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Trump, Clinton, and Emails: The Latest Election Updates

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are in the final sprint to Election Day.

Jim Young / Reuters

It’s Sunday, November 6—the election is just two days away. Hillary Clinton’s emails continue to dog her campaign, in light of FBI Director James Comey’s decision to look at additional emails. Donald Trump is seizing on the latest developments in the lead up to Election Day. We’ll bring you the latest updates from the trail as events unfold. Also see our continuing coverage:


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FBI Director: New Emails Don't Change Our Conclusion About Hillary Clinton

Joshua Roberts / Reuters

You know those new emails related to the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton? The ones that have dominated the last week of the presidential campaign? Turns out there’s nothing new there after all.

In a letter to chairs of congressional committees on Sunday, FBI Director James Comey wrote that FBI employees had been “working around the clock” to review a tranche of new emails discovered during an unrelated investigation that it believed might be pertinent to its investigation of Clinton’s email while at the State Department.

“During that process, we reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State,” Comey wrote. “Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.”

Those conclusions were that although Clinton and her aides had been “extremely careless” with classified information, there was not grounds to bring a criminal case against her. Comey later told Congress it wasn’t a close call. In essence, despite the last week’s fire drill, things still sit exactly where they did on July 5.

Comey set off a firestorm, and jolted the presidential race, on October 28, when in a letter to the same members, he announced the discovery of the emails, which are widely reported to have been discovered on a laptop belonging to former Representative Anthony Weiner, who is under investigation for allegedly sexting a North Carolina teenager. Weiner’s estranged wife is top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

Comey said at the time that he did not have a timetable for reviewing the emails, and reports suggested that any review would not be completed before the election. The FBI came under intense pressure to release information, and Comey was subject to bipartisan condemnation for writing the letter so close to the election. The letter also set of a round of recriminations between Democrats and the bureau, as well as an onslaught of competing leaks that have raised concerns that FBI employees are attempting to influence the election in favor of Donald Trump.

Comey had no way to put the toothpaste back in the tube, but with his follow-up letter on Sunday, he’s doing the best he can to wipe up the mess it made.

Trump on the Commotion in Reno: 'Nothing Will Stop Us'

(Carlo Allegri / Reuters)

Donald Trump was rushed off stage by Secret Service agents at a campaign rally in Nevada Saturday night after fighting allegedly broke out in the crowd, but returned a few minutes later to finish his speech.

The Republican presidential candidate was speaking at an event in Reno when a scuffle began near the front of the stage. The Secret Service said later in a statement that officers removed Trump from the stage after someone in the crowd shouted “gun.” The protection agency then apprehended a man, who identified himself to reporters as Austyn Crites after he was released from custody. No weapons were found.

Crites, a Reno resident, told reporters he was attacked by attendees after he held up a “Republicans Against Trump” sign at the rally.

"All of a sudden, because they couldn't grab the sign, or whatever happened, bam, I get tackled by all these people who were just, like, kicking me and grabbing me in the crotch and just, just beating the crap out of me," Crites said. "And somebody yells something about a gun, and so that's when things really got out of hand."

Trump released a statement after the rally thanking the Secret Service and local police “for their past and professional response” to the perceived threat. “Nothing will stop us,” he said.

The incident in Reno is the latest in a series of violent interactions at Trump rallies this year. At a campaign rally in North Carolina in September, a Trump supporter was arrested for punching a protester.

The Pope's Closing Argument Against Trump?


Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are on the trail making their closing arguments this weekend, and so, perhaps, is Pope Francis. The bishop of Rome has tangled with the Republican presidential nominee at several points during the campaign. In February, he said, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel,” drawing a harsh rebuke from Trump, who has made the construction of a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico the central promise of his campaign.

On Saturday, speaking at the World Meeting of Popular Movements at the Vatican, Francis again blasted the construction of walls and the use of fear in politics. As he did in February, the pope couched his remarks in general terms, not naming Trump specifically, and his comments could apply to any number of leaders.

“No tyranny can be sustained without exploiting our fears. This is clear,” the pope said in Spanish. “All tyranny is terrorist. And when that terror ignited in the peripheries with massacres, looting, oppression, and injustice explodes in the centers in the form of violence, including with hateful and cowardly intent, the citizens who still have some rights are tempted by the false security of walls, physical or social—walls that close some in and banish others.”

“Is this the life that our father God wants for us?” he asked. Later in the speech, Francis also criticized “false prophets that exploit fear and hopelessness to sell magical formulas of hate and cruelty.”

His comments come around 36 minutes in the video below.

Washington State Elector: I Won't Vote for Clinton

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

A member of Washington state’s Democratic delegation to the Electoral College says he won’t vote for Hillary Clinton, effectively raising her threshold to win the presidency to 271 electoral votes.

“She will not get my vote, period,” Robert Satiacum told the Associated Press on Friday.

Satiacum is a member of Washington’s Puyallup tribe who supported Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders during the primaries. According to the AP, Satiacum described Clinton is a “criminal” with a lackluster history on native issues. He also said Donald Trump, Clinton’s Republican rival, is unqualified for the presidency.

Faithless electors are a rare occurrence in the American electoral system. In 2000, a D.C. Democratic elector abstained to protest the district’s lack of congressional representation. Four years later, a Minnesota Democratic elector cast a ballot for “John Ewards,” a misspelling of Democratic vice-presidential candidate John Edwards’ name, instead of Edwards’ running mate John Kerry. No faithless electors have ever changed the outcome of a presidential election.

An extraordinary set of circumstances would be required for Satiacum to change the 2016 election’s outcome by himself. First, Clinton would have to receive exactly 270 electoral votes, the minimum required to capture the presidency. The easiest route to that number would be if Donald Trump won all of the states Mitt Romney won in 2012, plus Ohio, Florida, Colorado, and Iowa.

