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By Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden has won Georgia and its 16 electoral votes, an extraordinary victory for Democrats who pushed to expand their electoral map through the Sun Belt. The win by Biden pads his Electoral College margin of victory over President Donald Trump. Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election on Nov. 7 after flipping Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin to the Democrats’ column. Biden now has 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. more...

Elliot Smith

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s decision to allow key pandemic relief programs to expire is like stripping lifeboats from the Titanic, according to Carl Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics. Mnuchin announced Thursday that he will not extend the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending programs that used Congress’ CARES Act funds beyond Dec. 31. The move is expected to drastically reduce the central bank’s ability to shore up the financial system.

The announcement comes as many areas of the country reimplement partial lockdown restrictions in a bid to contain the resurgent coronavirus. The national seven-day average of daily new infections has reached 161,165, according to a CNBC analysis of John Hopkins University data, 26% higher than a week ago. California has ordered a 10 p.m. curfew across much of the state, while New York City has announced the closure of schools.

Speaking to CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Friday, Weinberg suggested that it was difficult to find an “economic rationale” for the decision, with millions of Americans still receiving unemployment benefits, regional Fed indicators softening and further shutdowns likely on the horizon. more...

By Philip Bump

It takes some real talent to show up President Trump’s attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani at a news conference in which he riffs for nearly an hour about grand conspiracies rife with rampant voter fraud across the country, evidence for which would be presented at a time to be determined. Yet as soon as Giuliani’s remarks concluded, Sidney Powell managed that feat. Powell, who serves as an attorney both for Trump and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, walked to the lectern, thanked Giuliani — and then went buckwild.

“What we are really dealing with here and uncovering more by the day is the massive influence of communist money through Venezuela, Cuba and likely China in the interference with our elections here in the United States,” she began. She linked voting systems used in several states with a company founded by a former Venezuelan dictator (despite there not being any actual link) and declared that computers were humming along rigging the election for President-elect Joe Biden until it encountered a level “so overwhelming in so many of these states that it broke the algorithm,” necessitating the fraud that Giuliani alleged. Oh, and this all somehow tied back to financier George Soros and the Clinton Foundation, of course. more...

By Tara Subramaniam, Holmes Lybrand and CNN staff, CNN

(CNN) In a wild, tangent-filled and often contentious press briefing led by President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, the Trump campaign's legal team laid out its case for widespread voter fraud in the election. The roughly 90-minute briefing was overflowing with falsehoods and conspiracy theories. At no point did Trump's legal team offer any proof for their allegations of widespread fraud. Jenna Ellis, a legal adviser for the campaign, said the group was laying out an "introductory statement" with more to come, and called the team an "elite strike force." Also working for the campaign, attorney Sidney Powell made extreme, baseless claims about communist Venezuela and George Soros supposedly interfering in the US election. Giuliani on multiple occasions made allegations citing individuals he said couldn't be revealed for their own safety and wellbeing. Many of their specific claims have already been refuted by federal election security experts and a wide, bipartisan array of election administrators across the country.

Certification in Wayne County
Giuliani said the Trump campaign withdrew one case in Michigan because its goal was to get the Wayne County board to decertify and they did.

Facts First: This is false. The county's results were certified on Tuesday night. Two Republican members of the Board initially deadlocked the vote but then reversed their decision and voted to certify Tuesday night. They have since sent in affidavits to rescind their vote but have not filed any lawsuits to try to force the county to call a new meeting. Since the deadline has passed, the certification still stands. Democratic Vice Chair Jonathan Kinloch said Thursday that board members' votes cannot be changed after the fact. -- Tara Subramaniam and Annie Grayer

'Overvotes' in Michigan
"One of the reasons why the Republicans did not certify in Wayne County, Michigan, was because the over-vote was so high," Giuliani claimed. He added, "what I'm describing to you is a massive fraud."

Facts First: This is false. What Giuliani called an over-vote is often referred to as an imbalance where the number of ballots tabulated does not equal the number of people signed in to vote at a specific polling location. Past elections in Michigan with larger imbalances have been certified without issue, including in 2016 when Trump won the state, according the Michigan Secretary of State. "They certified the vote in 2016 with 80% of Detroit precincts out of balance. And yet today, 42% were out of balance and yet it didn't get certified, so clearly there is no valid point here," Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said. Benson told CNN it's "quite common" for precincts to be out of balance but "it doesn't indicate there's any malfeasance," adding "it's more of a bookkeeping, clerical issue." more...


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and his allies are taking increasingly frantic steps to subvert the results of the 2020 election, including summoning state legislators to the White House as part of a longshot bid to overturn Joe Biden’s victory. Among other last-ditch tactics: personally calling local election officials who are trying to rescind their certification votes in Michigan, suggesting in a legal challenge that Pennsylvania set aside the popular vote there and pressuring county officials in Arizona to delay certifying vote tallies. Election law experts see it as the last, dying gasps of the Trump campaign and say Biden is certain to walk into the Oval Office come January. But there is great concern that Trump’s effort is doing real damage to public faith in the integrity of U.S. elections.

Election law experts see it as the last, dying gasps of the Trump campaign and say Biden is certain to walk into the Oval Office come January. But there is great concern that Trump’s effort is doing real damage to public faith in the integrity of U.S. elections. “It’s very concerning that some Republicans apparently can’t fathom the possibility that they legitimately lost this election,” said Joshua Douglas, a law professor at the University of Kentucky who researches and teaches election law. “We depend on democratic norms, including that the losers graciously accept defeat,” he said. “That seems to be breaking down.” more...

Pam Fessler at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Though all evidence points to the contrary, President Trump's campaign is insisting that Trump has a path to reelection victory and that it will pursue legal challenges to results in swing states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. To date, the campaign has lost more than two dozen challenges filed since the Nov. 3 election in which Joe Biden has been declared the decisive winner.

But the president has repeatedly and falsely said the election was riddled with fraud, and in a lengthy, conspiracy-filled news conference in Washington, D.C., his attorneys, led by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, claimed they had hundreds of affidavits from voters and election workers that would prove Trump won the election.

Giuliani alleged that cheating in Democratic-controlled cities, such as Philadelphia, Detroit and Milwaukee, was part of a "nationwide" voter fraud conspiracy. He said they "made significant mistakes, like all crooks do, and we caught them" — although he backed up the allegations with vague assertions and theories that have yet to be argued in a court of law.

The campaign's continued push to question the results comes as states are in the process of certifying votes and as almost every top election official in the country — both Republican and Democratic — insists the election ran smoothly with no signs of widespread fraud.

The recently fired federal cybersecurity official Chris Krebs called the Giuliani press conference "the most dangerous 1hr 45 minutes of television in American history" on his personal Twitter account. Krebs led efforts against disinformation around voter fraud, including baseless information promoted by Trump. more...

Opinion by Eugene Robinson

President Trump is trying to cling to power by disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of Black voters. His desperate legal maneuvering is straight out of the old racist Jim Crow playbook — and the vast majority of elected Republicans, to their eternal shame, are going along with him — whether actively or passively.

In Wisconsin, Trump's campaign has paid for recounts in just two counties, one of which is Milwaukee County. In Michigan, Trump personally called two Republican officials who now want to decertify the vote in Wayne County, which includes Detroit. In Pennsylvania, Trump's legal team has challenged vote-counting procedures and made unsupported allegations of fraud in two cities: Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In Georgia, the Trump team filed a lawsuit targeting absentee ballots in Savannah and another suit took aim at the state's ballot-curing process.

The pattern is obvious and appalling: Trump and the Republicans are trying to invalidate votes in cities with large African American populations — cities that happen to have voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden. In effect, Trump is arguing that Black people have no right to vote him out of office.

I've seen this movie before. When I was growing up in South Carolina, the segregationist power structure throughout the former Confederacy perpetuated itself by denying African Americans access to the ballot box. Whites used poll taxes and literacy tests to keep Black people from registering to vote; drew jurisdictional boundaries to dilute Black political power; often resorted to physical intimidation at polling places; and, when everything else failed, simply invented reasons not to count African American votes.

All these years later, I've never had the illusion that white supremacy was completely vanquished — not even when the nation twice elected a Black man as president. But I honestly didn't think I would see such an undisguised, unapologetic reassertion of the white-is-right doctrine of my youth as we're witnessing now. more...

*** The two Republicans were willing to certify white arears that had more problems than the black areas that sounds racist. After Trump called them, they are changing their vote’s sounds like election interference by Trump. ***

Both claim they were pressured into agreeing to certify the results.
By Krystle Holleman and Spencer Soicher

DETROIT, Mich. (WILX) - Two members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers are pushing to reverse their decision after certifying the election results Tuesday evening. Wednesday night Monica Palmer, chair of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, and William Hartmann, on of two Republicans on the board, filed signed affidavits demanding to rescind their “yes” votes for certification.

“I fully believe the Wayne County vote should not be verified,” Palmer said in an affidavit. “The Wayne County election had serious process flaws which deserve investigation. I continue to ask for information to assure Wayne County voters that these elections were conducted fairly and accurately.” Tuesday two Republican members of the board initially caused a deadlock. Eventually they agreed to certify the county’s vote on the condition of an audit. more...

The president’s team of attorneys pledged they would reverse the outcome of the 2020 White House race.

They called themselves an “elite strike force team.” But the madcap news conference by President Donald Trump’s attorneys on Thursday afternoon was more campaign farce than cogent legal argument, as Rudy Giuliani offered several conspiracy theories and a litany of false claims that he pledged would reverse the outcome of the 2020 White House race. “I guess we’re the senior lawyers,” Giuliani told a packed room of reporters inside the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., flanked by fellow Trump campaign attorneys Jenna Ellis, Joseph diGenova and Sidney Powell.

In the 90 minutes that followed, the former New York mayor and his colleagues spun a web of mistruths that made mention of the Clinton Foundation, liberal megadonor George Soros and the late Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez. And although Ellis described their remarks as merely an “opening statement” on behalf of the campaign, the discursive briefing — during which streams of what appeared to be hair dye dripped down both sides of Giuliani’s face — betrayed almost immediately the desperation of Trump’s flailing effort to undermine President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Just hours earlier on Thursday, the Trump campaign withdrew its last remaining federal lawsuit in Michigan after having no substantive success with similar pieces of litigation across other swing states. Nevertheless, the president’s legal team pushed an alternate political reality at their news conference, which seemed designed primarily to show their boss that they were still fighting on in the face of facts. more...

By Annie Grayer, Jeremy Herb and Kevin Liptak, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump has invited Republican state lawmakers from Michigan to the White House on Friday, according to a person familiar with the matter, as the President and his legal team are mounting an effort to overturn the results of the election he lost to President-elect Joe Biden. Trump also called two Republican canvass board members from Wayne County, to Tuesday to offer his support, the person said, after they went back and forth on voting to certify the election results from the state's largest county, which includes Detroit. The board members filed affidavits Wednesday seeking to "rescind" their votes to certify the election result. Trump extended the invitation on Thursday morning to the Michigan lawmakers by calling the state senate's Republican majority leader, the person familiar said.

Certification is usually a formality, but Trump is trying to block or delay the process in key states as part of a long-shot effort to overturn his election defeat through the Electoral College. Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other allies have suggested that GOP state legislatures in battleground states Biden won should try to use a delay in certification to appoint their own slate of electors and ignore the states' popular votes for Biden. It comes as Trump's legal team's options to challenge election results in states Trump lost are rapidly evaporating and as states move to certify their election results. Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani held a 90-minute news conference Thursday where he and his team laid out dubious legal claims, aired debunked conspiracy theories and brought no specific, credible evidence of voter fraud. "This is very dangerous for our democracy, as it is an attempt to thwart the will of the voters through political pressure from the President," CNN election law expert Rick Hasen wrote in his website. "Even though it is extremely unlikely to work, it is profoundly antidemocratic and a violation of the rule of law. It's inexcusable." more...

By Annie Grayer and Jeremy Herb, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump called at least one of the two Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers on Tuesday evening, before the GOP board members said Wednesday they wanted to "rescind" their votes to certify the presidential results from the county in Michigan, even though the board has already certified the results, The Washington Post reported. Monica Palmer, a GOP board member in Wayne County, the largest in Michigan and home to the city of Detroit, told the Post she received a roughly-two minute call from the President on Tuesday, saying she felt no pressure to change her vote from him. The Detroit Free Press and Associated Press also reported Palmer spoke to Trump.

"I did receive a call from President Trump, late Tuesday evening, after the meeting," Palmer told the Post. "He was checking in to make sure I was safe after hearing the threats and doxing that had occurred." The pushback against certifying the election is the latest long-shot strategy from the Trump campaign as it is quickly running out of legal options to challenge the presidential election result. Trump has refused to concede that he lost to President-elect Joe Biden making false claims that he won and spreading false conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud -- which have been repeatedly rejected in court. more...

Jenna Ellis acknowledged her previous antipathy to the president in a statement to CNN that attempts to explain her flip-flop.
By Lee Moran

Jenna Ellis, a senior legal adviser to Donald Trump, has been appearing on TV to staunchly defend the defeated president’s desperate attempts to steal the 2020 election. But in a series of Facebook posts and radio interviews from 2015 and early 2016 that CNN’s “KFile” unearthed this week, the lawyer described Trump as an “idiot” and a “bully” who “cannot handle criticism.” Ellis also slammed Trump’s supporters for not “seeking truth.” more...

Biden needs a government-wide audit to find every ounce of Trump administration mismanagement and corruption. Unity hinges on transparency and trust.
Kurt Bardella Opinion columnist

For four years, the institutions meant to safeguard our democracy have come under a relentless assault from within, leaving our government vulnerable to corruption. We have seen a systemic and successful effort by President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans to strip away these safeguards. Of the many challenges the incoming Biden administration must confront, the restoration of checks and balances is the most vital if we are to continue on as a united and functioning republic.  

It’s easy in the midst of a pandemic to lose sight of things like whistleblowers, inspectors general, U.S. attorneys, and congressional oversight and independence. But they are all linchpins of a healthy democracy. It’s no surprise or accident that under the Trump presidency, these guardians of government have been eviscerated.

Trump's rise was fueled in part by a belief among disaffected and jaded Americans that the federal government could not be trusted. That the hidden hand of bureaucracy was working against the interests of everyday Americans. In his campaign for the presidency, he created an “us vs. them” chorus united behind the chant of “drain the swamp.” The theme of a “deep state” within the federal workforce, actively working to undermine the American people, is a reoccurring narrative Trump has advanced on many occasions. more...

