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Trump Pushes for College and Big Ten Football to Resume

President Donald Trump waves to supporters at a campaign rally in Freeland, Mich., on Thursday.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump traveled to Michigan Thursday evening for a campaign rally, where he again made a call for the return of Big Ten football and pushed for Michigan universities to reopen after making the same appeal earlier at a White House news conference.

“Let’s open it up, let’s play football,” Mr. Trump told the crowd gathered at an airport hangar in Freeland.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Trump discussed one of his favorite topics — the future of Big Ten football.

“We want to see Big Ten football,” he said. “But people are working very, very hard to get Big Ten football back and I’m pushing it, and it will be a great thing for our country and players.”

Mr. Trump said that universities should reopen because “it’s much safer for students to live on campus” than to have them at home “spreading the virus to high risk Americans.”

“I know the governor will have a lot to say about it, we hope she approves it,” he said.

His remarks came a week after the Biden campaign enlisted two football players in Michigan to make the case that the federal government’s poor coronavirus response had left swaths of the Midwest without their favorite football teams.

“The leadership in Michigan took it seriously from Day 1, locking things down and saving a lot of lives,” Calvin Johnson, the former Detroit Lions wide receiver, said in a call arranged by the campaign. “What if we had done the same with the federal response? What if we had a leader that led by example, who wears his mask and preaches social distancing?”

Mr. Trump also defended his interviews with the veteran journalist Bob Woodward. “I didn’t lie,” he said when asked to explain why he had privately described the virus as “deadly stuff” and admitted it was more deadly than “even your strenuous flu” while telling the public the opposite.

Mr. Trump bristled at a White House news conference when Jonathan Karl of ABC News asked him: “Why did you lie to the American people and why should we trust what you have to say now?”

“Such a terrible question, and the phraseology,” Mr. Trump said. “I didn’t lie. What I said is we have to be calm, we can’t be panicked.”

Later, at the rally, Mr. Trump defended himself in the wake of his own comments to Mr. Woodward by comparing his performance in explaining the coronavirus threat to the public to that of Winston Churchill during the bombing of London in World War II.

“As the British government advised the British people in the face of World War II, ‘keep calm and carry on,’ that’s what I did,” Mr. Trump said. In fact, Mr. Churchill was known for being direct with the public about the possibilities ahead.

Mr. Trump also falsely claimed credit for saving the auto industry and adding car factories to Michigan, and demagogued refugees as something Michigan residents should fear.

“He has promised to flood your state with refugees, and you know that as well as I do, and you see it all the time from terrorist hot spots around the world including Syria, Somalia and Yemen,” Mr. Trump said. At another point, he said that suburban voters needed to fear “a resident from Antifa” joining their neighborhood, should Mr. Biden win.

Joseph R. Biden Jr. arriving in Michigan on Wednesday. He will visit Manhattan on Friday to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

Joseph R. Biden Jr. will travel to New York on Friday to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, his campaign announced on Thursday.

He and his wife, Jill Biden, will attend the National September 11 Memorial & Museum’s 19th anniversary commemoration ceremony, his campaign said. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, are also scheduled to attend the ceremony.

“Family members of 9/11 victims will gather on the Memorial plaza while adhering to state and federal guidelines regarding social distancing and public gatherings,” according to a statement posted on the memorial’s website.

From there the Bidens will travel to Shanksville, Pa., where a campaign statement said that they will “pay their respects to the victims of Flight 93,” the plane that was hijacked and that crashed into a field after passengers fought back.

President Trump will also travel to Shanksville. He is expected to attend a memorial service that begins in the morning.

The new revelations about President Trump and the virus came from interviews Bob Woodward conducted with him for an upcoming book.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

A day after President Trump argued at a White House news conference that he had played down the lethality of the coronavirus in public because he did not want to “scare everybody,” the president struck a decidedly less reassuring tone on Twitter.

