OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior Secretary will lead BLM after judge ousts Pendley from public lands role | Trump, Biden spar over climate change at debate

HAPPY WEDNESDAY! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill’s roundup of the latest energy and environment news. Please send tips and comments to Rebecca Beitsch at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @rebeccabeitsch. Reach Rachel Frazin at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter: @RachelFrazin.



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OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior Secretary will lead BLM after judge ousts Pendley from public lands role | Trump, Biden spar over climate change at debate | Trump official delays polar bear study with potential implications on drilling: report

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FILL-IN THE BERN: The Department of the Interior will not name a new acting director to lead the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) after it’s leader was ousted by a federal judge, top officials told employees in an email obtained by The Hill.

Instead the job will be left to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

A Montana-based U.S. district judge on Friday ruled William Perry Pendley, the controversial acting director of BLM, “served unlawfully … for 424 days” and enjoined him from continuing in the role.

The decision was in response to a suit from Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D), who argued Pendley, whose nomination to lead the BLM was pulled by the White House last month, was illegally serving in his role through a series of temporary orders.

A Wednesday email makes clear that Interior will not be placing the top career official in charge of the nation’s public lands agency, as its department manual dictates.

“I understand there may be some questions about the ruling on Friday regarding William Perry Pendley’s leadership role at the Bureau of Land Management,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Land and Minerals Management Casey Hammond wrote in an email to BLM staff.

“Secretary Bernhardt leads the bureau and relies on the BLM’s management team to carry out the mission. Deputy Director for Programs and Policy, William Perry Pendley, will continue to serve in his leadership role.”

Judge Brian Morris, an Obama appointee, ruled Friday that Interior and the White House improperly relied on temporary orders far beyond the 210 days allotted in the Federal Vacancies Reform Act while also violating the Constitutional requirement to seek approval from the Senate.

“The President cannot shelter unconstitutional ‘temporary’ appointments for the duration of his presidency through a matryoshka doll of delegated authorities,” he wrote.

Pendley has sparked controversy over the course of the year he has led BLM due to his long history opposing federal ownership of public lands as well as comments he has made questioning climate change and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Putting Bernhardt at the helm of the agency appears to comply with the court order from Morris.

But critics say the move centralizes power for the agency in the highest political circles after relocating more than 200 Washington, D.C.,-based positions to Grand Junction, Colo., in order to bring employees closer to the lands they manage.

The move leaves just 61 BLM employees in Washington.

“Secretary Bernhardt’s decision to centralize final decision-making in Washington,

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Obama Says White House Trying ‘To Keep People From Voting’ in New Biden Campaign Ads

Barack Obama has claimed that the White House is “working to keep people from voting,” in one of two new adverts for the Joe Biden presidential campaign that encourage Black people to exercise their power at the ballot box.

The videos, the other featuring vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, will be featured on popular Black entertainment news sites The Shade Room and The Young, Black, and Fabulous. They ask Black voters to make a plan of where and when to vote.

“Hey, roommates, Barack Obama here. Yes, coming to you from The Shade Room. As you know the election is coming up and I’ve got just one word for you: vote,” the former president says.

“Actually, I’ve got two: vote early. Right now, from the White House on down, folks are working to keep people from voting, especially communities of color.”

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Obama moves on to say that this is “because there is a lot at stake in this election,” mentioning the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, racial justice and “our democracy itself.” He encourages those watching to make a plan to vote early and to tell friends and family to do the same.

The video with vice presidential nominee Harris also starts out with her introducing herself. She then says: “We are coming down to the wire in this election and we know it’s all on the line. Everything from women’s health to our jobs, from black businesses to the quality of our schools and our communities.”

“To make progress in all the ways that matter to us and the ones we love,” Harris says, “we must vote, and we must vote early.”

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She carries on to say that this year, it is “easier and more convenient to make your voice heard on your schedule,” encouraging those who are voting in person to pick a day to go to the polls.

