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Democrats solidify Supreme Court strategy as Trump continues to sow election doubts

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be the first woman and first Jewish person to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol Friday.
"We want to make sure the election is honest, and I’m not sure that it can be," President Donald Trump said on his way to board Marine One at the White House on Thursday. Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Democrats are gearing up for a Supreme Court showdown as President Donald Trump casts doubt on the integrity of the U.S. election, again. And a secret "man-cave" has been found in New York City's famed Grand Central Terminal.

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

SCOTUS showdown: Democrats pick their strategy, while Trump tries to woo evangelicals with pick

With President Donald Trump on the verge of announcing a Supreme Court nominee, Democrats are coalescing around a focus on health care ahead of an ugly confirmation battle, key senators and aides said.

The strategy could be a political winner for Democrats because it has urgency: A case involving the Affordable Care Act is headed back to the Supreme Court one week after Election Day, jeopardizing health care for millions of Americans in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

And Trump, who is supporting the Texas-led lawsuit to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has repeatedly indicated that he would nominate judges who would rule against it.

Trump is also navigating competing demands from evangelicals over his Supreme Court pick.

The disagreement has come down to a fight over two candidates who are federal appeals court judges — Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa.

Trump has heard from evangelical leaders who argue that his religious supporters might be less enthusiastic about a nominee like Lagoa — a Cuban American federal appellate judge in Florida who they say doesn't have enough of a paper trail to demonstrate conservative credentials.

Others have told Trump that they'll only accept a nominee like Barrett, a former clerk to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who they say has a clear conservative and anti-abortion record

Trump has said that he'll announce his nominee Saturday and that he wants the Senate to confirm his pick before the Nov. 3 election.

Meantime, Trump was greeted with boos and chants of "vote him out" while he paid his respects to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Supreme Court on Thursday morning.

After two days of lying in repose at the Supreme Court, where thousands of mourners paid tribute to the liberal icon, her casket will be moved to the U.S. Capitol this morning.

Always a trailblazer, Ginsburg will be the first woman and first Jewish person to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.

2020: Trump escalates attacks on election integrity as Republicans rush to reassure the Constitution will be respected

On Thursday, Trump once again questioned the integrity of the U.S. election, saying he didn't think there could be an "honest" election with some states sending ballots to all registered voters.

"We want to make sure the election is honest, and I’m not sure that it can be. I don’t think that it can be with this whole situation, unsolicited ballots – they’re unsolicited – millions being sent to everybody and we’ll see," Trump said from the White House driveway.

But top Republican lawmakers dismissed Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the 2020 election, seeking to deliver reassurances that the process outlined in the Constitution will be orderly and legitimate.

“The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th. There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., tweeted Thursday.

Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., also told reporters that the peaceful transition of power is a "fundamental principle in this democracy" and he expects that to apply to the 2020 election just as it has in every election since the late 18th century.

Still, the Trump campaign on Thursday accused the Democrats of "trying to steal the election" after seven military ballots cast in favor of the president were found "discarded" in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania — despite no immediate allegations of any malfeasance.

News Analysis: Biden's campaign is trying to win at the ballot box, while Trump is maneuvering to hold power, writes NBC News' Jonathan Allen.

Louisville protesters march for second night after Breonna Taylor decision

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Louisville, Kentucky, Thursday night, a day after two police officers were shot during protests against a grand jury’s decision not to file charges in the killing of Breonna Taylor.

After months of demands by people across the country for police accountability, demonstrators spilled into the streets to voice their support for Taylor's memory and for her grieving family.

Some called for Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to release all the evidence in the case while others carried "Black Lives Matter" and "United Not Divided" signs and questioned whether justice would ever be served in Louisville, Kentucky.

One of the two officers shot during protests Wednesday night suffered a wound to the abdomen and remains in a hospital, authorities said Thursday. The other officer was shot in the hip and has been released from the hospital.

"We are extremely fortunate that these two officers will recover," interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder said.

The shooting suspect has been charged with 14 counts of wanton endangerment and two counts of assault.

French prosecutors are investigating Tokyo Olympic bid for possible bribery

The Tokyo Olympics, postponed to next summer because of the Covid-19 pandemic, are facing renewed scrutiny over allegations that the city's bid to host the games was secured by millions of dollars in bribes laundered through the international banking system.

A team of more than a dozen French prosecutors and police investigators is investigating allegations of corruption associated with the Tokyo Olympics bid, according to a top French prosecutor with oversight of the investigation.

The scope of the scheme has surprised some French investigators, who anticipate that the investigations could broaden to include other major events.

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THINK about it

What's finally hurting Trump with evangelicals? Many religious voters have woken up to the fact that he simply lacks basic Christian kindness, Doug Pagitt, executive director of Vote Common Good and an evangelical pastor, writes in an opinion piece.


Love sweet potato, but don't know what to do with it? Try these 10 sweet potato dishes that are perfect for fall.


Looking to replace that old sofa now that you're at home all the time? Wayfair is hosting Way Day, a two-day sale event featuring deep discounts on furniture and more.

One fun thing

A fridge with beer. A large flat screen TV. A futon.

Officials found all of that and more in a secret "man cave" under New York City's iconic Grand Central Terminal.

At least three employees apparently used the unauthorized lounge to "hang out, get drunk and party," the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s inspector general said in a report released Thursday.

"Many a New Yorker has fantasized about kicking back with a cold beer in a prime piece of Manhattan real estate — especially one this close to good transportation," inspector general Carolyn Pokorny said in a statement.

"But few would have the chutzpah to commandeer a secret room beneath Grand Central Terminal and make it their very own man-cave, sustained with MTA resources, and maintained at our riders’ expense."

Imagine having your own "man cave" under Grand Central Terminal's hallowed halls. Evan Agostini / AP file

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Thanks, Petra