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By Joseph Choi

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) said Sunday that calling a special legislative session to overturn the results of the presidential election would amount to “nullifying the will of the people.” “At the end of the day, what they're really trying to say is if they did, if — they would be then nullifying the will of the people. If you look at how the election turned out here in Georgia, President Trump got 10 percent less votes in Cherokee County, which is a rich red county in this election cycle. Whitfield County in northwest Georgia, less than 4.5 percent,” Raffensperger told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week."

“The people of Georgia spoke in this election, and, obviously, I’m a conservative Republican disappointed in the results,” Raffensperger also said. “But I said we'll count every legal vote and work hard to make sure that no illegal votes were counted, and that's what we’ve been doing." He added, “I don't believe that there's the will in the General Assembly for a special session.” Reports emerged Saturday that President Trump had called Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and asked him to persuade state legislators to overturn the state’s election to favor the president. Kemp reportedly denied Trump’s requests. more...

By Greg Bluestein - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, James Salzer - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mark Niesse - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn Georgia’s election results have met a wall of opposition from an unlikely source: Republican state officials and GOP-appointed judges who have loudly rejected his calls to undo Joe Biden’s narrow victory in the state. As two more of the president’s legal challenges were quashed in court on Monday, Trump’s pleas to top state officials to interfere in the election have been soundly rejected by Republican politicians he once endorsed. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger recertified Biden’s win after a third tally, adding that the president’s “debunked claims of stolen elections is hurting our state.” One of his top aides, Gabriel Sterling, lamented he had to embark on a “disinformation Monday” campaign to correct pro-Trump falsehoods. more...

Analysis by Stephen Collinson

(CNN) One of Donald Trump's services to history will be to underscore just how much the integrity of the presidency depends on the character of its incumbent. Most presidents at least demonstrate some reverence for the office, understand how easily the public trust on which it stands can be abused and retain a concept of a national interest that supersedes their own. Trump's obliviousness to such rules is on display in an extraordinary debate about his looming use of the president's absolute pardon power. Departing presidents usually grant clemency to those who suffered miscarriages of justice or who have served long terms for nonviolent crimes. But many have also used this constitutional gift to absolve cronies: Bill Clinton, for instance, pardoned his brother after he pleaded guilty to cocaine charges. President Gerald Ford pardoned his predecessor Richard Nixon, hoping to heal the country after Watergate. But accepting a pardon generally involves an admission of guilt on behalf of the convicted person, a willingness to live within the bounds of the law or the notion that society will benefit from granting mercy.

Trump, who has already ignored the official government pardon process in sprinkling clemency on several political allies, is now considering preemptive absolution for his children Don Jr., Eric and Ivanka, and even — in an incredible constitutional leap — himself. Other presidential operatives, like Trump's legal fixer Rudy Giuliani, are also reportedly angling for pardons. He is said to fear that a Democratic Justice Department could come after his kin after he leaves office, assuming that President-elect Joe Biden will abuse his powers just as Trump has. But there's no sense that the first family would get clemency for admitted wrongdoing. The aim would be more to shut down any pending investigations they face in civilian life and apparently offer get-out-of-jail-free cards for any past criminality. While a president can help out whoever he wants, federal pardons would not derail state and local cases embroiling the Trumps. Still, all his life, the President has proved that if you are willing to trample the spirit of the law, you can get away with almost anything. more...

Darla Mercado, CFP®

Republican election officials in Georgia on Sunday continued to rebut Donald Trump’s false claims of voter fraud, as the outgoing president tries to pressure the governor to help overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the state. “The president’s statements are false, they’re misinformation,” Gabriel Sterling, voting system implementation manager for Georgia, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning. “They’re stoking anger and fear among his supporters.” “This undermines democracy,” said Sterling, who is a Republican. “We have got to get to a point where responsible people act responsibly.” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger also countered the president’s baseless claims of election fraud on Sunday morning in an interview on “This Week” with ABC. “We’ve never found systemic fraud, not enough to overturn the election,” he said. more...

By Manu Raju and Sam Fossum, CNN

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump brought up Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene's support for the dangerous QAnon conspiracy theory during a meeting on keeping the Senate with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other aides, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to CNN. This person confirmed that Trump told those present that QAnon consists of people who "basically believe in good government," which led to silence in the room. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows then said he had not heard the group described as such.

Trump's comments were first reported by The Washington Post. QAnon's prevailing conspiracy theories -- none based in fact -- claim that dozens of Satan-worshipping politicians and A-list celebrities work in tandem with governments around the globe to engage in child sex abuse. The group also peddles conspiracies about coronavirus and mass shootings -- none grounded in reality. Followers also believe there is a "deep state" effort to annihilate Trump. The group has been labeled a domestic terror threat by the FBI. In public, Trump has claimed he doesn't "know much about the movement, other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate," while repeatedly declining opportunities to condemn the organization's extremism.

As for Greene, Trump has called her a "future Republican star." But she has a history of prejudice and a proclivity for amplifying conspiracies. She said that George Soros, a Holocaust survivor, collaborated with Nazis. She called "Q" a "patriot" who is "worth listening to." She said that the deadly White supremacist rally held in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, was an "inside job" to "further the agenda of the elites." more...

Matthew S. Schwartz

Friday was a disastrous day for the Trump campaign, which has repeatedly tried and failed to overturn the presidential election results in key states. Within a span of hours, the legal teams of Trump and allied Republicans lost challenges in courts in six states. With each defeat, Trump's options for challenging last month's election continued to dwindle. Sensing that the courts are a lost cause, Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani told Fox News the campaign is now focused on sidestepping the courts and making their case directly to state lawmakers.

"I saw what the courts were doing and I wanted to go around them so the facts could get out," Giuliani told Sean Hannity on Friday night. "The simple fact is, we don't need courts. The United States Constitution gives sole power to the state legislature to decide presidential elections." Indeed, The Washington Post reports that on Saturday morning, Trump called Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp to urge him to call a special legislative session to override the election results in that state and appoint electors that would vote for Trump. Kemp reportedly declined to do so. more...

Analysis: "It's pretty difficult to think over the course of 50-60 days that you can do something constructive — but you can do something that's really destructive."
By Alexander Smith

LONDON — It's not uncommon for outgoing presidents to try to squeeze through foreign policy decisions with the final flourishes of their executive pen. But some observers fear that President Donald Trump — disgruntled, still claiming victory — is actively attempting to tie President-elect Joe Biden's hands and shape America's international outlook for months if not years to come. "It's pretty difficult to think over the course of 50-60 days that you can do something constructive — but you can do something that's really destructive," retired Adm. Michael Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently told NBC's "Meet the Press." Until Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20, Trump is well within his rights to use his presidential powers to push his administration's policy goals in places like Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq.

While many of Trump’s predecessors have not been shy about pursuing their agendas regardless of whether their successors agree with them, the president's moves have been far more dramatic than the norm, according to some experts. Trump has vowed to keep ratcheting up the pressure on Iran, hitting it with a fresh volley of sanctions and reportedly having to be dissuaded from pursuing military action. If that approach makes it harder for Biden to revive the Iran nuclear deal, some observers believe that the assassination of the Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh makes it more so. Israel, long suspected of killing Iranian nuclear scientists over the last decade, has declined to comment on the attack. Like his major ally in the White House, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed that the nuclear deal must never be resuscitated. more...

Sophia Ankel

President Trump demanded to know which Congressional Republicans recognized President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election. His inquiry comes after a survey published by The Washington Post on Saturday found that only 25 Republicans — including 11 out of 52 GOP Senators and 14 out of 197 GOP House members — have acknowledged Biden's election victory. This number has since been updated to 27 members. Referring to the survey, the president tweeted: "25, wow! I am surprised there are so many. We have just begun to fight. Please send me a list of the 25 RINOS. I read the Fake News Washington Post as little as possible!" A few Republicans have already publicly acknowledged Biden's win, including Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan and Denver Riggleman of Virginia. more...


Donald Trump has made many false or misleading statements, including thousands during his presidency. Commentators and fact-checkers have described this as "unprecedented" in American politics, and the consistency of these falsehoods has become a distinctive part of both his business and political identity. Trump is known to have made controversial statements and subsequently denied having done so, and by June 2019, many news organizations had started describing some of his falsehoods as lies. The Washington Post said his frequent repetition of false claims amounts to a campaign based on disinformation. According to writer and journalist Nancy LeTourneau, the debasing of veracity is a tactic. By September 3, 2020, The Washington Post's Fact Checker database had counted 22,510 false or misleading statements. more...


STATE JOURNAL, ASSOCIATED PRESS

In a pair of stinging rebukes, one from a conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court justice and the other from a federal judge President Donald Trump appointed, two courts Friday balked at efforts by Trump and his supporters to toss out the results of the presidential election in the state and have the Legislature decide the winner. Joined by the state Supreme Court’s three liberal-backed justices, conservative-backed Justice Brian Hagedorn called a request to have the court invalidate the November election “unprecedented in American history” and “the most dramatic invocation of judicial power I have ever seen.”

The court rejected the request 4-3. “Judicial acquiescence to such entreaties built on so flimsy a foundation would do indelible damage to every future election,” Hagedorn wrote for the majority. “Once the door is opened to judicial invalidation of presidential election results, it will be awfully hard to close that door again. This is a dangerous path we are being asked to tread. The loss of public trust in our constitutional order resulting from the exercise of this kind of judicial power would be incalculable.” more...

*** First Lindsey Graham did it now; Donald J. Trump is actively interfering in an election that has already been determined. Lindsey Graham and Donald J. Trump are guilty of crimes and should go to jail. ***

William Cummings and Sarah Elbeshbishi, USA TODAY

President Donald Trump called Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp Saturday morning, urging him to convince the state legislature to overturn the election results, according to multiple media reports. Trump also pushed Kemp to order an audit of absentee ballot signatures, something he has pushed the governor to do on Twitter. Kemp's spokesman Cody Hall confirmed that the president and Kemp spoke. The call, first reported by The Washington Post and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, happened just hours before Trump was supposed to appear at a rally for the state’s two Republican senators.

Kemp said that he told the president that he’s “publicly called for a signature audit three times (11/20, 11/24, 12/3) to restore confidence in our election process and to ensure that only legal votes are counted in Georgia,” in a tweet, responding to the president. Earlier Saturday, Trump claimed, without evidence, that he would "quickly and easily win Georgia if Governor @BrianKempGA or the Secretary of State permit a simple signature verification."

