10 things you need to know today:September 17, 2016

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

THE WEEK

1. Donald Trump acknowledges President Obama was born in the U.S.
Donald Trump, a leading proponent of the falsehood that President Obama was born outside the United States, admitted Friday that the president is in fact an American citizen. “President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period,” Trump said. The seconds-long speech followed a half-hour preamble of praise from veterans who spoke at the opening of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. While Trump blamed Hillary Clinton for starting the birther movement during her 2008 presidential campaign, he bragged that he “finished it,” without any sort of apology or acknowledgement of his years-long backing of the conspiracy theory. Trump implied Obama’s birth certificate was a fake as recently as January.

Source: CBS News, Buzzfeed News

2. Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson excluded from presidential debate stage
Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson will not take the stage for the first presidential debate, the Commission on Presidential Debates announcedFriday. Only Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will appear at the Sept. 26 showdown, as Green Party candidate Jill Stein also fell short of the CPD’s qualification threshold. To make the debate stage, Johnson and Stein each needed to average 15 percent support across five specific polls chosen by the CPD; as of Friday, Johnson’s average was 8.4 percent. The first debate between Trump and Clinton will take place at Hofstra University in New York and will be moderated by NBC anchor Lester Holt.

Source: Commission on Presidential Debates, Reason

3. Trump roils with comments on gun control, Cuba thaw
Speaking at a campaign rally in Miami Friday evening, Republican Donald Trump raised eyebrows by arguing Democrat Hillary Clinton should disarm her personal guards if she likes gun control so much, as well as suggesting he might reverse the thaw in United States-Cuba relations brokered by the Obama White House. “I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons,” he said of Clinton. “Take their guns away. She doesn’t want guns — let’s see what happens to her.” On Cuba, Trump noted that the “next president can reverse [recent changes]” because they were made by executive order, and promised to do so unless Cuba concedes “religious and political freedom for the Cuban people and the freeing of political prisoners.”

Source: The Hill, Reuters

4. Michelle Obama makes campaign trail debut for Hillary Clinton
In her first appearance on the 2016 campaign trail Friday at Virginia’s George Mason University, first lady Michelle Obama made the case for why it’s “excruciatingly clear” Hillary Clinton is the only candidate prepared to be president. Clinton, Obama explained, is “one of the few people on this entire planet” who fully understands the “staggering stakes, the brutal hours, the overwhelming stress” being president entails. “And here’s the thing: She still wants to take it on,” Obama said, praising Clinton’s “love of country.” Obama also argued Donald Trump doesn’t fit the bill: “When you’re making life or death, war or peace decisions, a president can’t just pop off.”

Source: C-SPAN

5. U.S. troops support Iraqi efforts to capture last ISIS-held city, Mosul
Several hundred American troops have arrived at the Qayyarah air base near Mosul, Iraq, to assist Iraqi forces working to capture the last major Iraqi city held by the Islamic State. The U.S.-Iraqi attack will begin as early as October; at present, the coalition forces are planning their approach, which will involve first seizing smaller towns near the city’s outskirts. The Department of Defense “has made clear that our forces in Iraq are in harm’s way,” said the Pentagon’s press secretary, Peter Cook,on Friday. Meanwhile, the U.S. will shift additional air power and military personnel into Syria, where ISIS is also active, to target militants as required by the recent cease-fire deal with Russia.

Source: CNN, Associated Press

6. Zika virus transmission zone triples in Miami Beach
After the discovery of new cases of mosquito-communicated Zika infections, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday night that the known transmission zone of the virus in Miami Beach has tripled. The area now covers 4.5 square miles, the bulk of the southern and middle regions of the barrier island. The new infections bring the total count of Zika cases in Miami Beach not contracted via international travel to 35. More positively, a separate transmission zone in the Wynwood neighborhood north of downtown Miami is expected to get the all clearon Monday.

Source: Miami Herald, CNN

7. F-35 fighter jets grounded due to mechanical deterioration
The U.S. Air Force on Friday announced it has grounded more than a dozen F-35 Joint Strike Fighters about a month after they were declared “combat ready.” The planes were found to have “peeling and crumbling insulation in avionics cooling lines inside the fuel tanks,” leaving residue in the fuel itself. The discovery was made during a routine maintenance check and found to affect 15 planes from one particular manufacturer subcontracted by Lockheed Martin. The F-35 is at this point notorious for apparently endless delays, errors, and cost overruns. It is expected to be the priciest single defense project in history.

Source: Defense News, CNN

8. Virginia Woolf playwright Edward Albee dies at 88
Acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee, perhaps best known for Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?, died Friday at his home in Montauk, New York. He was 88 years old. Hailed by many as the most significant playwright of his generation, Albee debuted on Broadway with Virginia Woolf in 1962, winning a Tony Award for best play and a film adaptation. He continued writing well into his later years. “Mr. Albee has unsparingly considered subjects outside the average theatergoer’s comfort zone,” wrote The New York Times‘ Ben Brantley, “the capacity for sadism and violence within American society; the fluidness of human identity; the dangerous irrationality of sexual attraction and, always, the irrefutable presence of death.”

Source: NPR, The New York Times

9. White House offers $1.2 million settlement to Italian drone strike victim
The White House has agreed to pay 1 million euros — about $1.2 million — to the family of Giovanni Lo Porto, a 37-year-old Italian aid worker who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2015 while he was being held hostage by al Qaeda. Warren Weinstein, an American, was also killed in the attack. The money is legally labeled as a “donation,” not as compensation for Lo Porto’s death, and a representative of the U.S. embassy in Rome declined to say whether a similar payment was made to Weinstein’s family. “I will not see my son at home with his smile,” Lo Porto’s mother said after the payment was announced. “They took my precious son and they also killed me. Now all that remains for me is to wait until the last day of my life for divine, not earthly, justice.”

Source: The Guardian, Newsweek

10. Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan to headline Prince tribute concert Oct. 13
On Oct. 13, purple rain will once again fall in Minnesota, when the official tribute concert to late musical icon Prince takes place at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The show boasts several high-profile acts, including Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, and Christina Aguilera; and while 15 acts were announced Friday, more performers may be revealed in coming weeks. “It’s about celebrating [Prince’s] life and music and bringing people together and love for Prince,” said L. Londell McMillan, one of the show’s organizers. “This is a classic all-star salute.” Prince died April 21 due to an accidental overdose at the age of 57.

Source: Star Tribune

Trevor Noah finally takes the gloves off and gets angry with Trump

Trevor Noah finally takes the gloves off and gets angry with Trump

Image Credit: TWITTER

NEWS.MIC

Trevor Noah’s got something to say about Donald Trump — and he’s pissed. In a roughly two-minute #ViralRant Wednesday night, the Daily Show host took down the GOP presidential candidate.

Speaking at a seeming 100 miles a minute, Noah challenged the candidate’s xenophobic and racist rhetoric.

“Hey, let me ask you something, Donald Trump,” Noah said. “How can you make something great when it’s already great, huh? What are you going to do next — make Beyoncé sexy again?”

Noah argued that inclusivity and welcoming immigrants were, in part, the source of America’s strength — not its weakness:

“The greatest country in the world is the country that accepts people who come in from everywhere in the world, Mr. Donald Trump. And I know you think that half the country is a basket of deportables. Yeah, I said it, ‘deportables,’ not ‘deplorables.’ But the good people of America know the greatest country in the world is the country where you can come in and create anything.”

