• Thu. Mar 4th, 2021

Biden goes to North Carolina and Trump addresses Catholic officials and Bay of Pigs veterans.

President Donald Trump with Scott Atlas, coronavirus adviser, during a press briefing at the White House Wednesday.
Credit…Oliver Contreras for The New York Times

President Trump, during a news conference at the White House Wednesday evening, refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power after the November election.

Asked by a reporter whether he would “commit here today for a peaceful transfer of all power after the election,” noting the violence that has arisen in some cities, Mr. Trump demurred. “We’re going to have to see what happens,” he said. “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”

“We want to get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation,” he added. “The ballots are out of control. You know it. And you know who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anyone else.”

It was the latest attack on mail-in voting by Mr. Trump, who has made unfounded claims that voting by absentee ballot is rife with fraud.

Mr. Trump was later pressed about unrest in Kentucky, where the authorities earlier on Wednesday announced that three police officers in Louisville would not face homicide charges in the killing of Breonna Taylor during a botched drug raid in March. One of the officers, who has since been fired, was indicted on three counts of “wanton endangerment.”

Mr. Trump read from the public remarks by Daniel Cameron, Kentucky’s attorney general, who said that the legal process could not be dictated by emotion after the grand jury’s decision became public.

He said that Mr. Cameron, a Republican who was showcased by the national party at last month’s convention but faced criticism over his handling of the case, had brilliantly summed up the situation.

“I said, ‘Write that down for me, please,’ because I thought it was a terrific statement,” said Mr. Trump. “Mob justice is not justice,” he said, quoting Mr. Cameron. “It just becomes revenge.”

Mr. Trump said that he had a call scheduled with Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky, a Democrat.

“I understand he’s called up the National Guard, which is a good thing,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump abruptly ended his news conference after just a few minutes, saying he needed to leave for “an emergency phone call.” It was not immediately clear if the phone call was with Mr. Beshear.







Protests Erupt in Louisville After Breonna Taylor Decision

Protesters took to the streets in Louisville, Ky., after the state’s attorney general announced that only one of three officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor would be charged.

“On or about March 13, 2020, in Jefferson County, Ky., the above-named defendant, Brett Hankison, committed the offense of wanton endangerment in the first degree. That concludes the business of the grand jury sitting for Jefferson County in September 2020. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, you may be excused.” “That’s it?” “Is that the only charge?” “The cannot do their jobs! This is why we are angry! This is why we are upset!” “Say her name!” “Breonna Taylor!” “What do we want?” “Justice!” “If we don’t get it.” “Shut it down!” “If we don‘t get it!” “Burn it down!” “If we don‘t get it!” “Burn it down!” “Coming through. Coming through.” “Move. Move.”

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Protesters took to the streets in Louisville, Ky., after the state’s attorney general announced that only one of three officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor would be charged.CreditCredit…Xavier Burrell for The New York Times

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. trod gingerly on Wednesday around two exigent sources of national strife: the absence of homicide charges in the police shooting of Breonna Taylor and his opinion of a judge on President Trump’s shortlist of potential Supreme Court nominees.

Mr. Biden, who is leading Mr. Trump in national polls and in several battleground states, avoided answering whether the three officers implicated in Ms. Taylor’s death in March during a botched drug raid should have faced more serious charges.

A grand jury in Louisville, Ky., indicted one officer, who was fired, on three counts of “wanton endangerment.”

But the outcome was a far cry from the justice that Ms. Taylor’s family and legions of activists had sought. It sparked a new round of protests across the country on Wednesday.

“I don’t know the details so I’m reluctant to comment,” Mr. Biden told pool reporters on Wednesday evening as he prepared to board a plane. “I really don’t. I haven’t had a chance to get briefed. I don’t know enough to comment on.”

When a reporter told Mr. Biden that a night of protests was expected, the Democratic presidential nominee said he hoped that they would not turn violent.

