Live Blog

Election 2016: The Latest Updates

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump prepare for the final sprint to Election Day.

Supporters cheer as Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign event at The Quad, Saint Augustine's University, October 23, 2016, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Mary Altaffer / AP

It’s Sunday, October 30—the election is now less than two weeks away. Hillary Clinton holds a lead against Donald Trump, according to RealClearPolitics’ polling average. We’ll bring you the latest updates from the trail as events unfold. Also see our continuing coverage:

Updates

This live blog has concluded

What Does the Clinton Campaign Think of James Comey Now?

(Gary Cameron / Reuters)

The FBI’s decision to investigate newly discovered emails has reignited the controversy over Hillary Clinton’s private email server—and her campaign has spent the weekend trying to put out the flames.

In a letter made public Friday ,FBI Director James Comey told congressional leaders that investigators had uncovered emails in an unrelated case that may be connected to the agency’s inquiry of Clinton’s server, which was closed in July without criminal charges. The New York Times reported the emails came from the FBI’s investigation of former New York congressman and serial sexter Anthony Weiner, who is married to top Clinton adviser Huma Abedin. Comey said the FBI will investigate whether these emails contain classified information, but said he “cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant.”

That uncertainty—combined with the timing of the announcement—has enraged the Clinton campaign, which responded by taking aim at Comey, a Republican who was appointed by President Obama in 2013 for a 10-year-term.

“It’s pretty strange to put something like that out with such little information right before an election,” Clinton said at a rally in Florida Saturday night. “In fact, it’s not just strange; it’s unprecedented and it is deeply troubling.”

Tim Kaine, Clinton’s running mate, told Vice News in an interview Friday that the timing of Comey’s letter “is very, very troubling.” “He should give a clear accounting of exactly what’s going on right now,” Kaine said.

John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, published a blog post about the news Saturday that directly cast doubt on Comey’s decision making. He called the FBI director’s letter as “strange.”

“It’s an unprecedented intrusion into a close presidential election with less than 11 days until Election Day,” Podesta wrote. “But by being vague and obfuscating, Comey opened the door to conspiracy theories, Republican attacks against Hillary, and a surge of fundraising for Trump and his team.”

Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace that Comey “owes it to the American people, releasing this just a matter of days before the election, to provide all the information.”

The content of the new emails is not publicly known, and Comey said he didn’t know how long the review would take.

Trump Campaign Manager Calls Supporter Making Anti-Semitic Chants 'Deplorable'

(Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

Less than two weeks before Election Day, the crowd at a Trump rally in Phoenix was filled with energy Saturday night. A man in a suit launched T-shirts from the stage using a plastic cannon. A 13-year-old boy wore an orange prison jumpsuit and a cut-out of Hillary Clinton’s face over his own. Supporters erupted into chants of “U-S-A”—except for one, a long-haired man in a short-sleeve “Hillary for Prison” shirt, who instead pointed at reporters inside the press section and chanted, “Jew-S-A.”

One of the reporters at the rally, Nick Corasaniti of The New York Times, filmed the man’s chants and posted the video on Twitter. The clip spread quickly on social media, and the next morning made it to network television during an interview of Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway. On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Jake Tapper played the clip (watch it here), and then asked Conway whether she would call the man “deplorable.”

“Yes, I would,” Conway said. “His conduct is completely unacceptable and does not reflect our campaign and our candidate.”

She added later: “Had I been there, I would have asked security to remove him immediately. Clearly he doesn't speak for the campaign or the candidate, and I think what he had to say was disgusting.”

But Conway pushed back against Tapper’s questions about Trump supporters who are anti-Semitic, racist, and sexist, and whether Trump’s campaign has created a platform for them. “Don't besmirch the good hearts and the good values of the tens of thousands, the millions of Donald Trump supporters who frankly just love this country,” he said.

The word “deplorable” took on new meaning during this election season, when Hillary Clinton said last month that “you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables.’ Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic—you name it.” The gaffe has been likened to Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” comment in 2012, which also made a negative generalization about a large chunk of the American electorate.

Iowa Woman Arrested for Allegedly Voting Twice

Jonathan Drake / Reuters

An Iowa woman was charged Friday with election misconduct for allegedly voting twice for Donald Trump because she feared her first vote would be changed to one for Hillary Clinton.

"I wasn't planning on doing it twice, it was spur of the moment," Terri Rote, 55, told Iowa Public Radio. "The polls are rigged."

According to the Des Moines Register, Rote first cast an early voting ballot at the county election office and then voted again at a polling place in Des Moines. It was the first time Polk County Auditor Jaime Fitzgerald could remember having to report someone for potential voter fraud, he told the newspaper.

Dramatic claims that the presidential election is rigged and that voter fraud is rampant have become major themes of Trump’s campaign as his poll numbers decline. In reality, individual cases of voter fraud are extremely rare, and the highly decentralized American electoral system makes large-scale manipulation virtually impossible.

If Rote is convicted, she could face a maximum of five years in prison, local media outlets said.

Donald Trump on Clinton Email Investigation: 'This Is Bigger Than Watergate'

Donald Trump attends a campaign event in Ohio Thursday. (Carlo Allegri / Reuters)

Before Donald Trump could even share the news that the FBI looking into more Clinton emails with rally-goers in New Hampshire, the crowd chanted “Lock her up.”  It was welcome news for Trump, who is behind in most polls has had a turbulent few weeks on the campaign trail.

“I have great respect for the fact that the FBI and the DOJ are now willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake they made,” Trump said. He added: “Perhaps, finally, justice will be done.” The crowd was ecstatic, cheering and chanting as he spoke. “The rest of my speech is going to be so boring,” Trump conceded. “Should I even make this speech?”

He still did—seemingly reenergized by the news. The Republican nominee went so far as to diverge from his signature line that the election is “rigged.” “With what I have just announced, previously, it might not be as rigged as I thought,” he said. “The FBI, I think they are going to right the ship."

The FBI Is Investigating More Emails Related to Clinton

Joshua Robert / Reuters

With just 11 days left before the election, the FBI has apparently decided to take another look at the Democratic nominee’s use of a private email server.

FBI Director James Comey informed the chairs of relevant committees in Congress of the news in a letter on Friday. “In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the case.” He said he believed investigators should have a chance to review the materials. He added that the FBI “cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant.”

The news could shake the presidential campaign, reawakening an old danger for Hillary Clinton. The FBI spent months investigating her use of a private email server and private email address while secretary of state, concluding that she and her staff had been “extremely careless” with classified information, but that she should not be charged with any crimes. The Justice Department followed suit, declining to bring any charges.

You can read Comey’s full letter here:

Kirk Apologizes to Duckworth Over Remarks About Her Family's Service

Mark Kirk at the debate
Screenshot

Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk apologized on Twitter for remarks he made during a debate last night with Democratic Representative Tammy Duckworth, who’s vying for his seat. He mocked her after she mentioned her family’s legacy of military service, starting with the Revolutionary War.

Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who lost both of her legs in 2004 when the helicopter she was piloting was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, has a white father and a Thai mother of Chinese ancestry. An ancestor on her father’s side fought in the American Revolution. When Duckworth mentioned her ancestor’s service, Kirk quipped, "I'd forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington."

Kirk has previously faced criticism for exaggerating his military record, claiming he served in Iraq when he actually served in the Navy Reserve during the war and never left the United States. Nevertheless, Kirk made the ill-advised decision to suggest it was Duckworth who was exaggerating her military background.

Former Miss Finland Accuses Trump of Sexual Misconduct

Carlo Allegri / Reuters

Former Miss Finland Ninni Laaksonen has publicly accused Donald Trump of grabbing her without her consent in 2006.

Laaksonen gave her account to a Finnish newspaper. According to Reuters, here’s how she described the alleged encounter:

Ninni Laaksonen told the Ilta-Sanomat newspaper that the Republican presidential nominee had grabbed her behind before she appeared on a television show in New York with other contestants.

"He really grabbed my butt. I don't think anybody saw it but I flinched and thought: 'What is happening?'," Laaksonen was quoted as saying in the newspaper.

Laaksonen joins a number of women who have stepped forward to allege that Trump sexually assaulted them following the release of a 2005 Access Hollywood recording that features Trump bragging about forcing himself on women without their consent.

Trump has denied every sexual-assault accusation he faces, and threatened to sue the accusers after his presidential campaign ends.

Hillary Clinton Holds Her Cash Advantage Over Trump

Andrew Harnik / AP

Updated at 12:40 p.m. on October 28, 2016

Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in cash on hand by $46 million, according to new Federal Election Commission filings detailing their finances from October 1 to October 19.

