Beneath the law
In an appeal to Hispanic voters in Florida, Joe Biden said he will stand up to repressive regimes in Latin America. President Donald Trump "can’t advance democracy and human rights for the Cuban people, or the Venezuelan people for that matter, when he has embraced so many autocrats around the world," Biden said Thursday in a speech near Fort Lauderdale.
Elsewhere in Florida, Trump amended his autocrat-flavored playbook to add a new name to the list of political foes he wants criminally prosecuted. The latest he would measure for an orange jumpsuit is Miles Taylor, the former Homeland Security official who revealed Wednesday he was the "Anonymous" author of a New York Times op-ed in 2018 that depicted an internal resistance within the administration.
There "should be major criminal liability for such scum like that," Trump said of Taylor during a campaign rally Thursday in Tampa. (Here's video.) "Are you listening to me back in Washington?" Trump added. "He should be prosecuted."
The president called for Google, which currently employs Taylor, to fire him because "bad things are going to happen to him." Trump also called for prosecution of the Times. Taylor tweeted in response that Trump is trying to use the legal system to punish and silence opponents.
It's getting crowded in the lock-’em-up waiting room. Trump has openly complained recently about Attorney General William Barr not bringing cases before Election Day against the likes of Biden, former President Barack Obama, former FBI Director James Comey, Rep. Adam Schiff, John Bolton, Hillary Clinton and so on. He loosely hurls charges of treason — including now against Taylor — without evincing an understanding of what treason means legally.
Meanwhile, Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who has been peddling a grab bag of accusations against Biden over his son Hunter's business dealings, has urged Trump to fire FBI Director Christopher Wray for not moving against the Bidens, according to the Daily Beast, which cited a White House official and a source close to Giuliani as sources.
Giuliani has yet another candidate for a correctional facility. The Sinclair Broadcast Group of local TV stations, known for a pro-Trump editorial policy, hosted an interview with Giuliani and reported afterward that the former New York mayor made a "wild accusation" against Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. He accused Dorsey of "covering up child pornography" for Hunter Biden. "Put him in jail!" Giuliani said.
Ex-Giuliani client takes plea
An ex-associate of Lev Parnas — the Ukrainian-born businessman who helped Giuliani pursue political dirt on Biden — pleaded guilty Thursday to defrauding investors in an insurance startup that paid Giuliani for consulting work and to lying to federal regulators investigating suspected campaign finance violations.
David Correia admitted in Manhattan federal court that he conspired with Parnas to defraud investors in their would-be fraud protection business, which was called Fraud Guarantee. Giuliani reportedly received $500,000 to work on behalf of Fraud Guarantee.
Correia and Parnas previously were charged in 2019, along with two other men, with conspiring to violate the law banning political donations by foreigners.
Giuliani was not mentioned during Thursday’s proceeding. He has maintained there was nothing improper about his consulting work or his efforts to undermine Biden, though his activities abroad have drawn the scrutiny of federal prosecutors in New York, The Washington Post reported. Giuliani has denied any impropriety.
Janison: No term limit for scandals
The scandals that led to Trump's impeachment last year are set to reverberate well past Tuesday, regardless of whether Trump or Biden wins the election, writes Newsday's Dan Janison.
Parnas and co-defendant Igor Fruman won't be tried until at least February 2021. Both have broken their once-close alliance with Giuliani and his dirt-digging escapades against the Bidens. Those sliming efforts are expected to continue in tandem with investigations by Republicans in Congress.
A separate chapter about Trump's fondness for the Turkish government also isn't complete. New information emerged about Barr's dismissal of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Richard Berman and a criminal case involving Halkbank, a state-owned Turkish financial institution. The case involved alleged violation of U.S. sanctions laws against Iran.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pressed Trump to kill that investigation, The New York Times reports. Trump, who has investments in Turkey, tried to twist Berman's arm to reach a settlement, but Berman resisted.
Bolton, the former national security adviser who has since turned on Trump, observed: "He would interfere in the regular government process to do something for a foreign leader … In anticipation of what? In anticipation of another favor from that person down the road."
