Democrats braced on Thursday for what promised to be a rare good-news cycle for President Trump in the 2020 homestretch: the release of a report showing gross domestic product grew about 7 percent in the third quarter, or 30 percent on an annualized basis — the fastest growth since reliable records began after World War II.
But Mr. Trump, campaigning in Tampa just hours before Joseph R. Biden Jr. was set to appear at a rally across town, spent only about five minutes on the economy — calling the G.D.P. figure the “biggest event in business” of the last 50 years.
He quickly moved on, mocking Republicans who have repeatedly advised him to focus on his economic record instead of lashing out at enemies and harping on the issue of Hunter Biden’s business dealings.
“I get a call from all the experts, right, guys that ran for president six, seven, eight times, never got past the first round, but they’re calling me up. ‘Sir, you shouldn’t be speaking about Hunter,’” he said, his voice hoarse and raspy. “‘You shouldn’t be saying bad things about Biden because nobody cares.’ I disagree. You know, maybe that’s why I’m here and they’re not.”
He added: “They say, ‘Talk about your economic success. Talk about 33.1 percent, the greatest in history.’ Now, look, if I do, I mean, how many times can I say it?”
It is not just random former presidential candidates who are counseling him to focus: Mr. Trump’s own campaign advisers want him to hit on broader political themes, and steer away from personal attacks that will further alienate women and suburban voters.
Mr. Biden currently has a small edge in Florida, according to polling averages, but a huge turnout on Election Day by Trump supporters could be enough to offset the former vice president’s expected advantage from mail-in ballots.
The rally in Tampa kicked off on a disciplined note, perhaps because another Trump was at the podium.
Melania Trump, the first lady, who has been mostly absent from campaign events, introduced her husband by reading a carefully drafted speech praising his ability to counter the coronavirus pandemic, save the economy and improve the tenor of political discourse.
Mrs. Trump condemned the “hate, negativity and fear” that she said “the media streams into our homes,” stopping several times to acknowledge riotous applause from the president’s supporters, before sitting down in a folding chair next to the stage.
After delivering his brief remarks on the new G.D.P. numbers, Mr. Trump offered a rambling and confessional speech that began with vitriolic attacks on the media, a takedown of Miles Taylor, the former Homeland Security official who penned an anonymous anti-Trump op-ed in The New York Times, and then segued into his typical wisecracks about Mr. Biden’s mental acuity.
Mr. Trump predicted a massive “red wave,” that would sweep him to victory in Florida and elsewhere, and questioned the accuracy of polls showing him facing a possible defeat.
At other moments, Mr. Trump mused about a less positive outcome.
“Could you imagine losing to this guy?” he asked about Mr. Biden, peering down at his wife who was quietly watching him behind sunglasses.
As President Trump rallied in Tampa, Joseph R. Biden Jr. held a drive-in campaign event on the other side of Florida in the Democratic stronghold of Broward County, making an explicit pitch to Hispanic voters five days before the election.
Recent polls suggest that while Florida is effectively tied, Mr. Trump has made inroads with Latinos, a crucial demographic in Florida and other battleground states. In South Florida, the president has especially consolidated his popularity among Cuban-Americans, including newer Cuban immigrants.
“Cuba is no closer to freedom and democracy today than it was four years ago,” Mr. Biden, in shirt sleeves and sunglasses, said at Broward College’s North Campus in Coconut Creek. “In fact, there are more political prisoners and secret police are as brutal as ever, and Russia once again is a major presence in Havana.”
In promising to reverse Mr. Trump’s more hard-line Cuba policy, Mr. Biden also reiterated that he considers Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela’s left-wing president, to be a “thug.” Though Venezuelan-Americans have tended to lean Democratic, the president’s tough rhetoric and sanctions against Mr. Maduro’s government have endeared him to some Venezuelan voters.
“President Trump can’t advance democracy and human rights for the Cuban people or the Venezuelan people, for that matter, when he has praised so many autocrats around the world,” Mr. Biden said.
He also dismissed Mr. Trump’s rally on the other side of the state as a “super-spreader” event.