Only weeks away from Election Day, the Democratic nominee had $62.4 million in her war chest, compared with Trump’s nearly $16 million. Clinton raised $52.8 million and spent $49.6 million. Trump, on the other hand, brought in $30.5 million and spent some $49 million in the same period. So has been the trend for much of the election: Trump’s coffers have paled in comparison with Clinton’s.

After a tumultuous few weeks, some Republicans have shown concern about the effect their party’s nominee might have on down-ballot races. According to the latest filings, they are spending accordingly. The New York Times explains:

Disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday revealed tens of millions of dollars in late donations and transfers to Republican “super PACs” focused on down-ballot races, suggesting a significant last-ditch effort to protect Senate and House candidates against Mrs. Clinton’s surge. Relatively little new money has come into outside groups supporting Mr. Trump.

Further complicating House and Senate races, Trump has no plans to hold “high-dollar fundraising events” in the run-up to Election Day; the money raised at those events had gone, in part, to the Republican National Committee, which spent it on down ballots. Trump has also continued to fall short of his commitment to self-fund his campaign. In the October 1 to October 19 period, he only gave some $30,682. In total, he’s given himself a little over $56 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which doesn’t come close to his “more than $100 million” pledge. Perhaps in recognition of that, Trump contributed $10 million to his campaign on Friday, NBC reports, therefore bringing his total contributions to $66 million. Rick Hasen, an election-law guru, notes that Trump's latest contribution should be reported “within 48 hours to the FEC."

Mark Kirk's Racist Attack on Tammy Duckworth

Tammy Duckworth and Mark Kirk
Seth Perlman / AP

Tammy Duckworth, the Illinois representative and Purple Heart veteran, can trace her family’s history of service back to the Revolutionary War.

While Duckworth’s mother is from Thailand, her father’s family has been in the United States since before the country’s founding. During a debate Thursday night, Duckworth used her family’s contribution to American military service to warn of the dangers of war.

“I forgot that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington,” replied Senator Mark Kirk, the Republican incumbent.

Duckworth, a Daughter of the American Revolution, did not dignify that with a response.

Here’s the exchange:

Recent polling shows Duckworth has the edge in the Senate race, with double-digit leads in two recent polls.

Mike Pence's Non-Metaphorical Hard Landing

Mary Altaffer / AP

It’s been a bumpy ride for Donald Trump’s running mate for the past few months—and Thursday night proved particularly rough.

A charter plane carrying the Indiana governor to New York’s LaGuardia Airport reportedly skidded off the runway, leaving a trail of torn up surface behind it as it came to a rest near a perimeter fence.

The tarmac, actually, seems to have worked as designed—it’s apparently what the FAA refers to as a Engineered Material Arresting System, intended to absorb an airplane’s energy and momentum and bring it to a safe stop. And, it seems, none of the 37 people aboard the Boeing 737—Pence, his family, aides, security, or the press—were injured in the incident.

“I just spoke to our future vice president and he’s OK,” Trump assured a crowd later Thursday night. “You know he was in a big accident with a plane. The plane skidded off the runway and was pretty close to grave, grave danger, but I just spoke to Mike Pence and he’s fine.”

The cause of the skid isn’t yet clear; it was almost certainly the sort of incident that could have taken place at any airport. But LaGuardia has been a favorite punching bag for politicians in recent years. Vice President Joe Biden called it a “third-world airport” in 2014, and Trump the following year singled it out in a speech, as emblematic of the decaying infrastructure that he has vowed to fix:

You go over to Qatar, you over to Saudia Arabia, you go over to some of these countries—China—and you see airports like you've never, ever seen before. Then you come back and you land at LaGuardia ... or Newark or LAX and you walk into a filthy terminal that are falling apart and you have broken terrazzo floors and that's all you have.

The airport’s terminals and other facilities are now due for a $4 billion renovation. And now, a few dozen feet of EMAS will have to be repaved, as well.

DNC Accuses RNC of Violating Voter-Intimidation Court Order

Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus at the Republican National Convention in July
(Carolyn Kaster / AP)

The Democratic National Committee asked a federal judge Wednesday to hold the Republican National Committee in contempt of court, claiming that Donald Trump and his campaign had violated a longstanding consent decree that bans the RNC from intimidating minority voters.

Trump, who has frequently claimed without evidence that the election is “rigged,” recently urged supporters in swing states to monitor polling stations in “other communities” for voter fraud. “Go to your place and vote, and then go pick some other place, and go sit there with your friends and make sure it's on the up-and-up,” he told a largely white crowd at a rally in Novi, Michigan.

The DNC linked his statements, as well as his campaign’s “ballot security” projects, to joint-fundraising efforts between the Trump campaign and the RNC. That connection places the RNC in direct violation of a 1982 consent decree that limits how Republican officials can challenge minority voter qualifications at the polls, the DNC argued.

“The RNC is working in active concert with Trump, the Trump campaign, and Stone to intimidate and harass minority voters in violation of this Court’s Consent Decree,” the DNC’s filing said. “The Court should use its inherent contempt powers to remedy those violations, and enforce future compliance with the Consent Decree, with sanctions.”

In a statement to Reuters, the RNC denied any wrongdoing and said it “strictly abides by the consent decree and does not take part directly or indirectly in any efforts to prevent or remedy vote fraud.”

As my colleague Garrett Epps noted earlier this month, the consent decree dates back to a DNC lawsuit filed against the RNC after the 1981 gubernatorial election in New Jersey. During that election, Republican officials allegedly organized groups of off-duty police officers to stand outside polling stations in minority communities wearing armbands that said “National Ballot Security Task Force.”

The RNC settled the lawsuit in 1982 and agreed to a consent decree that, among other conditions, required the party and its associates to “refrain from undertaking any ballot security activities…where the racial or ethnic composition of such districts is a factor” and “where a purpose or significant effect of such activities is to deter qualified voters from voting.” In 2012, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals renewed the consent decree until 2017; the DNC asked Wednesday for the district court to extend it another eight years.

Jason Chaffetz's Change of Heart About Donald Trump

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Three weeks ago, Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz had a wounded reaction to the release of the now-infamous Access Hollywood tape of Donald Trump. While announcing his decision to un-endorse the Republican nominee, Chaffetz invoked his daughter as he explained his reasoning:

“I’m out. I can no longer in good conscience endorse this person for president. It is some of the most abhorrent and offensive comments that you can possibly imagine. And my wife and I, we have a 15-year-old daughter. And if I can’t look her in the eye and tell her these things, I can’t endorse this person,” Chaffetz said. He also invoked his country: “Why should we tolerate this? This is the presidency of the United States of America. I just can't do it."

The congressman’s words seemed sincere. He did not hedge, and he did not hesitate, having gone public mere hours after the Trump tape was published. Other Republicans similarly pulled back their endorsements.

But the last three weeks have evidently given Chaffetz some time to think. And on Wednesday night, he seemed to renege on his statement that he “just can’t do it.”

With his tweet, Chaffetz joined the ranks of other congressional Republicans who’ve supported, then denounced, then pledged to vote for the Republican nominee—explaining that, essentially, a vote ≠ an endorsement. My colleague Andrew McGill spoke recently with Carnegie Mellon University’s Kevin Zollman about whether game theory, the professor’s speciality, could explain their decision-making:

The idea is, you don’t want to be left out there alone. A number of people predicted that [the tape] was going to be the watershed moment, that the whole party was going to un-endorse him and he was going to become a lame duck. And it looked like that was happening—but then it stopped. When you see a couple of people “re-endorse” Trump, they’ve realized that’s the direction of the party, and they don’t want to be left out in the cold.

And there was this group of people that didn’t exactly un-endorse Trump. What they said was, “Trump needs to step aside.” And I think that was actually a strategic move. They leave themselves wiggle room to make a statement that could later either read as, “I unendorsed him early,” if that’s the way the wind blows, or “I never unendorsed him.” You could always claim to have been in the majority, no matter what.

Chaffetz, though, doesn’t seem like the kind of member who’d need to be very careful: His seat is safe, and in Utah—where third-party conservative candidate Evan McMullin has taken off—his rejection of Trump likely generated some good will.

The Washington Post presented two theories for why he changed his mind. First, that he’s got big plans for the House Oversight Committee, for which he is chair, to mount investigations of Clinton if she becomes president. Being the “agitator gets much harder when you didn't vote for her opponent,” the Post writes. Or second, that he’s got big plans for himself: House Speaker Paul Ryan is looking more vulnerable by the day, and as New York magazine notes, Chaffetz could be looking at running for speaker for a second time. With his committee’s success or a potential promotion on the line, Trump, it seems, became a whole lot more tolerable.