If they are voting by mail, she asks you to get your ballot as soon as possible, either by mailing it in or handing it in person. Harris, like Obama, tells viewers to encourage their friends and family to make a plan to vote as well.

The Shade Room, an Instagram-focused platform founded by Angelica Nwandu in 2014, counts more than 20 million followers on the social media platform.

Meanwhile, the Young, Black and Fabulous website, focused on Black celebrity gossip, was started in 2005 by Natasha Eubanks.

Both platforms have also pivoted to covering racial justice and injustice issues as well as the upcoming election.

A Washington Post-Ipsos poll from June showed that 92 percent of Black registered voters supported Biden over President Donald Trump.

A more recent survey conducted by the Wall Street Journal/NBC News between September 13 -16 found Biden leading Trump among Black voters by 90 percent to 5 percent.

Barack Obama
Former President Barack Obama gives the eulogy at the funeral service for the late Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) at Ebenezer Baptist Church on July 30,
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Former White House physician echoes Trump’s accusation of Biden drug use for debates

A former White House physician underscored President TrumpDonald John TrumpCensus Bureau intends to wrap up count on Oct. 5 despite judge’s order Top House Republican calls for probe of source of NYT Trump tax documents New Yorkers report receiving ballots with wrong name, voter addresses MORE‘s claim that Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenTop House Republican calls for probe of source of NYT Trump tax documents Judge’s ruling creates fresh hurdle for Trump’s TikTok ban Harris says she hasn’t ‘made a plan one way or another’ on meeting Supreme Court nominee MORE might take performance enhancing drugs before debating him on Tuesday night. 

“Obviously something is going on with this man at this point,” Dr. Ronny Jackson said on Fox News’ “Hannity.” “I think it’s completely reasonable to ask if he’s being medicated because there have been a couple of times where he has come out and looked a little more energetic than he has in the last few months.”

Jackson, a Trump loyalist and candidate for a congressional race in Texas, said it is possible Biden is having “good days and bad days” as part of what he called the former vice president’s “cognitive decline.” 

“But I think it’s completely reasonable to ask if he’s taking medications to help him with his alertness and his memory,” Jackson said. 

 

 

Over the weekend, Trump tweeted he would demand Biden take a drug test before taking the debate stage this week in Cleveland. 

 

“I will be strongly demanding a Drug Test of Sleepy Joe Biden prior to, or after, the Debate on Tuesday night,” Trump said. “Naturally, I will agree to take one also. His Debate performances have been record setting UNEVEN, to put it mildly. Only drugs could have caused this discrepancy???”

 

The Biden campaign dismissed the notion that he would ever submit to a drug test. 

 

“Vice President Biden intends to deliver his debate answers in words. If the president thinks his best case is made in urine he can have at it,” Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said according to Fox News. “We’d expect nothing less from Donald Trump, who pissed away the chance to protect the lives of 200K Americans when he didn’t make a plan to stop COVID-19.”

 

 

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Pelosi preparing for House to decide presidency if neither Trump or Biden win electoral college: report

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick ‘threatens’ Affordable Care Act Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election Will Democrats attempt to pack the Supreme Court again? MORE (D-Calif.) is reportedly preparing lawmakers for the possibility of an Electoral College tie forcing the House to decide the election, according to a Politico report published Sunday.

Such a scenario would involve each of the 50 state delegations in the House having just one vote in the process, Pelosi reportedly warned House Democrats in a letter Sunday, and would force Democrats to shift their strategy ahead of November.

“The Constitution says that a candidate must receive a majority of the state delegations to win,” the House leader wrote, according to Politico. “We must achieve that majority of delegations or keep the Republicans from doing so.”

A tie in the Electoral College could result from a number of scenarios, including neither candidate reaching 270 electoral votes due to voting totals or as the result of so-called “faithless” electors, or electors who do not vote for the candidate who is victorious in their state.

