Joe Biden again this weekend denied the claim of sexual assault made against him by a former Senate staffer who worked for him in 1993, calling that claim "false." Since then, discussion over the allegation has revolved around whether or not there is any potential proof that the accuser, Tara Reade, lodged a congressional complaint against Biden in 1990s, CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson reports. Reade told CBS News said she filed a complaint in 1993 with the Senate "about general concerns with inappropriate behavior with Biden" when she worked in his office. But Reade also acknowledged to CBS News that even if any complaint documents were found today they would not detail her recent expanded claim of sexual assault against Biden.
Biden's campaign is now in a back-and-forth with the secretary of the United States Senate, inquiring about the confidentiality granted to complaints made by congressional staffers. In a letter on Friday, Biden pushed for full release of "any and all" complaint records from Reade. But on Monday the Senate told reporters due to confidentiality issues even if records of a complaint are found the Senate is unable to release them. In their latest response, Biden's campaign asked the Senate if they would be allowed to release any potential complaint documents from the 90s if the accuser, Tara Reade, also agrees to their release.
FROM THE CANDIDATES
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
Now that the U.S. has surpassed 60,000 COVID-19 deaths, the lower end of what President Trump had said he thought the U.S. could see, he is now predicting up to 100,000 will die, CBS News White House producer Kristin Brown and campaign reporter Nicole Sganga report. Late last month, he said, "If you look at what original projections were — 2.2 million — we're probably heading to 60,000, 70,000."
At a virtual town hall hosted by Fox News Sunday evening, Mr. Trump said, "We're going to lose anywhere from 75-, 80- to 100,000 people. That's a horrible thing," though he feels U.S. projections are on the low side compared to other countries.
Mr. Trump criticized governors who are taking a cautious approach to reopening their states. He slammed Virginia for plans to remain closed until mid-June. He also criticized Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, accusing her of asking for nothing during the conference calls he holds with governors and then later complaining publicly about his administration.
"Every governor there, we asked them, 'What do you need?' Not one governor needed anything. Now all of a sudden you see her on the Sunday — I watched it," he said. "'Well, we should get this and we should get that.' She ought to get back to running her state properly. Because she should have brought it up on the phone call."
Pushed on what he believes happened in Wuhan, China, and whether the virus was able to spread due to a mistake or an intentional action, the President said he believes it was a "horrible mistake" that China then tried to cover things up. He told viewers he has not ruled out imposing more tariffs on China as punishment, calling tariffs the "greatest negotiating tool."
Mr. Trump said he thinks there will be a vaccine by the end of the year, a quicker timeline than the 12-to-18 months federal experts have suggested. And, on returning to the campaign trail, he added that he hopes to be able to hold rallies in various states "within the last couple of months" before the election. The president's re-election campaign has reportedly ordered red, Trump-branded face masks for supporters, according to the Wall Street Journal.
With exactly six months to election day 2020, the Trump campaign launched its first television ad blitz Sunday with a new video highlighting the President's response to the coronavirus pandemic. Titled "the American comeback," the new 60-second spot is part of a seven-figure nationwide buy. In celebration of "Star Wars Day," the Trump campaign tweeted out a video Monday depicting the president as Yoda, decapitating cable news networks CNN and MSNBC. The scene from "Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith," superimposes Joe Biden's face on Emperor Palpatine, Sganga. Twitter and the Walt Disney company did not immediately respond to CBS News inquiries regarding the campaign's use of copyrighted material.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said she has "repeatedly" made it clear to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence that Michigan needs more swabs and reagents to combat the coronavirus pandemic. In a Fox News town hall Sunday night, Trump said Whitmer "should have brought it up on the phone call" with him and Vice President Pence.
In a briefing on Monday, CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman reports Whitmer said that she believes more swabs and reagents from the federal government will be delivered to Michigan. Whitmer added that she conveys to the Trump administration that testing and reagents are critical components to address the coronavirus.
