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Donald J. Trump White House Page 11
The president is more vulnerable than ever to an investigation into his business practices and taxes.
By William K. Rashbaum and Benjamin Weiser

President Trump lost more than an election last week. When he leaves the White House in January, he will also lose the constitutional protection from prosecution afforded to a sitting president. After Jan. 20, Mr. Trump, who has refused to concede and is fighting to hold onto his office, will be more vulnerable than ever to a pending grand jury investigation by the Manhattan district attorney into the president’s family business and its practices, as well as his taxes.

The two-year inquiry, the only known active criminal investigation of Mr. Trump, has been stalled since last fall, when the president sued to block a subpoena for his tax returns and other records, a bitter dispute that for the second time is before the U.S. Supreme Court. A ruling is expected soon.

Mr. Trump has contended that the investigation by the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., a Democrat, is a politically motivated fishing expedition. But if the Supreme Court rules that Mr. Vance is entitled to the records, and he uncovers possible crimes, Mr. Trump could face a reckoning with law enforcement — further inflaming political tensions and raising the startling specter of a criminal conviction, or even prison, for a former president. more...


The Department of Justice can appoint a special counsel. It will help keep politics out of holding Trump accountable.
By RENATO MARIOTTI

Renato Mariotti is a legal affairs columnist for Politico Magazine. He is a former federal prosecutor and host of the “On Topic” podcast. On January 20, 2021, Donald Trump will no longer be the President of the United States. Later that year, he may become the first former president to face a criminal indictment. Trump is reportedly worried about being arrested, and he should be. President-elect Joe Biden also has something to worry about: how to handle the misconduct of the 45th president.

This was always going to be a dilemma for Trump’s successor. After an openly self-dealing president like Trump, the nation needs to see that no American is above the law, and that there will be consequences for anyone—even a former president—who enriches himself at the nation’s expense or abuses his power.

But any prosecution of Trump, no matter how fair, will draw criticism from Trump’s supporters in an already-divided nation. Even non-partisan observers have reason to be concerned by the spectacle of the administration of a new president prosecuting the president who just left office. It’s essential for any stable democracy that elected leaders don’t use their new powers to punish their opponents after they’ve lost. No president has ever done it. more...

Former presidents normally don’t go to jail, but few have committed so many obvious crimes unrelated to their duties in office.
Jon Schwarz

Even if President Donald Trump loses on November 3, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll ever be convicted of any crime, much less serve time in prison. That’s because, first and foremost, no former U.S. president has ever seen the inside of a cell — and not because all presidents have faithfully followed the law. Presidents accumulate huge favors owed, favors that they cash in, figuratively and literally, when they become former presidents. On the modest end of the spectrum, 20 wealthy friends of Ronald Reagan bought a mansion in Bel-Air, Los Angeles, for him and Nancy to live in when he left office. More significantly, ex-presidents receive political protection from their allies, as when Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon for anything whatsoever he’d done in office.

And beyond anything concrete that a president does for the factions that back him, those factions also strenuously oppose any consequences for their president’s actions for reasons of basic class solidarity. If an ex-president can face consequences, that would suggest that people one step down the power ladder could too. And the people at the top of U.S. society see consequences like Leona Helmsley saw taxes: They’re for the little people. That said, stranger things than the prosecution of Trump have happened: for instance, Trump being elected president in the first place. more...


ERIC TUCKER and FRANK BAJAK

WASHINGTON (AP) — A coalition of federal and state officials found no evidence that votes were compromised or altered in last week's presidential election, rejecting unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud advanced by President Donald Trump and many of his supporters.

The statement late Thursday, by government and industry officials who coordinate election cybersecurity, trumpeted the Nov. 3 election as the most secure in American history. It amounted to the most direct repudiation to date of Trump's efforts to undermine the integrity of the contest, and echoed repeated assertions by election experts and state officials over the last week that the election unfolded smoothly without broad irregularities.

“While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too," the statement said. "When you have questions, turn to elections officials as trusted voices as they administer elections.” more...

By Ross Rosenfeld New York Daily News

We see it unfolding before us. The plan, though horrifying, is simple.
1. Sow seeds of doubt by promoting specious claims about the integrity of the election, undermining and therefore disqualifying it.

2. Begin court proceedings, hoping to toss out votes for your opponent, but with the more likely objective of giving your unsubstantiated claims a semblance of legitimacy while excusing your refusal to accept the election results.

3. Maintain a tight grip of control over the Republican Party, wielding your influence with the base as a club over GOP politicos in order to quash any dissent.

4. Dismiss anyone who might not be loyal to you and replace them with avowed loyalists who are willing to do your bidding.

5. Lead a national disinformation campaign, spreading lies and innuendoes through state-allied media — in this case Fox News, in particular via Trump administration lackeys. more...


The former president says he's troubled by Republicans going along with President Trump's claims. See the interview, Sunday on 60 Minutes.
CBS News

In a new interview with 60 Minutes, former President Barack Obama is commenting on President Donald Trump's unfounded claims of voter fraud. "They appear to be motivated, in part, because the president doesn't like to lose and never admits loss," Mr. Obama told Scott Pelley in a clip from the interview that aired on "CBS Evening News."

Moreover, the former president says members of the president's party who "go along with" his unfounded claims of election fraud put democracy on a dangerous path. "I'm more troubled by the fact that other Republican officials who clearly know better are going along with this, are humoring him in this fashion," Obama said. "It is one more step in delegitimizing not just the incoming Biden administration, but democracy generally. And that's a dangerous path." more...

The law requires sitting presidents to preserve all records relating to the performance of their official duties — but it has no real enforcement mechanism.
By NATASHA BERTRAND

From tearing up documents and hiding transcripts of calls with foreign leaders to using encrypted messaging apps and personal email accounts for government business, the Trump White House’s skirting of records preservation rules could limit the incoming Biden administration’s visibility into highly sensitive foreign policy and national security secrets.

The mysteries have swirled over the past four years: What was really said during Trump’s many phone calls and one-on-one meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin? What has Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kusher discussed with Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed bin Salman on WhatsApp, where messages can be automatically deleted? Did Trump’s aides memorialize any of the reported conversations he had with U.S. and foreign officials about boosting his business empire?

The Presidential Records Act, which requires a sitting president to preserve and ultimately make public all records relating to the performance of their official duties, was passed 42 years ago in response to President Richard Nixon’s attempts to hide the White House tapes that led to his downfall. The law makes presidential records available to the public via the Freedom of Information Act beginning five years after the end of an administration. But it has no real enforcement mechanism and relies on the president’s good faith compliance, said Kel McClanahan, the executive director of the law firm National Security Counselors.

“Out of respect for the institution and the separation of powers, when Congress passed the PRA, they gave the White House the right to decide what constitutes a presidential record,” McClanahan said. “They never envisioned a president who would come in and just start shredding stuff.” There are some guidelines: The National Archives defines presidential records as any documentary materials “created or received” by the president, their immediate staff, or anyone in the Executive Office of the President “whose function is to advise or assist the President” in the course of carrying out official duties. But it is not clear how much has been preserved given Trump’s habit of ripping up documents — the employees once tasked with taping them back together were summarily fired in 2018 — and the White House’s general paranoia about leaks. more...

By Brendan Cole

In a possible preface to his plans to run in another presidential campaign in 2024, President Donald Trump has endorsed the chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) Ronna McDaniel to stay in her post. McDaniel, who Trump had backed in 2017 after she helped deliver him Michigan during the presidential election the previous year, has not yet formally announced plans to seek a third term in the post.

Trump tweeted on Wednesday: "I am pleased to announce that I have given my full support and endorsement to Ronna McDaniel to continue heading the Republican National Committee (RNC). With 72 MILLION votes, we received more votes than any sitting President in U.S. history - and we will win!" A president who loses an election does not normally have a say over who the RNC would pick as its next leader, Reuters reported, but Trump's backing does suggest a future political move on his part. more...

Former president writes in memoir, A Promised Land, ‘my very presence in the White House triggered a deep-seated panic’
Martin Pengelly in New York

Donald Trump “promised an elixir for the racial anxiety” of “millions of Americans spooked by a black man in the White House”, Barack Obama writes in his eagerly awaited memoir. Those Americans, Obama writes, were prey to “the dark spirits that had long been lurking on the edges of the modern Republican party – xenophobia, anti-intellectualism, paranoid conspiracy theories, an antipathy toward black and brown folks”.

In A Promised Land, which comes out on Tuesday, Obama continues: “It was as if my very presence in the White House had triggered a deep-seated panic, a sense that the natural order had been disrupted. Which is exactly what Donald Trump understood when he started peddling assertions that I had not been born in the United States and was thus an illegitimate president.” Penguin Random House reportedly paid the former president and his wife, Michelle Obama, $65m for books about their time in the White House. The former first lady’s memoir, Becoming, came out in 2018 to widespread acclaim.

Excerpts of Obama’s book have run in the press – the remarks above were reported by CNN – and the former president is due to speak to CBS in two interviews on Sunday. The New York Times has also run a lengthy review. The 768-page volume is the first of two, covering Obama’s rise to the US Senate and then the White House as the 44th president, from 2009 to 2017. It has been a struggle to write. more...

By Evan Perez, Pamela Brown, Jamie Gangel and Jeremy Herb, CNN

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump is refusing to concede the 2020 election to President-elect Joe Biden, but once Trump moves to the acceptance stage of his defeat, the urgent business of presidential pardons is likely to surge to the top of his checklist before leaving office. From campaign associates to members of his family -- and even possibly himself -- Trump could use his expansive pardon power to try to settle legal questions on his way out the door.

Current and former Trump administration officials say there's been minimal preparation for an expected onslaught of clemencies, as Trump is still pursuing dubious legal challenges to the election. But his Twitter feed over the past three years offers a working list of where the President might turn to wield his pardon power -- primarily toward those targeted by former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Perhaps the biggest looming pardon question is whether Trump will consider granting himself a pardon, amid state investigations into his business and finances and the prospect of federal investigators scrutinizing him after he leaves office. Trump has been asking aides since 2017 about whether he can self-pardon, former aides tell CNN. One former White House official said Trump asked about self-pardons as well as pardons for his family. Trump even asked if he could issue pardons pre-emptively for things people could be charged with in the future, the former official said.

"Once he learned about it, he was obsessed with the power of pardons," the official said. "I always thought he also liked it because it was a way to do a favor." Trump's pardons, however, would only cover federal crimes, and would not protect him or others from ongoing investigations into the Trump Organization being led by the New York attorney general and the Manhattan district attorney. more...

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump had predicted in almost every campaign rally that the media would stop talking about the coronavirus pandemic the day after the election. But as it turns out, no one is ignoring the worsening tragedy more than the President himself. Instead of taking charge as the country plunges deeper into the worst domestic crisis since World War II, Trump has disappeared inside the White House, saying nothing on camera since he baselessly claimed a week ago that the election was being stolen from him by President-elect Joe Biden.

He's spending time with advisers, not strategizing on how to tame the out-of-control health emergency but seeking a path to win an election already declared lost. He's also found time to purge the top leadership of the Pentagon, and with few appointments on his public schedule appears to spend his days watching news coverage and tweeting misinformation about voter fraud. In essence, Trump, his family and his advisers are spending all their energy desperately trying to save a job -- the presidency -- that he appears to have no intention of doing in any meaningful sense. more...

CNN

Top Donald Trump campaign and White House officials continue to baselessly assert there was widespread election fraud in the 2020 election and refuse to acknowledge President-elect Joe Biden's victory, but four years ago, those close to Trump mocked Democrats who didn't accept his victory as "sore losers." video...

