The latest on the 2020 election

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:00 p.m. ET, October 9, 2020
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2:18 p.m. ET, October 9, 2020

Philadelphia judge rejects Trump's poll-watcher lawsuit

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

People receive an "I Voted Today!" sticker after casting their vote during early voting at City Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 7, 2020.
People receive an "I Voted Today!" sticker after casting their vote during early voting at City Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 7, 2020. Gabriella Audi/AFP/Getty Images

A Philadelphia judge on Friday rejected an effort by the Trump campaign to send poll watchers to voting sites in the city, ruling that the campaign’s attempted poll-watching isn’t allowed under state law.

The ruling from Judge Gary Glazer was a victory for Philadelphia officials and a loss for the Trump campaign. The dispute revolved around “satellite election offices,” where election officials register voters, process applications for mail-in ballots, and allow voters to fill out and submit their mail ballots. 

The Trump campaign sent unauthorized poll watchers into some of these locations last month, but they were kicked out by local officials. President Trump used this incident to spread false claims about anti-Trump bias at the polls, saying at last week’s debate that “bad things happen in Philadelphia.”

The Trump campaign argued in court that these sites are tantamount to Election Day polling places, and therefore their poll watchers should be allowed.

The bipartisan Philadelphia City Commission said that while some ballots are being cast in the “satellite” locations, they don’t qualify as polling places under state laws that allow for partisan poll watchers. The judge on Friday sided with the city officials.

“The very detailed Election Code contains no provision that expressly grants the (Trump) Campaign and its representatives a right to serve as watchers at ‘satellite offices’ of the Board of Elections,” Glazer wrote in a 15-page ruling. He later added, “given their scope, timing, and purpose, the satellite offices do not constitute polling places where watchers have a right to be present under the Election Code.”

Political campaigns are allowed under Pennsylvania law to send trained poll-watchers to observe vote-counting and other election procedures on Election Day, including the tabulation of mail-in ballots.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, praised the ruling in a statement, saying that the decision “makes clear, yet again, that the President’s wild claims don’t hold up in the court of law.”

1:54 p.m. ET, October 9, 2020

Trump is not expected to travel this weekend

From CNN's Jim Acosta and Kaitlan Collins

President Donald Trump holds his mask after removing it from his face as he stands on the Blue Room Balcony upon returning to the White House in Washington from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. on Monday, Oct. 5, 2020.
President Donald Trump holds his mask after removing it from his face as he stands on the Blue Room Balcony upon returning to the White House in Washington from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. on Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. Alex Brandon/AP

There is currently no travel planned at the moment for President Trump this weekend, a White House official told CNN, and there are no potential campaign events that have been announced.

While it's always possible something may change, at the moment the expectation is for the President to remain in Washington, DC.

Trump had said last night that he was ready to resume campaign rallies and suggested in an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity that he would do so this weekend. 

“I think I'm going to try doing a rally on Saturday night if we can, if we have enough time to put it together, but we want to do a rally in Florida, probably in Florida on Saturday night, might come back and do one in Pennsylvania, on the following night," Trump said.

1:29 p.m. ET, October 9, 2020

No one can recuse Amy Coney Barrett from a Trump election case but herself. Here's why. 

From CNN legal analyst Joan Biskupic

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trumps nominee for the US Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Oct. 1, 2020. 
Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trumps nominee for the US Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Oct. 1, 2020.  Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post/Pool/AP

Democratic senators are pressing Judge Amy Coney Barrett to promise to sit out any Supreme Court election dispute between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Barrett has eluded their requests and made no commitment. Yet with controversies over state ballot practices escalating and the possibility of a replay of the 2000 Bush v. Gore ordeal in the air, the topic is sure to surface at Barrett's Senate confirmation hearings next week.

Trump has pointed to the Nov. 3 election as a reason for seeking swift Senate confirmation of Barrett, a federal appeals court judge who would be his third appointee to the nine-member bench. The Republican incumbent has said he believes the Supreme Court could ultimately decide whether he is the victor over Biden.

Confirmation hearings for Barrett, Trump's Supreme Court nominee, are slated to begin Monday in the Senate Judiciary committee.

In a recent CNN poll, more than half (56%) of the Americans surveyed said they think Barrett should recuse herself from cases on the presidential election; 34% said the opposite. Opinions divided largely by party: 82% of Democrats; 53% of independents and 32% of Republicans said Barrett should promise to recuse herself from cases about the election.

Supreme Court practice leaves it to individual justices to decide when to recuse themselves from cases. In her recent questionnaire to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barrett noted that federal ethics law covering lower court judges is not binding on the Supreme Court but said she would look to it, as other justices have.

The law requires judges to disqualify themselves when their "impartiality might reasonably be questioned." Rarely do Supreme Court justices sit out cases and typically only when they have a financial stake or family connection to the dispute.

As Democrats have pounded away at a possible conflict of interest for a Justice Barrett, law professors are divided on the issue.

"I agree that justices can sit in cases that are of great consequence to the appointing president," New York University law professor Stephen Gillers told CNN, but added: "That's not this situation. Here, Barrett would be asked to decide whether Trump will keep his job after Trump gave Barrett her job just weeks earlier while publicly anticipating her vote in his favor."

But Ross Garber, who teaches at Tulane Law School, is of the opposite mind, saying Barrett need not recuse herself because she would already have lifetime tenure and "no stake at all in the outcome of the election." Garber added, "I'd go so far as to say she has a duty to sit and hear any elections cases that come before her."

Read the full story here.

