Latest on 2020 election and SCOTUS battle

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:20 PM ET, Tue September 22, 2020
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8:14 p.m. ET, September 22, 2020

Cindy McCain endorses Joe Biden for president: "He will lead us with dignity"

From CNN's MJ Lee

Cindy McCain announced her endorsement of Democratic nominee Joe Biden for president Tuesday night.

In a series of tweets, the wife of the late Sen. John McCain gave her reasons for backing Biden.

“He will be a commander in chief that the finest fighting force in the history of the world can depend on, because he knows what it is like to send a child off to fight,” she tweeted.

Biden announced during a fundraiser Tuesday that McCain is endorsing him because of President Trump’s remarks about service members as reported in the Atlantic. Cindy McCain also appeared in a video during last month’s Democratic National Convention celebrating Biden and her late husband’s long-time friendship.

Biden later responded, tweeting that he was "deeply honored" to have her support and friendship.

"This election is bigger than any one political party. It requires all of us to come together as one America to restore the soul of the nation. Together, we'll get it done," Biden tweeted.

Read her tweets:

8:10 p.m. ET, September 22, 2020

Harris slams Trump's handling of Covid-19: "We deserve better"

From CNN's Jasmine Wright

Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images
Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Kamala Harris marked the death of 200,000 Americans from Covid-19 at what appears to be her most rally-like speech today during a voter mobilization event in Detroit, Michigan, since she began traveling, using the opportunity to slam President Trump.

“To this day, where we are looking at now the marker, the sad, awful marker of 200,000 lives that have perished in just the last several months. Almost 7 million people who have contracted the virus and to this day. We have a commander in chief of the United States of America who is holding rallies, with no masks because you see he has convinced everyone that you're on one side of his ledger if you wear a mask, and you're on the other side of his ledger if you don't, making value judgments about people who are concerned with not dying. We're talking about the President of the United States. We deserve better," she said.

Speaking at a podium, after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Harris said Detroit reminded her of Oakland, California, and she’s happy to be back.

“There's so much that is about Detroit as, as not only a measure of our country and its excellence, but also as a measure of the challenges that we face as a nation. And so Joe and I feel a particular sense of responsibility to be here and to be present,” she said. “You know Jill Biden was here last week, Joe was in Michigan the week before. We will keep coming back. Because, so goes Michigan goes the rest of the country as far as we are concerned."

6:36 p.m. ET, September 22, 2020

Trump says he will announce his Supreme Court pick on Saturday

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez, Nikki Carvajal and Pamela Brown

President Donald Trump speaks to the press as he departs the White House in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, September 22.
President Donald Trump speaks to the press as he departs the White House in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, September 22. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump told reporters he will announce his pick to replace the last Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Saturday at 5 p.m. 

He said he has spoken to “many people” when asked how many people he has interviewed. “I’ve spoken to many and we are getting close to a decision,” Trump said.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett was back at the White House Tuesday for a second day in a row, signaling she is the overwhelming favorite to replace Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, according to two sources familiar.

Trump told reporters that the country will need all nine justices in order to decide on the legality of mail-in ballots following the November elections. 

“I’m getting very close to having a final decision made. Very close. I’m going to make it, I believe, at 5 o’clock on Saturday. I’ll be having a conference,” Trump said on the White House South Lawn ahead of his departure to an event in Pennsylvania.   

Trump also disputed Democrats’ suggestion that if he goes forward with a nominee ahead of the election it could tear the country apart, telling reporters, “I don’t think so.” 

“We need nine justices. You need that. With the unsolicited millions of ballots that they’re sending, it’s a scam. It’s a hoax. Everybody knows that,” Trump argued. “And the Democrats know it better than anybody else, so you’re going to need nine justices up there. I think it’s going to be very important.” 

“Doing it before the election would be a very good thing because you’re going to probably see it. Because what they’re doing is trying to sow confusion,” Trump continued, adding that he has a constitutional obligation to nominate a justice. 

“I think you’ll be very impressed by the person chosen,” Trump said.

 

5:19 p.m. ET, September 22, 2020

FBI warns against foreign disinformation regarding 2020 results

From CNN's Marshall Cohen 

The FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency warned the public Tuesday that foreign actors might spread disinformation about the results of the 2020 election and encouraged voters to be patient with delayed results. 