Trump Goes After Conservative Catholic Voters With an Interview on EWTN

Tonight, Donald Trump will appear on the Eternal Word Television Network, a conservative Catholic network based in Irondale, Alabama. The managing editor of the network, Raymond Arroyo, asked Trump about abortion, religious freedom, women voters, and the recently revealed emails exchanged among Clinton aides that allegedly show them mocking conservative Catholics. A clip featured on The Washington Post shows part of Arroyo’s conversation with Trump, which is set to air on Thursday night at 8 p.m.

In the clipped portion of the interview, Trump claims Hillary Clinton has alienated Catholic and evangelical voters.

“Frankly, if any Catholic votes for Hillary Clinton, if I were a Catholic, I wouldn’t be talking to them anymore,” Trump said. “She’s been terrible in what she said and her thoughts toward Catholics, and to evangelicals—she was mocking evangelicals, also. Why would an evangelical or a Catholic—and almost, you could say, anybody of faith—but in particular, because they were mentioned, evangelicals and Catholics, why would they vote for Hillary Clinton, and how could they vote for Hillary Clinton?”

Arroyo pointed out that it was Clinton’s staffers who allegedly sent the denigrating emails. But Trump said he thinks she’s responsible. “This is the top person in a campaign,” he said. “I think it reveals her.”

According to the Post, Trump also waved away his comments about groping women, which were revealed in a video clip from Access Hollywood in October. “The microphones, I mean to be honest should, you know, should never have been on,” Trump said. “That was locker room talk.”

The so-called Catholic vote is notoriously important and elusive for aspiring American presidents. U.S. Catholics are evenly split along party lines, so they don’t vote like a bloc. Even Catholic politicians tend to champion certain issues that are important to the Church while ignoring others, depending on the needs of their party. Big electoral-college states like Pennsylvania and Illinois have large Catholic populations, and campaigns often mount complex outreach efforts specifically targeting these voters.

At least for conservative Catholics, EWTN is somewhat influential. The network has 11 television stations and claims it reaches 265 million households in 145 countries and territories. The clipped portion of the interview doesn’t include anything particularly revelatory from Trump, although Arroyo does push him for clarification on one of the core questions of this campaign: Has Trump been saying “bigly,” or “big league”? The clip is worth watching just for the bizarre end sequence in which Trump answers that question.

Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton Make Their First Joint Campaign Appearance

Mel Evans / AP

Michelle Obama will have some company this afternoon when she hits the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton: the Democratic nominee herself.

The two women will campaign together for the first time Thursday in North Carolina to encourage early voting. A New York Times/Siena College poll released this week shows Clinton ahead of Donald Trump in North Carolina by seven points—her most considerable lead this month in the state, which President Obama lost in 2012. But as my colleague Russell Berman has noted, Clinton has hesitated to tout such polls on the trail, perhaps in fear that voters will not turn out. “It’s going to be a close election,” Clinton said earlier this week. “Pay no attention to the polls.” And so, to get closer to securing a victory in November, she’s on the trail with one of her key surrogates: Michelle Obama.

The first lady’s criticisms of Trump have been among the most effective. After the release of the 2005 video clip wherein Trump brags about groping women, Michelle Obama delivered a moving speech, denouncing the Republican nominee’s comments. New York magazine’s Rebecca Traister described it this way: “It was a speech that the country desperately needed.” It wasn’t the first time remarks of hers have resonated this election season: The first lady’s line at the Democratic National Convention—“when they go low, we go high”—has been used by Clinton as an attack against Trump.

Eight years ago, it would have been difficult to imagine Michelle Obama on the front line rallying for Clinton. But now, as The New York Times noted earlier this month, where the campaign deploys Michelle Obama provides insight on the “crucial areas for Clinton.” North Carolina is one of them.

Donald Trump Warns of Voter Fraud in Texas

Eric Gay / AP

For weeks, Donald Trump has been warning in the abstract of a rigged system and voter fraud. Now, he’s got a specific target:

Let’s break this into constituent parts. The first bit, about vote flipping, appears to be a reference to a few reports from voters who said they selected one candidate but when they checked their ballot, saw that another one had been selected. For example, they intended to vote for Trump but came up with Clinton. These stories entered the national news through a tortuous path—from Facebook to conspiracy-mongering anti-Semite Alex Jones to the Drudge Report—but they seem to be genuine. Yahoo’s Jon Ward chased them down and found that the likely culprit is human error. NPR reports on sporadic but isolated cases of mechanical failure in old machines. Snopes adds that while such incidents occur, they are rare and often magnified by the internet echo chamber into something larger.

How about big lines? That’s simple arithmetic: More people are voting. The Texas Tribune notes that early-voting numbers are up in all of the Lone Star State’s biggest counties this year as compared to four years ago. Another possible factor is voting laws. While a strict voter-ID law was struck down by federal courts, The New York Times reports that there’s some confusion and misinformation about what it takes to vote, which could also slow down the process. (Such laws are arguably the real rigging in the electoral system.)

Trump has suggested that he could win by expanding the GOP coalition, bringing in new voters or infrequent voters, so one might think that high turnout would be good news for him. But urban centers, even in Texas, tend to lean progressive, so long lines in cities might not be good for him. He has at least some reason to be nervous. One poll released on Thursday had Trump up just three points in the traditional conservative bastion, though another found him with a healthy seven-point pad over Hillary Clinton.

Yuengling for Trump

Yuengling, the 187-year-old Pennsylvania brewery whose lager commands fierce loyalty among its fans (despite having the same price point as Miller Lite, and essentially the same flavor), apparently supports Donald Trump.

Eric Trump, the Republican candidate’s son, toured the Pottsville brewery Monday with owner Dick Yuengling, the fifth-generation heir and head of the company. From the Reading Eagle:

“My father’s going to make it a lot easier for business to function,” he declared. “We're going to do it right here in the U.S.”

Dick Yuengling welcomed Trump, thanking him for taking the time to visit the brewery.

“Our guys are behind your father,” Yuengling said. “We need him in there.”

As far as beer endorsements go, Yuengling is a pretty good one to get—it’s one of the few large U.S. brewers that remain domestically owned. Budweiser, which rolled out an “America” rebranding earlier this year, is actually owned by the multinational corporation InBev. Count out Miller and Coors, who both share the same U.K. parent company. Yuengling, on the other hand, feels as American as they come, right down to its crusty owner:

Trump made a point of saying that Dick Yuengling, like Donald Trump, isn't afraid of hard work. Often, he'll run a forklift on the loading dock or pitch in at other parts of the brewery.

Yuengling showed up for Trump's visit in his aging Toyota Camry, which Forbes says he drives to work early every morning after picking up a newspaper directly from the distributor.

As frugal and grounded as he may be, Dick Yuengling is worth more than $1 billion, and he’s supported Republican candidates and conservative causes in the past. A few years back, he pressed the case to make Pennsylvania a right-to-work state, earning the ire of local unions (and possibly current Governor Tom Wolf, who declined to serve Yuengling beer at his inauguration). “Boycott Yuengling” briefly became a thing on Facebook.

Now it’s back. Here’s a post from Brian Sims, a Philadelphia-area state legislator:

The endorsement of the owner of a beer company probably will have a minimal effect on this election. But it’s quite a symbol, isn’t it? Trump doesn’t drink, but America’s oldest brewery wants him anyways.

Some States Are Seeing a Surge in Early Voting

Jonathan Drake / Reuters

More than 12 million voters have cast their ballots early, according to the United States Election Project, which cites state election departments and the Associated Press. NBC News, however, reported a lower figure:

Most states offer some form of early voting and over the years, more folks seem to be taking to it. Only 10 percent of voters cast ballots early in 1996, FiveThirtyEight noted Tuesday, while nearly a third did in 2012. In several states, 2016 is on pace to exceed even that.

While these ballots won’t be tallied until after November 8, how a state is leaning can be surmised by taking a look at which party is better represented at the polls. Nevada, for example, has seen a sharp surge in early votes from Democrats. And North Carolina, as Vann wrote earlier, is more than 100,000 votes ahead where it was in 2008, and is leaning Democrat. (The New York Times has used North Carolina’s exceptionally detailed data to estimate the final result, projecting a Clinton victory over Trump.)

Another standout is Texas, where early voting is up 46 percent among the state’s largest counties, said Michael McDonald, the University of Florida professor behind the United States Election project. He’s tweeting results from across the country as they come in.

Earlier this week, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said they’re seeing “eye-popping” interest from Democrats in voting early. No brags yet from Trump.