The host reminded Trump that immigrants like Google co-founder Sergey Brin have started major companies, and are an invaluable part of the country’s social, cultural and economic fabric.

He added that Steve Jobs’ family immigrated from Syria — the same country whose refugees Trump has sought to prevent from entering America.

“You know who came from Syria?” Noah asks. “The iPhone came from Syria, Donald Trump. The same iPhone you tweet shit about the refugees on. So every time you tweet with those fat, little, tiny fingers of yours, you should be saying ‘thank you’ to them for giving you that phone, Mr. Donald Trump.”

Noah’s very existence, he contended, was evidence America is already great:

“The fact that a South African can be sitting in this chair that was once run by an American, and can be telling you all of this, this proves how great this country is.”

Mic dropped.

By Natasha Noman

Michelle Obama destroyed Donald Trump in the perfect campaign speech for Hillary Clinton

 Michelle Obama destroyed Donald Trump in the perfect campaign speech for Hillary Clinton

Image Credit: AP

IDENTITIES.MIC

First lady Michelle Obama did not mince words when she called out Donald Trump during a speech Friday supporting Hillary Clinton at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

Trump, a noted racist, came to national political prominence in 2011 by spreading widely circulated rumors that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

After several years spreading this racist “birther” conspiracy theory, Trump announced Friday he believes Obama was born in the United States. (Because his opinion matters, apparently.)

On Friday, Michelle Obama had a remarkably poised clapback to theGOP presidential nominee’s track record on the issue — and she didn’t even use his name:

“There were those who question and continue to question for the past eight years, up through this very day, whether my husband was even born in this country,” Obama said. “Well, during this time in office, I think Barack has answered those questions with the example he set by going high when they go low.”

Obama went on to caution about the dangers of a candidate with a track record for vagueness on policy and a penchant for insults.

“If a candidate traffics in prejudice, fears and lies on the trail, if a candidate has no clear plans to implement their goals, if they disrespect their fellow citizens, including folks who made extraordinary sacrifices for our country — let me tell you, that is who they are,” she said. “That’s the kind of president they will be. Trust me, a candidate is not going to suddenly change once they get into office.”

Obama then gave an eerie warning about the perils of sending the wrong person to the Oval Office.

“The minute that individual takes that oath, they are under the hottest, harshest light there is and there is no way to hide who they really are,” Obama said. “And at that point, it is too late.”

“They are the leader of the world’s largest economy,” Obama said. “The commander in chief of the most powerful military force on Earth. With every word they utter, they can start wars, crash markets, change the course of this planet.”

She then eviscerated Trump for his immaturity and bigoted rhetoric by referencing his past hosting The Apprentice.

“Being president is not anything like reality TV,” Obama said. “It is not about sending insulting tweets or making fiery speeches. It is about whether or not the candidate can handle the awesome responsibility of leading this country.”

Obama closed her speech by offering a sliver of hope, stating Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, is by far the most qualified for the White House.

“So who in this election is truly ready for this job? Who do we pick?” Obama asked. “For me, I am just saying, it’s excruciatingly clear that there is only one person in this election we can trust with those responsibilities, only one person with the qualifications and the temperament for that job — and that is our friend Hillary Clinton.”

Which is fine, but let’s get to the real question: When can we just anoint Michelle Obama the Queen of the United States of America?

Sarah Harvard

VOX SENTENCES

A sign near the site of the shooting in Columbus.

Paul Vernon/AFP/Getty Images

Open carry for whom?

  • Thirteen-year-old Tyre King was killed Wednesday night by a police officer in Columbus, Ohio. [Vox / German Lopez]
  • King had an air rifle. Police claim they mistook it for a real gun because it looked like a gun they use. [USA Today / Doug Stanglin]
  • Ohio is an open carry state. The police didn’t know King was underage, so for all they knew he was carrying the gun legally. But even in open carry states, black men and boys often end up shot for carrying (real or fake) guns. [Vox / German Lopez]
  • Indeed, King’s case is all too reminiscent of the killing of Tamir Rice in Cleveland in 2014. Rice was 12 and also had a toy gun. After his family won a settlement from the city, the police union expressed the hope that they’d use the money to teach kids about the dangers of realistic-looking toy guns. [Business Insider / Michelle Mark]
  • In fairness, the police claim King pulled the gun out of his waistband and therefore they were threatened. But in fairness, the police weren’t wearing cameras, so there’s no way to know if they’re telling the truth. (They’ve made similar claims in other cases that turned out to be untrue.) [The Guardian / Ciara McCarthy]
  • Tyre King is one of 2,195 people killed by police since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. [Vox / German Lopez and Soo Oh]

 

Duterte at a military training camp on Thursday.

Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images

Rodrigo Duterte, stone-cold killer(?)

  • Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, was accused in a Filipino Senate hearing Thursday of ordering several killings while he was mayor of Davao City (including feeding a man to a crocodile) and even conducting some of the killings himself. [Quartz / Isabella Steger]
  • The witness is a self-professed former hitman for Duterte, who went into witness protection after leaving his service but came out of hiding once Duterte became president (fearing retaliation). Unsurprisingly, Duterte denies the allegations. [The Guardian / Oliver Holmes and agencies]
  • The testimony was part of a Senate inquiry into alleged extrajudicial killings under Duterte in Davao City. Duterte boasted about cracking down on drug dealers while mayor; it’s widely rumored (though never officially proven) that his “Davao Death Squad” helped him do it. [Vice]
  • The inquiry is spearheaded by anti-Duterte Sen. Leila de Lima, whom Duterte, unsurprisingly, accuses of having ties to the drug trade. [BBC]
  • But the inquiry is somewhat sickeningly being overtaken by live events at the national level. Earlier this year, Duterte all but told Filipino citizens it was okay to kill drug dealers. Since then, 3,000 people have been killed — many by police and many by vigilantes. [LAT]
  • The Philippines does not have a terribly big drug problem. This is not a reaction (over- or otherwise) to real social events. This is a policy choice made by Filipinos based on their fear. There is a lesson here. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]

10 things you need to know today: September 16, 2016

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

THE WEEK

1. Clinton returns to the campaign trail
Hillary Clinton returned to the presidential campaign trail on Thursday, saying she felt “great” after taking several days off to recover from what her doctor described as a “mild” case of pneumonia. Clinton told a Greensboro, North Carolina, crowd that she was glad to be back. “I’m not great at taking it easy even under ordinary circumstances,” she said, “but with just two months to go until Election Day, sitting at home was pretty much the last place I wanted to be.” With her Republican rival, Donald Trump, taking the lead in Ohio and Florida, two key swing states, North Carolina is an important battleground.

Source: CNN

2. Donald Trump reveals economic plan with big tax cut
Donald Trump on Thursday unveiled a revised plan for economic growth that includes a “$4.4 trillion tax cut.” The Republican presidential candidate said he could cut $1.8 trillion from that cost through “growth-induced savings from trade, energy, and regulation reform,” including cutting “job-killing regulations.” Trump said the plan would result in average growth of 3.5 percent per year over the next decade and create 25 million jobs. He challenged doubters to “visit our website, just look at the math.” An adviser for his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, said his tax cuts would “benefit Trump at the expense of millions of hardworking folks across our country.”