President-elect Joe Biden won Georgia by nearly 12,000 votes, according to the state's certified results. A second recount was recently completed and an announcement recertifying Biden's win is expected from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. A Morning Consult poll found that Trump’s attacks on the Georgia governor are affecting his approval ratings. Kemp’s job approval among Georgia Republicans has dropped 9 percentage points since Election Day, going to 86% to 77%, according to the poll. more...

By Natalie Colarossi

During an appearance on Fox News Friday night, President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani said the campaign doesn't need courts to change the outcome of the election, and accused one Nevada judge of creating "a fantasy out of the law." Giuliani, a key voice in the election fraud fight, went on Sean Hannity's show after several states – including Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Michigan – rejected cases that day.

In Nevada, Judge James Todd Russell said that he saw no clear or convincing proof to nullify the results of the election or to change the outcome in Trump's favor. "Contestants did not prove ... that illegal votes were cast and counted that should have been rejected during the signature verification process, or legal votes were not counted that should have been accepted" in numbers that would have swayed the outcome of the election, the judge said. In response, Giuliani accused the judge of unfairly changing the law. "The reality is, the judge has completely changed the law, he's created a fantasy out of the law," he said. " more...

Laura Phillips-Alvarez

Racism is deeply entrenched in higher education admissions processes, and affirmative action has been helping to level the playing field for minorities who have not always been equally represented. Affirmative action promotes diversity in higher education, creating a well-rounded educational experience where students come out more culturally competent. Despite the many benefits of affirmative action, the Justice Department sued Yale University on the basis of racial discrimination against Asian American and white applicants in its admission process on Oct. 8, arguing that Yale violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by taking race into consideration in the college admissions process.

The DOJ has been conducting an investigation of Harvard’s admission processes — an ongoing effort since at least last December. The Yale lawsuit is the Trump administration’s latest attack on race-conscious admissions. Multiple experts have commented that they believe the DOJ’s support for Students for Fair Admissions, a group involved in the lawsuit, has political motives, since the November election is around the corner. This pattern of lawsuits and appeals could eventually reach the Supreme Court in a case centered on race-conscious college admissions processes and, with a likely 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, it will threaten the very existence of affirmative action. more...

Several of the most devastating opinions, both Friday and in recent weeks, have come from conservative judges and, in some federal cases, Trump appointees.
By KYLE CHENEY and JOSH GERSTEIN

President Donald Trump and his legal allies earned a platinum sombrero Friday, striking out five times in a matter of hours in states pivotal to the president’s push to overturn the election results — and losing a sixth in Minnesota for good measure. It was another harsh milestone in a monthlong run of legal futility, accompanied by sharp rebukes from county, state and federal judges who continue to express shock at the Trump team’s effort to simply scrap the results of an election he lost. Several of the most devastating opinions, both Friday and in recent weeks, have come from conservative judges and, in some federal cases, Trump appointees.

The losses included a rejection in Wisconsin from the state Supreme Court, where the majority was gobsmacked at the effort by a conservative group to invalidate the entire election without any compelling evidence of voter fraud or misconduct. “The relief being sought by the petitioners is the most dramatic invocation of judicial power I have ever seen,” said Brian Hagedorn, a conservative elected justice, in a concurring opinion. “Judicial acquiescence to such entreaties built on so flimsy a foundation would do indelible damage to every future election. Once the door is opened to judicial invalidation of presidential election results, it will be awfully hard to close that door again. This is a dangerous path we are being asked to tread.”

An Arizona county judge, similarly, tossed a suit brought by state GOP chair Kelli Ward. "The court finds no misconduct, no fraud and no effect on the outcome of the election." Ward has vowed to appeal that ruling. A Nevada judge issued a point-by-point rejection of every claim lodged by the Trump team, emphasizing that the facts they presented were sparse and unpersuasive. Carson City District Judge James Russell’s opinion repeatedly emphasized their case would not have succeeded “under any standard of proof.” more...

Some legal experts say attorneys have crossed the line with unsupported claims.
By Olivia Rubin and Matthew Mosk

As President Donald Trump and his allies continue their legal barrage in an effort to overturn the presidential election despite a succession of adverse rulings, some state and local election officials are starting to cry foul. In Michigan Thursday, Republican lawyers were back in court seeking an audit of election results in the heavily-Democratic county that is home to Detroit -- even after the state's Supreme Court had already rejected an earlier request from the same group to halt certification. An exasperated lawyer for the city pleaded with the judge to do something.

As President Donald Trump and his allies continue their legal barrage in an effort to overturn the presidential election despite a succession of adverse rulings, some state and local election officials are starting to cry foul. In Michigan Thursday, Republican lawyers were back in court seeking an audit of election results in the heavily-Democratic county that is home to Detroit -- even after the state's Supreme Court had already rejected an earlier request from the same group to halt certification. An exasperated lawyer for the city pleaded with the judge to do something. more...

Brooks’ words have raised alarm bells with progressives — and if I wasn’t familiar with the law that controls the counting of electoral votes, I might be concerned as well.
By Dean Obeidallah, host of "The Dean Obeidallah Show"

GOP Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama wants to scare the more than 80 million Americans who voted for President-elect Joe Biden into thinking that there is a chance he and other Republicans in Congress could overturn the 2020 election results. To this end, Brooks stated Wednesday that he’s planning to challenge the Electoral College votes when they are reviewed by Congress on Jan. 6. As Brooks put it (without any evidence): “This election was stolen by the socialists engaging in extraordinary voter fraud and election theft measures.” Brooks also shared he’s actively seeking to recruit additional GOP members of Congress to join his efforts to prevent Biden from becoming the 46th president because as he sees it, “Donald Trump won the Electoral College by a significant margin.”

Brooks’ words have raised alarm bells with progressives, with my SiriusXM radio Wednesday night getting a flood of concerned listener calls. And if I wasn’t familiar with the law that controls the counting of electoral votes, I, too, might be concerned. But here’s the bottom line: Brooks’ partisan, fevered dream isn’t going to happen. And on some level, we should thank Brooks for raising this issue now, well ahead of the Jan. 6 date when a joint session of Congress counts the electoral votes. (While nothing is technically impossible, the only way for Brooks to be successful would be for House Democrats to join him in rejecting the electoral votes — and that ain’t happening.) more...

CBS News

The Pentagon said Friday it is pulling most U.S. troops out of Somalia on President Donald Trump's orders, continuing a post-election push by Mr. Trump to shrink U.S. involvement in counterterrorism missions abroad. Without providing details, the Pentagon said in a short statement that "a majority" of U.S. troops and assets in Somalia will be withdrawn in early 2021. There are currently about 700 troops in the Horn of Africa nation, training and advising local forces in an extended fight against the extremist group al-Shabab, an affiliate of al-Qaida. Trump recently ordered troop drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq, and he was expected to withdraw some or all troops from Somalia. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had said on Wednesday that the future structure of the U.S. military presence in Somalia was still being debated. more...

By Priscilla Alvarez, CNN

(CNN) The Trump administration must post a public notice that it will accept new applications for the Obama-era program shielding undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation, a federal judge ordered Friday. Judge Nicholas Garaufis' latest order builds on his November ruling where he found that Chad Wolf was not legally serving as acting Homeland Security secretary when he signed rules limiting applications and renewals for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Trump administration tried ending DACA in 2017, but the US Supreme Court blocked its attempt in June. In light of the Supreme Court's ruling, Wolf issued a memo in July saying that new applications for DACA would not be accepted and renewals would be limited to one year instead of two amid an ongoing review. The memo had sought to buy time while the administration decided its next steps. Plaintiffs welcomed Friday's order. more...

By Kate Sullivan and Jennifer Agiesta, CNN

Washington (CNN) President-elect Joe Biden's margin over President Donald Trump in the nationwide popular vote is now more than 7 million votes and may continue to grow as several states continue counting votes. Biden's lead over Trump is the second largest since 2000, and is about two and a half times larger than Hillary Clinton's popular vote lead over Trump in 2016. As of Friday morning, Biden had won about 81.2 million votes, the most votes a candidate has won in US history, and Trump had won about 74.2 million. Trump's vote count makes him the second-highest vote earner in American history.

Despite Biden's decisive victory and the Trump administration starting the formal presidential transition process, the President has refused to concede the race and continues to make baseless claims about widespread voter fraud. Biden won 306 electoral votes, while Trump has 232. Two hundred and seventy electoral votes are needed to become president. Americans voted by mail in record numbers this year to protect themselves from the coronavirus pandemic, and experts had warned that as a result, there would be a lengthy vote count that would likely not resolve until days or weeks after Election Day.

A number of states have certified their election results, including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, Georgia and Michigan. The certifications have dealt significant blows to the Trump campaign's futile attempt to overturn the election results. The campaign has mounted legal challenges that have failed to gain any traction, with many of the cases being dismissed by judges for lack of evidence. Despite Trump's refusal to concede, Biden has continued to build out his administration and has named several key nominees and appointees to top roles in his administration. more...

By Nathan McDermott, Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump's nominee to become a senior Pentagon official spread debunked conspiracies on Twitter that called Trump's election loss to Joe Biden a "coup" attempt and shared tweets that suggest Trump should declare martial law. Scott O'Grady, a former fighter pilot and Trump loyalist, repeatedly retweeted tweets that falsely stated Trump won the election in "landslide fashion" and that millions of votes were stolen from the President. On November 25, O'Grady retweeted a tweet that said, "Trump won & Biden & his Comrades will now attempt a coup," next to a photoshopped image of Biden beside Xi Jinping, the President of China.

On December 2, he retweeted an account that shared an article that said former national security adviser Michael Flynn had shared a petition that called for martial law. He then retweeted the same account which suggested that Trump should declare martial law. "I don't know who needs to hear this," the account said, "But calling for martial law is not a bad idea when there is an attempted coup against the president and this country happening right now."

Martial law
The tweet references a petition Flynn shared on Twitter calling for Trump to declare martial law and order a new presidential election. The petition falsely called November's presidential election "fraudulent" and called on Trump to have the military oversee a new election. Attorney General William Barr said in an interview published Tuesday that there is no evidence that widespread fraud occurred during the election. more...

Published Thu, Dec 3 202012:58 PM ESTUpdated Thu, Dec 3 20204:11 PM EST
Dan Mangan, Christina Wilkie, Kevin Breuninger

President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump on Thursday blasted the Washington, D.C., attorney general’s office for deposing her in a lawsuit related to 2017 inauguration spending. But in doing so she conspicuously omitted the $3.6 million question posed by a Republican felon that underscored fears the Trump family was profiting from a nonprofit set up to celebrate the White House victory.

