Trump is traveling to California amid wildfires that have ravaged the state [File: John G Mabanglo/EPA]

Biden calls Trump climate 'arsonist': US election updates

Trump goes to California to meet with wildfire responders, as Biden derides 'climate denial'.


These were the updates:

Monday, September 14

19:30 ET - Kamala Harris speaks to virtual fundraisers for Biden

Senator Kamala Harris hosted separate virtual fundraisers with former Democratic presidential candidates Walter Mondale and Hillary Clinton.

Harris outlined the Biden campaign's policy positions on health care, promoting wearing of masks, immigration and policing reforms and creating federal incentives for businesses to manufacture products in the US.

One of the first things a Biden administration would do, if elected, is "create a pandemic board that will oversee testing," Harris said. And Biden would push legislation in Congress to "deal with systemic racism".

18:30 ET - Trump hosts roundtable with 'Latinos for Trump' in Arizona

"We are here to discuss my administration's unwavering devotion to Hispanic Americans," Trump said at an event attended by a live audience at the Arizona Grand Resort hotel in Phoenix, biggest city in Arizona. 

Arizona is a battleground state in the race for president where Biden leads Trump by 5 percentage points in opinion polls, although Trump claimed a new survey showed him leading Biden.

Latinos account for nearly a quarter - 24 percent - of all eligible voters in Arizona.

17:00 ET - At fundraiser, Biden blasts Trump 'assault on the Justice Department'

Biden, appearing at on a digital afternoon, blasted what he called Trump's "open assault on the Justice Department".

The department, under Attorney General William Barr, has been criticised for several actions that appeared politically motivated, including the pardoning of Trump ally Roger Stone. 

"One of the worst things he's done is launch an open assault on the Justice Department. You don't need me to tell you that. Ask the department prosecutor that refused to disagree with him,” Biden said. “He used it to keep his tax returns from seeing the light of day, weaponized it to make specious arguments against laws passed by Congress like Obamacare". 

"Be clear, the attorney general and department exist to serve and protect the American people, not the private political interests of a president," he added. 

16:30 ET - Trump tweets 'I do' to four hour Joe Rogan interview

Trump has indicated he would be interested in participating in a four hour debate moderated by Joe Rogan, a popular US podcast host and television personality. 

Former Mixed Martial Artist Tim Kennedy tweeted that Rogan had offered to moderate a longform debate between Trump and Biden, tweeting: "Who wants this?"

Trump retweeted the tweet, saying "I do". 

For several reasons, it's unlikely such an event would actually happen. The Commission on Presidential Debates has already scheduled three debates between Trump and Biden. Trump's campaign has pushed for a fourth, believing Trump will do well in the forum. The commission had denied that request.
Trump performance during the 2016 presidential debates are credited with boosting his support [File: Mark Ralston/Reuters]

16:00 ET - California officials push back on Trump's climate comments

California Governor Gavin Newsom has told Trump his state can do a better job of forest management, but added it is "self-evident that climate change is real and that is exacerbating this".

Trump and Newsom participated in a briefing the deadly fires that have forced thousands of residents out of their homes along the West Coast. Trump has repeatedly discounted the impact of climate change and endorsed raking forests as a means of combating wildfires.

Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, told Trump that "if we ignore that science and sort of put our heads in the sand and think it's all about vegetation management, we're not going to succeed together in protecting California."

Trump replied: "It'll start getting cooler. You just watch."

Crowfoot said: "I wish science agreed with you."

"Well, I don't think science knows actually," Trump responded. 

15:15 ET - Wisconsin readies for mail voting disruption

Election officials in Wisconsin are awaiting a state Supreme Court ruling that could upend mail voting in the state days before ballots are set to be sent out to the over 1 million registered voters who have requested them.  

On Thursday, the state's supreme court ordered a pause to sending out hundreds of thousands of mail ballots as it mulls whether the ballots should be reprinted to include Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins. 

Hawkins, who is running as a progressive, has reportedly received support from Republican backers, believing his candidacy could siphon votes away from Joe Biden in the key battleground state, which Trump won by a tiny margin in 2016.
Experts expect as many as half of US voters to cast ballots by mail [File: Nati Harnik/The Associated Press]

14:30 ET - Trump stresses 'forest management' in California

Trump has landed in Sacramento, California amid hazy skies, and immediately blamed "forest management" for the fires that have swept across the region since early August. 