“Well, they should be peaceful,” he said. “Do not sully her memory or her mother’s by engaging in any violence. It’s totally inappropriate for that to happen. She wouldn’t want it nor would her mother, so I hope they do that.”

Mr. Biden’s highly cautious answers stood in stark contrast to Mr. Trump’s often unfiltered and bellicose news conferences and campaign rallies, where he has mocked his opponent for using scripted material. Mr. Biden’s response projected the tentativeness of a team sitting on a lead and trying to run out the clock.

Mr. Biden spoke for less than three minutes to reporters, who also asked him to weigh in on the potential selection of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to file the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Judge Barrett, whom Mr. Trump named to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago in 2017, is a favorite among religious conservatives and anti-abortion activists.

“I don’t know her,” Mr. Biden said. “I just know what’s reported in the press.”

Mr. Biden reverted to criticizing Mr. Trump and Republicans for trying to ram the nomination through so close to the election,

“Look, the people are going to speak and a lot’s at stake in this appointment and the way that they are violating the essence of what the founders thought that the voters should have a chance to have a say,” Mr. Biden said.







Trump Thinks Nov. 3 Election ‘Will End Up in the Supreme Court’

President Trump says he wants to have a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by the general election.

I think it’s very important. I think this will end up in the Supreme Court. And I think it’s very important that we have nine justices. And I think the system is going to go very quickly. I’ll be submitting at 5 o’clock on Saturday, the name of the person I chose for this most important of all positions. And I think we should go very quickly. You see the Republicans are very united. As far as timing is concerned, we were elected. We have a lot of time. One justice was picked in 19 days — 19 days. We could do four at that rate or five. Now we have a lot of time. No, before the election, and then you have after the election too. But in terms of time, we go to Jan. 20. But I think it’s better if you go before the election because I think this scam that the Democrats are pulling — it’s a scam. The scam will be before the United States Supreme Court. And I think having a 4-4 situation is not a good situation. If you get that. I don’t know that you’d get that. I think it should be 8-0 or 9-0, but just in case it would be more political than it should be. I think it’s very important to have a ninth justice.

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President Trump says he wants to have a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by the general election.CreditCredit…Oliver Contreras for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Wednesday that he wants to ensure confirmation of a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by the Nov. 3 election because he expects disputes over who won the White House to be resolved by the Supreme Court.

“I think this will end up in the Supreme Court,” Mr. Trump told reporters at a White House event on social media, adopting an argument for quick action made by his ally, Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas. “And I think it’s very important that we have nine justices,” instead of the eight seats currently filled.

The president again asserted without evidence that Democrats were trying to rig the election and said he wants a high court that will agree with him. “This scam that the Democrats are pulling — it’s a scam — the scam will be before the United States Supreme Court,” Mr. Trump said.

Five of the eight current court members were appointed by Republican presidents, including two by Mr. Trump. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, has on a few occasions sided with the liberals, which could potentially mean a 4-4 split.

Mr. Trump made clear he is counting on whomever he appoints for Justice Ginsburg’s seat to support him and that he wants to be declared the winner by an overwhelming majority if the results go to the Supreme Court.

“And I think having a four-four situation is not a good situation, if you get that. I don’t know that you’d get that. I think it should be eight-nothing or nine-nothing. But just in case it would be more political than it should be, I think it’s very important to have a ninth justice.”

Joseph R. Biden Jr. spoke to reporters in Delaware before traveling to Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday.
Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Joseph R. Biden Jr. warned on Wednesday that if Republicans approved President Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “Women’s rights as it relates to everything from medical health care is going to be gone.”

“The Democrats should be going to the American people now their voices are about to be heard, and it’s important that they make clear what’s going to happen,” Mr. Biden told reporters in Delaware before taking off to host a Black economic summit in Charlotte, N.C.

Mr. Trump has said he would announce a nominee to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court on Saturday, 38 days before Election Day. Enough Republicans have indicated that they would not oppose a vote on Mr. Trump’s pick to all but guarantee that the Senate will confirm a new justice who would tilt the court decisively to the right.