“If I don’t win, America’s Suburbs will be OVERRUN with Low Income Projects, Anarchists, Agitators, Looters and, of course, ‘Friendly Protesters,’ ” Mr. Trump wrote Thursday, in another sign of the way he and his campaign have tried to stoke the fears of voters.

Fear has been long been central to Mr. Trump’s political persona. He announced his candidacy for president in 2015 claiming that Mexico was sending “rapists” to the United States, used his unusually dark inaugural address to take aim at what he called “American carnage,” and, during the 2018 midterm elections, ordered troops to the southern border in response to a caravan of Central American migrants that he had characterized as an “invasion of our country.”

And fear has been a key component of his re-election bid, as the Trump campaign has tried to argue that voters would not be safe in “Joe Biden’s America.” One Trump ad showed a man prying open the door of an older woman’s home with a crowbar. When she reaches 911, a recording tells her, “Leave a message and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.”

But this week, after the damaging revelation that Mr. Trump had told the journalist Bob Woodward that he had knowingly played down the threat of the coronavirus even though he knew that it was life-threatening and vastly more serious than the flu, Mr. Trump found himself insisting that as a leader it was his duty to project confidence, not spread fear.

“We don’t want to instill panic,” the president said at the White House on Wednesday. “We don’t want to jump up and down and start shouting that we have a problem that is a tremendous problem.”

Mr. Biden, his Democratic opponent, offered a different theory on why the president had played down the threat of the virus. “It was all about making sure the stock market didn’t come down, that his wealthy friends didn’t lose any money,” Mr. Biden said at a campaign stop on Wednesday.

The new revelations about Mr. Trump and the virus came from interviews Mr. Woodward conducted with the president for his coming book, “Rage.” Mr. Woodward’s first book on the Trump presidency was called “Fear.”

The Biden campaign rebuked President Trump over revelations that he knowingly played down the severity of the coronavirus.Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign on Thursday extended its denunciations of President Trump over revelations that he knowingly minimized the risks of the coronavirus, directly blaming his response to the crisis for the loss of American lives.

In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper that aired on Thursday, Mr. Biden tore into Mr. Trump, saying that his delayed response to the virus had “caused people to die” and that his decision to play down the virus was “all about making sure the stock market didn’t come down, that his wealthy friends didn’t lose any money.”

“He waved a white flag, he walked away, he didn’t do a damn thing,” Mr. Biden said. “Think about it. Think about what he did not do. It’s almost criminal.”

Senator Kamala Harris, at an appearance in Florida also on Thursday, accused the president of recklessly endangering American lives. “He had all this information yet he held rallies, he suggested that to wear a mask is a sign of weakness as opposed to a sign of strength,” she said. “This is the president of the United States. So we continue to have examples of the fact that this is an individual who is not concerned about the health, safety and well-being of the American people and is frankly engaged in a reckless disregard of the lives and health and well being of the people of our country. I find it so outrageous.”

Earlier, during a call with reporters addressing Mr. Trump’s admission to the journalist Bob Woodward that he had intentionally played down the virus, campaign surrogates offered a similarly stinging rebuke of the president.

“My dad trusted the president,” said Kristin Urquiza, whose 65-year-old father died of the virus in Arizona in June, not long after the state lifted many stay-at-home restrictions. “He listened to the president and followed his advice,” she continued, echoing remarks she made at the Democratic convention last month.

“And sure, my dad did not panic. But instead, he died.”

Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, also on the call, said Mr. Trump’s decision to play down the virus was “the definition of Donald Trump’s phony populism.”

“He sold the American people these lies, then he betrayed them and people died,” Mr. Brown said.

The CNN interview with Mr. Biden was taped on Wednesday in Michigan. It is a state that Mr. Trump carried by less than 11,000 votes in 2016 over Hillary Clinton, who was criticized for not giving the swing state more attention.

Mr. Biden acknowledged that Democrats had work to do to earn the support of blue-collar voters who bought into Mr. Trump’s populist message.

“Look, I think number one, a lot was taken for granted,” Mr. Biden said, asserting that middle-class voters were worse off because of the Trump administration’s economic policies.