“The notion of being a loser is something that he couldn’t possibly conceive or believe,” said Barbara Res.
By Lee Moran

Barbara Res, a former top executive in the Trump Organization, on Wednesday warned what to expect next from President Donald Trump as he refuses to concede defeat in the 2020 election. Res told MSNBC’s Ari Melber that Trump would “do anything” to overturn the projected win of President-elect Joe Biden. “It’s a matter of wresting this loss, as it were, from the victory of Biden, and he’ll do anything,” she cautioned. “And if all else fails, he will burn down the house.”

Res worked for years as the vice president in charge of construction at the Trump Organization. She noted how her former boss just “can’t deal with losing” and was likely unable to process the loss. “The notion of being a loser is something that he couldn’t possibly conceive or believe so I don’t think he believes that he’s a loser quite yet,” she explained.

Res also suggested Trump would be “so angry” and “in shock” because “all the plans he set up to make sure to guarantee him a win” didn’t work out. The former Trump executive’s comments echoed those of Mary Trump, the president’s niece, who over the weekend predicted her uncle would never concede. “He’s not going to engage in the normal activities that guarantee a peaceful transition. All he’s got now is breaking stuff, and he’s going to do that with a vengeance,” she wrote in an op-ed for The Guardian. more...

The GOP response is "nothing more than a pathetic political performance for an audience of one: President Donald John Trump,” he said.
By Rebecca Shabad

WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced President Donald Trump and Republicans on Thursday for sowing doubt in and refusing to accept the presidential election results. “The election is not in doubt," Schumer said at a joint news conference with Pelosi on Capitol Hill. "This is nothing more than a temper tantrum by Republicans, nothing more than a pathetic political performance for an audience of one: President Donald John Trump.”

Schumer said the results of the 2020 presidential election cannot be compared to the 2000 election, which came down to Florida and a difference of several hundred votes. “Joe Biden's victory in the Electoral College has been secured by several states, where tens of thousands of votes separate the candidates," he said. "Joe Biden leads Wisconsin by 20,000, Pennsylvania ... 50,000, Michigan ... 146,000. That's the facts. Biden's won. Nothing Republicans or Trump can do will change that.” more...

“A wax museum is less cold-blooded than these people are,” Chris Cuomo said of the Republicans whose positions have flipped 180 degrees.
By Lee Moran

The hypocrisy of President Donald Trump’s biggest sycophants was on full display in a supercut that CNN’s Chris Cuomo aired on Wednesday night. The montage features footage of prominent Republicans who mocked Democrats as “crybabies” following Trump’s 2016 election victory over then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. In the video, Kayleigh McEnany, who is now the White House press secretary, says “no one should question” Trump’s win. Fox News’ Sean Hannity calls Democrats “sore losers,” while former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway criticizes them for not accepting the election result, even though Clinton conceded.

Now that Trump is refusing to acknowledge defeat in the 2020 election and making unfounded allegations of mass voter fraud, Cuomo noted how Republicans’ positions on elections have conveniently flipped 180 degrees. “Shame on them,” Cuomo said. “A wax museum is less cold-blooded than these people are.” more...

The CNN anchor pointed out the unfounded claims made by Ivanka, Eric and Donald Trump Jr. in denying President Donald Trump’s election defeat.
By Lee Moran

CNN’s Don Lemon on Wednesday highlighted the misinformation that has been spread by President Donald Trump’s adult children since their father’s election defeat. The “CNN Tonight” host noted Donald Trump Jr. has flooded his Twitter feed with “unhinged and unfounded” claims about election fraud. The social media platform has marked many of his posts as “disputed.”

Eric Trump, meanwhile, was last week busted for sharing a fake video that falsely claimed to show ballots cast for his dad being burned. Lemon slammed Ivanka Trump for sharing this tweet from The Associated Press that called Alaska for her father: more...

Brian Slodysko Associated Press

Washington — As President Donald Trump’s chances of reelection dwindled last week, his campaign began blasting emails and text messages that led to a website raising money for an “election defense fund” to contest the outcome. Like many hallmarks of the Trump presidency, the messages contained all-caps lettering and unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud during the Nov. 3 election. They also mislead supporters about where the money would go.

Trump has promised to contest President-elect Joe Biden’s win in court. But the fine print indicates much of the money donated to support that effort since Election Day has instead paid down campaign debt, replenished the Republican National Committee and, more recently, helped get Save America, a new political action committee Trump founded, off the ground.

The unusual way the Trump campaign is divvying up the contributions has drawn scrutiny from election watchdogs, who say Trump and his family are poised to financially benefit from the arrangement. “This is a slush fund. That’s the bottom line,” said Paul S. Ryan, a longtime campaign finance attorney with the good government group Common Cause. “Trump may just continue to string out this meritless litigation in order to fleece his own supporters of their money and use it in the coming years to pad his own lifestyle while teasing a 2024 candidacy.” more...

By Emily Czachor

Jonathan Goldstein, an attorney representing President Donald Trump's reelection campaign, told a Pennsylvania judge that he was not aware of fraudulent ballot counting procedures in the state's Montgomery County during a Tuesday appearance in court. The Trump campaign filed a lawsuit one day prior aiming to challenge election results against Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and local Election Boards in seven counties, including Montgomery.

The campaign's Montgomery petition claimed that election officials illegitimately counted roughly 600 absentee and mail-in ballots, which it said should have been tossed out due to "deficiencies." However, when a judge presiding on Montgomery County's Court of Common Pleas pressed Goldstein to address whether tabulation procedures affecting those ballots in question constituted fraud, Trump's attorney said they did not. "I am asking you a specific question, and I am looking for a specific answer. Are you claiming that there is any fraud in connection with these 592 undisputed ballots?" a judge asked during Tuesday's hearing, according to the court transcript. more...

By Katelyn Polantz and Kara Scannell, CNN

(CNN) The Trump campaign is moving from state to state to overturn President-elect Joe Biden's win, in a series of increasingly wild legal maneuvers without credible claims that face astronomical odds and carry little precedent. Lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona now are attempting to advance a smattering of accusations and legal theories, some based upon vague and unsupported allegations of fraud or complaints of minor ballot processing access, as a way to prevent state officials from certifying the popular vote results, which currently all favor Biden.

"As the Trump campaign has come forward with its legal arguments, they haven't really produced any facts or legal theory that's stronger than when they started," election lawyer and CNN analyst Rick Hasen said. President Donald Trump's campaign strategy increasingly appears to be to cast enough doubt over vote counts so it can find judges to block states from certifying the choice its voters made, according to elections experts, including longtime Republican lawyer-turned-CNN analyst Ben Ginsberg. The Electoral College doesn't formally select the president until December 14, with a key deadline December 8.

If that worked, in theory, it could then open the path for state legislatures -- especially the Republicans in power in Michigan and Pennsylvania -- to argue they should make their own choice for their Electoral College slate, handing Trump a victory that goes against Biden's win in more than one state. But it couldn't come close to giving Trump the electoral win without lots of help. "I suspect the Trump campaign's pipe dream is to force all these issues that have never before been litigated to the Supreme Court," Ginsbergr said.
Both liberal and conservative legal experts say the theoretical approach Trump appears to be trying is extremely unlikely. Even longtime GOP strategist Karl Rove wrote in The Wall Street Journal Wednesday night that Biden's win wouldn't be overturned. more...

Analysis by Harry Enten, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump's efforts to deny the outcome of the 2020 election cannot change an undeniable reality: Joe Biden won decisively, and his lead nationally and in key states has grown over time as more votes have been counted. President-elect Biden is likely to end up over 5 million votes ahead of Trump in the popular vote when all the counting is done. He'll get about or above 80 million votes -- by far the most of any presidential candidate in history. In the electoral college, Biden looks to be on his way to earning 306 electoral votes. That's about 57% of all the electoral votes available and will be good enough for a 74 electoral vote margin over the sitting President.

And let's be clear, the chance of a recount overturning the results in 2020 is basically nothing. Fairvote has looked at statewide recounts since 2000. The average shift in votes has been a mere 430 votes and 0.02 points. The largest shift in votes was a little less than 2,600 and 0.11 points.  All of Biden's advantages are considerably larger than that right now. In other words, Trump would need multiple recounts to see movement in votes than simply hasn't happened in the last 20 years. Indeed, Trump would need at least one recount to shift the margin by over 0.62 points and 20,000 votes (Biden's current margin in Wisconsin) to win. That's just not possible outside some divine intervention for Trump. The idea Trump is overturning the result in Michigan, where his supporters want a recount and his edge is about 150,000 and a little less than 3 points, is laughable.

The bottom line is Biden won this election and it's not particularly close. Most challengers to incumbent presidents don't win, let alone come in with as clear a victory. Over the last century, just four other challengers beat incumbent presidents. The only three with a bigger win in the electoral college than Biden is forecasted to get were Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, Ronald Reagan in 1980 and Bill Clinton in 1992. more...

The president has become the thing he most despises.
David A. Graham Staff writer at The Atlantic

“We’re going to win so much that you’re going to be sick and tired,” Donald Trump promised in 2016. Over the next four years, the American people did get sick (nearly 10 million of them so far from COVID-19), and they did get tired, and in the end they decided they’d had enough.

In doing so, they exposed Trump, whose entire career and public persona have been built on an image of constantly winning, as a loser. With Pennsylvania having completed its blue shift into Joe Biden’s column, the election is effectively over, and the president has been defeated. The exact contours of the loss aren’t clear yet, but the ultimate outcome is.

Trump has not admitted it, and probably won’t. There’s no reason to expect a grudging concession from him, much less a gracious one; perhaps the most interesting question is whether he’ll bother to show up for Biden’s inauguration, and how he’ll behave if he does. On Thursday, before Pennsylvania flipped blue, Trump spoke for the first time since early Wednesday morning, delivering an unhinged and baseless statement insisting that the election was being stolen from him. (Many of the TV networks, which are very slowly getting wise to his tricks, quickly cut in or made it clear that the statement was nonsense.) As Biden took the lead in Pennsylvania on Friday, the Trump campaign’s general counsel insisted that the race was still on. more...

Adrian Chiles

We are brought up to admire athletes for refusing to throw in the towel, but events in the White House are putting that mindset to the test. We all know a bad loser when we see one and we all know what a tantrum looks like. So there has been something wearily familiar about Trump the grump’s carry-on in the White House. If you have watched a football match or dealt with kids, or indeed adults, you’ll have come across his type before.

Except I am not sure we have. When you think about it, his kind of behaviour is actually rather rare. Then again, normalising the abnormal and hitherto unacceptable would appear to be the president’s special gift. I have seen many a tantrum in my time; I’m afraid I have had a few myself. But this is of a different order. It’s one thing to spit the dummy, throw the toys out and make a noise; it’s quite another to keep up the performance without calming down, sulking for a bit and then muttering a few apologies before moving on. I must admit I have upended a Monopoly board and, in the field of sporting endeavour, I once literally took my bat home. Not that it mattered; the others had bats of their own so they carried on without me. What a loser.

Sportspeople, especially footballers, are generally thought to be poor role models. Setting aside how they spend their private lives, on the pitch they contest every refereeing decision, feign injuries, cause injuries and generally cheat. But they know how to accept defeat. A match can be as hotly contested and ill-tempered as you like, yet, once the final whistle is blown, you rarely see anything but handshakes, hugs and the odd smile. When I was a kid watching West Brom play fierce local derbies against Aston Villa and Wolves on boggy 70s pitches, I remember being gobsmacked in grudging admiration at the sight of all the bonhomie as they trudged off at the end. I assumed this is what it meant to be an adult. For my part, I fantasised about harming every member of the opposition. Usually these homicidal urges passed within hours or sometimes days. I’ve grown up now and get these feelings only occasionally. more...

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump's administration is taking on the characteristics of a tottering regime -- with its loyalty tests, destabilizing attacks on the military chain of command, a deepening bunker mentality and increasingly delusional claims of political victory. In response, a visibly confident President-elect Joe Biden is going out of his way to project calm amid the deepening chaos, even as Trump and senior Republicans still refuse to acknowledge the President's defeat in a stunning break with America's democratic traditions.

