Judge’s ruling puts competitive Minnesota House race back on track for November

A federal judge set up a competitive Minnesota House race to take place next month after the sudden death of a candidate in the contest appeared to set up a February special election instead. 

Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota granted an injunction requested by Rep. Angie Craig (D), the district’s representative, against enforcing the state law that would have delayed the election until February.

The ruling comes after Adam Weeks, the Legal Marijuana Now Party’s candidate running against Craig, died suddenly in late September. The timing of his death just 40 days before an election triggered the state law delaying the contest. The law was first passed in 2013 and postpones a contest if a major party candidate dies within 79 days of Election Day. 

Under the law, the race would remain on the ballot this year, but votes tallied for the district would not be counted.

Wright said the law would “unconstitutionally burden the rights of voters who have, or otherwise would, cast their ballots in the general election” and that “Representative Craig will suffer irreparable harm absent this Court issuing a preliminary injunction.”

The judge also noted that if no election is held in November, the constituents of the district will be without a representative between the time the next Congress is inaugurated and when the victor of the February special election is sworn in.

“If a preliminary injunction is not granted, two public-interest consequences will undisputedly occur. First, all votes cast for Minnesota’s Second Congressional District in November will be discarded. Second, every constituent in Minnesota’s Second Congressional District will have no representation in the United States House of Representatives for more than a month,” wrote Wright.

The ruling puts the race in the St. Paul area district back on track for November, setting up a contested battle between Craig and Republican Tyler Kistner. Craig flipped the seat in 2018 by about 5 points, but President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign raises over M on day of VP debate Trump chastises Whitmer for calling him ‘complicit’ in extremism associated with kidnapping scheme Trump says he hopes to hold rally Saturday despite recent COVID-19 diagnosis MORE beat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Trump between rock and hard place on debates Pence-Harris debate draws more than 50M viewers, up 26 percent from 2016 Not treason, not a crime — but definitely a gross abuse of power MORE in the suburban district by just 1 percentage point in 2016.

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Trump Infection Puts Large Circle of White House Aides at Risk

(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump interacted or traveled with a large coterie of top aides and advisers in the days before he was diagnosed with Covid-19, raising the risk of a widespread outbreak within the White House.



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: US President Donald Trump arrives to board Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on September 22, 2020.


© Photographer: MANDEL NGAN/AFP
US President Donald Trump arrives to board Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on September 22, 2020.

The circle of close contacts with the infected president and his wife, Melania, begins with his adviser Hope Hicks, who fell ill on Wednesday night. She traveled with Trump to the presidential debate on Tuesday and to campaign stops in Minnesota on Wednesday.

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She was seen in close quarters with several other officials, including White House senior adviser Stephen Miller and Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller.

Depending on how far the virus spreads through the halls of the West Wing and Congress, as well as the president’s campaign headquarters, much more than Trump’s travel schedule may be derailed. Face-to-face negotiations over another round of economic stimulus may be complicated, and the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett could be delayed.

It wasn’t immediately clear when or how the president was infected and how many other White House aides will be asked to quarantine due to contact with the Trumps or Hicks. The typical incubation period for the virus, or time between exposure and emergence of symptoms, is thought to be two to five days.

It is possible, if not likely, the president was infected before Wednesday, when Hicks started exhibiting signs of illness.

Ronny Jackson, the president’s former White House physician, told Fox News early Friday morning that the positive test would “affect everybody who has been around the president” as they would likely need to self-isolate. He cautioned that it’s not yet clear how widely the virus has circulated. Even though Hicks tested positive, “that doesn’t mean that’s the person he got it from,” Jackson told Fox.

“Contract tracing is being done and the appropriate notifications and recommendations will be made,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.

Early Wednesday, Trump met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to discuss negotiations over a virus relief package, according to Mnuchin.