Before the Biden campaign call on Thursday, Mr. Trump tried to attack Mr. Biden’s own response to the virus, pointing in a memo to his campaign’s decision to hold an indoor rally in Michigan in early March.

The memo did not mention the rallies Mr. Trump continued to hold after he privately acknowledged the dangers of the virus and even after the severity of the virus had become abundantly clear.

Attempting to parry Mr. Trump’s attacks, Bill Russo, the deputy communications director for the Biden campaign, laid out steps Mr. Biden took as the outbreak grew, including an op-ed article Mr. Biden wrote about the dangers of the virus in January, and sought to shift the focus back to Mr. Trump.

“Maybe if the president of the United States hadn’t been lying about the extent of the crisis that we were facing, we would have had different information to make different decisions,” he said.

Microsoft’s cybercrimes unit in Redmond, Wash. The company issued a detailed assessment on Russian intelligence hackers on Thursday.Credit…Kyle Johnson for The New York Times

The Russian military intelligence unit that attacked the Democratic National Committee four years ago is back with a series of new, more stealthy hacks aimed at campaign staff, consultants and think tanks associated with both Democrats and Republicans.

That warning was issued on Thursday by the Microsoft Corporation, in an assessment that is far more detailed than any yet made public by American intelligence agencies.

The findings come one day after a government whistle-blower claimed that officials at the White House and the Department of Homeland Security suppressed intelligence concerning Russia’s continuing interference because it “made the president look bad,” and instructed government analysts to instead focus on interference by China and Iran.

Microsoft did find that Chinese and Iranian hackers have been active — but often not in the way that President Trump and his aides have suggested.

Contrary to an assessment by the director of national intelligence last month that said China preferred former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. win the election, Microsoft found that Chinese hackers have been attacking the private email accounts of Mr. Biden’s campaign staff, along with a range of other prominent individuals in academia and the national security establishment, including groups like the Atlantic Council and the Stimson Center.

Notably, only one of the Chinese targets detected by Microsoft was affiliated with Mr. Trump, a former administration official whom Microsoft declined to name.

The Biden campaign said it was “aware of reports from Microsoft that a foreign actor has made unsuccessful attempts to access the noncampaign email accounts of individuals affiliated with the campaign,” and was preparing for the inevitable onslaught of attacks in the coming weeks. While it did not confirm the company’s reporting, it has taken issue with the director of national intelligence’s assessment, issued several weeks ago, that Chinese leaders prefer Mr. Biden over Mr. Trump. The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Microsoft investigation also concluded that hackers related to Russia’s G.R.U., the military intelligence unit that oversaw the “hack and leak” campaigns in 2016 that made emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign public, is going to new lengths to hide its tracks. It is routing some of its attacks through Tor, a service that conceals the attackers’ whereabouts and identity, which slowed the effort to identify the hackers.

So far, Microsoft officials said they found no evidence that hacking efforts this year were successful, but corporate officials noted that they have limited vision into Russia’s overall operations. They cannot say definitively that no materials were stolen, or what Russia’s motivations may be. That, they said, was the role of U.S. intelligence officials.

Doctors at Novavax labs, in Rockville, Md., examining virus samples. The lab is one of those trying to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus.Credit…Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Trump warned Thursday of the dangers of being an “antivaxxer,” speaking at a White House news conference at which he lashed back at Joseph R. Biden Jr. for saying Mr. Trump had undermined public confidence in a potential Covid-19 vaccine.

“Biden’s launched a public campaign against the vaccine which is so bad, because we have some vaccines coming that are incredible,” Mr. Trump said, seeming to conflate Mr. Biden’s criticism of his opponent with an anti-vaccine position.

Until recently, Mr. Trump had been widely regarded as a vaccine skeptic who had helped spread the false idea that inoculations are linked to autism.

As recently as 2015, in a Republican presidential debate, he said that children were pumped with doses “meant for a horse, not a child,” and that could result in autism.

