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Trump news: President accuses Democrats of holding stimulus money ‘hostage’ and awards football coach Lou Holtz the Presidential Medal of Freedom after his RNC speech

Follow the latest 2020 election updates and polls 

Alex Woodward,Gino Spocchia,Danielle Zoellner
Friday 04 September 2020 00:25 BST
Donald Trump mocks Joe Biden for not wearing a mask

Donald Trump has awarded famed college football coach Lou Holtz the Presidential Medal of Freedom after the coach made a speech during the Republican National Convention. During his speech, Mr Holtz called into question Joe Biden's Catholic faith.

The president's Friday press briefing also involved him accusing Democrats of holding stimulus money "hostage", with claims that $300bn in funding could be available to Americans if the Democrats would just reach a deal with the White House.

When asked about the poisoning of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny, Mr Trump said he was "no proof" yet that the man was poisoned, despite Germany reporting it to be true.

Mr Trump has also denied reports that he labelled American war dead “losers” and “suckers” during a visit to Europe, where he was said to have avoided visiting a cemetery he believed was unimportant. When asked why General John Kelly, his former chief of staff, has not denied the reports, Mr Trump said that General Kelly might be one of The Atlantic's sources.

Since the report was released, journalists from The Washington Post, Associated Press, and Fox News have all independently confirmed key information. But the White House has held firm that the president never said disparaging comments against military troops.

The US president argued on Thursday that ”nobody has done what I’ve done” for war veterans, as he mocked his election opponent Mr Biden for wearing masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.

His Democratic rival condemned the president's alleged comments in a furious speech on Friday while delivering remarks on the economy and urging the president work with Congress on extending coronavirus relief. His remarks followed the release of an August jobs report showing unemployment at 8.4 per cent, still more than double February's jobless figures.

The president also criticised Mr Biden for visiting Kenosha, Wisconsin, claiming there was “nobody there” despite the candidate holding a church meeting and speaking with the family of Jacob Blake, who was left paralysed after an officer fired seven rounds into his back.

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

Gino Spocchia4 September 2020 08:15

Trump's comments on American war dead

Donald Trump appeared to mock US military members during a 2018 visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France, where he called the country's war dead "losers" and "suckers".

Those claims, which the president described as "disgraceful" and "false" on Thursday night, were reported by The Atlantic. 

Officials told the magazine that president Trump did not want to visit the cemetery because it was "filled with losers".

The White House had blamed the cancelled visit on poor weather at the time, as Mr Trump came under pressure for cancelling the visit. 

A senior official in the Defence Department official with first-hand knowledge of events and a senior Marine Corps officer have meanwhile confirmed some of the remarks to the Associated Press.

Gino Spocchia4 September 2020 08:58

Trump someone who 'does not understand non-transactional life choices'

Donald Trump was left fuming by a story in The Atlantic that described him as unwilling to honour the US’s war dead, instead calling the country's war dead “losers” and “suckers”.

Written by the magazine’s editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg and drawing on multiple anonymous sources, the story has been met with outrage from the president’s supporters and Mr Trump himself.

At the core of the article’s analysis is a picture of a cynical, frustrated president who “simply does not understand non-transactional life choices”, and who therefore cannot but view military volunteers as “suckers” who failed to secure anything for themselves.

It also quotes various sources describing him refusing to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris on the basis that “it’s filled with losers”; another recalls him telling his staff not to include amputee veterans in a military parade, allegedly saying “nobody wants to see that”.

Andrew Naughtie reports:

Gino Spocchia4 September 2020 14:13

Billionaire rapper blocked from appearing on ballots

Judges in Arizona and Virginia have ruled that rapper Kanye West cannot appear on ballots as a presidential candidate.

In a ruling on Thursday, judge Scott McCoy concluded that “the relative hardships favour him,” and that having West’s name on the ballot in Arizona would create confusion for voters.

Whilst in Virginia, attorneys argued that Mr West had used "fraudulent" nominating signatures in a bid to get on ballots.

The surprise 2020 presidential candidate, who has defended his run for the White House amid accusations that he was spoiling Joe Biden's chances, will appear on the ballot in a handful of states on 3 November.