Where Hillary Clinton Will Be on Election Night: Manhattan's Javits Center

Wikimedia Commons

Hillary Clinton has chosen the Jacob Javits Convention Center, an event space on the west side of Manhattan, as the site of her election-night party. That’s a ways away from the hip-ish downtown Brooklyn site of her campaign headquarters, whose trendy address inspired a thousand snarky tweets and think pieces when it was revealed last year. But the closest big space to the offices is the Barclays Center, which won’t work for Clinton’s purposes. Not only is it booked for a Brooklyn Nets game on election night, but it’s also named for a big bank, which might send the wrong signal.

Instead, Clinton will have to settle for a not-especially-inspirational space named for a moderate Republican senator from New York. As ABC News’ Liz Kreutz points out, the location offers some echoes of Clinton’s speech when conceding the Democratic nomination in 2008, in which she told supporters: “Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it.”

If polls hold steady, Clinton is expected to break the glass ceiling on November 8. The Javits Center should probably make sure it collects a security deposit ahead of time.

'I Guess I’ve Got to Do Some Exposés on the Jewish Mafia'

Alex Jones, the host of an eponymous radio show on the website Infowars, speaks at a Trump rally in July. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters)

Throughout this election, Donald Trump has arguably enabled bigotry against minority religious groups like Jews and Muslims. While Trump may not be directly responsible for the new wave of anti-Semitism online, the people making these comments often call themselves his supporters. And the Republican presidential nominee’s behavior doesn’t help.  

Some Trump supporters have platforms that are bigger than a single Twitter account. Alex Jones, the host of an eponymous radio show on the website Infowars, has not always participated in anti-Semitic rhetoric—he has pushed back on outlandish claims about “Jewish supremacists” from figures like the former Ku Klux Klan imperial wizard David Duke in the past, for example. But on October 25, according to the liberal website Media Matters, Jones addressed accusations of anti-Semitism based on his recent comments about “a global corporate combine” of Jews.

“[Newspapers] are always trying to claim that if I talk about world government and corruption, I’m anti-Semitic,” Jones said. His criticism, he said, was actually targeted at political leaders like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his family. “They are the head of the Jewish mafia in the United States,” Jones said. “They run Uber. They run health care. They’re going to scam you. They’re going to hurt you.”

Jones went on to condemn several prominent liberals with Jewish backgrounds, including George Soros and Madeleine Albright, claiming they each have ties to the Nazis. “I guess I’ve got to do some exposès on the Jewish mafia,” he said. (Soros is a Holocaust survivor. Albright’s parents converted to Catholicism after being driven out of Czechoslovakia by the Nazis and hid their Jewish roots from their children.)

Jones’s comments play into a number of anti-Semitic tropes: that Jews have a global network of power; that they have disproportionate influence on governments; and that they have controlling influence on a number of businesses and industries. While Jones repeatedly claimed he has no problem with Jews, it’s the perpetuation of these stereotypes that matters. The more anti-Semitic rhetoric is repeated, whether it’s against individual Jewish leaders or the Jewish people, the more likely anti-Semitism will spread.

One big legacy of Trump and the 2016 election is that a major-party presidential candidate has given a platform and credibility to people who are deeply suspicious of minority groups. After all, Trump went on Jones’s show in December 2015. “Your reputation is amazing,” Trump told Jones. “I will not let you down.”

Hyper-Partisan Attacks Against Hillary Clinton Won't End After the Election

Carlos Barria / Reuters

Hyper-partisan attacks against Hillary Clinton appear poised to intensify if she wins the presidency.

Jason Chaffetz, the GOP chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, suggested in an interview with The Washington Post that House Republicans are already thinking up ways to continue scrutinizing Clinton’s record—and the scandals she has faced—if she’s elected to the White House in November.

“It’s a target-rich environment,” Chaffetz told the Post. “Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain’t good.”

It would be surprising if congressional Republicans weren’t strategizing how to undermine a Clinton presidency. House Republicans have already spent a considerable amount of time and effort probing the 2012 Benghazi attacks, an investigation for which Clinton at one point delivered a roughly 11-hour testimony.

Still, the Post reports, if Clinton takes office and the House remains in GOP hands, she “will become the first president since George H.W. Bush to immediately face a House Oversight Committee controlled by the opposition party.”

Clinton allies have long characterized efforts by congressional Republicans to hit Clinton over her use of a private email server or the Benghazi attacks as a partisan waste of taxpayer dollars. That line of argument looks likely to continue: “It’s clear Congressman Chaffetz is ready to spend resources on additional worthless political investigations that will, again, come up with nothing,” Democratic operative David Brock told the Post.

Trump Has Made It to Pennsylvania Avenue, Whether He Wins or Not

The Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C., in 2013
Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Donald Trump took a break from the campaign trail Wednesday to speak at the grand opening of his new hotel in Washington, D.C., located blocks from the White House.

But the event felt no different than a campaign stop. After thanking the team behind the Trump International Hotel, the Republican presidential nominee got right into his usual stump speech. "Right now, just about everything our government touches is broken or they break it," he said. "It's always over budget, behind schedule, and simply nothing works."

He ran through a list of what he considers to be broken: the country’s veterans hospitals, military, tax code, education system, health care, and infrastructure.

At one point, Trump pointed at a guest in the audience. “By the way, congratulations, Newt, on last night. That was an amazing interview. We don’t play games, Newt, right? We don’t play games.” Trump was referring to a heated exchange between Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and one of Trump’s staunchest supporters, and Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly during her show Tuesday night. When Kelly asked Gingrich about the sexual-assault allegations facing Trump, Gingrich said Kelly was “fascinated with sex.”

The Trump International Hotel, located inside the historic Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue, is extravagantly extravagant. It has “rooms containing four-poster beds, a bar that serves wine by the spoonful, and champagne from bottles slashed open by sword,” according to a recent AFP report. The cheapest room is $700 a night, while the most expensive—the “Trump Townhouse” suite—is $18,750.

The federal government allowed Trump to lease and renovate the building in 2012, long before the real-estate developer would upend American politics and beat out more than a dozen opponents for the Republican presidential nomination. But his campaign has affected the hotel’s development. Trump’s derogatory comments about Mexican immigrants last June during his campaign-announcement speech led to protests outside the building, and prompted celebrity chefs José Andrés and Geoffrey Zakarian to withdraw their involvement in the hotel.

Trump Aide Issues a Warning to Megyn Kelly

Carlos Barria / Reuters

After a tense televised exchange between Fox News journalist Megyn Kelly and Donald Trump campaign surrogate Newt Gingrich, an aide to Donald Trump issued a warning to Kelly on Twitter.

Trump adviser Dan Scavino accused Kelly of bias against the Republican nominee, ominously tweeting: “Watch what happens to her after this election is over.”

During an interview on Tuesday, Gingrich accused Kelly of being “fascinated with sex” and not caring “about public policy” after she raised the possibility that Trump could be a “sexual predator” based on his comments in a 2005 recording bragging about groping women, and the number of women who have come forward to accuse him of sexual assault. “He denies it all, which is his right, we don’t know what the truth is,” Kelly said. “As a media story, we don’t get to say the ten women are lying. We have to cover that story.”

The Fight Over Voting in North Carolina Isn't Over

Caption Chris Keane / Reuters

Early voting is under way in North Carolina, and so far the results have been ideal for Democrats throughout the state. Turnout has so far outpaced the same period in 2008 by over 100,000 votes, and a Public Policy Polling poll shows that early-voting returns have been breaking toward Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and gubernatorial challenger Roy Cooper. According to CBS News, “Souls to the Polls” events on Sunday mobilized many black voters throughout the state.

For voting-rights activists, these numbers are the result of a victory in the courts against the now-infamous state law that instituted voting restrictions and changes that, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, deliberately targeted black voters. The high turnout also results from a subsequent State Board of Elections rejection of several counties’ decisions to independently pass laws restricting polling sites and early voting after being implored to do so by the state GOP. Even after Hurricane Matthew flooded much of eastern North Carolina and jeopardized early voting in many of the most important majority-minority communities in the state, it appears people are generally finding voting accessible across the state.

But in at least 17 counties there are still significantly fewer early-voting hours or sites than there were in 2012. In these counties, the State Board of Elections did not entirely reverse new Republican laws passed in the scramble after the state’s voting restrictions were rolled back by the court, and those laws almost uniformly restrict available polling places and hours during the first week of early voting. In three counties—Forsyth, Union, and Pamlico—county boards of elections cut Sunday voting after offering it in 2012––a move that inhibits the ability of black churches to ferry voters to the polls after Sunday services.