"We have to do a lot about forest management, obviously forest management in California is very important," Trump said. "Now it extends to Washington, it extends also to Oregon."

Trump was asked if climate change was also part of the problem, in combination with forest management.

"I think a lot of things are possible," he said. 

Trump said he would soon meet with Governor Gavin Newsom during what is expected to be a brief trip. All three Democratic governors of California, Washington, and Oregon have said Climate Change is partially to blame for the fires. 

14:00 ET - Biden calls Trump 'climate arsonist'

Biden has condemned Trump's "climate denial" while calling him a "climate arsonist" moments before the president arrived in wildfire-ravaged California, where he's set to meet with local and federal responders.

"If we have four more years of Trump's climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires? How many suburban neighborhoods will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms?" Biden said. 

"If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more of America ablaze? If you give a climate denier 4 more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised when more of America is under water?" said Biden, before detailing his plans to prioritise renewable energy.

Democrats have said the West Coast fires are clearly related to Climate Change, while Trump has portrayed the blazes as the product of poor forest management.
A man carries a bucket of water to put out a tree still smoldering on his property in Mill City, Oregon [File: John Locher/the Associated Press] 

13:30 ET - Poll shows Americans care about 'law and order', split on candidate

A new Monmouth University Poll found that most Americans are concerned with maintaining law and order, but neither candidate has a clear advantage on the issue. 

The poll found that 65 percent of Americans say maintaining law and order is a major problem in the US right now.  About 52 percent of those polled thought Joe Biden could maintain law and order if elected, while 48 percent said Trump could. 

Meanwhile, 61 percent of Americans polled said Trump's handling has made matters worse.

A poll released on September 4 by ABC News/Ipsos found that 55 percent of Americans believe Trump's rhetoric on the protests has made the situation. Just 13 percent believed his comments made things better.
Portland Police officers disperse a crowd of protesters after a Molotov cocktail was thrown on the 100th consecutive night of protests in Portland, Oregon on September 6 [File: Caitlin Ochs/Reuters]

13:15 ET - Impeachment witness Vindman: Trump is Putin's 'useful idiot'

A key witness in the impeachment proceeding against Trump, former National Security Council Ukraine expert Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, has called Trump a "useful idiot" for Putin in a newly published interview. 

"President Trump should be considered to be a useful idiot and a fellow traveler, which makes him an unwitting agent of Putin," Vindman told the Atlantic Magazine, when asked if he thought Trump was an asset of Russian intelligence.

When asked if Vindman, who retired from the military in July citing a retaliatory campaign against him, thought Russia was blackmailing Trump, he replied: "They may or may not have dirt on him, but they don't have to use it."

"They have more effective and less risky ways to employ him. He has aspirations to be the kind of leader that Putin is, and so he admires him. He likes authoritarian strongmen who act with impunity, without checks and balances. So he'll try to please Putin," he said.
Alexander Vindman, National Security Council Director for European Affairs, testified before the House Intelligence Committee during the impeachment inquiry into Trump's dealings with Ukraine [AFP]

13:00 ET - Pence renews 'law and order' message in Wisconsin

Pence visited Janesville, Wisconsin on Monday, renewing the Trump campaign's "law and order" platform in the key battleground state, which became a hotspot of civil and racial unrest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. 

Pence referenced the ambush shooting of two deputy sheriff's in Los Angeles and said Biden had not done enough to condemn violent protests. He then pivoted towards defending Trump's coronavirus record and his trade deals. 

He claimed Biden has "put forth the most extreme platform of any major party candidate in American history".

Biden's campaign responded to the speech: "President Trump admitted he intentionally downplayed the virus and misled the American people, and Wisconsin continues to pay the price - in lost jobs, lost businesses, and lost lives."

12:30 ET - Woodward: Trump had 'specific knowledge that could have saved lives'

Reporter Bob Woodward, whose new book contains the revelations that Trump intentionally played down the deadliness of the coronavirus pandemic, doubled down in an interview on Monday, saying Trump "possessed the specific knowledge that could have saved lives".

In an interview on NBC's "Today" programme, Woodward discussed how Trump was briefed on the coronavirus on January 28, but said nothing during his State of Union address, which was viewed by 4 million people, days later. 

"It is one of those shocks, for me, having written about nine presidents, that the president of the United States possessed the specific knowledge that could have saved lives and historians are going to be writing about the lost month of February for tens of years," Woodward said.