Mr. Trump has promised to appoint judges who would strike down Roe v. Wade, and his short list for Justice Ginsburg’s seat includes judges who have delivered staunchly conservative decisions, like Judge Amy Coney Barrett, an appeals-court judge for the Seventh Circuit.

But if Mr. Biden again made clear what the stakes would be should Republicans confirm Mr. Trump’s nominee, he did not echo some of the calls to action Democrats have made in recent days, including calls to pack the court if Republicans pushed Mr. Trump’s nominee through.

“We should go to the American people, make the case why this is a gigantic mistake and abuse of power,” he told reporters, arguing that the Supreme Court could issue rulings that have significant consequences for women in particular.

“Women will be able to be charged more than men for the same procedures again,” Mr. Biden said, apparently alluding to fears among Democrats that a more conservative court could strike down the Affordable Care Act. “Pregnancy will be a pre-existing condition again.”

At the Black economic summit in Charlotte — where he was introduced by Chris Paul, the basketball star — Mr. Biden made no mention of the Supreme Court, though he did urge people to “show up and vote.” Among the topics he addressed were raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and his plans to support historically black colleges and universities.

“As bad as things have gotten, the blinders have sort of been taken off the American people now,” he told a group of socially-distanced participants, including small-business owners and local leaders from the Black community.

“Average people have gone, ‘My lord, holy mackerel, I didn’t know it was this bad,’” he continued, adding that the country had “a gigantic opportunity to fundamentally change the systemic racism and the systemic problems that exist in our system.”

Mr. Biden, in response to a question from a participant, also swiped at the Justice Department under the Trump administration, saying it had “turned into the president’s private law firm.”

“It’s the most dangerous thing that’s happened so far, is the politicization of the Department of Justice. It’s become the Department of Trump, and that’s wrong,” he added, vowing that he would “not politicize” the department should he be elected president.

“The Justice Department under my administration will be totally independent of me,” he said.

Among the changes he said he would make were ensuring the Justice Department’s civil rights division had “access to and transparency into all police departments’ activities across the country” and that he would elevate the civil rights division so it would have “direct office” inside the White House.

In a statement, Katrina Pierson, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, attacked “Biden’s brand of white liberal condescension, where he takes our votes for granted and believes we all think alike and are quite possibly drug addicts.”

Mr. Biden holds a significant lead over Mr. Trump among Black voters.

Joseph R. Biden Jr. has carefully avoided weighing in on the potentially divisive question of adding seats to the Supreme Court.
Credit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

Up to this point, Joseph R. Biden Jr. has kept a careful distance from Democratic talk of adding seats to the Supreme Court and restructuring the federal judiciary in other ways. In Wisconsin this week, he declined to say whether he might try to add seats to the court because he did not want to let President Trump “change the subject.” The focus, Mr. Biden and his allies argue, must remain on Republicans’ effort to ram through a last-minute appointment before the election.

There are good political reasons for this approach. Polls show that voters largely embrace Mr. Biden’s argument that the winner of the presidential race should fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat. And if Democrats have any chance of derailing Mr. Trump’s nominee, it would probably come through overwhelming and persuasive criticism leveled at that person and their record — subjects that could easily be overshadowed by a premature clash over expanding the Supreme Court.

Yet the question remains. And if Mr. Biden wins, it may be one of the most important early choices he faces.

The risks to Mr. Biden in withholding an answer may have more to do with governing than campaigning. Without a clear signal from him before the election, Democrats could develop a consensus on the subject without him. Mr. Biden could well find himself facing a powerful movement for a court overhaul before he ever expresses a preference of his own. (He may not object to such an outcome, if he is privately in sympathy with that goal.)

