Armenians torch their homes on land ceded to Azerbaijan

    KALBAJAR, Azerbaijan (AP) — In a bitter farewell to his home of 21 years, Garo Dadevusyan wrenched off its metal roof and prepared to set the stone house on fire. Thick smoke poured from houses that his neighbors had already torched before fleeing this ethnic Armenian village about to come under Azerbaijani control.

    The village is to be turned over to Azerbaijan on Sunday as part of territorial concessions in an agreement to end six weeks of intense fighting with Armenian forces. The move gripped its 600 people with fear and anger so deep that they destroyed the homes they once loved.

    The settlement — called Karvachar in Armenian — is legally part of Azerbaijan, but it has been under the control of ethnic Armenians since the 1994 end of a war over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. That war left not only Nagorno-Karabakh itself but substantial surrounding territory in Armenian hands.

    After years in which sporadic clashes broke out between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces, full-scale fighting began in late September this year. Azerbaijan made relentless military advances, culminating in the seizure of the city of Shusha, a strategically key city and one of strong emotional significance as a longtime center of Azeri culture.

    Two days after Azerbaijan announced it had taken Shusha, Armenia and Azerbaijan signed a Russia-brokered cease-fire under which territory that Armenia occupies outside the formal borders of Nagorno-Karabakh will be gradually ceded.

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    Muslim Azeris and Christian Armenians once lived together in these regions, however uneasily. Although the cease-fire ends the fighting, it aggravates ethnic animosity.

    “In the end, we will blow it up or set it on fire, in order not to leave anything to Muslims,” Dadevusyan said of his house.

    He spoke while taking a rest from salvaging what he could from the home, including metal roof panels, and piling it onto an old flatbed truck.

    The truck’s final destination was unclear.

    “We are homeless now, do not know where to go and where to live. Do not know where to live. It is very hard,” Dadevusyan’s wife, Lusine, said, choked by tears the couple gave the interior of the house a last look.

    Dadevusyan’s dismay extended to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Armenia and Russia keep close relations and Russia has a sizeable military base in Armenia, so many Armenians had hoped for support from Moscow. Instead, Russia facilitated the cease-fire and territorial concessions and is sending in nearly 2,000 peacekeepers to enforce it.

    “Why has Putin abandoned us?” Dadevusyan said.

    On Saturday, kilometers-long (miles-long) columns of cars and trucks carrying fleeing residents jammed the road to Armenia.

    Scores of local people flocked to Dadivank, an Armenian Apostolic Church monastery dating to the 9th century, as priests removed sacred items to be taken away. Many of the visitors took photos of themselves at the site nestled in the mountains near Karvachar, suggesting they did not expect to see it again.

    A small group of Russian peacekeepers watched from across the road, some sitting on their armored vehicles.

    The monastery’s abbot, the Rev. Hovhannes Ter-Hovhannisyan, walked over to greet them.

    “It’s very important to us that the Russian peacekeepers came today in order to preserve peace, because not all the questions of our future have been resolved,” he said. “But I am sure that justice will triumph.”

    Hundreds of thousands of Azeris were displaced by the war that ended in 1994. It is unclear when any civilians might try to settle in Karvachar — which will now be known by its Azeri name Kalbajar — or elsewhere.

    Any returns could be wrenching. Settlers will confront the burned, empty shells of houses — or worse. Agdam, which is to be turned over next week, once was a city of about 40,000, but now is an empty sprawl of buildings that were destroyed in the first war or later ruined by pillagers grabbing building materials.

    Returning also is potentially dangerous because of the remnants of war. The Azerbaijani general prosecutor’s office said one man was killed and another injured Saturday when they triggered a mine left over from the fighting in Fizuli, an area now under Azerbaijani control.

    For the Dadevusyans, their sudden relocation is overwhelming beyond words.

    “When you spent 21 years here and now need to leave it…,” Garo Dadevusyan said, trailing off, as smoke from nearby burning houses choked the air. Soon, he knew, his house would be one of them.


    Jim Heintz in Moscow and Aida Sultanova in London contributed to this story.


    AP FACT CHECK: Trump falsehoods on Biden win, vaccine myths

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump rebelled this past week against Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election with denial, delay and outright misrepresentation. Trump raged about widespread cases of fake ballots that aren’t so and undertook legal challenges that even state GOP election officials say can’t overcome Biden’s lead.

