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Trump ‘abhorrent’ for fuelling Harris conspiracy

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Trump 'abhorrent' for fuelling Harris conspiracy

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Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris take the stage at a campaign event.Image copyright
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Joe Biden named Kamala Harris his running mate – she is the first woman of colour on a major party ticket

The campaign team for Democratic White House candidate Joe Biden has issued a scathing response after US President Donald Trump amplified a conspiracy theory about his running mate.

Mr Trump said he had “heard” that Kamala Harris – a US-born citizen whose parents were immigrants – “doesn’t qualify” to serve as US vice-president.

The fringe theory has been dismissed by constitutional experts.

The Biden campaign called the comments “abhorrent” and “pathetic”.

They noted that Mr Trump spent years promoting a false “birther” theory that ex-President Barack Obama was not born in the US.

Ms Harris, a senator from California, on Tuesday became the first black woman and the first Asian-American to be named as a running mate on a main-party US presidential ticket.

“Donald Trump was the national leader of the grotesque, racist birther movement with respect to President Obama and has sought to fuel racism and tear our nation apart on every single day of his presidency,” a Biden campaign spokesman said in an email.

“So it’s unsurprising, but no less abhorrent, that as Trump makes a fool of himself straining to distract the American people from the horrific toll of his failed coronavirus response that his campaign and their allies would resort to wretched, demonstrably false lies in their pathetic desperation.”

Ms Harris was born to a Jamaican father and Indian mother in Oakland, California, on 20 October 1964. As such, she is eligible to serve as president or vice-president.

Constitutional scholars have dismissed the fringe legal theory that Mr Trump was referring to.

To be vice-president or president, Kamala Harris “has to be a natural-born citizen, at least 35 years old, and a resident in the United States for at least 14 years”, Juliet Sorensen, a law professor at Northwestern University, told the Associated Press news agency. “She is. That’s really the end of the inquiry.”

Anyone born in the US and subject to its jurisdiction is a natural born citizen, regardless of the citizenship of their parents, says the Cornell Legal Information Institute.

What did Trump say?

After a conservative law professor questioned Ms Harris’ eligibility based on her parents’ immigration status at the time of her birth, Mr Trump was asked about the argument at a press conference on Thursday.

The president said: “I just heard it today that she doesn’t meet the requirements and by the way the lawyer that wrote that piece is a very highly qualified, very talented lawyer.

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Media captionWho is Kamala Harris? A look at her life and political career

“I have no idea if that’s right. I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen to run for vice-president.

“But that’s a very serious, you’re saying that, they’re saying that she doesn’t qualify because she wasn’t born in this country.”

The reporter replied there was no question that Ms Harris was born in the US, simply that her parents might not have been permanent US residents at the time.

Earlier on Thursday, a Trump campaign adviser, Jenna Ellis, reposted a tweet from the head of conservative group Judicial Watch, Tim Fitton.

In that tweet, Mr Fitton questioned whether Ms Harris was “ineligible to be vice-president under the US constitution’s ‘citizenship clause'”.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionKamala Harris’ childhood home reacts to Biden pick

He also shared the opinion piece published in Newsweek magazine by John Eastman, a law professor at Chapman University in California, that Mr Trump was asked about.

What is the law professor’s argument?

Prof Eastman cites Article II of the US Constitution’s wording that “no person except a natural born citizen shall be eligible to the office of president”.

He also points out that the 14th Amendment to the constitution says “all persons born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens”.

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Media captionJoe Biden: Will it be third time lucky in 2020?

Prof Eastman’s argument, which he claims is also being made by other “commentators”, hinges on the idea that Ms Harris may not have been subject to US jurisdiction if her parents were, for example, on student visas at the time of their daughter’s birth in California.

“Her father was (and is) a Jamaican national, her mother was from India, and neither was a naturalized US citizen at the time of Harris’ birth in 1964. That, according to these commentators, makes her not a ‘natural born citizen’ – and therefore ineligible for the office of the president and, hence, ineligible for the office of the vice president,” he wrote in the Newsweek op-ed.

Experts in constitutional law have dismissed his claims

In 2010, Prof Eastman ran to be the Republican candidate for California attorney general. He lost to Steve Cooley, who went on to be defeated by Ms Harris, the Democratic candidate, in the general election.

Following furious backlash to the Newsweek op-ed, its editor-in-chief Nancy Cooper stood by the decision to publish, arguing on Thursday that Prof Eastman’s article had “nothing to do with racist birtherism” and was instead “focusing on a long-standing, somewhat arcane legal debate”.

What do other constitutional experts say?

Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky told CBS News, the BBC’s US partner, that Prof Eastman’s argument about Ms Harris’ eligibility was “truly silly”.