Biden is taking calls with leaders of the country's top allies and appearing on camera, which reflects the inevitability of his ascent to power. Meanwhile the President is staying behind closed doors, tweeting in wild block capital letters and unleashing a purge of the Pentagon's civilian leadership in what one current defense official called "dictator moves." And William Cohen, former Secretary of Defense and Republican senator, told CNN's Don Lemon the administration's conduct is "more akin to a dictatorship than a democracy." The President-elect is reassuring the American people with a composure granted by an election win that Trump's threadbare legal cases baselessly alleging massive voter fraud have little chance of overturning the will of the voters. more...

By Jeremy Herb, Zachary Cohen and Vivian Salama, CNN

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump and his allies in the administration are dislodging officials across the government and burrowing loyalists into agencies in a way that could make them difficult for President-elect Joe Biden to remove next year. The moves following Trump's loss to Biden, which the President has thus far refused to accept, appear to be an effort to shape the government to Trump's liking on his way out the door, while also impeding Biden's transition to power. Biden's transition has yet to officially start because the Government Services Administration, the obscure agency that runs the transition process, has not formally accepted Biden as the winner.

Since the election, more than a half-dozen senior officials across the government have either been fired, demoted or resigned. The biggest name so far has been former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who Trump fired by tweet on Monday. A day later, the Pentagon's top policy official, James Anderson, resigned and was replaced in an acting capacity by controversial retired Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, whose confirmation was jettisoned amid bipartisan opposition earlier this year. The Pentagon's Undersecretary for Intelligence Joseph Kernan also resigned Tuesday, along with Esper's chief of staff, Jen Stewart. One defense official said of the moves, "This is scary. It's very unsettling." "These are dictator moves," the official said. more...

The directive is a new example of Trump aides acting as if he won the election and won’t leave office on Jan. 20
By Jeff Stein, Erica Werner and Josh Dawsey

The White House budget office has instructed federal agencies to continue preparing the Trump administration’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year, according to multiple administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of private conversations. The White House budget proposal is typically issued in February, which would be at least two weeks after President Trump is scheduled to depart the White House. He lost the Nov. 3 election to former vice president Joe Biden, who is set to be sworn in on Jan. 20, though Trump has refused to accept the results.

The decision to proceed with Trump’s budget for the 2022 fiscal year has rankled and surprised several career staffers given Biden’s victory, as well as the fact that the incoming Biden administration is expected to submit its budget plan to Congress early next year. The insistence on budget planning, even though Trump won’t be in office to offer a budget in February, is part of a recent pattern of behavior from White House officials and senior political appointees who have sought to reject the election results.

On Monday, the Trump White House also instructed senior government officials to not cooperate with Biden’s transition team, igniting a potential legal battle. Asked if the fiscal 2022 budget process was proceeding as planned, a spokesperson for the White House budget office said, “Of course.” Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought is widely viewed by administration officials as hostile to a transition, one White House official said. Vought, a former official at the conservative Heritage Foundation, has cemented his reputation as one of the cabinet officials most loyal to Trump since largely taking over the budget office in 2018. more...

MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is brushing aside results of last week’s presidential election showing that President Donald Trump lost his bid for a second term. Pompeo told reporters with a grin on Tuesday that the “transition” to a second Trump term would be “smooth,” but later said the State Department would be prepared no matter who is president on Inauguration Day.

Tongue-in-cheek or not, Pompeo's remarks implying that Trump might yet be reelected were striking, coming at a tense moment for the nation as Trump refuses to concede to President-elect Joe Biden. Pompeo, America's top diplomat and fourth-in-line for the presidency, spoke even as world leaders have been congratulating the former vice president. Pompeo, one of Trump’s most loyal Cabinet members, also dismissed as “ridiculous” the suggestion that Trump’s evidence-free claims of fraud could hurt America’s credibility when weighing in on foreign elections.

Pompeo's comments about the transition came in response to a question about whether the State Department was prepared to engage with the Biden team. “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” Pompeo said with a chuckle, before shifting to a more serious tone. “We’re ready. The world is watching what’s taking place here. We’re going to count all the votes. When the process is complete, there will electors selected. There’s a process, the Constitution lays it out pretty clearly.” more...

By Eric Bradner and Tami Luhby, CNN

(CNN) President-elect Joe Biden lambasted the Trump administration's argument in the Supreme Court on Tuesday that the Affordable Care Act should be struck down, calling it "simply cruel and needlessly divisive" and saying that doing so would leave 20 million Americans' health coverage "ripped away in the middle of the nation's worst pandemic in a century."

"Let's be absolutely clear about what's at stake: The consequences of the Trump administration's argument are not academic or an abstraction. For many Americans, they are a matter of life and death, in a literal sense," Biden said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware. "This isn't hyperbole. It's real -- as real as it gets," he said. The speech comes the day Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments in a case that seeks to invalidate the landmark health reform law. They will likely take initial votes at their private Friday conference and begin the process of writing opinions, though a decision isn't expected until the first half of 2021.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said the case is "a blatant attempt to overturn the will of the people," pointing out that Biden campaigned on protecting Obamacare and won the most popular votes in the history of the United States. more...

The departure of James Anderson, acting undersecretary of defense for policy, paved the way for Anthony Tata to take over the policy shop.
By LARA SELIGMAN and DANIEL LIPPMAN

Anthony Tata, a retired brigadier general whose nomination for a top Pentagon job collapsed this summer due to Islamophobic tweets and other controversial statements, began overseeing policy for the Defense Department on Tuesday. The move is part of a high-level civilian leadership shakeup that began on Monday when President Donald Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper and continued on Tuesday with the departure of the Pentagon's acting policy chief and the installation of a Trump loyalist as the new acting defense secretary's chief of staff.

A defense official confirmed that Tata, who had been performing the duties as the No. 2 for policy, is now running the organization following the Tuesday resignation of acting policy chief James Anderson, first reported by POLITICO. Anderson was confirmed in June as the No. 2 policy official but had been acting in the top job. He had been expected to be asked by the White House to resign in the next few days.

“I am particularly grateful to have been entrusted with leading the dedicated men and women of Policy, who play a key role in our Nation’s security,” Anderson wrote in his letter of resignation. “Now, as ever, our long-term success depends on adhering to the U.S. Constitution all public servants swear to support and defend.” Anderson stepped down after repeated disagreements with the White House personnel office, according to current defense officials and one former defense official, who predicted that Anderson will be the first of several departures in the wake of Esper’s firing. more...

By Jenny Jarvie, Seema Mehta

Georgia’s too-close-to-call presidential contest devolved into a fight Monday among Republicans as the state’s top election official rejected calls from its two U.S. senators that he resign for challenging President Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. Monday morning, Gabriel Sterling, a lifelong Republican who manages Georgia’s voting system, took to a lectern at the Capitol to plainly and matter-of-factly dismiss criticism of election illegalities in the Southern battleground state as “fake news” and “disinformation.”

“Hoaxes and nonsense,” Sterling said. “Don’t buy into these things. Find trusted sources.” Hours later, GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler — who are each in a Jan. 5 run-off that will determine control of the chamber — called on Sterling’s boss, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, to resign for allegedly mismanaging the state’s elections. more...

Housing secretary Ben Carson and chief of staff Mark Meadows, who both attended event, have tested positive for virus
Guardian staff and agencies

It was supposed to be a scene of celebration. Instead, the Trump campaign’s election night watch party held in the White House East Room – with few masks and no social distancing – is being eyed as a potential coronavirus super-spreading event and yet another symbol of Donald Trump’s cavalier attitude toward a virus that is infecting more than 100,000 Americans a day.

Ben Carson, the secretary for housing and urban development, is the latest attendee to test positive, a department spokesman confirmed. The event has been under scrutiny since another attendee, the president’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, contracted the virus, which has now killed more than 237,000 people in the US alone.

Carson’s deputy chief of staff, Coalter Baker, said the secretary “is in good spirits” and “feels fortunate to have access to effective therapeutics which aid and markedly speed his recovery”. The latest White House cluster comes just a month after Trump’s own diagnosis and hospitalization, and two weeks after several aides to the vice-president, Mike Pence, including his chief of staff, tested positive for the virus. And it is not the first potential super-spreader event to take place at the White House – a crowded Rose Garden ceremony, at which Trump announced the supreme court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, also came under scrutiny in October after at least seven attendees tested positive. more...

Attorney general has authorised prosecutors to look into ‘substantial allegations’ of voter fraud, despite a lack of evidence. Plus, Trump sacks defense secretary
Molly Blackall

Good morning. The attorney general, William Barr, has authorised federal prosecutors to investigate “substantial allegations” of voter irregularities in the election, despite a total lack of evidence. Trump supporters reacted to the news with joy, while lawyers and election officials expressed skepticism. The justice department official overseeing voter fraud investigations resigned a few hours later.

The news came after Donald Trump’s campaign team insisted he had no intention of conceding the election, with one senior campaign adviser saying “the word is not even in our vocabulary right now”. But even Fox News isn’t buying it. The famously Trump-supporting news outlet cut away from a White House press briefing that repeatedly peddled the Trump campaign’s accusation that “illegal votes” were being counted. more...

Michael Kuperberg had worked as executive director of the U.S. Global Change Research Program.
By ZACK COLMAN and ALEX GUILLÉN

The White House has removed the head of the program that produces the federal government's most definitive scientific report on climate change, according to three sources with knowledge of the move.

Michael Kuperberg had worked as executive director of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which produces the National Climate Assessment. The move comes just days after the White House tapped Betsy Weatherhead to lead the sweeping climate study. Weatherhead joined the U.S. Geological Survey after working at climate analytics firm Jupiter Intelligence.

POLITICO received an automatic reply from Kuperberg's USGCRP email address that indicated his detail there ended Nov. 6 and that he was heading back to the Energy Department.

Context: Kuperberg’s reassignment is the latest in a string of high-level personnel moves to remove officials deemed insufficiently loyal to President Donald Trump after his reelection loss. Earlier on Monday, Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper. On Friday, Neil Chatterjee was removed as FERC chair on Friday after advocating for opening up markets to renewable sources and exploring carbon pricing. more...

By Justine Coleman

Former Republican Vice President Dan Quayle said on Monday that it is time for President Trump to “move on” and accept defeat days after President-elect Joe Biden was projected the winner of 2020 presidential election. Quayle, who served as vice president under George H. W. Bush, is the only surviving member of the last presidential ticket in which the incumbent was defeated in their reelection campaign. He and the senior Bush lost to former President Clinton in 1992.

“You know, it’s tough in defeat,” he said, according to The New York Times.  “Unfortunately, we were the last incumbent president to lose, and it’s not easy,” he said. “But we’ve had enough time to look at what’s going on, there have been a lot of allegations they continue to investigate, but from my viewpoint, I don’t think there’s any systemic fraud.”

“It’s time to move on, and therefore I hope that there’s some sort of announcement from the White House sooner rather than later,” he continued. Quayle is among the few current and former Republican leaders who have acknowledged Biden’s electoral win. more...

By Evan Perez, CNN Justice Correspondent

(CNN) The Justice Department's top election crimes prosecutor resigned Monday in protest after Attorney General William Barr told federal prosecutors that they should examine allegations of voting irregularities before states move to certify results in the coming weeks. Richard Pilger, director of the elections crimes branch in the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section, told colleagues in an email that the attorney general was issuing "an important new policy abrogating the forty-year-old Non-Interference Policy for ballot fraud investigations in the period prior to elections becoming certified and uncontested." Pilger also forwarded the memo to colleagues in his resignation letter.

