NBC Says Trump Will Hold Town Hall Meeting Thursday, Competing Against Biden

President Trump may not be debating Joseph R. Biden Jr. on the same stage on Thursday night as originally planned. But the two candidates will still face off head-to-head.

NBC News confirmed on Wednesday that it would broadcast a prime-time town-hall-style event with Mr. Trump from Miami on Thursday at 8 p.m. Eastern, with the president fielding questions from Florida voters.

The event will directly overlap with an already-scheduled ABC televised town-hall meeting with Mr. Biden in Philadelphia, which will begin at the same time.

Mr. Biden’s town hall has been on the books since last week, after Mr. Trump, who had recently contracted the coronavirus, rejected plans to convert the second formal presidential debate into a virtual matchup; the debate was eventually canceled.

The NBC event, to be moderated by the “Today” show host Savannah Guthrie, had been contingent on the Trump campaign providing independent proof that the president would not pose a safety risk to the other participants — including NBC crew members, voters and Ms. Guthrie herself.

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As late as Tuesday afternoon, NBC executives were waiting for that proof, but the network determined late Tuesday that it would be comfortable moving forward, according to two people familiar with the planning.

On Wednesday’s “Today” show, the NBC anchor Craig Melvin said the town hall would occur “in accordance with the guidelines set forth by health officials” and proffered a statement from Clifford Lane, a clinical director at the National Institutes of Health.

In the statement, Dr. Lane said he had reviewed medical data about Mr. Trump’s condition, including a so-called P.C.R. test — a widely used diagnostic test for the coronavirus that is considered more reliable than a rapid antigen test — that the N.I.H. “collected and analyzed” on Tuesday. Dr. Lane concluded “with a high degree of confidence” that the president is “not shedding infectious virus,” NBC said.

The network did not explicitly say that Mr. Trump had received a negative result from the P.C.R. test.

Mr. Trump and his aides have not shared extensive details about the president’s medical condition with the public, and over the past few days, NBC executives were no exception. Until late Tuesday, the network had been prepared to cancel the event if the president’s team did not present convincing evidence that Mr. Trump would not potentially infect those around him, one of the people said.

The town hall on Thursday will be held outdoors at the Pérez Art Museum in Miami, and audience members will be required to wear face masks, the network said. Ms. Guthrie and Mr. Trump will be seated at least 12 feet apart.

NBC officials began discussing the possibility of a town hall with the Trump campaign last week, after Mr. Trump pulled out of the second planned presidential debate. The network made clear at the start that it needed outside proof of the president’s medical condition.

NBC officials did not say exactly what testing

Trump praises Barrett’s performance on day one of questioning

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTwo ethics groups call on House to begin impeachment inquiry against Barr Trump relishes return to large rallies following COVID-19 diagnosis McGrath: McConnell ‘can’t get it done’ on COVID-19 relief MORE on Tuesday praised Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett for her performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee and lashed out at Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSenate kicks off fight over Trump’s Supreme Court pick Trump pick noncommittal on recusing from election-related cases Debate is Harris’s turn at bat, but will she score? MORE (D-N.J.) in particular for pressing the judge on the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“I think Amy is doing incredibly well. It’s been a great day,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a campaign rally in Pennsylvania.

The president did not take questions as he departed, but it was apparent he spent a portion of his day watching Barrett’s confirmation hearing. Tuesday marked the second day of the hearing but the first time Barrett took questions from senators.

Trump tweeted shortly before he left about Booker’s line of questioning, which focused on the fate of the ACA.

“How dare failed Presidential Candidate (1% and falling!) @CoryBooker make false charges and statements about me in addressing Judge Barrett,” Trump tweeted of Booker, who dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary months ago.

“Guy is a total loser! I want better Healthcare for far less money, always protecting people with Pre-existing conditions. He has done nothing on Healthcare, cost or otherwise, or virtually anything else. An empty suit!!!” the president added. 

Trump has not presented any health care plan to replace ObamaCare, but his administration is suing to dismantle it. The Supreme Court is slated to hear a case on the health care law next month, something that has been a clear focus for Democrats as they question Barrett.

During his time questioning the judge, Booker pointed to Trump’s tweet while he was campaigning for president that he would appoint only judges who would overturn the Affordable Care Act.

“Is it unreasonable for people to fear… that the ACA would be overturned if you were confirmed to the court?” Booker asked.

“I want to stress to you, Sen. Booker, as I’ve stressed to some of your colleagues today, that I am my own person. I’m independent under Article III, and I don’t take orders from the executive branch or the legislative branch,” Barrett responded.

