeatedly claimed Biden’s plan to tackle climate change and invest in green industries was developed by “AOC plus three,” referring to New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Biden chuckled during much of Trump’s answer and said, “I don’t know where he comes from.”
“I know more about wind than you do. It’s extremely expensive. Kills all the birds,” Trump said to Biden, who laughed at the response.
On race, Biden called out Trump’s previous refusals to condemn white supremacists and his attacks on the Black Lives Matter movement, declaring that the president “pours fuel on every single racist fire.”
“You know who I am. You know who he is. You know his character. You know my character,” Biden said. The rivals’ reputations for “honor and for telling to truth” are clear, he said.
Trump countered by pointing out his efforts on criminal justice reform, blasting Biden’s support of a 1990s Crime Bill that many feel disproportionately incarcerated Black men. Staring into the crowd, he declared himself “the least racist person in this room.”
Turning to foreign policy, Biden accused Trump of dealing with a “thug” while holding summits with the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un. And closer to home, the former vice president laced into the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents trying to illegally cross the southern border.
Biden said that America has learned from a New York Times report that Trump only paid $750 a year in federal taxes while holding “a secret bank account” in China. The former vice president then noted he’s released all of his tax returns going back 22 years and challenged the president to release his returns, saying, “What are you hiding?”
Trump said he closed his former account in China and claimed his accountants told him he “prepaid tens of millions of dollars” in taxes. However, as he has for the past four years, after promising to release his taxes, he declined to say when he might do so.
Trump said that when it comes to health care, he would like “to terminate” the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, even amid a pandemic, and come up “with a brand new beautiful health care,” that protects coverage for preexisting conditions. Biden said the president has been talking about making such a move for a long time but “he’s never come up with a plan.”
He also denounced Trump’s claim that Biden wanted to socialize medicine, creating daylight between himself and the more liberal members of his party whom he defeated in the Democratic primaries.
“He thinks he’s running against somebody else,” the former vice president said. “He’s running against Joe Biden. I beat all those other people because I disagreed with them.”
In a visual reminder of the pandemic that has rewritten the norms of American society and fundamentally changed the campaign, sheets of plexiglass had been installed onstage Wednesday between the two men. But in the hours before the debate, they were removed.
The debate, moderated by NBC’s Kristen Welker, was a final chance for each man to make his case to a television audience of tens of millions of voters. And questions swirled beforehand as to how Trump, whose hectoring performance at the first debate was viewed by aides as a mistake that turned off viewers, would perform amid a stretch of the campaign in which he has taken angry aim at the news media and unleashed deeply personal attacks on Biden and his adult son.
When he feels cornered, Trump has often lashed out, going as negative as possible. In one stunning moment during the 2016 campaign, in an effort to deflect from the release of the Access Hollywood tape in which he is heard boasting about groping women, Trump held a press conference just before a debate with Hillary Clinton during which he appeared with women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault. He then invited them to watch as audience members.
In a similar move, Trump’s campaign held another surprise pre-debate news conference, this time featuring Tony Bobulinski, a man who said he was Hunter Biden’s former business partner and made unproven allegations that the vice president’s son consulted with his father on China-related business dealings.
Trump made similar, if vague, accusations from the debate stage and exchanges about Hunter Biden did not dominate the night as aides on both campaigns thought might happen. Biden declared the discussion about family entanglements “malarkey” and accused Trump of not wanting to talk about the substantive issues.
Turning to the camera and the millions watching at home, he said, “It’s not about his family and my family. It’s about your family, and your family is hurting badly.”
A Dutch security researcher has claimed he hacked President Donald Trump’s Twitter account earlier this month, guessing that his password was “maga2020!,”reports Guardian.
Victor Gevers, a security expert, had access to Trump’s direct messages, could post tweets in his name and change his profile, Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant reported on Thursday.
Gevers – who previously managed to log into Trump’s account in 2016 – apparently gained access by guessing Trump’s password.
He tried “maga2020!” on his fifth attempt and it worked.
Maga stands for Trump’s oft used campaign slogan Make America Great Again.
“I expected to be blocked after four failed attempts. Or at least would be asked to provide additional information,” Gevers told De Volkskrant.
