US elections live updates: Biden tries to make gains on economy

Biden heads to Michigan in focus on keeping jobs in the country, as Trump maintains solid approval on economy.

  • Democratic candidate Joe Biden heads to Michigan on Wednesday where he is expected to emphasise keeping jobs in the US, as President Donald Trump continues to poll well on the economy. 

  • Amid uproar about reports Trump disparaged war dead, Trump is expected to announce a further troop reduction in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

  • New Hampshire primary on Tuesday saw Trump-candidates win party’s nominations for House and Senate race. 

  • Vice President Mike Pence will participate in a Pennsylvania anti-abortion rights event, Kamala Harris will hold virtual fundraisers on Wednesday, with 54 days until the November 3 vote.

Here are the latest updates: 

Wednesday, September 9

12:30 GMT – Barr defends Justice Dept intervention in defamation case against Trump

US Attorney General William Barr has defended his department’s decision to intervene and defend President Donald Trump against a defamation lawsuit brought by author E Jean Carroll who has alleged that Trump raped her in the 1990s.

“This was a normal application of the law. The law is clear. It is done frequently,” Barr said during a press conference in Chicago, noting that elected officials who answer questions about their personal lives in the course of their federal employment can be defended by government attorneys. 

On Tuesday, the Justice Department lawyers filed court papers aiming to shift the case into federal court and to substitute the US for Trump as the defendant. That means the federal government, rather than Trump himself, might have to pay damages if any are awarded.

The move comes amid concerns that Barr has gone out of his way to intervene in other legal cases involving Trump or his allies, including trying to decrease the amount of prison time his office sought for Trump ally Roger Stone. 

12:00 ET – Trump said he intentionally minimised dangers of coronavirus: Woodward

A new book by respected journalist Bob Woodward says that Trump understood the danger of the coronavirus in the early days of the outbreak, but intentionally minimised those dangers in public statements. 

On a February 7 call with Woodward, Trump told the reporter the virus was “deadly stuff” and said it was more deadly than “even your strenuous flu”, according to the new book. The call came as Trump was telling the country the virus was no more dangerous than a seasonal flu, while insisting the government had it under control. 

In a March 19 interview, Trump told Woodward he was intentionally minimising the danger. 

“I wanted to always play it down,” the president told Woodward, a Washington Post journalist whose reporting uncovered the Watergate Scandal that lead to the resignation of former President Richard Nixon.

11:30 ET – Trump expected to address troop withdrawal 

The US military on Wednesday announced it will reduce its presence in Iraq from 5,200 to 3,000 troops this month, formalising a move that had been long expected.

The US and Iraq in June affirmed their commitment to the reduction of American troops in the country in coming months, with no plans by Washington to maintain permanent bases or a permanent military presence.

Trump, who had campaigned on a policy of ending US involvement in “endless wars”, is expected to address the drawdown at a news conference.

11:00 ET – Trump shrugs traditional prep with three weeks until first debate: Report

Trump has not held a single mock debate, and does not plan to conduct a formal practice round before his first debate face-off with Joe Biden, according to a report. 

Biden and Trump will take the debate stage for the first time on September 29, but the president has largely shrugged off traditional debate preparation, according to NBC news. Trump took part traditional preparation before the 2016 debates with then opponent Hillary Clinton, which included having former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie play Clinton. 

Trump has joked to aides that he’s been preparing for debates since he was born. He has instead been preparing through informal discussions with allies and briefings with administration officials on topics that are expected to come up, the report said. 

Some advisors in Trump’s circle have sought to raise expectations for Biden’s debate performance to will the president to more fully prepare, while other have supported his approach, arguing he performs better when unscripted or rehearsed. 

10:30 ET – Biden to propose ‘offshoring tax penalty’

Biden is visiting the battleground state of Michigan, where he will outline new proposals to tax companies that move US jobs overseas and offer incentives for companies to invest in domestic operations.

In a visit to the Detroit suburb of Warren, Biden will propose an “offshoring tax penalty” on profits from products made overseas and sold in the US, a Biden adviser told Reuters news agency. 

Biden’s plan envisions a companion 10 percent tax credit for companies that reopen closed or closing facilities, bringing back offshored jobs or expanding manufacturing payroll, among other domestic investments.

The announcement is an apparent response to Trump’s “America First” platform. While Biden has led Trump in virtually every national poll for months, the surveys suggest the economy still could prove a relative strength for Trump despite the downturn wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

10:00 ET – Cohen says Trump ‘not joking’ about wanting to stay beyond two terms

Michael Cohen, a former Trump fixer who had a high-profile falling out with the president, has said Trump is “not joking” about his desire to stay in office beyond two terms. 

Trump repeatedly referenced staying in power beyond the next four years, encouraging chants of “12 more years” at his events. 

“He wants to be an autocrat. He wants to be the president of this country for life,” Cohen told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, amid a press tour promoting his newly released book. 

09:30 ET – Zuckerberg says ‘just wrong’ to call Facebook a right-wing echo chamber

Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg, in an interview, said it was “just wrong” to consider the social media site a right-wing echo chamber, despite conservatives topping engagement on the platform. 

“It’s true that partisan content often has kind of a higher percent of people … engaging with it, commenting on it, liking it,” Zuckerberg told Axios on HBO. “But I think it’s important to differentiate that from, broadly, what people are seeing and reading and learning about on our service.”

On Thursday, Facebook released a set of sweeping policy changes aimed at combatting misinformation and limiting politicians’ influence on the platform, amid increasing concern about its inflated role in US elections.

09:00 ET – Trump-backed candidates win New Hampshire primary

Trump’s preferred candidates for Senate and House of Representatives seats won Republican primaries in New Hampshire, but face an uphill battle in the general election in the state where Democrats have a slight edge.

Lawyer Bryant “Corky” Messner, 63, who proudly campaigned on his Trump endorsement, defeated retired Army general Don Bolduc for the Republican nomination for Senate, according to the New York Times said. He will face incumbent Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who easily won her primary, in November.

In New Hampshire’s first congressional district, a 31-year-old Trump-endorsed candidate, Matt Mowers, beat a crowded Republican field for the party’s nomination to take on freshman Democratic Representative Chris Pappas on November 3, the New York Times said.

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Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the US elections. This is Joseph Stepansky.

Read all the updates from yesterday (September 8) here.

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