Ivanka Trump’s tweet condemning the suit as “politically motivated” included an email that indicates she told managers of her father’s hotel in Washington to charge “fair market rate” for its services during the inauguration after Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election. But what the senior White House advisor did not mention is that she only said that after being warned by a top inaugural committee official of the “quite high” minimum rate of $3.6 million for food and beverage and use of the banquet halls during inauguration week that the committee was being quoted by the Trump International Hotel. more...

*** Most of the money does not go to the election fraud fight but goes to other purposes. Is this one last scam on Trump supporters? ***

Brian Schwartz

President Donald Trump told a crowd of supporters in October that if he really wanted to overcome Joe Biden’s fundraising supremacy, he could call the heads of any major company and they would come to his aid. “All I have to do is call up the head of every Wall Street firm, head of every major company, the head of every major energy company, ‘Do me a favor, send me $10 million for my campaign.’ Yes, sir,’” Trump told the crowd of supporters in Arizona in October.

However, new Federal Election Commission records, tracking fundraising from Oct. 15 to Nov. 23, show that wealthy GOP financiers largely did not help Trump in the final weeks of the bruising battle with Biden as he dropped in the polls or parachute in millions toward his current legal fight. It’s the latest sign that many executives could be ready to work with President-elect Biden. In the case of the legal fight, some of the leading party donors had previously maxed out to the campaign and Republican National Committee, leaving Trump’s political team unable to turn to them for financial assistance.

The Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee, his two joint fundraising committees and the president’s leadership committee, Save America, raised over $200 million since Election Day. Save America will likely be used to fund any political initiatives Trump is planning after he leaves the White House, including possibly running for president again in 2024. Trump’s fraud pitch, while apparently not moving many business leaders, appears to be resonating with small-dollar donors, who may be convinced that their money is going expressly to the fraud fight, and likely provided much of the money raised in the period. Steve Schwarzman, the CEO of private equity behemoth Blackstone, and a longtime Trump confidant, did not contribute to any pro-Trump groups in recent weeks, according to election filings. Instead, he gave $15 million in November to the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. more...

*** Most of the money does not go to the election fraud fight but goes to other purposes. Is this one last scam on Trump supporters? ***

By Aila Slisco

President Donald Trump has inspired more than $200 million in donations while promoting unsubstantiated claims of massive voter fraud in the aftermath of his loss to President-elect Joe Biden. The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC) said Thursday that they, along with several other Trump-associated groups, had raised $207.5 million in the month since Election Day. When fundraising figures from the weeks leading up to the election are included, from October 15 onwards, the total balloons to a massive $495 million.

"These tremendous fundraising numbers show President Trump remains the leader and source of energy for the Republican Party, and that his supporters are dedicated to fighting for the rightful, legal outcome of the 2020 general election," Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement. "It also positions President Trump to continue leading the fight to clean up our corrupt elections process in so many areas around the country, and to build on gains from the 2020 elections so we can take back the House and build on our Senate majority in 2022," Stepien added.

Post-election fundraising campaigns have often focused on efforts to overturn the results of the election while promoting evidence-free claims that what appears to be a decisive Biden victory was actually a Trump win that was "stolen" from him. Legal efforts by the campaign and allies have been repeatedly failed to pass muster in court, while Trump has continued to promote conspiracy theories and debunked voter fraud claims on social media. more...

Bill Bostock

The White House's plant in the Justice Department has been blacklisted for pressuring staff to hand over evidence of election fraud, the Associated Press reported, citing three sources familiar with the matter. Heidi Stirrup — a key ally of President Donald Trump's senior policy advisor Stephen Miller — was appointed as White House liaison at the department this fall.

Stirrup was told to leave 950 Pennsylvania Avenue some time in the past two weeks after "top Justice officials learned of her efforts to collect insider information about ongoing cases and the department's work on election fraud," the AP wrote. Stirrup is said to have engaged in other misconduct at the Justice Department, including offering allies top department jobs without White House approval.

Business Insider has contacted the Justice Department and the White House for comment. On November 7, the Justice Department said it would look into Trump's baseless claims that the US election was fraudulent. There is no evidence suggesting voter fraud and, on Tuesday, Attorney General Bill Barr said neither the Justice Department nor the FBI had found evidence to validate the president's claim. Trump and his allies have filed at least 32 lawsuits challenging the 2020 election results, and have so far won none of them. more...

By Cheyenne Roundtree For Dailymail.com and Matthew Wright For Dailymail.com

The star witness in Trump's 'voter fraud' case in Michigan only finished probation a few months ago for committing computer crime, DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal. Mellissa Carone, 33, was sentenced to 12 months of probation for the offense in September 2019, stemming from an incident in November 2018. The mother-of-two had struck a plea deal with Michigan prosecutors, who in turn dropped a first degree obscenity charge against her.  

Carone became a viral phenomenon during a hearing on Wednesday where she berated Michigan lawmakers while detailing her claims of election fraud and claiming 'Democrats ruin your life.'  Rudy Giuliani even tried to shush her at one point, as she asserted: 'I know what I saw. I know what I saw. If I'm wrong I can go to prison.'

On Thursday, she lashed out at suggestions she had been drinking after her belligerent performance, proclaiming: 'Absolutely not!'  The same day - having claimed that she had to 'get rid of her social media' - she went on Twitter to post pictures of herself with Giuliani and a mash-up of her evidence which compared her to 'Rocky.' The mash-up mocked a Republican lawmaker then showed Trump's Marine One over a rally crowd.

And late in the afternoon, Trump approvingly tweeted a link to a story by pro-Trump outlet Justthenews.com featuring her testimony. Carone's criminal past is the latest public blunder for Giuliani as he attempts to prove alleged election fraud, just weeks after he held a press conference at Four Seasons Total Landscaping - which was in-between a sex shop and a crematorium.   The 76-year-old also became a meme himself during a bizarre press conference last month where he was sweating profusely and hair dye leaked down the side of his face. more...

The president also said Justice Department officials “haven’t looked very hard, which is a disappointment, to be honest with you.”
By QUINT FORGEY

President Donald Trump on Thursday declined to say whether he continues to have confidence in Attorney General William Barr, again demanding that the Justice Department investigate and back up his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. Addressing reporters in the Oval Office after presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former college football coach Lou Holtz, Trump complained that Barr “hasn’t done anything” and that DOJ officials “haven’t looked very hard, which is a disappointment, to be honest with you.”

Trump went on to pledge that “when [Barr] looks, he’ll see the kind of evidence that right now you’re seeing in the Georgia Senate” — repeating the fraud allegations that Republicans fear could foment depressed voter turnout in two decisive Senate runoff races early next year. Trump then contended that “massive fraud” was similarly perpetrated in various swing states he lost to President-elect Joe Biden, including Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. “This is probably the most fraudulent election that anyone’s ever seen,” he said.

In fact, a group of federal officials, election supervisors and voting technology vendors deemed the 2020 election the “most secure” in U.S. history. And in the latest rebuke of Trump’s claims, Barr said Tuesday that the Justice Department had not uncovered “fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome” in the election. Asked Thursday whether he still had confidence in Barr in light of the attorney general’s assessment, the president paused before replying: “Ask me that in a number of weeks from now. They should be looking at all of this fraud.” A spokesperson for Barr declined to comment on Trump’s remarks. more...

By Brendan Cole

The latest ads by the Lincoln Project have taken aim at President Donald Trump's claims the election was marred by fraud and portrayed the Georgia Senate runoff in January as essentially a vote on U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. A 44-second video released by the anti-Trump group of Republicans shows the attorney Lin Wood, who backs Trump's unsubstantiated claims of fraud, addressing a crowd at a so-called "Stop the Steal" rally in Atlanta, Georgia on Wednesday. The clip starts with Wood wearing a "Make America Great Again" cap telling a cheering crowd that Trump "knows he won this election."

"He said, 'Lin, I didn't lose it, I won it,'" Wood said, as the words "he didn't" flash across the screen. Wood goes on to tell the crowd, "Don't you ever concede Mr. President, you won this election. America voted for you, stay in the White House." A caption then appears saying: "Donald Trump lost by 7 million votes. He still refuses to concede. This is not normal." At the rally, Wood had also tried to cast doubt on whether conservative votes would be secured in the runoff election which takes place on January 5, with early voting starting December 14. The battle between Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue against Democrat challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively, will determine who controls the U.S. Senate. Wood told the crowd: "Why would you go back and vote in another rigged election." more...

*** Trump is the greatest threat to national security. ***

By Marina Pitofsky

President Trump’s director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, is set to publicly warn that China poses the greatest national security threat to the United States, Axios reported. Ratcliffe is set to make the announcement on Thursday, according to the news outlet, which added that he will make a series of statements and appearances doubling down on the criticism of the country.

Axios reported that the move is part of a broader Trump administration effort to elevate concerns about the relationship between Washington and Beijing. An unidentified administration official told the site that such warnings are not made publicly.  Relations between the Trump administration and China have been strained, with the president regularly blaming China for the coronavirus outbreak and claiming that officials in the country could have acted sooner to contain the spread of the virus.

Tensions have also increased over control in the South China Sea, trade, tariffs and more. The administration earlier this week reportedly prepared to have more Chinese businesses added to its blacklist of companies it says have ties to the Chinese military, including a top chipmaker and national offshore oil and gas producer. more...

Kevin Johnson - USA TODAY

A coalition of 90 current and former law enforcement officials are calling on federal authorities to halt five executions scheduled during the final weeks of the Trump administration, claiming that the uncertain transition period and resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic risk undermining confidence in the criminal justice system. “When people believe the state is executing a person, or applying the death penalty unjustly ... their trust in our system of government and law enforcement is undermined,” the officials said in an open letter released by the group Fair and Just Prosecution.

This year, the Trump administration has dramatically revived its use of the death penalty after a 17-year hiatus, executing more prisoners – eight – than any system in the country. Two more are scheduled for execution this month and three in January, just days before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who opposes capital punishment.

The opposition group, which includes current and former prosecutors, state attorneys general, police chiefs and sheriffs, argued that the slate of executions appeared to represent a "rush" against the clock ticking down on President Donald Trump's tenure despite the formidable health risks posed by the virus. Last month, the execution date for Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, was moved from its original date of Dec. 8 to Jan. 12 after her lawyers contracted the virus. more...

