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Obama says his successor ‘failed to take job seriously’ as he hits campaign trail

US president Donald Trump on Tuesday

Donald Trump told his rally in North Carolina that his feud with 60 Minutes came about when host Lesley Stahl accused him of ‘begging’ for suburban women to love him.

Mr Trump also relitigated the size of his inauguration audience, telling the crowd that he had “the largest audience anywhere in the world”and that any unflattering pictures were “taken way early.”

“I care about it,” Mr Trump told the crowd.

Earlier Barack Obama said Mr Trump failed to take the job of president seriously, saying in a campaign speech for Joe Biden that tweeting at the TV “doesn’t fix things”.

Trump travelled to North Carolina for a campaign rally of his own, where he will likely focus on Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China while ignoring the “secret” bank account he retains in China, according to The New York Times’s latest investigation of his tax records.

Meanwhile, a Democratic super PAC comprised of Silicon Valley megadonors and fronted by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskowitz has announced it plans to invest $100m in pro-Biden TV advertising in the final two weeks of the election race in a bid to help oust the president.

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Hello and welcome to The Independent’s rolling coverage of Donald Trump’s administration and 2020 election campaign. 

Gino Spocchia21 October 2020 08:32

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Trump lashes out at CBS over aborted 60 Minutes interview

Donald Trump stormed out of an interview with Lesley Stahl of CBS’s 60 Minutes being filmed at the White House on Tuesday, posting a clip of the reporter on Twitter shortly afterwards attacking her for not wearing a face mask and threatening to release his own cut of the “FAKE and BIASED” discussion before the network can broadcast its version.

After news of the clash broke on Twitter…

…Trump posted his mask-shaming clip to vent his anger, overlooking the hypocrisy of his stance given his own reluctance to wear a face covering and set an example during the pandemic.

He returned to the matter both at his rally that evening in Eerie, Pennsylvania, and again on social media, where he made his threat to issue his own footage of the contentious encounter, the details of which currently remain obscure.

Here’s Graeme Massie’s report.

Joe Sommerlad21 October 2020 08:47

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President tells voters in Pennsylvania ‘nobody wants me’ and cuts rally short 

The president made no bones about the fact that the swing state is crucial to his re-election hopes. He won it in a major upset in 2016 but is currently four points behind Joe Biden, according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, who grew up in Scranton and has made an appeal to voters to back a native son over the privileged Trump of Park Avenue.

 “What the hell is going on in your state?” the president asked the MAGA crowd last night, reassuring them: “We’re going to win. I think we’re going to win so big.”

 He went on to paint an apocalyptic vision of a Biden future, telling voters: “If you want depression and gloom and despair, then vote for ‘Sleepy Joe Biden.’ And boredom. 

“If Biden wins, your borders are gone, which means your healthcare is gone… Which means your country is gone.” 

Oddly, the president’s mood then changed and he began griping that “nobody wants me” before cutting his speech unusually short due to the cold weather.

John T Bennett was watching.

Joe Sommerlad21 October 2020 09:08

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Trump tells rally crowd he wouldn’t have come if he wasn’t down in the polls

One of the president’s stranger appeals for loyalty in Pennsylvania last night was his admission that he wouldn’t have come to Erie if he didn’t have to.

“Four or five months ago when we started this whole thing before the plague came in, I had made it, I wasn’t coming to Erie,” he said.

“I mean, I have to be honest. There’s no way I was coming. I didn’t have to. I would have called you and said, ‘Hey Erie, you know if you have a chance get out and vote’. We had this thing won.”

Namita Singh has more on this.

Joe Sommerlad21 October 2020 09:13

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President blames dead mic on ‘Crooked Hillary’

Trump ought to get used to his microphone getting cut off in time for Thursday.

John T Bennett has this from the Fox-addled mind of the reality TV businessman who overreached.

Joe Sommerlad21 October 2020 09:36

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First lady backs out of Pennsylvania campaign visit due to lingering Covid cough

Justin Vallejo has the latest on Melania’s health.