Source: Politico, The Wall Street Journal

3. Ohio officer fatally shoots black teen wielding BB gun
Authorities in Columbus, Ohio, appealed for calm on Thursday after a white police officer fatally shot Tyre King, a 13-year-old African-American boy who was carrying a BB gun. “Investigations take time, and I ask for everyone’s patience during this difficult time,” Mayor Andrew J. Ginther said. Police said officers were responding to an armed robbery report and chased three males fitting the suspects’ descriptions into an alley, where King pulled the realistic-looking toy weapon out of his waistband.

Source: The New York Times

4. Sandra Bland’s mother settles wrongful death suit
The mother of Sandra Bland, a black woman who died in police custody after a controversial Texas traffic stop, has reached a $1.9 million settlement with state and county officials in her unlawful death lawsuit, her lawyer said Thursday. Bland’s death was ruled a suicide. Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, called the settlement “a victory for moms across the country.” The deal also calls for improvements at rural jails around the state, and reforms in Waller County. “I believe this is going to be a rippling effect across the country,” Reed-Veal said.

Source: Houston Chronicle, The Associated Press

5. Trump medical report says he is overweight but in ‘excellent physical health’
Donald Trump released a letter from his doctor on Thursday saying that the Republican presidential candidate is “in excellent physical health,” but takes cholesterol-lowering medication and is overweight. Trump, who has indirectly questioned the health of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, over her pneumonia diagnosis, revealed limited health details on The Dr. Oz Show. Trump said he is 6’3″ and weighs 236 pounds, and would like to “drop 15 to 20 pounds.” Trump did not indicate that he exercised regularly. He said that making hand gestures during campaign events is a “form of exercise,” and that “a lot of times these rooms are very hot like saunas.”

Source: The Associated Press, People

6. Witness tells Philippines lawmakers Duterte had hit squad
A witness told lawmakers in the Philippine Senate that before his election as president, Rodrigo Duterte paid a squad of hit men to carry out extrajudicial executions. The witness, Edgar Matobato, said he and other killers chopped up the bodies and dumped them at sea, and once fed a corpse to a crocodile. Senators are holding hearings to investigate a wave of summary executions that have left more than 3,000 people dead under now-President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign.

Source: The Washington Post

7. House panel says Snowden leaks ’caused tremendous damage’
The House intelligence committee released a scathing report on Thursday saying that former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden “caused tremendous damage” to national security when he leaked a massive trove of stolen secret documents. The panel also said Snowden lied about his background and was “not the whistleblower” he makes himself out to be. The report’s release coincided with the release of the Oliver Stone film Snowden, and aWednesday appeal by prominent human rights advocates for President Obama to pardon Snowden, now living in Russia.

Source: Reuters

8. Trump still declines to say Obama was born in U.S.
Donald Trump told a Washington Post reporter on Thursday that he was still unwilling to say that President Obama was born in the U.S. “I’ll answer that question at the right time,” Trump said. “I just don’t want to answer it yet.” Trump tried to raise doubts about Obama’s citizenship in 2011, demanding the release of Obama’s Hawaii birth certificate. His campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, recently tried to put the “birther” issue to rest by saying Trump believes Obama was born in the U.S. When reminded of that, Trump responded: “It’s okay. She’s allowed to speak what she thinks. I want to focus on jobs. I want to focus on other things.”

Source: The Washington Post

9. Native American student penalized for refusing to stand for Pledge
A California teacher dropped a Native American high school student’s grade because the teen refused to stand up during the Pledge of Allegiance. The student, Leilani Thomas, said she has chosen not to stand for the pledge since second grade — long before San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started doing the same at games — because her parents explained to her what the pledge meant to “our people and what happened — you know, the history.” She said the teacher told her she was “being disrespectful.” The school superintendent, Donna Becnel, confirmed the incident happened but said the school system stood by the students’ right to free speech.

Source: ABC News

10. Swedish court upholds Assange arrest warrant in rape case
A Swedish appeals court on Friday upheld the arrest warrant against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over a rape accusation. Assange has been holed up inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since June 2012, saying he fears that Swedish authorities would send him to the U.S. to face espionage charges over WikiLeaks’ massive leak of secret U.S. government documents. Swedish authorities started their investigation in 2010 after two women accused Assange of sexual assault and rape. The sexual assault has been dropped because time ran out to bring charges while Assange was in hiding, but the three-judge appeals panel in Stockholm said Assange is still suspected on probable cause of rape.”

Source: NBC News

Donald Trump’s interview with Dr. Oz was just as amazingly strange as we thought it would be

//www.washingtonpost.com/video/c/embed/85fae220-7ad8-11e6-8064-c1ddc8a724bb

 (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)

THE WASHINGTON POST – The Fix

Donald Trump sat down with Dr. Mehmet Oz Wednesday to discuss his health and exercise habits. The show aired on Thursday. It was everything you might think an interview between Dr. Oz and Mr. Trump might be. Using Genius, I annotated it. You can too! Sign up for Geniusand annotate alongside me! To see an annotation, click or tap the highlighted part of the transcript.

TRUMP: Hello, doctor.

OZ: Thank you for being here.

TRUMP: Thank you.

OZ: Thank you for joining us.

TRUMP: It’s a great honor.

OZ: As a doctor, I’m always focused on the person directly in front of me.

TRUMP: Okay.

OZ: I think we should agree we’re not going to discuss Secretary Clinton. Is that okay?

TRUMP: I think it’s fine. We want her to get well, so I think that’s fine.

OZ: How do you stay healthy on the campaign trail?

TRUMP: It’s a lot of work. When I’m speaking in front of 15 and 20,000 people and I’m up there using a lot of motion, I guess in it’s own way, it’s a pretty healthy act. I really enjoy doing it. A lot of times these rooms are very hot, like saunas, and I guess that is a form of exercise and, you know?

OZ: So everyone’s is talking about the candidates’ medical records.

TRUMP: Right.

OZ: So I’d like to clear up some questions that folks are asking about your health.

TRUMP: Okay.

Okay, now I am hoping to go over these exact same questions with Secretary Clinton. And I’ll say this: As a doctor, when I have someone in front of me and I don’t kw much about them, I do something called a review of systems. We all do. We learn this in medical school. And it’s a checklist head-to-toe of what is going on in your body.

TRUMP: Okay.

OZ: I’ll walk through these questions if it’s okay. We start with the head. So, have you ever had head or neck issues, neurologic problems, strokes, headaches?

TRUMP: No.

OZ: Any problems with —

TRUMP: Do we have water around here? Here.

OZ: Water.

TRUMP: No. The answer is no. I’ve had, I mean, no, no problem.

OZ: Hormone problems like thyroid issues?

TRUMP: No.

OZ: Blood sugar problems?

TRUMP: No.

OZ: Diabetes? Any heart problems?

TRUMP: No.

OZ: I know you’re on Lipitor.

TRUMP: Yeah, I take a statin. I don’t know if I should mention the name. I would, but —

OZ: You don’t have to.

TRUMP: And actually I’ve experimented with three statins. And one seems, for me, to work the best. And it’s really brought my cholesterol down into a good range.

