Biden and Trump on campaign trail in last big push before election day
It’s the last full day of election campaigning before the big vote tomorrow. US president Joe Biden and former president and Republican beacon Donald Trump will be out on the trail in a contest where so much is at stake for each of their parties – and American democracy.
It’s a tough battle for the Democrats against strong economic headwinds in the shape of record inflation and fears of recession, despite the fact that such gales are howling across many other countries as well, driven by ongoing fall-out from the pandemic and the effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The party has been struggling against their president’s low approval ratings for more than a year now – though it hopes the shock of the US Supreme Court stripping federal abortion rights when it overturned Roe v Wade in June and the threat of extremism from the right will boost their chances.
Republicans hope not only to pick up the traditional midterms backlash against the party in power but to power a “red wave” and win big, wresting the majority in both the House and Senate from the Democrats.
Biden is rallying in the governor’s race in Maryland tonight and Trump is stumping in Ohio, where Democratic congressman Tim Ryan is battling JD Vance. Biden’s warning of what will happen to the US economy if Republicans ever get a chance to wreck the healthcare and retirement benefits backbone.
We’ll have a Guardian reporter at each event tonight, in Bowie, Maryland, and Dayton, Ohio.
All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are on the line, 35 out of 100 Senate seats are being contested in these midterms election.
The newest US Supreme Court justice Ketanji Brown Jackson has issued her first supreme court opinion, making a short dissent today in support of a death row inmate from Ohio.
Jackson wrote that she would have thrown out lower court rulings in the case of inmate Davel Chinn, whose lawyers argued that the state suppressed evidence that might have altered the outcome of his trial, The Associated Press reports.
Jackson, in a two-page opinion, wrote that she would have ordered a new look at Chinn’s case:
Because his life is on the line and given the substantial likelihood that the suppressed records would have changed the outcome at trial.”
The evidence at issue indicated that a key witness against Chinn has an intellectual disability that might have affected his memory and ability to testify accurately, she wrote.
Prosecutors are required to turn over potentially exculpatory evidence to the defense. In this case, lower courts determined that the outcome would not have been affected if the witness’ records had been provided to Chinn’s lawyers.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the only other member of the court to join Jackson’s opinion. The two justices also were allies in dissent Monday in Sotomayor’s opinion that there was serious prosecutorial misconduct in the trial of a Louisiana man who was convicted of sex trafficking.
Jackson joined the high court on June 30, following the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer, her onetime boss.
The court has yet to decide any of the cases argued in October or the first few days of this month. Jackson almost certainly will be writing a majority opinion in one of those cases.
There’s a fuller report from The Hill, which has this quote:
Justices Jackson and Sotomayor recognized the injustice in upholding Davel Chinn’s conviction and death sentence when the State suppressed exculpatory evidence that, based on the Ohio Courts’ own representations, was likely to result in an acquittal. Ohio must not exacerbate the mistakes of the past by pursuing Mr. Chinn’s execution,” said Rachel Troutman, an attorney for Chinn.
Results in the midterm elections will come through in dribs and drabs after polls close at various times tomorrow and races could be called in hours, a few days or more.
Here’s a useful piece from FiveThirtyEight with a guide to the races state by state. We probably won’t know who the winners are on election night itself, and therefore who will have control of the House and Senate next year.
For example, in the crucial race in Pennsylvania for an open US Senate seat, things could take a while.
Why the midterms matter, by our Guardian team:
The Guardian relies on the Associated Press to declare when races have been called.
US support for Ukraine’s continued resistance to the invasion by Russia will be “unflinching and unwavering,” the White House has asserted.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre is briefing the media in Washington right now and has been asked about support for Ukraine, given a lot of reporting that if the Republicans win control of one or both chambers of Congress in the midterm elections they will block further spending on military aid for Ukraine.
Jean-Pierre said that the White House will work hard to make sure there is a bipartisan effort on Ukraine, no matter the results of the midterm elections.
Those voters who have not already cast their ballots are invited to go to the polls tomorrow, on election day.
Meanwhile, Jean-Pierre reported that no specific, credible threats to the security of the midterm elections have been reported by law enforcement, Reuters adds.