Booker also asked Barrett whether presidents should commit to a peaceful transfer of power, a clear nod to Trump’s refusal to do so in recent weeks should he lose the election next month. Barrett sought to avoid the question, noting that she felt she may be stepping into a political matter, but said a peaceful transfer of power has been a hallmark of the

FDA pushes back on Trump administration attempt to rebrand ‘emergency authorization’

While Congress mandated earlier this year that Medicare cover the cost of administering a licensed vaccine, the requirement did not include drugs authorized under emergency-use designations. That’s raised the prospect that millions of people could be forced to pay out of pocket unless Congress were to adopt a quick fix.

HHS officials over the past month thought they found a solution, with Charrow arguing that the FDA should make clear that emergency authorization of a Covid-19 vaccine is equal to a “pre-licensure,” and should be covered by Medicare as a result, the officials said.

But Hahn firmly opposed the idea, amid concerns that failing to stick to the FDA’s technical language would erode the agency’s credibility and open it up to accusations that it’s allowing politics to influence its role in the Trump administration’s vaccine hunt.

“Hahn is hell bent against any modification of definitions, because it would be viewed as a politicization of science,” one senior administration official said, adding that while Hahn has so far rebuffed the proposal, some believe the White House could still get involved and demand changes.

Of particular concern, the official said, is that referring to a Covid-19 vaccine as having won a “pre-licensure” would be conflated with the shot being fully licensed by the FDA – a level of regulatory approval that signals the vaccine has met significantly higher standards for safety and effectiveness, and one the agency does not expect to grant to any vaccine candidates any time soon.

President Donald Trump has already spent months contradicting his own health officials involved in the complicated vaccine development process, claiming repeatedly that a viable vaccine is just around the corner and could be delivered faster than the end-of-year target agreed upon by the officials.

Suddenly changing how the FDA labels an eventual coronavirus vaccine could further muddle the situation, FDA officials worried, sparking confusion and deepening distrust of its work toward authorizing a vaccine.

In a statement, an FDA spokesperson pointed to “important substantive differences” between an emergency use authorization and the more stringent process required to seek full licensure of a vaccine.

“There is no such thing as ‘pre-licensure’ or ‘pre-approval’ under the laws FDA administers,” the spokesperson said.

An HHS spokesperson said that its Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is still exploring coverage options for vaccines authorized under an emergency use designation. And two administration officials downplayed the “pre-licensure” concept as an “academic discussion” about safety and effectiveness that never rose to the level of HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

But in talks with Hahn over the past several weeks, HHS officials presented the “pre-licensure” relabeling as the simplest and quickest way to close the Medicare coverage loophole, officials familiar with the conversations said.

The move would also prevent the Trump administration from having to rely on Congress to pass a legislative fix – a path that could get bogged down in gridlock on Capitol Hill.

“They’re trying to get creative – Congress is in disarray and they want a solution

Former Trump doctor Ronny Jackson questions Biden’s mental fitness for office

Ronny Jackson, the former White House physician-turned-GOP congressional candidate, suggested on Tuesday that Democratic nominee Joe Biden is mentally unfit for office, citing what he called cognitive decline.



a man wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera: Former Trump doctor Ronny Jackson questions Biden's mental fitness for office


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Former Trump doctor Ronny Jackson questions Biden’s mental fitness for office

The remarks from Jackson, who has not evaluated Biden, came during a phone call organized by President Trump’s campaign and are part of a sustained effort by Trump’s allies to highlight Biden’s gaffes on the campaign trail, arguing they make him mentally incapable of serving as commander in chief.

Jackson said Tuesday that he was speaking as a “concerned citizen” and not as a Republican congressional candidate.

“As a citizen of this country, I watch Joe Biden on the campaign trail and I am concerned that he does not – am convinced that he does not have the mental capacity, the cognitive ability to serve as our commander in chief and head of state,” Jackson told reporters on the call.

“I really think that he needs some type of cognitive testing before he takes over the reigns as our commander in chief, if that is in the cards,” Jackson added.

Jackson later acknowledged, in response to a question from a reporter, that he has never treated or evaluated Biden and said he was not making a medical assessment of Biden’s mental health.

“I am not making a medical assessment. I actually don’t even practice medicine at this point. I am not doing that,” Jackson said. “I am not trying to remotely diagnose him with anything. I have not accused him of having Alzheimer’s or anything of that nature. I have not made that statement.”

Jackson mentioned a handful of instances from Monday when Biden, who was campaigning in Ohio, could not remember the name of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and mistakenly said he was running for the Senate, not the White House.