OZ: How long have you been on it?

TRUMP: Couple of years, I would say. Couple of years.

OZ: Lung complaints, asthma, wheezing?

TRUMP: No, nothing. Really nothing. It’s been — people are amazed because I don’t get much with the colds. Sometimes in the spring or in the fall, I’ll get a little hay fever. And that comes and goes. Actually I don’t know why this would be. It used to be worse when I was young. Maybe it’s given up on me.

OZ: Yeah.

TRUMP: But when I was young, it could be pretty rough, the hay fever. But very, very little now. I don’t know if that’s something that you’re not that surprised at, but the hay fever is not very bad. But that would be about the only thing. I haven’t had a cold in a long time. Years.

OZ: Stomach problems, intestine issues, reflux, diverticulitis?

TRUMP: No.

OZ: Bladder or prostate issues? I saw the one letter released had a low PSA.

TRUMP: My PSA has been very good. I don’t know what’s going on, but so many of my friends are having problems where they’re getting the operation or they’re going for radiation. And it’s always the first number I ask for. I say give me that number. I want to know, and my number’s been — as you say it’s been a very good number.

OZ: Any history of personal cancer?

TRUMP: No, none whatsoever.

OZ: Skin issues?

TRUMP: No, very little. Probably you could say — I try and stay out of the sun for the most part.I wear a hat. I play golf. And I wear a hat. But I’ve had no problem — no major problem — but certainly no problem with skin.

OZ: Blood clots or any other blood problems?

TRUMP: No. No.

OZ: Let me turn to the family history.

TRUMP: I have to be very boring for you.

OZ: No, no.

TRUMP: This is going to be very boring.

OZ: It’s what I do as a doctor.

TRUMP: I would tell you – You know, my wife is a big fan of your show, and I would absolutely say because I view this as in a way going to see my doctor. Just a little bit public. That’s all.

[applause]

OZ: Let me ask you if I can about family history. I’m most concerned with problems that happened before your parents or other relatives were younger than 65 years of age.

TRUMP: Okay.

OZ: Any dementia or Alzheimer’s?

TRUMP: No. My father had — he was close to 94 years old, and the last few years he developed — we probably think it was Alzheimer’s, which was very hard for us because he was such a smart guy, such a wonderful guy and, you know, that’s a rough thing. Physically he was unbelievable.His heart was powerful. Wouldn’t stop. I mean, it wouldn’t stop. And he lived to a very old age and was really great right up toward the end. My mother was mentally unbelievable and she actually had an accident. She would have lived well into her 90’s. She was close to 90 but, but she would have lived well into her 90’s. Her family even — this is many years ago — but her family would routinely go into the high 90’s.

OZ: Any history among other relatives of cancer or heart disease at a young age?

TRUMP: No, none.

OZ: When was the last time that you had a regular physical exam?

TRUMP: Well, I try and do it every year. I’ve had the same doctor for a long time. And some would say why don’t you change? I said, you know, I’ve been lucky. I’m here. Are we a little superstitious? I’m not looking to find some genius and all of a sudden I — I just want — I have a very good doctor. I think he’s been — he’s done a really good job for me. He is a member of Lenox Hill hospital, respected person. I went to him on Friday, and I had a test. And I just got the – I literally just got the results.

OZ: Of your medical test.

TRUMP: Of my medical test.

OZ: This is with Dr. Bornstein?

TRUMP: Dr. Bornstein, yeah. Respected guy. Good guy, and I’ve been with him a long time. A lot of people say you could change doctors. I just say you know what? I’ve been with him probably over 30 years. I think the last thing I want to do is switch doctors.

[COMMERCIAL]

OZ: If your health is as strong as it seems from your review of systems, why not share your medical records?

TRUMP: I have really no problem in doing it. I have it right here. Should I do it? I don’t care.

[applause]

It’s two letters. One is the report, and the other is from Lenox Hill hospital.

OZ: May I see them? These are the reports from —

TRUMP: Those were all the tests just done last week.

OZ: September 13, 2016. Again, from Dr. Bornstein. It says – I’m going to say this is a – first of all, thank you for sharing this. This is a pretty comprehensive — can I read it to you real quickly, and I’ll try to quickly interpret it?

TRUMP: Sure.

OZ: Cholesterol – we have 6’3,” 236 pounds. Cholesterol is 169. The HDL, which is healthy cholesterol, 63. The lousy LDL cholesterol is 94. Those are good numbers. Triglycerides are good – that’s the amount of fat in your blood. The PSA, like the other let published before, is 0.15, which is very low. Blood pressure ,116 over 70. Blood sugar, 99.

TRUMP: That’s good. 116 over 70.

OZ: Yeah, I mean.

TRUMP: I’ve always been lucky with blood pressure. I’ve always had very good blood pressure.

OZ: Blood sugar, 99. And C-reactive protein also low. Your liver function, your thyroid functional is all normal. You had a colonoscopy performed July 10, 2013, which was normal with no polyps. Calcium score and your heart, 2013, also was low at 98. Oh my goodness. EKG chest x-ray on April 14 was normal. A normal echocardiogram was done two years ago. And your testosterone’s 441, which is actually — it’s good. It’s good.

[applause]

You’re only on the statin drug you mentioned. If a patient of mine had these records, I’d be really happy. And I’d send them on their way.

TRUMP: That’s good.

OZ: I must say, I would have shared this earlier. Why didn’t you blast this out?

TRUMP: I didn’t think it was necessary, you know, the public has known me for a long time. They’ve never seen me in a hospital. Okay? One thing if I’m in a hospital it’s going to be out there, big league. I had my appendix out when I was 11, and that was the last time I was in a hospital. That was a one-night deal. So I’ve spent basically one night in a hospital. You know, I’m very fortunate in that respect. But genetically — I think you’re probably a believer in that, a lot of people say that is sort of the most important thing — my parents lived very long lives. My mother’s family was amazing because everybody over in Scotland, everybody was into their 90s, late 90s — I mean, beyond. And my father, very similar. A little bit different, but very similar. So my parents lived very long lives. And good lives, too. They’re great people, but good lives.

OZ: I thank you for sharing this. It does help address some of the comments about the candidates’ health, which I think in this modern era people expect to know enough about the people we’re voting for to know that they’re safe. So I am appreciative.

TRUMP: Well, I do feel the question is often asked: Should you show it? It’s very private. It is all very private stuff. Should you be showing it? I think when you’re running for president of the United States, or maybe any other country, in all fairness, but when you’re running for president, I think you have an obligation to be healthy. I just don’t think you can do the work if you’re not healthy. I don’t think you can represent the country properly if you’re not a healthy person. And, you know, I’ve been going around — I started this journey for president on June 16, and since then I probably have taken off like almost no days. I’ve been going from state to state, from city to city. So in a certain way I get a lot of exercise — ore than most people would think.

OZ: Besides golf, is that your major exercise?

TRUMP: Yeah. I don’t play much golf, though, lately. We have a president who plays so much golf he could be on the PGA tour.

[laughter]

OZ: Let’s focus — no, no. We’ll focus on Mr. Trump. We’ll focus on you. Let’s talk about stamina. You use that word a lot. You made it an issue in this campaign. You argue a president has to have a tremendous amount of stamina. If elected at age 70, you will be the oldest person to ever enter the oval office. Why do you think you have the stamina for the job?