An elector hasn’t voted for the candidate to come in second place in their state since 1968, according to 270 To Win, but in 2016 several electors refused to cast their votes at all, an unusually high number.

Republicans currently hold overall control of 26 state delegations, compared to 23 for Democrats. Pennsylvania’s delegation is split evenly. Both of those numbers could change wildly in November, however, as all 435 voting members of the House are up for reelection.

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Biden promises U.S. mayors he will be a partner in the White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden assured U.S. mayors on Saturday he would be an active partner in the White House in helping them respond to racial justice protests and the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: Democratic U.S. presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to union carpenters during a campaign event at the Jerry Alander Carpenter Training Center in Hermantown, a suburb of Duluth, Minnesota, U.S., September 18, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

“If I am elected, you will have direct access to the White House,” Biden, who is challenging Republican Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election, told the fall leadership meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in a virtual address from his home in Delaware.

“It is all from the bottom up. It doesn’t go from the top down,” he said. “Whether your city is red or blue, I’m going to be there, I promise you.”

Biden, who served as vice president under Barack Obama for eight years, said he spoke to more than 200 mayors to get their input during the Obama administration’s recovery efforts after the 2008 economic crisis.

“That’s the same approach we should be taking today,” he said.

Biden leads Trump in national polls, although polls in crucial state battlegrounds show a much closer race as the two prepare for their first one-on-one debate on Tuesday.

Biden criticized Trump for failing to develop a national plan to attack the coronavirus, and for not working to bring together congressional leaders to negotiate a new relief package for cities and states. Formal COVID-19 relief talks have been stalled for weeks.

He also slammed Trump for his divisive rhetoric on the racial justice protests against police brutality playing out on American streets.

Trump, who has made law and order a principal theme of his re-election bid, has singled out Democratic-led cities such as Portland, Oregon, as “anarchist jurisdictions” that should have federal funding cut.

“It’s the only strategy this president seems to know,” Biden said. “We can disagree on policies, but we have to cooperate.”

Reporting by John Whitesides; Editing by Richard Chang

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Biden Promises U.S. Mayors He Will Be a Partner in the White House | Top News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden assured U.S. mayors on Saturday he would be an active partner in the White House in helping them respond to racial justice protests and the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

“If I am elected, you will have direct access to the White House,” Biden, who is challenging Republican Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election, told the fall leadership meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in a virtual address from his home in Delaware.

“It is all from the bottom up. It doesn’t go from the top down,” he said. “Whether your city is red or blue, I’m going to be there, I promise you.”

Biden, who served as vice president under Barack Obama for eight years, said he spoke to more than 200 mayors to get their input during the Obama administration’s recovery efforts after the 2008 economic crisis.

“That’s the same approach we should be taking today,” he said.

Biden leads Trump in national polls, although polls in crucial state battlegrounds show a much closer race as the two prepare for their first one-on-one debate on Tuesday.

Biden criticized Trump for failing to develop a national plan to attack the coronavirus, and for not working to bring together congressional leaders to negotiate a new relief package for cities and states. Formal COVID-19 relief talks have been stalled for weeks.

He also slammed Trump for his divisive rhetoric on the racial justice protests against police brutality playing out on American streets.

Trump, who has made law and order a principal theme of his re-election bid, has singled out Democratic-led cities such as Portland, Oregon, as “anarchist jurisdictions” that should have federal funding cut.

“It’s the only strategy this president seems to know,” Biden said. “We can disagree on policies, but we have to cooperate.”

(Reporting by John Whitesides; Editing by Richard Chang)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Biden Says He Plans To “Elevate” Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division Into White House Office | Video

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden campaigned in Charlotte, NC on Wednesday where he spoke to the “Black Economic Summit.” During a rare Q&A at the end of the event, Biden spoke about a new plan to move the Civil Rights Divison out from under the preview of the Justice Department and directly into the White House.

