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Harris Drops Out of Forum Over Award to Trump: Campaign Update

John Harney

(Bloomberg) -- Senator Kamala Harris on Friday abruptly pulled out of a criminal justice forum in South Carolina after President Donald Trump received an award there earlier in the day.

Harris had been scheduled to take part in the Second Step Presidential Justice Forum over the weekend at Benedict College, a historically black college in Columbia. Other Democratic presidential candidates -- including Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders -- are still expected to attend.

In a statement, Harris said she decided to pull out “when it became clear Donald Trump would receive an award after decades of celebrating mass incarceration, pushing the death penalty for innocent black Americans, rolling back police accountability measures and racist behavior that puts people’s lives at risk.”

She said she couldn’t “in good faith be complicit in papering over his record.” She added that she would instead appear at Allen University, which is also in Columbia.

Trump spoke for about an hour to promote the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill he signed into law last year. Saying he’d never let up in ensuring “that our criminal justice is fair for every single American,” he said he had his “own experience” of injustice, calling the impeachment inquiry by House Democrats “an investigation in search of a crime.”

RNC Backs Trump on Impeachment (5:51 p.m.)

President Donald Trump may be worried how senators will vote in a possible impeachment trial. But he won another vote on Friday.

In an unusual move, the Republican National Committee’s governing body voted unanimously by phone to affirm that it “now more than ever wholeheartedly supports” Trump and his administration.

These kinds of resolutions are typically decided at the group’s twice-annual meetings. The group already voted in January to express its “undivided support for President Donald J. Trump and his effective presidency,” which itself was unusual, since the party historically tried to remain neutral until the nominating process is over.

But with the steady rip of damaging information from the House impeachment inquiry in recent weeks, Trump has been looking for shows of support. Earlier this week, 47 House Republicans entered a secure area in the Capitol to protest what they viewed as an overly secretive process of fact-gathering – even though the committees taking depositions include GOP lawmakers. “Thank you to House Republicans for being tough, smart, and understanding in detail the greatest Witch Hunt in American History,” Trump tweeted in response.

Then on Thursday, one of Trump’s most loyal allies in Congress, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, unveiled a resolution condemning the House impeachment inquiry. Yet even that effort fell short, as a number of Republican senators didn’t sign on at first. Most of the holdouts eventually joined, but as of Friday, Senators Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska had not joined. -- Ryan Teague Beckwith

DNC Announces Requirements for Sixth Debate (11:35 a.m.)

The sixth Democratic primary debate will be held Dec. 19 at the University of California, Los Angeles, the Democratic National Committee announced.

Candidates will need at least 200,000 unique donors to make the stage and meet one of two polling thresholds: 4% in at least four DNC-approved national or early-state polls, or 6% in two DNC-approved early-state polls. The debate will be co-hosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico.

The qualification requirements are higher than for the fifth debate next month. Candidates needed 165,000 unique donors and 3% in four polls or 5% in two early state polls to qualify for the Nov. 20 forum in Georgia, which will be hosted by MSNBC and the Washington Post. -- Emma Kinery

What, Me Worry? Biden Says Lack of Cash No Problem (8:42 a.m.)

Joe Biden maintains he’s the front-runner in the campaign to be the Democratic nominee in 2020 and that being short on cash isn’t a problem.

“We’re on a course to do extremely well,” Biden told CBS News anchor Norah O’Donnell in an interview that is airing in full Sunday. “I’m not worried about being able to fund this campaign. I really am not, truly.”

Federal Election Commission filings recently showed the former vice president with less than $9 million on hand, the smallest cash reserve among the five top polling candidates in the race. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has recently risen to challenge Biden for first place in the polls, had a $16.7 million advantage over him in cash on hand. Senator Bernie Sanders had the biggest cushion, with a $24.7 million edge.

The interview to be aired on “60 Minutes” Sunday also addresses the House impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, Facebook and Biden’s status in the race.

“I know I’m the front runner,” Biden said. “Find me a national poll with a notable-- a couple exceptions---- but look, this is a marathon.” -- Elizabeth Wasserman

COMING UP

Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro, Amy Klobuchar, Sanders and Warren are set to attend a forum hosted by the Bipartisan Justice Center in Columbia, South Carolina, on Saturday and Sunday.

Fourteen presidential candidates, including Biden, Buttigieg, Sanders and Warren are slated to speak Nov. 1 at the Liberty and Justice Celebration hosted by the Iowa Democratic Party in Des Moines.

--With assistance from Elizabeth Wasserman, Emma Kinery, Josh Wingrove and Ryan Teague Beckwith.

To contact the reporter on this story: John Harney in Washington at jharney2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, John Harney, Max Berley

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