Kevin Breuninger, Dan Mangan

President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign on Thursday dropped an election-related lawsuit in Michigan, the latest development in the multi-state effort to challenge President-elect Joe Biden’s projected electoral victory. In a court filing, a lawyer for the Trump campaign said the lawsuit, which had sought to stop the certification of ballots in Wayne County, Michigan, was being withdrawn because the county’s board of canvassers “met and declined to certify the results of the presidential election.” But that statement is false: The board voted to certify the results, after an outcry over Republican members who initially voted not to certify.

Those two GOP members now say they want to rescind their votes. But state officials say that is not possible, and that the certification is official. In a statement from the Trump campaign, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said, “This morning we are withdrawing our lawsuit in Michigan.” Giuliani said the withdrawal came “as a direct result of achieving the relief we sought: to stop the election in Wayne County from being prematurely certified before residents can be assured that every legal vote has been counted and every illegal vote has not been counted.” more...

The president asked historians to “please remember” that vaccine development “all took place on my count.”
By Hayley Miller

The U.S. surpassed 250,000 coronavirus deaths this week and President Donald Trump has remained silent on the matter, with the exception of sending several tweets to take credit for the rapid development of multiple vaccines. On Wednesday, when Johns Hopkins University recorded the grim milestone, Trump didn’t tweet a single thing about the pandemic. Instead, he focused his energy on pushing baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.

Trump continued to spread unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about the election Thursday, with a couple tweets sprinkled in praising “COVID DRUGS” and “VACCINES.” “Mortality rate is 85% down!” Trump tweeted, failing to mention surging infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths across the country. Public health experts, including officials in his own administration, have warned for weeks that the winter will likely see a drastic jump in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

But Trump has seemingly tuned out the nightmarish predictions. When they’ve addressed the pandemic, his tweets in recent days have praised his handling of the virus ― which has been widely panned by many medical experts ― and bashed other countries. “Another vaccine just announced,” Trump tweeted Monday, referring to a vaccine developed by biotechnology company Moderna. “For those great ‘historians,’ please remember that these great discoveries, which will end the China Plague, all took place on my count!” more...

Dan Mangan

The CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the powerful business lobbying group that long has backed Republican presidents, says President Donald Trump “should not delay the transition” to President-elect Joe Biden “a moment longer.” Chamber of Commerce chief Tom Donohue pointedly called Biden the “president-elect” in a statement to media outlet Axios.com that urged Trump to allow federal officials to begin the transition process to the former Democratic vice president.

“President-elect Biden and the team around him have a wealth of executive branch experience that should allow them to hit the ground running,” Donohue told the news site. Donohue also said that “while the Trump administration can continue litigating to confirm election outcomes, for the sake of Americans’ safety and well-being, it should not delay the transition a moment longer.” A Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman referred CNBC to Donohue’s remarks to Axios when asked for comment from him. more...

Colin Dwyer

With just two months remaining on its time in power, the Trump administration is capping its revisions of U.S. Middle East policy with another full-throated show of support for Israel. On Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a series of measures expressly aimed at countering the international movement to boycott, divest from or sanction Israel, also known as BDS.

The movement, founded by Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti, seeks to use economic pressure to protest Israeli policies in the occupied territories and support Palestinian independence. Israel has already applied strict measures to curtail the movement's activities within its borders — and now, the country's efforts are getting a global boost from the Trump administration. "We want to stand with all other nations that recognize the BDS movement for the cancer that it is, and we're committed to combating it," Pompeo said at a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Thursday.

During his visit, Pompeo is making unprecedented stops in Israeli settlements in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Golan Heights — including a West Bank winery that named a label in his honor for his support of settlements there. Never has a U.S. official of such high rank visited Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

Netanyahu has been mulling the idea of annexing much of the West Bank, which Palestinians view as integral to their proposed independent state. The Trump administration, meanwhile, has recognized Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights — captured from Syria in 1967 — despite international protests that this is a violation of international law. more...

Clara Hendrickson Detroit Free Press

Monica Palmer, the Republican chairwoman of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers who initially voted on Tuesday against certifying the county's election results, then reversed her vote, said Thursday she received a phone call from President Donald Trump Tuesday evening after the meeting ended. Palmer said she did not know how long the call lasted, saying there was a lot of stress and adrenaline that night. "He was checking to make sure I was safe after seeing/hearing about the threats and doxxing," Palmer wrote in a text message, referring to a firestorm of information released about her on social media.

Palmer earlier told the Free Press her family had "received multiple threats." "The threats have been made against myself, my daughter and my husband," she said. "Reports have been filed with Grosse Pointe Woods police and the FBI." Ryan Jarvi, a spokesman for Attorney General Dana Nessel, said her office had not received a referral about such threats from a police agency, but would act quickly if such a referral is made. William Hartmann, the other Republican member of the four-person Wayne County board, also spoke with Trump, the Associated Press reported. Both board members signed affidavits late Wednesday saying they want to rescind their votes to certify the county's election results because they do not feel the state will follow through with an audit. more...

*** Trump could not win after trying to rig the election now he is trying to steal it. ***


WASHINGTON (AP) — Getting nowhere in the courts, President Donald Trump’s scattershot effort to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory is shifting toward obscure election boards that certify the vote as Trump and his allies seek to upend the electoral process, sow chaos and perpetuate unsubstantiated doubts about the count. The battle is centered in the battleground states that sealed Biden’s win.

In Michigan, two Republican election officials in the state’s largest county initially refused to certify results despite no evidence of fraud, then backtracked and voted to certify and then on Wednesday flipped again and said they “remain opposed to certification.” Some Republicans have called on the GOP statewide canvassers to so the same. In Arizona, officials are balking at signing off on vote tallies in a rural county.

The moves don’t reflect a coordinated effort across the battleground states that broke for Biden, local election officials said. Instead, they seem to be inspired by Trump’s incendiary rhetoric about baseless fraud and driven by Republican acquiescence to broadsides against the nation’s electoral system as state and federal courts push aside legal challenges filed by Trump and his allies. more...


LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Donald Trump campaign attorney declared the Republican president won in Nevada, not Joe Biden, despite results showing the Democratic former vice president drew 33,596 more votes in the battleground state. “Donald Trump won ... after you account for the fraud and irregularities that occurred,” campaign attorney Jesse Binnall told reporters as he announced a new lawsuit asking a state judge to declare Trump the winner or to invalidate the presidential vote results.

With lawsuits flying in Nevada, Binnall castigated Clark County election officials; declared the campaign and state Republican Party can prove 40,000 tainted votes, or enough to make up the approximately 2.4% vote difference Biden and Trump; and said media declarations that Biden won Nevada were wrong. The Associated Press on Nov. 7 declared Biden the winner of Nevada’s six electoral votes. State election figures show Biden with 50.06% of the vote, and 47.67% for Trump. Nevada’s 17 counties are in the process of finalizing results.

The new lawsuit, filed in Carson City, was assigned to Judge James Wilson Jr., who last month rejected Binnall’s bid on behalf of the Trump campaign and state Republican Party to halt the count of mailed ballots received in and around Las Vegas — a Democratic stronghold in an otherwise predominantly GOP state. more...


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has toured a Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank - the first such visit by a top US official. The trip to Psagot came a year after Mr Pompeo said the settlements did not contradict international law, reversing a long-held US position. The declaration outraged Palestinians, who oppose settlements on land they claim for a future independent state. Mr Pompeo later paid a similar visit to the occupied Golan Heights.

President Donald Trump last year officially recognised Israeli sovereignty over the strategic plateau, which Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in 1981. Mr Trump is a close ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and analysts say Mr Pompeo's actions could be seen as a valedictory gesture before he and the president leave the world stage. Mr Pompeo arrived in Israel on Wednesday for what is likely to be his last trip to Israel before leaving office in January. After meeting Mr Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Thursday morning, he announced that the state department would declare as anti-Semitic the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which campaigns for a complete boycott of Israel over its policies towards the Palestinians. more...

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) Fresh off a surprisingly pedestrian election win on November 3, Lindsey Graham has decided to take on a new role: The most aggressive enforcer of the idea that President Donald Trump maybe -- just maybe! -- didn't lose the 2020 election. In recent days, the South Carolina Republican has reached out to election officials in at least three states -- Georgia, Arizona and Nevada -- to inquire about the process by which, among other things, signatures are verified on mail-in ballots. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, told CNN that Graham had called him to urge the removal of ballots amid the ongoing hand recount in the state. "I got the sense it implied that then you could throw those out for any, if you look at the counties with the highest frequent error of signatures," Raffensperger told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Monday night. "So that's the impression that I got."

Graham told CNN that Raffensperger's allegations was "ridiculous." But a staffer for the Georgia secretary of state affirmed Raffensperger's version of events to CNN on Tuesday. "What I heard was basically discussions about absentee ballots and if a potentially ... if there was a percentage of signatures that weren't really, truly matching, is there some point we could get to, we could say somebody went to a courtroom could say, 'Well, let's throw (out) all these ballots because we have no way of knowing because the ballots are separated,' " said Georgia election implementation manager Gabriel Sterling.

Graham, even as he was defending his call to Raffensperger, revealed to reporters that he had also reached out to election officials in two other states where the vote count between Trump and President-elect Joe Biden was quite close -- and where the President has insisted, with zero proof, that there were shenanigans involved in the ballot counting. That claim, however, was almost immediately disputed by Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, who said she had not spoken to Graham (or any other member of Congress) about the vote count in the state. Graham told reporters he was not sure who he had talked to in Nevada (uh, OK) and that he had spoken with Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in Arizona. more...

*** Trump could not win after trying to rig the election now he is trying to steal it in court. ***
By Marina Pitofsky

President Trump's campaign filed a lawsuit on Wednesday over election results in Pennsylvania, arguing that he should be named the winner in the battleground state and that the GOP-controlled state legislature should be given the authority to assign its electoral votes, according to reports. The suit also argues that the campaign’s constitutional rights were violated because observers were not given adequate access as election officials processed mail-in ballots. The claim was dropped in an earlier version of the lawsuit. The campaign said in its new filing said that the claim was dropped due to a miscommunication among attorneys for the president. It also argues that 1.5 million votes across the state “should not have been counted” and that they led to “returns indicating Biden won Pennsylvania.”

Attorneys for the Trump campaign also criticized a decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court earlier this week. The court ruled on Tuesday that election observers had adequate opportunity to watch to the vote-counting process, even if they could not see the individual ballots. “In contrast to the 2002 International Electoral Standards ... the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has struck out in a unique direction among democracies and declared that meaningful observers are not part of verification and votes may be counted without any review by political campaigns and parties,” Trump's lawyers wrote in Wednesday's filing. The latest suit came one day after U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann appeared skeptical during a hearing in Williamsport, Pa., that the Trump campaign’s call to reject votes was justified in the wake of allegations over poll watching or other claims targeting mail-in ballots, Politico noted. more...

“A military attack would be detrimental to any inspection activity, let alone the safety of my inspectors," Rafael Grossi told NBC News in an interview.

By Keir Simmons, Saphora Smith and Laura Saravia

The head of the U.N. watchdog responsible for inspecting Iran’s nuclear program has warned against launching a military strike on Iran. “I would hope there would never be a time for a military attack,” the Director General International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Grossi told NBC News in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

His comments come after The New York Times reported Monday, citing four current and former U.S. officials, that President Donald Trump had asked advisers last week whether he had options to take military action against Iran’s main nuclear site. During a meeting last Thursday, a range of senior advisers dissuaded the president from moving ahead with a military strike, the newspaper reported. NBC News has not independently verified the reporting.

Grossi called suggestions that America was planning such an attack “total speculation.” “A military attack would be detrimental to any inspection activity, let alone the safety of my inspectors, which is the first thing I have to think about if somebody is planning to do something like that,” he added during an interview in Geneva. more...

Trump knows that defeat is imminent, and so he no longer felt the need to stay even remotely tethered to reality.
Tom Nichols Opinion columnist   

I have been watching and commenting on Donald Trump’s press conferences since the day he took office, but this is the moment I expected and dreaded. For four years, Donald Trump has pouted and whined and prevaricated from behind the White House podium. Each one of his capering performances was awful in its own way. The litany of lies is now too long to repeat, and his rude, bizarre behavior will be the stuff of presidential legend for decades to come. This was different.

In the past, Trump held back just a bit, often showing a kind of instinctual realization that he should flee the room, because each time he left the stage, he could float back to the residence knowing that he would still be the president of the United States for another day. No matter how ridiculous or shameful the display, he could convince himself that he had yet again pleased his voters and that they'd  return him to office for four more years of safety not only from criminal prosecution, but also from being treated as a common man, an ordinary citizen — and especially, as a loser.

But after years of bullying, pouting and lying from the podium, this was Donald Trump’s most historic press conference. This was the one we all knew was coming, when Trump, like a drug addict insisting on that final hit, would insist on this last press conference before he became an official loser. And just like a final overdose, this was without the rush, without the high that sustained him through all his previous gladiatorial swaggering. This one was pure poison. more...

By Dahleen Glanton - Chicago Tribune

If Donald Trump ends up getting kicked out of the White House, it seems fitting that African Americans would be the ones to give him the final shove out the door. After all the ballots are counted, African Americans could end up bringing down a president who claims to have done more for the Black community than anyone since Abraham Lincoln. Black people always knew that was a lie. They also knew that the moment Trump considered them to be useless to his political agenda, he would toss them aside the way he does everyone who gets in his way.

So on Tuesday, African Americans let Trump know exactly how they feel about him. He received only about 12% of the Black vote, according to CNN exit polls. It was higher than the 8% he got in 2016, but it was only a smidgen of the 87% Democrat Joe Biden received. The showdown between Trump and African Americans was inevitable. Discontent had been simmering since early in his presidency when Trump seemed to open his arms to anyone who could help him win, including neo-Nazis.

Still, Trump always tried to keep a few African Americans dangling round. He would occasionally invite them to the White House for a photo op. One or two of them always would be seated in prominent positions at his campaign rallies so they could be in full view of the TV cameras. And occasionally, he would offer organizations and community representatives a few promises that he had no intention of keeping. This week, African Americans showed him how fed up they were. Black voters in urban areas of several battleground states came through in the waning hours of election night to give Biden’s presidential bid a riveting burst of energy. more...

By Philip Bump

President Trump’s effort to undermine confidence in mail-in ballots began in the spring. On April 8, for example, he tried to differentiate on Twitter between absentee ballots — which he used — and other forms of voting by mail, which he insisted were “very different” and “RIPE for FRAUD.” Among the tens of thousands of people who shared Trump’s message was William Hartmann, a Republican active in party politics in Michigan. Hartmann didn’t share many things on Twitter; his most recent prior tweet was a disparagement of Democrats after an incident in which a man drove a van into a tent where Republicans were registering voters in Florida.