“Under section 1 of the 14th Amendment, anyone born in the United States is a United States citizen. The Supreme Court has held this since the 1890s. Kamala Harris was born in the United States,” he said.

Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School, told the Associated Press: “Let’s just be honest about what it is: It’s just a racist trope we trot out when we have a candidate of colour whose parents were not citizens.”

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories – KTVZ

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories - KTVZ

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Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York are calling on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to create a new bipartisan committee focused on election integrity and schedule hearings to reassure Americans over a process President Donald Trump has repeatedly sought to undermine.

There is growing anxiety among Democrats, and some Republicans, that Trump will not only continue to sow doubt over the legitimacy of the coming election but throw the subsequent count into chaos by declaring victory before all the votes can be tallied, including the millions that will arrive by mail.

In a letter to McConnell, Sanders and Schumer quote back the Kentucky senator’s own words, in which he attested to the reliability of mail-in voting by citing its successes in Oregon, Washington and Colorado, which have been using the system for years.

Trump has repeatedly questioned the validity of mail-in voting, promoted conspiracy theories questioning election security, called on supporters to act as unsanctioned “poll watchers,” and suggested that the absence of a clear result by the evening of November 3 would in some way cast doubt on the eventual outcome. Key allies in powerful positions, like Attorney General Bill Barr, have followed suit. Barr has persisted in puffing up a debunked claim that ballots received by mail would somehow strip the sender of their privacy — ignoring well-established safeguards.

By escalating the matter now, Sanders and Schumer are responding to growing concern, in partisan and nonpartisan spaces, that Americans are not adequately prepared for the potential of a longer-than-usual wait for results or Trump’s willingness to short-circuit the democratic process if he smells defeat.

“Democrats and Republicans in Congress must come together to ensure that we have a free and fair election where every vote is cast and counted without intimidation,” Sanders told CNN, “where no one has to put his or her health in danger to cast a ballot, and where we have full confidence in the results.”

The proposed hearings would invite a cross-section of election officials from across the country to testify to the security and reliability of mail-in, early- and in-person voting — subjects on which Sanders and Schumer, again, referenced McConnell’s own words.

“Despite the clear security of our vote-by-mail system, some have continued to undermine it with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud,” they wrote. “As you have correctly said, people ‘can vote early, you can vote on Election Day, or you can drop it in the mail,’ and that voters should ‘not worry about your vote not counting.’”

The minority leader and Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also want more detailed discussion about the fraught hours, or days, after the polls close and a real-time watch of the election horse race potentially swings from one candidate to another.

“We know a number of states may well be counting ballots for a period of time after Election Day, and that those votes may be determinative in this election,” the senators wrote to McConnell. “To avoid disinformation, conspiracy theories, and suspicion about results, we must understand the likely timeline for this process.”

The letter goes on to reference the recent war games-style preparations conducted by a group called the Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan gathering of operatives and academics that made headlines when some of the outcomes of their exercises — including “both street-level violence and political impasse” — were reported on in late July.

“A bipartisan group of experts and officials have studied multiple scenarios where the outcome of the election was not immediately known. Some of these scenarios resulted in unrest and even violence,” Sanders and Schumer wrote, suggesting the Senate should elevate similar discussions and familiarize the public with the uncertainties ahead. “We would like to hear from the most knowledgeable people in the country as to how we can do everything possible to make sure that the election and the period afterward is secure and peaceful.”

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS supported Caputo, with a statement that called him a critical, integral part of the presidents coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was no immediate statement from the White House.

Attempts to reach Caputo were unsuccessful.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called on Azar to fire Caputo, accusing the spokesman of trying to interfere with CDC reports to the medical and scientific community, as well as the public at large. And Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Azar himself to resign, citing interference with the CDC as one example of what he termed the administration’s failures.

Officials at CDC have privately complained of recent efforts by political appointees at main HHS to try to edit or press for changes in the agency’s weekly MMWR publications, a go-to resource for public health professionals.

MMWR articles are technical, but they reveal telling details. One published earlier this year noted that while Trump’s travel restrictions dramatically reduced travel from China in February, nothing was being done at that time to restrict travel from Italy and Europe, where the coronavirus was spreading widely and rapidly. Analysis of virus samples from hard-hit New York in March suggested it was introduced there from Europe and other parts of the U.S., the CDC article reported.

Caputo is an unswerving Trump loyalist. His recent book, The Ukraine Hoax, claims the presidents phony impeachment was rooted in a vast conspiracy.

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS…

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS...

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My RSS Feedunwinona:

This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS and Polio narrative (among others), only we’re seeing it escalated to weeks and months instead of years or decades.

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