Mr. Trump later struck back on Twitter, writing, “Our opponents want to turn America into Communist Cuba or Socialist Venezuela.”
Florida, the biggest presidential battleground state, is expected to report its results relatively quickly on Tuesday night, which could set the tenor for how Americans view the early outcome of the presidential race.
“If Florida goes blue, it’s over,” Mr. Biden said.
The STATE OF THE STATES
The battle over whether Florida will go red or blue in the presidential election has been almost overshadowed by the state’s position on another color-coded map: Florida is listed in the red zone for coronavirus cases in the latest weekly report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, which noted an increase in new cases over the past week.
As President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. both stumped in Florida on Thursday, polls showed a tight race where Mr. Biden has a very narrow advantage. An NBC/Marist poll of Florida released Thursday morning found him holding a four-point edge over the president among likely voters — a lead within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points but in line with polls that have consistently found Mr. Biden slightly ahead in the state, which Mr. Trump carried in 2016 and which is crucial to his re-election hopes.
A Monmouth University poll released Thursday afternoon showed Mr. Biden leading Mr. Trump by 50 percent to 45 percent among registered voters, and by 51 percent to 45 percent among likely voters if it is a high-turnout election. That poll also had a margin or error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
Early voting in the state has been strong: with five days left before Election Day, the state has already received more than three-quarters of the votes that were counted in the entire 2016 presidential election, according to the United States Elections Project.
While it is unclear who the early votes were for, the party breakdown of those who have cast ballots suggests a close race. Democrats built up a big edge with mail-in ballots, but Republicans have eaten into their lead by casting more in-person votes. As of early Thursday afternoon, the project found that 40.5 percent of the early votes in Florida had been cast by Democrats, 37.7 percent by Republicans, and 21.7 percent by people without a party affiliation or who are in minor parties.
Florida’s I-4 corridor, a stretch of highway across Central Florida that links Tampa and Orlando, has long been seen as the swing zone that helped sway elections in the state.
This year, the area’s once-booming leisure and hospitality industry has been sent reeling by the virus in ways that could affect the presidential race. Unemployment in Orange County — home to Disney World, the Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld and smaller tourist attractions — stood at 10.4 percent in September. Osceola County, to its south, had the highest unemployment rate in the state: 13.3 percent.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. holds a small but durable lead over President Trump in North Carolina, where fully 64 percent of likely voters say they have already cast their ballots, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll released on Thursday.
And in a North Carolina race crucial to the control of the Senate, the Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham, maintains a 46 to 43 percent edge over Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican, despite a late-breaking scandal over romantic texts Mr. Cunningham sent to a woman who is not his wife.
Mr. Biden leads Mr. Trump 48 percent to 45 percent in the survey, which was conducted after the final presidential debate last week. Nearly seven in 10 voters said they had watched the debate. Mr. Trump’s performance received mixed reviews in North Carolina, with voters split nearly evenly on who they thought won.
Based on a New York Times/Siena College poll of 1,034 likely voters in North Carolina from Oct. 23 to Oct. 27.
Mr. Trump was set to make his ninth campaign visit to the state since early September Thursday night with a rally in Fayetteville, a sign that his campaign was worried about a state the president won by nearly four points in 2016. But the campaign announced Thursday afternoon that the rally had been postponed because of high winds.
This week, North Carolina reported its second-highest number of patients hospitalized with the coronavirus in a day, 1,214, since the pandemic began. At a North Carolina rally on Saturday in Lumberton, Mr. Trump had dismissed the virus threat as overblown and driven by political enemies. “Covid, Covid, Covid,” he said. “On Nov. 4, you won’t hear about it anymore.”
The margins in both the presidential and Senate races in the state were nearly identical to those in the previous Times/Siena poll, in mid-October, which found Mr. Biden and Mr. Cunningham both ahead by four points. North Carolina is one of several states Democrats hope to flip in their bid to gain three seats and win back the Senate.
The poll of 1,034 likely voters has a margin of error of about four percentage points.