Packing them in
Trump's rallies are among the nation’s biggest events being held in defiance of crowd-size restrictions designed to slow the coronavirus spread, with masks optional and social distancing absent, The Associated Press reports. This at a time when public health experts are advising people to think twice even about inviting many guests for Thanksgiving dinner.
Biden's COVID-cautious campaigning was mocked on Twitter by Jenna Ellis, a Trump campaign lawyer. "Biden starts his rally with thanking 'everyone' for wearing masks and social distancing. So starting with an appeal to fear. Great message, Joe," she wrote.
There were almost 90,000 new coronavirus cases in the U.S. reported Thursday — the biggest daily number since the pandemic began — and more than 1,000 additional deaths, pushing the U.S. toll above 228,000. Trump touted a Thursday report showing that the gross domestic product rebounded about 7% in the third quarter, compared with the second, as "the biggest and best" in history, though U.S. economic output is below pre-pandemic levels.
Remember Dr. Deborah Birx? CNN reports she's staying away from White House coronavirus task force meetings, rather than listen to Trump's current top adviser on the disease, Dr. Scott Atlas, a skeptic on curb-the-spread measures. Instead, Birx has gone on tour, visiting 40 states and logging more than 20,000 miles, to preach her gospel on the best ways to limit COVID-19 transmission.
This day in polls
Polls of likely voters that came out Thursday still show Biden holding the edge in swing states, and still by margins mostly too narrow for Democrats to exhale or for Republicans to give up hope.
In Florida, an NBC News/Marist poll finds Biden ahead by 4 points, 51% to Trump's 47%. Quinnipiac has the Democrat up by 7 points. A Monmouth University poll found Biden ahead from 4 to 6 points, depending on turnout.
Quinnipiac also puts Biden ahead by 7 points in Pennsylvania and 5 points in Ohio, while Trump leads by 1 point in Iowa. Other recent polls suggest slimmer Biden leads in Pennsylvania and Florida and a virtual tie in Ohio.
The New York Times/Siena College sees Biden in front by 3 points in North Carolina.
More coronavirus news
See a roundup of the latest regional pandemic developments from Long Island and beyond from Newsday's reporting staff, written by Bart Jones. For a full list of Newsday's coronavirus stories, click here.
What else is happening:
- Making America adorable again: Here's a photo of twin 4-year-old girls dressed up as Trump and Biden for Halloween, courtesy of ABC's "Good Morning America."
- All eyes Tuesday night (and possibly for days after) will be fixated on the number 270 — the total Electoral College votes needed to win the White House. How does that work? Newsday's Laura Figueroa Hernandez provides a virtual learning experience.
- Walmart on Thursday said it has pulled guns and ammunition from the sales floors of its U.S. stores as it seeks to keep firearms from being stolen should social unrest erupt, CBS News reported.
- Trump’s former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told CBS that Russia is the country he is most worried about interfering in the election. "They’re the New England Patriots of messing with elections. I think they do it better than anybody else," Coats said. Presumably he wasn't referring to the post-Tom Brady 2020 version of the Patriots, who have won two games and lost four.
- Emails obtained by NBC News indicate Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife, Susan, repeatedly blurred the lines between official government business and domestic or personal matters, including Susan Pompeo's travel and restaurant reservations and home repair requests. One email from Susan Pompeo to a State Department official said, "The dryer isn't hooked up. … I think you told me someone was coming to fix that?"
- Documents released by House investigators shed new light on a currently shelved $250 million ad campaign masterminded by Health and Human Services official Michael Caputo to "defeat despair" over the coronavirus. A proposed list of celebrity endorsers was winnowed to exclude those who supported LGBT rights and/or criticized Trump, such as Bruce Springsteen, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake. Actor Zach Galifianakis was crossed off because he once declined to have Trump on his talk show, "Between Two Ferns." Actor Randy Quaid initially agreed to participate but backed out.