“Be careful,” Hartmann wrote then. “The Left is crazy.” This combination of views — Democrats are dangerous, and mail-in voting is suspicious — is not uncommon among Republicans or supporters of Trump. That Hartmann both accepted and publicized them is noteworthy, given that Hartmann wasn’t just a Republican activist in Michigan. He was also one of four members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, the group designated with certifying the results of the 2020 election in the most populous county in the state. On Tuesday night, Hartmann and the other Republican member of the board, Monica Palmer, declined to do so.

Suddenly, President-elect Joe Biden’s win in Michigan seemed to be up in the air. Trump and members of his team celebrated the decision. Jenna Ellis, one of Trump’s legal advisers, crowed that the decision paved the way for “Republican state legislator[s] [to] select the electors” — that is, for the Republican-led legislature in Michigan to determine that the state’s 16 representatives in the electoral college should support Trump and not Biden. Trump's long-shot bid to steal the election from Biden suddenly seemed if not viable then at least possible. more...

Deirdre Shesgreen USA TODAY

WASHINGTON –Within an hour of Democrat Joe Biden being declared president-elect, President Donald Trump's campaign signaled he would refuse to concede. "The simple fact is this election is far from over," Trump said in a statement Saturday. If Trump refuses to deliver a public concession speech or make a congratulatory call to Biden, it would break with 124 years of American history. Experts say it would also undermine the election results and exacerbate the nation's political tensions, already laid bare by a bitter campaign and the extended, contested vote count.

“It will be truly harmful,” said William Howell, chair of the political science department at the University of Chicago. “Concession speeches are a kind of affirmation about the legitimacy of elections,” he said. They’re about losing candidates recognizing the outcome and calling on their followers to do the same, “which is essential for the health of our democracy," he said. Trump is not known for admitting fault or failure. And he is more prone to stoking divisions than healing them, as his public remarks and Twitter feed have demonstrated in recent days.

Earlier this week, as Biden inched closer to a win, Trump took the podium to make a series of baseless claims about election fraud and to accuse Democrats of trying to "steal" the election, while offering no evidence of illegal activity. And on Saturday, his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said flatly: 'He's not going to concede." And Trump's campaign touted plans to challenge the election results in the courts. more...

The Trump campaign is attacking people for saying he called the coronavirus a hoax. He didn’t, but he clearly did call Democrats’ warnings a hoax.
Dean Obeidallah

Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign is desperate to stop people from reminding America that Trump called warnings about the threat of the coronavirus a “hoax.” I found that out firsthand after an appearance Sunday morning on Ali Velshi’s MSNBC show, where I mentioned Trump’s history of belittling the threat of the coronavirus. One of the examples I cited was Trump’s infamous comment at his Feb. 28 rally where he declared that the Democrats’ criticism of his handling of COVID-19 was their “new hoax.”  

Later Sunday, to my surprise, the “Trump War Room,” a Twitter account that is managed by the Trump campaign and boasts over a half million followers, called me a liar for saying that. And not just me, but others in the media who had allegedly said that same, as you can see from the War Room’s Tweet, “@DonLemon  Rachel @Maddow @KristenhCNN and  @DeanObeidallah continue to spread the lie that President Trump called coronavirus a hoax.”

The Trump War Room’s tweet only included my comment about the “new hoax,” leaving out the context in that I had noted Trump had a history of belittling the threat posed by the virus, from that Feb. 28 rally up through, as I also mentioned, his March 24 appearance on Fox News where he invoked the deaths caused by auto accidents and the flu to again undermine the deadly nature of COVID-19. more...

By Kristen Holmes and Devan Cole, CNN

Washington (CNN) The Health and Human Services Department will not work with President-elect Joe Biden's team until the General Services Administration makes a determination that he won the election, Secretary Alex Azar said Wednesday, even as public health experts stress that a smooth transition is a critical part of the government's response to the worsening coronavirus pandemic. "We've made it very clear that when GSA makes a determination, we will ensure complete, cooperative professional transitions and planning," Azar said at a briefing. "We follow the guidance. We're about getting vaccines and therapeutics invented and get the clinical trial data and saving lives here. That's where our focus is as we go forward with our efforts."

Azar was referring to a process known as "ascertainment," a routine recognition by the GSA in the face of a clear presidential victory that would allow the official transition to begin. But although major news networks called the election for Biden nearly two weeks ago, President Donald Trump's campaign has launched long-shot legal challenges in several states, even though they have little chance of overturning the results. Sources have told CNN that Emily Murphy, the Trump appointee leading the GSA, is working to interpret vague agency guidelines and follow what she sees as precedent to wait to sign off on the election result. But she has not publicly said what the definitive line will be, and states are still in the process of working to certify their results.

Meanwhile, an administration official tells CNN that HHS staffers have been informed that if anyone from Biden's team contacts them, they are not to communicate with them and should instead alert the deputy surgeon general of the communication. It's not clear how widely the instructions were disseminated at the department, and HHS referred a request for comment to the GSA. A spokesperson for the agency described the instructions as routine said the direction is "given for every transition prior to an ascertainment." more...

There are several key problems in the plan that it appears Trump is trying to scramble together
By Cody Fenwick

As President Donald Trump continues to challenge the result of the Nov. 3 election that every credible media outlet has called in favor of Joe Biden, his attempt to illegitimately hold on to power came clearly into view.

Some observers diminished the significance Trump's attempts to attack the legitimacy of the election and throw its results into doubt as a mere emotional outburst, and they claimed that those Republicans who offered support for the disinformation campaign were simply mollifying him. For these people, Trump allegations of voter fraud and rigged elections were nothing more than his previous attempts to cry foul when he didn't get the results he wanted, only to move on. But Trump's assault on democracy, as emotionally driven as it may be, is also a genuine attempt to overturn the results of the election, even if it is ill-fated and poorly thought out.

Before the election, Trump made his strategy clear. He repeatedly said he thought that the election would be decided by the Supreme Court, and he used this point as a justification for rushing through the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Now, his campaign is launching a series of lawsuits — which many serious legal analysts dismissed as frivolous and baseless — hoping that something will stick and enable him to remain president.

And while it initially seemed other Republicans might not stick by him in this fight, they increasingly fell in line. Sens. Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham appeared on Fox News to support Trump's refusal to concede. On Monday, Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, both of whom face runoff races against Democrats in early January, wrote a letter demanding their own Republican secretary of state step down, lobbing vague and, again, unsupported allegations of misconduct in the state's election — which Biden appears to have won. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, on the chamber's floor, defended Trump's refusal to concede and offered support for the president's effort to pursue lawsuits on Monday. more...

Joel Shannon USA TODAY

President Donald Trump faced a predictable taunt from thousands of social media users on Saturday after he lost his bid for reelection: You're Fired. It's the catchphrase he used to kick off contestants when he hosted the reality show "The Apprentice" for years — a show that brought him pop-culture fame that helped boost his 2016 bid for president. NBC cut ties with Trump in 2015 after he made "derogatory statements" about Mexican immigrants as he began his bid for president.

Media coverage of high turnover in his administration often invoked the phase, although, as the Associated Press noted in the year after Trump was elected, Trump often delegated the task of firing someone or publicly shamed those he wanted out, so they would simply quit. As president in 2017, Trump invoked the catchphrase in a tweet saying football players who did not stand for the national Anthem should be told "YOU'RE FIRED." While the catchphrase has faded in popularity in recent years, Trump's critics have not forgotten it: more...

He has spent his life gaming the system, so it’s no surprise that he can’t accept defeat.
By Charles M. Blow

Donald Trump lost the election. He knows it. But he won’t admit it. He still hopes and believes that there is a way for the courts to erase enough votes to tip the election in his favor. This will not happen. His legal challenges in swing states across the country are largely being met with defeat and setback. In court, you have to provide evidence. Lies, accusations and conspiracy theory don’t cut it. Trump has spent his life gaming the system. It is unfathomable to him that this system can’t be gamed.

In the end, Trump hopes to push his case to the Supreme Court, where he has seated three conservative justices. That is also not likely to be a winning strategy. Trump believes he can use the judiciary as a weapon against the American people. The judiciary is not likely to allow itself to be used. Barring that, he is committed to destroying faith in the electoral process itself. If he didn’t win, he insists he must have been cheated because, in his mind, failure is not a possibility.

Like he has done for the entirety of his presidency, he is lying, concocting a narrative detached from reality. His Twitter feed since the election — he has made precious few appearances or official statements during this time — has been an unprecedented attack on election integrity and the voting franchise as a whole. He keeps complaining that the election was rigged, that it was stolen from him, that computer software switched millions of votes from him to Joe Biden. On Sunday, in reference to Biden, he tweeted: “He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!”

But Trump has gone further, appearing to attack the voters who cast their ballots for Biden. He retweeted a post by a Richmond, Va. television station that read: “Virginia Wesleyan University business professor and dean Paul Ewell wrote that anyone who chose Biden for president is ‘ignorant, anti-American and anti-Christian.’ ” To that tweet, Trump appended, “Progress!” Donald Trump will no longer be president on Jan. 20. That is a hard fact, an unmovable date. Biden will be sworn in and will become the president. more...

Pennsylvania’s supreme court has rejected one of Trump’s loudest post-election claims, as Biden appoints a diverse new cabinet. Plus, the cybersecurity chief is sacked after refuting voter fraud allegations
Molly Blackall

Good morning. Pennsylvania has become the latest state to dismiss Trump’s attempts to overturn the election result. Yesterday, the state’s supreme court ruled that Philadelphia election officials did not improperly block the Trump campaign from observing the counting of mail-in ballots – one of the president’s loudest post-election claims. Pennsylvania was a key swing state in the election, flipping its 20 electoral college seats to Biden by a narrow margin of 1.2%.

On the other side of the rust belt, Republican certifiers in Michigan have U-turned and confirmed a Joe Biden win. The state’s largest county had refused to officially call the state for Biden, despite a clear win, but changed course after Democrats, election experts and members of the public warned it was a dangerous overriding of public will. more...

Jessica Guynn USA TODAY

Twitter appended a label to fact-check President Donald Trump’s tweet about his firing of the nation’s top election security official Chris Krebs. Krebs’ recent statement that the Nov. 3 election “the most secure in American history” was “highly inaccurate,” the president wrote. “This claim about election fraud is disputed,” the label read. Trump announced in a tweet late Tuesday that he had “terminated” Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency director who had contradicted the president’s claims of widespread voter fraud.

Krebs changed his Twitter profile bio to "1st Director" of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency followed by "former" to reflect his new employment status and acknowledged his dismissal in a tweet: "Honored to serve. We did it right. Defend Today, Secure Tomrorow (sic)." Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., told Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday that the U.S. was in “dangerous waters” with the president delegitimizing the election. "You have the tools to prevent him from weaponizing these platforms to degrade our democracy," Booker told the tech CEOs. more...

By Nicole Gaouette, Kylie Atwood and Alex Marquardt, CNN

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump's order of a further withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and Iraq is the latest foreign policy move on a growing list in his final weeks in office that are meant to limit President-elect Joe Biden's options before he takes office in January. The White House has directed newly installed acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller to focus his attention in the remaining weeks on cyber and irregular warfare, with a focus on China in particular, an administration official tells CNN. It is contemplating new terrorist designations in Yemen that could complicate efforts to broker peace. And it has rushed through authorization of a massive arms sale that could alter the balance of power in the Middle East.

The Trump team has prepared legally required transition memos describing policy challenges, but there are no discussions about actions they could take or pause. Instead, the White House is barreling ahead. A second official tells CNN their goal is to set so many fires that it will be hard for the Biden administration to put them all out. It's a strategy that radically breaks with past practice, could raise national security risks and will surely compound challenges for the Biden team -- but it could also backfire. Analysts and people close to the Biden transition argue the Trump team may act so aggressively that reversing some of its steps will earn Biden easy goodwill points and negotiating power with adversaries.

In other areas, they say the Trump team may be confusing style with substance -- that the difference between Trump and Biden isn't a matter of the end goal, such as a departure from Afghanistan or a nuclear-free Iran, but simply a matter of how each leader wants to get there. "The idea that Biden is some sort of softy doesn't correspond with many things," said Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Pointing to the same baseline goals for a nuclear-free Iran, a withdrawal from Afghanistan and a way to manage the relationship with an increasingly assertive China, Parsi said, "The Biden administration is likely to continue many policies, but just with a different style." more...

When Team Trump’s claims of voter-fraud and ballot-tampering reach a judge, the allegations collapse in often spectacular fashion.
Will Sommer

Donald Trump’s last-ditch campaign legal efforts have centered on witnesses who allege that they witnessed voter fraud and other suspicious activity in battleground states across the country. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has brandished stacks of papers detailing what she said were hundreds of affidavits from allegedly aggrieved voters or poll-watchers in TV appearances, and the MAGA faithful have seized on the allegations as proof that Trump secretly won the election. But when those claims actually reach a judge, the allegations collapse in often spectacular fashion—putting one more roadblock in Trump’s attempts to wrestle the election away from President-elect Joe Biden.

The latest bruising response to Trump’s voter witnesses came Friday in a state court order from Michigan. The Trump campaign had asked Chief Judge Timothy M. Kenny to block the certification of Michigan’s votes, citing a number of witnesses who alleged seeing suspicious things happening with the ballot count, mostly at Detroit’s TCF Center. But when Kenny actually saw the witness claims, he wasn’t impressed. In his Friday opinion, Kenny rejected the Trump campaign’s request, describing one witness affidavit as “rife with speculation and guess-work about sinister motives.” more...

By Zack Budryk

Georgia’s Republican secretary of state said Tuesday that President Trump’s attacks on the integrity of mail-in voting contributed to his loss in the Peach State. “Twenty-four thousand people did not vote in the fall; either they did not vote absentee because they were told by the president ‘don’t vote absentee, it’s not secure,’ ” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) said in an interview with WSB-TV, an Atlanta-area ABC affiliate. “But then they did not come out and vote in person. He would have won by 10,000 votes. He actually depressed, suppressed his own voting base."

Raffensperger has become a target of President Trump and his allies since the state was projected for President-elect Joe Biden. Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R) and David Perdue (R), both of whom face a January runoff for their seats, called for his resignation following the election. Raffensperger said earlier this week that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also personally pressured him to exclude some mail-in ballots during a mandatory recount. Graham has denied the claim and said “if he feels threatened by that conversation, he’s got a problem.” more...