Seizing on one of the most emotional issues of the campaign — the Trump administration’s immigration policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border — Joseph R. Biden Jr. pledged Thursday to create a federal task to try to reunite the families of 545 children who were separated and whose deported parents cannot be located.
The new task force, which Mr. Biden said he would create on his first day in office, was announced in a new television commercial that the campaign said would run in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Nevada.
The parents of 545 of the separated children still have not been found, according to court documents filed this month in a case challenging the practice, though attempts to find them have been going on for years. About 60 of the children were younger than 5 when they were separated, the documents show.
The Trump administration’s hard-line immigration policy spurred the separation of thousands of families, many of them fleeing violence in Central America and seeking asylum in the United States, before President Trump abandoned it amid global outrage.
The new Biden campaign ad contains excerpts from one of his debates with Mr. Trump, in which he decried the policy. “Their kids were ripped from their arms and separated, and now they cannot find over 500 sets of those parents, and those kids are alone,” Mr. Biden said. “Nowhere to go. It’s criminal.”
And the ad included part of Mr. Trump’s answer. “They’re so well taken care of,” he said. “They’re in facilities that were so clean.”
Many voting rules have changed this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, making it harder than usual to figure out how to cast your ballot. So we did the work for you, in hopes of helping to make sure your vote is counted.
If you still have questions about the voting process or the election process in general, check out our frequently asked questions.
President Trump’s campaign is pursuing a three-pronged strategy in the crucial battleground state of Pennsylvania that would effectively suppress mail-in votes there, moving to stop the processing of absentee votes before Election Day, pushing to limit how late mail-in ballots can be accepted and intimidating Pennsylvanians trying to vote early.
The state is one of a handful that by law prevent mail-in votes from being counted until Election Day. In Pennsylvania and other swing states, these ballots are expected to skew heavily toward Democrats.
In an effort to accommodate a pandemic-driven avalanche of absentee ballots, Pennsylvania, like many other states, has tried to relax some rules, like the one that requires all votes to be counted within six days after Election Day, by extending the period to nine days. But the Trump campaign has leaned on Republican allies in the legislature to prevent any changes.
Among many other lawsuits, the campaign has mounted litigation in state, local and federal courts to curtail how late mail-in votes can be accepted and to challenge other rules and procedures. On Wednesday evening, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a fast-tracked plea from Pennsylvania Republicans to block the three-day extension of the deadline for receiving absentee ballots in the state.
The Trump campaign has also dispatched its officials to early voting sites, videotaped voters and even pressed election administrators in the Philadelphia area to stop people from delivering more than one ballot to a drop box.
The intensity of the Trump campaign’s efforts in Philadelphia stems in part from the man running its Election Day operations nationwide: Michael Roman, a native Philadelphian who cut his teeth in city politics before running a domestic intelligence-gathering operation for the conservative Koch brothers. Like his boss, Mr. Roman has persistently made public statements undermining confidence in the electoral process.
Neither Mr. Roman nor the campaign would comment for this article.
Some residents have been left bewildered by the Trump campaign’s attention this year. During the primary election over the summer, Adam S. Goodman, an insurance lawyer, posted a photo on Instagram in which he proudly held up two mail-in ballots outside a drop box. He learned the Trump campaign had used the photo in litigation against the city to illustrate an accusation that some voters were dropping off more than one ballot.
But Mr. Goodman said his husband was simply standing out of the frame when the picture was taken.
The president, who was in the state Monday, had ominous words for voters there. “A lot of strange things happening in Philadelphia,” he said during a stop in Allentown. “We’re watching you, Philadelphia. We’re watching at the highest level.”
Law enforcement officials, at least in Philadelphia, were unbowed by the president’s threats.
“Keep your Proud Boys, goon squads and uncertified ‘poll watchers’ out of our city, Mr. President,” said Lawrence S. Krasner, Philadelphia’s district attorney. “Break the law here, and I’ve got something for you.”
Quinnipiac University released polls in four major swing states on Thursday, showing former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. leading in Pennsylvania, narrowly ahead in Ohio, and effectively tied with President Trump in Florida and Iowa.
