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Trump news: President threatens Portland protesters with ‘strong offensive force’ as White House condemns delay of Hong Kong elections

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Donald Trump on delaying the election and mail-in voting: It will be the 'most inaccurate and fraudulent in history'

Donald Trump has threatened Portland protesters with "very strong offensive force" as the federal government and residents continue to clash in the liberal city. The president warned he might send the National Guard to stop the "terrorists" in the city.

In Albuquerque, meanwhile, activists vowed to meet federal agents with peaceful protests and civil disobedience as Trump said the government's response would expand to more cities, including Detroit, Cleveland and Milwaukee.

This comes as White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has slammed China for delaying Hong Kong elections, even though that is what Mr Trump suggested on Twitter for the United States' own presidential election.

Mr Trump refused to back down from his controversial suggestion that November's election be postponed despite an outcry among his fellow Republicans, insisting "I don't want to see a crooked election", as he continues to claim mail-in voting - a likely necessity given the coronavirus outbreak - is vulnerable to fraud.

Dr Anthony Fauci testified before lawmakers about the Trump administration's coronavirus response, with the president praising a line of questioning from Republican Jim Jordan. The infectious disease expert was asked he wouldn't make a recommendation on the virus spreading at protests after while he was quick to make recommendations about baseball.

The CDC is forecasting 173,000 deaths by mid-August. Democrats and Republicans are expected to meet on Saturday to discuss the next coronavirus relief package after Trump tweeted criticism at Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer for failing to reach an agreement by Friday.


Hello and welcome to The Independent's rolling coverage of the Donald Trump administration.

Joe Sommerlad31 July 2020 10:00

Trump refuses to back down from election delay proposal

Donald Trump has refused to back down from his controversial suggestion that November’s election be postponed, insisting “I don’t want to see a crooked election”, as he continues to claim mail-in voting - a likely necessity given the coronavirus outbreak - is vulnerable to fraud.

“I want an election and a result, much, much more than you,” he said at the White House on Thursday.

“I don’t want to delay. I want to have the election. But I also don’t want to have to wait three months and then find out that the ballots are all missing, and the election doesn’t mean anything.”

The president cited recent media reports about potential problems with postal ballots arriving late and said it could take weeks, months or even years to sort it out.

“Do I want to see a date change? No, but I don’t want to see a crooked election,” he said.

Trailing badly in the polls to presumptive Democratic candidate Joe Biden, Trump posted a tweet yesterday that said voting by mail, which many states are likely to use because of the pandemic, would result in a “fraudulent” vote.

“It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???,” he added, his tweet following hot on the heels of the news that US GDP fell 9.5 per cent in the second quarter, wiping out five years of growth and therefore not fooling anyone, given that his re-election case is centered on prosperity.



Trump continued to make his case on Twitter last night…


...glorying in forcing the “very dishonest LameStream Media to finally start talking about the RISKS to our Democracy”, rather than the economic turmoil.

Here’s Andrew Buncombe’s report.

Joe Sommerlad31 July 2020 10:15

Republicans tell Trump: ‘You can't delay 2020 election’

This president has repeatedly tested the Republican Party's limits on issues including race, trade and immigration. On Thursday, he finally hit a wall.

GOP officials from New Hampshire to Mississippi to Iowa quickly pushed back against Trump's suggestion that it might be necessary to delay the November election - which he cannot do without congressional approval - because of the unfounded threat of voter fraud. They reassured voters that the election would proceed on the constitutionally mandated day as it has for more than two centuries.

Iowa senator Chuck Grassley was especially blunt: "All I can say is, it doesn't matter what one individual in this country says. We still are a country based on the rule of law, and we want to follow the law."

New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu vowed his state would hold its November elections as scheduled: "End of story." 

Wyoming congresswoman Liz Cheney, who leads the House Republican Conference, said, "The resistance to this idea among Republicans is overwhelming."

Andrew Naughtie has more reaction.

Joe Sommerlad31 July 2020 10:30

Obama brands president 'racist, nativist and sexist'

Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, who yesterday delivered an impassioned eulogy at the funeral of civil rights hero John Lewis while Trump stayed away, has reportedly been describing the president as “racist, nativist and sexist” in Zoom calls with fundraisers on behalf of Democratic challenger Joe Biden, his old deputy.

James Crump has this one.

Joe Sommerlad31 July 2020 10:45

Trump threatens to send National Guard to Portland to quell protests

Back to that White House press conference yesterday, where the president had a renewed threat for Black Lives Matter protesters in the Oregon city that has become the epicentre of national unrest since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May.

“The governor and the mayor, we’ve been dealing with them, and we think they don’t know what they’re doing because this should not have been going on for 60 days,” Trump said. ”It’s not our job to go clean out the cities, it’s supposed to be done by local law enforcement.”

He said that federal police officers would stay in Portland to see how local law enforcement does and, if they don’t wrest control of the city, then the federal government will “take care of it”.

“And we’re telling these protestors, and many should be arrested because these are professional agitators, these are professional anarchists, these are people that hate our country,” Trump said.

“They’re working today and probably tomorrow to clean out this beehive of terrorists, and if they do it I’m going to be very happy. And then slowly we’ll be able to leave the city. If they don’t do it we’ll send in the National Guard.”

For their part, the Portland protesters maintain it is the strongarm tactics of federal agents that are escalating tensions, not their peaceful demonstrations calling for police reforms.

Here’s Justin Vallejo’s report.