Later that day, Trump set off for Minnesota for a fundraiser and rally. Hicks was aboard Marine One, the presidential helicopter, when it departed the White House for Joint Base Andrews, where Air Force One lands.

Joining her on the helicopter, along with Trump, were the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kusner; social media director Dan Scavino; the president’s body man, Nick Luna; and adviser Stephen Miller.

Meadows and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany joined the president’s entourage on Air Force One. Meadows was seen chatting with Kushner on the tarmac in Minneapolis, and during the return flight, the chief of staff came back to the press cabin to speak with reporters.

On Tuesday, Meadows attended a meeting on Capitol Hill with

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Trump Infection Puts Large Retinue of White House Aides at Risk

(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump interacted or traveled with a large coterie of top aides and advisers in the days before he was diagnosed with Covid-19, raising the risk of a widespread outbreak within the White House.



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: US President Donald Trump arrives to board Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on September 22, 2020.


© Photographer: MANDEL NGAN/AFP
US President Donald Trump arrives to board Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on September 22, 2020.

The circle of close contacts with the infected president and his wife, Melania, begins with his adviser Hope Hicks, who fell ill on Wednesday night. She traveled with Trump to the presidential debate on Tuesday and to campaign stops in Minnesota on Wednesday.

She was seen in close quarters with several other officials, including White House senior adviser Stephen Miller and Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller.

Depending on how far the virus spreads through the halls of the West Wing and Congress, as well as the president’s campaign headquarters, much more than Trump’s travel schedule may be derailed. Face-to-face negotiations over another round of economic stimulus may be complicated, and the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett could be delayed.

It wasn’t immediately clear when or how the president was infected and how many other White House aides will be asked to quarantine due to contact with the Trumps or Hicks. The typical incubation period for the virus, or time between exposure and emergence of symptoms, is thought to be two to five days.

It is possible, if not likely, the president was infected before Wednesday, when Hicks started exhibiting signs of illness.

Ronny Jackson, the president’s former White House physician, told Fox News early Friday morning that the positive test would “affect everybody who has been around the president” as they would likely need to self-isolate. He cautioned that it’s not yet clear how widely the virus has circulated. Even though Hicks tested positive, “that doesn’t mean that’s the person he got it from,” Jackson told Fox.

“Contract tracing is being done and the appropriate notifications and recommendations will be made,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.

Early Wednesday, Trump met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to discuss negotiations over a virus relief package, according to Mnuchin.

Later that day, Trump set off for Minnesota for a fundraiser and rally. Hicks was aboard Marine One, the presidential helicopter, when it departed the White House for Joint Base Andrews, where Air Force One lands.

Joining her on the helicopter, along with Trump, were the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kusner; social media director Dan Scavino; the president’s body man, Nick Luna; and adviser Stephen Miller.

Meadows and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany joined the president’s entourage on Air Force One. Meadows was seen chatting with Kushner on the tarmac in Minneapolis, and during the return flight, the chief of staff came back to the press cabin to speak with reporters.

On Tuesday, Meadows attended a meeting on Capitol Hill with Barrett

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White House puts off action on surprise medical bills, punts to Congress

The White House is putting off executive action to crack down on surprise medical bills, instead calling on Congress to act on the issue.  

The Trump administration had been working on a potentially far-reaching proposal to protect patients from getting stuck with massive “surprise” medical bills when they get care from a doctor who happened to be outside their insurance network, according to people familiar with the plans. 

But after pushback from health care provider groups, GOP lawmakers, and debate within the administration, the White House is instead issuing a much more limited executive order simply calling on Congress to act on the issue. 

Reining in surprise medical bills has been a priority for both parties for months, and is seen as a key patient protection.  

The order released Thursday calls on the administration to take executive action if Congress does not act by Jan. 1, but it does not specify what that action would be, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said on a press call. 