Mr. Biden was ahead of Mr. Trump in Pennsylvania by seven points, 51 percent to 44 percent, and in Ohio by five points, 48 percent to 43 percent.
His lead in Pennsylvania was outside the margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points, while his lead in Ohio was just inside the margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.
The Florida poll found Mr. Biden at 45 percent and Mr. Trump at 42 percent, while the Iowa poll found Mr. Trump at 47 percent and Mr. Biden at 46 percent. Neither of those margins is statistically meaningful.
Mr. Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania is the most significant takeaway from the Quinnipiac polls, because if he wins there and also takes Michigan and Wisconsin — where most surveys have shown him with comfortable leads — he can afford to lose Florida, Iowa and Ohio and still win the election.
Mr. Trump has been fighting hard in Pennsylvania, which looks to be his best shot at holding on to a slim Electoral College majority. Without Pennsylvania, it would be almost impossible for him to win re-election.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is leaning into climate change in the final days before the election, issuing new national ads attacking President Trump’s science denial even as Mr. Trump continues to hammer his rival’s position on the oil industry.
One, an animated 30-second spot mocking Mr. Trump’s declarations that climate change is a “hoax” and that “it will start getting cooler” is aimed at reaching youth voters, said Matt Hill, a spokesman for Mr. Biden.
The ad shows a pen scribbling inside a moving mouth that morphs into a ballot oval, silencing the president by voting him out. It is slated to air on Comedy Central and Adult Swim.
The other spot features “Melanie,” a Phoenix, Ariz. firefighter who describes the physical and mental toll of fire seasons that are worsened by climate change. “We have the science, we have the technology but we don’t have leadership that believes in it,” she says. That ad will air on MSNBC.
President Trump, meantime, has continued to seize on comments that Mr. Biden made during the final debate that he would “transition from the oil industry” to address climate change and phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
“It is huge Biden is closing with climate, but it’s no surprise,” Peter Maysmith, senior vice president of campaigns with the League of Conservation Voters said in a statement. “Trump is trying to hang climate action around Biden’s neck but what he seems to have missed is that’s exactly what the voters want from their president,” he added.
Thomas J. Pyle, the president of the Institute for Energy Research, an organization that supports the use of fossil fuels, called the animated ad “clever.” But, he said, it is notable that Mr. Biden’s campaign is running ads that appeal to his base yet sending surrogates to states where many voters are anxious about anti-fossil fuel agendas, like Pennsylvania and Michigan.
“If the Biden camp truly believed the narrative that they are running away with this election, they would be making very different decisions about how to spend their resources or deploy their stars,” he said.
Mr. Hill noted that several of Mr. Biden’s general market ads have referenced climate change and clean energy. These new spots, he said “are examples of the historic role the issue is playing in the election and how the VP and our campaign has made significant investment in it.”
Joseph R. Biden Jr. will make a stop in Minnesota on Friday, his campaign announced on Thursday, a rare instance in which the Democratic nominee is playing defense in the final days of the election.
Minnesota is one of the few states that President Trump has targeted as a pickup opportunity, and it narrowly eluded him in the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton won there by only 1.5 percentage points, though Mr. Biden is in a stronger position this time around, with a nine-point lead over Mr. Trump, according to polling averages.
Friday is shaping up to be one of Mr. Biden’s busiest days of the general election, with planned visits to three states in the Midwest. In Minnesota, he will hold a drive-in rally in St. Paul in the afternoon. He is also slated to campaign in Iowa and Wisconsin, two states that Mr. Trump won in 2016.
In the final days before Tuesday’s election, Mr. Biden’s travel schedule has been mostly focused on states that he is trying to pry away from Mr. Trump. On Thursday, the former vice president is campaigning in Florida, and he is scheduled to appear with former President Barack Obama in Michigan on Saturday. Earlier in the week, Mr. Biden made visits to Pennsylvania and Georgia, two other states Mr. Trump is defending.
Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, has suddenly started appearing on Fox News from a set-up at President Trump’s re-election headquarters, further blurring the lines between government and political activity.
In one appearance earlier this week, in which she was announced as both a campaign senior adviser and the White House press secretary, Ms. McEnany talked up the president’s political rallies.
