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Travis Gettys

‘The clock is ticking’: Republicans fret as Biden widens massive money gap over Trump

Joe Biden has opened a yawning fundraising gap over President Donald Trump, and Republicans are getting nervous.

The Biden campaign raised $200 million more than Trump's campaign last month and started October with $177 million in the bank, which is nearly three times more than the incumbent president's $63 million — and GOP strategists say that may be tough to overcome, reported Politico.

"The obstacles to victory are mounting and the clock is ticking," said GOP strategist Ken Spain. "It will likely take a political earthquake to change the trajectory of this race."

Trump has cut his TV ad spending in key states in the final weeks of the campaign, but he managed to pull off a seemingly unlikely victory in 2016 despite being outspent by Hillary Clinton.

Donors are starting to wonder where their money has gone.

Filings with the Federal Election Commissions show 80 percent of the Trump campaign's more than $100 million in spending was pumped into American Made Media Consultants LLC, which is responsible for TV and digital ad buys.

But those filings don't show where the money actually went, and AMMC is now under investigation as a possible "pass-through" to hide campaign disbursements following a complaint by the Campaign Legal Center.

Biden has already reserved $63.8 million in TV ads across 20 states, while Trump has $31.9 million laid out, although the president's campaign has regularly canceled some of its reserved ad time in Iowa, New Hampshire and Ohio, among other states

Trump has gotten some help from the Preserve America super PAC largely funded by casino magnates Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, who poured $53.8 million into TV and digital ad buys.

Ike Perlmutter, the longtime chair of Marvel Entertainment, and his wife, Laura Perlmutter, donated $21 million to the pro-Trump America First Action, and businessman Timothy Mellon also gave $10 million.

The president promised in early September to spend as much as $100 million of his own money on his re-election campaign, but so far he's contributed only about $8,000 this election cycle — compared to the $66 million he donated to his first presidential campaign.

Ivanka Trump could be targeted for multiple corruption investigations after her dad leaves office

President Donald Trump's scurrilous attacks on Joe Biden's son could turn the spotlight onto his eldest daughter's shady dealings.

Ivanka Trump, who's a senior adviser in the White House alongside her husband Jared Kushner, has been the subject of repeated ethics complaints detailing her alleged corruption, according to The Daily Beast's Dean Obeidallah.

"If Hunter Biden had received a lucrative deal from a foreign country on the very same day his then-vice president father was meeting with the leader of that foreign country, Trump — and many in the media — would be calling that out as sleazy and possibly illegal," Obeidallah writes. "But Ivanka Trump has done that and worse and we don't hear a peep."

The non-partisan watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) has been tracking Ivanka Trump's unethical conduct back to early 2017, and has filed complaints covering, among other things, her dealings with China and asked for an investigation into her and Kushner's real estate holdings.

"In April 2017, on the very same day Trump dined with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Chinese government granted preliminary approval for Ivanka's long-sought-after trademarks for her namesake fashion brand," Obeidallah writes.

"Another jaw-dropping example of possible blatant corruption, as CREW detailed, came when Ivanka received preliminary approval for additional trademarks from China's government on June 7, 2018," he adds. "What else happened on June 7, 2018? Her father agreed to lift sanctions against the massive Chinese telecommunication company ZTE, which is partly owned by the Chinese government. The Trumps aren't even trying to hide the conflicts!"

CREW has asked the Department of Justice whether Ivanka Trump and her husband personally benefited from a new tax law that she had worked on, and the watchdog is cataloguing possible violations right up through last week — when she allegedly violated the Hatch Act eight times in 48 hours.

"These allegations demand a full investigation to determine Ivanka and her father's possible role in these sweetheart deals," Obeidallah writes. "Despite what Donald and Ivanka may believe, just because your last name is Trump does not mean you are above the law."

Watch: Dick Durbin expertly details the double standard in Barrett’s refusal to address election delay

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) pressed Amy Coney Barrett to explain why she'd keep an open mind on President Donald Trump hypothetically delaying the election, and said that undercut her guiding legal philosophy.

The Supreme Court nominee has repeatedly refused to say whether she believed the president had the right to change the election date, which the Constitution plainly states is the authority of Congress, and said she would have to consider the facts of any lawsuit brought to challenge such an order.

"I've given a response to every hypothetical that I've been asked in the hearings," Barrett told Durbin. "As I said yesterday, I do that regardless of whether it's easy or hard. I don't do that to try to — whether the question, I mean, would be easy or hard. I don't try to do that to signal, but because it would be inappropriate for me to make a comment, and I don't think I've answered any legal hypotheticals in keeping with the 'Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg rule.'"

Durbin was less than satisfied with Barrett's explanation.