“Law enforcement has briefed us that there are no specific, credible threats identified at this point,” Jean-Pierre told the briefing.
Biden has been briefed “on the threat environment and directed that all appropriate steps be taken to ensure safe and secure voting,” she said.
Further on Ukraine:
‘I never thought it would be Paul’ – Speaker Pelosi following attack on husband
House speaker Nancy Pelosi was asleep in her residence in Washington when the doorbell rang at 5am on Friday morning last month, followed by banging on the door, CNN reports.
“So I run to the door, and I’m very scared,” Pelosi has told Anderson Cooper in an exclusive interview to be aired on CNN tonight.
She added: “I see the Capitol police and they say, ‘We have to come in to talk to you.’ And I’m thinking my children, my grandchildren. I never thought it would be Paul because, you know, I knew he wouldn’t be out and about, shall we say. And so they came in. At that time, we didn’t even know where he was,” she said.
Paul Pelosi had been attacked in the couple’s San Francisco home, an assailant, demanding to see Nancy, whacking him on the head with a hammer, breaking his skull and putting him in hospital.
The attack heightened fears of further escalation in threats of violence to lawmakers, families and staff.
Trump appeals New York court order for watchdog at company
Former US president Donald Trump today appealed a judge’s order to install a watchdog at the Trump Organization family business before a civil fraud case by the state’s attorney general goes to trial.
Manhattan-based judge Arthur Engoron last Thursday granted state attorney general Letitia James’s request to appoint an independent monitor to halt alleged ongoing fraud at the real estate company and keep the Trumps from transferring assets out of her reach, Reuters reports.
Engoron’s order bars the defendants from transferring assets without court approval, and requires that the monitor receive a “full and accurate description” of the Trump Organization’s structure and assets.
James had in September named Trump, three of his adult children, the Trump Organization and others as defendants in a $250m civil fraud lawsuit for allegedly overvaluing assets and Trump’s net worth through a decade of lies to banks and insurers.
In a notice of appeal filed today, Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba and lawyers for his children, Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Donald Trump Jr, said the defendants asked the appellate division, a mid-level state appeals court, to review Engoron’s order, without laying out her legal arguments.
Trump, a Republican, last week called Engoron’s order “ridiculous” and the Trump Organization called it an “obvious attempt” to influence Tuesday’s midterm US elections. James is a Democrat.
Engoron gave both sides until 10 November to recommend three candidates to be come a monitor.
The case is among many legal battles Trump faces as he mulls a 2024 bid for the presidency.
Testimony began last week in another Manhattan courtroom in a criminal case by the Manhattan district attorney’s office accusing the Trump Organization of scheming to defraud tax authorities for at least 15 years. The company has pleaded not guilty.
James has accused Trump et al of “staggering fraud”.
A Michigan judge harshly rebuked Kristina Karamo, the Republican nominee to be Michigan’s top election official, as he rejected a last-minute lawsuit to get tens of thousands of mail-in ballots rejected.
Karamo’s campaign filed a last minute challenge seeking to invalidate mail-in ballots in Detroit, which is heavily Black and Democratic, saying the city’s process for validating the mail-in votes ran afoul of state law. A ruling in her favor could have invalidated the votes of 60,000 people who voted by mail already in the city.
But Timothy Kenny, the chief judge for the third judicial circuit, rejected that request on Monday, saying the challengers had not produced any evidence of illegal activity.
“Plaintiffs have raised a false flag of election law violations and corruption concerning Detroit’s procedures for the November 8th election. This Court’s ruling takes down that flag,” Kenny wrote in his ruling.
“Plaintiffs’ failure to produce any evidence that the procedures for this November 8th election violate state or federal election law demonizes the Detroit City Clerk, her office staff, and the 1,200 volunteers working this election. These claims are unjustified, devoid of any evidentiary basis and cannot be allowed to stand,” he added.
I’ve been reporting in Michigan these last few days and yesterday afternoon I caught up with Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat who is running for re-election as secretary of state. She’s also overseeing the election here, a key battleground state, where there are concerns about violence and intimidation at the polls.
Benson is one of several Democrats across the country who are running against opponents who have cast doubt on the 2020 election results. Her opponent, Kristina Karamo, has falsely claimed she witnessed fraud on election night in 2020 and recently filed a lawsuit trying to get thousands of mail-in ballots in Detroit rejected.
