Latest on 2020 election and SCOTUS battle

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 9:40 a.m. ET, October 1, 2020
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1:40 p.m. ET, September 24, 2020

Biden's campaign says he'll commit to peaceful transfer of power

From CNN’s Sarah Mucha

Joe Biden speaks to members of the media before boarding a plane at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 23.
Joe Biden speaks to members of the media before boarding a plane at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 23. Carolyn Kaster/AP

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign held a press call Thursday afternoon on protecting the Affordable Care Act in light of the Supreme Court vacancy, an issue they see as a leading fight in the run up to the November election. 

Asked by CNN's Arlette Saenz for reaction to President Trump's unwillingness to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, the Biden campaign's Kate Bedingfield said that Biden will participate in a peaceful transfer of power and noted that Trump’s comments are only meant to distract from the issue of health care.  

“Donald Trump is trying to distract from his catastrophic failures as President of the United States in order to talk about something that frankly, you know, spins up the press corps so that you guys are focused on this and not focused on how he has not put forward a meaningful health care plan and how he has spent the entirety of this administration in court trying to tear down the Affordable Care Act," Bedingfield said.

"Joe Biden has participated in a peaceful transition of power before," she added. "He certainly will this time." 

The campaign previewed that it intends to continue linking health care to the Supreme Court vacancy in its messaging going forward, making the case to the American people to “vote like health care is on the ballot because it is.” Bedingfield said this will continue to “be a big argument” for the Democratic presidential nominee. 

12:43 p.m. ET, September 24, 2020

GOP senator says she's "confident" there would be a transition of power

From CNN's Kristin Wilson

 

Alex Edelman/Pool/Getty Images
Alex Edelman/Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Susan Collins said that while she has concerns about President Trump's comments on the transition of power, she is “confident that we will see it occur once again.” 

“I don't know what his thinking was, but we have always had a controlled transition between administrations. And I'm certain that if there’s a change in administrations, that we have the calmness as well. It's fundamental to our democracy,” she said.

What this is about: Trump yesterday would not commit to providing a peaceful transition of power after Election Day, sparking further concerns he may not relinquish his office should he lose in November.

1:23 p.m. ET, September 24, 2020

No "coordinated national voter fraud effort," FBI director says

From CNN's Geneva Sands

Joshua Roberts/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Joshua Roberts/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

When pressed on whether voting by mail was secure, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday, historically there hasn't been national voter fraud regardless of the method of voting.

"Now we have not seen historically any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it's by mail or otherwise," he said. 

However, there has been voter fraud at the local level "from time to time," adding that "mounting that kind of fraud at scale would be a major challenge for an adversary but people should make no mistake we're vigilant as to the threat and watching it carefully because we're in an uncharted new territory."

11:50 a.m. ET, September 24, 2020

Pelosi: "We want the peaceful transfer of power"

From CNN's Haley Byrd and Clare Foran

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at a September 23 news conference where House Democrats introduced the Protecting Our Democracy Act.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at a September 23 news conference where House Democrats introduced the Protecting Our Democracy Act.  Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday responded to President Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power in the event that he loses the November election.

“We want the peaceful transfer of power,” she said. “It’s very sad that you even have to ask that question... That a President of the United States would place in doubt the idea of the peaceful transfer of power is, well, is no surprise, again, because the President has been contemptible of science and governance. And so you see 200,000 people have died. But I have confidence in the American people.” 

She hit Trump for how he has treated authoritarian leaders around the world, tying it to his comments about the upcoming election.

“We do know who he admires. He admires Putin. He admires Kim Jong Un. He admires Erdogan in Turkey. He admires people who are perpetuating their roles in government. But we remind him, you are not in North Korea, you are not In Turkey, you are not in Russia, Mr. President. And by the way, you are not in Saudi Arabia,” Pelosi said during her weekly press conference. "You are in the United States of America. It is a democracy. So why don’t you just try for a moment to honor your oath of office to the Constitution of the United States?” 

Asked if the House would consider a more formal reprimand, like a censure resolution, in response to Trump’s remarks, Pelosi told reporters, “I don’t think he’s worth the trouble at this point. We have 40 days until the election.”

“What really matters in terms of the peaceful transfer of power is that people vote and that their vote is counted as cast,” she said. 

She also said she was “pleased” that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put out a statement about the transfer of power this morning, which she said “seemed to go in the direction of protecting the Constitution of the United States. That was a real change.” 

11:38 a.m. ET, September 24, 2020

Schumer on transfer of power: "The greatest threat to democracy in America is President Donald Trump"

From CNN's Kristin Wilson

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, September 22.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, September 22. Caroline Brehman/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer railed on the Senate floor this morning about President Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the election, saying that “The greatest threat to our democracy right now, does not come from any foreign capital. It comes from our own. The greatest threat to democracy in America is President Donald Trump.”

He continued:

 “The President issued similar threats in the run up to the 2016 election, and he's doing it again,” Schumer said. “Now, if I win, he said the electoral if I win, he proposed the election is legitimate argues the president, but if I lose it's rigged. That's what he's saying now. Again, if I win the elections legitimate. But if I lose it's rigged. Oh and by the way, I may just stay in office, and not count the ballots."
11:34 a.m. ET, September 24, 2020

How GOP senators are reacting to Trump's refusal to commit to peaceful transition

From CNN's Manu Raju and Ali Zaslav

Sen. John Cornyn departs the US Capitol on September 21.
Sen. John Cornyn departs the US Capitol on September 21. Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate GOP leadership team, told CNN it was not appropriate for President Trump to refuse to commit to a peaceful transition of power.