Pilger resignation email didn't make clear whether he plans to stay in the department in another capacity. Barr's densely worded memo had told prosecutors they could take investigative steps such as interviewing witnesses during a period that they would normally need permission from the elections crimes section. It's not clear what practical effect the policy would have in an election in which President Donald Trump trails President-elect Joe Biden by tens of thousands of votes in several key states. more...

Trump has continued to push false and unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud after Joe Biden was projected as the winner of the presidential election.
Stephanie K. Baer BuzzFeed News Reporter

As President Donald Trump continues spreading lies about the election result, his campaign spokesperson posted a fake front page on Twitter on Sunday suggesting that news outlets incorrectly named former vice president Al Gore the winner of the 2000 presidential election. In the tweet, which has since been deleted, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh shared photos of a fabricated Washington Times' newspaper front page with the headline "President Gore." more...

By Cristina Marcos

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday blasted President Trump for firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper just two days after Joe Biden was projected as the winner of the presidential election. “The abrupt firing of Secretary Esper is disturbing evidence that President Trump is intent on using his final days in office to sow chaos in our American Democracy and around the world," Pelosi said in a statement.

"Continuity and stability are always important during a presidential transition; they are absolutely imperative at this moment, as this historically erratic Administration prepares for its departure," she added. Trump announced via tweet that he had fired Esper and would replace him with Christopher Miller, who has been serving as director of the National Counterterrorism Center, as acting secretary of Defense. more...

Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, slammed Democrats for expecting the president to quickly concede and said he had every right to pursue legal challenges.
By Nicholas Fandos and Emily Cochrane

Leading Republicans rallied on Monday around President Trump’s refusal to concede the election, declining to challenge the false narrative that it was stolen from him or to recognize President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory even as party divisions burst into public view.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the top Republican in Congress, threw his support behind Mr. Trump in a sharply worded speech on the Senate floor. He declared that Mr. Trump was “100 percent within his rights” to turn to the legal system to challenge the outcome and hammered Democrats for expecting the president to concede.

In his first public remarks since Mr. Biden was declared the winner, Mr. McConnell celebrated the success of Republicans who won election to the House and the Senate. But in the next breath, he treated the outcome of the presidential election — based on the same ballots that elected those Republicans — as unknown. more...

CBS This Morning

CBS News contributor and election law expert David Becker joins "CBS This Morning" to analyze the president's legal strategy and if there is validity to the claims in several key states as Joe Biden hits 270 electoral votes and is projected to win the presidential election. video...

Officials worry that Trump might fire FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director Gina Haspel next.
By Ken Dilanian

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's decision to abruptly fire his defense secretary underscores the national security concerns posed by what is shaping up to be the most volatile and uncertain presidential transition in modern American history, former officials and experts say. The firing of Mark Esper is raising fears that Trump will fire other key national security officials over the next 10 weeks and use his enormous power in the military and intelligence realm to act rashly before he leaves office.

Speculation is rampant inside and outside the government about whether Trump will also remove FBI Director Christopher Wray or CIA Director Gina Haspel, two experienced security hands who have displeased Trump by resisting some of his demands. Even under the best of circumstances, a presidential transition "is a period when we aren't necessarily firing on all cylinders in terms of the people and processes that manage national security issues for the nation, which creates that sense of heightened vulnerability," Nick Rasmussen, a former head of the National Counterterrorism Center, told NBC News. more...

Kristine Phillips USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Attorney General William Barr has authorized U.S. attorneys to pursue "substantial allegations" of voting irregularities during the 2020 elections, contradicting longstanding Justice Department practice of not taking steps that could impact the results of an election. "Such inquiries and reviews may be conducted if there are clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State," Barr said in a memo to federal prosecutors Monday.

Though President Donald Trump and his campaign have repeatedly claimed there has been fraud, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud. In fact, election officials from both political parties have publicly stated the election went well, though there having been minor issues that are typical in elections, including voting machines breaking and ballots that were miscast and lost. Barr noted in his memo that the Justice Department has not concluded that "voting irregularities have impacted the outcome of any election." more...


The Ring of Fire

The only reason that Donald Trump was not prosecuted for obstruction of justice by Robert Mueller is because Mueller relied on the outdated code that the DOJ wouldn't prosecute a sitting president. But what happens when Trump isn't president anymore? That's the kind of question that is giving Donald Trump, Junior cause for concern, as a new profile on the President's son reveals that he fears his family will be prosecuted if dad loses the election. video...

The Ring of Fire

On MSNBC this past weekend, New York Attorney General Letitia James had some terrifying words for Donald Trump. She reminded him that once this election is over, and especially if he loses, she's coming for him and there's nothing he can do to stop it. Trump has managed to delay investigations from all sorts of entities because he is President, but if he loses today, those protections disappear. video...

Holly Ellyatt

LONDON — With President Donald Trump falsely claiming victory in the 2020 election, warning of legal action despite millions of votes still uncounted, a top German official has warned of an “explosive situation” and a potential constitutional crisis in the U.S.

“This is a very explosive situation. This is a situation that can lead to a constitutional crisis in the U.S., as experts are rightly saying. And it is something that must cause us great concern,” German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told German television channel ZDF early Wednesday, according to a Reuters translation.

The comments by Kramp-Karrenbauer, who at one stage was largely seen as a successor to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, came after Trump had taken to Twitter to accuse the opposition of trying to “steal” the election. Twitter attached a label over the tweet, warning that some or all of the content is disputed and might be misleading. more...



The Ring of Fire

Donald Trump has been screaming about "stopping the count" for several days now, which is ironic because that would have guaranteed a Biden victory. According to reports, his aides actually had to go and explain this simple fact to the President, but it doesn't appear to have changed the President's talking points very much. Ring of Fire's Farron Cousins explains what's happening. video...

Dan Mangan

David Bossie, who just days ago was tapped to handle President Donald Trump’s effort to challenge the results of the presidential election, has tested positive for the coronavirus, NBC News reported Monday. As a result, Bossie is no longer part of the decision-making process of that challenge effort, a source told NBC News.

Bossie’s diagnosis came to light hours after news broke that Trump Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson was positive with Covid-19, and days after White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was revealed to be positive with the virus. Two sources who spoke to NBC News said Bossie tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday. One source said, “Because he can’t be at the campaign headquarters and he can’t be in the Oval Office [due to his diagnosis] Dave’s no longer a part of the decision-making process.” more...

“The media doesn’t select the President,” a since-deleted tweet said, accompanied by the image of an altered Washington Times front page showing Al Gore won in 2000.
By NOLAN D. MCCASKILL

President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign plastered images of a doctored newspaper inside its headquarters to illustrate its view of where the 2020 election stands. “Greeting staff at @TeamTrump HQ this morning, a reminder that the media doesn’t select the President,” Tim Murtaugh, the campaign’s communications director, wrote in a now-deleted tweet.

The post included an image of a doctored Washington Times front page from Nov. 8, 2000, declaring Al Gore the winner over George W. Bush after “Florida pushes Gore over the top with bare majority,” as the text below the headline reads. A second image showed copies of the fake newspaper page taped across the kitchen area of the campaign’s office in Arlington, Va.

Bush won the 2000 election against Al Gore after a recount in Florida, and The Washington Times said Sunday that it never ran a “President Gore” headline. The newspaper replied directly to Murtaugh’s post on Sunday afternoon, tagging him and the @TeamTrump account and notifying them: “Those photos have been doctored.” “We also wish to add that Mr. Murtaugh has been officially notified via email about this error,” The Washington Times added in a subsequent reply. more...

By JILL COLVIN

WASHINGTON (AP) — It was supposed to be a scene of celebration. Instead, the Trump campaign’s election night watch party in the White House East Room — with few masks and no social distancing — is being eyed as a potential coronavirus super-spreading event and yet another symbol of President Donald Trump’s cavalier attitude toward a virus that is ripping across the nation and infecting more than 100,000 people a day.

Ben Carson, the secretary for Housing and Urban Development, is the latest attendee to test positive, a department spokesman confirmed. The event has been under scrutiny since another attendee, the president’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, contracted the virus, which has now killed more than 237,000 people in the U.S. alone.

Carson’s deputy chief of staff Coalter Baker said the secretary “is in good spirits” and “feels fortunate to have access to effective therapeutics which aid and markedly speed his recovery.”

The White House has repeatedly refused to say who else has tested positive, even as the virus continues to spread. The latest White House cluster, coming just a month after Trump’s own diagnosis and hospitalization, includes a top Trump campaign official as well as a handful of undisclosed White House staff, officials said. more...

Amanda Macias

WASHINGTON — In a pair of tweets Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump said he terminated his Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. “I am pleased to announce that Christopher C. Miller, the highly respected Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (unanimously confirmed by the Senate), will be Acting Secretary of Defense, effective immediately,” Trump wrote. A Defense Department spokesperson declined to comment and referred CNBC to the White House.

The latest revelation comes as Trump refuses to accept the results of the presidential election and on the heels of an NBC News report that Esper had prepped his resignation letter, bracing for an inevitable termination from the Trump administration. Miller, a career military official, had been sworn in as the director of the National Counterterrorism Center in August. Before that, he had served as a policy official at the National Security Council. more...

By Press Association and Lauren Edmonds and Frances Mulraney

President Donald Trump has been roundly mocked after his campaign held a press conference at a local garden center in Pennsylvania after earlier appearing to claim it would be held at a luxury hotel. In a since-deleted tweet, Trump had said there would be a 'big press conference' at the 'Four Seasons' on Saturday morning.  

However, this was soon corrected, with the hotel itself tweeting: 'To clarify, President Trump's press conference will NOT be held at Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia. 'It will be held at Four Seasons Total Landscaping — no relation with the hotel.' Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is situated next to Delaware Valley Cremation Center and Fantasy Island Adult Books, where owners host 'Dildo Madness' sales throughout the year. more...

A years-old tweet resurfaced in 2020 as the Trump campaign called for a recount in Wisconsin.
Bethania Palma

In 2012 Donald Trump tweeted, "We don’t want to have a recount in any of the battleground states. Obama will steal it." On Nov. 4, 2020, as votes were still being counted in the U.S. presidential election, the campaign for incumbent U.S. President Donald Trump said it would request a recount of ballots in Wisconsin after the state was called for Trump’s opponent, Democrat Joe Biden.

In 2016, Wisconsin flipped in favor of Trump, but in 2020, the state flipped back to the Democrats and went to Biden by an estimated 20,000-ballot margin.

Citing the Twitter meme known as “there’s always a tweet,” meaning that at some point in his history of tweets, Trump has made a statement contradicting his current position on an issue, author Molly Jong Fast dug one up from 2012. Dated Nov. 3, 2012, Trump, then a private citizen, aired his opinion that no recounts of ballots in battleground states should be done because then-President Barack Obama would “steal” the election: more...

AFP

Most Cubans don't know Joe Biden, or what policies he will pursue toward the Communist island, but they are crystal clear on one thing: any US president will be better than Donald Trump. In the presidential election, Trump owed his big win in the US state of Florida in large part to his strident denunciation of leftist governments in Latin America, which resonated loudly and clearly with conservative Cuban-Americans in Miami who loathe the communist government in Havana.

But for people living in Cuba, which has been under Communist leadership for six decades, Trump's accusations of Biden's leftist leanings make them smile disbelievingly. "I'm not the type to trust an American president, but given the situation, I prefer the other one over Trump," Pablo Zalvidar, a 57-year-old parking attendant, told AFP.

After a historic rapprochement at the end of 2014 and the policy of openness led by Barack Obama, Trump's arrival in the White House was like a cold shower for Cuba. His reelection would have been "a disaster or an apocalyptic threat" for Cuba, said political expert Jorge Gomez Barata.

In four years, Trump's administration enacted 130 measures to reinforce the US embargo on Cuba, many of which affected the population and the fledgling private sector: restricting on sending money to family in Cuba, suspending US cruises and most direct flights from the US, closing the US consulate in Havana... more...