Mr. Trump would also boast about never getting a flu shot, telling a radio host that year, “I’ve never had one, and that’s why I’ve never had the flu. I don’t like the idea of injecting bad stuff into your body, which is basically what they do.”

As president, however, he did concede that he was getting an annual flu shot.

Now, of course, Mr. Trump has become one of the country’s leading proponents of a Covid-19 vaccine.

On Monday, Mr. Biden made clear that he was strongly in favor of vaccines. “If I could get a vaccine tomorrow, I’d do it. If it cost me the election I would do it. We need a vaccine and we need it now. We have to listen to the scientists.”

On Sunday, a CBS poll showed that just 21 percent of Americans would get a Covid-19 vaccine if it were ready “as soon as possible” and available at no cost. That response had dropped from 32 percent in a CBS poll taken in late July.

Experts fear that public anxiety about the vaccine approval process could slow the uptake of a coronavirus vaccine once it becomes available, and therefore compromise its ability to stop transmission.

Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, used taxpayer dollars on self-promotion efforts.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, abused nearly $6 million in taxpayer funds by hiring Republican consultants to burnish her image through media appearances, profile pieces and events, an investigation by congressional Democrats has found.

The investigation found that the consultants hired by Ms. Verma charged up to $380 an hour, far exceeding the salaries of federal employees, who it said were sidelined by the administrator, her aides and the consultants.

The report found that one consultant, Pam Stevens, had billed the government nearly $3,000 for work on a “Girls’ Night” in honor of Ms. Verma at the home of Susan Page, the Washington bureau chief of USA Today.

Chrissy Terrell, a spokeswoman for USA Today, said that Ms. Page had personally paid for all the costs of the Girls’ Night reception, including $4,025 for catering. She said that the reception was part of a series organized by Ms. Stevens, with events routinely held at the homes of prominent Washington journalists to honor both Democratic and Republican women. Ms. Page was not paid or reimbursed by the federal government for the event, Ms. Terrell said, and had been unaware that the government had been billed for setting it up.

The findings of the probe are contained in a report that was prepared by the Democratic staffs of several House and Senate committees. The investigation, which was first reported by Politico, relied on tens of thousands of pages of documents from the federal Department of Health and Human Services, the Medicare administrator’s parent agency, and interviews with employees and executives of two consulting firms Ms. Verma used.

The consultants had strong Republican ties. One of the consultants circulated a document entitled, “Draft Executive Visibility Proposal Seema Verma,” which targeted magazines for potential profile pieces on Ms. Verma and recommended placing her on high-profile lists of influential people, the investigation found.

And the work paid off: Between August 2018 and April 2019, the consultants landed profiles of Ms. Verma in multiple outlets.

In a statement, Ms. Stevens said she was hired in August of 2018 by Porter Novelli, a public relations firm with a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid contract “to put together a plan to educate media about CMS’s work through meetings” with Ms. Verma. “I was then asked to facilitate meetings with some of the organizations in the plan as well as with thought leaders.”

Michael Caputo, a spokesman for the department of Health and Human Services, called the report a partisan smear. “This is just another reckless, politically timed, drive-by hit job on a reform-driven Trump Administration official and, by extension, on President Trump himself,” he said in a statement.

The leaders of the Congressional committees who produced the report said in a joint statement: “We believe she should personally reimburse the taxpayers for these inappropriate expenditures.”

Absentee ballots being processed in April in Milwaukee.Credit…Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, via Associated Press

Up against a deadline next week for sending out nearly one million absentee ballots, elections officials in the battleground state of Wisconsin were ordered by the state Supreme Court on Thursday to temporarily suspend mailing them so a lawsuit over candidate eligibility could be resolved.

The order, a 4-to-3 ruling by the conservative-controlled court, came after Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for president, sued the Wisconsin Elections Commission over having been left off the Nov. 3 ballot.

The rapper Kanye West, who was denied a spot on the Wisconsin ballot as an independent presidential candidate, is mounting a separate legal challenge.

Both cases have been intensely followed by Democrats and Republicans in the state, which President Trump carried in 2016, with 22,748 more votes than Hillary Clinton. The Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, received 31,072 votes.