Joe Sommerlad31 July 2020 11:00

President praises late Herman Cain, says US Covid-19 crisis no worse than other countries and pushes for school reopening

Also in yesterday’s briefing, Trump paid tribute to his late friend, the former GOP presidential candidate and Godfather's Pizza executive Herman Cain, who died on Thursday in hospital after contracting coronavirus at June’s MAGA rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at which he had flaunted not wearing a mask.

"Unfortunately, he passed away from a thing called the China virus," was how Trump phrased it.

He also attempted to compare the disastrous US coronavirus situation with other countries like Japan and Australia, a laughably ludicrous proposition if it weren’t all so tragic.

It was a tactic that hadn’t didn’t work too well for him on Twitter either.


Also on the pandemic, Trump said keeping schools closed is likely to cause “probably more death” than Covid-19 (?) and falsely claimed that young people “are almost immune to this disease”.

Here’s Louise Hall’s report on his latest desperate attempts at defending his record.

Joe Sommerlad31 July 2020 11:15

Trump recorded complaining about 'bulls***' cancel culture in call with senator

The New York Times reports today that a recent call between the president and Oklahoma Republican senator James Inhofe was secretly recorded when the latter rather unwisely put the chat on speakerphone in an Italian restaurant in DC.

In the audio, seemingly taped by a fellow patron and passed to The NYT, Trump is heard to say: “All right, my friend. Are you doing good? We’re going to keep the name of Robert E Lee?” 

The discussion concerns pressure to rename a US military base named after the Confederate general in the wake of the reckoning with American history and its monuments in response to the George Floyd killing.

Inhofe responds on the tape: “Just trust me. I’ll make it happen.”

“I had about 95,000 positive retweets on that,” Trump chimes in, referring to the tweet below. “That’s a lot.”


Trump is then reportedly dismissive of the whole “cancel culture” conversation, saying people’s primary concern is returning to normality after the pandemic lockdown. 

“A lot of people want to be able to go back to life - not this bulls***,” he says.

Joe Sommerlad31 July 2020 11:30

Trump attacks Biden over ‘China Virus’, touts border wall and appeals for blood plasma from Covid survivors

On Twitter over night, the president posted a distinctly unimpressive Biden attack video attempting to spell out that his rival had been repeatedly “wrong” on the pandemic but only really serving as a reminder to viewers of just how often an exasperated Biden has been forced to call on Trump to tone down his “xenophobic fear-mongering”.


He also touted his near-mythic US-Mexico border wall, crediting it with discouraging illegal crossings from the south west - although surely the raging plague is the real reason.


Trump also issued an appeal for blood plasma from people who have contracted the coronavirus to aid further medical testing.


Let’s hope he’s not hoping to pass it on to Dr Stella Immanuel!

Speaking of whom, his aides are already growing tired of having to defend him for retweeting her - given her, um, eccentric views on sexy demons and aliens.

Graig Graziosi has more on the embarrassment the self-styled "God's battle axe" has caused at the White House.

Joe Sommerlad31 July 2020 11:50

Tucker Carlson launches stunning attack on Barack Obama’s eulogy for John Lewis

Incredible, even by this Fox pundit’s low, low standards.


Here’s Griffin Connolly on what the 44th president actually had to say about voting rights and the end of filibustering, entirely appropriate subjects when paying tribute to a public servant who devoted his life to change and reform, as Lewis did, and whose fine work and "good trouble" ethic must continue to be pursued by his political heirs.

Joe Sommerlad31 July 2020 12:10

Democrats reject short-term unemployment benefits deal ahead of deadline

With aid expiring, the White House offered a short-term extension on Thursday of a $600 (£457) weekly unemployment benefit that has helped keep families and the economy afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic, but Democrats rejected it, saying Trump's team failed to grasp the severity of the crisis.

Democratic leaders panned the idea in late-night talks at the Capitol, opting to keep the pressure on for a more sweeping bill that would deliver aid to state and local governments, help for the poor and funding for schools and colleges to address the pandemic. Without action, the benefit runs out today.

"They want to do one small thing that won't solve the problem," said top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer after meeting with treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

"We have to have a bill, but they just don't realise how big it has to be," said House speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Republicans have been fighting to trim back the $600 jobless benefit in the next coronavirus package, but their resolve weakened with the looming expiration of the popular benefit - and as Trump indicated that he supports keeping the full $600 benefit for now.

"We want a temporary extension of enhanced unemployment benefits," Trump said at the White House. "This will provide a critical bridge for Americans who lost their jobs to the pandemic through no fault of their own."

He added: "It has to be substantial."

During the two-hour meeting at the Capitol, Trump's team offered a weeklong extension. But Democrats have so far rejected a piecemeal approach, saying the next relief bill needs to move as a complete package. The sides agreed to talk again on Friday and into the weekend.

Before Trump spoke, top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell adjourned the chamber for the weekend while taking a procedural step that could allow voting on a potential compromise next week. Negotiators for the first time this week reported at least some progress.

"On certain issues we made progress. On certain issues we're still very far apart," Mnuchin said after the two-hour meeting in Pelosi's office. "The speaker and Senator Schumer said - and we feel the same way - that it is our objective to try to reach an agreement that's good for the American people."

There continues to be agreement among Washington's top power players that Congress must pass further relief in the coming days and weeks.

Trump is eager for another round of relief, and it's also a priority for GOP allies like McConnell, as well as Pelosi and Schumer. Democrats hold a strong negotiating hand - exploiting GOP divisions over whether more aid is even needed - and they are expected to deliver a necessary trove of votes.


Joe Sommerlad31 July 2020 12:30

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