By Kaitlan Collins and Paul LeBlanc, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump on Tuesday fired the Department of Homeland Security official who had rejected Trump's claims of widespread voter fraud. Trump announced on Twitter he was firing Chris Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and directly tied it to Krebs' statement that said there "is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised."

"The recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 Election was highly inaccurate, in that there were massive improprieties and fraud," Trump said in a tweet before repeating multiple baseless conspriacy theories about the election. "Therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency." CNN reported that Krebs, who ran the cyber arm of the Department of Homeland Security, expected to be fired.

In the lead-up to the election, Krebs had often quietly disputed the President's repeated false claims about mail-in ballots but went out of his way to not get drawn into criticizing his boss for spreading lies. But in the days that have followed, Krebs has adopted a more forceful approach regularly posting on Twitter -- often with blaring red siren emojis -- fact checks of the claims and conspiracy theories being pushed by Trump, his allies and supporters around the country. more...

by Jeremy Roebuck

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Republican monitors observing vote counting in Philadelphia were given sufficient access under state law to view the proceedings. In a 5-2 decision, the court overturned a lower court decision that ordered monitors with President Donald Trump’s campaign be allowed within six feet of tables where ballots were being tallied.

In its opinion, the Supreme Court found that the Philadelphia Board of Elections complied with requirements for observer access from the moment the first votes were counted. “We conclude the board did not act contrary to the law in fashioning its regulations governing the positioning of candidate representatives,” Justice Debra Todd wrote for the majority. “Critically, we find the board’s regulations … were reasonable.”

Chief Justice Thomas Saylor and Justice Sallie Updyke Mundy dissented. The ruling came even as Trump campaign attorneys were pressing the issue in a federal court in Williamsport, asking a judge to bar the state from certifying the vote based, in part, on the limited access they claimed vote-counting observers had in Philadelphia and Allegheny Counties. more...

By Caroline Kelly, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump last week asked senior aides what possibilities he had for an offensive strike on Iran's primary nuclear site, The New York Times reported Monday. Citing four current and former US officials, the paper reported that the meeting occurred in the Oval Office on Thursday. A day before, the International Atomic Energy Agency issued a report obtained by the Times stating that Iran's stockpiles of uranium had reached 12 times the 300-kilogram limit set in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the landmark nuclear deal Iran signed with the United States and five other nations in 2015. Trump took the US out of the deal in 2018. CNN has reached out to the agency for a copy of the report. Trump asked his highest-ranking national security advisers what possible responses were available to him and how best to respond to Iran, officials told the Times. more...

By Jacob Jarvis

Former Director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub has said General Services Administration (GSA) chief Emily Murphy is "assaulting democracy" if she does not sign a crucial letter allowing Joe Biden access to transition resources. GSA administrator Murphy, nominated to her position by President Donald Trump, has thus far chosen not to approve documentation to facilitate the Democrat's transition process, suggesting the result has not been ascertained despite networks having called it in Biden's favor. Trump himself said in recent comments that Biden "won the election," though said this was "because the Election was Rigged."

The Quote
Shaub, who headed the Office of Government Ethics between 2013 and 2019, wrote on Twitter: "Trump admitting that President-elect Biden won strips @GSAEmily of her cover story that the outcome of the election cannot be ascertained. If she continues beyond this morning to withhold transition resources, she will be tacitly admitting she's saboteur assaulting democracy." In a separate tweet, he added: "It'd be bad enough if Republican leaders failing to condemn Trump & @GSAEmily for withholding transition resources were only an attack on the republic, but it's also an attack on individual Americans who may die or lose loved ones to the pandemic as a result of their malfeasance." more...

Alana Wise

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday outlined his plan for rehabilitating the U.S. economy, emphasizing the importance of getting control of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. As Biden spoke, the shadow of President Trump's refusal to concede was apparent, with the president-elect making clear that he was being kept from information that would be vital to taking over the presidency early next year. "More people may die if we don't coordinate," Biden said on plans for vaccine distribution.

The comments are his most stark to date about the impact a delayed transition could have on his ability to hit the ground running after he takes office. "They say they have this Warp Speed Program," he continued, referring to the Trump administration's vaccine development and delivery program, Operation Warp Speed. "If we have to wait until January 20th to start that planning, it puts us behind." The president-elect did say, as he has been, that his transition is moving along in many other ways, as he meets with different groups, — like corporate and union leaders he brought together via Zoom call today — and works to fill key administration positions. more...

By Jordain Carney

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fired a warning shot Monday against withdrawing more U.S. troops from Afghanistan, even as the Pentagon is preparing an order to do so. McConnell, speaking from the Senate floor, warned that only a "small minority" in Congress would support a rapid drawdown and warned that a rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan "would hurt our allies and delight, delight, the people who wish us harm."

"The consequences of a premature American exit would likely be even worse than President Obama's withdrawal from Iraq back in 2011. ... It would be reminiscent of the humiliating American departure from Saigon in 1975. We'd be abandoning our partners in Afghanistan," McConnell said from the Senate floor.

McConnell didn't directly criticize Trump in his speech. But his remarks come amid multiple reports that Pentagon officials anticipate Trump will as soon as this week order military officials to cut the number of troops in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 and the number of forces in Iraq from 3,000 to 2,500 by Jan 15.

McConnell credited the Trump administration with gains made during the past four years, arguing that the United States was playing a "limited but important role" and that drawing down troops would "embolden the Taliban." "A disorganized retreat would jeopardize the track record of major success this administration has worked to compile," he said. McConnell added that while all wars end, "nothing about the circumstances we face today suggest that if we lose resolve, the terrorists will simply leave us alone." more...

By John Bowden

Newsmax's CEO Chris Ruddy pushed back on assertions that President Trump could seek to take over the network as a pro-Trump alternative to Fox News during an interview with Variety. Ruddy said he was open to the president hosting a show on the network, but rejected the idea of a presidential takeover. Ruddy said in the interview that his staffers have "always seen ourselves as an independent news agency, and we want to continue with that mission."

“Newsmax would never become ‘Trump TV,' ” he continued, adding: "But we are open — [Trump] is going to be a political and media force after he leaves the White House, and we would be open to talking to him about a weekly show.” Talk that Trump might enter the cable news competition has revved up given his loss in the presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden, and his anger at Fox News over their projection that Biden had won the critical state of Arizona.

Allies of the president have been reportedly looking at investing in a conservative alternative to Fox News for years and have looked at the possibility of investing in Newsmax, about which Trump has tweeted complimentarily on several occasions. "Many great alternatives are forming & exist. Try @OANN & @newsmax, among others!" Trump wrote in a tweet Sunday ripping Fox News. more...

By Barbara Starr and Zachary Cohen, CNN

(CNN) US military commanders are anticipating that a formal order will be given by President Donald Trump as soon as this week to begin a further withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and Iraq before Trump leaves office on January 20, according to two US officials familiar. The Pentagon has issued a notice to commanders known as a "warning order" to begin planning to drawdown the number of troops in Afghanistan to 2,500 troops and 2,500 in Iraq by Jan 15, the officials said. Currently there are approximately 4,500 US troops in Afghanistan and 3,000 troops in Iraq. The Pentagon and White House did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.

While Monday's news indicates that the Pentagon appears ready to remove thousands more US troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, it also suggests that Trump may fall short of fulfilling one of his core promises to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan before he leaves office. On October 7 Trump tweeted: "We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!" Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not criticize Trump directly Monday while discussing the drawdown plans but warned of the potential ramifications of a rapid withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, saying it would "hurt our allies." "We're playing a limited -- limited -- but important role in defending American national security and American interests against terrorists who would like nothing more than for the most powerful force for good in the world to simply pick up our ball and go home," he said in a speech from the Senate floor.

"There's no American who does not wish the war in Afghanistan against terrorists and their enablers had already been conclusively won," he said. "But that does not change the actual choice before us now. A rapid withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan now would hurt our allies and delight -- delight -- the people who wish us harm." The decision to pull additional troops out of Iraq comes as the Trump administration has moved to reduce the US military's footprint there in recent months. more...

Two days later the chair tweeted a new and very different message.
Jordan Liles

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel published and later deleted a tweet that suggested a U.S. future under a Joe Biden-Kamala Harris presidential administration. On Nov. 8, 2020, The Associated Press (AP) projected that former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden had defeated President Donald Trump and would become the 46th president of the United States. Trump has yet to concede and is fighting Biden’s win in various courts claiming vote fraud.

Three days after AP’s projection, a tweet mentioning Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the deciding vote in the U.S. Senate was posted on the Twitter account @GOPChairwoman, from Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. It suggested the reality that the Biden-Harris administration is beginning in January. It is true that the tweet was deleted. McDaniel’s tweet appeared to be aimed at supporting Republican U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in the upcoming Georgia runoff elections. The date for the runoff was set for Jan. 5, 2021. more...

Yet Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Detroit have become the targets of G.O.P. allegations of voting shenanigans.
By Emily Badger

In Pennsylvania, much of President Trump’s attention since the election has focused on Philadelphia, where he has baselessly insisted there is a “mountain of corruption.” In Michigan, litigation by Mr. Trump’s campaign has concentrated on Detroit, where Republican poll watchers say they felt intimidated by election workers in Black Lives Matter apparel. And in Wisconsin, legal challenges and rumors have circled around Milwaukee, where one internet conspiracy  theory turns on a briefly misplaced flashed drive of election results. That these three cities would become the chief sites of Republican claims of fraud in this election is unsurprising. All three are heavily Democratic. They have large African-American populations. And in their respective states, they have long been targets of racialized charges of corruption.

But in one revealing way, the fixation this year is misplaced. All three cities voted pretty much the same way they did in 2016. Turnout barely budged, relative to other areas in these states. Joseph R. Biden Jr. saw no remarkable surge in support — certainly nothing that would bolster claims of ballot stuffing or tampered vote tallies. Mr. Trump even picked up marginally more votes this year in all three cities than he did four years ago. Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Detroit, in other words, were not decisive in explaining why the Northern battleground states flipped from Mr. Trump four years ago to Mr. Biden in 2020. Voters outside of these cities made the difference. more...

By Zack Budryk

Georgia’s Republican secretary of state is pushing back on several false claims by President Trump about the state’s recount process and election integrity. In a series of Facebook posts, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) first addressed the president’s claims that election officials were not allowing Trump campaign observers into counting rooms.

“The state of Georgia placed the responsibility of recruitment of monitors solely on both parties. Don’t have credentials? Call your state party and demand monitor credentials,” Raffensperger wrote on Facebook. “Find them horribly disorganized? Show up to their office and demand credentials. In follow-up posts, Raffensperger clarified that the Dominion voting system, the subject of numerous conspiracy theories advanced by the president, is American-owned rather than Venezuelan and that the practice of ballot harvesting is illegal in Georgia. more...

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN

(CNN) Voters in four states who had brought longshot lawsuits to disrupt President-elect Joe Biden's win and went nowhere in court dropped their cases Monday morning. The cases were short-lived in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania federal courts, and fed into a pro-Donald Trump legal strategy that's almost certain to fail to block Biden's presidential win before the Electoral College formalized it. The suits mirrored one another and were all backed by the law firm of a nationally known conservative attorney, James Bopp Jr. In Michigan and Pennsylvania, the cases had also gone hand in hand with ones brought by the Trump campaign.

Bopp, when asked for an explanation on why his team is pulling the suits, responded, "because of [attorney-client] privilege and because I do not telegraph my next moves, I cannot comment." The announcement that the voters are dropping their suits comes three days after a federal appellate court said voters couldn't bring some constitutional claims, essentially shutting down the path the Pennsylvania voters wanted to take in their suit. more...

At the Soufan Center's global security forum, O'Brien also predicted a "very professional transition."
By Ken Dilanian

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's National Security Council is preparing for "a very professional transition," because it looks like Joe Biden has won the election, national security adviser Robert O'Brien said in comments that aired Monday. His remarks stood in stark contrast to those of the president, who tweeted falsely just before midnight Sunday, "I WON THE ELECTION," as he continued to make baseless claims of widespread fraud. Twitter put a warning label on the tweet, noting that "official sources have called this election differently."

The president's top security official, known as a Trump loyalist, offered a different view. "Look, if the Biden-Harris ticket is determined to be the winner — and obviously things look that way now — we'll have a very professional transition from the National Security Council," O'Brien said in remarks made last week that streamed on the web Monday morning as part of a global security forum sponsored by the Soufan Center.

O'Brien went on to say that the Biden team is "going to have very professional folks who are coming in to take these positions, many of whom have been here before and spent a lot of time in the White House in prior administrations. And the great thing in the United States of America, we've passed the baton and had peaceful successful transitions even in the most contentious periods."

He added, "I'm old enough to remember Bush v. Gore, and the transition there didn't start until mid-December, and yet it got done. And if we're in a situation where we're not going into a Trump second term, which I think people where I'm sitting in the White House would like to see, if it's another outcome, it will be a professional transition, there's no question about it." more...

The money he is raising to fund his legal challenges is just a guise. It is far more likely that he is raising money in preparation for the cases that await him in New York.
By Susan Del Percio, Republican strategist and senior adviser to the Lincoln Project

When it comes to understanding what motivates President Donald Trump, it almost always comes down to self-interest. During the last four years, we have seen little proof that he has ever put the needs of the nation over his own. We see this same dynamic in the current postelection chaos. President-elect Joe Biden was projected by NBC News to win Arizona on Thursday, adding to his already insurmountable Electoral College margin. So why is Trump still refusing to concede, instead stalling with useless legal challenges that amount to little more than temper tantrums? It all comes down to what would serve him best.

I believe that Trump does privately accept the results. On Sunday, he even admitted that Biden won in a tweet, only to double down on his refusal to concede. No matter who is whispering in his ear, it's clear to pretty much every legal expert that his lawsuits challenging the election results will probably go nowhere. And yet he continues to raise money for what he calls his "Election Defense Fund." This is why he refuses to admit defeat. The longer the president drags this out, the longer he can continue to raise money.

But the money he is raising to fund his legal challenges in multiple battleground states is just a guise. It is far more likely that he is raising money in preparation for the cases that await him in New York. Make no mistake: While the country will have Georgia on its mind these next few months, Donald Trump is in a New York state of mind. And so are a pair of very ambitious New York prosecutors.

For all practical purposes, Trump has already given up on his responsibility to the country — if he ever felt any to begin with. He doesn't care that he is putting our national security at risk by refusing to allow Biden access to the Presidential Daily Brief. The spikes in coronavirus infections and deaths also mean nothing. And Trump and his allies in Congress have signaled that the millions of unemployed and businesses that are failing are basically on their own. more...