In a response to Jackson’s comment, Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement, “I refer you to the first debate.”

Trump and his campaign have been targeting Biden’s mental fitness for months, during which time Biden has built a sizable lead in national polling and an advantage in key battleground states. Trump, meanwhile, has little time to turn his campaign around as Republicans grow concerned about potentially losing the White House and Senate.

Trump’s performance in the first debate against Biden was widely panned by Republicans as a missed opportunity that put scrutiny back on the president instead of Biden. Doug Heye, a former communications director for the Republican National Committee, said the attack on Biden’s gaffes would have been more effective if Trump had executed it during the debate.

“If this is going to be a central part of your theme for your campaign, then you have to attack this tactically. There is no better opportunity for that than the first debate,” Heye told The Hill. “Doing that on a conference call is not going to move the needle.”

On Monday evening, Trump, who

Fauci says large Trump rallies are ‘asking for trouble’ as virus surges.

Even as President Trump returned to the campaign trail in Florida and announced plans to begin a full schedule of rallies, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, warned, “We know that that is asking for trouble when you do that” at a time when coronavirus cases are surging in many states.

Dr. Fauci told CNN on Monday, “We’ve seen that when you have situations of congregate settings where there are a lot of people without masks, the data speak for themselves. It happens. And now is even more so a worse time to do that, because when you look at what’s going on in the United States, it’s really very troublesome.”

He noted that many states were now seeing increases in positive tests — “It’s going in the wrong direction right now,” he said — and suggested that Americans should be “doubling down” on precautions rather than casting them aside.

He said that people should continue to wear masks and practice social distancing — and avoid large gatherings — to prevent new outbreaks.

“That’s just a recipe of a real problem if we don’t get things under control before we get into that seasonal challenge,” he said.

Dr. Fauci’s comments came the day after he objected to a Trump campaign television ad that portrayed him as praising the president’s response to the pandemic.

Dr. Fauci reiterated on Monday that the ad had taken his past remarks out of context, and called his inclusion in it “very disappointing.” He said he had been speaking more broadly about the collaborative efforts of the federal government and was “not a political person.” Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper whether the ad should be taken down, something the Trump campaign says it has no intention of doing, Dr. Fauci said, “I think so.”

In an interview with The Times on Monday, Dr. Fauci said that he had been unsuccessful so far in having the ad removed.

“I wouldn’t know who to contact in the campaign to tell them to pull it down,” he said. “I spoke to someone who I know well in the White House to figure it out for me and tell me how to get it down. I haven’t heard back from them yet.”

Dr. Fauci said that he did not want to be pulled into the fray of the campaign.

“I never in my five decades ever directly or indirectly supported a political candidate and I’m not going to start now,” he said. “I do not want to be involved in it.”

Dr. Fauci made an even more pointed criticism of the Trump campaign in an interview on Monday with The Daily Beast.

“By doing this against my will they are, in effect, harassing me,” he said. But he said he had not thought about quitting — “not in my wildest freakin’ dreams.”

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Trump criticizes Fauci amid disagreement over campaign ad

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTwo ethics groups call on House to begin impeachment inquiry against Barr Trump relishes return to large rallies following COVID-19 diagnosis McGrath: McConnell ‘can’t get it done’ on COVID-19 relief MORE on Tuesday mocked the top U.S. infectious diseases expert Anthony FauciAnthony FauciTrump relishes return to large rallies following COVID-19 diagnosis Doctors urge Michigan stations to stop running Trump ad quoting Fauci Fauci tensions with Trump escalate over campaign ad MORE, suggesting his “prognostications” about the coronavirus have been inaccurate amid a standoff between the doctor and the president’s reelection campaign.

“Actually, Tony’s pitching arm is far more accurate than his prognostications,” Trump tweeted, referencing Fauci’s wild first pitch at the Washington Nationals season opener in July.

The president also appeared to attribute a quote to Fauci that he never said publicly, describing how he and other health officials changed their position on mask usage early in the pandemic.

“ ‘No problem, no masks,’ ” Trump tweeted. 

“WHO no longer likes Lockdowns just came out against. Trump was right. We saved 2,000,000 USA lives!!!” Trump continued. 

Trump’s comments about Fauci come at a time of disagreement between the public health expert and the Trump campaign over the latter’s use of a clip of Fauci in a new advertisement.

The 30-second ad, unveiled last week, was released after Trump was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and seeks to paint a rosy picture of the Trump administration’s response to the virus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans.

It includes clips of Trump spliced with a clip of a Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, during which he says, “I can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more.”