But it may also be difficult for Mr. Biden to keep his position to himself. Next week, the first presidential debate will include questions about the Supreme Court, and if Mr. Trump’s message there mirrors that of other Republicans, then an attack on Mr. Biden for other Democrats’ court-packing ambitions seems likely.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, accused his Democratic counterpart, Senator Chuck Schumer, of “embarrassing theatrics” and a “temper tantrum.”
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

As mourners gathered across the street to pay respects to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Wednesday, Senate leaders lobbed charges of hypocrisy over a Republican effort to swiftly fill the vacancy on the nation’s highest court.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, charged that Democrats, led by Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, had first infused the judicial confirmation process with acrimony by blocking judicial nominees when Democrats had the majority in the Senate.

He further excoriated Mr. Schumer for refusing on Tuesday the customary consent needed to allow committees to meet more than two hours after the Senate convenes, which cut short a Senate Intelligence Committee briefing on election security.

“We saw important Senate business hurt by what amounted to a temper tantrum,” Mr. McConnell said, noting that earlier in the month, Mr. Schumer had urged for more election security briefings and updates on Capitol Hill.

“I guess we will find out whether the Democratic leader’s embarrassing theatrics were just a one-day matinee or whether he means to make this a series,” Mr. McConnell added.

A senior Democratic aide said Democrats decided against invoking the parliamentary roadblock again on Wednesday because top administration officials were testifying about the response to the pandemic, and because they wanted to allow the Intelligence Committee hearing to go forward.

In his own floor speech shortly after Mr. McConnell’s, Mr. Schumer accused Republicans of “working with every fiber of their being to confirm a Justice — despite Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s last wish, in contradiction to her dying, most fervent wish — who will reverse her legacy.”

He made a point on the Senate floor on Wednesday morning of formally inquiring whether a Supreme Court justice had ever been confirmed in a presidential election year between July and Election Day.

Senator Kelly Loeffler, Republican of Georgia, who was presiding over the Senate at the time, said that official documents “do not show such a precedent.”

“The stakes of this election, the stakes of this vacancy, concern no less than the future of fundamental rights of the American people,” Mr. Schumer said.

A memorial for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg outside the Supreme Court on Monday.
Credit…Michael A. McCoy for The New York Times

One of the main talking points Republicans have used in recent days to explain their striking reversal on filling a Supreme Court vacancy in a presidential election year — which they refused to do under President Barack Obama, but are eager to do now under President Trump — is that with control of the White House and the Senate, they reflect the will of the people.

“Americans re-elected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary,” said Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas explained his shift on filling an election-year vacancy by telling ABC News that “the American people voted.”

But thanks to the mechanisms of American democracy, Republicans have been able to hold those levers of power without necessarily reflecting the will of the majority of people.

It is well known that Mr. Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016 by nearly three million votes — and more than two percentage points — but was elected president thanks to his Electoral College victory.

Less remarked upon is the way that Republicans were able to keep control of the Senate in 2016 and 2018, despite the fact that more Americans voted for Democratic Senate candidates than Republicans in both elections.

In 2018, the Democrats lost two seats in the Senate even though Democratic candidates received far more votes than Republicans nationwide. All told, Democratic Senate candidates received 46.7 million votes in the general election that year, while Republicans received 39.3 million, according to the Federal Election Commission. And that did not even count the votes that were cast for two independent candidates who caucus with the Democrats, Senators Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

The same was true in 2016, when Republicans maintained control of the Senate even as they lost two seats, and as their candidates received 10 million fewer votes than Democratic candidates.

By design, the Senate gives more political power to small states, since each state gets two senators regardless of its population. (Seats in the House of Representatives, on the other hand, are apportioned to states based on their populations, giving proportional weight to big states.)

Now the Republican success in two arenas that favor the power of small states over the nationwide popular vote — Senate races and the Electoral College — is again poised to allow them to make another lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, where, if Mr. Trump’s nominee is confirmed, they will hold a 6-to-3 conservative majority.

Gov. Greg Abbott attends a news conference in Austin.
Credit…Eric Gay/Associated Press

A group of Republican lawmakers and party leaders in Texas asked the state’s highest civil court to stop Gov. Greg Abbott from extending the early-voting period for the November election during the pandemic, accusing him of making changes to election laws that can only be made by the Texas Legislature.

