The latest on the 2020 election and SCOTUS battle

By Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 6:00 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020
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4:37 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Trump arrives in Cleveland ahead of tonight's debate

From CNN's Matthew Hoye

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport for the first presidential debate on September 29 in Cleveland.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport for the first presidential debate on September 29 in Cleveland. Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump has arrived in Cleveland ahead of tonight's presidential debate. During the flight from Joint Base Andrews, a senior Trump campaign official told reporters that Trump feels confident about the debate – adding that the campaign feels better going into this debate than they did before the first debate with Hillary Clinton in 2016.

This official also said that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and UFC fighter Colby Covington would be among the President’s guests at the debate. 

Giuliani, along with Chris Christie, played the role of Joe Biden during Trump’s very brief debate prep earlier.

3:31 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Trump's children attend a fundraiser at the Trump Hotel before tonight's debate

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

President Trump's children were at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, for a Trump Victory fundraiser earlier Tuesday, before departing for Cleveland, according to a person who was there. 

Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle were all there as supporters and made calls to raise money ahead of the first debate. 

4:18 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris released their tax returns. Here's what they show.

From CNN's Sarah Mucha and Kate Sullivan

Oliver Douliery/AFP/Getty Images
Oliver Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden released his 2019 tax returns ahead of Tuesday evening’s debate, a clear effort to draw contrast with Donald Trump following the New York Times reporting that the President did not pay any federal taxes in 10 out of 15 years beginning in 2000.

Biden’s returns show he and his wife, Jill, paid nearly $300,000 in federal income tax last year and had an adjusted gross income of about $985,000. 

Biden’s release of his 2019 tax returns come hours before the first presidential debate and two days after the New York Times reported that Trump paid no federal income taxes whatsoever in 10 out of 15 years beginning in 2000. Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, the Times reported. Trump has not released his tax returns to the public. 

California Sen. Kamala Harris also released her 2019 tax returns on Tuesday, which showed that she and her husband, Doug Emhoff, paid about $1.2 million in taxes and had an adjusted gross income of about $3 million. 

Last year, the Bidens released tax returns that showed they paid a total of $3.7 million in 2017 and $1.5 million in 2018. 

You can read the documents here.

3:20 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Here's where Biden and Trump stand on health care

From CNN's  Mackenzie Happe and Kate Sullivan

President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden have taken very different positions on a range of policy issues, including health care. Here's where they stand.

Biden

Biden's health care plan would greatly expand Obamacare's subsidies to make the private insurance policies available on the exchanges more affordable. The plan would also create a new "public option" similar to Medicare that people could buy into.

"We're going to add to it a public option. And the public option says whether you are having employer-based insurance or private insurance, or you're in the exchange, you can join up for a Medicaid-Medicare-like provision in the law and not dump 300 million people on Medicare all of a sudden," he said in July 2019.

Biden added that those covered by employer-based health insurance plans could also choose the public plan if they prefer it. "You can sign up and get this other plan," he said. "But if you like (your private insurance), you're able to keep it."

Trump

Trump on Sept. 24 laid out what he called his "vision" for health care in America, but the two executive orders Trump said he was going to sign fall far short of a comprehensive proposal.

Trump said he was signing an executive order to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions, even as Trump and Republican lawmakers attempt to try to tear down the Affordable Care Act that already protects them. 

The second executive order directs Congress to pass legislation to address surprise medical billing by the end of the year, and if lawmakers don't achieve this, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will seek to do so via executive or regulatory action.

Trump campaigned against the Affordable Care Act on the run-up to his presidency. While the Republican-controlled Congress failed to repeal the law, Trump has taken a number of executive actions to undermine it, including making it easier for Americans to access alternative policies that have fewer protections and benefits. The administration is also seeking to invalidate the landmark health care law through the courts.

Trump has promised to reduce drug prices and unveiled a blueprint to do so in 2018. Bucking long-standing Republican beliefs, the President is pushing to allow drug importation, particularly from Canada, and to tie the price of drugs in the US to their cost in other developed nations. However, several of his efforts have been stymied, including requiring drug makers to include their list prices in TV ads, which was nixed by a federal judge in summer 2019.

In an effort to lower health care costs overall, the administration also issued a rule requiring hospitals to post the rates they negotiate privately with health insurers, starting in 2021. A coalition of major hospital groups took legal action to block the requirement.

3:01 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

White House chief of staff says Trump is in a "good mood" as he heads to the debate

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump prepare to board Marine One at the White House on September 29 in Washington, DC.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump prepare to board Marine One at the White House on September 29 in Washington, DC. Carolyn Kaster/AP

Air Force One is wheels up for Cleveland, Ohio, for tonight’s debate.

The pool flags that criminal justice reform advocate Alice Marie Johnson boarded Air Force One with Jared Kushner. The President’s adult children are also flying aboard Air Force One. The pool spotted Eric and Lara Trump; Donald Trump Jr. and Kim Guilfoyle; and Tiffany Trump boarding the plane. 