1:16 p.m. ET, October 9, 2020

Pences again test negative for Covid-19

From CNN's Betsy Klein

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L) and second lady Karen Pence greet supporters after speaking at a rally at the Boulder City Airport on October 8, 2020 in Boulder City, Nevada. 
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L) and second lady Karen Pence greet supporters after speaking at a rally at the Boulder City Airport on October 8, 2020 in Boulder City, Nevada.  Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence tested negative for Covid-19 on Friday, an administration official told CNN.

Pence unexpectedly canceled a trip to Indiana and returned to Washington last night. He has a closed press call with leaders of the cruise ship industry this afternoon.

12:28 p.m. ET, October 9, 2020

Chris Christie remains hospitalized and is under observation due to Covid-19

From CNN's Dana Bash

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House on September 27.
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House on September 27. Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie remains hospitalized due to Covid-19 and is under observation, according to a source familiar with his condition.

The source said that there is no indication Christie is on a ventilator.

During a news conference yesterday current New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said that he has spoken to Christie but did not offer any information regarding his condition.

“He is the quintessential Jersey fighter. So we are all with him in thoughts, prayers and we are here to do whatever we can for him,” Murphy said.

Christie checked himself into the hospital on Oct. 3 as a precautionary measure after receiving a positive Covid-19 test. Christie helped President Trump with presidential debate prep.

12:20 p.m. ET, October 9, 2020

Twitter moves to blunt impact of false and misleading tweets ahead of Election Day

From CNN’s Kaya Yurieff

Twitter is rolling out a series of changes ahead of the US election next month in an attempt to clamp down on the spread of misinformation.

On Friday, Twitter said users, including political candidates, cannot claim an election win before it is authoritatively called.

Twitter's new criteria for that requires either an announcement from state election officials or a public projection from at least two authoritative, national news outlets. Twitter did not identify the outlets, though news organizations such as CNN, the Associated Press, ABC News and Fox News would fit the bill.

Previously, Twitter said candidates would be prohibited from claiming victory "before election results have been certified." This caveat immediately drew the attention of election experts, because Twitter was drawing a red line that was noticeably out of step with how results are processed.

The results publicly reported by election officials and news outlets on election night are always preliminary. Weeks later, the results are formally "certified" by state officials. With Friday's adjustment, Twitter is smoothing out its policies for Election Night, and eliminating a potentially major hiccup.

Such tweets claiming a premature win will receive a misleading information label and users will be directed to Twitter's official US election page for more details.

12:12 p.m. ET, October 9, 2020

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner test negative

From CNN's Kevin Liptak and Kate Bennett

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images
Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Ivanka Trump’s spokesperson Carolina Hurley tells CNN, “This morning, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner again tested negative for Covid-19.”

A White House official also tells CNN that Ivanka is planning to travel for campaign events next week.

Meanwhile, it remains unclear when President Trump will be tested again and whether those results would be disclosed publicly. The White House has repeatedly refused to say when he last tested negative, raising questions about the timeline of his disease.

11:45 a.m. ET, October 9, 2020

GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Haley Byrd

Rep. Mike Bost walks up the House steps in October 2019.
Rep. Mike Bost walks up the House steps in October 2019. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/AP

Rep. Mike Bost, an Illinois Republican, announced Friday he tested positive for coronavirus.

In a statement, he said he has not had a fever but experienced “a mild cough and a rapid loss of both taste and smell” and quickly got tested afterward.

He said staffers he has been in close contact with are quarantining and awaiting their own test results.

He indicated some of his constituents may have been exposed, saying he is beginning the process of reaching out to those he has met with in recent days.

"I am postponing my public event schedule but will continue conducting virtual meetings as I isolate at home. We are taking this situation seriously and will continue to serve the people of Southern Illinois while doing our best to ensure their health and safety,” he said. "I will provide additional updates in the days ahead and am anxious to get back to work as soon as I make a full recovery."

Read his full statement:

11:37 a.m. ET, October 9, 2020

Another White House official, asked at least six times, can't say when Trump tested negative

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White House deputy press secretary Brian Morgenstern became the latest official to fail to provide an answer to the critical question of when the President last tested negative for coronavirus in a stunning and at times contentious exchange where he was asked at least six different ways and gave at least six non-answers.

Asked when the President last tested negative, he said, “We don’t have that, but we’re looking at this from a public health perspective in that when there's an indication of a positive test or symptoms showing, then you go back to 48 hours, you do your contact tracing.”

Asked during an appearance on MSNBC whether there wasn’t a negative test or if he just didn’t have the information, after he previously said he’d look into it, he said, “We don’t have that – I don’t personally know.”

Asked once more, he said, “The President doesn’t check all his HIPAA rights at the door when he becomes president… Just because he’s president doesn’t mean he shares every single detail of his entire life.”

And on whether Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was the reason they would not provide the answer to that question, he said, “That is one reason. The fact of the matter is, there's a reason to share certain information, it’s to prevent further transmission of the virus, it’s public health purposes and that's what we're doing.”

He claimed an answer on the last negative test “is not something that has the public health value.”

He attempted to suggest that in the days before he tested positive, “The president was socially distanced from people,” to which the host responded, “We have eyeballs.”

Asked if the President complied with the Cleveland Clinic debate requirements to be negative tested within 72 hours, he said, “You are very focused on looking backwards.”

Pressed again, he did not answer the question. Pressed once more, he criticized the host for not talking about other issues like stimulus.

Morgenstern also echoed White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s doubt on a Saturday event: “We’re looking at it and the doctors will be doing advance diagnostics… he won’t be out there unless it’s medically cleared,” he said, adding that there are “logistical considerations.”

He suggested Trump’s doctors “will certainly prove with medical evidence that there is no transmissibility of the virus,” but declined to provide specifics.