“At each of our rallies yesterday, I was with the president, we made three stops on Lancaster and all across the state,” she said in the interview. “And in each of those stops we played a video for the public. Joe Biden said roll the tape, President Trump. When did I say ban fracking? Well, we rolled it.”
In the interview, Ms. McEnany did not say she was speaking in a position as a campaign adviser. Nor did the campaign or the White House ever announce that she was serving in both roles. When she left the campaign to become the White House press secretary, it was not made clear that she would continue on helping the campaign.
Throughout the campaign the Trump administration has been criticized for blurring lines between government and politics and violating longstanding norms, and, in many cases, the Hatch Act, which bans political activity in the federal workplace.
At the Republican National Convention Mr. Trump delivered his acceptance speech from the South Lawn of the White House, turning the mansion into the backdrop for a political speech. The Office of the U.S. Special Counsel is investigating whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated the Hatch Act by helping the Trump campaign in the course of his official duties, including by speaking to the Republican National Convention while on a diplomatic trip to Jerusalem.
Other administrations have found ways to deal with dividing the political and the governmental, such as when President Obama was running for re-election and Jay Carney, the White House press secretary at the time, would brief reporters traveling with Mr. Obama, while a campaign official, Jennifer Psaki, would brief the reporters on behalf of the campaign, a former Obama-era aide recalled.
Ms. McEnany’s recent appearances have become an encapsulation of the administration’s willingness to blur lines.
Sarah Matthews, a White House spokeswoman, said that Ms. McEnany “appeared on Fox News and Fox Business in her personal capacity as a private citizen. She advises the campaign on a voluntary basis.” A campaign official said that shows that air interviews with her have been instructed not to use her White House title.
Mr. Trump has expressed frustration that he has few people on television defending him beyond the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows. He has noted that in 2016, his adviser Kellyanne Conway was on television constantly in the final stretch. He has also complained to aides that Ms. McEnany only goes on Fox News.
Climate change is on the ballot this year, and not just in the presidential race.
Nowhere is that more evident than in Texas, where Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, poured $2.5 million into a Texas Railroad Commission race this week.
Contrary to its name, the 130-year-old regulatory body actually oversees the state’s oil and gas industry. Chrysta Castañeda, a Democrat, is vying for a spot on a platform of reducing methane flaring and other policies to address climate change.
“The industry acknowledges that climate change is real and that it is caused by human activities, including oil and gas extraction,” Ms. Castañeda, an engineer and lawyer, says on her website. “Yet our Texas Railroad Commissioners refuse to acknowledge this reality and do the things that would help us mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.”
Her opponent, Jim Wright, a Republican businessman, is running on securing the border to protect infrastructure and on bolstering the oil and gas industry. He also has espoused some fringe theories about both climate change and renewable energy, according to an interview recently uncovered by the watchdog group Documented.
“There are a lot of documents out there, but nobody’s proven to me exactly, and pinpoint what, what is really hurting our atmosphere,” Mr. Wright said in an interview this month on the Oil and Gas Startups podcast. “What I do know about our Earth is we have evolved and continue to evolve. And I can tell you that summers are going to get hotter whether we had flaring or we had cars because the Earth is evolving.” Wind and solar power, he maintained, are more environmentally harmful than fossil fuels.
According to the congressionally-mandated National Climate Assessment, human activity accounts for all of the warming over the last 50 years, when the majority of changes occurred. Mr. Wright did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Bloomberg ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination last year and has spent millions of dollars to shutter coal plants across the country. In a statement, he called Ms. Castañeda a “champion” for Texas.
Jon Ossoff, the Democratic nominee in one of Georgia’s two Senate races, slammed Senator David Perdue, his Republican opponent, as “a crook” on Wednesday night and accused him of trying to profit from the coronavirus pandemic.
The remark came during a bruising debate that underscored the bitter partisan divide in what was once a safely Republican state. Mr. Perdue, 70, said he had done nothing wrong, and accused Mr. Ossoff, 33, of pursuing a “radical socialist agenda” that would result in higher taxes.
