- Mike Pence and Kamala Harris will face off in their only vice-presidential debate on Wednesday, after a spat over the event’s coronavirus precautions.
- Donald Trump and Joe Biden are set to lay low, with the president as of Monday “not an entirely out of the woods” with his coronavirus infection.
- Early voting begins in Arizona, a battleground that has become increasingly competitive for Biden.
- With Trump still recovering from the coronavirus, the next steps for his campaign remain uncertain with 27 days left until the November 3 election.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the United States elections. This is Joseph Stepansky.
Wednesday, October 7:
11:30 ET – Texas high court blocks Houston plan to offer mail ballots
The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that 2 million Houston voters cannot receive unsolicited mail ballot applications from local elections officials, who have sought to expand ways to vote in November in the nation’s third-largest county.
The decision by the all-Republican court is the latest defeat in a string of losses for Democrats whose efforts to change Texas voting laws during the coronavirus pandemic have largely failed.
Polls show unusually tight races this year in America’s biggest red state, intensifying battles over voting access. Texas is one of just five states not allowing widespread mail-in voting this year.
Republican Governor Greg Abbott has resisted calls to expand eligibility and courts have sided with GOP leaders who say fear of catching COVID-19 doesn’t qualify voters for mail-in ballots.
11:00 ET – Meadows says ‘safety protocols in place’ for Trump Oval office return
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows says they have “safety protocols in place” if and when the president, who is still infected with COVID-19, decides to go back to work in the Oval Office.
“His schedule right now is fluid, we’re looking at his prognosis from a health standpoint, he wanted to go to the Oval yesterday. If he decides to go the Oval, we’ve got safety protocols there,” said Meadows while talking to reporters on the White House driveway Wednesday. “Not only from a PPE standpoint, but from a ventilation standpoint in the Oval where we can actually work to that in as well. ”
This comes after President Donald Trump, said to be making progress in his recovery, tweeted his eagerness to return to the campaign trail even as the outbreak that has killed more than 210,000 Americans reached ever more widely into the upper echelons of the U.S. government.
Trump has been working out of makeshift office space on the ground floor of the White House residence, in close proximity to the White House Medical Unit’s office suite, with only a few aides granted a face-to-face audience.
10:30 ET – Appeals court: Trump must turn over taxes to prosecutor
Trump’s accountant must turn over his tax records to a New York state prosecutor, an appeals court ruled Wednesday in a decision that likely sets up a second trip to the US Supreme Court over the issue.
The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said in a written decision that a stay of a lower-court decision will remain in effect so Trump’s lawyers can appeal the ruling to the high court.
Part of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr probe pertains to an investigation related to payoffs to two women — porn actress Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal — to keep them quiet during the 2016 presidential campaign about alleged extramarital affairs with Trump. Trump has denied the affairs.
Ruling comes days after the New York Times released a bombshell report on Trump’s taxes that showed, among other things, that he paid only $750 in taxes in 2016 and 2017.
10:00 ET – Who has tested positive in Trump’s orbit?
A growing number of White House staff and senior Republicans have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since United States President Donald Trump revealed he had contracted the disease.
The infections have roiled campaigning for the November 3 presidential election, rattled financial markets and slowed the work of Congress, with the Senate vowing to delay any votes now that three members of the Republican majority have tested positive.
Several people who met with Trump last week said they had since tested negative, but it can take days for someone who has been exposed to the virus to develop symptoms or to test positive.
Find out who’s who here.
09:30 ET – Pence gives in to Plexiglass at debate: Report
Pence acquiesced to the use of Plexiglass barriers on Tuesday night, after his team initially objected, saying they were not medically necessary.
Pence’s team backed down following a series of talks, sources familiar with the situation told Politico.
The barriers had reportedly been agreed to earlier in the week by both campaigns before Pence’s about-face on Tuesday.
09:00 ET – Pence-Harris debate takes on heightened importance: Analysis
Even if Donald Trump had not become the international poster child for COVID-19, he was always destined to loom over the vice-presidential debate in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, especially after his disastrous opening encounter with Joe Biden, debate analyst Alan Schroeder writes for Al Jazeera.
Now, the president’s illness – and the uncertainty shrouding the state of his health – present Republican running mate Mike Pence with a tricky challenge. The situation also complicates the task of Democratic nominee Kamala Harris, leaving her with a delicate line to walk. Even in absentia, even from his sickbed, Trump commands centre stage at the vice-presidential debate.
The debate between Pence and Harris, which begins at 9pm ET (01:00GMT) has the potential to shatter viewership records for vice-presidential debates, which normally draw much smaller audiences than their top-of-the-ticket counterparts. The exception was Biden’s debate against vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin in 2008.
Read more here.
Read all the updates from Tuesday, (October 6) here.