Non-cooperation could slow Joe Biden’s ability to act on coronavirus and reinstatement of environmental regulations
Tom McCarthy

Donald Trump’s refusal to acknowledge his loss in the 2020 election has fed concerns that the presidential transition would be sabotaged, as a Trump appointee refused to sign off on funding for the transition and the Trump campaign announced an expanded legal strategy in a quest to reverse the election result. The Center for Presidential Transition, a nonpartisan advisory board, urged the Trump administration on Sunday to begin the handoff to staff supporting Joe Biden, whose victory continued to grow in magnitude as states completed their ballot counts.

“We urge the Trump administration to immediately begin the post-election transition process and the Biden team to take full advantage of the resources available under the presidential transition act,” the transition center said in a letter Sunday. “This was a hard-fought campaign, but history is replete with examples of presidents who emerged from such campaigns to graciously assist their successors.”

Neither Trump nor his campaign nor political appointees has the power to stop the transition, and there was no sign that the basic steps toward Biden’s installation as president were at risk of interruption. But non-cooperation by the Trump administration in the transition could slow the ability of some agencies to act on directives by Biden in essential areas such as pandemic response and the reinstatement of environmental regulations, protections for migrants and international accords. more...

*** Donald J. Trump is a sore loser. ***

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) Even with President Donald Trump still refusing to concede the election, President-elect Joe Biden will launch an aggressive plan on Monday to control the pandemic that is escalating at an alarming rate and will define his administration as soon as he takes office.
Biden's announcement of a coronavirus task force is an acknowledgment of record new infection numbers in recent days that mean that the Covid-19 crisis will be far worse by the time he reaches the Oval Office in January. The initiative is a forceful statement of intent and makes clear that Biden will use an active transition period to mobilize against the staggering health and economic challenges he will face. And it indicates that he is already moving ahead with the business of assuming power after celebrating the achievement of his three-decades long quest for the presidency on Saturday.

His steps to set the tone of his administration come despite the unprecedented spectacle of a President who has lost the election declining to accept reality. Sources tell CNN that Trump campaign aides are considering their own aggressive strategy -- not to finally tackle the virus that has killed more than 237,000 Americans -- but for the President to possibly hold rallies to bolster his false claims that his second term has been stolen. Trump shows no sign of responding to the worsening Covid-19 situation, which brought more than 100,000 new infections for five days in a row while Americans were fixated on the prolonged vote count from the election. Saturday, the day the election was called for Biden, saw the highest daily infection total so far with new 126,742 new cases. more...

*** Donald J. Trump is a sore loser. ***

Trump and Acosta have a history of clashes
Stuti Mishra

Donald Trump was asked if he is a “sore loser” on Thursday night after the president’s 17-minute rant about being “cheated” out of an election victory – by a reporter who has been involved in multiple spats with Mr Trump in the past. CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta directed the question at Mr Trump’s turned back, after the president walked off without taking any follow-ups from the assembled media. Acosta twice called out, “Are you being a sore loser?” before Mr Trump disappeared down a corridor.

In the briefing, announced at short notice, the president claimed the election had been “rigged” against him, again raising doubts over the mail-in ballots which are contributing to delays with the results. Mr Trump and Mr Biden remain neck-and-neck, though the Democrat has said he believes he is winning. Claiming that there was “no blue wave”, Mr Trump said: “We won by historic numbers. And the pollsters got it knowingly wrong, they got it knowingly wrong. We had polls that were so ridiculous and everybody knew it at the time. There was no blue wave that they predicted.” more...

By Andy Sullivan, Andrea Shalal and Trevor Hunnicutt, Reuters

WASHINGTON/WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) - President-elect Joe Biden will convene a coronavirus task force on Monday to examine the No. 1 problem confronting him when he takes office in January, while President Donald Trump pursues several long-shot gambits to hold on to his job. Biden is due to meet with an advisory board led by former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler to examine how best to tame a pandemic that has killed https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps more than 237,000 Americans.

The Democratic former vice president will then give remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, about his plans for tackling COVID-19 and rebuilding the economy. He spent much of the campaign criticizing Trump's handling of the crises and has vowed to listen to scientists to guide his own approach. Trump has frequently clashed with top health officials over the pandemic. Vice President Mike Pence is due to meet with the White House coronavirus task force on Monday for the first time since Oct. 20. Biden clinched the presidency on Saturday, four days after the Nov. 3 election, clearing the threshold of 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House. He beat Trump by more than 4 million votes nationwide, making Trump the first president to lose re-election since 1992. more...

By Lisa Rein, Jonathan O'Connell and Josh Dawsey

A Trump administration appointee is refusing to sign a letter allowing President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team to formally begin its work this week, in another sign the incumbent president has not acknowledged Biden’s victory and could disrupt the transfer of power.

The administrator of the General Services Administration, the low-profile agency in charge of federal buildings, has a little-known role when a new president is elected: to sign paperwork officially turning over millions of dollars, as well as give access to government officials, office space in agencies and equipment authorized for the taxpayer-funded transition teams of the winner.

It amounts to a formal declaration by the federal government, outside of the media, of the winner of the presidential race.

But by Sunday evening, almost 36 hours after media outlets projected Biden as the winner, GSA Administrator Emily Murphy had written no such letter. And the Trump administration, in keeping with the president’s failure to concede the election, has no immediate plans to sign one. This could lead to the first transition delay in modern history, except in 2000, when the Supreme Court decided a recount dispute between Al Gore and George W. Bush in December.more...

By Pamela Brown and Sarah Westwood, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump's campaign is planning a messaging blitz to fuel its argument -- unsupported by any evidence to date -- that the President's second term is being stolen from him through corrupt vote counts in battleground states, three sources familiar with the matter told CNN.

One of the ways it plans to do that is presenting obituaries of people the campaign will claim voted in the election and considering having campaign-style rallies to amplify the message, according to two of the sources. So far, the litigation put forward by the campaign has not included any proof to support allegations of widespread fraud. And nothing campaign officials have put forward would change the outcome in any state.

But the President is being urged by his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, attorney Rudy Giuliani and campaign adviser Jason Miller to hold rallies throughout the US pushing for recounts of votes, sources close to Trump told Jake Tapper. Kushner did not offer a comment on this story. Miller denied the story in a tweet. CNN has reached out to Giuliani for comment.

CNN reported earlier Saturday that Kushner had approached Trump about conceding the election, two sources told CNN. But his position grew murkier as the day went on as it emerged he was also trying to placate Trump by suggesting rallies.
The goal of the messaging blitz is to raise enough doubt about the results that secretaries of state in battlegrounds feel pressure to open investigations or call on their own for recounts -- something that would prolong the process and potentially give the campaign more time to advance its litigation through the courts. more...

We're in for a parade of horrors during Trump's remaining time in power. Change is coming, but along the way, fasten seatbelts for severe turbulence.
Norman Ornstein - Opinion contributor

Our long national nightmare, the Trump presidency, is finally nearing an end. But the brutal reality is this: Get ready for another national nightmare now that Joe Biden is the president-elect.  

In some ways, that nightmare was heralded by the reckless, inflammatory, irresponsible and unconscionable circus President Donald Trump put on Thursday night from the White House — declaring that his opponents were "trying to steal an election" and "trying to rig an election." Most networks cut away when Trump started to lie, but the stain still lingers, especially because he has said that he will not concede and accused Biden of "rushing to falsely pose as the winner."

It appears that Biden’s margin of electoral victory will make those despicable suggestions moot. So America can soon feel a sense of relief that we have a clear outcome, and gratitude to all the election workers and officials who kept the election itself on course with very few glitches and no signs of chicanery. What then? The next nightmare, the transition.

Loser keeps power for months
America is unique among established democracies in many ways, among them the extraordinary length of time from an election to the actual transfer of power. Parliamentary systems that have a change in administration make the change overnight. We take 2 1/2 months. That period leaves the losing president in charge, with all his powers, while the winning president-elect prepares to take office. more...

By Justine Coleman

President Trump’s administration is readying new sanctions against Iran as the clock runs out before President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated, Axios reported Sunday. Trump officials are working with Israel to institute a series of sanctions on Iran, 10 weeks ahead of Inauguration Day, two Israeli sources briefed on the effort told Axios.

Elliott Abrams, the administration’s envoy for Iran, went to Israel on Sunday and discussed the planned sanctions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat. Abrams is also scheduled to meet Minister of Defense Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.

The Israeli sources told Axios the president’s administration aims to establish the “flood” of sanctions to boost pressure on Iran ahead of a transfer in power to Biden, who has previously said he wants to return the U.S. to the 2015 nuclear deal. Officials hope these sanctions make it more difficult to return to the agreement that Trump backed out of in 2018. more...

A woman told the hotline she had gone down to Georgia and "I was in line to vote and ... this guy challenged me to a fiddle competition."
By Kalhan Rosenblatt

Once again, TikTok users are trying to troll President Donald Trump, this time by calling into a hotline for voter fraud started by his campaign and making false, and often silly, reports to clog the lines. Even before the ballot counting began, Trump had made false claims about voter fraud. The claims have led to accusations of vote-rigging, protests at counting centers and false declarations of victory from Trump.

The campaign set up a voter fraud hotline for people to report any shady goings-on they noticed at their voting stations. "Help stop voter suppression, irregularities and fraud," read a post on Twitter promoting the hotline from Trump's son Eric Trump. "Tell us what you're seeing." But TikTokers saw the hotline as an opportunity to mess with the campaign. more...

Katie Dowd, SFGATE

President Donald Trump's campaign team set up a hotline for people to report voter fraud. Instead of providing the president with legal ammunition to challenge Joe Biden's victory, the hotline has been "bombarded" with people making fun of the incumbent, ABC News reports.

According to ABC News, the hotline "has turned into a nightmare": Campaign staffers are on the receiving end of elated prank callers "laughing or mocking them ... before hanging up." It's even become a TikTok trend, with users posting video of their calls to the fraud hotline promoted by Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani instructed supporters on Twitter to call the hotline or submit a form to "tell us what you are seeing." ABC News reports the hotline goes to campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

Despite Trump's insistence that widespread voter fraud robbed him of the 2020 election, there is no evidence to support such a colossal claim. With Trump so far refusing to concede, reports have emerged Sunday that close aides and some family members have begun to urge him to do so. more...

By Eric Bradner, CNN

(CNN) Former President George W. Bush congratulated President-elect Joe Biden in a phone call Sunday and said that, while President Donald Trump has the right to pursue legal challenges and recounts, the 2020 race was "fundamentally fair" and "its outcome is clear." The gesture by Bush, the only living former Republican president, was a break from his party's outgoing president, Trump, who has so far refused to concede the race.

In the statement, Bush said he had called Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Sunday. "Though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man, who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country," Bush said. "The President-elect reiterated that while he ran as a Democrat, he will govern for all Americans. I offered him the same thing I offered Presidents Trump and Obama: my prayers for his success, and my pledge to help in any way I can." more...

The president is said to be not only worried about “existing investigations” but new federal probes into matters we don’t even know about yet.
By Bess Levin

In September 2019, Donald Trump’s lawyers debuted a bold new legal argument. Attempting to quash a subpoena from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, which had requested eight years of tax returns to determine if the Trump Organization has falsified business records relating to payouts made to a porn star and a Playboy model, the president’s attorneys insisted that such a request was unconstitutional because the founding fathers believed sitting presidents should not be subject to the criminal process, which would “distract the president” from his duties. Pressed by a judge on this argument, and the hypothetical Trump busted out during the 2016 election—that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and not “lose any voters”—attorney William Consovoy insisted that yes, that kind of thing would fall under this concept of “presidential immunity,” i.e. Trump could put a bullet in a random pedestrian and avoid prosecution until moving out of the White House.