Many of the one million ballots have been requested by residents seeking to avoid voting in person during the pandemic.

Elections officials denied Mr. Hawkins and his running mate, Angela Walker, a place on the ballot after a challenge was mounted regarding the signatures they had submitted to secure a spot. The Green Party candidates have said the challenge was orchestrated by Democrats to keep them off the ballot. The complainant was a Democrat and retired lawyer.

The thrust of that challenge was that 2,046 of nearly 3,800 signatures the Green Party candidates collected listed the wrong street address for Ms. Walker, a technicality that left the pair short of the 2,000 names needed to qualify.

In the majority opinion, the court ordered the Elections Commission to provide the names and addresses of voters who had already received absentee ballots as of the close of business on Thursday.

A commission spokesman said the agency was working to comply with the order and would have no further comment. It was not immediately clear how long the delay in mailing would last. A state law requires absentee ballots to be sent out 47 days before the election.

Andriy Derkach attending a news conference. The Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on him, accusing him of interfering in elections.Credit…Gleb Garanich/Reuters

The Trump administration imposed sanctions on a Ukrainian lawmaker Thursday, saying he had waged “a covert influence campaign” to undermine the presidential election after he disseminated information intended to hurt former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. — material that President Trump promoted as recently as last month.

The Treasury Department accused Andriy Derkach, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, of being “an active Russian agent for over a decade” and said he had released “edited audiotapes” and “unsubstantiated allegations against U.S. and international political figures.”

While the announcement of sanctions does not name Mr. Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, it appears to describe recordings Mr. Derkach released of him in conversation with Petro O. Poroshenko, the former president of Ukraine, that Mr. Derkach claimed revealed corruption.

Mr. Derkach and other Russian agents “employ manipulation and deceit to attempt to influence elections in the United States and elsewhere around the world,” Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, said in a statement accompanying the sanctions.

Mr. Trump has pushed unsubstantiated claims that Mr. Biden used his position as vice president to pressure the Ukrainian government to protect his son, who served on the board of a gas company owned by an oligarch widely considered to be corrupt. A campaign waged by Mr. Trump and his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to pressure Ukraine to investigate the matter led to the president’s impeachment last year by the House of Representatives.

But Mr. Trump has continued calling attention to the issue. Mr. Giuliani met with Mr. Derkach in December in Kyiv during a trip intended to collect damaging information about the Bidens, according to a report in The New York Times.

The Treasury Department also announced sanctions against three employees of the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm based in Russia that it said spread disinformation on social media as part of the Kremlin’s election interference campaign in 2016.

Google and Twitter said on Thursday that they are adding to a growing list of policies meant to combat misinformation ahead of the November election.

Google said in a virtual news conference that it will limit what its “Autocomplete” features suggest to users typing search queries related to the elections. The company said it did not want those automated suggestions or predictions to be interpreted as “claims for or against any candidate or political party.” As a result, a search query starting with “donate to” would not suggest either presidential candidate.

The company also said it would not provide suggestions for search queries when people are seeking information on voting methods, requirements or the status of voting locations. Whether a suggestion appears or not, Google said users would not be limited in what they can search for.

In the 2016 presidential election, supporters of Donald J. Trump accused Google of suppressing negative stories about Hillary Clinton. The claims were ultimately debunked.

In addition, Google said that it has expanded the way in which it monitors breaking news with an “intelligence desk” that tracks and identifies “potential information threats.”

Google said it has also improved the speed at which its automated systems recognize that a breaking news event, such as a natural disaster, is happening so that the company can be careful to feature prominently information from sources it considers trustworthy.

Separately, Twitter said on Thursday that it is expanding its policies regarding election misinformation. The social media service will begin removing tweets that push false or misleading information about laws governing elections or the outcome of a vote. Twitter will also remove disputed claims that could undermine voters’ confidence in the electoral process, like assertions of ballot tampering or vote rigging. The policy will take effect next week, Twitter said.