TRUMP: Just about the same age as Ronald Reagan. And Hillary is a year behind me. I would say just based on my life. I actually — and I don’t know if this makes sense — I feel as good today as I did when I was 30. And you mentioned golf, because I’ve been a good golfer over the years.I won a lot of club championships and things. And that’s a good mentality because to win a club championship you have to be very strong up here. And when I play golf, I feel that I’m maybe a better golfer today than I was 15, 20 years ago. I don’t know what it is. I hit the ball as far. Now maybe the equipment is a little bit better. I always say the equipment is better, the muscles are a little bit worse. Whatever it is. I hit the ball as far. I hit the ball better. I putt just as well. That has to do with the hands. You can’t have problems with hand movement, if you’re going to be a good putter. But just as an indication, I think I’m a better player today than I was 15, 20, 30 years ago.

OZ: When do you wake up in the morning?

TRUMP: But I don’t get to play very much anymore.

OZ: When you look into the mirror, how old is the person you are looking at? What do you see?

TRUMP: I would say I see a person that’s 35 years old.

[applause]

I mean, I feel — I feel the same. I mean, Tom Brady is a friend of mine. We play golf together, the great quarterback. He’s a phenomenal guy, great athlete, and I’m with him, and I feel the same age as him. It’s crazy.

OZ: How many hours a night do you sleep? What is your sleep life?

TRUMP: I never needed much sleep. But I’ve always said that is a function of do you enjoy life. I don’t know if that makes sense to you. Like you love what you do? I love what I do. I’m even loving politically what I do. I’m having a lot of fun. It’s a lot of work but I love — it’s called Make America great Again. I love what we’re doing. I love this movement that’s been created. Many of the big political commentators have said this is the single greatest political event they’ve ever seen – you know, what’s happened with this whole trump thing. And really it’s not me. It’s like I’m the messenger. It’s the movement — where you say a day before that you’re going to be in Charlotte, North Carolina, and 20,000 people show up and pack an arena, and they have to turn away 10.

OZ: But there is a lot of stress.

TRUMP: Well I don’t find stress. I find that if I go to — let’s say somebody said, and I’m fortunate because I have a wonderful wife that understands me, and she’ll say, you don’t want to go on vacation. She’d like to go on vacation, by the way, but she’s not selfish. But I find that if I go on a vacation, it’s like that’s more stress to me, because I want to get back. And if I go on a vacation where they don’t have phones? I did that once 20 years ago. I went on a vacation where the phones were, like, one of these things where you’re not supposed to make phone calls and you weren’t able to make phone calls. And I lasted about a day and a half. I said, let’s get out of here. This is terrible.

OZ: But if running for president and running a company or companies doesn’t cause you stress, what does? Something has to —

TRUMP: I think running for president causes more stress — you know, I built a great company,I have an unbelievable company. And that hasn’t been stressful over the last, you know, number of years. Now when you’re building it it’s more stress and everything else and you’re always over-leveraged and you’re fighting with banks. But now it’s become just a great, great company.And so there’s not stress there. I think running for president is. One of the reasons is the media is so dishonest. They come up with stories that aren’t true, and you try and knock the hell out of the story and you’re always fighting.

OZ: Do you get angry about that? Anger and hostility has significant health consequences. How do you cope with that? How do you get past it?

TRUMP: I fight back.

OZ: Not with the press, but with anything.

TRUMP: It’s a great question. I don’t think it matters that much.

OZ: What doesn’t matter?

TRUMP: You saw the polls. The polls are really — especially over the last week — the polls have been believable. And I’ll tell you what: In theory, if it mattered I wouldn’t be leading nationally.CNN just came up with a poll where I’m up two nationally.

OZ: If what didn’t matter?

TRUMP: If the press mattered so much. It’s amazing. It doesn’t matter as much like it used to matter.

OZ: So what type of temperament is required for the person who becomes president of the United States?

TRUMP: Unbelievable strong and smart temperament, and I think it’s my grandest asset. I think temperament is my single greatest asset.

OZ: Why do so many people question your temperament?

TRUMP: They don’t question – it’s Madison Avenue. Madison Avenue went to Hillary Clinton and they said — and when I say Madison Avenue, I’m talking about the advertising people, the people that make up the ads. And they said, let’s see, and they put 15 things on a board. ‘Oh, temperament. Let’s go after temperament.’ The people that know me — I win. I know how to win. You can’t win unless you have a great temperament. I know people that can’t win. I know people that are very talented at sports, and they never win.

[applause]

OZ: Making a decision under pressure is the most important part probably of a president’s job description. How do you prepare yourself for those big decisions?

TRUMP: Well, I think I’ve been prepared. That’s what I do. That’s what my whole life is. The big decision was when I decided to run on June 16. I’ve never done this before. They had one — I think it was sort of funny, because I was about five or six months into the campaign when I was going for are the nomination. You know, I was against 17 people — mostly senators, governors, all of the highest level of their profession. And I came in, and they said that I had five months’ experience, and they had 219 years — in other words when you added it all up. So people would say based on that how do you win? And I ended up winning. Winning, I’m so happy to say, with the highest number of votes in the history of the Republican Party. There’s never been anybody.

OZ: When I graduated from medical school, I took an oath to do no harm. Do you have an oath or mantra that you repeat back to yourself?

TRUMP: No, I don’t repeat it back to myself, but I tell you my theme and what I’m living for now is making America great again. That’s what I want to do. I want to make America great again.

OZ: We’ll be right back with our very special guest.

[COMMERCIAL]

[SEGMENT WITH IVANKA TRUMP ON CHILD CARE PROPOSAL]

OZ: I consider women the chief health officer of the family. It’s another additional responsibility — sort of discussed [unintelligible]. And I wonder if I can turn to their health, because they’re the caregivers. They’re the last ones to get health. Coverage for basic screening is challenge which we’re going to have to tackle. But let me talk to my candidate about a big topic that comes up all the time, which is birth control. Do you think it should be mandated in this country that we reimburse women for their birth control?

TRUMP: I think what we have in birth control is, you know, when you have to get a prescription, that’s a pretty tough something to climb. And I would say it should not be a prescription. It should not be done by prescription. You have women that just aren’t in a position to go get a prescription. And more and more people are coming out and saying that, but I am not in favor of prescription for birth control.

OZ: What is your stand on abortion today?

TRUMP: I am pro-life.

OZ: And there is a misconception — that I think you would argue anyway — about the views that you have on women. And this comes up a lot. Why do you think there is such a discussion going on now about that problem?

TRUMP: I don’t know. You know, it’s very interesting. Because I just think, look, I have such respect for women. My mother was one of the great people I’ve of known in my life. I just think that somehow I have a narrative out there — you know, when you have hundreds of millions of dollars spent on you in advertising, okay, on advertising, on false advertising in many cases, but negative hit jobs, you know, I guess maybe –

OZ: You have said unkind things about women. Do you regret those?