"I guess what troubles me is this," Durbin said. "You style yourself an originalist, textualist, factualist — whatever the term is — which means you go right to the words and try to understand the words in their original meaning. If I change Sen. [Dianne] Feinstein's question and didn't ask you if the president has the authority to unilaterally delay an election, asked you does the president have the right to deny a person a right to vote based on their race, what's your answer?"

Barrett told the senator that the Constitution prohibited the example he suggested.

"Obviously there are many laws in effect, including the Equal Protection Clause, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, including the 15th Amendment, which protects the right to vote against discrimination based on race," she said. "There's a principle and constitutional law called external constraints. Even if one evaluates what the authority a branch might have to act, there are external constraints from other parts of the Constitution. Here it's the 14th and 15th Amendments."

Durbin continued.

"Of course, the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States on the account of race," he agreed. "For a textualist, that is clear text as I see it, but when asked whether or not the president has any authority to unilaterally deny that right to vote for a person based on race or even gender, are you saying you can't answer that question?"

Barrett argued that she'd simply cited the constitutional amendments that addressed his question, and Durbin asked why she wouldn't do the same with the election delay issue that's also addressed by the Constitution.

"But whether a president can unilaterally deny, you're not going to answer yes or no?" he said.

Barrett told the senator she wouldn't answer hypotheticals, and Durbin said her refusal contradicted her guiding philosophy.

"It strains originalism," Durbin said, "if the clear wording of the Constitution establishes a right and you will not acknowledge it."

10 14 2020 10 39 16

Watch: Kamala Harris hammers Lindsey Graham for rushing court nominee instead of offering COVID-19 relief

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) took aim at Senate Republicans for holding Supreme Court nomination hearings in the midst of a coronavirus outbreak.

The California Democrat and vice presidential nominee ripped Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for scheduling the hearing for Amy Coney Barrett after multiple individuals tested positive after attending her White House announcement ceremony.

"This hearing has brought together more than 50 people to sit inside of a closed-door room for hours while our nation is facing a deadly airborne virus," Harris said. "This committee has ignored common sense requests to keep people safe including not requiring testing for all members, despite a coronavirus outbreak among senators of this very committee. By contrast, in response to this recent Senate outbreak, the leaders of Senate Republicans, rightly, postponed business on the Senate floor this week to protect the health and safety of senators and staff."

"Mr. Chairman, for the same reasons this hearing should have been postponed," she continued. "The decision to hold this hearing now is reckless and places facilities' workers, janitorial staff, congressional aides and Capitol Police at risk, not to mention while tens of millions of Americans are struggling to pay their bills, the Senate should be prioritizing coronavirus relief and providing financial support to those families. The American people need to have help, to make rent or their mortgage payment."

"We should provide financial assistance to those who have lost their job and help parents put food on the table," Harris added. "Small businesses need help, as do the cities, towns and hospitals that this crisis has pushed to the brink. A House bill would help families of small businesses get through this crisis, but Senate Republicans have not lifted a finger for 150 days, which is how long that bill has been here in the Senate to move the bill. Yet this committee is determined to rush a Supreme Court confirmation hearing through in just 16 days. Senate Republicans have made it crystal clear that rushing a supreme court nomination is more important than helping and supporting the American people who are suffering from a deadly pandemic and a devastating economic crisis. Their priorities are not the American people's priorities, but for the moment, Senate Republicans hold the majority in the Senate and determine the schedule, so here we are."

10 12 2020 13 06 33

AP reporter says Republicans already ‘finger-pointing’ over looming election debacle: ‘Sense of desperation’

White House reporter Jonathan Lemire says Republicans are increasingly worried that President Donald Trump has endangered their Senate majority.

The Associated Press reporter told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that Trump's coronavirus infection had upended his own campaign and hurt embattled GOP senators in theirs.

"A sense of desperation and, really, alarm set in among Republicans both in and outside of the White House of the state of this campaign, which is why the president is going to be, he's suddenly back in public life," Lemire said. "He had that event on Saturday and resumes campaigning tonight in Florida."

"As we reported just now, there's growing panic in the Republican Party," he added. "The one-two punch of his widely panned debate performance and the COVID-19 diagnosis, a lot of finger-pointing on how they handled pulling out of the debate, the blowing up of the COVID relief talks. They're trying to set up excuses as to why he lost, and there's great concern."

That has caused some Republicans to distance themselves from the president since his diagnosis, Lemire said.

"There's growing alarm not only in the states we have been talking about, about losing Senate seats in Colorado or North Carolina, but also deep red states like Kansas and South Carolina," he said. "Where Lindsey Graham's challenger put up a record amount of fund-raising in the last month. There's a fear that the White House is slipping away and he's pulling the rest of the party with him. There's a chance now that some in the party believe that it's not just that Joe Biden might post a decisive victory on the election night, and the recount and the court challenges, but a sense, indeed, that the Democrats could sweep to power here and fully repudiate where the president has taken the Republican Party."