By Brendan Cole

For the second time in a matter of days, Fox News' anchor Eric Shawn has debunked claims of election fraud made by President Donald Trump. As some hosts at Fox News help the president amplify claims of election fraud, Shawn is among members of the network pushing against the unsubstantiated assertions.

On Sunday, Shawn responded to claims the election was rigged that Trump had made on the network only hours earlier during an interview with Maria Bartiromo. Shawn told viewers on America's News Headquarters that many GOP officials and other experts say that the president's claims of a rigged ballot were "false and unsubstantiated."

On Wednesday, Shawn returned to the theme during a segment captioned "Investigating Trump's Voter Fraud claims," on that day that Trump gave a 46-minute video address and repeated claims of corruption, machine tampering and mysterious votes appearing. During an on-air factcheck and citing election officials, Shawn rejected the claims made by Trump and his allies of a "massive dump of votes" which boosted numbers for President-elect Joe Biden. more...

Tegan Hanlon

In a last-minute push, the Trump administration announced Thursday that it will auction off drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in just over a month, setting up a final showdown with opponents before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. The announcement of a lease sale comes sooner than some expected: The Bureau of Land Management did not wait for the comment and nominations period to officially end before scheduling a sale date.

The sale, which is now set for Jan. 6, could cap a bitter, decades-long battle over whether to drill in the coastal plain, and it seals the administration's efforts to open the land to development. But the Trump administration's plan for the sale may also draw legal challenges from drilling opponents, who could target the aggressive timeline in court.

Environmental groups have vowed to continue to fight to keep drill rigs out of the coastal plain and have filed lawsuits challenging the Trump administration's environmental reviews. Biden has also said he opposes drilling in the refuge. But if leases are finalized before he takes office Jan. 20, they could be difficult to revoke. more...

By Kara Scannell, CNN

(CNN) Ivanka Trump, the President's daughter and adviser, sat for a deposition Tuesday with investigators from the Washington, DC, attorney general's office as part of its lawsuit alleging the misuse of inaugural funds, according to a court filing. In January, the DC attorney general's office sued the Trump Organization and Presidential Inaugural Committee alleging they abused more than $1 million raised by the nonprofit by "grossly overpaying" for use of event space at the Trump hotel in Washington for the 2017 inauguration.
Depositions of witnesses as part of the lawsuit have been underway over the past several weeks.

Tom Barrack, chairman of the inaugural committee, was deposed on November 17, according to the court filing. The attorney general's office has also subpoenaed records from Barrack, Ivanka Trump, first lady Melania Trump, and Rick Gates, the former inaugural committee deputy chairman, the filing said. In a statement Thursday morning, Ivanka Trump tweeted an image of an email she says was sent in December 2016 in which she called for a "fair market rate" to be charged. "This 'inquiry' is another politically motivated demonstration of vindictiveness & waste of taxpayer dollars," Trump said. more...

By Christina Zhao

At a "Stop the Steal" rally in Georgia on Wednesday, attorney Lin Wood encouraged supporters of President Donald Trump not to vote for Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in the state's upcoming runoff elections. The two crucial Georgia runoff elections—which will be held on January 5 with early voting starting December 14—will determine control of the Senate, meaning President-elect Joe Biden's ability to push through his agenda. Democrats, who narrowly control the House, need to win both seats for a 50-50 split. In that scenario, Vice President Kamala Harris would cast the tie-breaking vote.

Recent election boycott calls driven by Trump supporters, inspired by the president's allegations of widespread voter fraud, could hinder the GOP's chances of retaining their majority in the upper chamber. During the pro-Trump protest rally, Wood said to the crowd, "Where's Kelly Loeffler? Where's David Perdue? They outta be standing right here." "They have not earned your vote," he said. "Don't you give it to them. Why would you go back and vote in another rigged election for god's sake! Fix it! You gotta fix it!" more...

By Kaitlan Collins, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr had a "contentious," lengthy meeting inside the West Wing this week after Barr told The Associated Press in an interview that the Justice Department had uncovered no evidence of fraud that would change the election outcome, one person familiar with the meeting who spoke on the condition of anonymity told CNN. The interview had caused his boss to erupt, multiple people familiar with his reaction said.

Though the press secretary said Wednesday she was unaware if Trump and Barr met when he was at the White House Tuesday, the source described the meeting as contentious but said the President was not screaming at Barr. The Justice Department seemed to try and claw back the damage, issuing a statement Tuesday hours after Barr's comments to The Associated Press claiming it had not concluded its election fraud investigation and therefore not "announced an affirmative finding of no fraud in the election." "The department will continue to receive and vigorously pursue all specific and credible allegations of fraud as expeditiously as possible," said a Justice Department spokesperson who did not speak on the record. ABC News first reported the tense White House meeting. more...

By Ramsey Touchberry

Republican lawmakers issued searing rebuke on Wednesday in response to President Donald Trump's threat to block the must-pass annual defense spending bill that Congress has approved, without fail, for more than half a century. In a tweet Tuesday night, the commander in chief said that unless Congress abolishes Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which provides social media companies legal protections against what content is shared on their platforms by third parties and users, he would "be forced to unequivocally VETO" the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Republicans ignored Trump's veto warnings and struck a deal with Democrats that excludes Section 230 while including a provision that requires the renaming of military bases with Confederate names. Section 230, which Trump labeled "a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity," is entirely unrelated to the NDAA, a crucial piece of annual legislation that funds the country's military.

Despite the threat, top Republicans said they were forging ahead without the president's wish and would test his veto. The Senate decided via unanimous consent Wednesday morning to officially go to conference on the NDAA and hammer out the differences between their version and the House's. "Section 230 has nothing to do with the military," Senate Armed Forces Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said, adding that he told the president their plans to proceed without nixing Section 230. "You can't do it in this bill." more...

By Jim Acosta, Pamela Brown and Michael Warren, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump's associates are making appeals to him in the hopes of obtaining pardons before he leaves office, a source familiar with the matter told CNN on Tuesday. The source said the list of associates broaching the subject of preemptive pardons that would seek to shield those individuals from prosecution includes Rudy Giuliani, who has been leading the President's long-shot legal battles to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in his role as Trump's personal attorney. Since the election, Trump has been discussing with advisers preemptively pardoning several people close to him, including his children, son-in-law and Giuliani, a separate source familiar confirmed to CNN. The potential pardon list includes others who are close to the President and could be legally vulnerable but have not been charged.

Donald Trump Jr. was under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller for contacts he had with Russians, but was never charged. Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, provided false information about his foreign contacts when applying for his security clearance, but Trump issued him one anyway. The President has told advisers he thinks that he and his family have been unfairly targeted and that he's concerned the legal pursuits could continue under the Biden Justice Department. Trump's lawyers and allies have been lobbying him for pardons ranging from their personal clients to people whom Vice President-elect Kamala Harris put behind bars, according to multiple people. She was a state prosecutor, however, and pardons apply only to federal crimes. The New York Times and ABC News first reported that Giuliani was discussing a pardon with the President and on discussions about preemptive pardons for Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. Giuliani denied discussing a preemptive pardon with the President, telling CNN that The "(New York) Times is completely wrong." He further denied that he has talked to anyone at the White House about a pardon for himself. more...

By David Wickert, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger Wednesday called on President Donald Trump to drop unproven allegations of voting fraud in Georgia. At a press conference at the Georgia State Capitol, Raffensperger decried Trump’s continued insistence that voter fraud cost him the election in Georgia and elsewhere. The secretary cited this week’s comments by U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who said federal investigators have seen no evidence of widespread fraud that would affect the outcome of the election, which was won by former Vice President Joe Biden.

“President Trump’s Justice Department has seen no widespread fraud,” Raffensperger said. “They have had multiple investigations, like us. And our investigators have seen no widespread fraud, either.” The secretary’s comments come as Trump’s supporters continue to press claims of voter fraud in court. Attorneys handling two of those lawsuits have scheduled a press conference in Alpharetta Wednesday . So far, their allegations have not held up in court. more...

Brian Naylor

President Trump is being urged to use his remaining time in office to grant preemptive pardons to people close to him, including family members and maybe even himself. Sean Hannity, whose Fox News program is closely followed by Trump, said on his radio show this week that the president, "out the door, needs to pardon his whole family and himself because they want this witch hunt to go on in perpetuity, they're so full of rage and insanity against the president."

Hannity likely was referring to the prospect for a post-presidential prosecution of Trump, who faces serious potential legal issues once he is out of office and no longer enjoys the privilege of not being indicted by federal prosecutors. President-elect Joe Biden has said he'd let professionals within the Justice Department assess whether a case is merited against Trump, and that decision — which would be unprecedented — is one of the toughest facing the department in the new administration.  A presidential preemptive pardon sounds unusual but it has been done before, most famously when President Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon, who resigned because of the Watergate scandal in 1973 but had not actually been charged with any crimes. "A preemptive pardon is a presidential pardon granted before any formal legal process has begun," American University professor Jeffrey Crouch tells NPR. more...

Philip Ewing, Scott Neuman

President Trump has the "absolute" power to pardon himself, he argued on Monday morning, then asked rhetorically why he would use it because he hasn't done anything wrong. Trump made his assertion in a Twitter post following a weekend in which his administration made a sweeping case about executive power. Just because Trump has the relevant powers doesn't mean he will use them, supporters said. All the same, the main check that his legal advisers see is a political one — the threat of backlash, as opposed to any limitation in law. Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said in an interview on Sunday with ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos that Trump had "no intention" of a self-pardon and in a separate interview, on NBC's Meet the Press, he said that any such move would be "unthinkable" and might lead to impeachment. "He has no intention of pardoning himself, but he probably — not to say he can't," Giuliani said. "I think the political ramifications would be tough. Pardoning other people is one thing, pardoning yourself is tough." more...

Nina Totenberg at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The ripples from President Trump's recent tweet suggesting he could pardon himself continue to billow out into the body politic. No president in the history of this country has ever pardoned himself, though President Nixon, and perhaps others, may have contemplated it. Presidents Clinton and George H.W. Bush were each under investigation by a special prosecutor as their terms drew to a close, but neither chose to pardon himself. President Trump's tweet responded to a Washington Post story reporting that Trump had discussed with his lawyers whether he could pardon himself. His tweet said this: "While all agree the U.S. President has complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us."

His new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, appearing on CBS's Face the Nation, confirmed that the president had discussed the pardon question. "[President Trump] just doesn't like the fact that he has a two-minute conversation in the Oval Office or in his study, and that people are running out and leaking that," said Scaramucci.