    As the coronavirus surged nationwide, Trump said little about public safety measures. Instead he tried to take full credit for drugmaker Pfizer Inc.’s news that its COVID-19 vaccine may be 90% effective and suggested the mission was basically done.

    His assertions on both matters are untrue.

    A review:


    TRUMP, on Pfizer’s announcement: “As soon as April, the vaccine will be available to the entire general population with the exception of places like New York state where for political reasons the governor decided to say — and I don’t think it’s good politically, I think it’s very bad from a health standpoint — but he wants to take his time with a vaccine. … We can’t be delivering it to a state that won’t be giving it to its people immediately.” — remarks Friday.

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    TRUMP: “I LOVE NEW YORK! … The problem is, @NYGovCuomo said that he will delay using it, and other states WANT IT NOW… We cannot waste time and can only give to those states that will use the Vaccine immediately. Therefore the New York delay.” — tweet Saturday.

    THE FACTS: That’s a misrepresentation. New York’s separate review doesn’t guarantee a protracted delay.

    Trump is referring to a state panel of experts that Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., announced in September to review any coronavirus vaccine authorized by the Food and Drug Administration before it is to be distributed in the state.

    That additional review doesn’t necessarily mean weeks of delay before New York residents can get a federally approved vaccine. As a practical matter, the FDA will have a public meeting where its independent advisers debate the data. That’s an opportunity for any interested group to get an early look.

    Cuomo said Saturday that as soon as the FDA acts, the state review group would, too.

    “It’s not that these panels are going to do tests; they are just going to review what FDA did, so it’s just a review on the FDA process,” Cuomo told reporters Saturday. “We are ready now to receive the vaccine and then, simultaneous with the FDA approval, our panel will be looking at it. So, there’s no delay.”

    “Send me a vaccine today; I will distribute it this afternoon,” he said.

    There is some uncertainty around how the state-level reviews will ultimately work. Cuomo explained one purpose of the panel is to “develop confidence in people” to take the vaccine, also telling CNN on Friday the only issue could be if the review group in New York finds a problem. But he notes that: “I don’t think the FDA is going to play any games at this point.”

    A handful of other states, including California, have also said they would conduct separate safety reviews.

    California’s plan is to review data quickly so there is no delay in distribution, said Dr. Arthur Reingold, the group’s chair. He said the state’s review group — which has been joined by Nevada, Oregon and Washington — has trust in the federal review process, but that its work is intended to provide additional reassurance to people.

    “Any assertion that our citizens will be delayed in receiving a safe and effective COVID vaccine is simply not borne out by the plans we have in place,” said Reingold, a professor of epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley.




    TRUMP: “Georgia will be a big presidential win, as it was the night of the Election!” — tweet Monday.

    THE FACTS: Georgia wasn’t a win for Trump on election night. It still isn’t. He’s falsely suggesting that any ballot counted after Nov. 3 in Georgia and other states must be illegitimate and illegal. In fact, such counting is explicitly allowed in about 20 states, and the Supreme Court did not stand in the way of it.

    Trump refused to concede and said he will press his legal challenges, despite seeing several lawsuits dismissed by courts.

    Studies have repeatedly shown that voter fraud is exceptionally rare. Currently Biden leads Trump in Georgia by 14,000 votes.

    The state’s top election official, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, has repeatedly assured the public there were no widespread problems.

    “Was there illegal voting? I’m sure there was, and my office is investigating all of it,” Raffensperger said. “Does it rise to the numbers or margin necessary to change the outcome to where President Trump is given Georgia’s electoral votes? That is unlikely.”

    Raffensperger has rejected the demands of Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler — who face January runoffs that will decide control of the Senate — that he resign over what they say are “too many failures in Georgia elections this year.” He announced an audit of presidential election results that will trigger a full hand tally in the state.

    His assurances of a smoothly run election were broadly affirmed Thursday by a coalition of federal and state officials, who described the voting nationwide as the “most secure in U.S. history.”

    “While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too,” said the Homeland Security Department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which spearheaded federal election protection efforts. “When you have questions, turn to elections officials as trusted voices as they administer elections.”



