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Joe Biden stated that he thinks he has the legal authority to mandate mask-wearing nationwide, marking a change in tone from earlier this month when he acknowledged that the Constitution may prevent the president from going that far.

"There's a question — I think it's at a convention positive — a question whether I can mandate over state lines that every single state has to comply.

Our legal team thinks I can do that based upon the degree to which there is a crisis in those states, and how bad things are for the country," the Democratic presidential nominee said in a press briefing on the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday. "I'd make the case why it's necessary."

"I have a scientist arrayed lay out in detail why, and I would go to every governor," Biden continued, "and I'd say, 'We have to have this national mandate.' We must do it. And at a minimum what I would do I wouldn't walk around saying masks don't matter."

Biden added that if he had the authority to do so, he would sign an executive order to mandate mask-wearing.

The former vice president said in his speech accepting the Democratic presidential nomination that he would push for a national mask mandate, earlier this month, Biden acknowledged that there are Constitutional limitations on presidential power that could prevent him from flexing legal authority in that area, instead saying that he would put pressure on states and local officials to implement and enforce mask mandates.

"There's a question whether or not a president, under the Constitution, could mandate everyone wear a mask," Biden said on Sept. 2. "And remember, all during the primary I'd have a lot of people telling me, 'I would by executive order do.' I'm a constitutionalist. You know, you can't do things the Constitution doesn't allow you the power to do."

Biden also took a dig at President Trump on Wednesday, referencing moment at a Tuesday town hall in which the president attempted to knock Biden for not implementing his national mask mandate plan.

"They said at the Democrat convention they're going to do a national mandate. They never did it," Trump said.

"I found it fascinating," Biden said. "I'm not the president. He's the president."

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Pelosi Says Trump's Reported Debts Are a National Security Issue

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's debts reported by the New York on Sunday raised national security issues, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Monday, adding that the public deserves to know to whom he owes money.

Pelosi, in an interview with MSNBC, said it was not clear who held the debts and if it involved different countries, which could hold leverage over the Republican president: "To me this is a national security question."

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell and Susan Heavey, Editing by Franklin Paul)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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