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2020 election live updates: Biden releases taxes ahead of debate with Trump; lawyer asks that Michael Flynn not get pardon

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 9/29/2020 Sean Rossman, USA TODAY
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President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden face off for the first time of the 2020 campaign Tuesday evening in Cleveland, the site of the first of three debates between the two presidential candidates. 

The debate is from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. EST at Case Western Reserve University. "Fox News Sunday" anchor Chris Wallace is the moderator. You can tune into USA TODAY's debate live stream and watch it live at debates2020.usatoday.com.

Biden continues to lead Trump in national polls, an advantage Trump is trying to narrow as Election Day approaches.

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Expect the debate to touch on topics like the Supreme Court and Trump's nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, racial unrest over the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

a person sitting on a stage in front of a blue wall: The stage of the first presidential debate as seen Mondya at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. © Saul Loeb, AFP via Getty Images The stage of the first presidential debate as seen Mondya at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

Analysts and historians say the contest could be vicious with personal attacks extending to family members of the candidates. Both have spent the past few days practicing, with friends and lawyers playing the role of their opponent

The latest: 

📊 What the polls are saying: USA TODAY's analysis of polling data shows Biden widened his lead over Trump slightly over the past week. The former vice president leads Trump by 7.2 percentage points.

📆 35 days until Election Day, eight days until the vice presidential debate, 113 days until Inauguration Day, 94 days left in 2020.

🗳️ Voting: See USA TODAY's Voter Guide for information on registering to votewhen your state begins voting and what the candidates think about the issues

Election updates made easy: Sign up for text alerts for free notes from USA TODAY or our fact check newsletter.

We will update this article throughout the day. You can follow all of USA TODAY's politics reporters on Twitter or subscribe to our daily On Politics newsletter

Joe Biden paid $288,000 in federal income taxes in 2019, newly released tax returns show

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden paid $287,693 in federal income taxes in 2019, according to tax returns the Biden campaign released on Tuesday ahead of the first presidential debate.

The documents show Biden and his wife Jill had an adjusted gross income of $985,233 last year. Their release comes after The New York Times on Sunday reported President Donald Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency and his first year in office.

"The American people deserve transparency from their leaders," Biden tweeted, "it's why as of today, I've released 22 years of my tax returns."

The Biden campaign also released the 2019 tax returns of vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff. Harris and Emhoff, an attorney, paid $1,054,847 in federal income taxes in 2019, documents show, and posted an adjusted gross income of $3.1 million. Harris released her previous 15 years of tax returns last year.

The Biden campaign had already released tax returns for 2016, 2017 and 2018.  The couple paid $1.5 million in federal income taxes in 2018, $3.7 million in 2017 and $91,000 in 2018.

The Bidens’ incomes in 2019 fell sharply from 2018, when the couple reported a gross adjusted income of $4.6 million. The couple reported gross adjusted incomes of $11 million in 2018 and $396,552 in 2017.

The Biden campaign’s pre-debate release was a clear effort to put the focus on Trump, who in some years paid no taxes at all, the New York Times reported, thanks to business losses and write-offs that have come into question.

Trump has refused to release any of his tax returns, and the details of 2019 tax return has not been reported.

Although Biden has not publicly commented on Trump’s income taxes, his campaign pounced on the issue quickly after the Times story was published, launching an online “Trump tax calculator” where individuals can see how much they paid in federal income taxes compared to Trump.

–  Joey Garrison

Michael Flynn's lawyer: Don't pardon him

A lawyer for former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn told U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan on Tuesday that she recently updated President Donald Trump on the case and asked him not to issue a pardon for her client.

The hearing comes weeks after a federal appeals court ruled that Sullivan did not have to immediately dismiss the prosecution just because the Justice Department wants him to.


Video: Chaotic clash in Cleveland: Five takeaways from first U.S. presidential debate (Reuters)

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- Associated Press

'Rapid response' or spin cycle: Aides to Trump, Biden get busy

Anyone on a campaign email list – journalists, donors, high-intensity voters – are about to have their inboxes inundated.