The legal action on Wednesday was the latest sign of the growing dissatisfaction with Mr. Abbott by members of his own party, as conservatives continue to criticize his virus-related restrictions and urge him to fully reopen the state.

Some of the most prominent and outspoken Texas Republicans signed on to the lawsuit, including the new chairman of the state party, Allen B. West; the state’s agriculture commissioner, Sid Miller; and several current and former members of the Legislature.

Texas typically has a 10-day early-voting period in which registered voters can cast their ballots at polling sites before Election Day. In July, Mr. Abbott extended early voting by six days and ordered that it would begin on Oct. 13 instead of Oct. 19, saying the extra time was necessary to give voters “greater flexibility to cast their ballots, while at the same time protecting themselves and others from Covid-19.”

The more than 20 conservative officials and activists who filed a petition with the Texas Supreme Court on Wednesday argued that only the Legislature could suspend the state’s election code and order such an extension.

“The problem Abbott has is, he has gone at it alone, and so he’s acting as King Abbott,” said Jared Woodfill, a Houston lawyer who filed the petition and who has led a series of lawsuits against Mr. Abbott’s coronavirus restrictions. “I think the base is in an uproar.”

At the state Republican convention in July, Mr. Abbott defended both his response to the virus and his authority to issue executive orders in emergencies, citing an opinion by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans.

One of the Republican elected officials whose name had appeared on the latest petition, State Senator Donna Campbell, later issued a letter to Mr. Woodfill stating that she never agreed to be involved and demanded that he withdraw her name from the suit. Mr. Woodfill said she had agreed on two occasions but said her name was removed from the one that was filed.

The lawsuit also opened a new front in Texas Republicans’ legal battle to restrict voting by mail during the pandemic. In addition to stopping the early-voting expansion, the suit also seeks to prevent Mr. Abbott from giving voters more time to return their mail-in ballots in person.

Because of the pandemic, the governor had allowed mail-in ballots to be delivered in person not only on Election Day but also in the days leading up to it. But the lawsuit claims the election code prohibits those ballots from being handed in on any days other than the date of the November election.

Senate President Roger Roth and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a question and answer sessions with Republican state legislators in the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison.
Credit…John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal, via Associated Press

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on a visit to the crucial election battleground state of Wisconsin on Wednesday, talked tough against China and amplified the Trump administration’s policies, raising concerns that his trip was politically motivated.

Speaking at the ornate Senate Chamber in Wisconsin’s State Capitol in Madison, Mr. Pompeo attacked China’s Communist Party for unfair trade practices, human rights abuses and attempts to politicize its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

He singled out a Chinese diplomat in Chicago who had asked the president of Wisconsin’s State Senate for a resolution praising his country’s response to the pandemic, part of a public-relations campaign by the Chinese government in the United States.

“The Party and its proxies aim to make Americans receptive to Beijing’s form of authoritarianism,” Mr. Pompeo said.

Some lawmakers panned Mr. Pompeo’s trip, calling it an effort to bolster Mr. Trump’s standing in Wisconsin, where the president trails the Democratic candidate, Joseph R. Biden Jr., by five percentage points in recent polling. They said Mr. Pompeo’s trip follows a pattern of using taxpayer funds and his office for political activity and to bolster his own political fortunes. He is widely seen as considering a presidential run in 2024.

“Campaigning for President Trump with taxpayer resources is just the latest example of Secretary Pompeo’s willingness to break the law and put his political interest above our national interest,” said Representative Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat.

In August, while traveling officially, Mr. Pompeo addressed the Republican National Convention from Jerusalem, becoming the first sitting secretary of state in 75 years to speak at a partisan political convention. House leaders have opened an investigation into this appearance.

On Tuesday, Mr. Pompeo addressed the Values Voter Summit, a high profile gathering of Christian conservatives. Two days before, he visited a Baptist megachurch outside Dallas. Mr. Pompeo is an evangelical Christian, a voting bloc analysts say would be crucial to his political aspirations.