The final question Biden answered had to do with reforming the Justice Department, “and especially the civil rights division after four years of Trump?”

Biden said Trump has used the Justice Department like his own personal law firm and if he is president it will be “totally independent of me.”

Biden said the Civil Rights Division would also have a direct office “inside the White House.”

“So I would make sure there’s a combination of the Civil Rights division having more direct authority inside the Justice Department.”

“But most of all,” Biden said, he would have an attorney general who “understands” the DoJ is not supposed to be “the Department of Trump.”

“I’d make sure there’s a combination of the Civil Rights Division having more direct authority inside the Justice Department and be able to investigate, than in fact it has now,” Biden said. “I’ll do what the Justice Department says should be done and not politicize.”

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White House Attacks Former Pence Aide Who Endorsed Biden

WASHINGTON — Top White House aides on Tuesday escalated their efforts to undermine the credibility of a former senior adviser to Vice President Mike Pence who has endorsed Joseph R. Biden Jr., accusing her of publicly criticizing the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic because she is disgruntled over being fired.

Keith Kellogg, the retired lieutenant general who is national security adviser to Mr. Pence, told reporters that he had recommended removing the aide, Olivia Troye, from her position as the vice president’s top Homeland Security adviser in charge of managing the coronavirus task force.

“The reason I fired her was her performances started to drop after six months working on the task force,” Mr. Kellogg said, calling Ms. Troye a “backbencher” in the administration’s efforts to combat the pandemic.

“She was responsible for coordinating meetings, bringing people together. And when the performance level dropped off,” he said, he went to Mr. Pence “and recommended she leave. I’m the one that escorted her off the compound.”

The comments from Mr. Kellogg and similar criticism of Ms. Troye from Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, were part of an aggressive public relations attempt to denounce and discredit former administration officials who are increasingly speaking out against President Trump.

Miles Taylor, the former chief of staff to Kirstjen Nielsen, the former secretary of homeland security, last week announced a new organization with more than two dozen former administration officials and other Republicans who oppose Mr. Trump’s bid for a second term. Ms. Troye is a member of the group, as is Josh Venable, who served as chief of staff for Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education.

“These are not profiles in courage; these are profiles in cowardice,” Ms. McEnany said on Tuesday during a briefing with reporters.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Ms. Troye disputed Mr. Kellogg’s claim, adding a photo of a ceremonial coin that she said Mr. Kellogg had given her upon her departure.

“Sad that Gen. Kellogg is telling a bald faced lie to protect the President,” she wrote. “I resigned on my own accord & was asked to stay. He never escorted me out. He knows this. I wrote a note thanking all the colleagues who had worked so hard with me in spite of POTUS & I stand by that.”

Mr. Taylor issued a statement on Twitter after the briefing as well, saying: “The truth drives this White House crazy. My feelings aren’t hurt, @PressSec. But you didn’t specifically deny what I’ve said about POTUS. That’s because it’s all real. And y’all are worried about Americans hearing it.”

In an opinion essay posted on CNN’s website on Tuesday, Mr. Taylor praised Ms. Troye for coming forward, adding that senior administration officials had “sung her praises to me repeatedly during her two years at the White House.”

Ms. Troye, a lifelong Republican who had previously served in national security positions in the George W. Bush administration, came forward

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Election 2020 live updates: Biden makes appeal to Black voters in N.C. as Trump stages White House events

Speaking in Charlotte, on Wednesday, Biden focused on the economic vulnerability of African Americans, outlining his previous proposals for racial equity while pledging to elevate the Civil Rights Division if he is elected.

At what was billed as a “Black Economic Summit,” he addressed the growing racial unrest around the country and the potential to spur change in public policy.

“Average people have gone, ‘My lord, holy mackerel. I didn’t know it was this bad,’” Biden said.

During his remarks, a grand jury in Jefferson County, Ky., indicted a former police officer on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor during a drug raid in March. Biden did not mention the case directly.