    TRUMP: “Pennsylvania … wouldn’t let our Poll Watchers & Observers into counting rooms. Illegal!” — tweet Thursday.

    TRUMP: “Pennsylvania prevented us from watching much of the Ballot count. Unthinkable and illegal in this country.” — tweet Monday.

    THE FACTS: His assertion is false.

    Trump is wholly misrepresenting a court case in the state and what happened at voting places. No one tried to ban poll watchers representing each side in the election. Democrats did not try to stop Republican representatives from being able to observe the process.

    The main issue in the case was how close observers representing the parties could get to election workers who were processing mail-in ballots in Philadelphia. Trump’s representatives sued to allow the observers to get closer than the guidelines had allowed. A court ruled in favor of that request.

    The counting in Philadelphia was being livestreamed and Trump’s lawyers admitted in court that their campaign had observers in the room — “a nonzero” number of them, as they put it.

    It was well-known that huge numbers of mailed-in ballots as well as in-person ballots were to be counted after Election Day and that many would be from Democratic-leaning areas. Poll watchers have no role in counting votes.



    TRUMP, tweeting a video widely shared on social media pointing to alleged voter fraud in California: “You are looking at BALLOTS! Is this what our Country has come to?” — tweet Wednesday.

    THE FACTS: Trump’s suggestion of voting fraud or impropriety is a gross distortion. The video, which shows two men collecting ballots from collection boxes the day after the election, does not show evidence of anything nefarious.

    Mike Sanchez, speaking for the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder County Clerk’s office, which oversees elections for the county, told The Associated Press that the two men were staff from his office carrying out a scheduled pickup.

    “All vote by mail ballot drop boxes were closed and locked at 8 p.m. on Election Day.” Sanchez said. “Ballots from all boxes throughout the county were picked up the following day.” He said: “The ballots are valid ballots and will be processed and counted.”

    The video was shared on various social media sites, including on TikTok with the caption, “The cheating is unreal!!!” A post on Instagram with over 500,000 views shared the video with the caption, “The lies, the cheating, the hypocrisy must be exposed.”

    Under California law, voters can submit vote-by-mail ballots as late as Election Day. Election officials must count those ballots as long as they have a Nov. 3 postmark and arrive within 17 days of the election.



    TRUMP: “WE WILL WIN!” — tweet Tuesday.

    THE FACTS: He’s making unsubstantiated claims. There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. In fact, election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well and international observers confirmed there were no serious irregularities.

    The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which led federal election protection efforts, said Thursday it had no evidence that any voting system had deleted or lost votes, had changed votes, or was in any way compromised. The officials said all of the states with close results have paper records, which allows for the recounting of each ballot, if necessary, and for “the identification and correction of any mistakes or errors.”

    “America, we have confidence in the security of your vote, you should, too,” tweeted Chris Krebs, the agency’s director.

    The issues Trump’s campaign and its allies have pointed to are typical in every election: problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost. With Biden leading Trump by wide margins in battleground states, none of those issues would have any impact on the outcome of the election.

    Trump’s campaign has also launched legal challenges complaining that its poll watchers were unable to scrutinize the voting process. Many of those challenges have been tossed out by judges, some within hours of their filing, and none of the complaints shows any evidence that the outcome of the election was affected.



    TRUMP: “As a result of Operation Warp Speed, Pfizer announced on Monday that its ‘China virus’ vaccine was more than 90% effective.” — remarks Friday.

    TRUMP, quoting his former White House physician: “’Only because of President Trump, we are going to have a Vaccine by the end of the year.’ Ronny Jackson, Texas Congressman-Elect.” — tweet Tuesday.

    VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: “HUGE NEWS: Thanks to the public-private partnership forged by President @realDonaldTrump, @pfizer announced its Coronavirus Vaccine trial is EFFECTIVE, preventing infection in 90% of its volunteers.” — tweet Monday.

    THE FACTS: Pfizer notably did not accept government money to develop, test or expand manufacturing capacity under Trump’s Operation Warp Speed initiative to quickly find a vaccine and treatments for the disease sweeping the country.

    In fact, Pfizer partnered with the vaccine’s original developer, Germany’s BioNTech, in March and the following month announced the first human study in Germany. The White House announced Operation Warp Speed in May.