“No,” Cornyn said when asked if it was appropriate. 

Asked if the GOP would do something about it if he won’t leave office if he loses, Cornyn said: “I’m not going to answer a hypothetical.” 

Pressed repeatedly by CNN’s Manu Raju, Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer refused to take issue with the President’s remarks and eventually said that Trump often speaks in “very extreme manners” and he didn’t find what he said last night to be “overly extreme, quite honestly."

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, in a difficult re-election race, said: "It will happen,” referring to an orderly transition. “I’m not worried about that. It’s the least of my concerns.”

Graham said: “If there's a court challenge to the election, it will be decided in court. And the loser of the challenge will accept the results.”

When asked about concerns they are pushing a Supreme Court nominee now to help tilt the outcome of any election results, Graham said: "We need a full court."

Some Republicans were quick to deflect, pointing to Hillary Clinton’s remarks suggesting that Joe Biden “should not concede under any circumstances.”

North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, one of the most vulnerable Republicans, said: “Look, there's going to be an orderly transition of power but if you've got spare time today go ask to every Democrat member and ask them if they stand with Hillary Clinton who says that Biden shouldn't accept the result under any circumstances if he doesn't win.”

Pressed on whether Trump should accept the results and commit to a peaceful transition, Tillis said: “Get back with me when you have spoken with the Democratic members on somebody who first said don't accept the result of the election.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley: “Is your question any different than what Hillary Clinton told Biden: ‘don't concede the election.’ No, it's very clear whether Biden wins ... this presidency ends on January the 20th under the Constitution."

10:40 a.m. ET, September 24, 2020

Top US general encourages voting and urges remaining "faithful" to Constitution

From CNN's Ryan Browne, Barbara Starr and Jennifer Hansler

Speaking in a virtual townhall Thursday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley encouraged service members, their families and Defense Department civilians to exercise their right to vote and “remain faithful” to the Constitution.

”We are right now in the midst of a general election and each of you have earned your right to vote. So I would strongly encourage that everyone exercise their right vote when the time comes and use the rights that have been granted to you in the Constitution. And remain faithful to that document called the US Constitution,” he said.

Many younger troops may be voting for the first time in this election.

9:40 a.m. ET, October 1, 2020

Send us your stories about voting issues

Are you having difficulty registering or voting, whether in person or by mail? Are you worried about receiving or returning your mail-in ballot? Do you believe you have seen or received disinformation relating to voting information or the election?

Tell us your story here. We may follow up on some responses for upcoming stories.

We may follow up on some responses for upcoming stories.

You can find more information on voting by mail here. Or ask us here you have questions about the election.

10:30 a.m. ET, September 24, 2020

Trump's pattern of questioning the legitimacy of election results

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Trump has a nearly decade-long pattern of questioning the legitimacy of election results, or outright rejecting results that he doesn’t like.

For instance, he did this after he lost the 2016 Iowa caucuses and after he lost the national popular vote in the 2016 general election. He falsely claimed there was widespread fraud.

Here's a look at his comments:

  • Presidential election, 2012: Trump backed Republican nominee Mitt Romney and spread false conspiracies on Election Day that machines were deleting Romney votes. After the race was called, Trump denounced the results as a "total sham" and tweeted, "We can't let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty." 
  • Iowa caucuses, 2016: Trump said the caucuses were illegitimate after he finished behind Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. After the vote, Trump said, "Ted Cruz didn't win Iowa, he stole it," and accused Cruz of committing "fraud." Trump called for a new election, said Cruz's results should be "nullified" and said "the State of Iowa should disqualify" Cruz.
  • Presidential election, 2016: At the final debate between Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Trump infamously refused to commit that he would accept the results. Instead, he said, "I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense." Even after Trump won, he falsely claimed there were millions of illegal votes in California and other states, creating a false narrative to explain why he lost the popular vote to Clinton.
  • Florida Senate election, 2018: On election night, Florida Republican Rick Scott led Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson by 38,000 votes, with many ballots still uncounted. Scott's lead narrowed over the next two weeks as mail ballots were tallied. But Trump quickly claimed there was massive "fraud" and "corruption," and accused Democrats of "stealing" the election by "finding" new votes. Trump declared that the election "should be called in favor of Rick Scott" and said Florida "must go with Election Night" results. After a statewide recount, Scott was up by about 10,000 votes, and Nelson conceded.
  • Arizona Senate election, 2018: Republican Martha McSally was ahead on election night, but Democrat Kyrsten Sinema later took the lead. Once that happened, Trump decried "corruption" and tweeted, "call for a new election?" McSally later conceded.

(Trump also rejected the results of a New York congressional primary in 2020. But that time, he didn’t dispute the outcome because he didn’t like the results — Rep. Carolyn Maloney beat a Democratic challenger. He was disputing the outcome as a means to attack mail-in voting.)