CNN’s Kate Bennett reported earlier Tuesday that all of the President’s adult children would attend tonight’s debate.

In an off-camera gaggle with the pool, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said the Trump campaign was allotted 20 tickets to the debate tonight and that some of the President’s guests were traveling aboard AF1. He added that President Trump was in a “good mood” and had essentially finished his debate preparations.

3:09 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

NYC will re-mail ballots to Brooklyn voters that may have received incorrect return envelopes

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

Yaffa Fredrick/CNN
Yaffa Fredrick/CNN

The City of New York has instructed a vendor to re-mail new ballots to Brooklyn voters after a number of people said they had received oath envelopes that had return addresses for other voters.

Board of Elections for the City of New York executive director Michael Ryan announced the measure in a commissioners meeting on Tuesday afternoon. They said they were taking the extraordinary measure of re-mailing the ballots, "to make certain that absolutely no disenfranchisement occurs in the borough of Brooklyn."

Valerie Vazquez Diaz, spokesperson for the BOENYC, tells CNN that at least 99,477 voters in the borough were potentially affected.

The re-mailed ballots will contain an insert explaining why the voter is getting resent the ballot.  

Ryan says they will also be utilizing traditional and social media to make sure voters are informed of what is going on in rectifying the error.

"It is essential that confidence be established in this process," Ryan said in the meeting. 

1:50 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Here's where Biden and Trump stand on foreign relations

From CNN's  Mackenzie Happe and Kate Sullivan

President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden have taken very different positions on a range of policy issues, including foreign relations. Here's what the two men have said.

Biden

A central argument of Biden's campaign for president is that the former Vice President has extensive foreign policy experience from his eight years serving in the White House and from traveling the globe as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In June, Biden pledged to undo President Donald Trump's foreign policy moves in a speech in which the former vice president laid out how he would seek to restore pre-Trump international norms and "place America back at the head of the table." The centerpiece of Biden's effort to return to international cooperation is a summit that Biden said he would call among the world's democracies, non-governmental organizations and corporations — particularly tech and social media companies — to seek a common agenda to protect their shared values. Such a summit would push companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter — where Russian trolls reached American voters during the 2016 election — to combat challenges such as surveillance, censorship and the spread of hate speech.

While in the Senate, Biden voted to authorize the war in Iraq in 2002. Like other Democrats who voted yes, Biden has spent the years since apologizing for it as the conflict became increasingly unpopular with the American public and Democratic voters.

Trump

Trump has made a series of unpredictable moves on trade, including the imposition of tariffs against allies like the European Union. Trump has also engaged in a two-year trade war with China, imposing an escalating series of retaliatory tariffs that have hit American farmers, importers and manufacturers.

He announced plans to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations and Agreement, an Obama-era trade deal among a number of countries, soon after taking office in 2017. Preferring bilateral deals, he signed a new trade pact with Japan in 2019 -- but it was no better for American ranchers and farmers than the Trans-Pacific Partnership would have been. His administration also renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement, the trade pact with Canada and Mexico. The countries have since agreed to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, but it is pending ratification by the US Congress.

3:12 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Faith leaders and demonstrators protest SCOTUS nomination

From CNN's Adrienne Winston and Ali Zaslav

Religious leaders march in a demonstration against the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on September 29 in Washington, DC.
Religious leaders march in a demonstration against the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on September 29 in Washington, DC. Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Dozens of faith leaders and demonstrators marched from the US Supreme Court to the US Capitol, protesting the rush of President Trump’s Supreme Court nomination Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The march was organized by Poor People’s Campaign, a national group working to unite poor communities. It comes as Judge Barrett is meeting with Republican senators all day on Capitol Hill.

The demonstration’s message was aimed at the Senate chamber with Bishop William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s campaign, saying “we need to stop just saying Trump is the problem alone. Senator Leader McConnell and this senate have blocked fixing the voting rights act but want to steal a Supreme Court”. 

The group wore signs saying “Remember Ruth and Breonna” for the late justice and Breonna Taylor, who was killed by Louisville Police, to highlight their focuses on the judiciary and justice reform. 

Capitol police did arrive at one point to warn the group about blocking the roadway, after which they moved to the sidewalk to continue the protest. 

1:48 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Here's who Joe Biden is bringing as guests to the debate tonight

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's campaign just announced his guests for the debate tonight. They are:

  • Kristin Urquiza, whose father died of Covid-19. She delivered a blistering condemnation of Trump via video at the Democratic National Convention.
  • Gurneé Green, the owner of Cleveland Heights fashion store Chemistry 11. She also appeared at the DNC to highlight the challenges faced by small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • James Evanoff Jr., an ArcelorMittal steelworker and member of United Steelworkers. The union threw their support behind the Biden-Kamala ticket citing specific concerns, including health care and Social Security.

Remember: The size of the audience will be limited compared to previous debates. Frank Fahrenkopf, the co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, estimated 60 to 70 audience members would be seated in the debate hall.