Mr. Pompeo is also the subject of multiple Congressional investigations for his role in Mr. Trump’s abrupt firing of State Department Inspector General Steve A. Linick. Mr. Linick was investigating a potential misuse of taxpayer resources by Mr. Pompeo and his wife and the secretary’s role in expediting an $8.1 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia that illegally bypassed Congress.

Democrats characterize court expansion as a defensive move against Republican actions, not a unilateral power grab.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The idea of expanding the Supreme Court has caught fire among some Democrats in recent days, as the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has ignited a Washington power struggle that could drag on for months, long after the Senate votes on President Trump’s nominee to replace her.

“We should leave all options on the table, including the number of justices that are on the Supreme Court,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive House member from New York, said over the weekend.

Expanding the court — or court packing — is an idea commonly associated with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who pushed legislation in 1937 that could have broadened the Supreme Court from nine to as many as 15 justices.

The history is more complicated than the usual narrative suggests: Mr. Roosevelt, aiming to push older justices to step down, wanted to add a justice to the court for each sitting justice who refused to retire after 70.

Today, Democrats characterize court expansion as a defensive move against Republican actions, not a unilateral power grab. In 2016, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, refused to hold a vote on Merrick Garland, who was nominated to the court by President Barack Obama after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Mr. McConnell held the seat open until after the inauguration of President Trump, who nominated Justice Neil M. Gorsuch.

Many Democrats now say that Mr. Gorsuch occupies a seat “stolen” by Republicans, which has shifted the ideological core of the court. Since Justice Ginsburg’s death, the outrage has intensified, as the White House has made clear that the president intends to nominate a justice to replace her just weeks before the election.

Republicans have called the idea of court packing radical and undemocratic, and there are several roadblocks within the Democratic Party.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody speaks at a press conference at the Highlands County Sheriff's Office in Sebring, Fla.
Credit…Eve Edelheit for The New York Times

Attorney General Ashley Moody of Florida sent a letter to the F.B.I. and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Wednesday saying that an investigation is warranted into whether a fund that is raising money to pay off the court debt of former felons there is violating state law.

On Tuesday, the group that operates the fund, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, announced that it had raised more than $20 million toward its $25 million goal to help former felons repay court fines and fees and become eligible to vote ahead of the state’s Oct. 5 registration deadline.

Florida is the last remaining state to disenfranchise a majority of former felons, despite a 2018 ballot measure that amended the State Constitution to restore their rights. In 2019, the Republican-controlled Legislature passed a law requiring former felons to first repay outstanding legal debts. A federal appeals court upheld the law on Sept. 11.

Since that decision, contributions have poured in. About $16 million was raised by Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire former Democratic presidential candidate, though he did not make a contribution himself.

On Wednesday morning, Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, told Fox News that Mr. Bloomberg’s effort was “potentially criminal.”

“This is a specific inducement, to a specific segment of voters, to get them to vote a certain way,” Mr. Gaetz said. “I think it could be a crime.”

Mr. Gaetz said that the fund would benefit former felons “which they have specifically identified as the Biden voters.” That was an apparent reference to a Washington Post report that quoted an unnamed Bloomberg adviser who said that helping former felons would activate “tens of thousands of voters who are predisposed to vote for Joe Biden,” particularly Black and Hispanic voters.

But Desmond Meade, the executive director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, said that the fund is helping former felons repay their debts no matter their race, ethnicity or political affiliation. And the former felons can choose to register to vote — or not.

“If they choose to register, that’s up to them,” he said. “If they choose to vote, that’s on them. What we’re concerned about is that they at least have the opportunity to register to vote.”

Kenneth Katkin, a constitutional law professor at Northern Kentucky University’s Chase Law School, said the legal challenge by Republicans was likely to fail because there was no quid pro quo involved. He noted in an interview on Wednesday that the money raised to pay off the fines and fees was going to the state, not to the felons, who he said were not obligated to register to vote or to support a specific candidate.

