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WASHINGTON -- An election year already defined by a cascade of national crises descended further into chaos Friday with President Donald Trump declaring that he's tested positive for the coronavirus after consistently playing down the threat.

No one knows exactly what comes next.

At the least, the development settles the focus of the campaign right where Democratic nominee Joe Biden has put his emphasis for months: on Trump's response to a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 people in the U.

S. And for the short term, it's grounded Trump in a quarantine, denying him the large public rallies that fuel his campaign.

"From now until we get to the election, attention is going to be back where it should be: on COVID, the president's response and the impact - and on health care," said Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright, a Biden supporter. "This proves our candidate was right all along."
MORE: Pres. Trump tested positive for coronavirus. How serious is his health risk? EMBED More News Videos

Health experts discuss President Donald Trump's health risks after he tested positive for COVID-19.

Karen Finney, another Democratic consultant and top adviser to Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign, said the immediate focus should be on the Trumps' health. But she added the development proves that not even Trump, no matter his talents for dictating headlines and framing events, can control a pandemic.

"It's a reminder that the American presidency is bigger than any one person, given the reach and depth this news has," she said, noting that a health scare for a president not only dominates headlines but can rattle financial markets.

Trump tweeted Friday that he'd begin quarantining and recovery. He's cancelled his weekend itinerary in Wisconsin, one of the three Great Lakes states that he won by less than 1 percentage point in 2016 on his way to the presidency.

Americans have already begun voting in several states, meanwhile, and tens of millions will receive absentee mail-in ballots or be eligible for in-person early voting in the coming weeks.

Biden's campaign has not publicly confirmed the timing or results of the former vice president's latest COVID-19 test. Biden was scheduled to travel to Michigan on Friday, but the campaign appeared to be reassessing its plans. Biden's running mate, Kamala Harris, was slated for a trip to Las Vegas. The campaign said Harris has tested negative for the virus.

The Democratic nominee has been much more cautious in his travel itinerary than Trump, with fewer public events and all of them following social distancing guidelines. Only Thursday did Biden's campaign announce that it would resume door-to-door canvassing in addition to its phone and digital outreach to voters.

SEE ALSO: President Trump, first lady Melania test positive for coronavirus, say they are quarantining EMBED More News Videos

President Donald Trump says he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus.

A top Trump adviser did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how the president might adjust his strategy or tactics going forward.

But the president now faces pressure to adjust after declaring many times that the virus would "disappear." The president has repeatedly ridiculed Biden for his approach. Throughout the spring and summer, when Biden wasn't traveling regularly, the president said his challenger was "hiding in his basement." At the rivals' first debate Tuesday, Trump renewed his mockery over Biden wearing a mask.

"I put a mask on when I think I need it," Trump said. "I don't wear masks like him. Every time you see him he's got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away and he shows up with the biggest mask I've ever seen."

Biden laughed in response. "Makes a big difference" in preventing COVID-19 spread, Biden said, adding that "no serious person" argues otherwise.

Trump and Biden did not shake hands during the debate but stood without masks about 10 feet (3 meters) apart for the 90-minute event.

SEE ALSO: Trump defends 'playing down' COVID-19 after new book reveals president called virus 'deadly stuff' in Feb EMBED More News Videos

President Donald Trump is acknowledging he played down the projected impact of the deadly coronavirus early this year and says he meant to avoid creating a panic.

Two additional debates are scheduled for Oct. 15 and Oct. 22. The Commission on Presidential Debates has not yet commented on any changes in the debate schedule or health protocols.

Both men are in high-risk categories for COVID complications. Trump is 74 years old and clinically obese. Biden is 77 years old.

Should Trump emerge with no visible effects, he could declare a speedy recovery as proof that he's been right about COVID-19 being overblown. But that still would be at odds both with established science and with what Trump himself has said privately. Recordings by journalist Bob Woodward reveal Trump in early February detailing the "deadly" consequences of coronavirus, contrary to his public dismissiveness.

Seawright argued that any declaration of victory from Trump would appeal only to voters already determined to vote for him.

Despite the gravity of the news, Finney noted that other seismic stories beyond the pandemic are playing out ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, continues meetings with senators on Capitol Hill ahead of a fast-track confirmation process that is likely to further inflame political divisions in Congress and across the electorate. Barrett could end up being a decisive vote on election disputes or another constitutional challenge to the 2010 health care law that affects insurance eligibility for millions of Americans.

And public demonstrations continue in many U.S. cities as part of a national reckoning on racism following years of police killings of Black Americans.

"The pandemic is top of mind for everyone," Finney said, "but certainly for Black and brown Americans, so are the issues that have people in the streets peacefully protesting."

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Tags: 2020 presidential election politics coronavirus melania trump u s world 2020 presidential election president donald trump

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Why has the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago now, what is Trump being investigated for and what does this mean for the 2024 election?

Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, was raided by the FBI on Monday, a high-profile move in the ongoing investigations into the former President.