With 270 votes to Trump’s 268, Clinton would theoretically win by the thinnest possible margin. But if Satiacum then refused to cast his ballot for Clinton, no candidate would have the required majority in the Electoral College. Under the Twelfth Amendment, the Republican-led House of Representatives and Senate would then choose the next president and vice president, respectively.

Satiacum told the AP he is willing to pay the $1,000 fine under Washington state law for casting a faithless ballot in the Electoral College.

Federal Judges Issue Election Rulings in Three States

Jonathan Drake / Reuters

Federal courts released a small flurry of election-related rulings in multiple key states on Friday.

In Ohio, Judge James Gwin issued a broad order forbidding the Trump campaign, longtime Trump advisor Roger Stone, and any associated groups from harassing or interrogating voters at the polls. Among the order’s subjects is Stop the Steal, a Stone-organized group that said it planned to conduct exit polls to detect voter fraud.

Ohio Democrats claimed those efforts were actually a thinly disguised attempt at voter intimidation. Though not its focus, Gwin’s order also covers “groups associated with the Clinton for Presidency campaign.”

In North Carolina, Judge Loretta Biggs ordered the state board of elections and three county-level counterparts to cease an ongoing purge of otherwise eligible voters from the rolls. The local NAACP chapter’s lawsuit challenged a North Carolina law that allows third parties to contest a voter’s eligibility using mail returned as undeliverable.

Almost 6,700 voters had been purged by this method in the three counties; many were black Democrats. In a hearing on Thursday, Biggs had compared the purges to the state’s Jim Crow-era voting restrictions.

Further west, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals barred Arizona from enforcing a recent state law that made “ballot harvesting” a felony offense. With limited exceptions, the statute forbids Arizonans from gathering and submitting other peoples’ early-voting ballots. A three-judge panel upheld the law, which forbids Arizonans from gathering and submitting other voters’ early ballots, in a 2-1 decision in October.

Arizona Democrats then asked an en banc panel of eleven judges to intervene. The panel granted their request for a preliminary injunction, citing an interest in preserving an election’s status quo during appeals. In dissent, five judges on the panel accused the majority of misreading Supreme Court precedents guiding when federal judges should intervene in ongoing elections.

On the Trump Trail in New Hampshire: A Weird Sex Joke and 'Execute Her!'

A Trump supporter holds an anti-Clinton sign in New Hampshire

The presidential campaign is going to end in a manner similar to the way it began: with a brutal fight in New Hampshire. Polls show the race neck and neck there, so Donald Trump’s campaign was on the ground in the state Friday. Things were bumpy.

Former Governor John E. Sununu, a Trump backer, was speaking in Atkinson, discussing the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, when a man in the crowd shouted, “Execute her!” Sununu stopped to scold the man. “No, you don't need that kind of stuff, really and truly. There's a limit to what's acceptable,” he said.

Sununu decided to test that limit elsewhere, though, in the same remarks, wondering aloud, “Do you think Bill was referring to Hillary when he said, ‘I did not have sex with that woman?’” Sununu then chortled, slapping a lectern. Crazy theories about the Clintons’ sex life—including conspiracy beliefs that Chelsea Clinton is not Bill’s daughter—have long circulated among disreputable sources, but it’s stunning to hear them from a former governor at a campaign event. Then again, the nation has learned a great deal more about the sexual behaviors of candidates, namely Trump, this year than anyone might have expected.

Sununu is no stranger to controversy. In 2012, while campaigning for GOP nominee Mitt Romney, he said, “I wish this president would learn how to be an American,” and later suggested that Colin Powell had only endorsed Obama because they are both African American.

Also during the rally, some attendees reportedly delivered stereotypical Indian war whoops at the mention of Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

How North Carolina's 'Rogue Counties' Continued Suppressing Voters

Gerry Broome / AP

Voter suppression just won’t die.

In North Carolina, the Fourth Circuit Court’s decision this summer to strike down the most egregious parts of the 2013 HB 589 voting law seemed like a definitive victory against a recent push towards shrinking the electorate. That ruling found that the law’s implementation of voter ID, its reduction of early voting, and its elimination of same-day registration constituted naked discrimination against minority voters. After a three-year fight, it appeared voting-rights activists had secured a victory against this kind of overt racial targeting in voting laws.

That victory remained incomplete, however, because counties—freed from Department of Justice oversight after the Shelby County v. Holder decision—were free to make elections rules without federal oversight. In an extraordinarily unorthodox move, state GOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse, encouraged just that, openly asking county Republican majorities to roll back polling places, eliminate Sunday voting, and reduce hours during the additional first week of early voting granted by the court’s decision.

All county boards of election in the state feature Republican majorities, and many of them submitted plans that severely diminished poll availability, in accordance with Woodhouse’s directive. Most of those plans were rejected or amended by the State Board of Elections, but 17 counties retained polling plans during the first week of early voting that had fewer hours or locations than the same period in 2012. The state NAACP also accused three additional counties of racially-biased voter roll purges. So far, the effort by all of those counties appears to have been effective at reducing black turnout.

According to Reuters, emails between Republican county officials show a “party line” effort to eliminate Sunday voting and “Souls to the Polls,” one of the most important minority-turnout vehicles during early voting; and also to cut hours and locations:

The same day that Woodhouse sent his Aug. 11 email, Elaine Hewitt, a member of the Rowan County Republican Executive Committee, sent the county elections board two proposed schedules for early voting, both of which included just one site for the first four days and no sites on Sundays.

"With all of the opportunities to vote by mail, early in person Monday - Saturday, and on Election Day, there is no justification for requiring election workers to work on Sundays," she wrote.

Garry Terry, the chairman of the Republican Party for North Carolina’s First Congressional District, sent an email on Aug. 13 to elections board members in his region, reminding them to act "in the best interest of the Republican Party" by opposing Sunday voting and restricting early voting to one location.

A conversation that I had with Wake County board of elections member Mark Ezzell, a Democrat, sheds even more light on efforts to suppress the vote at a county level.

