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Covid-19 relief bill in limbo, Trump blasts '60 Minutes' and China's increasingly brazen disinformation campaigns

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signals Senate Republicans don't want a deal on Covid relief before election.
Image: Senate Republicans Hold Media Availability After Policy Luncheon
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters that he would bring a Covid-19 relief bill to the floor if a deal is struck between Pelosi and Mnuchin, but he suggested that too many steps remain, and he didn't indicate a timeline.Stefani Reynolds / Getty Images

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Sen. Mitch McConnell has signaled that Senate Republicans are not looking for a new Covid-19 relief deal before the election, President Donald Trump slams "60 Minutes," and for once, some students were glad to be on a Zoom call.

Here's what we're watching this Wednesday morning.

McConnell warns White House against big Covid-19 relief bill before election

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told his fellow Republican members in a closed-door meeting Tuesday that he is "encouraging" the White House to wait until after the election to reach an agreement on a new Covid-19 relief package with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to three sources familiar with the conversation.

Republicans are divided about supporting another hefty coronavirus relief bill just before the election. Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have continued negotiations on a bill that could end up costing nearly $2 trillion.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, was frank about his reluctance to support a bill at that cost.

"I think it's very unlikely that a number of that level would make it through the Senate, and I don't support something of that level," said Romney.

Senate Republicans are also concerned that a looming battle over an expensive stimulus bill could derail their push to confirm Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett next week.

Still, President Donald Trump is pushing for a deal and believes he can persuade Senate Republicans to go along with him, telling Fox News on Tuesday that "not every Republican agrees with me, but they will."

But Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., threw cold water on that Monday, saying it would "be hard" to find just 13 members of his party to go along with a potential deal — even with the president's backing.

Trump unhappy with '60 Minutes' interview, taunts Lesley Stahl and threatens to release it himself

Apparently unhappy with the tone of questions, President Trump abruptly ended a taped interview at the White House with "60 Minutes" reporter Lesley Stahl on Tuesday then taunted the veteran CBS News journalist in tweets and at a campaign rally.

In a tweet, Trump threatened to post the interview before it is scheduled to air Sunday on CBS news and threatened to retaliate against the respected news magazine during a rally in Erie, Pennsylvania on Tuesday night.

"You have to watch what we do to 60 Minutes," Trump said. "You'll get such a kick out of it, you're going to get a kick out of it. Lesley Stahl is not going to be happy."

Meantime, with one day to go before the last debate, Joe Biden has no public events on his schedule today and is said to be in debate prep mode.

But, he is sending one of his most popular boosters out on the campaign trail in his stead: Former President Barack Obama will host an event on Biden's behalf in Philadelphia tonight.

Follow our live blog for all the latest election updates.

With just 13 days to go before Election Day, more than 29 million people from 45 states had voted as of Tuesday morning, either by mail or in person.

Nearly half of those votes — almost 14.2 million ballots — have come from Democratic-affiliated voters, while Republican-affiliated voters had returned almost 10.1 million ballots. Check out our early voting tracker.

For many Latino voters, healthcare is their top issue.

Over 4 million Latinos gained healthcare coverage under Obamacare, the most of any group in the country. But with the Affordable Care Act under threat in another Trump term, plus the toll coronavirus has taken on their community, health insurance has emerged as their number one issue.

China's influence operations offer a glimpse into the future of information warfare

While U.S. intelligence experts generally agree that Russia is better than any other country at spreading disinformation to undermine voter confidence leading up to the election, security experts have been preoccupied with a longer-term threat. They fear that the Chinese government's disinformation operations pose a far more insidious menace to democracy that will continue well past Election Day.

Scholars studying the efforts say the Chinese are growing bolder and more brazen, often taking pages from what used to be seen as Russia's playbook in discrediting the United States.

"We have seen more of a willingness to engage in more aggressive influence operations, including some of the stuff we would associate with Russia," one expert at an international affairs think tank said about China.

Lawyers say they can't find the parents of 545 migrant children separated by Trump administration

Lawyers appointed by a federal judge to identify migrant families who were separated by the Trump administration say that they have yet to track down the parents of 545 children and that about two-thirds of those parents were deported to Central America without their children, according to a filing Tuesday from the American Civil Liberties Union.

"It is critical to find out as much as possible about who was responsible for this horrific practice while not losing sight of the fact that hundreds of families have still not been found and remain separated," said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project.

"People ask when we will find all of these families, and sadly, I can't give an answer. I just don't know," Gelernt added.

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THINK about it

The Trump-Biden debate will have muted mics. That's bad for the candidates, and voters, Paul S. Hayes, director of debate at The George Washington University, writes in an opinion piece.


Check out Vistaprint's new artist-inspired face masks.

One Zoom thing

For once, some students were glad to be on a Zoom call with their teacher.

California teacher Jennifer Peterson noticed something was wrong when two of her students lingered behind after a remote learning lesson.

Someone had broken into their home, and they were able to alert Peterson via the video call. Thankfully she was able to call for help. The police quickly arrived and apprehended the suspect after he fled the house.

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Thanks, Petra