The announcement comes as part of a speech President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden on Trump’s refusal to commit to peaceful transfer of power: ‘What country are we in?’ Romney: ‘Unthinkable and unacceptable’ to not commit to peaceful transition of power Two Louisville police officers shot amid Breonna Taylor grand jury protests MORE is making Thursday afternoon in North Carolina, where he is seeking to tout his record on health care, an issue where Republicans are being battered by Democrats, ahead of the election. 

The White House had been considering a surprise billing order that would have been the more substantive part of the announcement, coupled with a largely symbolic order on pre-existing conditions. 

But the surprise billing order is now essentially punting the issue to Congress, where both parties have been calling for action for over a year, but nothing has yet passed. 

The White House declined to comment on changes to the surprise billing order.  

One of the options that had been considered, sources say, was an executive order to ban health care providers from surprise billing patients as a condition of participating in the Medicare program, a serious enforcement stick.  

Health care providers pushed back on that idea with the administration, according to a lobbyist. 

Some GOP lawmakers, including members of the conservative Republican Study Committee in the House, also pushed back on the surprise billing ideas being discussed by the White House, according to a House GOP aide. Conservative outside groups also contacted the White House to object. 

There was also internal debate on the issue within the administration, according to an administration official.  

The result is a far narrower order that simply calls on Congress to keep working on the issue. Lawmakers have so far been unable to reach agreement, despite support for taking action from both parties, amid a variety of turf battles between committees and lobbying from powerful doctor and hospital groups, including some backed by private equity companies. 

Azar said on the press call

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White House, WADA fight over anti-doping funding puts U.S. athletes in middle

“The consequences of a withdrawal of WADA funding by the U.S. could be more severe and far-reaching for American athletes,” Banka told Reuters, which first reported on the development Thursday.

At issue is a June report from the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) that urged Congress to withdraw its funding if WADA fails to take on serious reform measures and give U.S. officials greater representation on its decision-making bodies.

President Trump’s drug policy office contends that the U.S. government is the single largest contributor to WADA, giving $2.7 million annually, and that “American taxpayers should receive a tangible return on their investment in WADA in the form of clean sport, fair play, effective administration of the world anti-doping system and a proportionate voice in WADA decision-making.”

Lawmakers haven’t publicly commented on the ONDCP report, but the funding threat sent shock waves through the international doping community this summer. Dick Pound, the WADA founder and the longest-serving IOC member, called it “inexplicable.” In a statement Friday, Banka said he “will never let clean athletes become hostages of political games.”

“This matter has been raised by some concerned Governments, not by WADA’s leadership, and as is the case with any proposal raised by a stakeholder, WADA has an obligation to consider it carefully,” Banka said. “We will examine the rules to see if they need to be strengthened in light of the current situation. As always, due process will be followed and this will be a matter for discussion and consultation.”

While Banka and WADA have previously rebuked the ONDCP report, this week’s warning was the first time the organization suggested American athletes might be negatively impacted.

“Their priorities are obviously backward,” Travis Tygart, chief executive of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and an outspoken WADA critic, said in a telephone interview. “They’re threatening U.S. athletes not to compete without legal basis, yet allowing athletes from a Russian state-sponsored doping system to compete — we’re living in a twilight zone.”

“Nobody wants the money to be cut,” he continued, “but throwing good money after bad into WADA’s pocketbook makes no sense until reform is achieved that allows them to be a strong and independent regulator and not the political monster that they’ve become.”

The ONDCP provided a statement, attributed to an unnamed official, pushing back against WADA’s “threats.”

“ONDCP is committed to work with WADA to foster organizational reform that includes increased transparency and greater accountability to the nations like the United States that finance WADA’s operations,” the statement reads. “It’s a goal shared by athletes and athletic organizations around the world, and one that should be shared by WADA. Threats from WADA to exclude athletes from competition who train their entire lives for the privilege of engaging in Olympic sport does not advance these goals, and only reinforces the perception that WADA puts politics over players.”

While many international competitions have been canceled or postponed this year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the Olympics are scheduled

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