Ezzell recalls that he and the other member of a short-handed Wake County elections board, Republican Ellis Boyle, had to decide whether to simply extend polling places and hours to the extra week now mandated by the restored law, or severely curtail those sites as per Woodhouse’s letter. The decision was taken out of Ezzell’s hands by a surprise August 7 State Board of the Elections meeting to appoint a new Wake County board member, announced only 90 minutes beforehand. “The state board met in a 10 o'clock phone session to appoint that third person to the vacant seat that we had in Wake County,” Ezzell said. That appointee was Eddie Woodhouse, a former Jesse Helms aide and cousin to the state GOP executive director.

“My two colleagues voted to have only the board of elections site during the first week, but continue with the 20 sites we had already agreed on for the next ten days, and I voted against that plan,” Ezzell said. In Wake County’s case, that plan was struck down and replaced with a compromise plan by the State Board of Elections. The move illustrates that county regulations in place are not only haphazard, but result from a continuation of what appears to be a coordinated campaign.

Tim Kaine Puts His Spanish Skills to the Test

Mike Spencer / AP

The Clinton campaign waited until just before Election Day to hold what it billed as “a first” for a presidential campaign rally: A vice-presidential nominee delivering a speech entirely in Spanish, in a clear attempt to persuade Spanish-speaking voters to vote on November 8.

Tim Kaine, the Virginia senator, delivered his remarks in Phoenix, Arizona, on Thursday. While it was his first time giving a full speech in Spanish on the campaign trail, he’s done so before as a senator. Kaine delivered the Senate’s first speech spoken only in that language in 2013, a milestone he recalled in Phoenix: “Spanish was the first European language spoken in this country. A few years ago, I gave the first speech ever delivered in Spanish on the Senate floor. Since we were debating a bill about immigration, explaining it in Spanish just made sense—especially since it’s the language of more than 40 million people in this country who are most affected by this issue.”

Kaine sees parallels today: “I feel the same way about this election. With so much at stake for the Hispanic community, it just makes sense to make the case for our campaign in a language that’s spoken by so many families across the country.”

Kaine learned Spanish during a missionary trip in Honduras. It’s not perfect, but that doesn’t stop him: He’s put his language skills on display repeatedly on the campaign trail. The Associated Press reports that “one in five of the nearly 50 interviews he’s done since joining the ticket has been in Spanish.”

The Clinton camp stands to benefit from Kaine’s ability to speak Spanish, as it attempts to coalesce support behind the Democratic nominee. Donald Trump has alienated Latino voters, who are projected to turn out in record numbers.

In announcing Kaine’s speech, the campaign noted: “For the first time since 1996 Arizona is competitive in the presidential election due to demographic shifts and a dramatic increase in Latino voter registration.” Latinos account for 31 percent of Arizona’s population. Clinton recently strengthened her offensive in the Republican-leaning state, allocating $2 million in television, digital, and mail advertising. According to the RealClearPolitics polling average, Trump holds a slight edge there. During his remarks in Phoenix, Kaine reminded voters of Trump’s comments about Latinos. “I hate to break it to the Trump campaign, but Latinos are going to have a really big voice in this election,” Kaine said. “And the choice is really clear.”

Kaine is also scheduled to attend a rally in Tucson later in the day, where, presumably, he’ll be speaking in English.

Melania Trump's Campaign Speech From a Different Dimension

Mark Makela / Reuters

Not much has been heard from Melania Trump since her speech at the Republican National Convention in July—an address that was initially praised as poised, only to be panned when it emerged that parts of it had been plagiarized from a speech by Michelle Obama. A promised press conference failed to materialize. But the aspiring first lady was back on the trail in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, giving a short, 15-minute speech to Trump backers near Philadelphia.It was a strange speech, right from her intro music: “The Age of Aquarius,” from Hair. It’s not that anything she said was controversial per se; it’s just that compared with the campaign her husband has been running, it seemed to emanate from a parallel universe.

Melania Trump reportedly does not enjoy politics, and she seemed stiff, keeping her eyes locked on teleprompters. She began speaking about her childhood in Slovenia. “We always knew about the incredible place called America. America was the word for freedom and opportunity. America meant if you could dream it you could become it,” she said. She spoke proudly of becoming an American citizen, calling it “the greatest privilege in the world.”

Trump explained why she has not been a frequent presence on the trail, calling herself a full-time mother and speaking lovingly of the time she spends with her son, Barron. From there, she segued into a description of what she hopes to do as first lady if her husband wins the presidency: To be “an advocate for women and for children,” especially against bullying on social media.

“We need to teach our youth American values. Kindness, respect, compassion, charity, understanding, cooperation,” she said.

If you’ve been paying any attention to the campaign, this is a bit surreal. Her husband’s campaign has been notably short on pretty much all of these. He has been unabashed about his cruel streak, sometimes boasting of it. He has blithely brushed off calls for respect. A series of Washington Post articles by David Fahrenthold has shown that he has nearly no record of recent charitable giving, and has used a personal foundation as a method for settling private legal disputes. He has demonized Muslims and immigrants.

Her handwringing about social media—and particularly anonymous Twitter trolls—is equally strange. It’s not just that Donald Trump has retweeted anti-Semitic accounts with anonymous handles like “@WhiteGenocideTM.” Melania Trump herself has given cover to such behavior. After the journalist Julia Ioffe profiled Melania Trump for GQ, she received a barrage of anti-Semitic comments and death threats. Offered a chance to condemn that, Melania Trump said that she didn’t “agree with what they’re doing,” but said that she doesn’t “control her fans,” placing the blame on Ioffe: “She provoked them.”

On Thursday, in Berwyn, Trump said, “Our culture has gotten too mean, and too rough.” She may be right, but she might look to home to start the healing.

Pence Won't Endorse Ryan for Speaker

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Mike Pence has shown unwavering support for his running mate, Donald Trump, despite controversy and scandal.

