- US President Donald Trump will fly to Mosinee, Wisconsin for a campaign rally 47 days before the election day.
- Joe Biden will take part in a Scranton, Pennsylvania, town hall on Thursday night.
- Attorney General William Barr says potential pandemic lockdowns are akin to slavery.
12:45 ET – FBI Director tells Congress Russia engaged in ‘disinformation’ campaign
FBI Director Chris Wray told a US House of Representatives panel that Russia is trying to influence the upcoming election through disinformation to “denigrate” Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
“The intelligence community consensus is that Russia continues to try to influence our elections,” Wray told the Homeland Security Committee.
“We certainly have seen very active efforts by the Russians to influence our elections in 2020.”
12:30 ET – Trump accused of sexual assault by former model: Guardian
A former model has accused Donald Trump of groping and kissing her at the US Open tennis tournament more than two decades ago, in an alleged incident that left her feeling “sick” and “violated”, The Guardian newspaper has reported.
Amy Dorris alleged that Trump accosted her outside the bathroom in his VIP box at the tennis tournament in New York City on September 5, 1997.
Dorris, who was 24 at the time, accuses Trump of forcing his tongue down her throat, assaulting her all over her body and holding her in a grip she was unable to escape from, the newspaper reported.
Trump denied the claims through his lawyers. The newspaper said it was able to document Dorris’ story over the the past 15 months with corroboration from other people. Photographs show Dorris with Trump at the tournament.
11:30 ET – Trump-Biden voter in ad: Trump ‘totally negligent’ on virus
Democrat Joe Biden’s campaign released two new ads Thursday, one featuring a Pennsylvania Biden backer who voted for Trump in 2016 and who’s not pleased with the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“President Trump, he’s not responsible for this virus,” the voter, Rick, says in the ad. “But he was totally negligent on how he informed the people. I mean, the guy gets the blame for what’s happening.”
The ad will run in Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota on television and digital platforms.
11:00 ET – New Trump ad features voters expressing fear of Biden presidency
“I would be very scared if Joe Biden became president,” begins a new ad from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign focused on the economy.
A diverse group of Trump supporters participating in what the campaign calls an “economic roundtable” took turns trashing what a Biden presidency would do Americans’ economic security. “Joe Biden will raise taxes and kill jobs,” says one woman in the ad. “And the only barrier between us and socialism is President Trump.”
The TV ad will run North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nebraska and Maine.
10:00 ET – Trump ramps up attacks on mail-in voting
US President Donald Trump posted a strongly-worded tweet claiming, without evidence, that the election results may be illegitimate due to “unsolicited ballots” being sent to voters.
Because of the new and unprecedented massive amount of unsolicited ballots which will be sent to “voters”, or wherever, this year, the Nov 3rd Election result may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED, which is what some want. Another election disaster yesterday. Stop Ballot Madness! https://t.co/3SMAk9TC1a
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 17, 2020
Trump’s focus on “unsolicited ballots,” or ballots sent by states to all registered voters, is a shift from his previous criticism of all “mail-in ballots,” which include absentee ballots requested by voters.
The majority of states are running their mail-in efforts this way and Republicans expressed deep concern with the president’s rhetoric, worried that his comments would depress Republican turnout, especially among older voters who tend to vote Republican and may be leery of voting in person during the pandemic.
There are 10 states that will send ballots to all registered voters; five of those states have been conducting all-mail voting for years and election experts agree that fraud is rare in those.
09:30 ET – Arizona is ‘slipping away’ from Trump: Analyst
Following a recent rash of polling, the Cook Political Report, which handicaps US elections, said Trump’s problems in the key battleground state of Arizona are mounting. Trump won Arizona in 2016 by 3.5 percent over Hillary Clinton.
Suburban Phoenix voters have “soured” on Trump, Arizona Republican voters “are not as committed to voting for him”, and “Trump is also struggling with Latino support,” writes Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report.
Walter cites a new poll showing Biden leading Trump 45 percent to 40 percent in Arizona and writes, “The new data in this poll, combined with other recent polling in the state, all find Arizona slipping away from Trump.”
09:15 ET – Barr compares lockdown with slavery
US Attorney General William Barr slammed the idea of a national coronavirus lockdown telling a conservative audience that it is like “house arrest” and akin to slavery.
“You know, putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders, is like house arrest. Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history,” Barr said on Wednesday at an event hosted by the conservative Hillsdale College.
Barr also addressed criticism from Justice Department employees who say he is too hands-on with politically-sensitive cases, including ones that involve Trump. He argued that “under the law”, his involvement is proper and he’s not “interfering with” anything. He then slammed lower-level staff, suggesting they keep their opinions to themselves.
09:00 ET – Trump and Biden hit the campaign trail again
A day after spending the day in their respective home cities, President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden will hit the road on Thursday for campaign events in key battleground states.
Trump will fly to Mosinee, Wisconsin, for a 9pm ET rally on Thursday after spending most of the day at the White House. A series of polls released this week show Biden maintaining a lead in Wisconsin, a state Trump won by a slim 0.77 percent margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Biden heads to his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he will take voters’ questions during an 8pm ET town hall meeting hosted by CNN and moderated by Anderson Cooper.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the US elections. This is William Roberts.
Read all the updates from yesterday (September 16) here.