TRUMP: It depends what you’re talking about. I’ll give you an example: When I’m having fun, when I was never going to be a politician. I decided a year and a half ago, let’s do it to straighten out country, because the country is a mess. But before that had I known I was going to be a politician — Howard Stern is a friend of mine — I wouldn’t have done his show. We have fun. We have fun. A lot of people understand that. We have fun. So we’ll talk about women. We’ll talk about men. We’ll talk about everything, and we’re all having a good time. Now if I ever as running for president, I wouldn’t have done the show, or I would have given him very boring answers. We’re all having fun together.

IVANKA TRUMP: I do think there is a bit of a false narrative on this out there, though — In that my father speaks his mind, so whether it’s a man or a woman, if you attack him he’ll attack you back. In a certain way, it would be strange if he handled women and men differently. so he can be a little rough with people once in a while, but it is often that they’re coming at you first, almost always that they’re coming at you first.

TRUMP: I like to be nice to people, but sometimes people aren’t nice to me.

OZ: All right.

[applause]

IVANKA TRUMP: But I think one of the things that is the ultimate testament is his track record of employing women at the highest levels, long before it was popular to do so. And he’s been doing it for 30 years. I mean, I grew up seeing some of the most amazing female role models at the trump organization doing what were very much considered at the time men’s jobs. They were in construction. They were in development. People weren’t in those positions, and he was giving them an opportunity to. There are women all over the city who are testament to, who are now very successful, have companies that are incredibly well-known, that rose through the ranks and learned their trades through my father. So I have a tough time with that narrative because his long track record of supporting, advocating for women and promoting women is — speaks for itself.

OZ: I thank you very much for doing the show.

[COMMERCIAL]

OZ: Back with Mr. Trump. We’ll talk about some of the hot-button health issues facing this country. First up: addiction. Just this week, this picture shocked our nation. Two parents slumped over from a heroin overdose with their 4-year-old son in the back seat of the car. Mr. Trump, you said publicly that we are losing the war on drugs badly.

TRUMP: Totally. Totally.

OZ: How do we turn this around?

TRUMP: We have to stop it at the border. It is coming in mostly through, as you know, the southern border. It’s pouring in. And we’re going to have to do something. I was just given the endorsement by 16,500 border patrol agents. They say you’re going to be the only one that’s going to stop it. Hillary – well, I won’t get involved in politics but –

OZ: You’ve been so good.

TRUMP: I’ve done very well.

[laughter]

TRUMP: But she won’t do it. But I will tell you we need to have strong borders. It’s just pouring in. You know, it’s less expensive than candy. You go to the store, you want to buy candy — you can buy heroin in some places for less. I go to New Hampshire. I go to Pennsylvania. I go to different places. It’s the biggest — Ohio is having such a problem. We’re going to have to have very, very strong borders, and we’re going to have to stop it, because it is poisoning our youth. It’s worse than it’s ever been. I mean, you have cities where they have overdoses — 25 and 30 overdoses a week, and some of them last weekend a certain city — I won’t mention which one — 22 people died in one weekend.

OZ: So should it be a criminal problem or a medical problem?

TRUMP: Everything. It is every kind of a problem but certainly a criminal problem for the people that bring it in.

OZ: May I ask a personal question? I know your brother Fred and you’ve talked about him.

TRUMP: Yes.

OZ: Was an alcoholic. Died at a very young age, 43. And I understand you don’t drink.

TRUMP: I don’t drink.

OZ: So how has having an addiction in your family informed or shaped your view on addiction?

TRUMP: I had a great brother named Fred. He was a very handsome guy, the life of the party. Just this incredible guy. Probably around college time he started drinking a little bit and then a little bit more and a little bit more. And he really destroyed his life. He was so incredible. He had everything you could want. The best looking, the best personality. He had everything. Smart. But I watched and he would tell me, he knew he had a problem. I was quite a bit younger than him. He would tell me, no drugs, no alcohol. But see in those days, it wasn’t drugs. But he would say, no drugs, no alcohol. He would really focus on the alcohol, because that was very much early in the drug cycle. I don’t know how drugs were in those days.

OZ: Much less.

TRUMP: But he would say — and then I would see he also smoked, and I would say smoking. I always say — I tell my kids no drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes. But the world is so competitive that if you’re stuck on drugs or alcohol, you’re not going to be able to compete. It’s going to be a disaster. And you know, it potentially can ruin your life.

OZ: All right. So if elected you’ve argued that the Affordable Care Act can no longer be in place. You would repeal it. What can you put in its place that can ensure we don’t have a lot of folks who currently have coverage who would otherwise lose it?

TRUMP: Well, Obamacare as it’s called is really having a hard time. Okay? Insurance companies are leaving on a daily basis. They can’t do it. Premiums are through the roof. You look at the premiums, in Texas through Blue Cross Blue Shield it’s gone up 60 percent. And 60 percent is going to be low compared to some of the numbers. A lot of the big numbers will be coming out before the election. They’re trying to have the date moved till after the election.Would be very unfair because this is election-changing. It’s a disaster. We have to come up, and we can come up with many different plans. In fact, plans you don’t even know about will be devised because we’re going to come up with plans, — health care plans — that will be so good. And so much less expensive both for the country and for the people. And so much better. With Obamacare, the deductible I don’t know if you’ve seen what’s gone on with the deductible. The deductible’s so high that unless you die a very vicious, horrible, catastrophic death, and it lasts a long time, you’re not going to get to use it because it’s crazy. It’s so high. Again, such a high barrier. We have to come up with a plan, a private plan other than for those that can’t do that. We have to help them, too.

OZ: So what do we do with the folks who fall through the cracks?

TRUMP: We have to go and help them through the medicaid system. We have to help them publicly. We’re going to have to do it. Nobody wants to see people — and it’s totally unfair — a lot of people said oh, gee that’s not the thing to say. I said, well you know what? If I can’t say that, I’m not running for office. There are people who say everybody should have a great, wonderful, private plan, and if you can’t afford that, and there is a percentage, a fairly large percentage that can’t afford it, then those people don’t get taken care of. That’s wrong. We’re going to take care of that through the Medicaid system. We’re going to take care of those people. We have no choice. We’re not going to let people die on the streets. But we will have competition that will be so strong for people’s business – Now, one thing you have to do is get rid of the monopolies. Because every state has a line wrapped around it. You know, they’d rather have the insurance companies and the various companies — they’d rather have one state where they’re by themselves than be able to bid all over the United States. You understand that. We have to get rid of the lines. We have to have competition. And we will have, you will have plans that you don’t even know about right now. They’ll get better and better and better, and they’ll get cheaper and cheaper, and it’ll be a beautiful thing to see. But right now Obamacare is not affordable by the country and it’s not affordable by people.

OZ: You mentioned you don’t want people dying in the streets. So what if an undocumented immigrant collapses and needs life-saving therapy? Do we have a moral responsibility, do you believe, to help that person?

TRUMP: Well, under my plan the undocumented or as you would say illegal immigrant wouldn’t be in the country. They only come in the country legally.

[applause]

OZ: We’ll be right back.

[COMMERCIAL]

OZ: I’m still processing this letter, because I didn’t know we would get it. But you’re 6’3,” 236 pounds as I mentioned. In my mind I’m thinking your body surface area and your BMI Is high. It’s probably close to 30, which is sort of the barrier for most people.

TRUMP: Okay.

OZ: Do your doctors or family ever give you a hard time about your weight?