    Pfizer opted not to join Operation Warp Speed initially but is following the same general requirements for the vaccine’s development as competitors who received government research money. The company says it has risked $2 billion of its own money on vaccine development and won’t get anything from Washington unless the effort is successful.

    “Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine development and manufacturing costs have been entirely self-funded,” Pfizer spokeswoman Jerica Pitts said this week. “We decided to self-fund our efforts so we could move as fast as possible.”

    Pfizer did sign an agreement with the U.S. government in July worth $1.95 billion — if the vaccine pans out and is cleared by the FDA — to supply 100 million doses. That guarantees Pfizer a U.S. market, an important incentive.

    The supply side of Operation Warp Speed also allows Pfizer logistical help, although the company will directly ship its own vaccine, while the government will control shipping of other COVID-19 vaccines.


    TRUMP: ”’President Trump told us for some time we would be getting a Vaccine by the end of the year and people laughed at him, and here we are with Pfizer getting FDA approval by the end of this month. He was right.’ @MariaBartiromo.” — tweet Tuesday.

    THE FACTS: Trump’s suggestion — quoting Fox Business Network anchor Maria Bartiromo — that he stood alone in saying a COVID-19 vaccine was possible by year’s end is incorrect. Top health experts said they considered that possible, though far from certain, and were more skeptical of Trump’s claim that a coronavirus vaccine would become available before the Nov. 3 election. The vaccine isn’t expected to become widely available to the public before 2021.

    Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert, had previously said that he was “cautiously optimistic” that a vaccine will be ready by late 2020 or early 2021. On Monday, he called Pfizer’s news “extraordinary” but reiterated that it did not mean the U.S. had its immediate cure-all for the coronavirus.

    The first step for Pfizer would be to apply for “emergency use authorization” by the FDA, probably later this month, which would allow for limited distribution before it seeks full FDA approval for wider use. Neither step is guaranteed to happen.

    “There’s still some questions about, you know, the durability of the effect about whether how effective it is in the elderly versus younger people,” Fauci told CNN. “We know this is light at the end of the tunnel, but that doesn’t mean that we’re going to give up the important public health measures that we continually still have to do every single day.”

    Pfizer’s interim analysis, from an independent data monitoring board, looked at 94 infections recorded so far in a study that has enrolled nearly 44,000 people in the U.S. and five other countries.

    Some participants got the vaccine, while others got dummy shots. Pfizer says only the data and safety monitoring board knows the breakdowns, not Pfizer researchers or executives. For the vaccine to be 90% effective, nearly all the infections must have occurred in placebo recipients. The study is continuing, and Pfizer cautioned that the protection rate might change as more COVID-19 cases are added to the calculations.

    During the presidential campaign, Trump frequently suggested a vaccine might arrive before the Nov. 3 election.

    “What I said is by the end of the year, but I think it could even be sooner than that,” Trump said in September about a vaccine. “It could be during the month of October, actually could be before November.”


    TRUMP: “As I have long said, @Pfizer and the others would only announce a Vaccine after the Election, because they didn’t have the courage to do it before. Likewise, the @US_FDA should have announced it earlier, not for political purposes, but for saving lives!” — tweet Monday.

    TRUMP: “The @US_FDA and the Democrats didn’t want to have me get a Vaccine WIN, prior to the election, so instead it came out five days later – As I’ve said all along!” — tweet Monday.

    THE FACTS: His claim that Pfizer and the FDA withheld vaccine information until after the election is false. The company itself learned of the interim results a week ago, and the FDA was not involved in Pfizer’s decision to announce its early results.

    Every vaccine study such as the one done on Pfizer’s is overseen by an independent data and safety monitoring board.

    These boards include scientists and statisticians who have no ties to the vaccine makers.

    Before a study is complete, only the board has the power to unlock the code of who got a real vaccine and who got a placebo, and to recommend if the shots are working well enough to stop testing early.

    Those boards take sneak peeks at predetermined times agreed to by the manufacturer and the FDA. It provided the first interim analysis for Pfizer on Nov. 8.

    John Burkhardt, senior vice president of drug safety research and development at Pfizer, said Monday that the timing of the company’s vaccine announcement was not related in any way to the presidential election and was made as soon as the efficacy data was ready.

    Pfizer and the maker of the other leading U.S. vaccine candidate, Moderna Inc., have been cautioning for weeks that the earliest they could seek regulatory approval for wider use of their shots would be late November.