Benson told me she saw the suit as an effort to pre-emptively cast doubt on the election results in Detroit.
“This is certainly a strategic effort to sow seeds of doubt about the integrity of our elections, about the validity of absentee ballots in Detroit. There’s no question that’s the strategy there. I don’t think it’s worked,” she said.
“What we’ve seen in response, and in part that’s because of the work we’ve done over the last few years to call out the election deniers and lies and the meritless lawsuits as they’ve been filed, is that there’s almost a uniform chorus, particularly coming from Detroit, acknowledging the invalidity of the lawsuit, acknowledging the real nefarious intent behind it, she added. “I think it’s backfired.”
I also asked Benson, who is leading in the polls, what strategies other candidates running against election deniers could take away from her campaign.
“Talking in the abstract about democracy being under attack, while that’s real and I’ve certainly done that over the last few years and will continue to do so, we really also need to talk in the specifics about what that actually means,” she said. “What it means to empower folks who have been lying to voters as opposed to holding them accountable and rejecting them.”
Here’s something else from Levine and team:
Benson was getting some celeb support this weekend, as was governor Whitmer.
Campaign trail madness.
Richard Luscombe reports on the prospects of the Republican “ultra-Maga” candidates, the standard-bearers of Trumpism, in tomorrow’s elections …
The spectre of Donald Trump’s imminent declaration of a new White House run looms over races in several key states ahead of Tuesday’s US midterm elections, with the former president poised to seize on any success for ultra-conservative candidates as validation for his 2024 campaign.
Opinion polls appearing to reflect a last-minute surge of support for Trump-endorsed nominees in a number of crucial congressional and governors’ contests came as the former president appeared at a rally for the Republican senator Marco Rubio in Florida on Sunday.
Heaping praise on “an incredible slate of true Maga warriors”, Trump cited his “Make America Great Again” political slogan.
The former US ambassador to the United Nations and South Carolina governor Nikki Haley told Republicans at a rally for Herschel Walker the Democrat in the Georgia Senate race, Rev Raphael Warnock, should be “deported”.
“Legal immigrants are more patriotic than the leftists these days,” Haley said, in Hiram, Georgia on Sunday. “They worked to come into America and they love America. They want the laws followed in America. So the only person we need to make sure we deport is Warnock.”
Haley, widely thought to be a potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, is the child of immigrants from India. Her comment drew criticism.
Cornell William Brooks, a Harvard professor and pastor, wrote: “Were it not for civil rights laws Black folks died for, Nikki Haley’s family might not be in America.
“Were it not for a HBCU [historically Black college and university] giving her father his first job in the US, Haley wouldn’t be in a position to insult Georgia’s first Black senator. Warnock’s history makes her story possible.”
Walker and Warnock are locked in a tight race that could decide control of the US Senate, currently split 50-50 and controlled with the vote of the vice-president, Kamala Harris. On Monday, the polling website FiveThirtyEight.com put Warnock one point ahead.
Haley also said Walker was “a good person who has been put through the ringer and has had everything but the kitchen sink thrown at him”.
Walker, a former college and NFL football star, has been shown to have made numerous false claims about his business career and personal life. Two women have said he pressured them to have abortions – allegations he denies, while campaigning on a stringently anti-abortion platform.
Here’s more about Walker:
Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the violent, rightwing militia-style organization the Oath Keepers, told jurors on Monday there was no plan for his band of extremists to attack the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 – as he tries to clear his name in his seditious conspiracy trial.
Taking the stand in his defense for a second day, Rhodes testified that he had no idea that his followers were going to join the pro-Trump mob to storm the Capitol and that he was upset after he found out that some did, The Associated Press writes.
Rhodes said he believed it was stupid for any Oath Keepers to go into the Capitol. He insisted that was not their “mission.”
There was no plan to enter the building for any purpose,” Rhodes told the court in Washington, DC.
Rhodes is on trial with four others for what prosecutors have alleged was a plan to stage an armed rebellion to stop the transfer of presidential power from Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden.
Prosecutors have tried to show that for the Oath Keepers, the riot was not a spur-of-the-moment protest but part of a serious, weeks-long plot.