Here's the latest:

Gino Spocchia4 September 2020 14:25

Trump slams Biden for wearing masks 

Donald Trump, who has avoided wearing masks in public amid the coronavirus pandemic, mocked his Democratic opponent for being “a man who likes a mask”.

Speaking in front of hundreds of supporters packed into an airport hangar in Pennsylvania on Thursday, the US president’s comments came as he appeared to abuse state coronavirus restrictions on outdoor events of more than 250 people.

His White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, meanwhile tweeted a picture showing an overflow crowd that was similarly packed-out.

Mr Trump asked the crowd: “Did you ever see a man who likes a mask as much as him?”

Here's the report:

Gino Spocchia4 September 2020 14:33

Jobs numbers 'better than expected'

In a Twitter post on Friday, Donald Trump praised his administration's jobs numbers as being "better than expected", following an almost 2 per cent drop in the number of unemployed persons.  

According to Labor Department figures, the number of laid-off workers in August fell from 10.2 per cent to 8.4 per cent, even as hiring appeared to slow-down.  

Gino Spocchia4 September 2020 14:40

Trump on McCain: 'He's not a war hero'

The Atlantic report revealing how Donald Trump dubbed US war dead as "losers", also contained comments by the president on the late Republican congressman John McCain, which were just as disparaging. 

According to a senior Marine Corps officer, citing sources with firsthand knowledge, Mr Trump had said he didn't want to support the August 2018 funeral of McCain, a decorated Navy veteran who spent years as a Vietnam prisoner of war, because he was a "loser."

Allegedly, he was also angered by flags being flown at half-staff for McCain, saying: "What the f*** are we doing that for? Guy was a f****** loser."

Mr Trump, who denied calling veterans "losers", acknowledged on Thursday he was "never a fan" of McCain and disagreed with him, but said he still respected him and approved everything to do with his "first-class triple-A funeral" without hesitation because "I felt he deserved it."

That, however, was in contradiction to previous remarks by the president, such as the below...

Additional reporting by Associated Press.

Gino Spocchia4 September 2020 14:54

Trump says Biden 'too late' to visit Kenosha 

"Biden went [to Kenosha] today. There was nobody there. There was nobody there," said Donald Trump on Thursday, as his Democratic opponent toured the Wisconsin city rocked by protests and anger at the police shooting of an unarmed black man, Jacob Blake.

In reality, Mr Biden was greeted after an evening event by hundreds of supporters who chanted, "Let's go Joe!"

And, in contrast to the president, Mr Biden met with Mr Blake and his family, who praised the Democrat. 

The victim's uncle, Justin Blake, comparing Mr Trump's and Mr Biden's respective visits, said: "Trump didn't ask about my nephew. Trump didn't mention my nephew's name while he was here".

Associated Press

Gino Spocchia4 September 2020 15:06

Police kill suspect in Portland

Clashes between Trump supporters and Black Lives Matter activists in Portland last weekend, saw Aaron "Jay" Danielson, aged 39, fatally shot.

Then on Thursday, the suspected shooter, Michael Forest Reinoehl, was killed by a law enforcement task force sent to arrest him outside Lacey, Washington.

It marks the latest escalation in racial tensions in the United States' before November's election.

Reinoehl, in an interview with Vice News, had said he acted in self-defence.

"You know, lots of lawyers suggest that I shouldn't even be saying anything, but I feel it's important that the world at least gets a little bit of what's really going on," Mr Reinoehl reportedly said.

Justin Vallejo has the latest:

Gino Spocchia4 September 2020 15:36

Zuckerberg says Trump rhetoric 'problematic'

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said he told Donald Trump that his rhetoric is "problematic" during an appearance on CBS "This Morning."

Mr Zuckerberg said the exchange occurred during past discussions the men have had.

"I have had certain discussions with him in the past and where I've told him that I thought some of the rhetoric was problematic," Mr Zuckerberg said. "If I did talk to him, you know, be clear about how - just the importance of making sure that people have confidence in the election."

It comes as Facebook, on Thursday, announced new measures to prevent election interference.

Graig Graziosi reports:

Gino Spocchia4 September 2020 15:43

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