    Associated Press writers Candice Choi, Michelle R. Smith, Jennifer Peltz, Linda A. Johnson, Calvin Woodward, Jude Joffe-Block and Marcos Martinez Chacon contributed to this report.


    EDITOR’S NOTE — A look at the veracity of claims by political figures.


    Find AP Fact Checks at

    Follow @APFactCheck on Twitter:


    Trump supporters morning protests turn into violent clashes

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Several thousand supporters of President Donald Trump in Washington protested election results and then hailed Trump’s passing motorcade before nighttime clashes with counterdemonstrators sparked fistfights, at least one stabbing and at least 20 arrests.

    Several other cities on Saturday also saw gatherings of Trump supporters unwilling to accept Democrat Joe Biden’s Electoral College and popular vote victory as legitimate. Cries of “Stop the Steal” and “Count Every Vote” continued in spite of a lack of evidence of voter fraud or other problems that could reverse the result.

    After night fell, the relatively peaceful demonstrations in Washington turned from tense to violent. Videos posted on social media showed fistfights, projectiles and clubs as Trump supporters clashed with those demanding they take their MAGA hats and banners and leave. The tensions extended to Sunday morning. A variety of charges, including assault and weapons possession, were filed against those arrested, officials said. Two police officers were injured and several firearms were recovered by police.

    Trump himself had given an approving nod to the gathering Saturday morning by dispatching his motorcade through streets lined with supporters before rolling on to his Virginia golf club. People chanted “USA, USA” and “four more years,” and many carried American flags and signs to show their displeasure with the vote tally and insistence that, as Trump has baselessly asserted, fraud was the reason.

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    “I just want to keep up his spirits and let him know we support him,” said one loyalist, Anthony Whittaker of Winchester, Virginia. He was outside the Supreme Court, where a few thousand assembled after a march along Pennsylvania Avenue from Freedom Plaza, near the White House.

    A broad coalition of top government and industry officials has declared that the Nov. 3 voting and the following count unfolded smoothly with no more than the usual minor hiccups — “the most secure in American history,” they said, repudiating Trump’s efforts to undermine the integrity of the contest.

    In Delray Beach, Florida, several hundred people marched, some carrying signs reading “Count every vote” and “We cannot live under a Marxist government.” In Lansing, Michigan, protesters gathered at the Capitol to hear speakers cast doubt on results that showed Biden winning the state by more than 140,000 votes. Phoenix police estimated 1,500 people gathered outside the Arizona Capitol to protest Biden’s narrow victory in the state. Protesters in Salem, Oregon, gathered at the Capitol.

    Among the speakers in Washington was a Georgia Republican newly elected to the U.S. House. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has expressed racist views and support for QAnon conspiracy theories, urged people to march peacefully toward the Supreme Court.

    The marchers included members of the Proud Boys, a neo-fascist group known for street brawling with ideological opponents at political rallies.

    Multiple confrontations appeared later in the day as small groups of Trump supporters attempted to enter the area around Black Lives Matter Plaza, about a block from the White House, where several hundred anti-Trump demonstrators had gathered.

    In a pattern that kept repeating itself, those Trump supporters who approached the area were harassed, doused with water and saw their MAGA hats and pro-Trump flags snatched and burned, amid cheers. As night fell, multiple police lines kept the two sides apart.

    Videos posted on social media showed some demonstrators and counterdemonstrators trading shoves, punches and slaps. A man with a bullhorn yelling “Get out of here!” was shoved and pushed to the street by a man who was then surrounded by several people and shoved and punched until he fell face first into the street. Bloody and dazed, he was picked up and walked to a police officer.

    The “Million MAGA March” was heavily promoted on social media, raising concerns that it could spark conflict with anti-Trump demonstrators, who have gathered near the White House in Black Lives Matter Plaza for weeks.

    In preparation, police closed off wide swaths of downtown, where many stores and offices have been boarded up since Election Day. Chris Rodriguez, director of the city’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, said the police were experienced at keeping the peace.

    The issues that Trump’s campaign and its allies have pointed to are typical in every election: problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost. With Biden leading Trump by wide margins in key battleground states, none of those issues would have any impact on the outcome of the election.