Rhodes’ defense is focused largely on the idea that his rhetoric was aimed at convincing Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act, which gives the president wide discretion to decide when military force is necessary and what qualifies as military force.
Rhodes told jurors he believed it would have been legal for Trump to invoke that act and call up a militia in response to what he believed was an “unconstitutional” and “invalid” election.
When prosecutors get a chance to question Rhodes this week, they are likely to highlight messages such as one Rhodes sent in December 2020 in which he said Trump “needs to know that if he fails to act, then we will.”
Rhodes did not go into the Capitol during the insurrection on January 6 last year.
Prosecutors have spent weeks methodically laying out evidence that shows Rhodes and the Oath Keepers discussing the prospect of violence before January 6 and the need to keep Biden out of the White House at all costs. Rhodes denies the charges against him.
In the realm of ‘it’s the economy, stupid’, here’s what Joe Biden is tweeting this morning.
And if you can vote but don’t you surely can’t complain about the outcome of the elections tomorrow. Here’s what US vice president Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff have on their minds today:
Here’s Guardian superstar columnist, professor, author and former labor secretary Robert Reich.
American democracy itself is in effect on the ballot at tomorrow’s elections
There are forces from the right-wing seeking to bring victories for Republican candidates running for office at national and state level who are threatening democracy in ways ranging from claiming that Joe Biden did not win the 2020 presidential election to planning more voter suppression and challenges to voting systems in numerous states.
Democratic House majority whip James Clyburn issued a dire warning via Fox News yesterday.
Clyburn swung vital, southern, Black voter support behind Joe Biden in 2020 to help him come from far behind to clinch the Democratic nomination for president.
Here’s a recent Guardian special report on the threat to US elections.
In a round-up of predictions from some other outlets’ reporters whose job it is to be 24/7 election obsessives for the specialist websites, Politico summarizes some of the forecasts for the House.
The Cook Political Report’s House of Representatives specialist David Wasserman assesses today that 212 seats House seats can be called “lean Republican” or stronger for the GOP and 188 seats are leaning towards the Democrats, and there are 35 seats he deems to be toss-ups.
Wasserman tells Politico that if those toss-ups were to split evenly, Republicans would wind up at around 230 seats, a gain of 17. His team believes a Republican gain of 15 to 25 seats in the House is most likely but also that toss-ups could break mostly one way or the other and if they break red, that will of course push GOP gains even higher.
Kyle Kondik’s House forecast for online political newsletter and election handicapper Sabato’s Crystal Ball, reckons the GOP will gain 24 seats in the House. They only need to flip five seats from the current balance to give them control of the chamber and block further Biden legislation, no matter what happens in the US Senate.
And opinion-poll analysis specialists FiveThirtyEight give Republicans an 80% chance of winning between one and 33 seats in the House.
Here’s an explainer from some of the Guardian US team about why the midterms matter.
Could Trump announce his 2024 bid tonight?
That is certainly the rumor flying around senior Republican circles at the moment, according to Axios scribe Jonathan Swan.
The well-regarded journalist has tweeted that a flood of Republican figures are in various stages of panic and anticipation that Donald Trump will use the platform of his Ohio rally tonight to announce a 2024 run.
Of course, the truth is probably unknowable – perhaps even to Trump himself given his proclivity to do things on the fly. What is certain is that all the speculation on a Trump White House run is firmly centered on when not if.
Republicans are going to revel in a so-called red wave in the US midterm elections, winning control of both chambers of Congress and putting Democrat Joe Biden’s back right up against the wall for the rest of this presidential term, if the predictions of Henry Olsen, Washington Post columnist and senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, are anything to go by.
He is certainly at the high end of super-geek predictions in his forecast for the shellacking awaiting Democrats. He’s predicting that the GOP will gain 33 House seats and also take a 54-46 Senate majority once voting ends tomorrow evening.
Politico, by contrast, is predicting a modest win for Republicans and keeps the Senate competition as a toss-up, with one last full day on the campaign trail remaining.
About 41 million Americans have already voted in a surge of early voting, out of almost 170 million registered voters in the country.
Here’s Olsen’s piece in the WaPo today.