TRUMP: Yeah. I think I could lose a little weight. I’ve always been a little bit this way. You know? I’ve sort of always been that. Probably a good swimmer, but I’ve always been this way. I think that, yeah. If I had one thing I’d like to lose weight. It’s tough because of the way I live.But the one thing I would like to do is be able to drop 15, 20 pounds. It would be good.

OZ: So you very kindly offered to take questions from our audience.

TRUMP: Sure.

OZ: That still okay?

TRUMP: Sure.

OZ: If I can get a hand mic. Go ahead.

AUDIENCE: Hi. Mr. Trump, I am a teacher and I see obesity every day. How would you go about handling the obesity problem in the country — especially among children — and the fact that many schools are not providing enough exercise in recess time?

TRUMP: That is a school thing to a certain extent. I guess you could say it’s a hereditary thing, too. I would imagine it certainly is a hereditary thing. But a lot of schools aren’t providing proper food because they have budget problems, and they’re buying cheaper food and not as good of food. And the big thing — when I went to school I always loved sports, and I would always — I loved to eat and I loved sports, and it worked, because I could do both. A lot of schools today they don’t have sports programs and that is a big problem. I would try and open that up. I’m a big believer in the whole world of sports. I would try and open that up.

[applause]

OZ: Nicole, go ahead.

AUDIENCE: Hello, Mr. Trump. Do you believe the intolerance and prejudices that citizens of this country are spewing back and forth to each other are healthy and will this have an effect on the country’s mental health?

TRUMP: I think it is very unhealthy, and I think it’s very bad. We really have to come together as a country. No. The — there is a great division. There’s no question about it. I’m sure you see it, too. We will come together as a country.

[applause]

OZ: Thank you very much for coming on the show. Thanks for spending time with our audience. Mr. Donald Trump.

Bill Clinton Destroys Donald Trump In One Sentence On ‘Daily Show’

THE HUFFINGTON POST

He also pointed out what he called the country’s “one remaining bigotry.”

Bill Clinton only needed one sentence to deftly explain why wife Hillary would be a better presidential choice than GOP nominee Donald Trump.

On Thursday night’s “Daily Show,” Clinton skewered The Donald by pointing out the difference between his supporters and Hillary’s.

“Most of her strongest supporters have either worked for her or done business with him,” he quipped.

Despite the polarization that exists in America, Clinton believes the country is in a better position than it has ever been.

“America has come so far,” he said. “We’re less racist, sexist, homophobic and anti specific religions than we used to be. We have one remaining bigotry: We don’t want to be around anyone who disagrees with us.”

The audience quietly laughed, which Clinton believed proved his point.

“The crowd’s laughing, but they didn’t laugh loud because they know I’m telling the truth,” he said.

David Moye

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar,rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

 

Trump’s Birther Pivot

Presidential Candidate Donald Trump Speaks At The Economic Club Of New York

Spencer Plat—Getty Images

TIME

After years of raising questions about President Barack Obama’s birthplace, Donald Trump’s campaign is asserting that the GOP nominee no longer doubts that Obama was born in the U.S.—but the candidate himself is silent on the matter

Hillary Talks Taco Trucks, SHREDS Trump, And The Crowd Goes WILD (VIDEO)

Hillary Talks Taco Trucks, SHREDS Trump, And The Crowd Goes WILD (VIDEO)

Featured image via screen capture

ADDICTING INFO

Hillary Clinton brought the house down at a gala event held by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in Washington, D.C. Speaking after President Obama, Clinton referenced the verbal abuse and indignities targeted towards Latino Americans by the anti-immigrant Trump campaign.

Then as an aside, Clinton said, “I personally think a taco truck on every corner sounds absolutely delicious,” and the audience went wild.

The comment was in reference to a statement by a Trump campaign surrogate representing “Latinos for Trump,” in an appearance on MSNBC’s All In. Marco Gutierrez stunned guest host Joy Reid, with its insensitivity.

“My culture is a very dominant culture,” the Mexican-born Marco Gutierrez said on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes.” “It is imposing and it’s causing problems. If you don’t do something about it, you’re going to have taco trucks on every corner.”

Gutierrez was widely ridiculed, and many on social media like Twitter pointed out that in fact they would love to have a taco truck nearby – tacos are one of the most popular food items in the United States, as the ubiquitous Taco Bell chain would indicate.

Democrats took the absurd taco truck comment and began using it to make fun of the Trump campaign. In some locations, taco trucks have now been used as part of voter registration drives in order to get new voters to the polls in November.

Trump’s anti-immigrant campaign, specifically targeted at Latino immigrants, is expected to prompt an increase in voter registration and participation within the Latino community. The fastest growing ethnic demographic in the United States, Latinos were once seen by the Republican Party in the era of George W. Bush as a route to electoral dominance. Since then, the GOP has instead embraced a hard-right nativist stance, opposing immigration reform even when it has strong popular support.

By contrast, Democrats have now completely taken up the mantle of being pro-immigrant.

By Oliver Willis

Can the 2016 Election Be Hacked or Disrupted? Congress Listens to Tech Experts

Can the 2016 Election Be Hacked or Disrupted? Congress Listens to Tech Experts

Photo via Flickr/Amanda Wood

THE NATIONAL MEMO

(ALTERNET)

Election officials say not to worry. But computer scientists do.

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology was briefed Tuesday on 2016’s doomsday election scenario: what would happen if Russians, or another army of cyber hackers, attempted to infiltrate and corrupt the presidential election voting machinery.

What made the hearing so riveting was the schism between the assessments given. On one hand, a top federal technology officer, senior state election administrator and civilian partner downplayed this summer’s Russian hack into voter registration databases in two states, with two of them saying they were more worried about cyber threats sullying voter confidence than disrupting elections.

But the panel’s lone computer security expert unequivocally testified that a targeted cyber attack in a battleground state could easily overwhelm established voting protocols and force the presidential vote to be rerun—which has never happened. (On Wednesday, Russia was said to be behind hacks of medical records of U.S. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams.)

“My top concerns are the voter registration systems, because they are generally online. And if it’s online, it’s accessible from the internet. And if it’s accessible from the internet, it’s accessible from our nation-state adversaries,” said Dan Wallach, a computer science professor from the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. “And as I mentioned before, if you can selectively or entirely delete people who you would rather not vote, the current provisional voting system can’t really scale to support the large numbers of voters who are filling out affidavits and following that process.”

Wallach’s concerns didn’t stop there; he continued with computers tabulating vote counts. “If, for example, we were to conclude on election day that our computer systems had been unreliable, a contingency plan might be to rapidly print millions of paper ballots and rerun the election the next day. Legislation passed in most states following 2012’s Hurricane Sandy appears to allow for such mitigations.”

Needless to say, the other election experts testifying did not want to broach the notion that some number of the nation’s 10,000 voting jurisdictions might be forced into a November presidential vote do-over. While they acknowledged another cyber attack could occur by the election season’s end, they emphasized their security plans, data backup protocols, testing and screening, and said that their array of voting systems would quickly detect and quarantine any hack or attempted tampering.