Although Twitter had long taken a hands-off approach to Mr. Trump’s messages, earlier this year the company began enforcing its rules against violative tweets by the president.

In May, Twitter added a fact-check label to two of Mr. Trump’s tweets that contained misleading information about mail-in ballots. And last month, Twitter put a warning label on posts in which Mr. Trump falsely claimed that ballot boxes would be a vector for coronavirus transmission and be used for fraud. Last week, Facebook and Twitter added warning labels to posts by Mr. Trump that encouraged Americans to vote twice.

Twitter, Facebook and other major companies meet regularly to discuss election security. Recent discussions have revolved around postelection scenarios, including the possibility of attempts by Mr. Trump or his campaign to use social media to delegitimize the results.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said Democrats were prioritizing politics in their opposition to the stimulus bill.Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Senate Republicans on Thursday failed to advance their substantially scaled-back stimulus plan amid opposition by Democrats who called the measure inadequate, further darkening the already dim prospects that Congress will enact another economic recovery measure to address the toll of the pandemic before November’s election.

After months of struggling to overcome deep internal divisions over the scope of another relief package, Republicans presented a near-united front in support of their latest plan, while Democrats opposed it en masse, denying it the 60 votes it would have needed to advance.

The result was never in doubt, and Republicans held the vote largely in an effort to foist blame on Democrats for the lack of progress on a compromise.

The 52-47 vote was mostly along party lines, with Democrats uniformly in opposition and one Republican, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, joining them in seeking to block the measure from advancing.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said of the Democrats before the procedural vote, “They can tell American families they care more about politics than helping them,” adding: “Senators who want to move forward will vote yes. They will vote to advance this process so they can shape it into a bipartisan product and make a law for the American people.”

The plan, which slashed billions of dollars from the original $1 trillion Republican proposal unveiled in July, included federal aid for unemployed workers, small businesses, schools and vaccine development.

But Democrats, who have refused to accept any proposal less than $2.2 trillion, argued that it did little to address the economic devastation of the pandemic.

It did not include another round of stimulus checks for American taxpayers or aid to state and local governments, omissions that cut down the overall price tag of the legislation in an effort to appease fiscal conservatives. And while it would have revived weekly federal jobless benefits that lapsed at the end of July, it set them at $300 — half the original amount.

Democrats are pressing to reinstitute the full $600 payment.

“This bill is not going to happen because it is so emaciated, so filled with poison pills — it is designed to fail,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, on the Senate floor. “It’s insufficient. It’s completely inadequate.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has been a point man in negotiations with Democrats on a recovery package, cast doubt Wednesday on whether any agreement could be reached, saying he was not sure whether there was still a chance.

“We’ll see,” Mr. Mnuchin said. “I hope there is. It’s important to a lot of people out there.”

Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, spoke with steelworkers in Detroit on Wednesday.Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

A national poll released Thursday shows Joseph R. Biden Jr. maintaining his lead over President Trump as the campaign enters its last two months, adding to a growing number of surveys that have suggested that the state of the race is largely unchanged since the party conventions.

The poll, conducted by Monmouth University, shows Mr. Biden ahead of Mr. Trump by nine percentage points among registered voters, 51 percent to 42 percent. The survey results are almost identical to those in a survey conducted by Monmouth in early August, before the conventions.

Thursday’s poll also found Mr. Biden with a seven-point lead among likely voters, which tracks with national polling averages at this stage in the race. On average, Mr. Biden has been holding onto a lead of seven to eight percentage points among likely voters nationwide, down slightly from a lead of eight to nine points heading into the conventions.

The Monmouth survey also found only two percent of likely voters undecided. The poll was conducted by telephone from Sept. 3 to 8, surveyed 758 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

National polls can provide a broad window into the state of the race, but it is Electoral College votes that decide the outcome. Some recent polls have shown Mr. Biden’s lead slipping in battleground states like Florida and Pennsylvania.

