What Are Iran and Russia Up To?

By Giovanni Russonello

How can Trump win? Among other things, by suppressing the vote. It’s Thursday, and this is your politics tip sheet. Sign up here to get On Politics in your inbox every weekday.

Where things stand

Russia and Iran have both obtained voter-registration information in hopes of influencing the United States’ presidential election, intelligence officials announced at a hastily assembled news conference last night.

Iran was linked to a batch of “spoofed emails” that had been sent to voters, said John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence. Those emails were “designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest and damage President Trump,” Ratcliffe said. But if the emails had the effect of intimidating Democrats, they could also have hurt Joe Biden’s campaign.

Appearing alongside Christopher Wray, the F.B.I. director, Ratcliffe called these moves “desperate attempts by desperate adversaries,” and sought to reassure voters that the integrity of the election was not under threat.

“Know that our election systems are resilient, and you can be confident your votes are secure,” he said, adding that the intelligence community had detected the intrusions “immediately” and was fully equipped to prevent further meddling.

But much is still not publicly known, including how Iran and Russia attained the voter data and what their intentions were.

Parents who were separated from more than 500 of their children by U.S. immigration officers have yet to be located, leaving their young ones — some under 5 years old at the time of separation — still wondering where their parents are, according to court documents filed this week.

Biden blasted Trump yesterday after news of the filings emerged. “It’s an outrage, a moral failing, and a stain on our national character,” the Democratic presidential candidate said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, his wife, Jill Biden, had denounced the policy during an appearance on ABC. “There would be no separation of families at the border” if her husband were president, she said. “As a mother, it breaks my heart, I can’t even imagine it. I think all Americans feel that way, I don’t care whether you’re a Democrat, whether you’re a Republican.”

The family separations are a result of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy, which caused several thousand children to be forcibly separated from adult family members, including some cases where the government said the separations were justified because of a parent’s criminal record.

Former President Barack Obama yesterday made his first in a series of planned speeches on behalf of Biden’s campaign, attacking Trump before a crowd in Philadelphia even as he warned voters against taking a Democratic victory for granted.

“This is not a reality show. This is reality,” Obama said, ridiculing Trump for his fixation on TV ratings. “And the rest of us have had to live with the consequences of him proving himself incapable of taking the job seriously.”

Obama spoke to supporters who had been invited to attend the event, held outside the South Philadelphia Sports Complex. He repeatedly referred to a Times report published this week on Trump’s foreign investments, which include a shadowy bank account in China.

“Can you imagine if I had a secret Chinese bank account when I was running for re-election?” he said. “They would’ve called me Beijing Barry.”

Senate Democrats plan to boycott the Judiciary Committee’s vote today to approve Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. The move is largely symbolic, because Republicans control a majority on the committee and can move the vote forward without Democratic support.

But the Democrats hope that by making a show of their objection to Barrett’s nomination, they will put a spotlight on what they say are the threats posed by her nomination. In their seats, the Democratic senators plan to leave large posters of Americans who stand to lose their health care coverage if the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act.

Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has said that if the committee approves Barrett’s nomination, he will move to hold a final vote on her confirmation on Monday.

Photo of the day

Preparations being made yesterday for the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville.

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