US elections live news: Romney for filling Supreme Court vacancy

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  • Senator Mitt Romney said on Tuesday he supports filling a Supreme Court vacancy before the election, all-but-assuring Republicans have the needed votes to confirm a potential nominee.

  • Trump campaigns in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, as the vacant Supreme Court seat of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sparks a new rallying cry among supporters: “Fill that seat”.  

  • Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris heads to Michigan, where she will hold a round table with Black men in Flint. 

  • Biden will not be on the road on Monday, but will hold a virtual fundraiser
  • Trump will deliver a pre-recorded speech at the United Nations General Assembly, with 42 days until November 3.

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

Here are the latest updates:

Tuesday, September 22

12:30 ET – Poll: Biden and Trump neck and neck in Georgia

A new poll conducted by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs found Biden and Trump neck with likely voters. 

Trump and Biden both had 47 percent support,  with an additional one percent of voters backing Libertarian Jo Jorgensen.

Only four percent were undecided in the survey of 1,150 likely voters, which was conducted September 11 to 20.

georgia voter

Georgia has long been considered a conservative bastion [File: Elijah Nouvelage/AFP]

12:00 ET – Trump confirms he will announce Supreme Court nominee on Saturday

Trump has said he will announce his Supreme Court nominee on Saturday.

Trump, in a tweet, said he would make the announcement at the White House. 

He has already said he is considering five women for the position, with federal appeals court judges Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa thought to be at the top of the list.

11:30 ET – Michigan: No charge in toilet election display                  

A prosecutor in Michigan has flushed a complaint about a toilet that was promoted as a place to drop absentee ballots.

The election clerk in Ingham County informed police about a toilet on the front lawn of a home in Mason, near Lansing. A sign said, “Place mail in ballots here.”

Barb Byrum, a Democrat, said it’s a felony to take illegal possession of absentee ballots, But there was no evidence of an intent to violate Michigan law, said the office of county prosecutor Carol Siemon, a Democrat.

“Instead, this seemed to be an effort to make a humorous political statement,” the statement said.

More than 2 million Michigan voters could cast mail ballots this fall. Trump has repeatedly perpetuated unfounded claims that mail voting leads to higher rates of fraud.

11:00 ET – Trump, in UNGA speech, says UN must ‘hold China accountable’

Trump has told the UN General Assembly  that China must be held accountable by the world for its actions over the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a recorded message played to the annual meeting of the UN, Trump accused Beijing of allowing the coronavirus to “leave China and infect the world.”

“The United Nations must hold China accountable for their actions,” he said.

Trump, who faces a difficult reelection fight on November 3, has sought to deflect overwhelming voter criticism of his handling of the pandemic by blaming China. World leaders are speaking virtually to the UN session in New York, due to Covid-19 restrictions. 

10:30 ET – Biden declines to answer question on packing the court

Biden, in a local television news interview, declined to answer a question about whether he would pack the Supreme Court – or pass legislation to expand the number of judges on the bench – if elected and Democrats win the Senate.

“It’s a legitimate question, but let me tell you why I’m not going answer that question. Because it will shift the focus, that’s what he wants, he never wants to talk about the issue at hand and he always tries to change the subject,” Biden told WBAY-TV late Monday, referring to Trump. 

“Let’s say I answer that question, then the whole debates gonna be about what Biden said or didn’t say, Biden said he would or wouldn’t. The discussion should be about why he is moving in a direction that’s totally inconsistent with what founders wanted,” he said. “The Constitution says voters get to pick a president who gets to make the pick and the senate gets to decide.”

Biden blasts Trump’s plan for US Supreme Court vacancy

10:00 ET – Romney’s support gives Republican senators needed vote

Mitt Romney has said he supports moving forward with confirming a new Supreme Court justice before the election, giving Republicans the needed votes to move forward and scuttling Democrats hopes of further defections from party ranks. 

“I intend to follow the Constitution and precedent in considering the president’s nominee. If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications,” Romney said in a statement.

So far, Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins are the only Republicans in the chamber to oppose Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan to move ahead with a confirmation. 

Romney had voted to convict Trump during the Senate impeachment trial, the only Republican to do so, raising the prospect he may break from the party again on the confirmation. 

Mitt Romney

Senator Mitt Romney has said he supports moving forward with Supreme Court justice vote before the election [Patrick Semansky/The Associated Press]

09:30 ET – Report: Putin ‘probably directed’ influence operation to hurt Biden at the polls

A top-secret CIA assessment has concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “probably directing” an election influence campaign to “denigrate” Biden and influence the election, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday, citing two sources who had seen the report. 

The influence operation involves Ukrainian legislator, Andriy Derkach, who is connected to Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. It says Derkach tried to disseminate disparaging information about Biden in the US through lobbyists, Congress, the media and contacts with figures close to the president.

The intelligence community had previously determined that Putin had directed a 2016 influence campaign that involved hacking Democratic National Committee emails and influencing voters through social media and staged in-person events. 

09:00 ET – Poll: Most voters think next president should pick new justice

A new Politico/Morning Consult poll found that half of registered voters believe a new Supreme Court Justice nominee should be selected by whoever wins on November 3, because the election is less than 50 days away. 

That’s opposed to 37 percent who believe Trump should pick the nominee because “he is the current president”, the poll found. 

Nearly 80 percent of Democrats think that the election winner should choose the nominee. Meanwhile, 71 percent of Republicans think Trump should make the pick. For Independents, 49 percent think the winner of the election should make the selection, while 31 percent think Trump should do it. 


Read all the updates from yesterday (September 21) here.

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, Al Jazeera English reports

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