Details of a final interview between Woodward and Trump also emerged on Monday, with CNN reporting Trump sought to find out how he would be portrayed in the book. While focusing heavily on the economy, Trump insisted to Woodward "nothing more could have been done" when it came to the pandemic response. 

12:00 ET - Biden votes early in Delaware primary

Joe Biden has voted in Delaware's primary, casting a ballot by appointment a day before the polls formally open.

The Democratic presidential nominee and his wife, Jill, voted Monday morning at the New Castle Board of Elections. She wore boots with "VOTE" stenciled on each one. 

When asked if he had confidence that all votes would be counted, Biden responded: "I have confidence that Trump will try to not have that happen but I'm confident the American public is going to insist on it."

11:30 ET - Biden creates legal war room in preparation for voting fight: Report

Biden's campaign is building an unprecedented legal war room, which will include two former solicitors general and hundreds of lawyers, according to the New York Times. 

Campaign officials told the newspaper the operation is readying for a fight over voting integrity, amid on-going legal battles over how Americans will vote and how those votes will be counted. 

Experts expect half of US voters to cast ballots by mail, and Trump has repeatedly spread unfounded claims that mail voting leads to higher rates of fraud.

 As state's grapple with new systems of voting, they are likely to encounter delays, which analysts fear could create weeks or months of fraught uncertainty.

11:00 ET - Trump responds indoor rally criticism 

Trump has responded to criticism over his holding of an indoor rally in Nevada, saying he did not believe he was subject to the state's 50-person gathering limit.

Instead, Trump blamed the state's governor, Steve Sisolak, for what he described as blocking the campaign from holding the events at outdoor sites in Reno and Las Vegas, in an interview with Las Vegas Review-Journal . Trump instead held the indoor event at a friend's manufacturing facility.

"They canceled six different sites because the governor wouldn't let it happen, all external sites," the president said.

Sisolak had called Trump decision to host the indoor event, which had little in the way of social distancing and mask wearing, "shameful, dangerous and irresponsible".
Supporters — many not wearing masks — gather for an indoor rally with US President Donald Trump in Henderson, Nevada [File: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

10:30 ET - Trump, Biden both hold events regarding West Coast wildfires

Trump will travel to California to be briefed about its devastating wildfires while Biden plans a speech on the matter from Delaware, bringing climate change to the forefront of the presidential campaign.

Trump, who pulled the US out of the Paris accord on global warming because he found it too costly, has blamed poor forest management for the fires that are raging around the West Coast but has authorised federal disaster aid.

Democrats have said that climate change plays a role, and Biden is expected to emphasise that in his remarks.

A spate of deadly and destructive wildfires have swept California, Oregon and Washington this summer, destroying thousands of homes and a handful of small towns, burning more than four million acres and killing more than two dozen people since early August.

10:00 ET - Biden targets Black voters in new ad

Biden campaign has released a new series of ads in key battleground states aimed at Black voters, amid concerns over lagging enthusiasm in the demographic.

"Today, Biden for President released a batch of new ads nationally and in battleground states, including Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, that address the concerns of millions of Black Americans who fear their lives are at risk under a second Trump administration," the campaign said in a statement. 

The ads will air nationally on television and digital platforms, and include the "Shop Talk" series, which shows socially distanced conversations among Black men at a Black-owned barbershop in North Carolina. Meanwhile, the "Get This Right" ad highlights Biden and Harris' criminal justice reform plan.

It remains unclear if Black voters will be energised to come out and vote for Biden. Read more here
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden meets with members of the community at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin [File: Carolyn Kaster/The Associated Press]

09:00 ET - Weekend recap: Trump hosts Nevada rallies, shrugs restrictions

Trump defied local restrictions in Nevada over the weekend and held the first indoor rally of the campaign.

The event in Henderson, Nevada saw hundreds of Trump supporters gather into a building with little social distancing. Many did not wear masks. 

The state's governor tweeted the event violated a ban on gatherings of 50 or more in the state.

"This is an insult to every Nevadan who has followed the directives, made sacrifices, and put their neighbors before themselves," Governor Steve Sisolak said in a lengthy series of posts. "It's also a direct threat to all of the recent progress we've made, and could potentially set us back."

 Biden on Saturday called Trump's decision to hold an outdoor rally in Reno "reckless". 


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

Read all the updates from last week (September 11) here.