What are the limits of the president's power?
Presidents do have broad — but not unlimited — pardoning power. The Constitution gives the president the power to grant pardons "for offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment." So he can't pardon himself from impeachment; he can't pardon anyone facing state charges, and most — but not all — constitutional law experts believe he can't pardon himself on federal charges either. A self-pardon would be "politically, a disaster," says Brian Kalt, law professor at Michigan State University and author of Constitutional Cliffhangers. "The main check on the pardon power is political accountability," he adds. more...

Jamie Ross

On Tuesday, Gabriel Sterling, a Georgia election official and a Republican, begged President Trump to stop pushing conspiracy theories about Joe Biden’s win in the state. “This all has to stop,” Sterling said in a remarkable press conference. “Someone is going to get hurt. Someone is going to get shot. Someone’s going to get killed. And it’s not right. It’s not right.” more...

By Elliot Hannon

With the state of Georgia still roiled by President Donald Trump’s onslaught of unhinged and unfounded allegations about the Nov. 3 election, which has inspired his supporters to harass and threaten those involved in the process, a top-ranking Georgia election official gave an emotional press conference Tuesday afternoon to say, quite simply, enough is enough. “At the beginning of this, I’m going to do my best to keep it together,” Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting system implementation manager and a Republican himself said. “Because it has all gone too far. All of it.” Sterling took to the lectern to call for some sense of sanity from the president and his supporters while also calling out national Republicans for not doing more to refute Trump’s conspiratorial claims that have led to threats that, Sterling said, are going to get someone hurt or worse. “It has to stop,” Sterling said, his voice quivering with emotion at points.

“Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language,” Sterling said. “Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions. This has to stop. We need you to step up. And if you take a position of leadership, show some.” That seems unlikely from the president, since it is Trump himself who is leading the charge in the depths of conspiracy. The impact on the individuals involved in the Georgia electoral process, Sterling said, has been significant. Sterling said that hourly workers involved in the count were now on the receiving end of wild conspiracy theories and facing death threats—Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s private residence has been bombarded by Trump supporter caravans and his wife flooded with sexualized threats. more...

One source said the president feels embattled and the conversations are within that context, not because he believes anyone did anything illegal.
By Kristen Welker, Carol E. Lee, Peter Alexander and Hallie Jackson

President Donald Trump has been discussing the possibility of issuingpardons for his family members and some close associates, multiple sources familiar with the matter told NBC News. One source said the conversations in recent days were within the context of a president who feels embattled, and not because Trump believes he or any of his family members had done anything illegal.

The New York Times first reported the discussions and said Trump had spoken about whether to grant pre-emptive pardons for his three eldest children, Eric and Donald Jr., and White House advisor Ivanka Trump. His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and attorney Rudy Giuliani were also mentioned. The Times reported that Trump had talked with Giuliani about pardoning him as recently as last week. Giuliani has denied that to NBC News, calling it "a lie," adding that the reports were "totally false." The White House has not yet commented. However, late Tuesday Trump tweeted: "Pardon investigation is Fake News!" Trump has not acknowledged he lost the November presidential election to President-elect Joe Biden, and he and Giuliani have continued to make false and baseless claims that the election was rigged. The claims have lacked any evidence, and legal efforts have suffered repeated setbacks. more...

Rudolph W. Giuliani, who is promoting baseless claims of widespread election fraud, talked about a pardon with President Trump as recently as last week.
By Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt

President Trump has discussed with advisers whether to grant pre-emptive pardons to his children, to his son-in-law and to his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and talked with Mr. Giuliani about pardoning him as recently as last week, according to two people briefed on the matter.

Mr. Trump has told others that he is concerned that a Biden Justice Department might seek retribution against the president by targeting the oldest three of his five children — Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump — as well as Ms. Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner, a White House senior adviser.

Donald Trump Jr. had been under investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, for contacts that the younger Mr. Trump had had with Russians offering damaging information on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign, but he was never charged. Mr. Kushner provided false information to federal authorities about his contacts with foreigners for his security clearance, but was given one anyway by the president.

The nature of Mr. Trump’s concern about any potential criminal exposure of Eric Trump or Ivanka Trump is unclear, although an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney into the Trump Organization has expanded to include tax write-offs on millions of dollars in consulting fees by the company, some of which appear to have gone to Ms. Trump. more...


By Katelyn Polantz, CNN

(CNN) The Justice Department is investigating a potential crime related to funneling money to the White House or related political committee in exchange for a presidential pardon, according to court records unsealed Tuesday in federal court. The case is the latest legal twist in the waning days of President Donald Trump's administration after several of his top advisers have been convicted of federal criminal charges and as the possibility rises of Trump giving pardons to those who've been loyal to him.

The disclosure is in 20 pages of partially redacted documents made public by the DC District Court on Tuesday afternoon. The records show Chief Judge Beryl Howell's review in August of a request from prosecutors to access documents obtained in a search as part of a bribery-for-pardon investigation. The filings don't reveal a timeline of the alleged scheme, or any names of people potentially involved, except that communications between people including at least one lawyer were seized from an office that was raided sometime before the end of this summer. more...

By Kim Wehle

It’s sometimes hard to believe that we have reached a point in American politics where it’s necessary to state the obvious: It’s not okay for presidents to break the law, to ask others to break the law, or to promise pardons in exchange for government workers’ agreement to break the law. When the law is broken, people get hurt. The people we are talking about here are those with personal property along the southern border who — if reports are accurate — would have it stolen by the U.S. government so that President Trump can build his elusive wall and thereby increase his chances of retaining power in November 2020.

Thankfully, so far, this is not another instance in which Congress is sitting on its hands and doing nothing about the possibility of an epic constitutional monstrosity. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the Department of Homeland Security for documents relating to any pardon offers. The White House claims that Trump was joking when he reportedly encouraged officials at the DHS to break laws that stand in the way of his immigration agenda because — not to worry — he’d pardon them later. Trump’s incitement of lawlessness reportedly included asking acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan to deny migrants their legal right to petition for asylum, and suggesting that aides violate environmental and eminent domain restrictions in order to push forward on his promised wall at the Southern border.

Let’s be clear: Under federal law, a bribe is the offering, giving, receiving or soliciting of any item of value in order to influence the actions of an individual holding a public or legal duty. Merely asking for a bribe counts — it need not actually occur for the act to be a crime. The reason behind laws banning bribery is that we want government officials to exercise their extraordinary powers objectively and in the public interest — not for their own private gain. more...

The move is a "total non-starter," a senior House staffer said.
By CONNOR O’BRIEN and CRISTIANO LIMA

President Donald Trump threatened to veto must-pass defense policy legislation on Tuesday unless lawmakers agree to repeal a legal shield for social media companies, a move that one senior House staffer called "a total non-starter" for Democrats. Trump's push to repeal the protections, known as Section 230, has become the most contentious remaining issue in talks on the National Defense Authorization Act. The president ratcheted up the pressure on Congress in a pair of tweets Tuesday night, threatening to nix the $740 billion bill unless it includes the repeal.

"Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to 'Big Tech' (the only companies in America that have it - corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity. Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand," Trump tweeted. "Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk," Trump added.

A senior House staffer said the issue has no chance of success with Democrats. “It’s a fucking joke,” said the staffer, who spoke anonymously to discuss private negotiations. “This is a complex debate that has no business as an eleventh-hour airdrop.” The senior staffer said the push to include other proposals targeting Section 230, even a bipartisan bill led by Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), in the defense bill won't make it either. “Full stop,” the staffer said. more...

BBC

"It's all gone too far! All of it! It has to stop!" Gabriel Sterling warned. He cited intimidation and death threats to election workers. Georgia is carrying out a second recount of votes at the Trump camp's request. Joe Biden was declared a narrow winner in the key state. Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said it was trying to make sure "that all legal votes are counted and all illegal votes are not". "No-one should engage in threats or violence, and if that has happened, we condemn that fully," he said.

It came after US Attorney General William Barr said his justice department had so far found no proof to back the president's claims of fraud in the election - the latest setback to the Trump camp's legal challenges in several states. Georgia will also hold in January two run-off elections, which will determine who controls the Senate. Mr Trump's Republican party currently has a slim majority in the upper chamber, and a victory in the run-offs would allow it to counter the Democratic administration of President-elect Biden. The Democrats control the lower chamber - the House of Representatives. more...


By Chandelis Duster, CNN

Washington (CNN) Georgia's Republican lieutenant governor on Tuesday joined a growing list of GOP officials in the state who are publicly rejecting President Donald Trump's baseless claims of voter fraud, saying the misinformation spread by the President and his allies is "alarming" and could jeopardize the party in upcoming Senate runoff elections. Asked by CNN's Alisyn Camerota on "New Day" about a falsehood spread by Trump that election officials in Georgia were "making deals," Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan flatly replied, "certainly not."

"What is alarming is the amount of misinformation that continues to flow. It's alarming to me," Duncan continued. "It's certainly disheartening to watch folks willing to kind of put their character and their morals out there just so they can spread a half truth or a lie in the efforts to maybe to flip an election. ... That's not what democracy is all about."

Duncan, along with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, are among the highest-ranking Republican officials who are disputing Trump's claims of voter fraud despite the President's continuing grip on much of the party. The comments by Georgia officials are particularly notable, as the January runoff election could determine the balance of power in the US Senate. more...

Dan Mangan, Kevin Breuninger

The U.S. Department of Justice has not found evidence of large-scale ballot fraud that would reverse President-elect Joe Biden’s projected win over President Donald Trump in the election, Attorney General William Barr said in a new interview Tuesday. Barr’s statement to the Associated Press undercuts claims by Trump, his lawyers and many of his political allies that he was the victim of a massive voting fraud that swindled him out of a win.

“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,” Barr told the AP. Barr, who is head of the DOJ, told the news wire service that federal prosecutors and FBI agents have looked into complaints they have received about possible fraud, but found no evidence that would reverse Biden’s victory, the AP reported. “Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. They are not systemic allegations and. And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on.” more...

Governor says secretary of state 'cannot be overridden by executive order'
By Brooke Singman | Fox News

President Trump on Tuesday told Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to "do something" to overrule state election officials, claiming he would find a "gold mine" of fraud, as the governor's office maintained that Georgia law "prohibits" him from "interfering in elections." "You allowed your state to be scammed," Trump tweeted to Kemp Tuesday. "We must check signatures and count signed envelopes against ballots. Then call off election. It won’t be needed. We will all WIN!"