"I have reiterated that every single time that I have an opportunity to interface for the White House," Whitmer said. In a press release after her briefing, Whitmer announced that more than $3.3 million in financial relief will be administered to 657 bar and restaurant owners across Michigan.
Whitmer also sent "Saturday Night Live" star Cecily Strong a care package of Bell's Brewery beer. Last week, Strong portrayed Whitmer in a SNL skit drinking LaBatt beer, which is a Canadian beer. Strong posted a photo of the care package to Instagram over the weekend, saying "Got a giant and gorgeous Michigan care package sent to New York courtesy of that super cool woman from Michigan."
Photos obtained first by CBS News show Democratic Congressman Harley Rouda spending time at a private beach in Southern California despite orders from Governor Gavin Newsom to close some public beaches in the area, CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar reports. Rouda, a first-term Congressman who beat Dana Rohrabacher, represents the 48th district, which encompasses Orange County. Last week Newsom specifically ordered a "hard close" on Orange County beaches after photos showing people not respecting social distancing went viral on social media. Rouda's campaign manager said in a statement that Rouda and his family "were actively moving and adequately socially distancing on a residential beach, which has explicitly outlined beach access requirements in accordance with Governor Newsom's beach order." On Thursday, Rouda issued a statement on his website saying local officials in Orange County need to come up with a plan to make sure beaches sure beaches aren't closed indefinitely. "Orange County's pristine beaches are more than tourist attractions — they are essential public spaces, like parks, that residents should be allowed to utilize safely," Rouda's statement said. Local officials in Orange County requested a temporary restraining order to block the governor's executive order closing beaches but a judge rejected that injunction and beaches spanning the Orange County coastline remained closed over the weekend.
On Saturday, Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, added to his delegate total by winning the Kansas Democratic Party primary with over 76% of the popular vote. All officially declared candidates remained on the ballot and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was the only one other than Biden to reach the 15% viability threshold, gaining 23% of the popular vote.
According to CBS News estimates, Biden will earn at least 29 delegates from the state of Kansas. Sanders, who has said he wants to continue to assemble as many delegates possible prior to the Democratic convention in order to "exert significant influence over the party platform," will also earn some delegates. This was the first state party run primary in Kansas since 1992.
In 2016 Kansas Democrats held caucuses and less than 40,000 participated. The KDP said the 2020 primary "set a participation record with 146,873 ballots cast for a total turnout rate of 34.7% among registered Democrats in Kansas." KDP Chair Vicki Hiatt told CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar she was "satisfied" with the turnout rate but acknowledged it would have been higher if the race was still "competitive" and "if we hadn't been dealing with COVID-19."
The KDP decided to move its primary to all vote-by-mail because of the coronavirus pandemic. Hiatt said she was only expecting about 70,000 ballots to be cast but the party ended up processing nearly twice as many. That led to a need for more manpower, Hiatt said. She explained that over a 10-day period her team, limited to 10 volunteers working at a time, processed about 70,000. The following weekend another 72,000 ballots showed up in the mail.
"That was kind of an eye opener, that, 'oh my gosh it's taken us this long to get through 70,000 and now we have another 72,000 to go through,' that was kind of an awakening," Hiatt said. Under "normal circumstances" Hiatt said she would have called in 50 volunteers to help process ballots and answer a swarm of last minute calls from voters.
Hiatt said despite "some little glitches" the feedback she has received in her state is that voting by mail "is kind of the standard for moving forward." Hiatt said she hopes it will reach a point where state funding will be provided to help cover the costs, adding "it is very difficult for a state party by itself to fund something of this magnitude.
Almost a million residents in Pennsylvania have applied to vote by mail in the state's June 2 primary election, according to CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak. As COVID-19 has shut down non-essential businesses in the state, Pennsylvania has received 948,831 requests for mail-in and absentee ballots with another three weeks remaining to apply, according to a press release from the governor's office.