“They’re not getting any cash or anything that they could sell for cash,” Mr. Katkin said.

Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota accused the president of spreading “the disease of hate” at his rallies.
Credit…Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times

Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota struck back at President Trump on Wednesday, a day after he said she was unfit to hold office because she had immigrated to the United States from Somalia.

Mr. Trump’s attack on Ms. Omar — which echoed comments that the president has made previously and that were condemned as racist — came at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania on Tuesday night.

The president told his supporters that he was going to win the state of Minnesota because of contempt there for Ms. Omar, a first-term congresswoman.

“She’s telling us how to run our country,” Mr. Trump said. “How did you do where you came from? How is your country doing?”

Ms. Omar, who became a U.S. citizen in 2000 and is one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, denounced Mr. Trump on Twitter and in an interview with CNN.

“The president clearly loves to prey on people’s fears,” Ms. Omar told CNN. “He spreads the disease of hate everywhere he goes. These cult rallies that he’s holding across the country are now being fueled by fear.”

Mr. Trump’s language this week recalled his line of attack against Ms. Omar and three other Democratic congresswomen — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts — in July 2019.

The president said at the time that the representatives, who are all women of color, should “go back” to the countries they came from rather than “loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States” how to run the government.

Mr. Trump’s comments, which perpetuated a well-worn racist trope, outraged Democrats and drew criticism from a handful of Republicans.

Of the four congresswomen, Ms. Omar is the only one who was not born in the United States. “This is my country,” she tweeted on Tuesday night shortly after Mr. Trump finished speaking.

Mr. Trump has also stepped up his attacks on Ms. Ocasio-Cortez at recent campaign rallies, including the one on Tuesday night. Ms. Omar said that his tactics were shameful.

“Not only is he a racist, but he’s a racist xenophobic,” she told CNN on Wednesday. “Because he’s not against immigration, he’s just against immigrants who look like me.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will lie in repose for two days at the Supreme Court.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was honored on Wednesday as a pioneer of women’s rights who brought the nation closer to its vision of equal justice through a storied career as a lawyer and on the bench.

In a short, simple and modest ceremony in keeping with her own reputation for humility, Justice Ginsburg’s family and fellow members of the Supreme Court paid their respects in the Great Hall of the building where she served for 27 years. Her coffin was then brought outside, where it will lay in repose for the next two days for Americans to bid farewell.

“Justice Ginsburg’s life was one of the many versions of the American dream,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said during the ceremony inside the building. “Her father was an immigrant from Odessa. Her mother was born four months after her family arrived from Poland. Her mother later worked as a bookkeeper in Brooklyn. Ruth used to ask what is the difference in a bookkeeper in Brooklyn and a Supreme Court justice. Her answer: one generation.”

The chief justice, who was the only one to speak other than the Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, recalled that Justice Ginsburg wanted to be an opera singer but pursued law only to find herself the subject of discrimination because of her sex at law school and in the work force. She went on to become perhaps the country’s leading advocate fighting that discrimination.

Hundreds of mourners, some of whom had traveled great distances, lined the street outside the Supreme Court to say goodbye to Justice Ginsburg, who lies in repose outside under the courthouse’s portico at the top of the front steps. The public is invited to pay its respects from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday and again from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday. The court requires masks and social distancing.

On Friday, Justice Ginsburg will lie in state in the Capitol, a rare honor. She is expected to be buried next week at Arlington National Cemetery in a private ceremony.

Eric Trump’s attempt to delay being interviewed in a fraud investigation until after Election Day was overruled by a judge on Wednesday.
Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

A New York state judge on Wednesday ordered President Trump’s son Eric to answer questions under oath before Election Day in a fraud investigation into his family’s real estate business.

His lawyers said last week that he was willing to be interviewed — but only after the presidential election because he did not want his deposition to be used for “political purposes.”

But on Wednesday, a New York State Supreme Court judge in Manhattan, Arthur F. Engoron, ruled that Mr. Trump had to sit for a deposition no later than Oct. 7. Justice Engoron said that he found Mr. Trump’s arguments for a delay “unpersuasive.”