Fauci said over the weekend that his remarks were taken out of context and that he did not consent to being featured in the ad. On Monday, he called on the campaign to take the advertisement down.

Fauci’s remarks were taken from a March Fox News interview in which he characterized the response of the task force in positive terms. The Trump campaign has defended its use of the clip, saying the words were Fauci’s own, and have shown no sign of taking it down.

“These are Dr. Fauci’s own words. The video is from a nationally broadcast television interview in which Dr. Fauci was praising the work of the Trump Administration,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said in a statement Monday.

“The words spoken are accurate, and directly from Dr. Fauci’s mouth. As Dr. Fauci recently testified in the Senate, President Trump took the virus seriously from the beginning, acted quickly, and saved lives,” Murtaugh continued.

Trump in his tweet on Tuesday did not mention the

Trump boasts of Covid-19 immunity at first rally since diagnosis

President Donald Trump boasted about his Covid-19 immunity as he held his first rally since his diagnosis.

Trump staged a vigorous return to the campaign trail Monday night as he walked to the podium in Sanford, Fla., without a mask, throwing campaign merchandise to the crowd. Just hours before he stepped on stage, Trump’s physician announced the president was no longer infectious after testing negative for consecutive days.

To prove his medical team’s point, Trump emphasized his good health to an audience where numerous maskless people could be spotted among the dense crowd: “It does give you a good feeling when you can beat something and now they say you’re immune,” he said at the hourlong rally.

“I feel so powerful,” he said. “I’ll walk into that audience. I’ll walk in there, I’ll kiss everyone in that audience. I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women.”

As Trump acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding the length of his immunity, he accused unspecified people of “reducing” the immunity period to make the virus seem more severe than it actually is. The uncertainty about the length (and strength) of immunity, however, is caused by the lack of information about the virus, which has been infecting humans for less than a year. Experts have only recently documented cases of people becoming reinfected.

The president also pointed out that medical professionals have a better grasp of the virus now than they did six months ago, and said that life would go back to normal — even as health experts warn that the United States could face 200,000 more deaths by 2021. And as he thanked Americans for staying resilient, the crowd chanted, “We love you.”

“I have such respect for the people of this country the way they’ve handled it,” he said. “It’s been an incredible love-fest together.”

And with his promise for normalcy, Trump emphasized that “the cure cannot be worse than the problem itself” as he praised Florida and Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was in the crowd, for opening up businesses and tourism. However, he failed to note that Florida now has the third-largest number of cases out of all of the U.S. states, with 5,570 new confirmed cases on Sunday.

As he pushed for the opening of the economy, he claimed that Democratic nominee Joe Biden would seek a “draconian unscientific lockdown” that would delay recovery for the state.

“When you’re the president, you can’t lock yourself in a basement and say, ‘I’m not gonna bother with the world,’” Trump said. “And it’s risky, but you’ve got to get out.”

In a speech filled with many of his most familiar applause and attack lines, Trump also boasted about the size of his crowd as he mocked Biden for his smaller gatherings.

Anthony Fauci, however, on Monday expressed his wariness about holding large political rallies during a pandemic.

“Put aside the political implications the rally has,” Fauci said on CNN. “Purely for public health, we know that’s asking for trouble when you

Trump says he’s ready to ‘kiss everyone’

President Trump in his return to the campaign trail in Florida on Monday evening boasted he has recovered from COVID-19 and is impervious to the disease that has killed more than 210,000 Americans.

The president, who tested positive on Oct. 1, also indicated he is unconcerned about being contagious and told the audience gathered at Orlando Sanford International Airport that he would be happy to engage in some close contact. 

“One thing with me, the nice part, I went through it, now they say I’m immune. … I feel so powerful,” Trump said. “I’ll walk in there, I’ll kiss everyone in that audience. I’ll kiss the guys, and the beautiful women, and the — everybody. I’ll just give you a big fat kiss.”

Trump spoke for about an hour. While his remarks were short by the standards of his past rallies, which are often about 80 minutes long, it was far longer than any of the brief videos he released while recovering from the virus or his first live speech, which took place at the White House on Saturday and lasted less than 2 minutes. 

The president’s return to the campaign trail came shortly after the White House medical team announced that he tested negative “on consecutive days.” Trump’s return to public events came exactly 10 days after the White House said his symptoms first appeared, which is the period of isolation recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.

Trump, who was treated with steroids and experimental drugs, became ill after his campaign and the White House hosted a series of events that ignored masks and social distancing measures designed to stop the spread of the virus. Over a dozen people linked to those gatherings also tested positive, including senior members of the president’s campaign team and White House staff.

