US election wrap, October 15: As cases surge, Trump downplays Covid-19 severity in run up to prime-time town halls


By: Express Web Desk |

Updated: October 15, 2020 9:11:26 pm





Biden worst candidate in history of American presidential politics, says TrumpIn a bid to bolster his reelection chances, Trump has been downplaying the severity of the crisis and the infection, particularly after he himself was infected and had to be hospitalised a few days ago.

During the last few weeks before Election Day in the US, the country has seen a spike in coronavirus cases, throwing focus on the White House’s task force set up to tackle the pandemic, and the task force’s several failures and mishandling of the outbreak. Headed by Vice President Mike Pence, has been largely invisible in conversations concerning the outbreak. Now, a CNN report says that three weeks before the elections, the task force “for all practical purposes, been swept aside by politics and competing interests.”

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In a bid to bolster his reelection chances, Trump has been downplaying the severity of the crisis and the infection, particularly after he himself was infected and had to be hospitalised a few days ago. Trump has rejected criticism that his campaign rallies and gatherings of supporters are being billed by the US’s top health experts as “superspreader” events. The CNN reported: “Trump was irritated to learn Fauci had deemed his Rose Garden announcement of a new Supreme Court nominee a “super spreader” event and has bristled when Fauci and others on the task force caution against major gatherings like his political rallies.” Read the report here: https://cnn.it/2ItBxmB

On Thursday evening, Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden will hold competing prime-time town halls on instead of their second presidential debate. A Reuters report said that the debate was canceled after Trump refused to participate virtually. Both town halls will happen at the same time, on competing news channels; Biden on ABC and Trump on NBC.

When the debate commission had planned a virtual debate between both candidates due to the coronavirus outbreak and Trump’s infection diagnosis, the president had pulled out, insisting on a debate in person. NBC has said that Trump is no longer infectious. Read the report here: https://reut.rs/3k0dVDT

Trump has criticised a decision by Twitter and Facebook to remove a New York Post story about Joe Biden’s son Hunter, with allegations concerning business dealings with a Ukrainian energy company. Reuters has stated that the story could not be verified and added that the Biden campaign has issued a statement that the Republican-led Senate committees had earlier concluded that Biden had not engaged in any wrongdoing related to Ukraine. Read the Reuters report here; https://reut.rs/3lQ84Su

In a further crackdown on fake accounts in the run-up to the elections, Twitter said it has suspended fake accounts claiming to be owned by black supporters of Donald Trump. A BBC report indicated that the exact number of suspended accounts were not disclosed by Twitter, but the social media platform had said that these accounts had been violating its rules on spam and platform manipulation. “Many of the accounts used identical language, including the phrase: “YES IM BLACK AND IM VOTING FOR TRUMP!!!””, the BBC said. This is important because it is similar to the disinformation campaign that had been witnessed in the 2016 elections in the US, the BBC added. Read the story here: https://bbc.in/3k2GL6J

Joe Biden On Thursday evening, Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden will hold competing prime-time town halls on instead of their second presidential debate.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

There has also been renewed scrutiny of Trump taxes. A recent investigation by The New York Times had shown how he had paid “just $750 in income taxes to the federal government in 2016 and 2017, and for 10 years, paid nothing at all.” Observers have said that the investigation alone is unlikely to impact Trump in the upcoming elections, but other factors like coronavirus may influence his supporter base. The BBC has an explainer on how Trump has managed to evade paying taxes for so many years. Read the report here: https://bbc.in/3nUOKoH

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