Notably, however, he broke from Trump’s refusal to endorse Paul Ryan earlier this year, saying, “I believe we need Paul Ryan in leadership in the Congress of the United States.” (Trump later backed the House speaker.) And yet, with only a few days left to Election Day, Pence declined to answer whether Ryan, his long-time friend, should be reelected House speaker in an interview with National Review.

“My respect for Paul Ryan is boundless,” he said, repeatedly. “I’m not a member of the House Republican conference anymore. I wouldn’t presume upon what the members of the conference choose.”

Pence’s decision to dodge the question of whether Ryan should be reelected speaker is telling. Pence served six terms in Congress. The House speaker even introduced Pence at the Republican National Convention. Most recently, the two appeared to be at odds when Ryan announced that he would no longer defend Trump, in the wake of the published 2005 Access Hollywood tape. “Paul Ryan is my friend but...I respectfully disagree with his focus in this campaign,” Pence told NBC News.

Ryan is facing trouble of his own in the House, due to resistance from the Freedom Caucus, which ousted his predecessor last year. A senior adviser to Pence inserted a caveat after the National Review interview: “If Pence were still a congressman, he’d vote to reelect Ryan.” Even so, the latest development goes to show how the Indiana governor has evolved in his time on the GOP ticket—and how he isn’t likely to turn back.

Trump Is Planning His Victory Party at ... a Hilton?

The New York Hilton Midtown
Andrew Kelly / Reuters

Donald Trump owns or has lent his name to 13 buildings in Manhattan alone, two of which are large hotels.

But when it came to picking a New York venue for an Election Night party in his honor, the businessman decided against holding the affair on one of his properties. In a late-night announcement Wednesday, the Trump campaign revealed that the Republican nominee will spend Tuesday evening at the New York Hilton Midtown.

The Hilton is just a few blocks away from Trump Tower, the seat of Trump’s global organization, his campaign headquarters, and his private residence. It’s also just two miles from the Jacob Javits Convention Center, on the west side of the island, where Hillary Clinton will hold her own Election Night event. The short distance makes it an easy journey for the political press to see both candidates—or for protesters to toggle between the two events.

At first glance, it seems odd for the Republican to choose a non-Trump property for the occasion, after he’s spent more than 18 months holding press conferences and rallies at Trump Tower, his Florida club Mar-a-Lago, and his Doral resort in Miami, just to name a few locations. The Washington Post reports that Trump Tower in particular was a no-go for the party, because it’s “a privately owned public space, making it a problematic spot for a private campaign event.” A person “familiar with the plans” also told the Post that the event will be relatively small and understated, because Trump is “superstitious.”

But there could be another, understandable reason for planning the event at a non-Trump venue: If Clinton wins, Trump doesn’t want his campaign to come to an end in one of his branded hotels.

‘I Thought Your Job as FBI Director Was to Protect Me’

Joshua Roberts / Reuters

BuzzFeed News has published a highly critical open letter to FBI Director James Comey, reportedly from the teenage girl whose alleged receipt of illicit messages from Anthony Weiner triggered the Bureau’s investigation of the former congressman. The letter accuses Comey of subjecting her to unwanted media attention. “I thought your job as FBI Director was to protect me,” it reads.

On Friday, Comey sent his own letter to Congress disclosing that “in connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation” into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. The New York Times subsequently reported that the unrelated case in question was “an FBI investigation into illicit text messages from Mr. Weiner to a 15-year old girl in North Carolina.”

BuzzFeed News reports that the teenager gave them a copy of an open letter she penned to the FBI director. Here are a few excerpts:

I thought if I cooperated with your investigation, my identity as a minor would be kept secret. That is no longer the case. My family and I are barraged by reporters’ phone calls and emails. I have been even been blamed in a newspaper for causing Donald Trump to now be leading in some polls and costing Hillary the election.

Anthony Weiner is the abuser. Your letter helped that abuse to continue. How can I rebuild my life when you have made finding out my “story” the goal of every reporter?

I may have been Weiner’s victim, but the real story here is that I am a survivor. I am strong, intelligent, and certain that I will come out from under this nightmare, but it will not be as a result of your doing your job to protect me. I hope that by making my letter to you public, you will think about how your actions affect the victims of the crimes you are investigating. The election is important, yes, but what happened to me and how it makes me feel and how others see me, is much more important. It’s time that the FBI Director puts his victims’ rights above political views.

Comey has faced fierce criticism for his disclosure from all sides of the partisan spectrum.

Bill Weld for Hillary Clinton? Almost

Steven Senne / AP

Officially, Bill Weld is the vice-presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party.

But in the closing days of a tightening presidential race, he’s become an unofficial surrogate for a candidate he is ostensibly running against.

“I’m here vouching for Hillary Clinton,” Weld told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Tuesday night, in a statement that seemed thisclose to an outright endorsement of the Democratic nominee. “And I think it’s high time somebody did, and I’m doing it based on my personal experience with her, and I think she deserves to have people vouch for her other than members of the Democratic National Committee, so I’m here to do that.”

Weld has been inching in this direction for some time. For one, he and presidential nominee Gary Johnson are not going to win the White House. As a former two-term Republican governor of Massachusetts, he’s not really a Libertarian either, and certainly not to the extent that Johnson and rank-and-file members of the party are. And Weld has increasingly used his platform less to make the case for his own candidacy and more to warn voters about Donald Trump. As he made clear to my colleague Molly Ball last month, he does not see Trump and Clinton as equally bad. Clinton may be flawed, but as he told Ball, Trump is “unthinkable.” On Tuesday night, he told Maddow: “I fear for the country” if Trump is elected.

In that context, Weld’s comments to Maddow are not surprising. For Never Trumpers, the race has become too close for comfort. Weld wants Republicans to vote Libertarian as a way of helping Clinton. He’s not quite telling people in battleground states to vote for the Democrat, but he’s certainly not telling them not to, either.

Clinton Campaign Scraps Event in Des Moines, Iowa

Carolyn Kaster / AP

The fatal shooting of two police officers in Des Moines, Iowa, early Wednesday has prompted the Clinton campaign to cancel a get-out-the-vote event with Bill Clinton and vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine.