“The increased use of mail-in ballots due to COVID-19 protocols could leave officials with incomplete results on election night,” the agencies said in a statement, highlighting the possibility that “foreign actors and cybercriminals” could use disinformation to “exploit the time required to certify and announce elections’ results.” 

The warning told Americans to get information from “trustworthy sources” like official government election websites. The warning also said that when dealing with reports of problems with voting or results, Americans should “verify though multiple reliable sources” and should think twice before sharing unverified material on social media. 

The agencies specifically said foreign actors might try to confuse votes by creating and spreading disinformation about “voter suppression, cyberattacks targeting election infrastructure, voter or ballot fraud” after the polls close.  

While the warning focused only on foreign-based disinformation, domestic actors have recently spread similar claims about the election results.

President Trump has already repeatedly lied about voter fraud and questioned the legitimacy of the vote-counting process. Additionally, White House officials have ignored warnings from election officials about delayed results, and instead have stated that there should be a projected winner on election night.

5:12 p.m. ET, September 22, 2020

Georgia says it's "much better prepared" for November election after chaotic June primary

From CNN's Jason Morris

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger Office of Georgia Secretary of State

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said he is confident the state can avoid many of the major issues that it saw during the June 9 primary election, despite a projected record turnout in November. 

Georgia’s chaotic voting experience during the primary featured long-lines and extreme wait times in densely populated Fulton and Dekalb counties in the Atlanta metro areas. It was caused by a high volume of in-person voters and absentee ballots combined with fewer available poll workers and polling locations due to coronavirus fears.  

“I think we’re much better prepared. Coming into the June primary we had to do really a 180 change,” Raffensperger said during a “How to Vote 2020” webinar hosted by the Atlanta Press Club when asked if he thought they could avoid what happened in June. 

“We didn’t have enough poll workers because the average age was 72-years-old prior to Covid-19. How do you do training other than online, when you have these Covid restrictions? And some precincts were closed just because the schools were closed, or this building was not available to be a precinct like it historically was. So all that came together, now the counties have had a lot of time to work on that," Raffensperger said.

He said he is working hand-in-hand with county managers to make sure they have the resources they need to avoid major issues.    

“Everyone is working together, and they are really focusing to make sure that we have a smooth a process as possible,” Raffensperger said.      

He also said they are “well on their way” to hitting their goal of recruiting 25,000 new poll workers for Election Day.  

5:01 p.m. ET, September 22, 2020

Collins says she would oppose SCOTUS nominee because "we're simply too close to the election"

From CNN's Ted Barrett, Manu Raju and Ali Zaslav

Sen.r Susan Collin speaks to reporters at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, September 22.
Sen.r Susan Collin speaks to reporters at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, September 22. Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Image

Republican Sen. Susan Collins said she will vote against anyone President Trump names to fill late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat because "we're simply too close to the election."

The Maine senator issued a statement on Saturday, saying that she believes waiting until after the election is the right decision.

She reiterated that statement today. 

"My statement was a model of clarity,” she said. “I made it very clear, yes, that I did not think there should be a vote prior to the election. And if there is one, I would oppose the nominee, not because I might not support that nominee under normal circumstances, but we're simply too close to the election, and in the interest of being fair to the American people — and consistent, since it was with the [Merrick] Garland nomination. The decision was made not to proceed, a decision that I disagreed with, but my position did not prevail. I now think we need to play by the same set of rules."

However, Collins' announcement may not make a difference, as more Republicans fall in line with GOP leaders are now making clear they are pressing ahead to get the nomination confirmed before Election Day, which would amount to one of the quickest proceedings in modern times. And it comes despite Senate Republicans' refusal to move on then-President Barack Obama's nomination of Garland to a seat in 2016 when they said his choice — eight months before November — was too close to the elections.

Currently, there are 53 GOP senators — meaning Republicans can only lose three votes to advance the nomination if Vice President Mike Pence stepped in to cast a tie-breaking vote.

So far, only two Republicans — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Collins — have voiced opposition to taking up whomever Trump nominates to fill Ginsburg's vacant seat before Nov. 3. 

It is unclear if there will be any further defections within GOP ranks. 

4:43 p.m. ET, September 22, 2020

Senate intel committee to hold election security briefing tomorrow

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

The Senate Intelligence Committee is receiving a closed-door election security briefing Wednesday afternoon from Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, top US counterintelligence official Bill Evanina and election security official Shelby Pierson, according to a source familiar with the matter. 

