WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNITED STATESSEPTEMBER 9, 2020SOURCE: DC POOLRESTRICTIONS: NO RESALE
1. SOUNDBITE 1 - Donald Trump, US President (male, English, 22 sec): "Joe Biden has refused to release his list, perhaps because he knows the names are so extremely far-left that they could never withstand public scrutiny or receive acceptance. He must release a list of justices for people to properly make a decision as to how they will vote, it is very important that he do so."
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In election gambit, Trump releases list of potential justices
Washington, Sept 9, 2020 (AFP) - US President Donald Trump released a list of potential Supreme Court justices on Wednesday in an appeal to conservative voters ahead of the November election.The shortlist of potential nominees to the nation's highest court in the event of a vacancy included three Republican senators -- Ted Cruz of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri -- who are political allies of the Republican president."Over the next four years, America's president will choose hundreds of federal judges and in all likelihood one, two, three and even four Supreme Court justices," Trump told reporters at the White House."The outcome of these decisions will determine whether we hold fast to our nation's founding principles or whether they are lost forever," he said.Trump alleged that his Democratic election opponent, former vice president Joe Biden, would appoint "extreme radical justices" who would "erase" the Second Amendment giving Americans the right to bear arms and "require taxpayers to fund extremely late term abortion.""They will remove the words 'Under God' from the Pledge of Allegiance, they will unilaterally declare the death penalty unconstitutional," he said.Biden does support ending the death penalty but he has not advocated the other positions outlined by Trump.Trump has appointed two conservative justices since taking office -- Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, giving the court a five to four conservative majority.In the American system, federal judges are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.The Republican-controlled Senate has confirmed some 200 conservative judges since Trump took office, and the president pledged on Wednesday that it would be 300 before the end of his term. chp/cl/st
Trump admitted playing down coronavirus danger By Sebastian Smith
ATTENTION - ADDS details from interviews, Biden criticism ///Washington, Sept 9, 2020 (AFP) - President Donald Trump admits he tried to minimize the lethal threat of the coronavirus at the outset of the pandemic in audio recordings released Wednesday from interviews with veteran US journalist Bob Woodward."I wanted to always play it down," Trump said in an interview with Woodward on March 19, according to a CNN preview of the book "Rage," due to be published September 15."I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic," he said in the conversation with Woodward, which was recorded.By contrast, in earlier interviews with Woodward, he made clear he understood well that the virus was "deadly stuff" -- far more dangerous than the ordinary flu.In public, however, Trump had been repeatedly telling Americans that the virus should not be considered much of a danger and would "disappear" by itself.The frank admission that he decided to diminish the severity of the easily transmittable disease -- right as it began to tear through the world's richest country -- brought instant condemnation from Trump's opponents."He knew how deadly it was," Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden said while campaigning in Michigan. "He lied to the American people. He knowingly and willingly lied about the threat it posed to the country for months.""It was a life and death betrayal of the American people," Biden added.White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that Trump's only motivation in downplaying the dangers had been to reassure the public."It's important to express confidence, it's important to express calm," she said. "The president has never lied to the American public on Covid."Anthony Fauci, the country's leading infectious disease expert and member of the White House task force on Covid-19, said he did not get the sense the president had distorted concerns."In my discussions with him, they were always straightforward about the concerns that we had... When he would go out, I'd hear him discussing the same sort of things," Fauci told Fox News correspondent John Roberts Wednesday. Often the president wanted to keep the country from getting "down and out," Fauci said. But he added: "I don't recall anything that was any gross distortion in things that I spoke to him about."
- Mixed messages -
The US death toll from Covid-19 is expected soon to pass 200,000, looming heavily over the November 3 presidential election in which Trump is currently behind in the polls.The president has repeatedly insisted that he has managed the pandemic successfully, pointing to his early decisions to ban travel from China, where the virus first appeared, and from hotspots in Europe.However, opinion polls show some two-thirds of Americans disapprove of Trump's actions.At minimum, Trump long delivered mixed messages at a time when the country was looking for guidance. He veered from declaring himself the equivalent of a war-time president to contradicting government scientists and calling for early reopening of the economy.It took until July before Trump even wore a face mask in public. Early on, he also frequently praised the Chinese government's response, only later pivoting to blame Beijing for the global health crisis.In February -- well after he had been briefed by advisors on the dangers posed by the coronavirus -- he said that the virus might go away by April "with the heat."In March, he described the government's "tremendous control over" the situation and said "It will go away. Just stay calm."That same month, Trump compared the coronavirus to the common flu, which he noted kills "between 27,000 and 70,000 per year" yet "nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on."sms-mlm/st