Mr. Perdue, a wealthy former corporate executive, bought stock in DuPont de Nemours, which sells personal protective equipment, on Jan. 24, the same day he received a classified briefing on the threat posed by the coronavirus, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“It’s not just that you’re a crook, Senator,” Mr. Ossoff said, turning to face his socially-distanced opponent as Mr. Perdue’s eyes remained fixed on the camera. “It’s that you’re attacking the health of the people that you represent. You did say Covid-19 was no deadlier than the flu. You did say there would be no significant uptick in cases. All the while you were looking after your own assets and your own portfolio.”
Mr. Perdue has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, and said any transactions he made were executed by a financial adviser without his knowledge.
“The thing I’m most upset about,” Mr. Perdue said of Mr. Ossoff, “is that he’ll say and do anything to my friends in Georgia to mislead them about how radical and socialist” his agenda is.
Recent polls have found Mr. Perdue and Mr. Ossoff in a dead heat. If neither candidate hits 50 percent of the vote, they will compete in a runoff election in January.
Mr. Ossoff — echoing a national Democratic strategy of focusing on health care — went on to criticize Mr. Perdue for voting repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act and attempting to gut Obama-era safeguards for patients with pre-existing conditions.
Mr. Perdue pointed to legislation he co-sponsored that he claimed offered “protection for pre-existing conditions.”
The senator’s bill, which went nowhere, does say that insurance companies can’t deny coverage based on “any pre-existing condition,” but it contains a major loophole, giving insurers the option of rejecting a patient if a provider does “not have the capacity to deliver services adequately.”
Georgia’s other Senate race is also close, though the Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat and pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, has led in recent polls. He faces Senator Kelly Loeffler, a Republican who was appointed to her seat; Representative Doug Collins, another Republican; and several other candidates. That race will almost certainly result in a runoff.
Federal and state authorities arrested two men in Michigan on Thursday who they said were members of a white supremacist group, taking the men into custody just three weeks after more than a dozen members of a separate, anti-government group were accused of plotting to kidnap the state’s governor.
Dana Nessel, the state’s attorney general, said the charges against two members of the white supremacist group “The Base” — Justen Watkins, 25, its self-proclaimed leader, and Alfred Gorman, 35 — stemmed from the men’s effort to intimidate a podcast host by taking a picture on his porch and posting it, but that they had done so at the wrong house.
Ms. Nessel charged the men with unlawfully posting a message intended to threaten the victims, which is a felony, allowing her to also charge them with two more serious crimes: committing a felony while being a member of a gang and using a computer to commit a felony. The men did not immediately have lawyers listed in online court records.
The Base is a white supremacist group founded in 2018, Ms. Nessel said, that urges violence against the government, encourages members to read neo-Nazi books and trains for a future “race war.”
The arrests came the day after it was revealed that one of the men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, also wrote on Facebook that he wanted to hang President Trump, Hillary Clinton and other politicians from both parties, according to a new affidavit from an F.B.I. agent.
The F.B.I agent wrote that Barry Croft, a Delaware truck driver whom the authorities charged with working with 12 men from Michigan to kidnap Governor Whitmer, a Democrat, had indicated that he wanted to hang or hold a “people’s trial” against a wide range of politicians.
In May, Mr. Croft posted a photo of Mr. Trump, according to the agent, with the message, “True colors shining through.” He used an abbreviated obscenity for Mr. Trump and added, “wanna hang” him, too. In another post, he indicated that the four most recent presidents — Mr. Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — should be hanged, according to the F.B.I. agent, Kristopher M. Long.
Mr. Long said that in June, Mr. Croft wrote, “I’m for hanging Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians. I believe the rest would enjoy the Constitutional Republic!!!”
Mr. Croft also appeared to threaten Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina, a Republican, Mr. Long said.
In the affidavit, Mr. Long said Facebook had removed Mr. Croft’s previous accounts at least twice, but that he created new ones and continued to message others about carrying out attacks and to post publicly about his desire that politicians die. No lawyer is listed for Mr. Croft in court documents, and a lawyer who previously represented him said he had no comment.