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Trump declares ‘absolute right’ to pardon himself

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“In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!” he added, referring to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump added falsely that the “the appointment of the Special Councel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!,” misspelling the word “counsel.” (The appointment of a special counsel by the Justice Department — as Mueller was — or Congress is perfectly legal.)

The tweets came less than 24 hours after Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for the president, said that while Trump’s broad constitutional powers included the authority to end that investigation and pardon himself, he would be unlikely to do either because both would create a path to impeachment.

“The president of the United States pardoning himself would just be unthinkable. And it would lead to probably an immediate impeachment,” Giuliani said. “President Trump has no need to do that. He didn’t do anything wrong.”

But Giuliani — whose comments represented an extension of a legal argument outlined in a 20-page memo that Trump’s legal team sent Mueller and was leaked to the press over the weekend — also said that Trump could pardon himself if he wanted to.

“Nothing limits the presidential pardon,” he said.

Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, whom Trump fired last year, dared the president to make good on his claim.



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One battleground state, two rallies — and radically different versions of reality

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PHOENIX — Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris held rallies 30 miles apart Wednesday, six days before Election Day, in this battleground state poised to shape the outcome of the race.

But voters could be forgiven for thinking they were running in two different universes.

In Trump’s world, the coronavirus crisis is exaggerated and the biggest danger to the country is a threat of socialism or communism, while top-of-mind issues include allegations of corruption by Joe Biden’s son Hunter and a “deep state” of government officials plotting against the president.

In the Biden-Harris world, the pandemic is an overarching issue that is crushing middle-class pocketbooks, health care access is threatened by an incompetent president and the country is on a knife’s edge between a return to normalcy and a march to authoritarianism.

Symbolic of the two attitudes, Trump’s rally featured supporters packing into a section of Phoenix Goodyear Airport, many of them elbow to elbow and maskless, while Harris held a drive-in event that was sparse and heavily socially distanced, with attendees covering their faces even when nobody was near them.

Coronavirus case numbers are surging across the country, with a death toll that has topped 225,000. Scientists widely agree that the virus can be relatively contained if people wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Trump boasted that he has done “a great job” handling the virus. Many of his rallygoers doubted the official diagnosis figures, while others said elites were using the issue to control the population. Still others said the media was covering the pandemic to hurt Trump.

“I think it’s overblown. It’s a political ploy to keep people from voting,” said Michael Bieda, 53, of Buckeye. “It’s a power that the opposite side could control people with.”

Dee Ann Kriebs, 74, of Goodyear, who was wearing a red “MAGA” hat, said, “There is so much politicization of Covid that I find it very hard to trust numbers.” She cited the “deep state” as her top issue in the election.

“The deep state has to be eliminated in Washington,” she said.

Tammy Byler, an operations manager in Waddell, said the panic surrounding Covid-19 “feels like communism trying to take over.”

People watch a video during a rally with President Donald Trump at Phoenix Goodyear Airport in Goodyear, Ariz., on Wednesday.Brendan Smialowski / AFP – Getty Images

At her rally, Harris called the coronavirus “one of the greatest mass casualty events that we as a nation have experienced since World War II,” and Trump, she said, “covered it up.”

Rachael Clawson, a teacher in Mason, said that her husband worked in tourism and that the virus had left her in a single-income household.

“If we don’t get the pandemic under control, what does that mean for his job?” she asked, adding: “Access to health care is huge. We have three small kids and a history of chronic disease. It’s very scary to think about raising a young family without health insurance.”

‘Creating a fictional world’

Clawson said she was worried about a march to authoritarianism if Trump is re-elected.

“He thinks Article II of the Constitution allows him to do whatever he wants,” she said, fretting that if voters give Trump four more years, “what permission does that give him to do?”

Kimberly Marteau, 61, a lawyer visiting from Los Angeles, said the pandemic is “a huge concern.” She said she’s supporting Biden and Harris because they’ll “let the facts and science lead us.”

“Information and truth are our defense against someone who wants to create his own world when it’s not the reality on the ground,” she said.

The dueling rallies highlighted the extent to which Americans are voting about not just which set of policies to enact, but also which version of reality they believe to be true.