The briefing is happening after Ratcliffe had told Congress last month that lawmakers would only be briefed in writing, not in person, before he reversed that position last week. 

Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, is planning to return to the Capitol to attend the briefing. 

The Senate Armed Services Committee is also receiving a closed-door briefing on the election and US cyber operations from Gen. Paul Nakasone, the head of the National Security Agency and US Cyber Command.

Acting Senate Intelligence Chairman Marco Rubio criticized Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday for invoking the Senate’s “two-hour rule,” which shuts down Senate committee meetings, which included another briefing the intelligence committee had scheduled with Evanina. 

Schumer objected to the Senate conducting business in protest of the Republican plans to move forward with a Supreme Court confirmation following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

It’s not yet clear when the House Intelligence Committee will receive an election security briefing.    

3:57 p.m. ET, September 22, 2020

Schumer on SCOTUS pick: "The names we've heard are not acceptable at all, not even close”

From CNN's Ali Zaslav and Kristin Wilson 

Pool
Pool

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday that the names Democrats have heard so far as potential Trump’s Supreme Court nominees “are not acceptable at all, not even close.”

When asked whether there are any Trump nominees Democrats could get behind, Schumer replied, “Well, you know, right now they come from the list of the Federalist Society, which has some very strict strictures and that makes it very, very difficult, but you’d have to wait and see each nominee. The names we’ve heard are not acceptable at all, not even close.”

Schumer said the GOP moving forward with this vote is creating a lot of “mistrust” and “ill-feeling” between senators across the aisle “in a way that I haven’t seen it occur...in a very long time.”

“It’s hard…when they do such an about-face on such an important issue that’s so dramatically contradictory,” Schumer said, specifically calling out Sen. Lindsey Graham and Leader Mitch McConnell for 2016 remarks against confirming President Obama’s Supreme Court pick of Merrick Garland during a presidential election year.

But he added that “we’ll always have to try.”

On whether he intends to eliminate the filibuster if Democrats take the majority in the Senate, he echoed many previous comments saying “everything is on the table.” 

When asked why Democrats are opting to use procedural tactics that could create a slow down, Schumer said, “we invoked the two hour rule because we can’t have business as usual when Republicans are destroying the institution as they have done.”

4:55 p.m. ET, September 22, 2020

Michelle Obama: "Don't listen to people who will say that somehow voting is rigged"

From CNN's Rachel Janfaza

Courtesy When We All Vote
Courtesy When We All Vote

Former first lady Michelle Obama spoke to young voters Tuesday about the importance of casting a ballot. 

“Voting is easy. It is something that we can do. Don’t listen to people who will say that somehow voting is rigged and your vote will get lost and it won’t be counted. That is not true,” Obama said in a conversation with actress Zendaya during an event hosted on Instagram Live by When We All Vote, Obama’s voter engagement organization. 

“I don’t want people to be discouraged by those conspiracy theories that are being peddled out there about the validity of our election process because it’s just not true,” Obama said, in a nod to efforts meant to undermine the legitimacy of the 2020 election, including comments made by President Donald Trump that voting by mail is not secure.

Obama emphasized current misinformation about voter fraud and stressed to viewers the importance of not succumbing to voter intimidation.

“What I want young people to think about is that if you feel intimidated to the point where you’re not voting, that’s exactly what folks want you to do,” she said. “They want you to stay home. They want you to feel so confused by the process that you just throw your hands up. And then, you know, they let those in power make the choices for you. But you know, you can’t let any process make you feel so intimidated that you don’t make your voice heard.”

Obama also talked about both voting by mail and in person, adding that all voters must have a plan in place. She encouraged those watching to visit her organization’s website, Whenweallvote.org, for assistance with election oriented questions. 

Obama also did an Instagram Live with Jennifer Lopez Tuesday, during which she spoke about her and former President Barack Obama’s relationship with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. She called Ginsberg an “amazing force of a woman.” 

“To think about how far she had to come, and how hard she fought to make sure that we had the rights that we deserve to protect our interest as women to protect our rights, to control our bodies, that is the legacy,” Obama said.

When We All Vote has been live on Instagram throughout the day in celebration of National Voter Registration Day. On Tuesday evening, Obama will be live again via When We All Vote with actress Ayesha Curry and basketball player Chris Paul.