ThinkProgress reports that voters in counties with laws limiting polling places and hours face long lines, and a new report indicates that turnout in those counties has actually been depressed so far. In Mecklenburg County, the largest county in the state, voters faced hours-long waits on the first day at the polls after the county board of elections slashed the number of polling places from 22 in 2012 to 10 in 2016. Though the board also increased total early-voting hours from 2012, it’s unclear if that extra time is offset by fewer polling places.

The laws in these counties are a reminder that there are still plenty of legal ways to reduce turnout in elections, and that the political will to pursue such laws did not evaporate with a court challenge.

This Campaign Season Has Seriously Stressed the Secret Service

Evan Vucci / AP

The Secret Service was having enough problems until the 2016 election came along.

In recent years, the agency has had to deal with fallout from: White House fence-jumpers (yes, that’s plural); leadership turnover; a prostitution scandal; and, perhaps most bizarre, two agents’ late-night interruption of a bomb investigation outside the executive mansion. Unsurprisingly, morale among agents has been low, and the agency has had trouble recruiting employees to compensate for a staffing shortage.

It’s under these already-stressful circumstances that Campaign 2016 has proceeded at its frenetic place. And as it turns out, the agents who are working, including those who protect the candidates, aren’t always getting paid for their time. BuzzFeed reports that federal salary caps are preventing some agents from earning overtime pay, at a time when they’re doing a whole lot of overtime work:

When overtime payments drive an agent’s aggregate income for the year past the federal limit of $160,300—no matter how early—the agent no longer earns paid overtime, even as they regularly clock in long past the 50-hour work week, traveling around the clock with the candidates, their families, the Obamas, the Bidens, and the press.

This election year, BuzzFeed notes, has been worse than others in terms of how many hours agents are putting in. This cycle, Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders all had agents. Clinton has long been protected, because she’s a former first lady; and Trump and Carson requested protection last November, two months before Sanders did.

“It’s really because of the tempo,” said [Secret Service congressional liaison Faron] Paramore, citing an “enormous amount of trips” and the high number of leaders and dignitaries under watch.

Of 3,330 active special agents, nearly all of them have been involved to some degree in the election. Approximately a third will go over the federal pay cap, Paramore said.

The work of Secret Service agents this year has required almost daily overtime, particularly during the conventions and in the heat of the general election campaign.

The bright side is that the agency readily recognizes how much it needs more bodies: It is working to add over 1,000 more. The challenge is finding the right kind of agents—ones who won’t generate scandal before the next campaign season in 2020.

Donald Trump's Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Takes a Beating

Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

Donald Trump is afraid of descending from stardom.

In recordings obtained by The New York Times, Trump seemed to suggest this was his “worst nightmare” with Michael D’Antonio, who wrote a biography of Trump. That fear is perhaps far more reasonable now following the Republican nominee’s controversial campaign this election. On Wednesday morning, a man dressed as a construction worker hammered away at Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Deadline Hollywood has more on the incident:

The man, who told Deadline his name was Jamie Otis, said he was trying to extract the star to auction it off and raise funds for the women who have come forward to accuse Trump of sexually assaulting them over the decades.

Trump’s star was added to the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007. Earlier this year, the star was also targeted in light of his proposal to build a “great, great wall” on the U.S.-Mexico border. A Los Angeles-based artist built a small wall topped with razor wire around the star. "I wanted to create a piece that drew attention to [Trump's] potential policies," the artist, Plastic Jesus, told BBC in July, adding that he was “capitalising on the momentum of the convention.”

The latest hit on the star, however, comes amid a slew of sexual-assault allegations against Trump. The accusations sent shockwaves across the country, and it appears it’s not only his campaign taking some hits.

Hannity to Obama: 'You Want to Go to Kenya? I'll Pay for You to Go to Kenya.'

Mike Segar / Reuters

It’s been a peculiar election cycle for Sean Hannity, the Fox News host whose closeness to the Donald Trump campaign—including producing special town halls with him, appearing in an election video for the Republican nominee, and reportedly even advising the candidate—have raised many an eyebrow.

Even by those standards, it’s been a strange couple of days for Hannity.

Tuesday on his radio show, Hannity offered a bizarre, birther-tinged monologue in essence telling President Obama to go back to Africa. The peg, such as it was, was a satirical article claiming that Obama was planning to move to Canada if Trump was elected. Asked about it, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that Obama was campaigning for Hillary Clinton. Hannity’s takeaway? Earnest didn’t deny the satirical report!

I have an offer for the president. I will charter a plane for you and your family. I will make sure it's as big a plane as Air Force One, what you have grown accustomed to, in other words. Taxpayer-funded plane. I don’t know where I’m going to get it. Maybe I'll ask Trump if I can charter his plane for Obama. I will charter Donald Trump's plane if he'll let me, and I will charter it to the country of your choice. You want to go to Canada? I'll pay for you to go to Canada. You want to go to Kenya? I'll pay for you to go to Kenya. Jakarta, where you went to school back in the day, you can go back there. Anywhere you want to go. I'll put the finest food, caviar, champagne, you name it. I have one stipulation, you can't come back.

Where to start? First, of course, it’s premised on a pretty lame joke. Second, in an election in which Trump has promised a politically motivated prosecution of his rival reminiscent of banana republicanism, his supporters are also now joking about exiling the prior president. Third, Hannity is still dogwhistling to birtherism and continued suggestions of Obama’s foreignness, made even more uncomfortable here by the long history of white supremacists (as well as some black nationalists) suggesting that black Americans be sent back to Africa. Perhaps if the election doesn’t turn out the way he’d like, Hannity could go back to Ireland. Maybe Trump would even let him borrow the plane.

The whole rant was a strong follow-up to his Fox News program on Monday, in which he hosted an anti-Clinton conspiracy theorist who asserted blithely that Hillary Clinton was in a romantic relationship with former law partner Vince Foster, a former Clinton aide who killed himself in 1993 and was subsequently the subject of right wing conspiracy theories that the Clintons had him murdered. Hannity did not challenge the assertion. It just goes to demonstrate the state of journalism in America. Take it away, Sean:

Trump Is Leaving the Campaign Trail to Promote His Washington, D.C., Hotel

Donald Trump walking through the atrium of his new Trump International Hotel in September
Mike Segar / Reuters

Donald Trump is returning to what he knows best on Wednesday: business. The Republican nominee is attending the grand opening of his new Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The visit comes a day after his pit stop at Trump National Doral Golf Club in Florida.

Trump’s decision to tout his brand in recent days indicates he may already be looking beyond November’s election. In an interview with The New York Times, however, Trump denied that was the case. “Today it was about jobs,” he said, explaining the reason for his golf-club visit. “Tomorrow,” at the hotel, “it’s about being under budget and ahead of schedule.” Trump launched his campaign on the premise of being a successful businessman. With Hillary Clinton holding a lead in the RealClearPolitics polling average, he appears to be reemphasizing that message—whether in an attempt to remind voters of his private-sector savvy, or to reorient himself toward his businesses in case of a loss.

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, told NBC’s Today Wednesday morning that too much is being made in the news media over Trump’s decision to visit his hotel. “It shows Americans the tangible accomplishments of Donald Trump,” she said, adding: “Hillary Clinton has time to go to an Adele concert and everybody thinks that’s really cool. Trump stops off to unveil an incredible, stunning piece of architecture—new hotel, first-class hotel—and everybody’s hair is on fire.”

Trump visited the hotel, located on Pennsylvania Avenue, earlier this year. He’s been fond of visiting Trump locales this election season: According to NBC News, Wednesday’s ribbon cutting “will be [the] 32nd event at a Trump property during his campaign.” Still, it’s an unusual move for the nominee to use the few days ahead of Election Day to promote his hotel business. Then again, if a November defeat looks imminent, that business is exactly what he’ll need after the 2016 election.

Trump Throws In the Money Towel

Credit Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Donald Trump is done raising money for the Republican Party.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Trump held his final major fundraiser last week “effectively shut down his high-dollar fundraising operation for the rest of the campaign.” The campaign instead will rely exclusively on the small-dollar online donations it receives through people contributing on its website or responding to email solicitations.

This is a big deal, because the fundraisers that Trump is abandoning are the ones that bring in money both for his campaign and the entire Republican Party. Those events benefit Trump Victory, the joint committee that the campaign set up with the Republican National Committee shortly after he won the party’s nomination. A decision to cut off that spigot could sink not only his own fading chances but deal a blow to the GOP’s effort to salvage the Senate, House, and state legislative races across the country.

“This really codifies to Republicans, up and down the ticket, that they’re on their own,” Doug Heye, a former spokesman for the Republican National Committee told me.