By James Walker

Former President Barack Obama said President Donald Trump's "petulance" was delaying the transition to the incoming Biden administration as the commander-in-chief continued to refuse to accept the result of the 2020 election. In an interview with The Atlantic published on Monday, Obama said time was being "lost" as a result of Trump's behavior and the Republican Party's reluctance to "call him" on his refusal to concede to Biden. The former president also contrasted the delayed Trump-Biden transition with the "smooth handoff" between George W. Bush's team and the first Obama administration, despite their political differences.

Speaking to The Atlantic ahead of the release of his new memoir, Obama said: "For all the differences between myself and George W. Bush, he and his administration could not have been more gracious and intentional about ensuring a smooth handoff. "One of the really distressing things about the current situation is the amount of time that is being lost because of Donald Trump's petulance and the unwillingness of other Republicans to call him on it." The ex-president later added that President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris had "won pretty decisively," even if their election victory "wasn't a blowout," as had been indicated by pre-election polls.

"And almost every Republican elected official knows that," he added. "There were no howls of voting irregularities the first day or two. They waited to get the signal from Trump." more...

*** Trump’s failed “America First” policy is “America Last” ***

By Gerry Shih and Simon Denyer

TAIPEI, Taiwan — After President Trump in 2017 scrapped a Trans-Pacific trade deal assembled by the Obama administration and 11 other governments, countries from Vietnam to Australia paused to ponder whether a trade agreement would be worthwhile without the United States. After four years and two new trade agreements, the answer from Asia appears to be a resounding yes. On Sunday, 15 countries, led by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc and joined by China, Japan and others, announced they had struck the world’s largest trade deal, covering about 30 percent of the global population and a similar share of economic output, after eight years of negotiations.

The accord, known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), would cut tariffs on everything from Japanese auto parts to Malaysian palm oil and solidify supply chains within a sprawling new trade zone that would be larger than the European Union in population and gross domestic product. It is the second major pact in two years that excludes the United States: In 2018, Australia, Japan and nine other countries salvaged a version of the Obama-era Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that Trump had rejected as a “disaster” for American workers.

Taken together, the two overlapping deals illustrate how Asian governments are looking to bolster regional trade — rather than looking toward Washington — at a moment when protectionist sentiment is rising in much of the world, including the United States. “The U.S. vacated the rulemaking and leadership role it previously aspired to, and the region has gone on to writing the rules in the absence of the U.S.,” said Stephen Kirchner, director of investment and trade at the University of Sydney’s United States Studies Center. Although the United States is eligible to apply to join the RCEP, it’s not clear that it would anytime soon. more...


WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden’s scientific advisers plan to meet with vaccine makers in coming days even as a stalled presidential transition keeps them out of the loop on government plans to inoculate all Americans against COVID-19. President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept that he lost the election means that the Biden team lacks a clear picture of the groundwork within the government for a mass vaccination campaign that will last the better part of next year, says Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain.

“We now have the possibility ... of a vaccine starting perhaps in December or January,” Klain said. “There are people at HHS making plans to implement that vaccine. Our experts need to talk to those people as soon as possible so nothing drops in this change of power we’re going to have on January 20th.” A lack of coordination between outgoing and incoming administrations would be especially problematic in a worsening public health crisis, said the government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“Of course it would be better if we could start working with them,” said Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has been through multiple presidential transitions during 36 years of government service. He likened the process to runners passing on the baton in a relay race. “You don’t want to stop and then give it to somebody,” he said. “You want to just essentially keep going.”

The president-elect’s outreach to vaccine manufacturers comes as the coronavirus pandemic in the United States has entered perhaps its most dangerous phase. The seven-day rolling average for new daily cases stood at 148,725 on Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That means the U.S. is adding about 1 million new cases a week. Deaths averaged 1,103 a day as of Sunday, a 33% increase over two weeks. more...


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump worked to take back an apparent acknowledgment that Joe Biden won the White House and was making clear he would keep trying to overturn the election result. Trump’s earlier comments Sunday had given some critics and supporters hope that the White House was ready to begin working on a transition with Biden’s team. Not so fast, Trump soon assured.

Trump, without using Biden’s name, said that “He won” as part of a tweet that made baseless claims about a “rigged” election. But as the Republican president saw how his comments were being interpreted as his first public acknowledgment of a Biden victory, he quickly reversed course. “He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA,” Trump subsequently tweeted. “I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!” more...

"Come on now," one judge said after hearing a Trump team claim.
By Matthew Mosk,Olivia Rubin, and Alex Hosenball

The recent scene in Clark County, Nevada, has become increasingly common in courthouses around the country as President Donald Trump continues to push thinly supported allegations of election misconduct and fraud. When Republican lawyers in Nevada complained their observers were not close enough if they could not hear everything poll workers were saying, U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon pushed back.

"At what point does this get ridiculous?" the exasperated judge, an appointee of President Barack Obama, asked before ruling against the Republicans. In court hearings and opinions around the country, judges are voicing similar frustrations with the Trump campaign's legal filings to a degree rarely seen in venues where political rhetoric is generally unwelcome, experts and courthouse veterans said. "Judge after judge after judge has asked, in essence, 'Where is the beef?'" said Karl Racine, the attorney general for the District of Columbia and a frequent Trump critic, in a call with reporters Friday. more...

*** Trump’s failed “America First” policy is “America Last” ***

Yen Nee Lee

SINGAPORE — China and 14 other Asia-Pacific countries signed the world’s largest trade agreement on Sunday — a move that analysts said will further elevate China’s political and economic influence in the region. The signing cemented the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as the largest trading bloc globally, covering a market of 2.2 billion people and $26.2 trillion of global output. That accounts for about 30% of the population worldwide, as well as the global economy. It is also larger than what’s covered under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the European Union.

Analysts said economic benefits of RCEP are modest and would take years to materialize. But the deal is a geopolitical victory for China at a time when the U.S. appears to be retreating from Asia-Pacific given President Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy, they added. It’s also not clear whether the U.S. will negotiate any mega trade deals with economies in the region under President-elect Joe Biden, the analysts said. more...

Dr. Scott Atlas has won favor in the White House in recent months by advocating against coronavirus restrictions.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday that she was stunned by a call from one of President Donald Trump’s top coronavirus advisers for people in her state to “rise up” against new restrictions aimed at slowing the disease’s deadly surge. “It actually took my breath away, to tell you the truth,” Whitmer told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” referring to a tweet posted over the weekend by Dr. Scott Atlas, a White House coronavirus task force member whose skepticism toward Covid-mitigation strategies has been the subject of widespread criticism.

After Whitmer announced Sunday a three-week pause on indoor dining, in-person learning and several other activities, Atlas wrote: “The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept. #FreedomMatters #StepUp.” In another tweet later Sunday night, Atlas wrote that he “NEVER was talking at all about violence. People vote, people peacefully protest. NEVER would I endorse or incite violence. NEVER!!”

Atlas, a physician with no expertise in infectious diseases or epidemiology, has won favor in the White House in recent months by advocating against coronavirus restrictions and downplaying the disease’s threat. Atlas has publicly attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, accusing him of stoking concern about the ongoing pandemic for political purposes ahead of the presidential election earlier this month.

Whitmer, a Democrat who recently was the target of a foiled kidnapping plot, has come under repeated attack by the White House for her public health measures throughout the pandemic — with Trump invoking her personally at campaign rallies and his supporters calling for her imprisonment. more...

The “Last Week Tonight” host plucked apart the president’s voter fraud claims.
By Ed Mazza

“Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver said President Donald Trump’s relentless assault on the election combined with his refusal to begin the transition with President-elect Joe Biden in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic is “absolutely unforgivable.” “Trump lost this election and he knows it,” Oliver said on Sunday night. Yet rather than accept defeat and give the incoming administration the access it needs to begin its preparations, Trump is spouting conspiracy theories about the election.

It’s “pathetic, dangerous and in many ways an appropriate coda to a presidency that’s destroyed so many lives,” Oliver said, adding: “As a parting gift to the country, Trump is somehow managing to divide us even further while also hobbling his successor at the worst possible time, which is absolutely unforgivable.” Oliver also dissected Trump’s constant false claims of voter fraud, noting that just about everything alleged by the president, his team and right-wing media such as Fox News has crumbled under even the slightest scrutiny: more...

By Paul LeBlanc and Jeremy Diamond, CNN

Washington (CNN) White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Scott Atlas criticized Michigan's new Covid-19 restrictions in a tweet shortly after they were announced Sunday evening, urging people to "rise up" against the new public health measures. "The only way this stops is if people rise up," Atlas said. "You get what you accept. #FreedomMatters #StepUp" His message -- which runs counter to the consensus of public health officials -- is likely to fuel new tension between the White House and Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, whom federal and state officials announced last month was the target of an alleged domestic terrorism kidnapping plot.

Responding to Atlas' tweet Sunday evening, Whitmer told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, "We know that the White House likes to single us out here in Michigan, me out in particular. I'm not going to be bullied into not following reputable scientists and medical professionals." Instead, Whitmer said, she consults "people that actually have studied and are well respected worldwide on these issues, not the -- not the individual that is doing the President's bidding on this one." Whitmer announced in a news conference earlier Sunday that Michigan will begin a "three-week pause targeting indoor social gatherings and other group activities" to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

"If everyone does their part, we will see a big benefit from it," she told Blitzer of the new measures. "But we'll be assessing it every step of the way." Throughout the pandemic, Whitmer has been the focus of extreme vitriol from far-right groups. The alleged scheme to kidnap her included plans to overthrow several state governments that the suspects "believe are violating the US Constitution," according to a federal criminal complaint. more...

By Caroline Linton

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that he is prepared to bring legal action against the Trump administration over its proposed COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, saying it could result in unequal distribution to lower income and Black and Brown communities. "We will fight to make sure every life is protected equally because enough people have died and enough injustice has been done during COVID," Cuomo said. "It stops now and it stops with this vaccine." President Trump said Friday that the federal government is developing a plan to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to all Americans as soon as April. But he singled out New York — and Cuomo in particular — for calling for an independent panel to review any vaccine before it is distributed in the state.

"As soon as April, the vaccine will be available to the entire general population, with the exceptions of places like New York state where, for political reasons, the governor decided to say, and I don't think it's good politically, I think it's very bad from a health point, but he wants to take his time on the vaccine, he doesn't trust where the vaccine's coming from," Mr. Trump said Friday. "We won't be delivering it to New York until we have authorization to do so, and that pains me to say that." Cuomo and New York Attorney General Letitia James shot back on Friday, with James issuing a statement saying "this is nothing more than vindictive behavior by a lame-duck president trying to extract vengeance on those who oppose his politics." more...

Sunday's tweet was the first time Trump acknowledged that Joe Biden defeated him in the election, although he instantly tried to retract it.
David Mack BuzzFeed News Reporter

President Donald Trump acknowledged for the first time on Sunday that President-elect Joe Biden defeated him in last week's election, although the brief public recognition of reality appeared to be a slip of the tongue, rather than a formal concession. More than a week after Biden was projected as the winner by most outlets, Trump took to Twitter to continue his tirade of baseless conspiracy theories seeking to undermine confidence in the election.

Sharing a post from Jesse Watters in which the Fox News personality and Trump supporter seemed incredulous that Biden had won, the president wrote, "He won because the election was RIGGED." Trump then again referred to a laundry list of nonsensical complaints related to the media, poll-watchers, and ballot-counting software — all of which have been debunked as false. Twitter subsequently applied a label to Trump's tweet, noting his false claim about election fraud "is disputed."

Still, the tweet was noted by news outlets — even those favoring the president — as Trump's first admission of defeat. "Trump says for first time that Biden 'won,' blaming 'rigged' election," wrote Fox News.com. A short time later, Trump then wrote again on Twitter, attempting to clean up his previous tweet. "He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING!" he wrote. "We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!" more...

By David Brennan

President Donald Trump has urged police in Washington, D.C., to not "hold back" on protesters who disrupted the so-called "Million MAGA March" this weekend, raising further fears the president is encouraging violence against his political opponents. Thousands of Trump supporters marched in Washington Saturday, calling for the result of this month's presidential election to be overturned. The demonstrators echoed false claims by the Trump campaign and its allies of widespread electoral fraud against the president, which they say illegally handed President-Elect Joe Biden victory.

Clashes erupted between counter-protesters and rally attendees on Saturday night. At least 20 people were arrested throughout the day, according to The Washington Post, including four people on gun charges. Two police officers were injured and a man in his 20s was in a critical condition having been stabbed in the back.

Footage from the scene showed people wearing clothes associated with the white supremacist Proud Boys group—which Trump refused to condemn during a presidential debate—clashing with Black Lives Matter racial justice demonstrators and anti-fascist protesters; broadly referred to as "Antifa" but incorrectly defined by Trump and others as a centralized organization. more...

Jeh Johnson also discussed national security implications of delayed transition.
By Adia Robinson and Adam Kelsey

President Donald Trump's former national security adviser argued Sunday for Republican Party leaders to explain the true outcome of the presidential election to their voters rather than continuing to appease the president as he promotes baseless claims of voter fraud. "I think as every day goes by, it's clearer and clearer there isn't any evidence," John Bolton said on ABC's "This Week." "But if the Republican voters are only hearing Donald Trump's misrepresentations, it's not surprising that they believe it."

"It's critical for other Republican leaders to stand up and explain what actually happened: Donald Trump lost what, by any evidence we have so far, was a free and fair election," he continued. The appeal from Bolton, who has been a sharp critic of the president's since leaving his national security post in September 2019, came on a morning in which Trump, via Twitter, made one of his first acknowledgements of President-elect Joe Biden's victory -- albeit while repeating his unsubstantiated claim that the election was rigged. He tweeted again to say that he was not conceding.

"This Week" co-anchor Martha Raddatz noted that the president's refusal to accept the election's results is delaying the transition to the Biden administration and holding up intelligence briefings for the president-elect. She later quizzed former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in a separate interview on the importance of the changeover. more...

By David Brennan

President Donald Trump has urged police in Washington, D.C., to not "hold back" on protesters who disrupted the so-called "Million MAGA March" this weekend, raising further fears the president is encouraging violence against his political opponents. Thousands of Trump supporters marched in Washington Saturday, calling for the result of this month's presidential election to be overturned. The demonstrators echoed false claims by the Trump campaign and its allies of widespread electoral fraud against the president, which they say illegally handed President-Elect Joe Biden victory.

Clashes erupted between counter-protesters and rally attendees on Saturday night. At least 20 people were arrested throughout the day, according to The Washington Post, including four people on gun charges. Two police officers were injured and a man in his 20s was in a critical condition having been stabbed in the back.