    A former administration official, Sebastian Gorka, whipped up the crowd by the Supreme Court by saying, “We can win because he did win.” But, he added, “It’s going to be tough.”


    Obama: Trump failed to take pandemic, presidency seriously

    DETROIT (AP) — Calling Joe Biden his “brother,” Barack Obama on Saturday accused Donald Trump of failing to take the coronavirus pandemic and the presidency seriously as Democrats leaned on America’s first Black president to energize Black voters in battleground Michigan on the final weekend of the 2020 campaign.

    Obama, the 44th president, and Biden, his vice president who wants to be the 46th, held drive-in rallies in Flint and Detroit, predominantly Black cities where strong turnout will be essential to swing the longtime Democratic state to Biden’s column after Trump won it in 2016.

    “Three days until the most important election of our lifetime — and that includes mine, which was pretty important,” said Obama, urging Democrats to get to the polls.

    The memories of Trump’s win in Michigan and the rest of the Upper Midwest are still searing in the minds of many Democrats during this closing stretch before Tuesday’s election. That leaves Biden in the position of holding a consistent lead in the national polls and an advantage in most battlegrounds, including Michigan, yet still facing anxiety it could all slip away.

    As of Saturday, nearly 92 million voters had already cast ballots nationwide, according to a tally by The Associated Press. Tens of millions more will vote by the time polls close on Tuesday night.

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    The former president hammered on Trump’s continued focus on the size of his campaign crowds.

    “Did no one come to his birthday party when he was a kid? Was he traumatized?” Obama said in a mocking tone. “The country’s going through a pandemic. That’s not what you’re supposed to be worrying about.”

    Throughout the day, Trump and Biden, both septuagenarians, threw stinging barbs at one another that at moments verged into schoolyard taunt territory.

    Speaking in Flint, Biden joked of Trump, “When you were in high school, wouldn’t you have liked to take a shot?” He also mocked the president as a “macho man.”

    Trump, too, on Saturday suggested he could beat up Biden if given the chance and suggested the former vice president wears sunglasses to cover up “surgery on the eyes.”

    “He’s not a big guy,” Trump said of Biden. “A slight slap, you wouldn’t have to close your fist.”

    Later in Detroit, Biden ridiculed Trump for calling himself a “perfect specimen,” called him Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “puppy,” and joked about a New York Times report that showed Trump had spent $70,000 on hair care.

    As Biden campaigned in Michigan, Trump made an aggressive play for pivotal Pennsylvania, focusing largely on his white, working-class base in four rallies, the last ending about 10 p.m. as temperatures fell to near 40 degrees.

    “You know,” Trump told supporters in Montoursville, “if we win Pennsylvania, it’s over. That’s why I’m standing up here.”

    At an early evening rally in Butler, Trump announced that he had issued a memorandum that calls on government agencies to determine fracking’s impact on the economy and trade and the costs of banning the oil and gas extraction through fracking.

    The president has repeatedly charged that Biden will end fracking — a big industry in Pennsylvania and other states — even as the former vice president has said that he does not support a ban on fracking.

    “In other words, if one of these maniacs come along and they say we’re gonna end fracking, we’re gonna destroy the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Trump said in announcing his memorandum. “You can say, sorry about that.”

    Earlier in the day in a small town in Bucks County on the eastern edge of the state, Trump raised baseless concerns about election fraud, pointing specifically at Philadelphia, a city whose large African American population is key to Biden’s fate in the state.

    “They say you have to be very, very careful — what happens in Philadelphia,” Trump charged. “Everybody has to watch.”

    Republicans are betting that Trump can win a second term by driving up turnout among his strongest supporters — white, noncollege-educated men and rural voters — while limiting Biden’s advantage with Blacks and Latinos. Democrats in several swing states worry that voters of color may not be excited enough about Biden to show up in the numbers they need.

    In Michigan, Rep. Dan Kildee, a Democrat who represents the Flint area, said he had been pressing for a couple of months for Biden or Obama to visit the majority Black city where a water crisis that began in 2014 sickened the city’s residents, exposing stark racial inequities.

    “Showing up matters,” Kildee said. “The message is important, no question about it. But there’s a message implicit in showing up, especially in Flint.”