For longtime Trump critics like Heye, the announcement is the culmination of the months-long marriage of convenience between Trump and the GOP hierarchy. Trump has never made good on promises to pour $100 million or more of his own money into the campaign, and he has openly warred with Republicans who have denounced him or even, in the case of House Speaker Paul Ryan, sought to distance themselves from his most controversial statements. “Trump’s campaign has always been some form of , ‘I’m going to take my ball and go home,’” Heye said. “He’s made good on this threat, and nobody should be surprised.”

As Patrick Ruffini, a Republican pollster, pointed out on Twitter, the joint fund is what finances the GOP’s ground game and turnout effort. Trump and the RNC are already at a significant financial and organizational disadvantage compared to Hillary Clinton. The Clinton campaign and its joint Democratic accounts had $152 million in the bank at the start of October, more than twice as much as Trump and the Republicans. Clinton is holding her final fundraiser on Tuesday night in Miami, but the Post reported that she has dozens of additional events scheduled featuring high-profile surrogates.

Trump’s national finance chairman, Steven Mnuchin, told the Post that his operation has “kind of wound down,” although an RNC spokeswoman said its efforts to raise money would continue. Trump’s announcement might in part be a reflection of the fact that major party donors have already walked away from his campaign. “Now,” Heye said, “he’s walking away from the party.”

Trump Warns of 'World War III Over Syria' If Clinton Plan Is Followed

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, Donald Trump warned that Hillary Clinton’s policy recommendations could lead to a “World War III over Syria.”

The Republican nominee suggested that Clinton’s approach to the humanitarian crisis currently unfolding in Syria could escalate conflict, rather than lessen it. "What we should do is focus on ISIS. We should not be focusing on Syria," Trump said. "You’re going to end up in World War III over Syria if we listen to Hillary Clinton.” He continued on to say: "You’re not fighting Syria anymore—you’re fighting Syria, Russia, and Iran, all right? Russia is a nuclear country, but a country where the nukes work as opposed to other countries that talk.”

During the final presidential debate, Clinton called for the establishment of a “no-fly zone and safe havens within Syria,” explaining that it would not only “help protect the Syrians and prevent the constant outflow of refugees,” but would also create “leverage on both the Syrian government and the Russians so that perhaps we can have the kind of serious negotiation necessary to bring the conflict to an end.”

The Democratic nominee’s support for a no-fly zone puts her at odds with President Obama, a dynamic that debate moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News pointed out. “President Obama has refused to [impose a no-fly zone] because he fears it's going to draw us closer or deeper into the conflict,” he said, asking Clinton to respond to that concern. “I think a no-fly zone could save lives and could hasten the end of the conflict,” she replied.

Clinton has a reputation as more of a foreign-policy hawk than many Democrats, including Obama. Trump, on the other hand, has vowed that his foreign-policy approach would be unpredictable, and promised to “bomb the shit” out of ISIS. During an interview with a South Carolina TV station earlier this year, Trump said that “we have to have some kind of a safe zone, and we have to get the Gulf States to pay for it” while discussing the Syrian refugee crisis.

The Polls Are Clinton's Enemy, Too

Clinton in Florida
Carlos Barria / Reuters

Donald Trump and his campaign want people to ignore the many, many polls that show him losing the presidential election decisively.

For once, he and Hillary Clinton agree.

“It’s going to be a close election,” the Democrat told rally-goers on Tuesday in Florida. “Pay no attention to the polls.”

It’s a line that Clinton and her allies may be trotting out again and again as November 8 draws near, especially if more surveys suggest she could be headed for a landslide win on the order of the 12-point lead that an ABC News poll gave her this week. Even the most conservative of the election models this year, Nate Silver’s 538, gives Clinton an 85.5 percent chance of winning the presidency.

At this point, complacency is Clinton’s enemy, and the more confident that Democrats get about her likelihood of victory, the bigger the concern that her voters won’t feel the urgency to go to the polls. This wasn’t much of a worry for President Obama in 2012, when polls showed a tight race right through Election Day.

Early voting offers some protection for Democrats against a complacency-driven drop-off in turnout on November 8. The party’s focus is on getting its most unreliable voters to the polls before Election Day, and it’s a big reason why Clinton and her top surrogates are holding most of their rallies this week in states that allow early voting. Clinton’s event in Florida on Tuesday was even held across the street from an early-voting site, so rally-goers could cast their ballot immediately after the speeches.

The Podesta Emails About the President Are No Smoking Gun

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Obama administration critics think they’ve got it: the proof they need to show that President Obama was well aware of Hillary Clinton’s private email use, but lied about it on TV last year. In other words: proof that high-level Democrats were working together to deceive the American public and shield their presidential nominee as Clinton’s email controversy was in full swing.

But the batch of WikiLeaks emails released today that allegedly contain this “smoking gun” don’t clearly show that at all. As with so many revelations about Clinton’s email use, the full story remains murky.

The emails in question are between top Clinton aides, sent after Obama said in a March 2015 interview that he learned about Clinton’s email setup “the same time everybody else learned it, through news reports.” Josh Schwerin, now a spokesman for the campaign, sent a note to communications staffers warning that “it looks like POTUS just said he found out HRC was using her personal email when he saw it in the news.”

That message is suspect enough to some in the right-leaning press, who take it to mean Schwerin believed the president was lying in the interview. But the next part of the email thread—which shows a message from Clinton aide Cheryl Mills to campaign chairman John Podesta—looks even worse to them: “we need to clean this up - he has emails from her - they do not say state.gov,” Mills writes.

It’s not clear exactly what Mills meant by “clean this up.” It’s also not clear if the Clinton team as a whole believed the president knew about the privacy of her email system. Reached for comment, a spokesman noted that the campaign isn’t confirming the WikiLeaks emails’ authenticity; security experts believe the Podesta emails are the product of a hack by the Russian government’s intelligence service. (Thus far, the Clinton campaign hasn’t been able to cite a single fabricated email among those published by WikiLeaks.)

But while it’s true that the newly released emails suggest the Clinton campaign was scrambling after the Obama interview—that something about the president’s statement rang alarm bells—that doesn’t necessarily mean the president was deceitful. It could mean the Clinton campaign didn’t have all the information about what the president knew, or that they were simply worried how his statement would look if more information about his emails with Clinton came out. Indeed, another exchange between Clinton confidants, noted earlier today by Fox News, shows former aide Philippe Reines musing whether there’s “some weird technical thing with the president's email setup that he doesn't see addresses.”

The White House, for its part, has maintained that the president didn’t know the specifics about her system. Here’s Press Secretary Josh Earnest back in March 2015, after the Obama interview aired and raised questions:

The point that the president was making is not that he didn’t know Secretary Clinton’s email address—he did—but he was not aware of the details of how that email address and that server had been set up or how Secretary Clinton and her team were planning to comply with the Federal Records Act.

Pressed by a reporter how that could be, Earnest replied:

Yes, the president was aware of her email address; he traded emails with her.  That shouldn’t be a surprise that the president of the United States is going to trade emails with the secretary of state.  But the president was not aware of the fact that this was a personal email server, and that this was the email address that she was using exclusively for … all her business. The president was not aware of that until that had been more widely reported.

For Clinton and Obama detractors, the campaign’s response to the president’s interview looks undoubtedly suspicious. But his remarks, and their reaction, could have a simpler explanation.

As CNN reported in September, “many of those who communicated with Clinton have told the FBI they didn't realize she was using a private server, and often one may not realize what email address is behind a name unless one clicks on it.”

Report: Colin Powell Has Decided to Vote for Clinton After All

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

“I would rather not have to vote for her, although she is a friend I respect,” Colin Powell allegedly wrote of Hillary Clinton in an email hacked and revealed in September. But times have changed.

During a speech to the Long Island Association on Tuesday, the former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff announced he is backing the Democrat. Newsday’s Robert Brodsky was on the scene:  

Powell’s spokeswoman has not responded to a request for comment.

Powell is a Republican who served in Republican administrations, but he also backed Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012. As I write on our running register of which GOP figures are supporting Trump, Powell was plainly disgusted by Trump in the hacked emails, but he was also wary of a Clinton presidency, saying, “Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris,” and complaining that she was overly ambitious and alluding to Bill Clinton’s marital dalliances.

The endorsement puts Powell in line with a variety of other center-right, national-security establishment figures who have opted to cross party lines rather than back Trump this year.

The Trump Videos You Won't See in a Clinton Ad

NY1
Credit NY1


In the home stretch of the presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton is emptying her video file on Donald Trump. She’s run ads featuring his insults of Muslims, Mexicans, a disabled reporter, and women; his incitement of violence against protesters; and his idle talk about using nuclear weapons and his “love” of war.