Unsurprisingly, actual legal experts weren’t convinced of this argument and neither was the Supreme Court, which ruled last July, in the words of Reuters, “that there are limits to the powers of the presidency and stoutly reaffirmed the principle that not even the president is above the law.” Still, Trump’s lackeys, which include the Attorney General of the United States, have done their part to shield him from situations wherein he could be convicted of a variety of crimes, getting him through almost an entire term without an embarrassing situation wherein a sitting president is, say, found guilty of falsifying business records regarding a hush money payment he made to an adult-film star. more...

By Chris Sommerfeldt New York Daily News

U.S. Border Patrol officials privately worried they could face jail time for their roles in President Trump’s since-scrapped policy to separate migrant children from their parents, according to emails released Thursday amid renewed scrutiny over the family-shattering practice.

The emails were included in a House Judiciary Committee report summarizing its 21-month probe into the Trump administration’s so-called “zero tolerance” policy, which required Border Patrol agents to split up thousands of mostly Central American families who illegally crossed into the U.S. from Mexico in 2017 and 2018.

In one email dated June 4, 2018, a Border Patrol supervisor in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley wrote to a subordinate that a local federal judge had been “very upset” in a court hearing and ordered the agency to “keep constant track of the children once they are separated from their parents and when and where they are reunified.”

“This is going to be a huge headache, I might be spending some time in the slammer,” the supervisor wrote followed by a sad-face emoji. The subordinate, a Border Patrol enforcement agent, responded: “I ain’t going to jail!!!!!!!!!!!!!” more...

The next 11 weeks could be the most dangerous in US history, some analysts believe, with a vengeful and fearful lame duck incumbent
Richard Luscombe in Miami

Some of the mayhem that will follow Donald Trump losing the presidential election is already known. The US exited the Paris climate agreement on Wednesday regardless. The coronavirus pandemic that has already claimed almost a quarter of a million lives in America will worsen. Trump has hinted he will attempt to fire Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert in infectious diseases.

But Trump’s defeat also sets the clock ticking on 11 weeks that some analysts believe could be the most dangerous period in US history, the time before the 20 January inauguration of Joe Biden during which a vengeful president can wreak havoc if he choses to do so.

“If Trump loses power he’ll spend his last 90 days wrecking the United States like a malicious child with a sledgehammer in a china shop,” said Malcolm Nance, a veteran intelligence analyst and political author, speaking before the result of the election was known.

“We’re likely to see the greatest political temper tantrum in history. He may decide he wants to go out with a bang, he may decide he will not accept the election result. Who knows what a cornered autocrat will do?” more...

JILL COLVIN, ZEKE MILLER and JONATHAN LEMIRE - Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump never admits defeat. But he faces a stark choice now that Democrat Joe Biden has won the White House: Concede graciously for the sake of the nation or don’t — and get evicted anyway. After nearly four tortured days of counting yielded a victory for Biden on Saturday, Trump was still insisting the race was not over. He threw out baseless allegations of voter fraud, promised a flurry of legal action and fired off all-caps tweets falsely insisting he'd “WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT."

Trump is not expected to ever formally concede, according to people close to him, but is likely to grudgingly vacate the White House at the end of his term. His ongoing efforts to paint the election as unfair are seen both as an effort to soothe a bruised ego and to show his loyal base of supporters that he is still fighting. That could be key to keeping them energized for what comes next. “He intends to fight,” Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow said as it was becoming clear that the president was headed for defeat.

Would Trump ever concede? “I doubt it,” said Trump’s longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone, whose prison sentence was commuted by Trump in July. Stone asserted that Biden, as a result, will have "a cloud over his presidency with half the people in the country believing that he was illegitimately elected.” Allies suggested that if Trump wants to launch a media empire in coming years, he has an incentive to prolong the drama. So, too, if he intends to keep the door open to a possible 2024 comeback — he would be only a year older then than Biden is now. more...

By Kaitlan Collins and Kate Bennett, CNN

(CNN) Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, has approached the President about conceding the election, two sources told CNN Saturday. And first lady Melania Trump has advised the President the time has come for him to accept the election loss, a separate source familiar with the conversations told CNN on Sunday.

Though the first lady has not publicly commented on the election, she has privately weighed in with her opinion, the source noted. "She has offered it, as she often does," the source said. Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller in a tweet Sunday morning denied that Kushner has approached Trump, although CNN stands by its reporting. "This story is not true," said Miller. "Jared has advised @realDonaldTrump to pursue all available legal remedies to ensure accuracy."

Trump asserted in a statement from his campaign -- moments after CNN and other networks projected that Joe Biden will become the 46th President of the United States -- that Biden is "rushing to falsely pose as the winner" and that the race is "far from over."
"I will not rest until the American People have the honest vote count they deserve and that Democracy demands," Trump said in the statement, which explains that the campaign's legal battle will begin Monday. more...

By Kaitlan Collins and Caroline Kelly, CNN

(CNN) Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, has approached the President about conceding the election, two sources told CNN. The move follows Trump's assertion in a statement from his campaign -- moments after CNN and other networks projected that Joe Biden will become the 46th President of the United States -- that Biden is "rushing to falsely pose as the winner" and that the race is "far from over."

"I will not rest until the American People have the honest vote count they deserve and that Democracy demands," Trump said in the statement, which explains that the campaign's legal battle will begin Monday. Biden-Harris deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said Saturday night that there had been no communication between Biden and Trump, or between any representatives from either campaign, since the race was called earlier in the day. more...

By Matt Viser, Seung Min Kim and Annie Linskey

President-elect Joe Biden is planning to quickly sign a series of executive orders after being sworn into office on Jan. 20, immediately forecasting that the country’s politics have shifted and that his presidency will be guided by radically different priorities.

He will rejoin the Paris climate accords, according to those close to his campaign and commitments he has made in recent months, and he will reverse President Trump’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization. He will repeal the ban on almost all travel from some Muslim-majority countries, and he will reinstate the program allowing “dreamers,” who were brought to the United States illegally as children, to remain in the country, according to people familiar with his plans.

Although transitions of power can always include abrupt changes, the shift from Trump to Biden — from one president who sought to undermine established norms and institutions to another who has vowed to restore the established order — will be among the most startling in American history. more...

Elisabetta Bianchini ,Yahoo News Canada

The Associated Press and a number of other outlets have called the U.S. presidential race for Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, as the world waits to see if, when and how Donald Trump admits defeat.

“I am elated that President Trump's administration is coming to a close,” Dr. Rachel Hope Cleves, a professor of history at the University of Victoria, born and raised in New York, told Yahoo Canada. “I think he would have done terrible damage in a second term...and I'm glad that this election, I hope, will prevent that.”

One aspect of this victory for the Democrats is the impact of Harris being the first woman, and also woman of colour, to be vice president-elect. “I think we should celebrate the breaking of the glass ceiling in the executive office,” Cleves said. “She represents a new generation, she's only in her mid-50s, her whole career has been a series of breaking down barriers and being the first.”

“I think she brings enormous hope to a lot of young voters, and older voters, and she brings hope to everybody who has a vision of an American future that's inclusive and tolerant and reflective of the diversity of the United States.”

Dr. Melissa Haussman, a political science professor at Carleton University, told Yahoo Canada that there was a beginning of a shift in the “structural diversity” of the U.S. political system when Nancy Pelosi became the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House, followed by a record number of women of colour in the House following the 2018 election. more...

Rachel Elbaum and Yuliya Talmazan and Adela Suliman and Saphora Smith, NBC News

LONDON — Sighs of relief rippled through capitals of longtime U.S. allies around the world Saturday after Joe Biden became president-elect. Many leaders have been battered by four years of the convention-smashing President Donald Trump and see in Biden a counterpart who will try and return America onto a path of multilateralism and international cooperation.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who had a fraught relationship with Trump, was among the first world leaders to issue a statement congratulating Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris. "Our two countries are close friends, partners, and allies. We share a relationship that's unique on the world stage," Trudeau wrote soon after news emerged that Biden had won the pivotal state of Pennsylvania, according to NBC News projections. "I'm really looking forward to working together and building on that with you both."

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo was less diplomatic. "Welcome back America!" she wrote on Twitter. "Congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for their election!" Messages from foreign leadersand officials are common when a new U.S. president is elected. Less common, however, is the number this time around who have been referring to the previous administration — perhaps tacitly signposting their relief that it's over — when delivering their congratulations. There were many mentions of the challenges the new White House faced. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven congratulated Biden and mentioned the need for "multilateralism" — something the Trump administration has explicitly shunned. more...

*** Donald J. Trump your fired now go straight to jail. Lock him up! ***

Joe Biden will secure the 270 electoral votes needed to defeat incumbent President Donald Trump.
Author: Associated Press, TEGNA

The Associated Press has called the U.S. presidential election for former Vice President Joe Biden after calling Pennsylvania at 11:25 a.m. Saturday. Democrat Joe Biden has surpassed the 270 electoral vote threshold to take the White House and become the 46th president of the United States. Biden also carried Arizona, Wisconsin and Michigan on his path to the presidency, flipping states that President Donald Trump won in 2016. The AP also called Nevada for Biden on Saturday.

Pennsylvania was a must-win state for Trump. President-elect Joe Biden says it’s time for America to “unite” and to “heal.” Biden said in a statement Saturday, “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation.” “We are the United States of America,” he wrote. “And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.” Biden made no mention of his opponent, President Donald Trump, who has not conceded the race. The president-elect is expected to speak at 8 p.m. ET Saturday. more...

President sends baseless and inflammatory tweets about election, then heads out for familiar weekend recreation
Martin Pengelly

Shortly before his defeat by Joe Biden was called, with the nation deeply divided, Donald Trump began his Saturday by tweeting inflammatory and unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud. Then he went to play golf. The president, the White House pool reporter wrote, appeared for the motorcade to his course in Sterling, Virginia “wearing white Maga cap, windbreaker, dark slacks, non-dress shirt, shoes that look appropriate for golfing”.

Trump’s dedication to playing golf while in office has been a source of continuing controversy – particularly because he memorably and repeatedly lambasted his predecessor, Barack Obama, over how often he played the game. Trump has defended his dedication, tweeting this summer: “My ‘exercise’ is playing, almost never during the week, a quick round of golf. Obama played more and much longer rounds, no problem.”

Media organisations have factchecked Trump’s claims, pointing out, though counts vary, that he has played many more times than Obama did at any similar point while in office. According to the pool report, on Saturday the presidential motorcade passed “more Biden/Harris signs than Trump/Maga signs” while a protester near Trump National Golf Course held a sign which said: “Good Riddance.” more...


By Brianna Keilar and Catherine Valentine, CNN

Washington (CNN)As President Donald Trump baselessly claimed that all votes received after Election Day are illegal, he attacked the absentee ballots of military members and their spouses that, by law, must be counted. In doing so, the President has endorsed a scenario where thousands of members of the military -- actively defending their country -- would be disenfranchised by having their legal votes thrown out. "If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us," Trump said Thursday night from the podium in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House. "If you count the votes that came in late -- we're looking at them very strongly. But a lot of votes came in late."

In every election, a lot of votes come in late -- legally -- from Americans who are overseas or located outside their states of residence, including significant numbers of absentee voters who are service members and their families. The military has been voting absentee for two centuries -- since the War of 1812 -- and the practice was expanded during the Civil War. Military votes have been included in certified vote tallies in local, state and presidential elections. There is nothing nefarious about them. "We're not asking for any special privilege here," retired Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey told CNN.

"We're just saying we think it's important for every ballot to be counted and especially those of the service men and women who serve this country. They do so much for us and they deserve to know their voices are heard." Casey voted absentee from Iraq in the 2004 presidential election and recalls voting absentee multiple times while stationed away from Virginia, his home state of record. He is now one of many retired military leaders lending their voices to Count Every Hero, a bipartisan initiative to make sure military votes are tallied. more...