"Why won't Governor @BrianKempGA, the hapless Governor of Georgia, use his emergency powers, which can be easily done, to overrule his obstinate Secretary of State, and do a match of signatures on envelopes," Trump tweeted Monday. "It will be a 'goldmine' of fraud, and we will easily WIN the state." The president added that Kemp should “quickly check the number of envelopes versus the number of ballots.” “You may just find that there are many more ballots than there are envelopes,” Trump continued. “So simple, and so easy to do. Georgia Republicans are angry, all Republicans are angry.” He added: “Get it done!” more...

Dan Mangan, Kevin Breuninger

President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani recently talked to the president about possibly receiving a preemptive pardon before Trump leaves office, according to a report Tuesday. The discussions, detailed by The New York Times, come as Giuliani leads last-ditch legal efforts by Trump’s campaign to reverse President-elect Joe Biden’s projected win in the Electoral College. “Not true,” Giuliani told CNBC via a text message when asked about the Times’ report.

Giuliani, who has not been charged with any crime, was known as far back as a year ago to be under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. That’s the office Giuliani led in the 1980s, before getting elected New York City mayor in 1993. The probe reportedly was focused on Giuliani’s actions in Ukraine, where he for months tried to dig up damaging information about Biden and his son Hunter Biden. The status of that investigation is not known.

Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives last year, and ultimately acquitted after a Senate trial, for pressuring the president of Ukraine to launch an investigation of Hunter Biden’s business dealings in that country while Trump was withholding congressionally approved military aid to that nation. The Times, citing two people familiar with the matter, reported that Giuliani talked to Trump about a preemptive pardon as recently as last week. more...

By Chandelis Duster, CNN

Washington (CNN) Georgia's Republican lieutenant governor on Tuesday joined a growing list of GOP officials in the state who are publicly rejecting President Donald Trump's baseless claims of voter fraud, saying the misinformation spread by the President and his allies is "alarming" and could jeopardize the party in upcoming Senate runoff elections. Asked by CNN's Alisyn Camerota on "New Day" about a falsehood spread by Trump that election officials in Georgia were "making deals," Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan flatly replied, "certainly not."

"What is alarming is the amount of misinformation that continues to flow. It's alarming to me," Duncan continued. "It's certainly disheartening to watch folks willing to kind of put their character and their morals out there just so they can spread a half truth or a lie in the efforts to maybe to flip an election. ... That's not what democracy is all about." Duncan, along with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, are among the highest-ranking Republican officials who are disputing Trump's claims of voter fraud despite the President's continuing grip on much of the party. The comments by Georgia officials are particularly notable, as the January runoff election could determine the balance of power in the US Senate. more...

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) Angela Merkel's faith in America was deeply shaken when Donald Trump won the US presidency in 2016. The German Chancellor who grew up behind the Iron Curtain was quicker than most to perceive his threat to the kind of US global leadership that has traditionally underwritten European security. Had Hillary Clinton won in 2016, Merkel may well have opted not to run for a fourth term. But she would not retire with Trump in the White House, seeing him as a peril to the West, its common values and security architecture like NATO.

A sense of relief four years later pulsed through her congratulatory message to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. "Joe Biden brings with him decades of experience in domestic and foreign policy. He knows Germany and Europe well," Merkel said in her first televised address since the US election. more...

By Jeremy Diamond, Fredreka Schouten and Betsy Klein, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump and his political operation have raised more than $170 million since Election Day, a person familiar with the matter said -- a massive fundraising haul fueled by Trump's baseless allegations that the election was rigged. The fundraising flowed into the coffers of Trump's joint fundraising committee in less than four weeks thanks to a barrage of fundraising solicitations to Trump's supporters, urging them to donate to an "Election Defense Fund" as the President hyped up conspiracy theories about a stolen election.

In reality, an increasingly large share of the funds have helped retire the Trump campaign's debt and fund the President's future political operation via a political action committee. The Save America political action committee, which the President launched less than a week after Election Day, could fund his post-White House political life -- underwriting travel, staff and other functions, even if Trump never seeks public office again. The Trump campaign declined to comment on the fundraising figures. The Washington Post first reported that Trump's post-election fundraising had topped $150 million. One campaign adviser said the fundraising is a big indication that Trump "isn't going anywhere." The adviser said there is already talk of Trump doing some extensive traveling post-presidency, including trips overseas to maintain his visibility. more...

"I've got an exceptional team of lawyers that win in court, and I think they're probably going to be busy,” he said.
By Rebecca Shabad

WASHINGTON — Christopher Krebs, who was recently fired by President Donald Trump as the head of the federal government's election cybersecurity efforts, suggested Tuesday that he might take legal action against one of Trump’s lawyers who said that Krebs should be shot. In an interview on NBC’s “TODAY” show, host Savannah Guthrie asked Krebs how concerned he is about the comments made by Trump campaign lawyer Joe DiGenova in an interview Monday in which he said that Krebs “is a class A moron. He should be drawn and quartered. Taken out at dawn and shot.”

“It's certainly more dangerous language, more dangerous behavior," Krebs responded. "And the way I look at it is that we are a nation of laws, and I plan to take advantage of those laws. I've got an exceptional team of lawyers that win in court, and I think they're probably going to be busy.” Asked if there may be legal action taken as a result of those comments, Krebs said his team is looking at their “available opportunities.” DiGenova made the comment during an interview with conservative radio talk show host Howie Carr, whose show is also aired on Newsmax, one of the president’s preferred media outlets. more...

Patrick Marley, Molly Beck Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MADISON – President Donald Trump sued Wisconsin officials Tuesday in a last-ditch effort to reclaim a state he lost by about 20,700 votes. The Republican president filed his suit against Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and election officials a day after the governor and the head of the state Elections Commission certified Joe Biden had won the state’s 10 Electoral College votes. Trump has made little headway with lawsuits in other states and he faces an extraordinarily difficult path in Wisconsin. Time is running short. Under the federal "safe harbor" law, the results determined by the state will be respected if challenges to the outcome are resolved by Dec. 8. The Electoral College meets on Dec. 14, and Congress is to count the electoral votes on Jan. 6. more...

By Jim Acosta and Caroline Kelly, CNN

(CNN) Despite what President Donald Trump is tweeting and saying publicly in the wake of Arizona and Wisconsin certifying President-elect Joe Biden's victory Monday, Trump sees the scoreboard and understands he has no chance of hanging on to the presidency, two White House advisers told CNN. Asked whether the President realizes that he's been defeated, a close adviser who has been in contact with Trump about his legal strategy said Monday: "Yes, he does." The same adviser told CNN that Trump will continue to pursue his legal challenges until they are exhausted, but that adviser pointed to the certification in Wisconsin and said, "The writing is on the wall." Without the ability to override the results in a combination of states, not to mention even one state, the adviser said Trump's election challenges are obviously doomed.

Trump is still sounding as if he could still win because he wants to believe it, the adviser continued. But the adviser added Trump is fully aware that he has lost. Trump has not conceded the election and he still falsely claims that he won, but his administration has approved access to transition materials and national security briefings for Biden and his team. A separate adviser said the President has understood for some time that it is unlikely he will be able to overturn the election results but that Trump simply does not want to say that out loud. There may be another reason for the reticence: since Election Day, Trump and his political operation have raised more than $170 million, a person familiar with the matter said -- a massive fundraising haul fueled by Trump's baseless allegations that the election was rigged. In all, the campaign has sent 400 fundraising emails and another 125 texts between 11 p.m. Election Night and early Tuesday morning. One campaign adviser confirmed the $170 million number and said it's a big indication that Trump "isn't going anywhere." The adviser said there is already talk of Trump doing some extensive post-presidency travel, including overseas trips to maintain his visibility. more...

Joe DiGenova condemned for ‘mob attorney’ remark made on podcast shown on conservative Newsmax TV
Martin Pengell - Ernst/Reuters

A former head of US election security who said Donald Trump’s defeat by Joe Biden was not subject to voter fraud should be “taken out at dawn and shot”, a Trump campaign lawyer said. Condemnation of Joe DiGenova’s remark about Chris Krebs was swift, including calls for his disbarment and the charge that he was behaving like a “mob attorney”. Krebs was fired as head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (Cisa) on 17 November, not long after he said the election, contrary to Trump’s claims, “was the most secure in American history”.

Krebs also used Twitter to publicly debunk Trump’s conspiracy theories. DiGenova defended the president in the Russia investigation and is now involved in attempts to overturn results in battleground states. The Trump campaign has won one lawsuit – and lost 39. DiGenova made the remark about Krebs on The Howie Carr Show, a podcast shown on YouTube and the Trump-allied Newsmax TV, on Monday. “Anybody who thinks the election went well,” he said, “like that idiot Krebs who used to be the head of cybersecurity, that guy is a class A moron. He should be drawn and quartered. Taken out at dawn and shot.” more...

By Amy Gardner, Emma Brown and  Rosalind S. Helderman

Please note: The Washington Post is providing this important election information free to all readers. Get election results and other major news delivered to your inbox by signing up for breaking news email alerts. Wisconsin and Arizona on Monday became the last two of six states where President Trump has contested his defeat to finalize their vote counts, dealing a fresh blow to his quest to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory as a chorus of Republicans and Democrats offered support for the election’s integrity.

Trump and his allies vowed to continue pressing legal claims challenging the election results in several states, but such efforts have met with resounding failures in the courts across the country. Monday’s certifications brought to a close a key period in which Trump and his advisers had said they would be able to derail Biden’s win.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) certified her state’s election results alongside the Republican governor and attorney general. Several hours later, the Democratic chairwoman of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, Ann Jacobs, completed her state’s canvass and declared Biden the winner of the state’s 10 electoral votes, a declaration that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers promptly certified. Their actions brought Biden one step closer to an official victory on Dec. 14, when the electoral college meets. While Trump has kept up a stream of baseless claims that the election was corrupted by fraud, a growing number of state officials on both sides of the aisle pushed back against that notion. more...


Ex-presidents are entitled to classified briefings. Some ex-intel officials think Trump shouldn't get access to any national secrets when he leaves office.
By Ken Dilanian

WASHINGTON — When David Priess was a CIA officer, he traveled to Houston, he recalls, to brief former President George H.W. Bush on classified developments in the Middle East. It was part of a long tradition of former presidents being consulted about, and granted access to, some of the nation's secrets. Priess and other former intelligence officials say Joe Biden would be wise not to let that tradition continue in the case of Donald Trump.

They argue soon-to-be-former President Trump already poses a danger because of the secrets he currently possesses, and they say it would be foolish to trust him with more sensitive information. With Trump's real estate empire under financial pressure and his brand suffering, they worry he will see American secrets as a profit center.