But there’s another treasure trove of Trump talk that Clinton hasn’t used in campaign ads, and doesn’t plan to: Videos of the Republican lavishing praise on Clinton and her husband in the years before she ran for president.

The latest example emerged last week from the archives of NY1, the Big Apple’s local news station, and it features Trump speaking about the Clintons in 2008, after Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic primary to Barack Obama.

“I think she’s going to go down, as a minimum, as a great senator,” Trump said. “I think she is a great wife to a president, and I think Bill Clinton was a great president. You know, you look at the country then. The economy was doing great. Look at what happened during the Clinton years: We had no war. The economy was doing great, everybody was happy. A lot of people hated him because they were jealous of him.”

“Bill Clinton was a great president,” he continued. “Hillary Clinton is a great woman, and a good woman.”

Trump then got even more effusive in talking about Hillary. “You know, I think they roughed her up pretty good,” he said, referring to the Obama campaign. “I think she’s a wonderful woman. You know, Hillary’s a little bit misunderstood. Hillary’s very smart woman, a very tough woman. That’s fine. But she’s always a very nice person.”

It is well known that Trump was friends with the Clintons before the 2016 race. He donated to their campaigns and invited the couple to his wedding to Melania Knauss in 2005—an event that produced this now-famous photo. Trump was even praising Hillary Clinton as recently as late 2012, when he called her “terrific” on Fox News and said he hoped she would run for office again (though he stopped short of endorsing her). This was after Clinton began drawing criticism from Republicans over her handling of the Benghazi terrorist attack, which Trump has escalated during the campaign.

These videos would seem to make devastating TV ads, ripping the mask off Trump and showing him to be a fraud (or “a con artist,” in Marco Rubio’s words) who loved Clinton when he wasn’t running for office and who is now denouncing her as “a nasty woman” purely for show. The ads could target core Clinton-hating Trump voters who have stuck with him through all of his damaging comments simply because he is the only person preventing the election of a woman they believe should be in jail.

Yet the Clinton campaign has decided not to use this gold mine in ads.

Why? Because the videos might humanize him, and the campaign doesn’t want to distract from its message that Trump is “temperamentally unfit” to be president and a potential danger to the republic. Officially, the Clinton campaign declined to comment on the videos, but a Democratic strategist familiar with its thinking explained it this way: “It doesn’t serve the campaign’s interest to make him seem reasonable/normal, etc. People’s first memory of him is as a birther. Why change that? Even though this undermines his credibility, it reminds people that he was more reasonable before he went off the deep end in 2011.”

The Clinton campaign experimented with a different strategy during the GOP primaries, when it periodically sent out statements and videos highlighting Republicans who had praised her performance as secretary of state and as a senator from New York. The message then was that Republicans liked her when they weren’t running against her.

In some ways, this decision is similar to the one the Obama campaign made early on against Mitt Romney in 2012. While Romney’s Republican opponents had slammed him for repeatedly flip-flopping on issues like abortion, immigration, and gay rights, Democrats chose to largely ignore those switches and to portray him as the “severe conservative” Romney later claimed to be. The idea was that the Democratic base and independent voters wouldn’t fear a candidate who stuck his finger in the wind as much as someone who adopted policies that were far to the right of American public opinion.

Trump has said he befriended the Clintons because he was a businessman trying to curry favor and take advantage of the corrupt political system they had helped create. It’s possible this explanation resonates with his devoted fan base. And while the videos of him praising the Clintons might make him seem like just another politician, the Clinton campaign fears that might make him seem like a safer pick to the moderate suburban voters who now view him as a threat.

Latino Voters Turn Out in 'Unprecedented' Numbers in Florida

Lynne Sladky / AP

Early voting is already under way in a handful of states, and in at least one, Latino voters are reportedly turning out in droves.

The Hillary Clinton campaign announced that an “unprecedented” number of Latinos—133,000—have already cast their ballots in Florida, BuzzFeed reports. The Sunshine State began early voting on Monday and already the Clinton camp said the state has seen a “99 [percent] increase in Latino voting in Florida compared to this point in 2012.”

Across the country, voter groups have been making a concerted effort to mobilize Latino voters. The NALEO Educational Fund projected earlier this year that Latino turnout would increase by 17 percent in November compared with previous elections. Still, the Latino electorate has been difficult to predict and, historically, Latino voters are less likely to turn out to vote than black voters and white voters. But the divisive, anti-immigrant rhetoric of this election cycle may have resonated among the electorate. Latino voter registration increased in Colorado, Florida, and Nevada, according to an April report in The Hill.

Florida has the third largest Latino population in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center. Latinos make up roughly 18 percent of the state’s eligible voters. An uptick in Latino voter turnout in Florida, as well as in other states, could stand to benefit Clinton. BuzzFeed has more on why that is:

In Nevada’s Clark County, a major population center that include 75% of the state’s residents and is 31% Hispanic, 51,000 people voted on the first day of early voting, with 55% registered as Democrats, while 27% were Republicans. …

With more than 300,000 votes already cast in Arizona, Democrats lead Republicans by 1,000 votes but trailed Republicans by 20,000 votes at the same point four years ago, the campaign said.

Clinton also holds a commanding lead against Donald Trump among Latino voters in a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll.

But despite growth among the Latino electorate in recent years, there hasn’t necessarily been an uptick in turnout. In 2012, for example, 48 percent of Latino voters cast a ballot, down from nearly 50 percent in 2008. Still, if this election sees an increase in participation, as Florida seems to foreshadow, it’ll be good news in Clinton headquarters.

Georgia's Voting-Rights Battleground

Early voters in Georgia
John Bazemore / AP

While North Carolina and its hotly-contested and litigated voting laws have gotten most of the recent headlines in the fight over voting rights, the same drama is also playing out in Georgia. As the Washington Post reports, the southern state is currently embroiled in a fight between voting-rights activists and Republican authorities during the early-voting period. The stakes have risen as poll margins in the normally reliably Republican state have tightened between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and so the fight over just who can vote has taken on urgent importance.

The maneuvering in Georgia looks eerily similar to political wrangling in North Carolina right now over a court’s injunction of its infamous 2013 voting law. In Georgia, voting-rights activists have noted that as many as 100,000 voter registration applications have not been processed, and also found large racial disparities in the number of registrations that had been canceled because of clerical discrepancies. The Post also reports that Republican election officials have attempted a number of actions that make it harder for black people to vote, such as sudden polling-place changes and limiting polling places during the early-voting period. Long lines and long waits at Georgia polling places have been common for early voters.

As a classic red state that seems now like a solid toss-up between Republicans and Democrats, Georgia’s voting-rights battle is perhaps even more indicative of the bitter politics of the post-Shelby County v. Holder South, where several states and counties that were once under strict federal oversight have often scrambled to pass more restrictive voting laws, and where Republicans have established a party line that appears to be designed to reduce turnout—in ways that tend to reduce minority voting the most.

The impact of these laws on who can vote will be important not only because of the outcome of the 2016 elections in newfound swing states in the South, but also in understanding how such laws advance or inhibit democracy moving forward.

Trump's Latest Theory: Pollsters Aren't Interviewing His Supporters

Evan Vucci/AP

Earlier this afternoon, Donald Trump dropped a curious reference during his speech in St. Augustine, Florida:

“The system is rigged. WikiLeaks also shows how John Podesta rigged the polls by oversampling Democrats, a voter suppression technique,” he said at a rally in Florida. “And that’s happening to me all the time. When the polls are even, when they leave them alone and do them properly, I’m leading. But you see these polls where they’re polling Democrats. How’s Trump doing? Oh, he’s down. They’re polling Democrats. The system is corrupt and it's rigged and it’s broken.”

Trump is referencing his supporters’ conspiracy du jour—that Clinton has convinced media outlets to simply interview more Democrats when they run polls, inflating her lead. It’s a misunderstanding (and that’s putting it benignly) of oversampling, a common statistical practice that allows pollsters to draw conclusions about small populations.

I write about this misunderstanding in detail here, but here’s a quote from Republican pollster Jon McHenry to give you the gist of it:

If you wanted to just bias the poll, you wouldn’t waste the extra money making all these extra calls—you’d try to manipulate it from the beginning. This is an added expense to the pollster with the idea of getting more information about a certain subgroup, and weighting that back so you understand the overall as well.