Twitter, however, denied the report.
“We’ve seen no evidence to corroborate this claim, including from the article published in the Netherlands today. We proactively implemented account security measures for a designated group of high-profile, election-related Twitter accounts in the United States, including federal branches of government,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement.
However, Gevers told De Volkskrant the ease with which he accessed Trump’s account suggested the president was not using basic security measures like two-step verification.
Allegedly gaining access to Trump’s Twitter meant Gevers was suddenly able to connect with 87 million users – the number of Trump’s followers – and according to De Volkskrant’s story, it sent him into a bit of a panic.
“So, he tries to warn others. Trump’s campaign team, his family. He sends messages via Twitter asking if someone will call Trump’s attention to the fact that his Twitter account is not safe. He tags the CIA, the White House, the FBI, Twitter themselves. No response,” the paper reported.
A day later, Gevers noticed that two-step verification had been activated on Trump’s account, he noted. Two days later, the Secret Service got in touch.
According to De Volkskrant, they thanked him for bringing the security problem to their attention.
Remarkably, it wasn’t the first time Gevers has gained access to the president’s Twitter account.
In 2016, he and two others guessed Trump’s password and got into his account.
Back then Trump’s password was “yourefired”, according to VN news, his catchphrase from the reality TV show that brought him into American living rooms before his election, The Apprentice.
A Minnesota judge has dismissed a third-degree murder charge filed against a former Minneapolis police officer who pressed his knee against George Floyd’s neck but the more serious second-degree murder charge remains.
Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill’s ruling was dated Wednesday and made public Thursday, reports AP.
Cahill said there was enough probable cause for the second-degree murder charge and manslaughter charge against Derek Chauvin to proceed to trial.
Cahill also denied defense requests to dismiss the aiding and abetting counts against three other former officers, Thomas Lane, J Kueng and Tou Thao. The judge said it will be up to a jury to decide whether the officers are guilty.
Floyd, a Black man who was in handcuffs, died May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe and became motionless.
His death sparked protests in Minneapolis and beyond, and led to a nationwide reckoning on race.
Prosecutors argued there was probable cause for the officers to go to trial on all of the charges, saying Chauvin intentionally assaulted Floyd, which is an element of the second-degree murder charge, and that the other officers assisted.
During the entire time that Floyd was pinned to the ground, “the officers remained in the same position: Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, Kueng and Lane remained atop Floyd’s back and legs, and Thao continued to prevent the crowd of concerned citizens from interceding,” the prosecutors said.
The officers ignored Floyd’s pleas to stop, cries from the concerned crowd, and their own training, prosecutors said.
Defense attorneys argued that there was not enough probable cause to charge the former officers. Chauvin’s attorney said his client had no intent to assault or kill Floyd, while attorneys for the other officers argued that their clients did not intend or conspire to help Chauvin.
Defense attorneys said Floyd’s drug use was a factor in his death, with Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, saying Floyd most likely died of “fentanyl or a combination of fentanyl and methamphetamine in concert with his underlying health conditions”.
The county medical examiner classified Floyd’s death as a homicide, with his heart stopping while he was restrained by police and his neck compressed. A summary report listed fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use under “other significant conditions” but not under “cause of death”.
According to prosecutors’ notes, Hennepin County Medical Examiner Andrew Baker told prosecutors that absent other apparent causes of death, it “could be acceptable” to rule the death an overdose, based on the level of fentanyl in Floyd’s system. A separate autopsy commissioned for Floyd’s family concluded he died of asphyxiation due to neck and back compression.
President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, are set to square off in their final debate Thursday, one of the last high-profile opportunities for the trailing incumbent to change the trajectory of an increasingly contentious campaign.
Worried about losing the White House, some advisers are urging Trump to trade his aggressive demeanor from the first debate for a lower-key style that puts Biden more squarely in the spotlight. But it’s unclear whether the president will listen.
Biden, who has stepped off the campaign trail in favor of debate prep, expects Trump to get intensely personal. The former vice president and his inner circle see the president’s approach chiefly as an effort to distract from the coronavirus, its economic fallout and other crises.