"This is not something that one could have ever imagined with other presidents, but it's easy to imagine with this one," said Jack Goldsmith, who worked as a senior Justice Department official in the George W. Bush administration.

"He's shown as president that he doesn't take secret-keeping terribly seriously," Goldsmith said in an interview. "He has a known tendency to disrespect rules related to national security. And he has a known tendency to like to sell things that are valuable to him."

Goldsmith and other experts noted that Trump has a history of carelessly revealing classified information. He told the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in 2017 about extremely sensitive terrorism threat information the U.S. had received from an ally. Last year he tweeted what experts said was a secret satellite photo of an Iranian nuclear installation. more...

Deirdre Shesgreen USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner will travel to the Middle East this week amid heightened tensions over the assassination of a top Iranian scientist who had been credited with overseeing Tehran's now moribund covert nuclear program. Kushner, who is Trump's son-in-law, will travel to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, a source familiar with the matter, who was not authorized to comment publicly, told USA TODAY. The trip was first reported by Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal. The official said Kushner's trip will be focused on healing a long-standing rift between Qatar and its Persian Gulf neighbors, including Saudi Arabia.

But Kushner's visit to the two Middle East allies comes just days after the targeted killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a nuclear scientist whom Israeli officials referred to as the "father" of Iran's nuclear program. He led Iran’s "Amad" program, which Israel alleged was a covert military operation to probe the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon. more...

By Kaitlan Collins, Jim Acosta and Devan Cole, CNN

Washington (CNN) Dr. Scott Atlas, a highly controversial member of the White House's coronavirus task force, has resigned from his post in the Trump administration. A source familiar with what happened told CNN that Atlas turned in his resignation letter to President Donald Trump on Monday. As a special government employee, Atlas had a 130-day window in which he could serve and that window was technically coming to a close this week. Atlas tweeted out a photo of his resignation letter later Monday. In the letter, he said his "advice was always focused on minimizing all the harms from both the pandemic and the structural policies themselves, especially to the working class and the poor."

"I sincerely wish the new team all the best as they guide the nation through these trying, polarized times," he wrote, apparently referring to President-elect Joe Biden's incoming coronavirus team. Atlas appeared on Fox News on Monday to celebrate comments from New York's Democratic governor and Dr. Anthony Fauci about reopening schools in the state, just moments after his departure was announced. He did not comment on his resignation and was not asked about it by Fox's Tucker Carlson, who described it as being "in a normal course of events." The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A source close to the task force told CNN on Monday that Atlas' departure comes as welcome news, as his discredited theories will no longer have a seat at the table. A separate official said the task force remains intact following Atlas' departure. more...

By Matt Egan, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business) President Donald Trump repeatedly warned Americans that if they failed to reelect him, the stock market would implode. In reality, the opposite happened. Between August and October alone, Trump sent six tweets saying markets would "crash" if Joe Biden were elected, using a word presidents typically avoid. "The Dow Jones Industrial just closed above 29,000! You are so lucky to have me as your President," Trump wrote on September 2. "With Joe Hiden' it would crash."

Yet no post-election meltdown emerged. If anything, markets melted up as nightmare election scenarios were avoided and investors celebrated coronavirus vaccine breakthroughs from Pfizer and Moderna. The S&P 500 notched its best election week rally since 1932. And despite a sharp pullback Monday, the Dow is up nearly 12% in November, on track for its best month since January 1987.
"In terms of Biden being bad for the market, we can already see the opposite is true," said Daryl Jones, director of research at Hedgeye Risk Management.

Wall Street has moved on from Trump
There's no doubt that Trump's tax cuts and deregulation helped boost markets. His trade war with China and love of tariffs, however, were clear negatives for stocks. Biden is signaling he won't adopt extreme policies that would rattle markets. His economic team, unveiled Monday, is headlined by Janet Yellen, the crisis-tested former Federal Reserve chair with whom investors are very comfortable. "Biden is showing us that from a business and economic standpoint, he's likely to be moderate," Jones said. more...

By Brian Stelter, CNN Business

Trump is Trump. There's nothing new to say about the man. But there is still lots to learn about his enablers. So many people, from GOP functionaries to Fox News hosts, are helping him to undermine democracy by denying the election and attacking reality. So many people are complicit. People like Maria Bartiromo. Formerly an acclaimed journalist, known around the world for making CEOs tell the truth, now she tees up Trump to recite lie after lie. Her Sunday morning call with Trump on Fox News was his first "interview" since he lost the election, but it wasn't a real interview at all. He wasn't ready to acknowledge that he lost, and neither was she. He displayed delusional weakness. She was complicit. And she's far from the only one.

GOP leaders stay silent
Ron Brownstein on CNN Sunday night: As Trump's conspiracy theory about the "rigged" election "gets more and more fantastical and far-reaching, implicating the DOJ, the FBI, and Republican governors, the silence of Republicans in Congress — Mitch McConnell in particular, Kevin McCarthy in particular, who are allowing this poison to spread in the American political system — looks more and more like a modern analogue to the silence of Republican congressional leaders during the rampages of Joe McCarthy in the early 1950s. I think history will have no trouble finding a parallel between Mitch McConnell's efforts to kind of look the other way and what so many Republican leaders did until Joseph Welch said, at long last, sir 'have you no decency?'"

Trump is backsliding
He lost the election nearly four weeks ago yet he refuses to admit it. Judging by his tweets, he's spiraling even deeper into denial. The Bartiromo interview was a sign that he's prepared to do battle in public -- a disturbing display of weakness that some people interpret as strength. His Thanksgiving evening Q&A with reporters was another sign of the same thing. After holding a call with members of the military, he fielded questions for the first time in three weeks — the "longest gap" of his presidency — mostly by deflecting and deceiving. When he walked out, one reporter asked "Is this the language of a dictator?" and another said, "Mr. President, some people say you're denying reality." more...

By John Bowden

President Trump ripped CBS News's "60 Minutes" on Sunday after an interview with his former cybersecurity chief was broadcast on the program. In a tweet Sunday evening, Trump accused producers of the program of not contacting the White House for comment about remarks made by Christopher Krebs, formerly head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, regarding the integrity of the 2020 election.

Trump fired Krebs earlier this month after Krebs said the election was “the most secure in American history.” The president has baselessly claimed for weeks that the 2020 election was stolen by his opponent, President-elect Joe Biden, via massive unreported voter fraud in key swing states. ".@60Minutes never asked us for a comment about their ridiculous, one sided story on election security, which is an international joke. Our 2020 Election, from poorly rated Dominion to a Country FLOODED with unaccounted for Mail-In ballots, was probably our least secure EVER!" the president claimed Sunday evening. more...

President phoned into Fox News to blame the courts for his campaign’s so far unsuccessful legal challenges
Kenya Evelyn

A day after Pennsylvania’s highest court had thrown out a lower court’s order preventing the state from certifying results from the 3 November US elections, Donald Trump blasted the judges’ decision. Saturday’s case – which had attempted to throw out 2.5m mail in votes in the crucial state – was the latest of dozens of failed lawsuits by Trump’s lawyers, with judges castigating his lawyers for failing to present evidence of fraud. With states certifying results, Trump has an ever dwindling route to contest the election as Joe Biden pushes on with preparations for his inauguration as president on 20 January and recruits the team for his administration.

However, on Sunday in his first media appearance since losing the presidential contest to his Democratic rival, the president phoned into Fox News to blame the courts for his campaign’s so far unsuccessful legal challenges, which are based on a series of debunked conspiracies alleging widespread voter fraud. “We’re not allowed to put in our proof. They say you don’t have standing,” Trump told Fox’s Sunday Morning Futures.

“We have affidavits, we have hundreds and hundreds of affidavits,” Trump added, noting he’d “file one nice, big beautiful lawsuit” without providing any details on the supposed “tremendous proof” attorneys have. In the 20 days since polls closed, Republicans and Trump campaign officials have leaned into claims, without evidence, that some states allowed voters to turn in ballots after election day. more...

by Stephen Cohn, Abby Schinderle

MADISON, Wis. — The Dane County Board of Canvassers certified election results Sunday, concluding the county’s recount. President-elect Joe Biden was declared the winner in Dane County. The final results of the recount found a 91-vote reduction for Biden, taking his vote count from 260,185 to 260,094. There also was a 46-vote reduction for President Donald Trump, changing his vote count from 78,800 to 78,754. In essence, in Dane County, Trump gained 45 votes on Biden, but still trails the state by more than 20,000 votes. The disqualified votes were those that were missing voter or witness signatures or addresses, according to the Dane County Clerk. more...

By Daniel Politi

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court threw out an order by a lower court that prevented the state from certifying dozens of contests that were part of the Nov. 3 election. The unanimous decision by the state’s highest court effectively ended the last active legal challenge to Pennsylvania’s presidential election results. The case had been brought by Rep. Mike Kelly and other Republicans that sought to disenfranchise around 2.6 million voters, arguing every ballot cast by mail should be thrown out. Alternative, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs also argued that the election results could be tossed out and the Republican-controlled Legislature would pick the state’s presidential electors.

The justices said that the lawsuit had been filed too late, months after the deadline to object to Pennsylvania’s absentee voting procedures and weeks after millions of Pennsylvanians had voted. The justices also appeared shocked that the lawsuit was calling for an entire election to be overturned when “they have failed to allege that even a single mail-in ballot was fraudulently cast or counted,” as Justice David Wecht wrote in a concurring opinion. If Kelly and other Republicans really objected to the procedures put in place for voting by mail they would have filed a legal challenge before it was used in a primary and general election rather than wait until after the results were revealed. “It is not our role to lend legitimacy to such transparent and untimely efforts to subvert the will of Pennsylvania voters,” Wecht wrote. “Courts should not decide elections when the will of the voters is clear.” more...

Trump wants to bring back a corrupt system of political patronage. Congress and Joe Biden must undo this attack on the capability of our government.
Max Stier

Federal agencies across the government are quietly moving ahead with an 11th hour plan to fill vacant, nonpartisan career jobs with political appointees as well as fire and replace civil servants with individuals loyal to President Donald Trump.

With only two months to go before President-elect Joe Biden takes office, agencies are rushing to implement an executive order that would undermine the merit-based, nonpartisan civil service system, eviscerate employee due process rights and replace professionals with partisans.

Although the Oct. 21 executive order has brought congressional scrutiny and legal challenges, and would most likely be rescinded by Biden, Trump administration appointees are hoping to place as many allies as possible into key government positions as they head for the exits.