    Biden’s campaign announced it was sending Obama to Florida and Georgia on Monday. He is the campaign’s most valuable asset to help energize the nonwhite voters Democrats so badly need to defeat Trump. “Joe Biden is my brother. I love Joe Biden, and he will be a great president,” Obama said Saturday.

    The press for Michigan’s Black voters comes after voting was down roughly 15% in Flint and Detroit four years ago — a combined 48,000-plus votes in a state Trump carried by about 10,700 votes. Overall, the Black voter turnout rate declined for the first time in 20 years in a presidential election, falling to 59.6% in 2016 after reaching a record-high 66.6% four years earlier, according to the Pew Research Center.

    Trump isn’t ceding Michigan to Biden. He visited Waterford Township, near Detroit, on Friday and held a rally in the state capital, Lansing, this past week, though the surging coronavirus cases are clouding his presidency.

    The worst week of the year, in terms of new infections, arrived with Election Day looming. More than 99,000 Americans reported new infections on Friday, a record high, according to Johns Hopkins University.

    Trump told Pennsylvania voters that his administration has done “an incredible job” dealing with the pandemic. He promised that the mass distribution of a vaccine was “just weeks away.” He’s been saying that since August.

    Biden has focused almost exclusively on Trump’s inability to control the pandemic. “We’re gonna beat this virus and get it under control and the first step to doing that is beating Donald Trump,” Biden said.

    With the campaign down to the final days, Trump’s closing sprint includes, in addition to the four stops in Pennsylvania, nearly a dozen events in the final 48 hours across states he carried in 2016.

    Biden will close out his campaign on Monday in Pennsylvania, the state where he was born and the one he’s visited more than any other. The Biden team announced that the candidate, his wife, Jill, running mate Kamala Harris, and the senator’s husband, Doug Emhoff, plan to “fan out across all four corners of the state.”


    Associated Press writers David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan, and Aamer Madhani in Washington contributed to this report.


    AP’s Advance Voting guide brings you the facts about voting early, by mail or absentee from each state:


    Road to 270: Biden has options, Trump walks narrow path

    TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden each has a path to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House. Biden’s is appreciably wider.

    The former vice president is competitive in all the battleground states Trump carried in 2016 and has put a handful of traditional Republican states, including Georgia and Arizona, in play. That has Trump scrambling to defend a wide swath of territory and putting the incumbent’s hopes for reelection on two of the most populous swing states, Florida and Pennsylvania.

    A look at the most likely roads to victory:



    Biden can win an electoral majority most simply by carrying the three states where Trump stunned Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016: Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

    Those states were carried by Democrats for decades before 2016. They would give Biden 279 electoral votes, as long as he wins all the other states in Clinton’s column. Under this scenario, Biden would not need to win any other states Trump won in 2016.

    The three northern industrial states have been Biden’s sharpest target for advertising dollars. He spent almost $150 million — 30% of his total national ad spending since June — in the three, according to Kantar/CMAG’s review for The Associated Press.

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    The fiercest struggle among the three is in Pennsylvania. Biden has had a slight advantage in most polls, while some suggest Trump remains within striking distance. Biden, who was born in Scranton, claims some favorite-son status in the state. Trump’s hopes have been boosted by Biden’s recent call for phasing out fossil fuels, though Biden has said he would not ban fracking.



    If Biden loses Pennsylvania, it would require him to find 11 electoral votes elsewhere.

    Once reliably Republican Arizona, offering exactly 11, and North Carolina, with 15, are states Trump won four years ago that are well within Biden’s reach.

    Democrats are particularly bullish about Arizona, last carried by a Democrat in 1996. Trump won the state in 2016 by 3.5 percentage points, the smallest margin in 20 years, and this year, the Democrats’ Senate candidate, former astronaut Mark Kelly, is running a strong race.

    The Arizona alternative supposes, as most of Biden’s paths do, that he also wins Nevada, last carried by a Republican in 2004. Trump has campaigned in the state, though Democrats say they are comfortable with their prospects there.

    The race for North Carolina appears tighter, but there is recent precedent for a Democrat carrying the state. In 2008, Barack Obama was the first Democrat to take it in 32 years. Although he narrowly lost there in 2012, as did Clinton in 2016, waves of college-educated newcomers are swelling its booming suburbs, a boost to Biden’s chances.