Trump Responds to Porn Actress' Allegations: 'Oh, I'm Sure She's Never Been Grabbed Before'

Jessica Drake, along with attorney Gloria Allred (left) at a news conference in which she alleged that Donald Trump groped her ten years ago. (Kevork Djansezian / Reuters)

On Saturday, Jessica Drake became the 11th woman to accuse Donald Trump of unwanted sexual conduct. At a press conference with the star lawyer Gloria Allred, Drake, a porn actress, said the Republican presidential nominee asked her to spend the night with him in 2006—after his 2005 marriage to Melania Knauss—eventually offering her $10,000. CNN reports:

Drake, an adult film performer and director, claimed at a news conference in Los Angeles Saturday that Trump asked her for her phone number and invited her to his suite the night they met in 2006. She went and brought along two other women to accompany her because she said she did not feel comfortable attending alone.

"He grabbed each of us tightly, in a hug and kissed each one of us without asking permission," said Drake.

Drake said she left, feeling uncomfortable, but that Trump called her on the phone and offered her money and the use of his plane to come back, which she says she declined. Drake showed a picture of herself with Trump.

Through a spokesman, Trump flatly denied the accusation, as he has every such claim. But on Monday, he expounded on that denial during an interview with WGIR, a radio station in New Hampshire.

“These are stories that are made up, these are total fiction. You'll find out that, in the years to come, these women that stood up, it was all fiction,” he said. (CNN’s KFILE snagged the audio.) “They were made up. I don't know these women, it's not my thing to do what they say. You know I don't do that. I don't grab them, as they say, on the arm. One said, 'he grabbed me on the arm.'”

Trump continued: “And she's a porn star. You know, this one that came out recently, ‘He grabbed me and he grabbed me on the arm.’ Oh, I'm sure she's never been grabbed before.”

Trump’s statement suggests he doesn’t understand the difference between consensual and nonconsensual sexual contact—which is, of course, the question at the heart of the accusations against Trump, as well as the widespread condemnation of a video in which he told Billy Bush, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything…. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

In each of these cases, the women involved did not agree to the contact. The Republican presidential candidate’s elision of the difference here is common in sexual-assault cases involving sex workers, including the idea that a prostitute cannot be raped, as though the act of selling sex eliminates any right to withhold consent.

On WGIR, Trump again mentioned, as he has elsewhere, that his staffers tend to implore him to speak out less on the accusations. The interview shows why they may be right.

GOP Senator Reportedly Plans to Vote for Trump After Previously Withdrawing His Endorsement

Susan Walsh / AP

Here’s a bit of good news for Donald Trump: Senator Mike Crapo will reportedly vote for the Republican nominee, despite pulling his endorsement earlier this month amid fallout from the release of a 2005 Access Hollywood video clip wherein Trump brags about groping women.

According to the Associated Press, the Republican senator from Idaho “says he will vote for Trump to keep Hillary Clinton from becoming president.”

That’s quite a change of tune for the senator who declared that he could “no longer endorse Donald Trump” following publication of the 2005 recording. “I urge Donald Trump to step aside and allow the Republican Party to put forward a conservative candidate like Mike Pence who can defeat Hillary Clinton,” the senator said in a statement earlier this month.

Now, Crapo is attempting to frame his decision as a pragmatic choice. “He urged Trump to step aside and let his running mate ... take his place. But that hasn’t happened, and Crapo says the next president needs to appoint Supreme Court justices who will interpret the Constitution as written,” the AP reported.

Crapo is up for re-election, and faces pressure from his own party to support Trump. After the senator rescinded his endorsement, “Idaho County Republicans responded by withdrawing their support for Crapo in his bid for re-election this November,” the Idaho State Journal notes.

Elizabeth Warren to Trump: 'Nasty Women Vote'

Warren and Hillary Clinton at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire
Carlos Barria / Reuters

When Hillary Clinton said that half of Donald Trump’s supporters could be placed in “basket of deplorables,” the Trump campaign simultaneously denounced and embraced the put-down. And in the days after Trump called Clinton “a nasty woman” in the final presidential debate, Clinton fans are doing the same thing.

On Monday, Senator Elizabeth Warren turned the “nasty woman” insult into a rallying cry.

“I’ve got news for you, Donald Trump: Women have had it with guys like you,” Warren said as she campaigned alongside Clinton at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire. “And nasty women have really had it with guys like you! Get this, Donald: Nasty women are tough. Nasty women are smart. And nasty women vote. And on November 8, we nasty women are going to march our nasty feet to cast our nasty votes to get you out of our lives forever.”

The crowd of about 4,000 went wild, and Clinton laughed and clapped at Warren’s riff. The Massachusetts liberal has become Trump’s chief tormenter on the campaign trail over the last several months, baiting the Republican nominee into Twitter wars in which he derisively refers to her as “Pocahontas”—a reference to the controversy over Warren’s questionable claim to Native American heritage.

On Monday, Clinton clearly loved her message. “We’re up here without our phones, so we cant check tweets,” the Democratic nominee said when she took the stage. “But I kind of expect that if Donald heard what she just said, he’s tweeting away. She gets under his thin skin like nobody else.”

“She exposes him for what he is,” Clinton added. “Temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified to be president of the U.S.”

Advancing the Clinton campaign’s effort to help down-ballot Democrats, Warren went nearly as hard after Senator Kelly Ayotte, the incumbent Republican in a close fight reelection fight against Democrat Maggie Hassan. Warren assailed Ayotte for supporting Trump until recently, even after Trump called her “weak” for distancing herself from him.

“I’ll say one thing. Donald Trump sure has made Kelly Ayotte dance,” Warren said. “Donald Trump is right. Kelly is weak.”

So Far, So Good for Clinton in North Carolina

Early voters in Raleigh, North Carolina
Gerry Broome / AP

Early-voting returns in North Carolina look very promising for Hillary Clinton, according to a new poll from left-leaning Public Policy Polling. In the four days since the early-voting period began in the state, the survey finds that 63 percent of voters who’ve already cast their ballots chose Clinton over her Republican opponent, Donald Trump. While this poll does not necessarily reflect all of the votes that will be cast during early voting, it is a strong signal to the Clinton campaign of her chances in the state. And it’s a necessary one, given the split among North Carolinians who have not voted early, among whom Trump and Clinton are almost in a dead heat.

People who vote early are much more likely to be Democratic supporters and people of color than the rest of the voter population. Black voters especially often visit the polls in large numbers at “Souls to the Polls” events, or on after-church group voting trips. Organizers across the state arranged several such trips on Sunday. And despite widespread flooding and disruption in the wake of Hurricane Matthew over the last two weeks, so far the number of early votes cast appears to be outpacing even those in 2008 and 2012. Those two years saw massive spikes in minority turnout, leading to a win for President Obama in 2008 and a narrow Obama loss in 2012.

Again, while the PPP results may not align perfectly with actual votes cast—and while the numbers may soon track more closely with state polls as more Republicans vote early—it is worth noting that Obama’s win in 2008 came after he’d won 56 percent of early and absentee ballots. If increased early-voting turnout can be sustained, and even if her numbers look closer to Obama’s 56 percent than her 63 percent in the PPP poll, Clinton stands a good chance of turning the North Carolinian battleground blue.

President Obama's Big Investment in Down-Ballot Races

Obama campaigning with U.S. Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto from Nevada
Susan Walsh / AP

President Obama knows how important state legislatures are in implementing policies that affect people's day-to-day lives. After all, he was once a state legislator himself.

So with just 15 days left to go until Election Day, he's releasing 150 endorsements of Democratic candidates for state legislatures all across the country, Politico reported over the weekend.

The endorsements—which will come along with a variety of robocalls, social media posts, mailers, photos of Obama with the candidates taken as he’s been traveling to campaign in recent weeks, and even a few radio ads—are Obama’s biggest investment in state races ever by far, and come as he gears up to make redistricting reform at the state level the political priority of his post-presidency. ...

The first group of endorsements went public Friday, with 13 in Florida, but the White House has a much larger list ready to go, including races in states far from competitive territory for the presidential election and Senate races, “focused mostly on swing districts for maximum impact,” said White House political director David Simas.

Political endorsements aren't always all that effective. Just look at Donald Trump's candidacy: The rivals Trump bested during the Republican presidential primary had far more high-profile backers than he did. But Democrats are hoping that with Obama as popular as he is, "hitching themselves to the president will make the difference," Politico writes.

In addition to the state-level endorsements, Obama has publicly backed candidates at the House and Senate level, notably those in swing states like Pennsylvania and Nevada. It’s all part of a larger plan: CNN reports that Democrats hope to “undo some of the losses in Congress and at the state legislative level that have occurred under Obama.” As my colleague Russell Berman has reported, the midterm elections in 2010 and 2014 were a boon to Republicans both in Congress and in state legislatures, and today 69 state legislative chambers, out of 99, are under GOP control. That’s meant more Republican power over not only the laws of individual states, but over policies that affect the political process at the national level, like voter-ID laws and redistricting.