The two were scheduled to appear at the Des Moines Social Club on Wednesday evening, where the musician Ben Harper was to perform. Iowa is one of more than a dozen battleground states this year, and although President Obama won it both in 2008 and 2012, it is not considered crucial to Clinton’s path to victory next week.

The Trump campaign did not have any major events scheduled in Des Moines for Wednesday. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani is appearing alongside other surrogates elsewhere in the state, and as of 10:30 a.m., those events were still on.

For more on the Des Moines shooting, please see our News live-blog.

Gary Johnson Names His Supreme Court Justices

Mark Kauzlarich / Reuters

What would a libertarian Supreme Court look like? Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson attempted to answer that question on Tuesday when his campaign released a list of six potential Supreme Court appointees:

Alex Kozinski, Circuit Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Randy Barnett, Director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution.

Janice Rogers Brown, D.C. Circuit Court Judge and former California Supreme Court Justice.

Tom Campbell, Former Member of Congress and Dean of the Chapman University School of Law.

Miguel Estrada, Partner at the Washington, D.C., law office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, where he is a member of the firm's Appellate and Constitutional Law Practice Group.

Jonathan Turley, Professor, George Washington University Law School

“I have made clear that I believe the Supreme Court should be guided by a loyalty to the original and fundamental principles of limited government and liberty embodied in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights,” Johnson said in a statement. “As President, when the opportunity arises, I will nominate Justices who have proven records of demonstrating that loyalty to the Constitution."

Like Donald Trump lists of potential justices, Johnson’s choices come from a broader variety of backgrounds than the current Court. Seven of the eight sitting justices previously held seats on the federal appellate courts; only Kozinski and Rogers Brown have any previous judicial experience at all. Barnett, Campbell, and Turley would follow in the footsteps of Justice Elena Kagan, who arrived at the Court through academia. Campbell would also be the first member of the Court to have previously held elected office since Sandra Day O’Connor’s retirement in 2005.

Johnson’s picks would also shake up the Court’s current ideological balance. Trump released his list to soothe conservative fears about his influence on the Court’s ideological balance. Whatever nominees Hillary Clinton puts forward would be virtually certain to join Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor on the Court’s liberal wing. But there isn’t really a “libertarian wing” of the Court for Johnson’s picks to join. Justice Anthony Kennedy might come close, as a generally conservative justice with an occasional streak of West Coast egalitarianism.

It’s not hard to imagine some of the nominees flitting from one side of the Court’s ideological spectrum to another. Turley, for example, sides with liberals on most constitutional issues but also represented former House Speaker John Boehner and the Republican-led House in an Obamacare-related case. Kozinski, who was born in communist Romania, is wary of private-property regulations as well as prosecutorial misconduct.

But that flexibility could cut both ways. If Campbell were the nominee, for example, would Democratic senators vote to place a former Republican congressman for the Supreme Court? Would Republican senators from deep-red states back a nominee who had opposed California’s ban on same-sex marriage? At the very least, Johnson’s list underscores the practical challenges a third-party president would face if elected.

Darrell Issa Gets a Rare Trump Endorsement

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

As a man who proudly proclaimed “I alone can fix it” while accepting the Republican nomination, Donald Trump is not particularly generous about endorsing fellow Republicans for Congress.

Unlike most presidential nominees, he doesn’t routinely give shout-outs to other GOP candidates at rallies, and he has been skimpy with endorsements. But Trump made an exception for one embattled Republican on Tuesday, tweeting his support for Representative Darrell Issa, the former chairman of the House Oversight Committee who is fighting a tough race for reelection in California.

Issa is an interesting, and perhaps odd, choice for a Trump endorsement. Yes, he led politically charged investigations of the Obama administration for years and called President Obama “one of the most corrupt presidents in history.” But he is also running in a district the president carried, and in a move that drew derision from Democrats, he actually sent out campaign literature, featuring the president’s picture, that touted his work on legislation that Obama signed.

Trump’s thin record on endorsements also isn’t great. The one Republican member of Congress that he endorsed in a primary this spring, Representative Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, lost her race.

Kasich Goes for ... McCain

Aaron Josefczyk / Reuters

Since the rancorous Republican primary ended, most of Donald Trump’s rivals have come around to support him, including two candidates he savaged most brutally, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

But not John Kasich.

The Ohio governor never endorsed Trump and even skipped the GOP convention that was held in his state. And on Monday, he cast his vote not for the current Republican nominee but for the party’s standard-bearer from eight years ago, John McCain.

Kasich mailed in his vote for the Arizona senator, his spokesman, Chris Schrimpf, told NBC News. “You want to vote for someone you can support,” Schrimpf said. “He's been clear he can't support Trump. He's been equally clear he can't support Clinton.”

Kasich joins Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham, among other 2016 Republican contenders, who have said they won’t vote for either Trump or Clinton. Most others have said they’ll support Trump. Neither Bush nor Graham has indicated how exactly they will vote, but Graham has said he might go for his Senate pal McCain, too.

McCain told NBC News that he appreciated the “compliment” from Kasich. But he might have liked it better if Kasich could vote for him in Arizona, where he is in a competitive race for reelection to the Senate.

Paul Ryan Casts His Vote for Trump

Yuri Gripas / Reuters

Paul Ryan has voted for Donald Trump—but he doesn’t sound particularly enthusiastic about it.

In an interview on Fox News Tuesday, the House Speaker didn’t even mention Trump’s name. “I already voted here in Janesville, [Wisconsin] for our nominee last week in early voting,” Ryan said, adding: “We need to support our entire Republican ticket.”

He quickly pivoted to the subject of Hillary Clinton, evidently preferring to attack the Democratic nominee than praise Trump. “The point I keep trying to make to younger voters, who did not live through the 1990s, this is what life with the Clintons looks like. It’s always a scandal, one after another.” Of course, Trump has also weathered one scandal after another throughout the 2016 campaign.