By Jeffery Martin

In a Thursday statement, the National Council on Election Integrity (NCEI) said that President Donald Trump's remarks from the White House, in which Trump alleged fraud in the 2020 presidential election, were "irresponsible." The bipartisan NCEI counts among its 44 members former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and former Secretary of Defense Democrat Leon Panetta. Trump raised some eyebrows with his Thursday remarks in which he claimed that the Democrats were trying to "steal" the presidential election in favor of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Trump particularly criticized the process through which some states are conducting the tabulations of mail-in ballots.

"They are trying to rig an election," Trump said. "We can't let that happen." In its statement, the NCEI said that Trump's allegations had "no basis." "The president spent 15 minutes using the podium of the White House to make false claims that undermine the integrity of our elections and do a disservice to the hard-working election officials around the nation who have performed their duties admirably," read the NCEI statement. "There is absolutely no basis for these irresponsible claims." "Politicians can say whatever they choose, but it is the American people who decide their leaders, not the other way around," the statement concluded. "Our constitutional process demands we count every vote." more...

By Kevin Liptak and Kaitlan Collins, CNN

(CNN) Facing a disappearing pathway to victory, President Donald Trump offered little indication on Friday he was prepared to concede defeat, leading those around him to wonder who might be able to reckon with a leader who has given virtually no thought to leaving the White House. Even as vote totals now show him trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in key battlegrounds, Trump has not prepared a concession speech and in conversations with allies in recent days, he has said he has no intention of conceding the election, people familiar with the matter said.

So far he has been bolstered in his stance by those closest to him, including his senior advisers and his adult sons, who have mounted an aggressive effort in the courts to challenge the results and have pressured other Republicans into defending him. Top aides, including his chief of staff Mark Meadows, have not attempted to come to terms with the President about the reality of what is happening. Instead, they have fed his baseless claim that the election is being stolen from underneath him.

Trump has acknowledged to some allies he recognizes the electoral math will not work in his favor, according to people familiar with the conversations, but has maintained that a prolonged court battle and corrosive rhetoric about election fraud would sow enough doubt to allow him to refuse to accept the results. Two campaign advisers and one source close to the President said Trump will exhaust his legal avenues for fighting the results in several key battleground states before giving any consideration to conceding. more...

By Tony Romm and Isaac Stanley-Becker

A Republican firm run by a top aide to President Trump’s 2020 campaign appears to have helped send unmarked text messages on Thursday that urged supporters in Philadelphia to converge outside a building where local election officials were counting votes.
Follow the latest on Election 2020

“ALERT: Radical Liberals & Dems are trying to steal this election from Trump!” began the short text, sent in the hours before former vice president Joe Biden took the lead in the state. “We need YOU! Show your support at the corner of 12th St. & Arch St. in Philadelphia.”

The messages were sent from phone numbers that had been leased by Opn Sesame, a company that offers texting services to Republican candidates and causes, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to discuss the messages. Opn Sesame is run by Gary Coby, the digital director for Trump’s 2020 campaign, and it has worked for years on behalf of a number of key GOP clients, including the Republican National Committee. It is unclear which of Opn Sesame’s clients actually sent the message, and the company does not disclose its full list of users. more...

By Daniel Dale, CNN

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump delivered the most dishonest speech of his presidency on Thursday evening. I've watched or read the transcript of every Trump speech since late 2016. I've cataloged thousands and thousands of his false claims. I have never seen him lie more thoroughly and more egregiously than he did on Thursday evening at the White House. On the verge of what appeared to be a likely defeat by former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump emerged in the press briefing room and took a blowtorch to the presidential tradition of defending the legitimacy of the democratic process.

Aside from some valid criticism of errors by pollsters, some legitimate boasting about his performance with various demographic groups and some legitimate boasting about Republicans' down-ballot performance, almost everything Trump said was not true. Here's a rundown:

Election theft?
Trump alleged that unnamed opponents of his are "trying to steal an election" and "trying to rig an election."

Facts First: This is entirely baseless. This election is legitimate. Trump's opponents are not trying to steal it. Election officials are simply counting legally cast votes.

Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia
Trump claimed that he "won" the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia, citing his substantial early leads in the vote counts there.

Facts First: This is false. Holding a lead before all of the votes are counted is, obviously, not the same as having won -- and Trump has lost Wisconsin and Michigan, according to CNN projections. At the time of his speech, he was also in trouble in Pennsylvania as votes from Democratic-leaning areas were counted, and his margin in Georgia was shrinking fast as the count continued. more...

*** No they did not stop counting because Trump was wining. ***

By Daniel Funke November 4, 2020

Battleground states did not ‘stop counting’ votes on election night when Trump was ahead. None of the states cited in the post stopped counting votes altogether on Nov. 3. Election officials in Fulton County, Ga., briefly paused counting ballots after a pipe burst at a facility in Atlanta. North Carolina stopped counting in-person votes once 100% of precincts were reported, but the state is still counting absentee ballots. Delays in election results are due to an influx of mail-in ballots, spurred by the coronavirus pandemic. more...

As Joe Biden closes in on the presidency, the incumbent unleashed a torrent of misinformation from the White House press podium
Staff and agencies

A Danish vaccine specialist has warned that a new wave of coronavirus could be started by the Covid-19 mink variant. “The worst-case scenario is that we would start off a new pandemic in Denmark. There’s a risk that this mutated virus is so different from the others that we’d have to put new things in a vaccine and therefore [the mutation] would slam us all in the whole world back to the start,” said Prof Kåre Mølbak, vaccine expert and director of infectious diseases at Denmark’s State Serum Institute (SSI). He added, however, that the world was in a better place than when the Covid-19 outbreak began.

“We know the virus, have measures in place including testing and infection control, and the outbreak will be contained, to the best of our knowledge.” Denmark, the world’s largest mink producer, said on Wednesday that it plans to cull more than 15 million of the animals, due to fears that a Covid-19 mutation moving from mink to humans could jeopardise future vaccines. Announcing the cull, the country’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, said 12 people were already infected with the mutated virus and mink are now considered a public health risk, based on advice from the SSI. more...

The president's supporters seem adamant that every vote must be counted — or that the count must stop — depending on which scenario would benefit them.
Dan Evon

U.S. President Trump's supporters can be heard chanting "stop the count" in one video and "count the vote" in another. On the evening of Nov. 4, 2020, as election totals showed U.S. President Donald Trump trailing his opponent, Democratic candidate Joe Biden, two converging theories emerged to explain the turn of events: Too many votes were being counted (an argument that appeared to be based on unfounded accusations of voter fraud), or not enough votes were being counted (an argument apparently based on a debunked conspiracy theory about ballots being unfairly thrown out). On social media, a video went viral that showed Trump supporters chanting “count that vote” in one instance and contradictory “stop the vote” in another. more...

By Sarah Polus

Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan took to Twitter to condemn the comments Trump made during a Thursday night press conference, saying there is “no defense” of the president’s “undermining of our Democratic process.” “America is counting the votes, and we must respect the results as we always have before,” he said. “No election or person is more important than our Democracy.” more...

By Janice Williams

Rapper 50 Cent seems to think that President Donald Trump is "going to jail." At least, that's what the rapper tweeted on Thursday. Like many people across the country, 50 Cent—whose real name is Curtis Jackson—is keeping an eye on the results of the 2020 presidential election and Trump's comments on the state of the race. Votes are still being counted in places like Georgia, Nevada, Arizona, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. However, the president, along with claiming a premature victory, has publicly called for the counting of votes to be discontinued. The notion has apparently left 50 Cent baffled, causing the 45-year-old to take to Twitter to share his thoughts. "Man they gonna do Trump dirty, he going to jail. you ever herd [sic] a president say stop counting the f**king votes. LOL SMH," 50 Cent wrote on Thursday. more...

By Kurt Wagner

As U.S. president, Donald Trump receives special treatment from Twitter Inc. when he violates the company’s rules around offensive or misleading content. That exemption will end in January if he loses the presidency.

The social network treats transgressions from world leaders differently than those from regular users, and often leaves up tweets that violate its content policies, adding a warning instead of forcing users to delete the posts. This is part of Twitter’s philosophy that people should be able to hear from world leaders even when they share controversial posts because their messages are inherently newsworthy.

But former world leaders aren’t protected under that policy. High-profile politicians no longer in office -- like former U.S. President Barack Obama -- are treated like regular users if they violate Twitter’s rules, which prohibit messages that include hate speech or posts that glorify violence or contain certain types of false information, like dangerous health-related misinformation.

Trump will fall into the “former” group if he leaves office in January, Twitter confirmed. If that happens, breaking one of Twitter’s rules means his tweets may be removed entirely instead of labeled. He could also rack up “strikes” for multiple violations, which would increase the severity of punishment issued from the company, and could lead to temporary account freezes, suspensions or even a permanent ban. more...

“But Kellyanne, the president came out on Election Night and said he won,” Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum said, interrupting her guest.
Matt Wilstein

As Fox News viewers waited for President Donald Trump to speak to the American people for the first time since his deeply dishonest and dangerous address late into the night on Election Day, they were treated to some equally misleading spin from his former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.

During an earlier appearance on Fox, Conway directly contradicted the president’s “STOP THE COUNT” message by urging “patience,” an argument she repeated on Thursday evening. When Conway started attacking Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon, however, for suggesting that her candidate was on his way to victory in the presidential race, anchor Martha MacCallum interrupted her. “But Kellyanne, the president came out on Election Night and said he won while there were still all these ballots to be counted.”

“Sure,” Conway replied. “I think what the president was meaning there is that he had won, meaning earlier in the night he had the race won, people were projecting that some of these states that were supposed to turn blue,” citing Florida, Ohio and Texas—none of which Biden was counting on to win the presidency. Neither MacCallum nor Bret Baier pushed back on Conway’s outright false characterization of Trump’s Election Night comments.

In fact, he explicitly declared victory in both Georgia and North Carolina, neither of which have been called two nights later. “This is a fraud on the American public,” Trump said. “This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election.” In his first remarks since making that speech, the president doubled down on his premature declaration of victory, saying, “If you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us.” more...

Top national security officials are preparing for the President of the United States to refuse to listen to the election results, even when they are officially declared.
Erin Banco, Adam Rawnsley

Even members of President Donald Trump’s own national security team are worried about the misleading information he’s pushing about the vote count. And they’re increasingly concerned that the president will not respect the final results.

Top national security officials say they have spent the days since the election tracking disinformation about the vote count, including Team Trump’s efforts to erode trust in the ballot tallying and reporting process. Despite working with the big social media companies to flag some of those falsities, officials say there is little they can do to prevent the president’s team from propagating disinformation in public—from Twitter to nationally televised press conferences. With increasingly flagrant efforts by Trump to cast doubt on the vote tallies, officials are preparing for how to handle a situation in which the race is officially called for Joe Biden—and Trump refuses to concede.

He’s already insisted multiple times that he’s the real winner of the election, and that many of Biden’s ballots are “illegal.” The consequences of such behavior will increase exponentially if Trump disputes the official result, officials say. One senior official said they are “clear-eyed” about that possibility. “Based on what we saw today on Twitter and elsewhere… there’s a chance that things get even worse and we have to be prepared,” that official said. more...

Roger Sollenberger, Salon

As a stream of key swing state votes begins to turn the election in presidential nominee Joe Biden's favor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wasted no time in signaling that he would block potential progressive nominees for Cabinet positions if the GOP keeps its grip on the upper chamber. A source close to the majority leader told Axios that a Republican-controlled Senate would work with Biden to confirm centrist nominees but reject so-called "radical progressives" or other individuals who rankle conservatives. The source said Republicans would do all they could to limit a Biden agenda, adding: "It's going to be armed camps." After expressing confidence in an eventual electoral victory on Wednesday, the Biden campaign quietly launched a website for its transition team. The site posted a message telling Americans that while the vote counts were not over, the transition team would continue its preparations so "the Biden-Harris Administration can hit the ground running on Day One." more...