Footage from the scene showed people wearing clothes associated with the white supremacist Proud Boys group—which Trump refused to condemn during a presidential debate—clashing with Black Lives Matter racial justice demonstrators and anti-fascist protesters; broadly referred to as "Antifa" but incorrectly defined by Trump and others as a centralized organization. more...

By Sarah Westwood and Alison Main, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump for the first time Sunday morning acknowledged President-elect Joe Biden's victory while falsely blaming his loss on a string of baseless conspiracy theories. Trump tweeted, "He won because the Election was Rigged," before continuing to blame his loss on debunked theories about the election. In a follow-up tweet shortly after, Trump stood by his false belief he may be able to win the election and refused to concede. "I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go," Trump tweeted.

The tweets from Trump followed a Saturday spent golfing and tweeting similar false conspiracy theories, and driving by a crowd of his supporters who gathered in Washington to protest the election results on the basis of his lies and propaganda. Trump has repeatedly claimed without evidence that his chance at a second term in office was stolen from him with corrupt votes. A previous fact check by CNN of claims by a handful of prominent Republicans, including members of Trump's family and supporters like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, of dead people voting in Michigan fell apart under scrutiny. A CNN analysis of the claim and the purported backing for it did not find a single instance of that happening.

Incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain said Sunday that Trump's tweet that Biden won is "further confirmation of the reality" that the former vice president won the election, but added that the President's Twitter feed doesn't determine an election. "Well, like I accept it as a further confirmation of the reality that Joe Biden won the election -- and not through any of the rest of that tweet, not through fraud or anything else the President is baselessly alleging. He won because he got more votes, OK, that's why he won," Klain said during an interview on NBC's "Meet The Press." "He got more votes in the popular vote by a lot, and he won the same number of electoral votes that President Trump himself called a landslide four years ago. But look, if the President is prepared to begin to recognize that reality, that's positive. Donald Trump's Twitter feed doesn't make Joe Biden president or not president. The American people did that." more...

The Democrat scored a 306-232 electoral college victory but president writes ‘he won because the election was rigged’
Martin Pengelly in New York

On Sunday morning, Donald Trump tweeted about Joe Biden. “He won,” he wrote. But it was not the formal concession of the US presidential election which Trump has refused to give, despite every major media organisation calling the race for Biden with an electoral college result of 306-232 – coincidentally the same margin by which Trump beat Hillary Clinton in 2016, a result he insisted was a landslide. Clinton beat Trump by nearly 3m in the popular vote. Biden is more than 5m up.

“He won because the election was rigged,” Trump wrote, before recycling a melange of the baseless claims of voter fraud he continues to push and which his lawyers are attempting to prove in court in battleground states – with little to no chance of success, according to most election observers. According to practice, Twitter tagged the Trump tweet with a message: “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”

According to NBC News, an anonymous White House official said the tweet about how Biden won “may very well” represent the start of some sort of Trump concession. But the president disagreed, tweeting shortly afterwards: “He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!” Mainstream experts and analysts agree it was not. The presidential result in Georgia is subject to a recount – which Trump on Sunday called a “scam” – but it is not expected to slip from Biden’s column and the Democrat will be inaugurated as the 46th president on 20 January. more...

Property sales may shrink the Trump Organization as debts come due and legal woes persist
By Brain Spegele and Caitlin Ostroff

When President Trump leaves the White House in January, he will face some of the deepest financial and legal challenges in his family business empire in decades. No matter what he focuses on after the presidency, the businesses will require his attention. Two New York investigations will continue after he leaves office and the Trump Organization will need to avert a potential cash crunch caused by looming debt maturities at the firm’s real estate holdings. Personal guarantees Mr. Trump made on some of the organization’s debt...  When President Trump leaves the White House in January, he will face some of the deepest financial and legal challenges in his family business empire in decades. more...

Michael S. Kang Donald Trump's legal strategy makes no sense for winning the vote count. So what is he doing?
The math on the president's various legal challenges doesn't get him to 270. Here's what his campaign must want to do — and why it won't work.
By Michael S. Kang, NBC News election law analyst

The presidential election is over; the overwhelming majority of votes have been counted; all the state races have been called; and Joe Biden has been credited with comfortable majority of both the popular vote and, prospectively, the Electoral College. Almost all the objective experts and election lawyers from both major parties agree Biden has won enough battleground states by sufficiently large margins that any recounts or legal challenges by the Trump campaign are exceedingly unlikely to change the election outcome, even if they change some vote totals at the margin.

Yet the Trump campaign and its supporters appear as determined as ever to carry on with myriad legal challenges, at times pressing highly questionable claims or ones that would affect a very small number of ballots. Contrary to all objective indications, they implausibly insist that Trump won the election and that their election challenges will root out election fraud and irregularity that so far have gone unreported. So what’s going on?

The Trump campaign almost certainly understands that recounts will not affect the election outcome. A survey of statewide recounts over the past 20 years found that a recount modifies the vote margin by an average of 282 votes; the lone state recount of the 2016 presidential election resulted in a modification of just 131 votes. The most famous presidential recount in recent memory — in Florida after the 2000 presidential election — potentially could have decided that contest only because the whole nationwide race came down to a single state where the vote difference between the presidential candidates boiled down to just a few hundred votes.

Neither condition is true this year: Biden’s projected victory does not depend on any single battleground state, nor is the margin in any of those states as close as it was in 2000. more...

Remember last weekend, when Joe Biden was declared president-elect and it seemed like the madness would finally end?
By Yvonne Abraham Globe Columnist

Well, it was great while it lasted. We had about 48 glorious hours, after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election and before it became clear how all-in Trump’s GOP was on his destructive lies about a stolen election. Briefly, those of us among the 78 million (and counting) Americans who voted for the Democrat, and probably many others, got to enjoy his victory, to see how a grown-up leads, and to feel the sweet relief of hearing our next president saying inspiring things about our country, and comforting things about its future.

“Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end,” Biden said last weekend, as the first woman elected vice president stood beside him. Then, by Monday, it came clear how thoroughly Donald Trump was going to cling to the lie that he had actually won the election. And, worse, how many of his fellow Republicans were prepared to double down on his transparent fiction. more...

By David Brennan

President Donald Trump has urged police in Washington, D.C., to not "hold back" on protesters who disrupted the so-called "Million MAGA March" this weekend, raising further fears the president is encouraging violence against his political opponents. Thousands of Trump supporters marched in Washington Saturday, calling for the result of this month's presidential election to be overturned. The demonstrators echoed false claims by the Trump campaign and its allies of widespread electoral fraud against the president, which they say illegally handed President-Elect Joe Biden victory.

Clashes erupted between counter-protesters and rally attendees on Saturday night. At least 20 people were arrested throughout the day, according to The Washington Post, including four people on gun charges. Two police officers were injured and a man in his 20s was in a critical condition having been stabbed in the back.

Footage from the scene showed people wearing clothes associated with the white supremacist Proud Boys group—which Trump refused to condemn during a presidential debate—clashing with Black Lives Matter racial justice demonstrators and anti-fascist protesters; broadly referred to as "Antifa" but incorrectly defined by Trump and others as a centralized organization. The president also shared a tweet from far-right activist Andy Ngo showing counter-protesters assaulting a Trump supporter at the march, knocking him to the ground. Video posted by other users showed that the victim had earlier attacked counter-protesters. more...

James Doubek

A federal judge in New York City says Chad Wolf was not legally serving as the acting secretary of homeland security when he issued a memo in July that stopped new applicants to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Therefore, Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of New York ruled Saturday, Wolf's memo is invalid.

It's the latest court ruling against the Trump administration's attempts to undo the Obama-era program that currently protects about 640,000 young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. In June, the Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration's attempt in 2017 to cancel DACA, saying the administration's reasoning was "arbitrary and capricious." In July, a federal court in Maryland told the administration to start accepting new applicants.

Instead, Wolf issued a memo on July 28 that, Judge Garaufis wrote, "effectively suspended DACA" pending a Department of Homeland Security review. Wolf's memo said the administration would reject new applicants. It also said the administration would renew protections for immigrants who already have them, but for just one year, instead of two years, which was the previous policy. more...

Sean D. Naylor and Jenna McLaughlin, Yahoo News

A series of abrupt personnel changes placing Trump loyalists in key positions in the Defense Department has sparked rumors of plans for dramatic action in the waning days of his presidency, but a number of former national security officials see it more as the chaotic final days of an outgoing administration.  Trump “terminated” Defense Secretary Mark Esper with a tweet Monday, shifting the head of the National Counterterrorism Center, retired Army Special Forces Col. Chris Miller, to fill the top Pentagon job on an acting basis. Three other Pentagon officials resigned the next day. Their replacements have raised eyebrows for, in some cases, their lack of experience and, in other cases, their incendiary political views.

But Deborah Lee James, who served as secretary of the Air Force during the Obama administration, attributed the changes less to any nefarious plan on Trump’s part than to the president’s desire for revenge against individuals he thinks have slow-rolled the implementation of his policies. “The long knives are out, and he’s a big score settler,” she said. Those resigning included the holders of two of the most senior positions in the department. Retired Vice Adm. Joseph Kernan resigned as undersecretary of defense for intelligence and security, while James Anderson left his position as acting undersecretary of defense for policy. more...

Bob Christie and Nicholas Riccardi The Associated Press

Republican leaders in Michigan and three other critical states won by President-elect Joe Biden say they won't participate in a legally dubious scheme to flip their state's electors to vote for President Donald Trump. Their comments effectively shut down a half-baked plot some Republicans floated as a last chance to keep Trump in the White House. State GOP lawmakers in Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have all said they would not intervene in the selection of electors, who ultimately cast the votes that secure a candidate's victory. Such a move would violate state law and a vote of the people, several noted.

"I do not see, short of finding some type of fraud — which I haven't heard of anything — I don't see us in any serious way addressing a change in electors," said Rusty Bowers, Arizona's Republican House speaker, who says he's been inundated with emails pleading for the legislature to intervene. "They are mandated by statute to choose according to the vote of the people." The idea loosely involves GOP-controlled legislatures dismissing Biden's popular vote wins in their states and opting to select Trump electors. While the endgame was unclear, it appeared to hinge on the expectation that a conservative-leaning Supreme Court would settle any dispute over the move. Still, it has been promoted by Trump allies, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and is an example of misleading information and false claims fueling skepticism among Trump supporters about the integrity of the vote. more...

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — After several thousand supporters of President Donald Trump protested the election results and marched to the Supreme Court, nighttime clashes with counterdemonstrators led to fistfights, at least one stabbing and more than 20 arrests. Several other cities on Saturday also saw gatherings of Trump supporters unwilling to accept Democrat Joe Biden’s Electoral College and popular vote victory as legitimate. Cries of “Stop the Steal” and “Count Every Vote” rang out despite a lack of evidence of voter fraud or other problems that could reverse the result.

The demonstrations in the nation’s capital went from tense to violent during the night and early Sunday. Videos posted on social media showed fights, projectiles and clubs as Trump backers sparred with those demanding they take their MAGA hats and banners and leave. A variety of charges, including assault and weapons possession, were filed against those arrested, officials said. Two police officers were injured and several firearms were recovered by police. more...

Trump is losing lawsuits in key states — and has lost some key members of his legal team as well.
By Zeeshan Aleem

President Donald Trump’s efforts to question the results of the 2020 presidential election using legal challenges have taken several major blows, with many lawsuits rejected or abandoned in key states, and prominent law firms withdrawing support for the president. On Friday, Trump lawsuits suffered setbacks in three battleground states — all of which have been declared for President-elect Joe Biden. In Michigan, a state judge rejected a Republican request to halt the certification of the vote in Wayne County — where Detroit sits — as “unwieldy,” according to the New York Times. The GOP had also alleged a variety of inappropriate conduct at polling stations, charges the judge dismissed as unspecific in some cases, and as “rife with speculation and guesswork” in others.

In Arizona, the Trump campaign abandoned a lawsuit alleging that ballots marked for Trump with felt-tipped markers had been unfairly thrown out — which was inspired by a false rumor — after determining that the number of votes at stake were too small to be meaningful, according to the Times. And in Pennsylvania, a judge rejected six separate efforts by the Trump campaign to block the counting of nearly 9,000 mail ballots in two counties. The campaign had requested that those ballots be discounted because they were missing some requested information, like addresses or dates on outer envelopes, according to the Washington Post. Even if the ballots had been thrown out, however, the outcome in the state would have remained the same: Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 60,000 votes. more...

President Donald Trump insists he deserves no blame for divisions in America.
By Mike Levine

President Donald Trump has repeatedly distanced himself from acts of violence in communities across America, dismissing critics who point to his rhetoric as a potential source of inspiration or comfort for anyone acting on even long-held beliefs of bigotry and hate. "I think my rhetoric brings people together," he said last year, four days after a 21-year-old allegedly posted an anti-immigrant screed online and then allegedly opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 and injuring dozens of others.

But a nationwide review conducted by ABC News has identified at least 54 criminal cases where Trump was invoked in direct connection with violent acts, threats of violence or allegations of assault. After a Latino gas station attendant in Gainesville, Florida, was suddenly punched in the head by a white man, the victim could be heard on surveillance camera recounting the attacker’s own words: “He said, ‘This is for Trump.'" Charges were filed but the victim stopped pursuing them.

When police questioned a Washington state man about his threats to kill a local Syrian-born man, the suspect told police he wanted the victim to "get out of my country," adding, "That’s why I like Trump." more...

After the 2016 election, President Trump claimed that millions of votes had been illegally cast. The commission he established to investigate this came up empty-handed.
David A. Graham Staff writer at The Atlantic

Why not just look? What’s the harm? This is the best case that President Donald Trump and his allies have for investigating claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election. Unfortunately for them, it’s still a very weak case. Republicans have for years been pushing claims of massive voter fraud that swings elections, and for just as long, they’ve failed to turn up evidence of it.

On Tuesday, The New York Times published an article in which reporters contacted top election officials in all 50 states to ask if they had any evidence of fraud. Not a single state reported back an issue (though in four cases, the paper had to rely on public statements or other officials). Only one state had no response: Texas, where Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick offered a $1 million reward for evidence of fraud. You don’t offer huge cash prizes if you already have evidence. Rewards like this also create a strong incentive to gin up false claims. Already, a Pennsylvania postal worker who alleged fraud has reportedly recanted; donors have collected nearly $140,000 for him.

But the best reason for skepticism comes from Trump himself. He’s claimed fraud before, and despite a major effort to find it, turned up nothing. After his 2016 victory, the new president appointed a commission to study the matter. The commission collapsed less than a year later, without producing any evidence of fraud, or any findings at all. more...