"There's still three weeks to go, of course things can change," Lemire said. "But right now, with time running out, there's grave alarm among the Republicans about the fate of the White House and the Senate."

10 12 2020 06 07 42

'Submissive, fearful and longing for a mighty leader': Experts explain what's wrong with Trump supporters

President Donald Trump has tapped into a wellspring of authoritarianism running beneath the American electorate, according to a new book, and those voters aren't going away if he loses.

Psychology professor Bob Altemeyer and former Nixon White House lawyer John Dean explore that anti-democratic dynamic in their new book, "Authoritarian Nightmare," and found that many Republican voters prefer strong authoritarian leadership, reported the Washington Post.

"[Many Trump supporters] are submissive, fearful, and longing for a mighty leader who will protect them from life's threats," the authors write. "They divide the world into friend and foe, with the latter greatly outnumbering the former."

The authors measure authoritarianism using the right-wing authoritarian (RWA) scale Altemeyer developed in the early 1980s, which identifies authoritarian tendencies on a sliding scale, and surveyed 990 American voters in fall 2019 with help from the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

"They found a striking linear relationship between support for Trump and an authoritarian mind-set," the Post reported. "The stronger a person supported Trump, the higher he or she scored on the RWA scale. People saying they strongly disapproved of Trump, for instance, had an average RWA score of 54. Those indicating complete support of the president, on the other hand, had an average score of 119, more than twice as authoritarian as Trump opponents."

Many experts from a variety of fields agree that Trump displays authoritarian tendencies and poses a threat to U.S. democracy, but he needs his supporters to impose his will on American institutions and traditions.

"Even if Donald Trump disappeared tomorrow," Altemeyer and Dean write, "the millions of people who made him president would be ready to make someone else similar president instead."

Rambling Trump flops hard after Limbaugh asks how he will protect people with pre-existing conditions

President Donald Trump rambled off-topic after Rush Limbaugh asked him about health care protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

The president and his Republican allies are keen to undo the Affordable Care Act, which could place health care out of reach for Americans with pre-existing conditions, and the conservative Limbaugh asked Trump to explain his plan.

"This is [from] a woman in Massachusetts named Kathy," Limbaugh said, reading the listener's question. "'I'm glad that you and the lady are recovering from COVID, so happy you're our president thank you for all you do to defend us. Questions about health care and pre-existing conditions are very important to me and a lot of Americans. I believe you said pre-existing conditions will be covered in your health care plan, but please could you explain this a little more because there are a lot of people saying you're not going to cover pre-existing conditions and I wish you need to get your message out since this that the Democrats are trying to malign you on this."

The president didn't spend much time addressing health care or pre-existing conditions.

"The Democrats are vicious and they lie, and what they do, as an example health care and other things," Trump said, "they have me standing at the grave of beautiful soldier at an old cemetery, magnificent cemetery, and nobody respects soldiers more than I do, especially whether you're talking about live soldiers or soldiers that gave their lives, and they have a source say these are suckers and losers. This was for a magazine that's third-rate, you know super-liberal Obama magazine, and it's a quote, they took that quote from one source I have 25 people that verbally, that, you know, on the record, said that was never said. Who would ever say that? Only an animal would say that."

Trump continued complaining about that Atlantic report, which was corroborated by other news organizations, before addressing Kathy's question.

"They do the same thing with health care," Trump said. "They'll make a statement that's so bad. Now pre-existing conditions, I'm totally for, but I'm against Obamacare because Obamacare is too expensive. I already got rid of the individual mandate, which is the worst part of Obamacare, that we had to pay a fortune for the privilege of not paying for bad health insurance. You understand that. So I got rid of it, that was I got rid of it through the law. I got rid of it under our tax decrease, the the biggest tax decrease in the history of our country. We would have never been able to build up the economy if we didn't get that, but one of the things I got in, I got rid of the individual mandate and what I want to do is, and we're fighting to terminate, I sort of have terminated Obamacare, because once you get rid of the individual mandate it's no longer Obamacare, but I had a choice to make. Rush, it was a big choice. Do I maintain Obamacare, the remnants of Obamacare, after that the, you know, the mandate. Do I maintain it well or do I run it badly? I could have done it either way."

The president insisted his Department of Health and Human Services was running the health care exchange well, and better than the Obama administration had, but claimed the coverage was still bad.

"Remember they spent $50 million, $5 billion dollars on the server, if you remember," Trump said. "They couldn't get the server right."

Limbaugh tried to steer the president back on topic, and the president briefly obliged.