The state legislature had passed and Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill last year allowing residents to apply for mail-in ballots without an excuse, but in a press conference the governor and secretary of state said voters will be able to go to the polls if they want to.
"I want Pennsylvanians to know that they have options for how to cast their ballots, including both voting by mail and voting in person, Wolf said. "Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, and Pennsylvanians can still cast their ballots while keeping themselves safe and healthy."
Wolf plans to ease social distancing restrictions in some less populated areas in Northcentral and Northeast Pennsylvania Friday, but said people living in areas that remain under stay at home orders June 2 will still have the option to go to a polling place to vote. Wolf said the state would not require voters to wear masks to polling places, but he urged them to do so.
"If it's going to work, it's going to work because Pennsylvanians recognize they don't want to infect other Pennsylvanians," he said.
Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said requiring mail-in voting anywhere would not be an option because some people with disabilities cannot vote by mail.
The Pennsylvania legislature in March moved its planned April primary to June and agreed to allow mail-in ballot counting to begin the morning of Election Day. Still, the state will have to process at least ten times the absentee ballots it did in the 2016 primary election, posing potential problems for a state department already seeing an increase in work from COVID-19 relief efforts.
"That's a huge increase for the work that's going to be required of the county election offices across the state," Boockvar. "This is a concern and something we are going to need to do everything we can to help and recognize it is an issue."
IN THE SENATE
Six candidates competing in the Democratic primary to take on Republican Senator David Perdue in November participated in a televised debate Sunday night, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson.
Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Atlanta Press Club sponsored the debate which took place virtually because of coronavirus concerns. The 90-minute debate went through a range of issues early on including the candidates' personal backgrounds but turned to focus on how the candidates would respond to the effects of the coronavirus.
The candidates were asked at the tail end of the debate whether there should be a fuller investigation of Tara Reade's accusation against Joe Biden. The candidates all agreed that women should be taken seriously and there should be due process for the accused. Seven candidates will be on the June 9 primary ballot, but one of the candidates did not respond to an invitation to participate in Sunday's debate, according to moderator Donna Lowry.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has not endorsed in this race yet but fundraising numbers show former House candidate Jon Ossoff is leading the rest of the pack.
IN THE HOUSE
The special election in California's 25th district between Democrat Christy Smith and Republican Mike Garcia is eight days away, and while in-person voting at selected polls began over the weekend, this has been labeled as an all-mail ballot election.
So much so, that the early absentee ballot count shows a turnout of about 21% already with about 91,000 mail ballots returned. Republicans hold the edge so far, with a bit over 41,696 ballots returned compared to 31,610 Democrat ballots. This equates to about 31% of eligible Republican ballots being turned in, compared to 19% for Democrats, who hold a registration advantage in the Los Angeles County area district. Political Data Inc.
Vice President Paul Mitchell told CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro the early disparity amongst the two parties checks out with prior patterns, where older conservative voters vote early while younger, minority voters vote a bit more last minute. "We used to attribute this, kind of jokingly, to well you know, the people who know where their stamps are vote first. But the pattern has held true, even though all mail ballots now are postage free," he said.
Mitchell also pointed out that the pandemic has created an unprecedented environment for this election, making it harder to read as much into any of the early numbers. "We've never had an election where everybody was staying home, where in some households the most exciting thing in a given day is checking for the mail," he added. "Instead think of this as the first case of this all mail voting in this kind of election and see if we can learn something from it, that we'll be able to apply to November."
Outside groups have been funneling money in the last minute push. The House GOP-backed Congressional Leadership Fund contributed $14,756 this past Saturday, and have spent more than $579,000 in total.
Their Democratic equivalent, the House Majority PAC, has not been as active since the March 3rd primary. While Smith has had the slight fundraising advantage throughout the race, Garcia has received $73,899 in recent contributions according to his last two filings, while Smith has picked up $68,800. Cook Political Report rates this race as a toss-up.