With less than two weeks until Election Day, Biden is leading most national polls and has a narrower advantage in the battleground states that could decide the race. More than 42 million people have already cast their ballots. The debate, moderated by NBC’s Kristen Welker, is a final chance for both men to make their case to a television audience of tens of millions of voters.
“The rule is that last debates before the election have a big impact,” said presidential historian Michael Beschloss, who made clear the legacy of the candidates’ first faceoff: “That was the most out-of-control presidential debate we have seen.”
Trump, who staged a remarkable comeback in the closing days of the 2016 campaign, believes he can do it again by using the power of the presidency to attack his rival.
Trump on Tuesday called on Attorney General William Barr to immediately launch an investigation into unverified claims about Biden and his son Hunter, effectively demanding that the Justice Department muddy his political opponent and abandon its historic resistance to getting involved in elections.
The president has promoted an unconfirmed New York Post report published last week that cites an email in which an official from Ukrainian gas company Burisma thanked Hunter Biden, who served on the company’s board, for arranging for him to meet Joe Biden during a 2015 visit to Washington. The Biden campaign has rejected Trump’s assertion of wrongdoing and noted that Biden’s schedule did not show a meeting with the Burisma official.
Some former national security officials and other experts said the episode raised multiple red flags of a possible foreign disinformation effort, especially given the involvement of Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, and Giuliani’s active role in promoting an anti-Biden narrative on Ukraine.
But John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, dismissed that disinformation theory. And the FBI appeared to endorse Ratcliffe’s position in a letter to a Senate committee that had requested information on a laptop purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden.
Trump’s attacks on the Biden family have been relentless, including his efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, which led to Trump’s impeachment. It’s part of a determined, yet so-far-unsuccessful effort to drive up his opponent’s negatives, as he did with Hillary Clinton four years ago.
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said, “Trump is still the political outsider, while Biden is the ultimate insider. We now know that Biden allowed his son to sell access to him while he was vice president.”
While Biden will defend his own record and his son, aides have said, he hopes to focus on making the case that Trump is unfit for office and let the nation down during a confluence of crises.
“He knows that people want to hear about how we’re going to help working families get through the end of the month and pay the rent,” his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, said Wednesday in North Carolina. “That’s what people care about, and one of the things I love about Joe Biden — he doesn’t take on or talk about other people’s kids.”
The one-two punch of the first debate and the president’s three-day hospital stint after contracting COVID-19 rattled his base of support and triggered alarm among Republicans who fear the White House and Senate could be slipping away.
The initial debate was the most tumultuous in modern history, with a belligerent tone that was persistent and somehow fitting for what has been an extraordinarily ugly campaign. Amid heated clashes over the pandemic, the Supreme Court and the integrity of the election itself, Trump refused to condemn white supremacists who have supported him, telling one such group known as the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”
The two men frequently talked over each other with Trump interrupting, nearly shouting, so often that Biden eventually snapped at him, “Will you shut up, man?”
Aides have urged Trump, who has skipped debate prep, to show some restraint this time, allowing Biden to speak more and get himself in trouble with verbal gaffes and lapses. But the president has made no promises.
“Some people think, ‘Let him talk,’ because he loses his train (of thought), he just loses it and he doesn’t speak the train of thought,” Trump said in a town hall discussion taped at the White House Rose Garden and aired by Sinclair Broadcast Group on Wednesday evening. “But we’ll see what happens. I mean, you will have to be there.”
It was two days after the first debate in Cleveland when Trump tested positive for the coronavirus. The White House has refused to reveal when the president had last tested negative before the debate, raising questions as to whether he was already infected when he took the stage.
After the diagnosis, the Commission on Presidential Debates ruled that the second debate, which was to have been held last week, be virtual. Trump balked, leading to the cancellation of the debate and the two men holding dueling town halls instead, speaking at the same time more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) apart.
On the debate stage Wednesday, two large plexiglass shields had been put in place in front of the candidates’ lecterns.
On Thursday night, in an effort to curtail interruptions, Trump and Biden will each have his microphone cut off while his rival delivers an opening two-minute answer to each of the six debate topics, the commission announced. The mute button won’t figure in the open discussion portion of the debate, but has drawn criticism from Trump.
“The mute is very unfair,” he said Wednesday as he left the White House for a campaign rally.