"What they do is they love to say that I'm going to get rid of pre-existing conditions," Trump said. "No. I want to terminate Obamacare and then come up with a great, and we have come up with a great health care plan that's much less expensive and does include people with pre-existing conditions. That's what I want to do."

‘There’s something wrong’: Pelosi discusses Trump’s ‘medicated’ state on The View

President Donald Trump has raised concerns about his medicated state during his coronavirus treatment, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been concerned about his drug use for much longer.

The president returned to the White House after three days at Walter Reed Medical Center, and Pelosi told "The View" host Whoopi Goldberg she's not going anywhere near Trump to discuss the pandemic relief bill he killed via tweet.

"I wouldn't go anywhere near the White House," Pelosi said. "It's one of the most dangerous places in the country, both in terms of the assault that it makes on truth as well as health."

Trump has shown possible side effects from the dexamethasone he's taking for his COVID-19 infection, which has spread through many of his staffers and some Republican senators, but Pelosi said he seemed drugged the last time she saw him in person early this year.

"Last time I had an interaction with the president was the State of the Union address, and then after that, I said to my staff, I said, 'I think he was medicated, there's something wrong with how he came on and presented,'" Pelosi said.

Pelosi said so at the time, and said Trump had also seemed to be sedated during the 2019 congressional address, but she said the president — who accused Joe Biden of taking drugs before their debate — didn't seem to be thinking clearly this week.

"I said yesterday to my colleagues, I said, there are those who say that a steroid has an impact on people's thinking," she said. "I don't know, but there are those health care providers who say that. Also, if you have the coronavirus, it has an impact as well."

10 07 2020 11 17 55

‘This place is a cesspool’: White House staffers furious at Trump’s ‘insane’ return from hospital

President Donald Trump left Walter Reed Medical Center and returned to the White House — and his staffers are furious.

The president announced his COVID-19 infection early Friday and spent the weekend getting treated at the hospital, and aides and officials who work with him were alarmed by his dramatic return to the White House, reported Axios.

"It's insane that he would return to the White House and jeopardize his staff's health when we are still learning of new cases among senior staff," one White House source told the website. "This place is a cesspool."

Several others in the White House have tested positive for the coronavirus, and some staffers have expressed frustration about the lack of communication about the outbreak from chief of staff Mark Meadows.

"[Trump] was so concerned with preventing embarrassing stories that he exposed thousands of his own staff and supporters to a deadly virus," the White House source said. "He has kept us in the dark, and now our spouses and kids have to pay the price. It's just selfish."

Oldest living CIA agent believes Russia infiltrated GOP long before Trump took over

The oldest living CIA agent believes Russia sank its hooks into the Republican Party well before President Donald Trump emerged as a viable candidate.

Peter Sichel was one of the CIA's first agents at the start of the Cold War, and he sees evidence of Russia's spycraft against Trump and the GOP in the Senate Intelligence Committee, reported The Daily Beast.

"One great advantage the Soviets always had over us, is that they played the long game. We thought in terms of quarters, whereas they thought in terms of years or even decades," Sichel said. "They were opportunistic, willing to let matters gradually develop until the right political faction or right leader to support had emerged."

Senate investigators found the Kremlin sought to infiltrate the Republican Party long before Trump became its nominee as part of Russian president Vladimir Putin's effort to deny the White House to Hillary Clinton.

Putin had fostered right-wing political movements across Europe to gain influence there, and Trump's presidential campaign promoted many of the same nationalist themes, and Sichel found numerous instances where Trump campaign operatives opened themselves up to possible Russian blackmail.

"The KGB were absolute masters at it," Sichel said, "and they would use whatever they could get their hands on. A favorite was honey traps [or sexual entrapments], but bribes, favors, whatever they could find. And once they had their hooks into you, they owned you."

Paul Manafort stayed in close contact with Russian spy Konstantin Kilimnik throughout the campaign, while Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn met with Russian intelligence operatives promising dirt against Clinton.

"The key thing is that all of them then lied about it to investigators, and that's where the potential blackmail comes in. Imagine if the FBI hadn't caught Flynn out, and he had remained in his post," Sichel said. "The Russians knew he lied — I'm sure they taped all their communications with him — so they would have had him over a barrel forever."

The 97-year-old Sichel said the president himself continued to compromise himself by lying about his own dealings with Russia.

"I know he doesn't see it this way, but by having all this stuff brought out in public, it removes the blackmail threat," Sichel said. "The smartest thing Trump could have done when all this started to break was to just come out and say, 'Yes, it appears there was Russian involvement with my campaign, but that's over with now, I'm the president, so let's move on.' But he didn't do that, obviously. Perhaps there were reasons why he couldn't."