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 President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden scrapped over how to tame the raging coronavirus in Thursday's final 2020 debate, largely shelving the rancor that overshadowed their previous face-off in favor of a more substantive exchange that highlighted their vastly different approaches to solving the major domestic and foreign policy challenges facing the nation.

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Environmental groups asked a federal court Wednesday to throw out the Trump administration's assessment of oil and gas activity's likely effects on endangered species in the Gulf of Mexico, saying it dismisses the chance of another disastrous blowout like the BP spill of 2010.

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President Donald Trump is hopping from one must-win stop on the electoral map to the next in the leadup to a final presidential debate that may be his last, best chance to alter the trajectory of the 2020 campaign.

As Democrat Joe Biden holes up for debate prep in advance of Thursday's faceoff in Nashville, Tennessee, he's hoping for a boost from former President Barack Obama, who will be holding his first in-person campaign event for Biden on Wednesday in Philadelphia.

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The first lady has decided against accompanying President Donald Trump to a campaign rally Tuesday in Erie, Pennsylvania, because of a lingering cough after her bout with COVID-19, said Stephanie Grisham, her chief of staff.

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President Donald Trump shunned formal debate practice Tuesday and was heading instead for another of his big rallies, two days ahead of the final presidential debate that may be his last, best chance to alter the trajectory of the 2020 campaign. Democrat Joe Biden took the opposite approach, holing up for debate prep.

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Questions over whether ballots will count if someone votes early but dies before Election Day are especially pressing this year, amid a coronavirus outbreak that has been especially perilous for older Americans. People 85 years and older represent nearly one in three deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. As an election looms, the odds against older people who contract the virus are on the minds of the elderly and their family members.

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Never in U.S. history have immigrants been excluded from the population count that determines how House seats, and by extension Electoral College votes, are divided among the states, a three-judge federal count said in September when it held Trump's policy illegal.

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The FBI is investigating whether emails that were published by the New York Post related to Joe Biden's son, Hunter, are connected to a possible Russian influence operation to spread disinformation, according to a person familiar with the matter.

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Rising coronavirus cases in key presidential battleground states a little more than two weeks before Election Day are the latest worry for election officials and voters fearing chaos or exposure to the virus at polling places despite months of planning.

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The Taliban said on Friday they have agreed to suspend attacks in southern Afghanistan that have displaced thousands this week — but only after the Americans promised to halt all strikes and night raids in keeping with the peace agreement the U.S. signed with the insurgents in February.

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For Republicans, the nomination fight over Amy Coney Barrett is a chance to seal conservative control of the Supreme Court for decades. For some GOP senators, it's also a lifeline they hope will preserve their political careers and their party's control of the chamber in November's elections.

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Trump's campaign, along with the Republican National Committee and associated groups, raised $247.8 million in September, well short of the $383 million raised by Biden and the Democratic National Committee in the same period. Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh tweeted that the Trump effort had $251.4 million on hand at the end of September, compared with $432 million for Biden.

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Looking to undermine rival Joe Biden 20 days before the election, President Donald Trump's campaign has seized on a tabloid story offering bizarre twists to a familiar line of attack: Biden's relationship with Ukraine. But the story in the New York Post raises more questions than answers, including about the authenticity of an email at the center of the story.

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In the United States, new cases per day are on the rise in 44 states, with the biggest surges in the Midwest and Great Plains, where resistance to wearing masks and observing other social distancing practices has been running high. Deaths per day are climbing in 30 states.

"I see this as one of the toughest times in the epidemic," said Dr. Peter Hotez, an infectious-disease specialist at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. "The numbers are going up pretty rapidly. We're going to see a pretty large epidemic across the Northern Hemisphere."

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Joe Biden's presidential campaign said Thursday that Biden had no exposure, though he and Harris spent several hours campaigning together in Arizona on Oct. 8, when the two people were on a flight with Harris. Both candidates have tested negative for COVID-19 multiple times since then, and Biden's campaign said he tested negative again on Thursday.

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"A sham," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. "Power grab," decried Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. "Not normal," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

"You don't convene a Supreme Court confirmation hearing, in the middle of a pandemic, when the Senate's on recess, when voting has already started in the presidential election in a majority of states," declared Sen. Chris Coon, D-Del.

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President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden will compete for TV audiences in dueling town halls instead of meeting face-to-face for their second debate as originally planned.

As the pace of the campaign speeds up in its final weeks, the two candidates first are taking care of other electoral necessities Thursday: Trump has a midday rally in battleground North Carolina, and Biden is raising campaign cash at a virtual event.

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The announcement Wednesday sets up dueling town halls with Democratic opponent Joe Biden on a night the two candidates were supposed to meet for their second debate. Biden is appearing on a similar town hall event in Philadelphia, televised by ABC.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he's scheduling a procedural vote on a GOP COVID-19 relief bill next week, saying aid to hard-hit businesses shouldn't be held up by gridlock involving other aid proposals.

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Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett batted back Democrats' skeptical questions on abortion, health care and a possible disputed election in a lively Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday, insisting she would bring no personal agenda to the court but would decide cases "as they come."

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Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett declared Monday that Americans "deserve an independent Supreme Court that interprets our Constitution and laws as they are written," encapsulating her conservative approach to the law that has Republicans excited about the prospect of her taking the place of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before Election Day.

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The White House is boosting its offer in up-and-down COVID-19 aid talks Friday in hopes of an agreement before Election Day, even as President Donald Trump's most powerful GOP ally in the Senate said Congress is unlikely to deliver relief by then.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is questioning President Donald Trump's fitness to serve, announcing legislation Thursday that would create a commission to allow Congress to intervene under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution and remove the president from executive duties.

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The fate of final debates between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden was thrown into uncertainty Thursday as the campaigns offered dueling proposals for the remaining faceoffs that have been upended by the president's coronavirus infection.

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The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity agency have issued a series of advisories in recent weeks aimed at warning voters about problems that could surface in the election — as well as steps Americans can take to counter the foreign interference threat.

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