New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, has been conducting a civil investigation into whether President Trump and the Trump Organization committed fraud by overstating assets to get loans and tax benefits.

Ms. James’s office had asked a judge to order Eric Trump, the executive vice president of his father’s business, to answer questions under oath, court papers show.

In July, Eric Trump abruptly canceled an interview with the attorney general’s office days before it was scheduled. In August, the Trump Organization told the office that the company and its lawyers would not comply with seven subpoenas related to the investigation.

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If former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is going to expand his electoral map beyond the traditional battleground states to places like Georgia, he will need a big turnout from Black voters. Mr. Biden’s campaign on Wednesday began airing television ads in Atlanta aimed directly at younger Black men, whose support for Hillary Clinton was relatively soft in 2016 and who have been less enthused about the Democratic ticket this year than older Black voters or Black women.

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The ad is set in a barbershop, where seven young-looking Black men sit in chairs discussing racial justice in America. “History has not been on our side,” one man says. “I feel as though the nation has become desensitized, but Black people have not.” Another man laments having to discuss with his 12-year-old son how to interact with the police. And a third makes the sales pitch: “Joe and Kamala uniquely understand the plight of what we’ve been going through,” he says. “Those are things I do trust him with, to lead us to that future,” says another.

The ad isn’t subtle. The Biden campaign is trying to build trust with young Black men who may be less enthused about voting at all. There’s no need to contrast him with President Trump — the voters targeted by this ad already have an intense dislike for the president. What Mr. Biden’s camp is aiming to do is to give people reason to participate in an electoral process many feel has left them behind.

Race has been a tricky issue for Mr. Biden in the 2020 campaign. He wrote the 1994 crime bill that increased penalties for drug offenses and pumped millions of dollars into police departments and the prison industry. None of that is mentioned here; instead the ad focuses on a commitment to reform the system made by Mr. Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, who would become the first Black vice president if they win in November.

Right now, in Atlanta, as part of a series of “shop talk” ads set to air in Georgia. Another ad that has yet to air on television features the same barbershop cast praising Ms. Harris, with one Black man saying that she “is just the embodiment of someone like my mother.”

The Biden campaign doesn’t need to win Georgia to win the election, but winning there would come close to cementing a victory, and two polls this week showed him tied in the state with Mr. Trump. Any path to victory Mr. Biden has in Georgia runs through a massive turnout from Black voters, about 90 percent of whom are supporting him.

President Trump and the White House did not provide more details of the order, which the president called the “Born Alive” executive order.
Credit…Oliver Contreras for The New York Times

President Trump announced on Wednesday that he would sign an executive order providing health care to babies born during failed abortion attempts.

The announcement came in Mr. Trump’s address to the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, an annual gathering of conservative Catholics in Washington whose founders include the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone; former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania; and Leonard Leo, the co-chairman of the conservative legal group the Federalist Society, who introduced Mr. Trump.

In his remarks, delivered to a virtual gathering because of the coronavirus, Mr. Trump vowed to “always defend the role of religion and prayer in American society.”

He praised American Catholics as “amazing people” and pledged to “defend the sacred right to life,” adding that he would sign what he called “the ‘Born Alive’ executive order, to ensure that all precious babies born alive, no matter their circumstance, receive the medical care that they deserve.”

The White House has not released details of the executive order, but Republicans have recently pressed legislation in Congress using the “born alive” phrase.

A bill introduced last year by Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, known as the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, would “prohibit a health care practitioner from failing to exercise the proper degree of care in the case of a child who survives an abortion or attempted abortion.” Democrats successfully filibustered the measure in February.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 1 percent of abortions are performed after 24 weeks, which is roughly when a healthy fetus becomes viable — and it is extraordinarily rare for a child to be born alive after such an abortion. There is no systematic tracking of how often this happens nationally, but states that do track it have reported it occurring in just hundredths or even thousandths of 1 percent of all abortions.