“I think it’s very important for you to hear from actual election officials who actually conduct elections. And our job, at least in my opinion, is to make voting easier, more accessible, and make it tough to cheat,” said Tom Schedler, Louisiana’s secretary of state who previously was the state’s top election administrator. “But in recent weeks reports on cyber attacks have voters questioning whether their vote will actually count. And that, in my opinion, is more damaging than the potential for hacking.”

“We are all on high alert,” Schedler continued, referring to the FBI notifying states about the Russian hacks. “This whole exercise has put every one of the 50 states working on national security issues, with all national agencies, in an effort to try to improve the system we have or to recheck the system we have. But the fact is states are always evaluating security measures and emergency plans.”

There are four reasons why Americans should feel confident, added David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, a new group partnering with states to modernize aspects of their election systems.

First, there is no “single point of entry” to tamper in a presidential election, Becker said. It’s far too decentralized, with more than 10,000 jurisdictions, 100,000-plus polling places, thousands of early voting sites and millions of people voting by mail. Second, voting machines are kept under lockdown until they are used and are extensively calibrated and tested. Third, voting machines are never connected online. And fourth, three-quarters of the states vote with paper ballots and in most presidential battleground states there are post-election day audits that check tabulation accuracy. If a counting discrepancy emerges, he said the law requires that the ensuing paper ballot count is used for the final results.

“Even if hundreds of thousands of people conspired, it would have no effect, because 75 percent of states vote with paper ballots, and there’s post-election audit requirements to match paper and digital records,” Becker said. “If there is a discrepancy, they use the paper count. That’s Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin. So even if a grand conspiracy were viable, a post-election audit requirement would almost certainly discover it prior to the election results becoming official.”

In other words, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology heard two parallel and competing realities concerning the possibility of disrupting the presidential election process—and they don’t add up.

Computer scientists like Rice University’s Wallach—and his view is not unique—are saying targeted hacking and interference is not only probable, but should it occur on a large enough scale, the standard backup, using provisional ballots, would not be able to accommodate large volumes of people. But top state election officials like Schedler believe that the systems they have created, even with aging computer voting machinery, have sufficient safeguards.

“States will continue to take a proactive approach to secure our elections,” the Lousiana secretary of state said, citing systems that the public never sees. “At the end of the day, I want to ensure every American—and I speak for all of my colleagues and secretaries of state—that your next president will be determined by a vote of the people, and every vote will count.”

What to Believe?

Early this summer, Russians, according to the FBI, hacked into the Democratic National Committee’s email server and accessed thousands of files, and also went after statewide voter registration databases in Illinois and Arizona. In Illinois, hackers appeared to copy 200,000 voter files, which contain full names, addresses, birth dates, political parties, and driver’s license numbers, state officials told the press. An attempted hack into Arizona’s voter database was detected and stopped.

At Tuesday’s House hearing, the experts said that the DNC’s server was barely protected, whereas state voter registration systems were much more rigidly regulated and protected, and no data was altered. Schedler said the Illinois hack looked like more of an identity theft attempt than a political conspiracy. But that didn’t comfort Wallach, who said that one can never say that something will never happen, especially if there have been hints.

“We must prepare for the possibility that Russia or other sophisticated adversaries will use their cyber skills to attack our elections,” Wallach testified, saying authorities in Ukraine detected and stopped a Russian hack into its 2014 national elections. “And they need not attack every county in every state. It’s sufficient for them to go after battleground states, where a small nudge can have a large impact. The decentralization that we have heard about is helpful, but it’s not sufficient.”

Outside experts are also split on how seriously to take cyber threats in the presidential election. Barbara Simons, who chairs the board of the advocacy group VerifiedVoting.org and is the past president of the Association for Computing Machinery, the nation’s largest scientific computing society, said election officials don’t know what they’re up against.

“The idea that local election officials are somehow going to be able to protect their systems from hacking when Google couldn’t, when major government agencies couldn’t, and banks that spend a lot of money on their security couldn’t—the idea that local election officials who are under-funded, under-resourced, and have little to no access to computer security expertise, that they can somehow protect their systems from hacking, is just a joke,” Simons said. “Really, it’s naive. And further, you have to worry about voter systems being infected with malware that can change votes before they even reach the election officials.”

“The second issue is the vulnerability of the voter registration databases and [if] they can be attacked,” she continued, echoing Wallach. It’s a frightening thought, she continued, “The fact that the voters’ names could be removed, [that] information about them could be changed, as a way of doing selective disenfranchisement… A lot of these databases, I’m sure the majority of them, state what party the voter signed up for, and so if you just wanted to disenfranchise voters from a particular party, it wouldn’t be difficult to do if you have access to the database. You can remove their names, change some of the information, so when they go to the polls there’s something wrong.”

But Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, which has extensively studied voting vulnerabilities for years and has had a leading role in lawsuits nationally to challenge partisan voter suppression tactics, agreed with Schedler and Becker that the biggest threat this fall is to public confidence, not the voting process.

“I think we should take hacks into registration databases seriously, for a number of reasons,” Norden said. “But at the end of the day, a hack on this should not prevent any legitimate voter from being able to vote. Even if, and I’ve seen nothing to indicate that’s what happened here, but even if you did have a situation where someone was trying to manipulate the database records, you will be able to ensure that on election day that people have some way of voting and that you can make sure that their votes are counted at the end of election night, even if somebody screwed with the registration records.”

Becker’s testimony made that same point; that even if there was an attempted hack, it would likely be thwarted, but public confidence would be undermined by the widespread press coverage.

“Probably my biggest concern is that there is a lot of talk, more than I have ever seen before, and before any vote is even cast, about the election being rigged,” Norden said. “I’m concerned about people showing up. I am concerned about voter confidence. And I am concerned that inevitably there are going to be some problems on election day with our equipment, and people don’t take that to mean that the election was stolen.”

He continued, “I’m concerned about, as Trump has talked about, having more [poll] observers on election day, and certainly there are different rules in the states for allowing for allowing for observers and challengers. But if you are going to have a massive amount of people showing up at the polls and not understanding what the laws are, that’s a concern to me, any kind of big change like that.”

Tuesday’s Committee on Science, Space and Technology hearing left one with a sinking feeling that the upcoming presidential vote is full of targets for hackers and partisans, notwithstanding efforts by election administrators. When Chairman Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, was repeatedly told he should be confident that there was a paper ballot backup trail, and ability to do post-voting audits and recounts in three-quarters of the states, he politely told the committee room he was not reassured.

“By the way, when I hear you all recommend paper ballots I wince a little bit, because those of us from Texas have sometimes read about what happened in the 1950s when a ballot box was stuffed with paper ballots and it changed the outcome of a Senate race and perhaps elected the next president—so I sometimes worry about paper ballots as well.”

That notorious race (actually in 1948) elected Lyndon Baines Johnson, the future 36th president, to the U.S. Senate. As surreal as that comment was, it fit in with the warning from the Rice University computer scientist.

“As [former Secretary of Defense] Donald Rumsfeld said, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might wish to have at a later time,” Wallach said. “We face a similar situation this November with our systems for voter registration, casting and tabulating elections. None of them are ready to rebuff attacks from our nation-state adversaries nor can we replace them in time to make a difference. Despite this, we can take pragmatic steps such as verifying the integrity of election database backups, and we can make contingency plans on how we may respond, if and when we do detect attacks.”