The president emerged from his post-election silence to assert, without evidence, that state election officials are rigging vote tallies.
By MATTHEW CHOI

President Donald Trump on Thursday evening listed a string of unfounded conspiracy theories to accuse state election officials of plotting to steal the election from him.

Taking the White House lectern for his first public address since election night, Trump offered no evidence for his assertions that officials are rigging the tallies or for his characterization of mail-in ballots as somehow illegitimate. The address came as his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, expands his lead to secure the presidency and as Trump’s path to a second term hinges on winning four key states. Those states have yet to finish counting their ballots amid an unprecedented number of mail-in voting because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” Trump said. “If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us. If you count the votes that came in late — we‘re looking at them very strongly, but a lot of votes came in late.”

State elections officials have resoundingly denied they are counting “illegal votes“ and have assured voters that this year’s election was hardly the chaos many feared due to Covid-19. Despite the occasional technical glitch and extended polling-site hours, there were no reports of major issues or interference. Though counting is taking longer this year, there is no support for the position that mailed-in ballots were part of a mass fraud. more...

by: The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — With Joe Biden edging closer to unseating him from the White House, President Donald Trump says he wants to put a halt to vote counting. The extraordinary statement by an incumbent president to voice support for ceasing the count of legally cast votes came in a Thursday morning tweet, saying only: “STOP THE COUNT!” Later in the morning the Trump campaign held a news conference in Las Vegas where allegations of multiple instances of voter fraud were made. This is in addition to legal challenges filed in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia. more...

Nathan Robinson

Blaming the voters simply will not do. This is a failure of leadership. Those responsible for it need to be held accountable. In the lead-up to the 2020 election, Democrats were extremely confident in Joe Biden’s prospects. With his comfortable lead in national polls, there was talk of a Biden landslide, a giant “blue wave” that could turn Texas blue. Even though the polls had been off in the 2016 election, media commentators reassured audiences that Biden’s lead was different – far stronger and more stable – than Hillary Clinton’s had been.

As of this writing, it does look as if Biden will squeak his way into the White House. But only just. And no “blue wave” materialized. Far from turning Texas blue, Biden appears to have severely underperformed relative to Hillary Clinton in some heavily Hispanic areas. Democrats have not retaken the US Senate and failed to knock out a single Republican in the House of Representatives. Millions more people voted for Trump than in 2016, and it became disturbingly clear that even if Trump himself is booted from office, “Trumpism” is alive and well.

There was no need for it to be this way. Donald Trump has badly mishandled the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. The economy is in recession. The Republican war on the Affordable Care Act seems more heartless than ever as millions lose their insurance. more...

By Mark Sherman - AP

As Democrat Joe Biden inched closer to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House, President Donald Trump's campaign put into action the legal strategy the president had signaled for weeks: attacking the integrity of the voting process in states where the result could mean his defeat. But judges in Georgia and Michigan dismissed lawsuits by Trump's campaign on Thursday. more...

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) What the last four years have proven is that if you listen closely enough to President Donald Trump, he often accidentally reveals a deeper truth about his time in the White House -- and his campaign for a second term, which, win or lose, ends today.
Which is exactly what happened on Monday night in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in Trump's penultimate campaign rally of the 2020 race. "This isn't about -- yeah, it is about me, I guess, when you think about it," Trump mused to the packed crowd. You can see what happened here. Trump likely had prepared remarks that said something like "This election isn't about me -- it's about you and what kind of future you will have." Which is a line politicians use all the time because they believe that it conveys that their run for president isn't solely about their own personal ambition or desires, but rather about what's best for the country. more...

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Barack Obama is hitting President Donald Trump right where he thinks it’ll hurt most: His ego.

Campaigning for Joe Biden on Saturday, the former president painted Trump as insecure and self-absorbed, describing him as a failed president who cares more about himself than the country. “Trump cares about feeding his ego. Joe cares about keeping you and your family safe,” Obama said in Flint, Michigan. In a scathing speech, Obama mocked and belittled Trump for everything from the president’s criticism of the media coverage of the coronavirus pandemic — Trump, he said, was “jealous of COVID’s media coverage” — to his “obsession with crowd size.” “He’s still worried about his inauguration crowd being smaller than mine. It really bugs him. He’s still talking about that. Does he have nothing better to worry about?” Obama said. “Did no one come to his birthday party as a kid? Was he traumatized?”

After delivering a sober indictment of Trump’s presidency and warning that America’s democracy is at stake this election at the Democratic National Convention, Obama has taken on a more lighthearted approach since returning to the campaign trail earlier this month for Biden. The personal attacks on Trump have been a centerpiece of Obama’s campaign pitch, and he seems to relish the opportunity to needle his successor. On Saturday, Obama at times smiled as he jabbed the president and often sounded incredulous at the state of his administration. “The president wants to get credit for the economy he inherited and zero blame for the pandemic he ignored,” Obama said. Obama also dinged Trump on his masculinity. Without mentioning the president directly, Obama said that “kindness, humility, responsibility, helping somebody else out” used to be “the definition of manliness.” more...

There's no evidence for falsehoods designed to call into doubt the legitimacy of the election.
Picture of Jane Lytvynenko Jane Lytvynenko

President Donald Trump and his supporters are spreading false and misleading claims that attempt to call into question the legitimacy of the vote, especially in key swing states like Michigan. There is no evidence of widespread irregularities, and the vote count in swing states is continuing as expected. Prior to Election Day, officials in multiple states said it would take days for votes to be counted in contested states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan, due to the high number of absentee ballots, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and record-breaking voter turnout. Despite the counting continuing as normal, the president and his supporters are pushing several false claims about it on Twitter and Facebook.

One falsehood attempted to cast it as suspicious that some county officials in swing states took a break from counting ballots overnight. Officials in some counties in Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Georgia paused late in the night on Tuesday and resumed counting Wednesday morning. Because the United States does not have a national election authority, those decisions to let poll workers sleep differed by place, with some locations continuing to work around the clock. For example, in Pennsylvania, the count continued overnight in Philadelphia and adjacent Montgomery County.

“We are doing the canvass, we are not stopping for nobody,” Omar Sabir, a member of the Philadelphia City Commission, the body that oversees elections, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We’re here, we’re counting. The count has not stopped.” In Michigan, “election officials worked through the night to #CountEveryVote,” tweeted Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. more...

Dan Mangan

President Donald Trump’s campaign said Wednesday that it filed suits to halt the counting of ballots in Michigan and Pennsylvania, as the campaign demanded increased access to observe the tallying process at numerous locations in those battleground states. The states have a combined 36 Electoral College voters at stake. The Trump campaign said that its in Michigan lawsuit demands that the campaign be allowed to “review those ballots” ... “which were opened and counted while we did not have meaningful access.”

In Pennsylvania, the campaign said it is moving to intervene in an existing Supreme Court case related to that state’s extension of its mail-in ballot receipt deadline. Separately, the campaign is filing two legal actions: one aimed at stopping what the campaign called the “hiding” by Democratic officials of “ballot counting and processing from our Republican poll observers,” the other which seeks to undo an order extending the deadline for absentee and mail-in voters to provide missing proof of identification. more...

The Lead

CNN's Jake Tapper speaks with former national security adviser John Bolton about President Donald Trump's rhetoric around when mail-in ballots should be counted and Trump's threats of legal action after polls close on Election Day. video...

By David Shepardson - Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Postal Service told a judge it could not complete his order to sweep mail processing facilities on Tuesday afternoon for delayed election ballots and immediately dispatch any for delivery in about a dozen states, including closely fought battlegrounds Pennsylvania and Florida.

USPS data showed as of Sunday about 300,000 ballots that were received for mail processing did not have scans confirming their delivery to election authorities. While ballots may be delivered without scans, voting rights groups fear mail delays could cause at least some of those votes to be disqualified.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan on Tuesday had ordered the sweep in response to lawsuits by groups including Vote Forward, the NAACP, and Latino community advocates. Affected by the order were processing centers in central Pennsylvania, northern New England, greater South Carolina, south Florida, Colorado, Wisconsin and parts of Illinois, Arizona, Alabama and Wyoming, as well as the cities of Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, Detroit. Sullivan ordered postal officials to complete the inspections by 3 p.m. ET (2000 GMT) and certify by 4:30 p.m. ET (2130 GMT) that no ballots were left behind. more...

Officials say the incidents are isolated or simply legal campaign activity.
By CRISTIANO LIMA and HOLLY OTTERBEIN

PHILADELPHIA — President Donald Trump’s campaign is seizing on what officials said are isolated incidents or legal campaigning here to raise doubts about the integrity of the election in the most hotly contested state in the country. Mike Roman, Trump’s director of Election Day operations, shared a viral Twitter video Tuesday of a poll watcher being turned away at a voting facility in Philly. Roman used the incident to allege that pro-Trump poll watchers have been denied access “all over the City” and that “The steal is on!”

But a spokesperson for the Philadelphia City Commissioners, which runs elections there, said there’s no evidence the issue is widespread, and that the poll watcher depicted in the video was eventually allowed into the facility. “It was an honest misunderstanding. The poll watcher, I’m told, his certificate had a different ward and division on it than the ward and division of the polling place he was trying to get into. And the judge of election misunderstood the law: He thought they had to match,” said Kevin Feeley, a spokesperson for Philadelphia City Commissioner Lisa Deeley, a Democrat. “The poll watcher was admitted. As far as I know, he’s there now." more...

After days of Trump’s illogical attacks on Lady Gaga (fracking?), the star dropped the mic at Biden’s final rally, calling out his sexual-assault accusations in a powerful speech.
Kevin Fallon

“I’m off the deep end…” took on another meaning in the last days before the election as “Shallow” singer Lady Gaga, who performed the Oscar-winning ballad at Joe Biden’s eleventh-hour rally in the battleground state of Pennsylvania Monday night, found herself as the attack target of Donald Trump under more bizarre circumstances than already typical of the president.

After spending the day the subject of the Trump campaign’s bullying—related to a, by all accounts, unsubstantiated tie to an anti-fracking group eight years ago—Lady Gaga took the stage at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh to open for Biden before he made his final address of the campaign. And if Trump sniveled during a speech earlier in the day that he “could tell you stories about Lady Gaga,” she returned the volley with a damning spike Monday night.

“To all the women and all the men with daughters and sisters and mothers, everybody, no matter how you identify, now is your chance to vote against Donald Trump, a man who believes his fame gives him the right to grab one of your daughters or sisters or mothers or wives by any part of their bodies,” she said, as cars at the drive-in honked in approval. “Vote for Joe. He’s a good person. Thank you.” more...

Miller's child-support battle with the mother of his son has raised many questions about his murky finances
Roger Sollenberger

President Trump's top campaign strategist, Jason Miller, has been paid tens of thousands of dollars a month through a third-party campaign vendor rather than taking a salary from the campaign, obscuring the flow of money and apparently concealing how much he makes — an arrangement campaign finance experts say is illegal.

Miller, a 2016 senior adviser who joined the re-election campaign in early June, appears to have been paid as recently as July by Citizens of the American Republic (COAR), a nonprofit founded by Steve Bannon which is currently part of a federal fraud and money laundering investigation into the former Trump campaign chief, as a vehicle used to fabricate invoices in furtherance of that scheme. (Salon first reported that COAR had paid Miller $20,000 a month.) Miller also appears to have taken monthly payments of several thousand dollars from a firm co-founded by two Trump officials — one of them being Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien. Salon was first to report that the campaign does not report any salary payments to Stepien, either.

The question of the campaign payments, and Miller's mysterious and varying monthly income, is important not only for reasons of public transparency, but for determining how much Miller, who is married, should pay for child support in a contentious custody case with a 2016 Trump campaign adviser which has dragged out for years in Florida family court. more...

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