Joe Sommerlad21 October 2020 09:39

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Trump has secret Chinese bank account, says NYT

The president spent a decade unsuccessfully pursuing projects in China, operating an office there during his first run for president and forging a partnership with a major government-controlled company, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The Chinese account is controlled by Trump International Hotels Management LLC, which the tax records show paid $188,561 in taxes in China while pursuing licensing deals there from 2013 to 2015.

In response to questions from The NYT, Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organisation, said the company had “opened an account with a Chinese bank having offices in the United States in order to pay the local taxes” associated with efforts to do business there. He said the company had opened the account after establishing an office in China “to explore the potential for hotel deals in Asia.”

“No deals, transactions or other business activities ever materialised and, since 2015, the office has remained inactive,” Garten said. “Though the bank account remains open, it has never been used for any other purpose.”

Garten would not identify the bank in China where the account is held.

China continues to be an issue in the 2020 presidential campaign, from the president’s trade war to his barbs over the origin of the coronavirus pandemic. His campaign has tried to portray former vice president Joe Biden as misreading the dangers posed by China’s growing power. Trump has also sought to tar his opponent with overblown or unsubstantiated assertions about Hunter Biden’s business dealings there while his father was in office.

As for the former vice president, his public financial disclosures, along with the income tax returns he voluntarily released, show no income or business dealings of his own in China. However, there is ample evidence of Trump’s efforts to do business there.

As with Russia, where he explored hotel and tower projects in Moscow without success, Trump has long sought a licensing deal in China. His efforts go at least as far back as 2006, when he filed trademark applications in Hong Kong and the mainland. Many Chinese government approvals came after he became president.

In 2008, Trump pursued an office tower project in Guangzhou that never got off the ground. But his efforts accelerated in 2012 with the opening of a Shanghai office, and tax records show that one of Trump’s China-related companies, THC China Development LLC, claimed $84,000 in deductions that year for travel costs, legal fees and office expenses.

Stuti Mishra has this report.

Joe Sommerlad21 October 2020 10:17

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Joe Biden: ‘It’s time we see each other as fellow Americans’

While all of that was going on, the Democratic challenger issued a new campaign ad last night calling for national unity and a resounding rejection of the division and enmity Trump has fostered and exploited.

Speaking of ads, this from the Meidas Touch – on the president and his aides seeking to laugh off his more disturbing public statements as a joke when they were clearly said in all seriousness – is well worth your time.

Joe Sommerlad21 October 2020 10:31

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Biden raising cash ‘war chest’ to fight Trump in court after election

Aides to the Democratic challenger believe an already record-breaking cash pile could be needed to battle the president in court in the highly likely event that he disputes the election outcome.

According to top-level donors and campaign aides, Biden will continue to work with party donors to raise cash over the next month, with those concerns in mind.

Advisers who spoke with The Daily Beast said potential legal battles in multiple states could suggest – at least in part – why Biden planned an aggressive fundraising schedule for October.

A campaign calendar obtained by the outlet suggested that Biden’s campaign has 37 fundraising events planned between 17-24 October, averaging at almost five a day, in a bid to raise cash.

Those events come despite a $432m cash haul that was believed to be $130m more than Trump’s campaign received.  

Gino Spocchia has more.

Joe Sommerlad21 October 2020 10:27

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Kamala Harris hosts Zoom fundraiser with The Avengers

Biden’s running mate sat down with Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Zoe Saldana, Mark Ruffalo and Paul Rudd last night and they sang her happy birthday and paid tribute to the late Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman.

Robert Downey Jr also made a surprise guest appearance and the group compared Trump to Thanos, which seems pretty appropriate.

It’s amazing the Biden camp aren’t publicising this more heavily given that we’re talking about he biggest blockbuster franchise in cinema history here.

The press are grumpy about it for another reason.

Joe Sommerlad21 October 2020 10:43