Ryan has criticized Trump at various points during the race, but never pulled his endorsement—not even after a 2005 Access Hollywood recording surfaced wherein Trump brags about groping women. The House speaker, who has attempted to style himself as the face of principled conservatism, has now made the ties that bind him to the Republican nominee that much more official.

What Life Is Like in a 2016 Swing State

Reuters / Carlos Barria

Four years ago, during the presidential election, I was living in Washington, D.C., a place where the electoral results are a foregone conclusion and campaigning is, therefore, practically nonexistent. The television ads bleeding over from the Northern Virginia market seemed like a quaint diversion. My parents, however, live in the crucial swing state of Ohio, where by Election Day they seemed to be going faintly mad from the attention: constant television ads, robocalls, and the like. I chuckled at them.

Karma is harsh, however, and last year I moved to North Carolina, which has emerged as a swing state—and perhaps the marquee swing state—of the 2016 race. Now I am getting my comeuppance, which comes in the form of daily circulars in the mailbox, frequent door-knocks from canvassers (four so far, when I have been at home), and constant political ads both on television and on YouTube.

The truly amazing thing, though, is the volume of campaign events. I went through my emails from the Clinton and Trump campaigns and tallied up every event that I could find advertised between October 24 and November 3. I’m sure more will be added and I may have missed some, so think of this as a snapshot that gives an impression, not a definitive list.

One thing that jumps out is the sheer number of Clinton events. Over this period, Donald Trump and Mike Pence are appearing slightly more times in the state than Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, though most of the Republicans’ events were last week, with this week looking skimpy. But Clinton has a whole stable of high-profile surrogates who she can send out on the road, notably President Obama; Michelle Obama, with whom she appeared last week; Vice President Biden; her husband Bill Clinton; and Senator Elizabeth Warren. Trump, in contrast, mostly schedules events that feature either himself or Pence, sometimes with additional surrogates (think Rudy Giuliani) appearing on the same bill. Chelsea Clinton often headlines smaller events for her mother; Ivanka and Tiffany Trump appeared recently in Florida for their father, but they have not visited the Old North State.

Clinton also schedules a range of smaller events, with figures ranging from Cabinet secretaries (Tom Perez, Anthony Foxx) to celebrities (Will Ferrell, Lena Dunham) to lower-profile politicians (Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, Jesse Jackson). And then there’s Tuesday’s concert by crooner Ne-Yo in Raleigh. As journalist Bryan Anderson notes, Trump also scatters his events, including some in counterintuitive locations like Kinston, while Clinton sends herself and top-tier surrogates to major population centers (where her base is), while dispatching smaller-print names to smaller towns.

Here’s the full list:

Monday 10/24
Mike Pence in Greensboro and Salisbury

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in Greensboro, Chapel Hill, and Charlotte
Labor Secretary Tom Perez in Raleigh

Tuesday 10/25
Senator Elizabeth Warren in Raleigh
Howard Dean in High Point and Burlington
Bill Clinton in Rocky Mount, Goldsboro, Greenville
Labor Secretary Tom Perez in Winston-Salem and Greensboro

Wednesday 10/26
Donald Trump in Charlotte and Kinston

Howard Dean in Chapel Hill and Raleigh
Bill Clinton in Wilmington, Pembroke, and Fayetteville

Thursday 10/27
Chelsea Clinton in Boone
Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama in Winston-Salem
Senator Chris Coons in Wilmington and Southern Pines
YouTube star Tyler Oakley in Greensboro

Friday 10/28
Jesse Jackson in Greensboro
YouTube star Tyler Oakley in Chapel Hill

Saturday 10/29
Actress Sonia Manzano in Durham and Raleigh
Actor Will Ferrell in Raleigh, Durham, and Carrboro

Mike Pence in Jacksonville

Sunday 10/30
Bill Clinton in Greensboro and Charlotte
Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock in Winston-Salem
Actress Lena Dunham in Cary, Carrboro, Greensboro, and Durham

Monday 10/31
Actress Lena Dunham in Chapel Hill
Tim Kaine in Sanford and Jacksonville

Tuesday 11/1
Ne-Yo concert in Raleigh
Vice President Joe Biden in Charlotte

Wednesday 11/2
Barack Obama in Chapel Hill

Thursday 11/3
Donald Trump in Selma

Hillary Clinton in TBA

Friday 11/3
Barack Obama in Fayetteville and Charlotte

James Comey Reportedly Worried About the Timing of an Accusation Against Russia

Gary Cameron / Reuters

FBI Director James Comey reportedly did not want to publicly accuse Russia of interfering in the U.S. election, according to reports in CNBC and The Huffington Post that rely on anonymous sources. According to the reports, Comey was reluctant to point the finger at Russia out of concern that the timing of the announcement would fall too close to the election itself.

The usual caveats about anonymously-sourced stories apply here; they should be read with caution. But the Clinton campaign is eager to use the reports, which may well be true, to make a political point. The Clinton team seized on the first story, published Monday by CNBC, to argue that a double standard is at play in light of the FBI director’s disclosure on Friday that his agency would review additional emails “that appear to be pertinent to the investigation” into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

Clinton’s official Twitter account called the CNBC report “Incredible,” highlighting a passage that read: “Some government insiders are perplexed as to why Comey would have election timing concerns with the Russian disclosure but not with the ... email discovery disclosure he made Friday.” The campaign also convened a press call to express outrage and indignation.

As my colleague David Graham has written, Comey’s email disclosure has managed to anger partisans and pundits across the political spectrum. The New York Times reported on Saturday that Justice Department officials “strongly discouraged” Comey from notifying Congress about the emails, citing “policies against talking about current criminal investigations or being seen as meddling in elections.”

School's Out for Election Day—At Least for Some Students

A New York voter casts her primary ballot—son at her side—at an elementary school in Chappaqua

Amid concerns that the election could spark disagreement and even violence between voters at the polls, schools in at least seven states—Illinois, Maine, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—have canceled classes or said they will not serve as polling locations on Election Day, the Associated Press reported recently.