By Alex Marquardt, CNN

Washington (CNN) A senior federal election security official who was appointed by President Donald Trump has blasted the President's false post-election claims, calling them "baffling", "laughable" and "insulting". Asked in an interview what he would say to Trump about the election, Ben Hovland said "these conspiracy theories that are flying around have consequences." Hovland runs the Election Assistance Commission which, in part, tests and certifies voting machines. He was nominated by President Donald Trump last year and unanimously confirmed by the Senate. He works closely with other federal agencies that oversee elections, like the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

"At a minimum, it's insulting to the professionals that run our elections and hopefully that's the worst that comes of it," Hovland told MIT Technology Review. "Our people, they're doing their jobs but they don't feel safe doing it. That is a tragedy. That is awful. These are public servants. This isn't a job you do for glory or to get rich." Hovland's comments are the strongest rejection so far from a Trump administration official of what the President is saying. They come as his colleague at CISA, Director Chris Krebs, is also ratcheting up his rebukes of the President's claims. Additionally on Thursday the Department of Homeland Security along with a group of national, state and private election officials said in a joint statement that there is no evidence of any voting system being compromised in the 2020 election despite Trump's deluge of election fraud conspiracies, and called the election "the most secure in American history." more...

By Julia Jones and Sara Sidner, CNN

Washington, DC (CNN) Thousands of President Donald Trump's supporters of all stripes, including right-wing and far-right groups, rallied in Washington, DC, on Saturday to protest the election results. Smaller groups of counter demonstrators gathered downtown and near the Supreme Court in support of President-elect Joe Biden's electoral victory -- which the President has falsely described as fraudulent. Many groups that attended the rally have distinct core beliefs, but on Saturday were united in their unwavering support for the President. They included anti-government groups such as the Oath Keepers, far-right groups such as the Proud Boys and the Three Percenters, conspiracy theorists such as Alex Jones and Republican members of Congress. more...

Ashley Terrell, TheGrio

The school received complaints and requests from fellow parents. According to CNN, after three years, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner removed their three children from a Washington D.C. private school due to the school administrator’s concerns regarding the couple’s disregard for COVID-19 precautions. The school has not been named out of safety and privacy concerns, but according to a source, both Trump and Kushner “repeatedly violated a number of the guidelines” that were outlined in the school’s parent handbook.

Earlier this month, at least five people including President Donald Trump’s chief of staff and campaign aide tested positive for COVID-19, CNN reported. An unnamed parent pointed to the visibility of the couple’s behavior and the reports of positive COVID-19 cases among the Trump administration at the White House. “There was no secret about their behaviors, because everyone could see them,” the parent said. CNN reports that a source said the school received complaints and requests for changed behavior such as wearing face masks, social distancing, and self-quarantining if exposed to someone with the virus. more...

Analysis by Zachary B. Wolf, CNN

(CNN) In the real world, President-elect Joe Biden continues to hurtle toward his January 20 inauguration. He named a chief of staff, his longtime aide Ron Klain (aka Obama's Ebola czar). More here on what Biden's pick says about his coming presidency. He's taking calls from more foreign leaders, although without help from the US State Department that he'll soon oversee. A few more Republican senators said he should begin to get classified briefings even though they wouldn't publicly acknowledge the fact he won.

Biden's job is going to be hard. The infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm, a member of Biden's Covid task force, suggested a possible four-week nationwide lockdown with the government covering wages and losses for many companies. "If we did that then we could lock down for four to six weeks and if we did that, we could drive the numbers down. Like they've done in Asia. Like they did in New Zealand and Australia," he told Yahoo! Finance. Biden, it was made clear Thursday, does not share that view. "His comments were not in line with the PEOTUS view," a transition aide said, according to CNN's Arlette Saenz. (PEOTUS is aide-speak for President-elect of the United States).

Monetizing his loss could include: "Post-election King Trump rallies across America (with paid attendance no doubt). Can't you just imagine the former president claiming his rallies are bigger than Oprah's motivational gatherings? A TV show! A big book deal, worth millions! (He'll want more than Obama, but won't get it.) Another run in 2024!"

Dragging out the election will help him raise money too. Denying reality is allowing the President to ask supporters for money he can use to influence them down the road. "Right now, though, he's raising money allegedly to fight the inevitably fruitless court battles on some imagined voter fraud. But look at the small print: The money also seeds his newly established political action committee. So while he's telling his voters he's fighting to stay, he's also looking for way to fund his future endeavors when he leaves. Always looking for a way to find a buck." more...

Analysis by Gloria Borger, CNN Chief Political Analyst

(CNN) Given what we know about Donald Trump, his refusal to accept loss as he begins a revenge purge of his perceived enemies should not surprise us. He is a tiny man, devoid of moral fiber and character, defined only by his self-interest. The idea of losing is beyond him, unless he can blame a rigged election. We knew that, too. What we did not know -- and what is playing out now -- is that, in the waning days of his presidency, his courtiers would all pay homage to the fallen king as he ransacks the government on his way out by firing key public servants like the defense secretary whom he considers disloyal, further rattling national security by refusing to share intelligence briefings with the incoming president, and weaponizing the Justice Department to look for mass voter fraud where none exists.

As he sits in the Oval Office, you've got to wonder: What is the President actually thinking? Is he concerned about his followers? About democracy? About his legacy? Nah. He's thinking about himself, of course. One source who knows the President well makes this case: "He's not worried about the Republican Party. He's worried about how he can commercialize and monetize all of this." Ah, of course. Post-election King Trump rallies across America (with paid attendance no doubt). Can't you just imagine the former president claiming his rallies are bigger than Oprah's motivational gatherings? A TV show! A big book deal, worth millions! (He'll want more than Obama, but won't get it.) Another run in 2024!

If he's no longer the king, he'll be the kingmaker. All GOP politicians will have to kiss the ring if they are to succeed. After all, he has a 70 million-plus following, and that ain't beans. Only a small handful Republican senators have acknowledged Joe Biden as President-elect. Two Georgia Republicans vying for Senate seats dutifully asked for a GOP election official in the state to resign because he had not done enough, in their words, to deliver an "honest and transparent" election in which Trump was not crowned the victor. And worst of all, the secretary of state, occupying a once vaunted position, goes to the podium to declare the transition will be peacefully made -- to Trump. We know he wants to be president, and wants Trump's blessing -- but this way? more...

Savannah Behrmann USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has claimed, without offering evidence, that the election was overrun by fraud and his campaign filed a number of lawsuits attacking the voting process in several battleground states he went on to lose. State leaders and election officials – many of them Republican – in those crucial swings states have responded by assuring voters there have been no signs of widespread fraud despite what Trump and his supporters have alleged. And state leaders, including many Republicans. Here is a look at what those officials have said in response to Trump's unsubstantiated claims since President-elect Joe Biden was declared the winner.

Biden flipped the state of Arizona blue, becoming the first Democrat to carry it in 24 years. Trump and his allies have repeatedly claimed there was voter fraud involved, with his supporters spouting conspiracy theories like "Sharpiegate" – an unfounded suspicion that election workers were invalidating votes. But no claims of any substantive impropriety has been supported by evidence. more...

By Andrea Riquier

If Congress doesn’t act on a new relief package, might markets throw a fit? 2020 has already been a year for the record books, and by some reckoning the hardest parts are still ahead. One of the most contentious elections in recent U.S. history has finally concluded, but President Donald Trump refuses to accept it, jeopardizing a smooth transfer of power even as a public health crisis accelerates, and raising the specter of a constitutional crisis.

At the same time, it’s clear to nearly everyone that the economy desperately needs more fiscal support, but no-one in a position to make it happen can agree on how to do it. Still, sources who spoke to MarketWatch say it’s time to take a deep breath. Markets will be fine – choppy, but fine – and the republic will live to see another day. What’s more, most say, Washington isn’t our biggest problem, even if it demands most of our attention.

“First of all, Joe Biden is the president of the United States regardless of anything anyone’s reading or saying,” said Chris Dillon, capital markets investment specialist for T. Rowe Price. “We’re not going to spend energy even speculating on chicanery. We’re not wasting our intellectual capital on it. Remember when President Trump announced the economy was going to re-open on Easter? We didn’t pay any attention then. We believe in the institutional power of the U.S.” more...

Opinion by Dana Milbank

So this will be President Trump’s parting gift to the nation: He is deliberately sabotaging the national security of the United States. His refusal to accept the results, even though it wasn’t a particularly close election, has taken an insidious new turn now that his political appointee in charge of authorizing the start of the Biden transition is refusing to give the okay. The delay undercuts all aspects of government’s functioning and leaves the country needlessly vulnerable to security threats.

We’ve seen this before. In 2000, the delayed transition “hampered the new administration in identifying, recruiting, clearing, and obtaining Senate confirmation of key appointees,” the 9/11 Commission concluded. To avoid a possible repeat of such a vulnerability, the commission recommended that “we should minimize as much as possible the disruption of national security policymaking during the change of administrations” so that “transitions can work more effectively and allow new officials to assume their new responsibilities as quickly as possible.” Trump is now actively undermining that recommendation — for no purpose other than ego. It would cost him nothing to begin the transition; in the extremely unlikely event that he is able to overturn the election results in several states and secure a victory, the transition authorization could easily be rescinded. more...

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN

(CNN) Two judges in Pennsylvania on Friday tossed a half dozen court cases the Trump campaign had brought to invalidate thousands of votes around Philadelphia, where voters carried President-elect Joe Biden to a clear win in the battleground state. In total, the Trump campaign had sought to throw out almost 9,000 absentee ballots because their outer envelopes lack names, dates or addresses or some combination of the three that voters could have filled out. In five related cases, Judge James Crumlish of Philadelphia County's Court of Common Pleas said the Trump campaign couldn't invalidate 8,329 ballots it alleged were improper. The judge ruled those ballots should be processed and counted. In another case, the President's campaign sought for the Montgomery County Board of Elections to throw out 592 mail-in ballots where voters hadn't filled out their addresses on the outside envelopes. Those ballots will be counted, the second judge, Richard Haaz of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, ruled on Friday. more...

The campaign spent months building a legal apparatus to contest close elections. Then along came the former New York City mayor.

President Donald Trump’s senior campaign aides were gathered in their headquarters Saturday morning when word emerged that Rudy Giuliani would be holding a news conference in the parking lot of a Philadelphia landscaping business. They knew that meant trouble. Senior campaign aides scurried to urge organizers to kill the event, infamously staged at the wrong “Four Seasons” — a landscaping business adjacent to an adult bookstore and a crematorium. But Giuliani plowed ahead anyway, delivering a conspiracy-filled rant that undercut the legal strategy the president’s advisers had meticulously mapped out in the run-up to the election.

Campaign officials described the episode as disastrous, saying it scared off many of the lawyers they spent months recruiting, who now no longer wanted to be involved. With the campaign already facing exceedingly long odds in its recount efforts, there are widespread concerns within Trumpworld and GOP circles that Giuliani’s antics are thwarting the president’s legal machinery from within. “I can’t imagine that a rational person" in the general public "wouldn’t be adversely affected by the way he conducts himself,” said Barry Richard, who represented George W. Bush in the 2000 Florida recount. more...

Just who is pushing the ballot count protests on Trump’s behalf?
Ali Breland

Right-wing “Stop The Count” protests that have sprung up in the last 72 hours to attempt to manipulate the vote-counting process in favor of Donald Trump appear to be at least partially artificially bolstered by paid Republican operatives. But unlike previous coordinated protests that have been revealed to be supported well-funded and organized conservative interests, the demonstrations have been organized largely by a collection of disgraced right-wing internet figures. Some have been all but discarded from mainstream Republican circles for being too extreme, too inept, or some combination of the two. Despite this, they’ve been good at one thing: figuring out how to spin never-ending mishaps into continued careers.

The protests have grown since Election Day, with FreedomWorks and Trump’s 2020 digital director getting involved in the events, according to The Guardian and Washington Post. Here’s a smattering of some of the more compelling characters involved:

Ali Alexander
After one of the first 2020 primary debates, Alexander went viral claiming that Kamala Harris wasn’t an “American Black,” because she was of Jamaican and Indian heritage, instead of descending from African-Americans who had been forced into Antebellum-era slavery. Alexander was convicted of two felonies in 2007 and 2008, and has a track record of publicly noting people for are Jewish. He made a sensationalist video with right-wing snafu generator Jacob Wohl and Laura Loomer, the Islamaphobic failed Congressional candidate, wherein Wohl seemingly fakes the group receiving death threats during filming. more...

Mick Stinelli and Julian Routh Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Porter Wright, the law firm that reportedly faced internal backlash over its involvement in Donald Trump’s election-related legal efforts, has abruptly withdrawn from one of the most significant cases the president is levying in Pennsylvania, though it continues to represent him in another case where its own partner was a witness.

The firm, based in Columbus, Ohio, with an office in Pittsburgh, filed a motion on Thursday to stop representing the Trump campaign in its effort in federal court to halt the certification of results from last week’s presidential election in Pennsylvania. Mr. Trump lost Pennsylvania to Democrat Joe Biden by a margin that currently stands at more than 58,000 votes.

“[The Trump campaign is] in the process of retaining and causing other counsel to enter an appearance herein,” lawyers for Porter Wright wrote in the motion, noting that Linda A. Kerns — a lawyer based in Philadelphia — would remain as counsel.

According to a report in The New York Times earlier this week, associates at Porter Wright said — in two meetings with the firm’s partners — that they objected to the work with Mr. Trump’s campaigns. At least one lawyer quit in protest, the paper reported. The Times cited conversations with three current and former employees. more...

Philip Ewing

President Trump's legal challenges to the election met with a series of defeats and setbacks on Friday as judges found the Trump campaign's arguments and evidence that there was widespread fraud and irregularities with the vote to be lacking. An appeals court in Pennsylvania rejected an objection by Trump's lawyers to practices involving mailed ballots; a Michigan judge threw out claims made by the campaign as "incorrect and not credible."

In a case in Arizona, where Democrat Joe Biden holds a slender lead over Trump, the president's lawyers admitted the judge no longer needed to weigh in because "the tabulation of votes statewide has rendered unnecessary a judicial ruling as to the presidential electors." "Trump's legal strategy seems to be aimed at denying the inevitable," said Marc Elias, the top Democratic election lawyer, during a call with reporters Friday.

Trump's efforts haven't been defeated in every single case, but even victories don't seem likely to turn the tide. In Pennsylvania on Thursday, a judge ordered that the state could not count ballots that had been set aside because they had been cast under a policy changing the relevant deadline. However, the number of ballots isn't sufficient to change the outcome of the election. more...