Biden talked about infusing more money into historically Black colleges and universities, and touted a plan that would allow anyone from a family making less than $125,000 to go to a public college for free.

At one point, he stopped and said he kept a list of his major funding proposals and how he’d pay for them, pulling a notecard out of his pocket. He argued for tax code changes that would raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy — but he also tried to make clear he wasn’t going as far, politically or rhetorically, as his former Democratic primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“You think I’m making it like, you know … Bernie Sanders, ‘Billionaires are bad.’ That’s not the problem,” Biden said, casting his proposal as a more modest increase in the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans to 39.4 percent. “I’m not trying to punish anybody. It’s time everybody pay their fair share.”

At the end, Biden said he would allow one more question, saying with a laugh, “I could really do yes or no if you ask me an easy question.” The question was about how the Department of Justice would operate differently under him.

“This has been the most corrupt administration to modern American history,” Biden said. “The Justice Department’s turned into the president’s private law firm.”

On cases and prosecutions, Biden said, “the Justice Department will be totally independent of me.” But he said that the Civil Rights division would be elevated and would have “a direct office within the White House.”

“I’d make sure there’s a combination of the Civil Rights Division having more direct authority inside the Justice Department and be able to investigate, than in fact it has now,” Biden said.

“But I get asked the following question, ‘If in fact you get elected, would you prosecute Trump?’” Biden added. “The answer is I’m not going to pursue prosecuting anybody. I’m going to do what the Justice Department says should be done.”

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White House says Biden needs to release Supreme Court list

Joe Biden needs to release his Supreme Court nominee list so voters can know who he would pick to fill the vacancy left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany argued Saturday.

“The former vice president, in all due respect, instead of telling the current president what to do, he needs to tell voters where he stands,” McEnany told “Fox & Friends Weekend,” adding, “We don’t know who is on his Supreme Court list. We don’t know what kind of justices he would nominate.”

She honored Ginsburg, 87, who passed away on Friday from complications surrounding metastatic pancreatic cancer, saying she “paved the way and made a place in American history that will never be forgotten.”

TRUMP URGES REPUBLICANS TO FILL GINSBURG VACANCY ‘WITHOUT DELAY’

President Trump tweeted that Republicans have an “obligation” to fill the Supreme Court seat “without delay!” after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., just hours after Ginsburg’s passing, vowed that a Trump nominee to the Supreme Court to fill her vacancy “will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

Trump’s list includes Daniel Cameron, the Kentucky attorney general who recently spoke at the Republican Convention, as well as Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri.

Biden said Friday that the winner of November’s presidential election should be the person to nominate a successor to Ginsburg.

MCCONNELL: TRUMP’S SUPREME COURT NOMINEE ‘WILL RECEIVE A VOTE ON THE FLOOR OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE’

“There is no doubt, let me be clear, that the voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider,” Biden emphasized as he spoke to reporters Friday night.

“We know very squarely this president’s been very transparent putting forward two lists as to exactly not just what his justices would look like but what their names would be,” McEnany said of Trump’s decision to release his list earlier this month.

SCHUMER: GINSBURG VACANCY SHOULD NOT BE FILLED UNTIL AFTER THE ELECTION

“This is paramount importance to the American voters,” she added. “This is now a lynchpin issue of this election and Joe Biden, you know, where do you stand? What do your justices look like? Do they believe in the Constitution and abide by the Constitution. Do they believe in the plain words a statute? He needs to answer those questions before telling President Trump exactly how to move forward.”

Biden has previously stated that he will pick an African American woman but does not want to release any names until they’ve been properly vetted.

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McEnany said Trump’s Supreme Court pick will not be based on race or gender, saying, “principles are at the heart of who the president chooses.”

“This is a lifetime appointment,” she concluded. “These are issues that hit at the very core of our liberties, like the Second Amendment, like the right to life, the First Amendment, freedom

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