Thursday morning news – October 15, 2020

Democrats press Barrett on presidential pardon powers » Democratic senators once again grilled Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Wednesday. 

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy asked Barrett…

LEAHY: Would you agree, first, that nobody is above the law, not the president, not you, not me. Is that correct?
BARRETT: I agree, no one is above the law. 

He then asked her if a sitting president has authority to pardon himself from wrongdoing. 

BARRETT: Senator Leahy, so far as I know, the question has never been litigated. That question has never risen. That question may or may not arise, but it’s one that calls for legal analysis of what the scope of the pardon power is.  

She said for that reason, she could not offer a view during the hearing. 

Barrett once clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia and at times she took exception to some lines of questioning that she felt implied she would be Scalia 2.0.  

Barrett is heard here responding to a question from Delaware Senator Chris Coons. 

BARRETT: I hope that you’re not suggesting that I don’t have my own mind or that I couldn’t think independently or that I would just decided – oh let me see what Justice Scalia has said about this in the past, because I assure you, I have my own mind. 

And Barrett pledged to keep an open mind on all cases if she’s confirmed to the high court. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee will reconvene this morning for the fourth and final day of the hearing. Lawmakers will hear from eight outside witnesses about her fitness for the high court. 

Trump, Biden to speak in dueling town halls » President Trump and his Democratic opponent Joe Biden will not participate in a town hall debate tonight as originally planned. But both will make prime-time appearances. WORLD’s Anna Johansen reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The debate commission scrapped tonight’s second presidential debate after President Trump tested positive for COVID-19 and said he wasn’t interested in debating virtually

But NBC News has agreed to put the president before voters in a one-hour town hall event tonight. That after the president submitted to an independent coronavirus test that came back negative. 

The announcement Wednesday sets up dueling town halls. Former Vice President Joe Biden is appearing in a similar town hall event televised by ABC.

NBC said Trump would be at least 12 feet from moderator Savannah Guthrie and the audience.

Both town halls will begin at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen. 

Republicans blast Twitter, Facebook for suppressing Biden report » Republicans on Capitol Hill say Twitter and Facebook are once again practicing anti-conservative censorship and they demand an explanation. 

Twitter and Facebook on Wednesday suppressed the distribution of a New York Post report on the Biden family’s dealings in Ukraine. 

The Post called its report a “smoking gun” revealing corrupt dealings between former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and a Ukrainian gas company. 

Both social media platforms cast doubt on the veracity of the article. It was based on information from a copy of a hard drive that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani obtained and gave to the Post.

The paper said the hard drive contained emails between Hunter Biden and an executive at Burisma. Hunter served on that company’s board of directors. 

If authentic, the emails would show a Burisma executive asking the Bidens to use their political influence to help the company and later thanking them for doing so. 

The Biden campaign said an alleged meeting between the then–vice president and the Burisma contact never happened

2020 Census count ends today » The Census Bureau will wrap up its 2020 survey today after the Supreme Court earlier this week allowed the Trump administration to end the count. WORLD’s Paul Butler reports. 

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: The census count was originally supposed to end in July, but that was before the pandemic. In April, the Census Bureau said it would need until Oct. 31st. But it later announced a new end date of September 30th

The Trump administration argued that it needed three months to complete the process and deliver final results to Congress by the year-end deadline. 

But multiple parties filed lawsuits, saying Sept. 30th was too early to ensure an accurate count. A federal judge agreed and suspended the deadline. 

But on Tuesday, the Supreme Court overturned the lower court ruling and ordered the count to stop today

That was a legal win for the Trump administration though plaintiffs still managed to extend the deadline by two additional weeks through legal action. 

The government uses census data to determine how many seats each state holds in the U.S. Congress. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Paul Butler. 

American, Russian cosmonauts blast off for space station » American Kate Rubins and two Russian cosmonauts blasted off from Kazakhstan Wednesday. 

AUDIO: 3, 2, 1, and liftoff. Kate Rubins, Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov now on their way to the International Space Station.

A few short hours later, they docked safely at the space station.

Rubins said the scientists will run numerous experiments.

RUBINS: We are planning to try some really interesting things like bioprinting tissues and growing cells in space, and of course continuing our work on sequencing DNA. 

They’ll also try to find the source of an oxygen leak on the station that hasn’t posed any immediate danger to the crew. 

They’re expected to spend about six months aboard the space station.

(Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times via AP, Pool) Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett testifies during the third day of her confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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