The Monmouth poll also asked voters about their confidence in the integrity of the 2020 election. Mr. Trump has railed for weeks against mail voting, which is expected to be used by tens of millions of voters amid the coronavirus pandemic, claiming without evidence that the practice is rife with fraud. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have said that the Russian group that interfered in the 2016 presidential election is meddling again.

Thursday’s survey found only about six in 10 voters very or somewhat confident that the election will be conducted fairly. Roughly one in four said they were “not too confident” and 13 percent said they were “not at all confident.”

The poll found that 52 percent of voters thought it somewhat or very likely that the Trump campaign would try to cheat if it was necessary to win; 39 percent of respondents said the same about the Biden campaign.

AD WATCH

The newly-released recordings of President Trump admitting in interviews with Bob Woodward that he played down the threat of the coronavirus are prime fodder for Democratic attacks. Priorities USA, a major Democratic super PAC, was the first to cut them into a digital ad.

Since the pandemic exploded in late March, Democratic groups and candidates have seized on the coronavirus as a top political advertising issue, and nearly $40 million in TV ads over the past 30 days have focused on Covid-19, according to Advertising Analytics, an ad tracking firm. Many Democratic attacks have followed the same formula as the new ad from Priorities USA: audio of Mr. Trump downplaying the virus set against an exponential growth chart of deaths.

But the new ad set against the same graphics, using recordings from Mr. Woodward’s interviews with the president, drives home a darker message: that rather than handling the virus incompetently, Mr. Trump engaged in a cover-up, hiding information about how lethal the pandemic was from the American people.

The ad begins with audio clips of Mr. Trump’s interview with Mr. Woodward, but transitions to public comments Mr. Trump has made, splicing together a clip of him saying “the coronavirus” with one saying “this is their new hoax.”

The Trump campaign has taken issue with this edit before, claiming it distorts what the president said. His full comments, following an accusation that the Democrats were “politicizing” the coronavirus, were: “They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. They tried anything. They tried it over and over. They’d been doing it since you got in. It’s all turning. They lost. It’s all turning. Think of it. Think of it. And this is their new hoax.”

The ad will run in both English and Spanish in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Arizona. Priorities USA said it will run in other battleground states as well, but did not specify which.

Voters across the country have been inundated with ads replaying Mr. Trump’s comments downplaying the virus earlier this year, both as the screens show them rising death counts and their everyday lives continue to be upended by the pandemic. But Priorities USA, and likely other groups in the near future, are betting that newly revealed comments from Mr. Trump indicating he was intentionally downplaying the virus and hiding its true danger from voters will have a greater impact.

Donald Trump Jr., a top surrogate for his father, at the Republican National Convention in Washington last month.Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

Donald Trump Jr. told an interviewer this week that his father was reserving judgment on Kyle H. Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old Illinois resident accused of killing two protesters in Kenosha, Wis., last month — and suggested the shootings were the actions of an impetuous “young kid.”

The interviewer, the former “Bachelorette” contestant Rachel Lindsay, asked the younger Trump why his father had not condemned Mr. Rittenhouse.

“We’re waiting for due process. We’re not jumping to a conclusion,” Mr. Trump, who was promoting his new book, “Liberal Privilege,” said on the “Extra” entertainment show.

Then he mused: “If I put myself in Kyle Rittenhouse, maybe I shouldn’t have been there — he’s a young kid, I don’t want 17-year-olds running around the street with AR-15s — maybe I wouldn’t have put myself in that situation, who knows? But we all do stupid things at 17 — ”

“That’s a little bit beyond stupid,” Ms. Lindsay interjected.

“Really stupid, fine,” Mr. Trump continued. “But we all have to let that process play out.”

Mr. Rittenhouse, a Trump supporter who attended one of Mr. Trump’s rallies in January, faces charges including first-degree intentional homicide in connection with the deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, who were protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake.

Ms. Lindsay also asked Mr. Trump about the Black Lives Matter movement.

“It’s a very good marketing message, it’s a great catchphrase,” said Mr. Trump, adding that he agreed with the movement’s broad goals, but not its underlying ideology.

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