The White House has declined to reveal precisely how many staffers have fallen ill. Trump’s team has also repeatedly refused to say when he last tested negative prior to his diagnosis, raising the possibility that the testing regimen supposedly in place at the White House was not followed and also making it impossible to say whether the president traveled to events while contagious. 

Even after the cluster of cases at the White House, Trump’s Florida rally still didn’t include standard measures designed to minimize risks of coronavirus spread. Guests were packed together and many did not wear masks. 

On stage, Trump, as he has for months, criticized lockdowns and quarantine measures as detrimental to the economy. He encouraged people to ignore them if they choose.

“The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself,” Trump said of the lockdowns.“If you want to stay, stay. Relax. Stay. But, if you want to get out there, get out.”

Donald Trump
President Trump at a campaign rally in Orlando, Fla. (John Raoux/AP)

The president also suggested keeping distance from others was never an option for him.   

“I don’t have to be locked up in my basement and I wouldn’t allow that to happen

Biden’s claim that Trump is ‘pushing to slash Medicare benefits’

The explanation from the Biden campaign was also surprising, So let’s explore this claim in detail. It’s an interesting and complex story.

The Facts

The Biden campaign explained that this line hinged on the fact that President Trump is backing a lawsuit that would nullify the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The Trump administration filed a legal brief on June 25 asking the Supreme Court to strike down the entire law, joining with a group of GOP state attorneys general who argue that the ACA is unconstitutional. The court will hear arguments in the case, known as California v. Texas, on Nov. 10.

The case hinges on the fact that Trump’s 2017 tax law in effect eliminated the ACA’s individual mandate penalty by reducing it to zero. Without the mandate, the whole law should fall, rather than just individual portions, the plaintiffs argue. Trump decided to embrace that argument, rather than say that if one part of the law was unconstitutional, the other parts of the law could survive.

In an effort to reduce the number of people in the United States without health insurance, the ACA set up an insurance-market exchange and provided subsidies to help people buy individual insurance. The law also greatly expanded Medicaid, the health-care program for the poor. To help pay for this, the law also made adjustments to Medicare, mostly big cuts in payments to Medicare providers and a hike in the payroll tax for wealthy taxpayers.

Separately, the law added a handful of additional benefits for people on Medicare, primarily a gradual closing of the coverage gap — “the doughnut hole” — in the Medicare Part D program when coverage ceased for prescription drugs once a limit was reached.

The law also provided some free or reduced cost-sharing for some preventive services, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, as well as a free annual wellness visit. Private insurance plans known as Medicare Advantage also could no longer charge higher cost-sharing amounts than traditional fee-for-service Medicare for certain services, including skilled-nursing facility care, chemotherapy and kidney dialysis.

A Supreme Court amicus brief by AARP, the interest group for the elderly, cited an estimate that 40.1 million people took advantage of at least one Medicare preventive service with no co-pays or deductibles in 2016, while more than 10.3 million Medicare beneficiaries took advantage of an annual wellness visit.

The Biden campaign argues that it’s fair to say that Medicare benefits would be slashed because if the whole law fell, these benefits would disappear, as would every other part of the law.

First of all, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, signed by Trump, sped up closure of the doughnut hole and, as of 2020, there is no longer a coverage gap. Four experts, both inside and outside Congress, told us that even if the ACA was repealed, the doughnut-hole closure is done and cannot be reversed.

(A discordant note was offered by Juliette Cubanski, deputy director of the Program on Medicare Policy at

Trump tests negative for COVID-19, is not infectious

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump has tested negative for COVID-19 and he is not infectious to others, the White House physician said on Monday, 10 days after Trump announced he had contracted the coronavirus.

In a memo released by the White House just hours before Trump was due to resume holding campaign rallies, Dr. Sean Conley said the president had tested negative on consecutive days using an Abbott Laboratories <ABT.N> BinaxNOW antigen card.

Conley said the negative tests and other clinical and laboratory data “indicate a lack of detectable viral replication.”

Trump’s medical team had determined that based on the data and guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “the president is not infectious to others,” Conley said.

Trump returns to the campaign trail on Monday night with a rally in Sanford, Florida, his first since he disclosed on Oct. 2 that he tested positive for COVID-19.

Critics fault Trump for failing to encourage supporters at campaign events, and even White House staff, to wear protective masks and abide by social-distancing guidelines. At least 11 close Trump aides have tested positive for the coronavirus.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Chris Reese and Bill Berkrot)

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