"What if someone walks in a polling location with a backpack bomb or something?" Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp asked the AP. "If that happens at a school, then that's certainly concerning." Kemp is the co-chairman of the National Association of Secretaries of State election committee, which provides guidance for states on how to run elections.

Schools have long acted as convenient locations for voters to cast their ballots, and some election officials have warned that shifting polling places could create confusion. But school officials and parents have countered that the potential for voters to clash—thanks to the particularly divisive nature of this election—makes schools a poor choice this year. Donald Trump, for example, has urged supporters to stake out the polls looking for fraud, a rare occurrence.

This isn’t the first time schools have chosen to close on Election Day over safety concerns. As we noted during the midterm election in 2014, some in Michigan, New York, and other states canceled classes to free up space to serve as polling locations, while others canceled because of concerns about not being able to monitor everyone coming and going. Many used the time as a professional-development day for teachers.

But still others, including several schools in Massachusetts, used the day to educate students about civic responsibility. “I’m sure there are practical reasons why the schools have to be closed,” Peter Levine, the director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, said in 2014. “But it seems like a shame not to show the students first-hand how elections work, and why voting matters.”

The White House Won't 'Defend or Criticize' the FBI Director's Action on Clinton Emails

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

The White House is largely staying out of the latest controversy over Hillary Clinton's emails. Or at least, it's trying to.

Reporters tried for over an hour to compel Press Secretary Josh Earnest to weigh in definitively about FBI Director James Comey's announcement that his agency is examining additional emails potentially "pertinent" to the Clinton investigation. But Earnest mostly fell back to the same defense: He'd be violating the White House's responsibilities if he were to comment.

"I'll neither defend nor criticize Director Comey's decision to communicate to the public about the facts of this investigation," Earnest said Monday. "I'll do that because of the institutional role of the White House not to interfere with an ongoing FBI or DOJ investigation. I'll also do that because I don't have any independent knowledge of what led Director Comey to decide to release that information."

Earnest told reporters that the White House hadn’t been briefed about the Clinton investigation, and learned of Comey’s letter to Congress—which he sent Friday—when it was reported in the press. He did try to quash one rumor born of the director’s action: that he was attempting to sway the presidential race. The president “is completely confident that Director Comey has not taken any steps to intentionally try to influence the outcome of the election” or privilege a particular candidate or party, Earnest said.

Yet, despite that defense of Comey, Earnest did make a veiled suggestion that the director’s announcement violated Justice Department norms. That’s a charge former Attorney General Eric Holder leveled against Comey this weekend, when he described in a Washington Post op-ed how the department should not comment or confirm the existence of an ongoing investigation—nor take “unnecessary action close in time to Election Day that might influence an election’s outcome.”

Noting the “substantial authorities” of the Justice Department—to issue subpoenas, compel witnesses, impanel grand juries—Earnest said the president believes “those authorities are tempered by an adherence to long-standing tradition and practice and norms that limit public discussion of facts that are collected in the context of those investigations.

“And there are a variety of good reasons for that,” Earnest added, “and the president believes that it is important that for those norms and traditions and guidelines to be followed.”

But Earnest, careful still not to say too much, declined to say specifically whether those norms were followed, instead punting to Comey himself. “The good news is the president believes that Director Comey is a man of integrity, he’s a man of principle, and he’s a man of good character. ... These are tough questions, and so it's a good thing that he's a man of integrity and character to take them on."  

One Poll Shows Clinton Still Ahead After Email Announcement

Brian Snyder / Reuters

Hillary Clinton’s lead over Donald Trump, though shrinking, wasn’t immediately affected by FBI Director James Comey’s decision to look into additional emails related to the former secretary of state, a Politico / Morning Consult poll shows. She leads the Republican nominee by three points, holding 42 percent of the vote among likely voters. Her support has held steady for nearly a month, while Trump’s share of the vote bounced up and down, rising to 39 percent from 36 percent just two weeks ago.

The poll originally ran online shortly before Comey’s announcement last Friday. Morning Consult spun up a second survey immediately after, and saw little change in the numbers, even though 89 percent of respondents said they had heard about Comey’s letter to lawmakers.

An ABC / Washington Post tracking poll published Sunday showed a similar resilience in support for Clinton, though one-third of respondents said the latest developments made them less likely to vote for the former secretary of state. (Most of those were Republicans; only 7 percent of Democrats said they were less likely to support Clinton.) That said, the poll has the two candidates essentially tied, with Clinton holding 46 percent of the vote to Trump’s 45 percent.

Gawker Antagonist Peter Thiel Offers a Defense of Donald Trump

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Tech billionaire Peter Thiel defended Donald Trump in a speech on Monday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Thiel—who spoke at the Republican National Convention, and has faced intense criticism for his role in helping shutter Gawkerpraised the Republican nominee’s skepticism of free trade and foreign entanglements. “Nobody would suggest that Donald Trump is a humble man,” he said, “but the big things that he’s right about amount to a much needed dose of humility in our politics.”

The openly-gay libertarian not only offered up a defense of Trump, he offered a defense of Trump supporters.No matter what happens in this election, what Trump represents isn’t crazy and it’s not going away,” he said. Thiel suggested that the media has painted an inaccurate portrait of Trump, and that Trump supporters often interpret the Republican nominee’s remarks in a different way. “The media is always taking Trump literally,” Thiel said, adding: “I think a lot of the voters who vote for Trump take Trump seriously, but not literally.”

He conceded that he doesn’t always see eye-to-eye with the Republican nominee. “Both major candidates are imperfect people to say the least,” Thiel said, adding: “I don’t agree with everything Donald Trump has said and done, and I don’t think the millions of other people voting for him do either.” Thiel described Trump’s lewd comments against women as offensive and inappropriate, and noted that he does not support “a religious test” for Muslims entering the United States. Thiel added that he does not believe, as Trump has suggested, that U.S. libel laws should be changed.