    There’s another scenario for Biden: a more comfortable Electoral College victory.

    Should Biden win Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and either Arizona and North Carolina, he would capture at least 290 electoral votes.

    He’s also competing for Ohio, which Trump won by 8 percentage points in 2016; Iowa, which Trump won by nearly 10 percentage points; and Georgia, which Trump carried by 5 percentage points. Victories in those states would boost Biden’s electoral total above 300.

    Biden made two stops in Georgia this past this week and on Friday had his first fall campaign visit to Iowa. He’s spent almost $5 million but hasn’t visited Iowa since the state’s caucuses in February. Biden has campaigned lightly in Ohio but has spent almost $7 million in advertising. Surveys and operatives in both parties said the two states were very close heading into the campaign’s final weekend.

    Oh, and remember Florida? The perennial battleground offers 29 electoral votes and is, per usual, exceedingly close.

    There’s one more big prize on the table: Texas. Democrats have been eyeing the state for years, but this is the first year in decades where it may really be within reach for the party.

    The state’s new battleground status highlights not just Trump’s struggles in the suburbs, which are booming outside Texas’ major cities, but also his weaknesses in nearly every state with a diverse electorate.

    “Biden has more of an opportunity to win by a larger electoral number than Trump does,” said Republican pollster Glen Bolger, who is surveying in several battleground states but not for Trump’s campaign. “It doesn’t mean Trump can’t win.”




    Trump almost certainly cannot reach 270 electoral votes without carrying Florida, where polls show a tight race. Some have suggested a slight Biden advantage.

    Trump’s rally Thursday in Florida was his third campaign trip to the state this month, underscoring why Florida is so important to his reelection. He plans to return before Tuesday’s election.

    His stop Thursday was in swing-voting Hillsborough County, where Clinton beat him by about 41,000 votes. Hillsborough is next to — and shares a media market with — Pinellas County, the most populous county in the state to flip from Democratic in 2012 to Republican in 2016.

    Trump won some counties in the surrounding area by more than 60% of the vote, and his campaign hopes it can further run up the score with first-time and less regular voters in these places.

    Trump planned to accompany first lady Melania Trump when she votes Tuesday near Palm Beach County. The Trumps moved their residence from reliably Democratic New York to Florida last year.



    Even if Trump nets Florida and holds battlegrounds he won in the South and Southwest, he would still be short of 270 electoral votes.

    The president is wagering much on Pennsylvania as the best chance of moving within striking distance of that threshold. After a trio of rallies this past week, Trump held four more in the state on Saturday.

    He’s been making stops across Pennsylvania, from counties outside Philadelphia, the largest metro area, to the rural northwest corner of the state.

    Among his upcoming stops: Bucks County. It was once Philadelphia’s most GOP-heavy suburb but has been trending Democratic and is an example of the obstacles Trump is facing. He lost the county by less than 2 percentage points in 2016 and has seen his standing in the suburbs steadily erode since then.

    Trump’s argument to Pennsylvania voters was recharged after Biden, during their Oct. 22 debate, called for phasing out fossil fuels. That created an opportunity for Trump in a state with a robust natural gas industry.

    “Biden’s plan to abolish the entire U.S. oil industry — you saw that?” Trump noted at a rally last week in Lansing, Michigan, recalling Biden’s call for phasing renewable fuels in and fossil fuels out over time. “Will cripple our nation and send us into an absolute deep depression.”



    Even if Trump wins Florida and Pennsylvania, he would still be short of the magic number if he can’t carry most of the states he won in 2016.

    He could nose ahead in Ohio, long one of his strongest states, but would still need to cobble together a series of states he won in 2016, such as Iowa, and some he lost narrowly and continues to trail.

    That more complicated path would include flipping Minnesota, Nevada and New Hampshire. That, however, would defy political logic for an incumbent to lose in places won four years ago and win in places lost back then.

    Grasping for every vote he can, Trump has even campaigned in Maine and Nebraska, where electoral votes are awarded by congressional district and to the overall state winner. A week ago, Trump was in Levant, Maine, near the hub of the state’s GOP leaning north, Bangor, hoping to hold the single electoral vote in its 2nd District, and in Omaha, Nebraska, on Tuesday, hoping to hold that metropolitan district’s single vote.


    Beaumont reported from Des Moines, Iowa.