“Trump has always been about creating a fictional world that conforms to the one he’d like to be true,” said Tony Schwartz, co-author of Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal.” “What’s new is that he’s doing so now, repeatedly, in the face of unassailable facts that directly contradict what he’s claiming. Covid numbers are rising. The economy is still deeply troubled. And on and on.”

Nationally, Biden leads Trump by 7.8 percentage points in the NBC News polling average. In Arizona, Biden leads Trump by 3.5 points in the FiveThirtyEight average, buoyed by defections from college-educated white voters and independents.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris speaks at a mobile campaign event in Phoenix on Wednesday.Sahil Kapur / NBC News

The contrast in the compositions of the two crowds was stark. Trump’s crowd was predominantly white, and it included many of the sort of older voters who have helped Republicans carry the state in all but one presidential election since 1952. Harris’ crowd was younger, with a large share of Black and Hispanic voters, reflecting a rising Democratic-leaning electorate that is reshaping Arizona — and much of the rest of America.

The state is also home to a competitive race in a close fight for control of the Senate, with appointed Republican Sen. Martha McSally trailing Democrat Mark Kelly in polls.

“The biggest problem we have is if they cheat with the ballots. That’s my biggest problem,” Trump said, even though experts say that voter fraud is extremely rare in the U.S. and that it’s unlikely to influence any outcome.

To some Trump supporters, the coronavirus lockdowns were unnecessary.

Marlene Parsons, a retiree in Glendale, said it was a “travesty that we had to go through this and ruin the economy.” She said the virus isn’t “as serious as the media portrays it to be,” and she refuses to wear a mask, “because it doesn’t make me feel good.”

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But to Democrats, curtailing the virus is paramount, with many saying they wish Trump would listen more to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert.

“We can’t get back to normal until we get this virus under control,” said Steven Slugocki, the chair of the Maricopa County Democratic Party. “This is a campaign with reality and listening to the scientists ,or propaganda from Fox News that Donald Trump insists on listening to instead of Dr. Fauci.”

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Merkel faces 'catastrophe': No deal Brexit to hit Germany harder than any other EU nation

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IF the UK fails to strike a trade deal with the EU before the end of the year, it will be a “catastrophe” for Germany, which will be harder hit than any other member of the EU27, a former MEP has said.

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Trump administration rolls back dishwasher water conservation rules

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The Trump administration has quietly rolled back Obama-era rules that regulate energy and water to appliances such as dishwashers, which the president has made a personal issue at rallies.

“President Trump has once again made good on his promise to free Americans from ludicrous government regulations — this time bringing a common-sense reform to dishwashers,” Russ Vought, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, told Real Clear Politics in a statement last week.

He added, “Dishes now washed in an hour or less! This is yet another example of President Trump’s promises made, promises kept on deregulation.”

Before and during the election, Trump has strangely made increasing water flow and rolling back conservation standards on appliances and hardware, from light bulbs to sinks to toilets to dishwashers, a campaign issue.

“The dishwashers, they had a little problem. They didn’t give enough water, so people would run them 10 times, so they end up using more water. And the thing’s no damn good. We freed it up,” Trump told a crowd at a re-election rally this past Sunday in Carson City, Nevada. “Now you can buy a dishwasher and it comes out beautiful. Go buy a dishwasher. Go buy it.”

The Office of Management and Budget also confirmed the news of dialing back the regulation in an Oct. 20 tweet.

“With burdensome regulations imposed by the Obama Admin, dishwashers were weak & took nearly 3 hours. Today, we concluded on an @ENERGY rule to change that,” the tweet said. “@POTUS‘ common sense rule will allow Americans to wash dishes in under an hour!”

Trump’s gripe, however, has been rooted in conservative thinking for several decades who decry regulations and energy standards. But environmentalists say the rules have had a positive impact on water conservation and lower bills for consumers. And the products are just as efficient as their energy-guzzling predecessors.

Current dishwasher standards require that standard-size products use no more than 5 gallons of water per cycle, according to the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. Consumer Reports found that modern dishwashers use about half of the water and energy as those made 20 years ago.



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