But, Thiel argued: “I don’t think the voters pull the lever in order to endorse a candidates’ flaws.” He noted that he has taken positions in the past that are far outside the mainstream, but added that his support for Trump is not contrarian. “This is the first time I’ve done something that’s actually conventional,” he said.  

For more on Thiel’s remarks, including whether the lawsuit he helped finance against Gawker set a dangerous precedent see our coverage here.

Movie-Theater Chains Are Making Plans for Election Night

Brendan McDermid / Reuters

Several movie-theater chains will broadcast election-night coverage at locations across the United States, The New York Times reports. Last Monday, AMC Theatres announced plans to screen CNN’s Election Night in America special in 50 locations. Other companies, including the Austin, Texas-based Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, will similarly play cable news in theaters.

Theater representatives told the newspaper that they are taking steps to mitigate potential clashes between viewers, a risk that’s heightened because of the 2016 election’s animosity and the violent turn some campaign events have taken this election season. AMC, for example, has designated theaters as “red” or “blue” for the events, the company’s chief content and programming officer, Elizabeth Frank, told the Times:

Ms. Frank said she hoped that allowing customers to “self-select” into separate theaters for their preferred candidates would reduce the potential for conflict.

“I think the people who are going to turn out for this are people who are much more sincerely interested in the process,” she said.

Alamo is taking a different tact: Its screenings will feature patriotic costume-clad hosts to lighten the mood, and managers will monitor for any possible disturbance. Also crucial? The hosts will decide which news channel attendees watch, so at least there won’t be any fighting over the remote.

Newspapers Are Trying to Warn Voters About Trump

Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

A London paper, owned by a Tokyo publisher, is calling for “the renewal of American leadership”—and endorsing Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump to deliver it.

The Financial Times is the latest newspaper to endorse the Democrat, joining a host of papers skeptical of liberal policies in speaking up to oppose Donald Trump. His “braggadocio, divisiveness and meanness are on daily display,” the FT wrote, accusing Trump of demonstrating “contempt towards American democracy itself.”

Hillary Clinton enjoys only a thin, narrowing edge among likely voters—but almost unanimous support from major newspapers. The National Enquirer and the Las Vegas Review-Journal, both owned by Trump backers, stand almost alone in endorsing the Republican nominee. Other major newspapers that reliably back conservative candidates have broken with their own pasts to back Clinton, or endorsed the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.

What explains that remarkable fact? Newspapers are richly steeped in their own history. Editors often read the archives as they draft their endorsements, and expect their own successors to one day read their work. Newspapers have long institutional memories—and to judge by their decisions, not many editorial boards wish to be remembered for supporting Donald Trump.

But these endorsements also reflect a broader split. Those who pay the most attention to the actual functioning of American government and political institutions—elected officials of both parties, career civil servants, foreign service officers, political scientists, journalists—have been most vocal, often breaking with precedent, in their opposition to the Republican nominee. They denounce his violations of established norms, worry about the corrosive effects of his rhetoric on institutions, and profess concern for his cavalier disregard for truth. They tend not to see this election as a partisan contest, but rather, as a battle between a flawed candidate who operates within the system, and one who would jeopardize American security, prosperity, and democracy.

The great majority of voters, by contrast, seem to be approaching this election as a fairly ordinary partisan battle, with the two parties exchanging allegations of misconduct and incompetence. And they’re lining up very much as they usually do. (There are real shifts in particular subgroups, but overwhelming majorities of those who voted Republican or Democrat in 2012 will vote the same way in 2016.) If the near unanimity of newspaper endorsements is making a difference, it’s hard to discern in the polling.

And it’s even possible that the endorsement of the Financial Times—founded as the friend of “the Honest Financier, the Bona Fide Investor, the Respectable Broker, the Genuine Director, and the Legitimate Speculator”—may do as much harm as good. “Mrs Clinton has a sound programme” is the sort of praise as liable to repel undecided American voters as to attract the global business elite; it dovetails with Trump’s criticism of globalization.

But for voters trying to parse the intricacies of Clinton’s emails, or overwhelmed by months of non-stop campaign coverage, this editorial—and the others like it—are that rarest of things in politics: Something genuinely novel and significant. But if those who pay the most attention to politics are the most concerned about Trump, it remains to be seen whether they can convey that concern in a way that persuades those who pay the least.

Did James Comey Violate the Hatch Act?

Joshua Roberts / Reuters

On Friday, I spoke with Richard Painter, a University of Minnesota law professor who served as George W. Bush’s chief ethics lawyer, about the legal rules that might govern James Comey’s decision to announce a new line of investigation related to Hillary Clinton’s emails. Over the weekend, Painter filed a complaint with the FBI’s Office of Special Counsel, arguing that Comey violated the Hatch Act, a 1939 law which prohibits most federal employees from using their “official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election,” along with other kinds of political activity.

“Absent extraordinary circumstances that might justify it,” Painter wrote in a New York Times editorial, “a public communication about a pending FBI investigation involving a candidate that is made on the eve of an election is ... very likely to be a violation of the Hatch Act and a misuse of an official position.” A Democratic political organization, the Keep America Great PAC, is supporting the complaint and released a joint statement with Painter on Monday morning.

In an email, Painter detailed why he changed his mind about Comey’s decision, and what made him pursue the complaint. “I could not find any reason for it other than political motives of himself and/or Congress,” he wrote. Even if Comey didn’t directly want to influence the election, his actions could still be covered by the Hatch Act, Painter said—“it includes persons without desire to influence an election still knowingly succumbing to pressure from others.” Painter believes Comey’s previous statements about Clinton, combined with the fact that the investigation is only in its early stages, make the FBI director’s decision to write to Congress suspect.

If nothing else, Comey has faced an enormous push from congressional Republicans to pursue the Clinton email case. “The committee members have been pressuring him for over a year,” Painter said. They’ve said that “if he does not keep the Members fully informed about his investigations concerning Clinton, [or] anyone who knows Clinton, he is not doing his job.”