"It’s about the nation," Trump's former chief of staff says in an interview with POLITICO. The wait "hurts our national security."

President-elect Joe Biden should start receiving intelligence briefings, and the delay in allowing the transition to officially get started is damaging U.S. national security, President Donald Trump’s former chief of staff John Kelly told POLITICO in an exclusive interview. “You lose a lot if the transition is delayed because the new people are not allowed to get their head in the game,” Kelly said Friday. “The president, with all due respect, does not have to concede. But it’s about the nation. It hurts our national security because the people who should be getting [up to speed], it’s not a process where you go from zero to 1,000 miles per hour.”

“Mr. Trump doesn’t have to concede if he doesn’t want to, I guess, until the full election process is complete. But there’s nothing wrong with starting the transition, starting to get people like the national security people, obviously the president and the vice president-elect, if they are in fact elected, to start getting them [up to speed] on the intelligence,” he said. Kelly, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, served as Trump’s chief of staff from July 2017 to early Jan. 2019. Trump lost patience with his strict management style and Kelly grew exasperated trying to put guardrails around the president.

Kelly said that starting transition intelligence briefings early is key because it’s a gradual process. “The transition, in the national security realm in particular and the homeland security realm, is just so important that every day that the transition is delayed really kind of handicaps” the new team, he said. A number of prominent Senate Republicans including Sens. James Lankford (Okla.), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Roy Blunt (Mo.) have also called for Biden to start getting briefings. more...

By Brent Budowsky, opinion contributor

With high confidence, here is what I see as the most likely ending to the Trump presidency. First, President Trump has been defeated for reelection. The campaign is over. The results are in, and decisive. Donald Trump has lost. His chance of succeeding in being reelected through any strategy or tactic is mathematically zero. Second, Trump will issue pardons to his immediate family and whoever else he may feel a residual loyalty to. Third, Trump will be told by his attorneys that he has no option to pardon himself. He probably has already been told this. The worst case for Trump, both legally and politically, is that he tries to pardon himself, creates a wave of national outrage, and his pardon of himself is overturned by the courts.

Fourth, Trump will resign from the presidency before his term officially ends, and he will be pardoned by Vice President Pence, when Pence becomes president. A presidential pardon by Pence would not offer protection from cases originating in states, but those cases will be far more manageable if they are not sunk into a morass of federal cases that only a federal pardon can protect him from. Fifth, while I suspect we will learn that he is not nearly as wealthy as he claims, Trump can reap extravagant financial rewards from the mother of all business deals which he could conclude shortly after he leaves office. more...

Berkeley Lovelace Jr., Noah Higgins-Dunn

President Donald Trump said Friday that the U.S. government would not deliver a coronavirus vaccine to New York if and when one is available. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo “will have to let us know when he’s ready for it because otherwise, we can’t be delivering it to a state that won’t be giving it to its people immediately,” Trump said during a press conference from the White House Rose Garden.

“He doesn’t trust where the vaccine is coming from,” Trump added. “These are coming from the greatest companies anywhere in the world, greatest labs in the world, but he doesn’t trust the fact that it’s this White House, this administration, so we won’t be delivering it to New York until we have authorization to do so and that pains me to say that.”

On MSNBC shortly after Trump’s comments, Cuomo said, “None of what [Trump] said is true. Surprise, surprise.” “I have been an outspoke opponent to many of Trump’s policies over the last four years,” he said, adding that Trump lost in New York in the presidential election by “huge margin” and state prosecutors are also investigating the president for tax fraud.

“So, he has issues with New York and he likes to point to New York,” Cuomo said. “But this is his issue. It’s his credibility issue. It’s the fear that he politicized the health process of this nation, which is a well-founded fear.” Shortly after Trump’s comments, New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a statement threatening to sue Trump if a vaccine was not sent to the state once available. “This is nothing more than vindictive behavior by a lame-duck president trying to extract vengeance on those who oppose his politics,” James said. more...

By Ankush Khardori

Following his defeat in last week’s presidential election, President Donald Trump faces the possibility of criminal investigations on multiple fronts. There has been plenty of speculation about the sorts of charges that a Biden Justice Department could pursue—the possibilities include a bribery charge based on Trump’s effort to have Ukraine initiate an investigation into Biden last year, or perhaps income tax fraud—but a critical determinant for any such exercise would be how quickly such a charge would need to be filed.

Legal analysts discussing Trump’s criminal exposure after leaving office often note that the statute of limitations for a federal criminal offense is usually five years. That means that if Trump committed some sort of crime that ended in 2016 when he won election, he would need to be indicted in 2021; if he committed a crime that ended in 2017, his first year in office, that case would need to be filed by 2022; and so on. This is a significant limitation on any investigation of Trump, since even under the best circumstances, it can take years for the government to fully investigate a complex criminal case. And of course, Trump has been in office for the past four years with no sign that anyone at the Justice Department—besides special counsel Robert Mueller and his team’s Russia probe, which turned up evidence that Trump committed obstruction of justice and resulted in a handful of successful prosecutions of Trump underlings—has closely scrutinized any of his many questionable dealings during and before his presidency. (There has been much speculation that Trump might engineer a self-pardon before leaving office, but the legality of such a maneuver would at best be highly debatable.) more...

Tom Porter

President Donald Trump has asked top aides about a wild plan that involves replacing electors in swing states with loyalists to secure himself a second term, The New York Times reported on Thursday. The Times report came hours after Business Insider reported that the plan was gaining currency among Trump allies. The plan hinges on Republican state legislatures deciding to ignore the states' results and instead send a new group of electors to the Electoral College who would cast their votes for Trump. Such a plan, while technically possible, has been widely dismissed by experts as unworkable in practice and an affront to US democracy. Business Insider's report noted some of the problems with making it work. more...

By Alex Marquardt, CNN

Washington (CNN) A senior federal election security official who was appointed by President Donald Trump has blasted the President's false post-election claims, calling them "baffling", "laughable" and "insulting". Asked in an interview what he would say to Trump about the election, Ben Hovland said "these conspiracy theories that are flying around have consequences."

Hovland runs the Election Assistance Commission which, in part, tests and certifies voting machines. He was nominated by President Donald Trump last year and unanimously confirmed by the Senate. He works closely with other federal agencies that oversee elections, like the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

"At a minimum, it's insulting to the professionals that run our elections and hopefully that's the worst that comes of it," Hovland told MIT Technology Review. "Our people, they're doing their jobs but they don't feel safe doing it. That is a tragedy. That is awful. These are public servants. This isn't a job you do for glory or to get rich." more...

Dan Mangan, Kevin Breuninger

President Donald Trump’s already long-shot efforts to reverse an apparent win for President-elect Joe Biden by challenging votes in courts suffered three big setbacks in Arizona, Michigan and Pennylvania on Friday. In Arizona, Trump’s campaign dropped a legal challenge of a number of ballots in Maricopa County, saying Biden’s overall lead in the state is too large for the disputed ballots to make a difference. The move came a day after NBC News and other media outlets projected that Biden will win the state’s popular vote. In Michigan, where Biden last week was projected as the winner, a judge declined a request by Trump backers to block the certification of election results in Detroit.

And in Pennsylvania, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said she has determined not to order a recount and a recanvass of the election return in 67 counties. For a recount to be ordered, Trump would have to be losing by less than .5% of the votes cast. But Biden’s lead over Trump was 49.8% to Trump’s 48.9% as of Friday afternoon in the Keystone State, which has 20 Electoral votes. In the Michigan case, the judge rejected allegations by two poll challengers who claimed to have seen irregularities that allowed invalid ballots to be counted. more...

Jonathan Freedland - Guardian

Race is the message behind his supporters’ legal shenanigans, and a keystone for a Trumpian government in exile. Not for the first time, Donald Trump’s unhinged behaviour prompts an uncomfortable question: should we be laughing in derision or trembling with fear? Is he playing out his last days as nothing more than a sore loser pathetically kidding himself that he might yet score the winning run, even after the crowd’s gone home and the stadium is empty – or is his insistence that last week’s election was stolen an attempt to cling on to power, to stage a coup against his democratically elected successor?

The case for laughter is strong, as Trump’s allegations crumble to dust. On Thursday, a wing of the department of homeland security – part of the government that Trump still heads – declared that last week’s election “was the most secure in American history”, and that there was “no evidence” of any malpractice, still less of the mass-scale fraud that Trump has groundlessly alleged.

The result is that Trump’s lawyers have been all but laughed out of court, forced by impatient judges to admit that they don’t have any evidence, let alone proof. His courtiers continue to pretend that the emperor is fully clothed, of course, but even they are winking at the crowd. Surely Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was joking when he promised with a smile: “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”

The inner circle are happy to let Trump, who has appeared only once in public since election day, remain hunkered down in his White House bunker, “feverishly tweeting, watching television and telephoning allies”, as the Los Angeles Times reports. They carry on telling him what he wants to hear, but they know his cause is doomed. Tellingly, even Trump’s own son-in-law, Jared Kushner, made his excuses for Saturday’s supposed council of war, sending “aides” in his place. more...

By David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement

Is President Donald Trump building a moat around the White House? That’s just one of several questions some are asking after a White House press pool report Friday morning. “A crew is digging a trench outside the briefing room, on the lawn between the driveway and the sidewalk,” the pool report reads. “And as noted previously, there’s lots of fencing around Lafayette Square Park.” Trump over the past few weeks did have “unscalable” fencing installed around the White House before the November 3 election, leading many to wonder if he planned on barricading himself in if he lost. Those questions still exist, as does the fencing. more...

By Kara Scannell, CNN

(CNN) Lawyers for the Trump campaign have dropped a lawsuit seeking a review of all ballots cast on Election Day after finding that the margin of victory for the presidential contest in Arizona could not be overcome. The Trump campaign filed the lawsuit on Saturday alleging some voters were confused on Election Day and feared that their ballots were not counted if the vote tabulation machines classified their ballots as overvotes. They were seeking a hand review of any ballots flagged by the machine as overvotes alleging it could result in thousands of votes for President Donald Trump. CNN has projected that President-elect Joe Biden will win the state.
A state judge in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, held a six-hour evidentiary hearing Thursday. more...


In a special report, MSNBC's Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melber debunks Trump’s voter “fraud” claims with the facts and the judges’ own words from court. Melber highlights the fact that Trump's own lawyer admitted there's no evidence of voter fraud under oath and that Trump's own aides are privately acknowledging they're aware this legal fight is "unsustainable." video...

By Aaron Blake

By now, it’s well-established that most of the arguments put forward by President Trump’s reelection campaign in its challenge of the results of the 2020 election are baseless and highly speculative. Even Trump allies, as The Washington Post reported late Tuesday, acknowledge the apparent futility of the effort. Others have reasoned that there’s no harm in going through the motions, with one anonymous GOP official asking, “What’s the downside for humoring him” for a little while?

But as scenes in courtrooms nationwide in recent days have shown, there is indeed a downside for those tasked with pursuing these claims. Repeatedly now, they have been rebuked by judges for how thin their arguments have been. The most famous scene came in Pennsylvania, where a Trump lawyer strained to avoid acknowledging that their people were, in fact, allowed to observe the vote-counting process in Philadelphia: more...

Kristine Phillips USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – A group of 1,000 attorneys, including retired federal and state judges, state attorneys general and law professors criticized the Trump administration over baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. "Every candidate has a right to ensure that an election is conducted lawfully. However, court challenges, if any, must be based on facts, on evidence," stated the letter, which asked public officials to stop making false claims of systemic fraud that President Donald Trump has claimed "stole" the election from him.

"The President of the United States has directed the filing of court cases seeking to stop ballots from being counted on the ground that there has been widespread ballot fraud. His sons have sharply criticized Republicans who are not backing their father’s claims," Republican lawmakers, including Sens. Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, have made statements backing Trump's lawsuits and claims of fraud. more...

The president has refused to concede to Biden and his administration has rejected any appearance of assisting with the transfer of power.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Friday that the Trump administration is operating as if it will extend into a second term, attempting to stiff-arm the reality of last week's election and dismissing talk that the incoming Biden administration might unwind many of President Donald Trump's policies.

“We are moving forward here at the White House under the assumption there will be a second Trump term,” Navarro said on Fox Business, echoing a refrain from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the president’s most steadfast allies. Those remarks represent a sharp departure from the electoral reality that President-elect Joe Biden was the victor in last week's presidential election, claiming at least 290 electoral votes and winning the popular vote by more than 5 million votes. more...

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN

(CNN) A law firm representing the President's campaign in a controversial and long-shot attempt to block Pennsylvania's popular vote for Joe Biden is leaving the case. The firm, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, had two Pittsburgh-based lawyers leading the effort for the Trump campaign in Pennsylvania. Both told a judge in an overnight filing they were withdrawing, and the Trump campaign may bring in new counsel.

The Trump campaign is now down to one lawyer in the federal court effort in Pennsylvania -- a solo practitioner in Philadelphia named Linda Ann Kerns who touts her media appearances and commentary as much as her legal experience. Biden is leading by nearly 60,000 votes and CNN has projected him to win the state's 20 electoral votes. more...

Law firms representing Trump in his fight to challenge the election results have come under fire in recent days.

Another law firm has moved to drop its representation of President Donald Trump’s campaign in its flurry of lawsuits challenging the results of last week’s presidential election. Late Thursday night, Columbus-based firm Porter Wright Morris & Arthur notified a federal judge hearing a Trump-filed suit over the election tallies in Pennsylvania that the firm is seeking to pull out of the case.

The development comes as Trump’s political opponents have sought to put public pressure on law firms assisting what many legal experts view as a meritless and likely fruitless campaign to try to thwart President-elect Joe Biden from taking office despite the fact that major media outlets have declared Biden the victor and the near-final counts showing Biden thousands of votes ahead in the key battleground states.

Some Trump critics including Republicans affiliated with the Lincoln Project have indicated they planned to pressure the commercial clients of law firms representing the campaign to drop the firms if they continued with the court fight on behalf of the president. In the motion filed at 11:53 p.m. on Thursday, Porter Wright lawyers Ronald Hicks and Carolyn McGee — who work out of the firm’s Pittsburgh office — said the campaign was “in the process of retaining and causing other counsel” to take over the case.

The attorneys said they and the campaign had agreed on the withdrawal, but Hicks and McGee were vague about the reason for their exit. “Plaintiffs and Porter Wright have reached a mutual agreement that Plaintiffs will be best served if Porter Wright withdraws, and current co-counsel and such other counsel as Plaintiffs may choose to engage represent Plaintiffs in this case,” the filing said. more...

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