While the FBI has not yet commented on why it conducted the raid, details indicate it was likely a part of an ongoing investigation into Trump's removal of sensitive White House documents at the end of his term.

FBI agents reportedly focused their search of the property on the former President's office space, removed papers and documents, and even broke open a safe.

The raid does not suggest that criminal charges are near or even expected – but the FBI would have needed a search warrant that was court authorized. 

How the raid could effect the 2024 election remains to be seen, but if convicted of violating removing documents from the White House Trump could face up to three years and prison and be barred from holding public office.

A source close to the president told NBC the raid is only likely to galvanize the president to announce a 2024 bid. 

The source also said the raid could spurn Trump to announce his candidacy in the hopes of shielding himself from prosecution through the long-held precedent that sitting presidents not be convicted of crimes.

Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort was raided by the FBI on Monday, a high-profile move in the ongoing investigations in to the form

Why is Donald Trump being investigated, and what is the evidence against him?

Trump is currently the subject of two FBI investigations - one into his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and his culpability for the January 6 Capitol riots, and the other into his removal of White House documents at the end of his term. 

Though Monday's raid could be in relation to the January 6 investigation, previous actions by investigators indicate it is most likely a part of his removal of sensitive White House documents.

At the end of their terms presidents are required under the Presidential Records act to hand over all documents from their time in office to be stored in the National Archives. Another federal law, 18 U.S. Code § 2071, forbids the 'concealment, removal, or mutilation,' of federal documents.

Sensitive documents were previously found at Mar-a-Lago when the National Archives removed at least 15 boxes of records from the Florida resort, it was revealed in February.

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National Archives officials said in a letter to Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform which is overseeing the investigation, that they recovered 'items marked as classified national security information within the boxes' at the former president's home that month.

In the months following that discovery, Trump aides and attorneys were interviewed on numerous occasions in relation to other classified documents investigators thought the president was illegally holding, with a team of investigators even paying a visit to Mar-a-Lago in early June.

During that trip the investigators met with Trump's attorneys, Bobb and Evan Corcoran, according to CNN, and were brought to a room where a number of boxes marked 'Top Secret' were being stored. 

Days later, Trump's attorneys were contacted by the investigators and asked to better secure the room they'd been shown. A padlock was reportedly placed on the door of the room.

Secret Service agents posted outside the gates of Mar-a-Lago during the FBI raid of the property on Monday 

A police car stationed outside of the gates of Trumps Mar-a-Lago resort during the FBI raid on Monday

Why has the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago now?

Trump was in New York City at the time his Florida resort was raided. His son, Eric, said he received a call from investigators informing about the raid and that he then conveyed the news to his father. 

Eric said he was informed on that call that the raid was a part of a National Archives investigation.

'The purpose of the raid, from what they said, was because the National Archives wanted to, you know, corroborate whether or not Donald Trump had any documents in his possession,' he told Sean Hannity on Monday.

If Eric's account is accurate, it is very nearly certain the raid was a part of an evidence collection into the ongoing documents investigation.  

The FBI is barred from taking any actions that could be politically influential within 90 days of an election, and the raid occurred exactly 90 days from the November midterms.

Though Trump is not currently a government official he remains an overwhelming presence in the political arena. It is possible the FBI felt it was now or never to obtain evidence from Mar-a-Lago or else face the risk of compromising their ability to gather it later due to the 90 day election buffer.   

Eric Trump reportedly received the call informing the Trumps about the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago

The raid is also likely to solidify Trump's plans to run in 2024, a source close to the former president told NBC, and spurn him to announce his bid sooner rather than later

What charges could Donald Trump face and what does this mean if he decides to run for President in 2024?

If found to have violated the Presidential Records Act and federal law which prosecutes anyone who 'willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys, or attempts to do so, or, with intent to do so takes and carries away,' the president could face up to three years in prison and be fined.

More importantly however is the stipulation in 18 U.S. Code § 2071 which says anyone found in violation 'shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.'

If found guilty of a violation of that code Trump would not be barred from running in 2024 - charges and convictions for most crimes does not disqualify one from being on the ballot - but he could be prevented from holding office even if he were elected to the presidency.

Trump has not yet officially declared his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election, though he has dropped strong hints over the past few months. 

If he were elected and sworn in before being convicted, however, it is likely he could stay any repercussions owing to a long-held precedent that sitting presidents not be charged with crimes.

If he returned to the oval office it is also possible he could avoid any conviction altogether as he would have four years to maneuver and manipulate the personnel and workings department of justice and the FBI to his favor.  

The raid is also likely to solidify Trump's plans to run in 2024, a source close to the former president told NBC, and spurn him to announce his bid sooner rather than later.

'If he wasn't running before, he is now,' the source said, 'It pisses him off that they can do this to him. One way to get it to stop is to control the government again.'

Read more:
  • Trump's Mar-a-Lago searched by FBI in document investigation - CNNPolitics
  • How the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago could influence another Trump run for president

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