Communications aides to Donald Trump and Joe Biden, in Cleveland and in Washington, will be sending thousands of "rapid response" emails and social media posts throughout the night as the candidates duke it out on stage on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic.

The goal: To influence coverage of the debate.

As Trump and Biden make their cases, party officials will send out documentation and video to "influencers" designed to bolster their candidate's case or – more likely – attack the other guy.

Members of the Republican National Committee said they will focus on national and local reporter lists, as well as Black media. They will include post-debate remarks by GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel that will be translated into Chinese, Vietnamese, Mandarin and Spanish.

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"While President Trump takes Biden to task on stage, the RNC and Trump Victory will be using the full force of our operation off stage to remind the American people of Biden’s disastrous 47-year record," McDaniel said.

Democrats will be doing much the same thing with respect to Trump's record.

In a statement, the Democratic National Committee said it will be combining with Biden's rapid response team to crank out video clips, graphics and fact checks in response to Trump.

The "war room" of the Democratic National Committee "has spent more than four years monitoring and gathering information on Trump," the DNC said in a statement. It "has a robust inventory of research, video and expertise that is ready to be deployed during and around debates."

The Democrats' plans include tweets fact-checking Trump from the new Twitter account @Truth

– David Jackson in Cleveland

How Trump, Biden prepped for debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump have relied on friends to help them prepare for Tuesday's first presidential debate in Cleveland.

Joe Biden huddled with his team of senior advisers in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, last week and turned to Bob Bauer, a senior Biden adviser and former White House general counsel, to play the role of Trump during mock debates.

Trump said Sunday he has had practice sessions with the help of friends, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and that "a combination of these two" have portrayed Biden.

- David Jackson, Michael Collins and Joey Garrison

Mock debates? Briefing books?: How Trump and Biden are preparing for their first debate in Cleveland

How to watch the Trump-Biden debate in Cleveland

The highly anticipated first match-up between Democratic nominee Joe Biden and incumbent Republican President Donald Trump is finally here.

The presidential debate Tuesday will be hosted in Cleveland at Case Western Reserve University.

The debate will air from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. EST and will be moderated by "Fox News Sunday" anchor Chris Wallace. 

Viewers can stream the match-up live at USATODAY.com with real-time facts and context from USA TODAY's team of experts showing on-screen during the debate. The debate also will be aired on most major networks and cable news channels, including Fox News, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, PBS and C-SPAN.

- Savannah Behrmann

How to watch tonight: How to watch the first presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump

Amy Coney Barrett meets with Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill 

Federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett is on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to meet with Republican senators ahead of her Supreme Court confirmation hearings

Barrett has no scheduled meetings with Democrats Tuesday. She first met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Vice President Mike Pence.

"We're ... glad to get the process started," McConnell said.

She's also meeting with key Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee, the panel overseeing nominations, including Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah; and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who chairs the panel. 

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What happens next: What happens next in the Senate confirmation process

- Nicholas Wu 

Democrats pitch $2.2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus plan

House Democrats unveiled a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill Monday in a longshot push to break the impasse on relief negotiations before the election, though the bill is likely to face opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate if it passes the House.  

Many of the benefits previously approved by Congress ran out earlier this year, leaving millions of Americans waiting for aid. The $600 federal benefit to unemployment benefits ran out in July, a loan forgiveness program for small businesses expired, and airlines have warned of mass layoffs as support for the industry expired. 

The bill, an updated version of the legislation passed earlier by House Democrats, provides another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, reauthorizes the small business lending program, brings back the $600 federal boost to the unemployment benefit through January, and provides assistance for the airline industry.

COVID-19 stimulus: House Democrats introduce $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, unlikely to pass in Senate

- Nicholas Wu

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 2020 election live updates: Biden releases taxes ahead of debate with Trump; lawyer asks that Michael Flynn not get pardon

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