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Monday January 18th, 2021 5:42AM

The Latest: Trump questions Pentagon leaders' motives

By The Associated Press
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MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Latest on Election 2020 (all times local):

7 p.m.

President Donald Trump said Monday that top Defense Department leaders want to keep waging wars in order to keep defense contractors “happy.”

Trump continues to fight allegations that he made offensive comments about fallen U.S. service-members, including calling World War I dead at an American military cemetery in France “losers” and “suckers” in 2018. The Atlantic first reported on the anonymously sourced allegations.

At a White House news conference Monday, Trump repeated his claim that the story was a “hoax” and said: “I’m not saying the military’s in love with me. The soldiers are.”

However, he added, “The top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t because they want to do nothing but fight wars so all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.”

__

4:20 p.m.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is continuing his broadsides against Trump during a virtual town hall with AFL-CIO union members.

Biden called the president’s alleged remarks about fallen soldiers being “losers” and suckers” un-American. And he said Trump would “never understand” why Americans serve.

“He’ll never understand you, he’ll never understand us, he’ll never understand our cops, our firefighters, because he’s not made of the same stuff,” Biden said.

He told the union members: "You live by a code, an American code. It sounds corny but it’s real: honor, duty, country, something bigger than yourselves. He lives by a code of lies, greed and selfishness.”

Biden marked Labor Day with a visit with union leaders at the AFL-CIO's Pennsylvania headquarters in Harrisburg.

__

2:30 p.m.

An attorney representing the family of Jacob Blake says Sen. Kamala Harris’ visit with the family Monday was “inspirational and uplifting.”

Attorney Ben Crump says Blake joined in the conversation by phone from his hospital bed.

Blake remains hospitalized after being shot in the back seven times by a white Kenosha police officer while authorities were trying to arrest him on Aug. 23. He remains paralyzed.

Crump says Harris, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, spoke individually with each family member about how they were handling the shooting and urged them to take care of their physical and mental health.

Crump says Blake told Harris he was proud of her, and Harris told Blake that she was also proud of him and the way he was working through his pain.

“Jacob Jr. assured her that he was not going to give up on life for the sake of his children,” Crump said.

Crump says Harris also talked about policy changes she and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will seek, and encouraged family members to continue to use their voices to help end systemic racism.

__

1:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he’s expecting a strong rebound in the third quarter, with a good economic report coming out just in time for the November election.

He held a Labor Day news conference to talk up the economy’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and to run down his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden. Trump claims Biden’s policies would “destroy the economy.”

The U.S. economy has been steadily rebounding from its epic collapse in the spring as many businesses have reopened and rehired some laid-off employees. Yet the recovery is far from complete. Only about half the 22 million jobs that vanished in the pandemic have been recovered.

___

12:50 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence says the Trump administration stands with law enforcement, and there is no excuse for the violent unrest that has been seen in many American cities.

During a Monday speech in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Pence talked about jobs, the economy and efforts to manufacture a safe vaccine for the coronavirus. He also spoke about protests that have been happening in Kenosha, after a police officer shot Jacob Blake, leaving him paralyzed.

Pence did not mention Blake by name. He said police use of excessive force would be investigated, but there is no excuse for “rioting.” He said violence against citizens and property must stop now, and that a Trump administration would never defund police departments.

Pence also spoke about the race to create an effective vaccine for the coronavirus. He said that while Biden has said there is no miracle, America is “in the miracle business” and he said there would be a safe, effective vaccine for COVID-19 before the end of the year.

___

12:30 p.m.

Joe Biden is willing to take a coronavirus vaccine — as long as scientists say it’s OK.

Speaking to reporters after a campaign stop in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Biden said first he’d want to see what the scientists said about any potential vaccine. But he said he would like to see a vaccine tomorrow, even if if would cost him the election by helping President Donald Trump.

Biden also called for “full transparency on the vaccine,” warning that Trump’s repeated misstatements and falsehoods with respect to the virus are “undermining public confidence.”

He said he's worried that “if we do have a really good vaccine people are going to be reluctant to take it.”

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