Loyalty would replace competence
While the conversion of political appointees to career positions, often referred to as “burrowing,” has long been a concern during presidential transitions, such conversions have been rare and ordinarily undergo a rigorous review process. The Trump executive order sidesteps this process and has created a new job classification for “career employees in confidential, policy-determining, policy‑making and policy-advocating positions,” stripping these individuals of long-standing civil service protections and allowing politically appointed leaders to fire them at will. It is a stunning exercise of executive power and calls into question whether such a dramatic change is — or should be — permitted without a change in law. more...

Matthew Brown USA TODAY

Sen. Blunt refuses to call Biden president-elect, echoes election misinformation. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., declined to acknowledge Joe Biden was "president-elect" during an interview Sunday with CNN’s "State of the Union." The refusal came as President Donald Trump and many elected Republicans continue to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 election. "The president-elect technically has to be elected president by the electors. That happens in the middle of December," Blunt correctly said, sidestepping the reality that there is no doubt the electors will choose Biden as the next president of the United States.

"There is no official job president-elect," Blunt said, arguing that the distinction was a "straw man" created by the media. But in 2016, Blunt’s office published a press release "congratulating President-elect Donald Trump" the day after the election and long before the electors met. Federal and state courts have found the Trump campaign’s claims of fraud to be unfounded. While Blunt’s comments casting doubt on Biden's status as president-elect echo the Trump campaign’s attacks on the legitimacy of the election, he did not go so far as to claim the election was stolen, as Trump has baselessly contended.

"I don't think it was rigged but I do think there was some things that were done that shouldn't have been done," Blunt said without specifying what potential election wrongdoing he was referencing. "And I think there was some element of voter fraud as there is in every election. But I don't have any reason to believe that the numbers are there that would have made that difference.” more...

Excluding millions of immigrants from census count would have major impact.
By Devin Dwyer

In what could be one of his most politically significant final acts as president, Donald Trump plans to exclude millions of undocumented immigrants from the official 2020 Census figures used to allocate political power and billions of dollars in federal funds. But first, the U.S. Supreme Court has to sign off. The justices on Monday will hear oral arguments over Trump's effort -- already twice rejected by lower federal courts -- that would break from more than a century of precedent in determining apportionment of the 435 congressional districts across all 50 states.

If successful, it would boost the influence of predominantly conservative, Republican states and rural communities while drawing resources away from more liberal, Democratic states and urban areas. The Constitution requires an "actual enumeration" be performed every 10 years to account for changes in population and that decennial redistricting be based on "the whole number of persons in each state," regardless of citizenship or immigration status. Since taking office, Trump has sought to minimize the influence of non-citizens in American politics by sidelining them from the count. more...

They refuted conspiracy theories, certified results, dismissed lawsuits and repudiated a president of their own party.
By Peter Baker and Kathleen Gray

The telephone call would have been laugh-out-loud ridiculous if it had not been so serious. When Tina Barton picked up, she found someone from President Trump’s campaign asking her to sign a letter raising doubts about the results of the election. The election that Ms. Barton as the Republican clerk of the small Michigan city of Rochester Hills had helped oversee. The election that she knew to be fair and accurate because she had helped make it so. The election that she had publicly defended amid threats that made her upgrade her home security system.

“Do you know who you’re talking to right now?” she asked the campaign official. Evidently not. If the president hoped Republicans across the country would fall in line behind his false and farcical claims that the election was somehow rigged on a mammoth scale by a nefarious multinational conspiracy, he was in for a surprise. Republicans in Washington may have indulged Mr. Trump’s fantastical assertions, but at the state and local level, Republicans played a critical role in resisting the mounting pressure from their own party to overturn the vote after Mr. Trump fell behind on Nov. 3.

The three weeks that followed tested American democracy and demonstrated that the two-century-old system is far more vulnerable to subversion than many had imagined even though the incumbent president lost by six million votes nationwide. But in the end, the system stood firm against the most intense assault from an aggrieved president in the nation’s history because of a Republican city clerk in Michigan, a Republican secretary of state in Georgia, a Republican county supervisor in Arizona and Republican-appointed judges in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. more...

By Christina Zhao

Outgoing Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman of Virginia on Saturday unleashed a barrage of criticism against Donald Trump, his allies and "anti-American" supporters, as the president continues to cast doubt on his election loss. Riggleman is among the few Republicans who have acknowledged President-elect Joe Biden's victory over Trump. Most media outlets called the election for the Democrat, who has secured 306 Electoral College votes, over two weeks ago, but Trump has refused to concede.

In an interview with Forbes, Riggleman condemned his fellow Republicans for remaining quiet amid Trump's attempts to cast doubt on the election process by claiming a "rigged" and "stolen" election. It's "completely unethical," he said, explaining that some of his colleagues believe that breaking with Trump would "cost them their careers."

"The career is more important than the facts, it's that simple," Riggleman added. "I'm so damn sick of it. I'm sick of it." Riggleman admitted that there were "true believers" of Trump's claims of widespread voter fraud, but he went on to suggest that they were not smart people. "[It] really speaks to where your intelligence level is... to believe in that type of operation," he said.

The lawmaker also criticized Trump for embracing "anti-Semitic" and "anti-American" supporters and added that it was "irresponsible" for the president to retweet QAnon conspiracies. "He got so desperate to retain power that he forgot he was serving people and not himself," Riggleman said of Trump, adding that the president has "never served anything but himself, when you talk about his businesses and what he's done." more...

By Benjamin Fearnow

Frustrated supporters of President Donald Trump in Georgia challenged Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel on why they should even vote in the upcoming Senate runoffs if "rigged" elections are "already decided." McDaniel's Saturday campaign stop in Marietta, Georgia, appeared to backfire as Trump supporters who have adopted the president's conspiratorial accusations about "voter fraud" asked why their vote even matters. The scene doesn't bode well for Republicans as they look to hang onto a thin U.S. Senate majority that hinges on prevailing in two January 5 runoff elections. Both incumbent Georgia GOP senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, face stiff challenges from Democratic candidates Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively.

One baffled Trump supporter at the event asked how Republicans turned out in such "crazy numbers," but somehow Joe Biden still defeated the president. He claimed "machines are switching the votes," a baseless accusation lifted directly from Trump. McDaniel was forced to defend the U.S. election system despite Trump's unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud. The GOP chairwoman found herself pushing back against the Republican president's messaging, telling state GOP voters to worry about election fraud issues "later," or at least to hold their concerns until after the all-important U.S. Senate runoffs. more...

By Darragh Roche

Michael D'Antonio, a biographer of President Donald Trump, has described the president as a "loser" who can't accept his defeat by former Vice President Joe Biden in the recent election. D'Antonio, a Pulitzer Prize-winner who wrote the 2016 book The Truth About Trump, spoke to CNN on Friday about what he called the president's "buffoonery." He is a contributor to the network. "He is profoundly an incompetent person—a loser, if you might say," D'Antonio said, using an insult Trump is famously fond of lobbing at his critics and political opponents.

"He's so incompetent that he cannot even succeed at being a loser," he said. D'Antonio was referring to Trump's refusal to concede the presidential election. The president and his campaign have repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and other irregularities. The author said Trump was "failing at this essential task," which was accepting the fact that "we all lose at various moments." more...

By Natalie Colarossi

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said that President Donald Trump should "leave quietly," after Georgia certified its election results for Joe Biden last week. In an interview published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Saturday, Raffensperger, a Republican, said he's received threats and angry messages from the president and fellow GOP politicians who disagree with his decision to certify the election. "My job as secretary of state is to make sure we have fair and honest elections, follow the law, follow the process," Raffensperger said in the interview. "When you lose an election, you should leave quietly. It's the will of the people that has been expressed," he added.

Raffensperger's office certified the election results after a laborious hand recount on November 20. According to data released by his team, the recount confirmed that Biden won by more than 12,000 votes out of the 5 million cast in Georgia. "As secretary of state, I believe that the numbers that we have presented today are correct," Raffensperger said during news conference on November 20. "The numbers reflect the verdict of the people, not a decision by the secretary of state's office or of courts or of either campaign." But the announcement came at the dismay of the Trump campaign, who sought to maintain the president's early lead in Georgia. On Twitter, the president attacked Raffensperger and accused him of participating in fraud. more...

By Kathryn Watson

The Trump campaign lost another battle Friday in their attempt to prove mass fraud in the election, something thus far they've been unable to do. This time, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals denied the campaign's request for an injunction in Pennsylvania to undo the Keystone State's certification of its votes.

Trump-appointed Judge Stephanos Bibas, who wrote the opinion for the three-judge panel, said the campaign's arguments have no merit. Pennsylvania certified its election results last week, and the federal government's General Services Administration has allowed for the formal transition process to take place.  "Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here," Bibas wrote in his opinion. more...

By Samira Said, CNN

(CNN) President-elect Joe Biden saw a small net gain in votes as Milwaukee County, Wisconsin's largest, certified its presidential general election results Friday after a recount requested by the Trump campaign. The results showed a net gain of 132 votes for Biden, with President Donald Trump receiving 134,482 votes and Biden receiving 317,527 after the recount, the Milwaukee County Board of Canvassers announced Friday night. CNN election results But more than 27,000 ballots that are part of the count are being segregated after two objections by the Trump campaign. The campaign objected to more than 25,000 absentee ballots cast by individuals who self-identified as "indefinitely confined," which allowed them to vote absentee because of pandemic fears. more...

By Celine Castronuovo

The Trump administration on Friday advanced its plans to cut federal regulation protections for birds despite criticisms from scientists and former federal officials that the move will likely be severely detrimental to the U.S. bird population. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Friday released its Final Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed change to the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) that would greatly limit federal authority to prosecute industries for practices that kill migratory birds.

The act was first passed “to stop the unregulated killing of migratory birds,” according to Friday’s report. Under the legislation, the Fish and Wildlife Service regulates the “taking” of migratory birds, which includes “to pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, collect, or attempt to hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect.”

The proposed change seeks to clarify the scope of the definition, although many have pointed out that the change will scale back federal prosecution authority for the threats birds face from industry, including electrocution on power lines, wind turbines that knock them from the air and oil field waste pits where landing birds can die in toxic water.

While the Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledged in its report that the regulatory change will have “negative” impacts on migratory birds, as well as “other biological resources,” “cultural resources” and “ecosystem services,” the report states that the proposed change “is necessary to improve consistency and efficiency in enforcement of the MBTA’s prohibitions across the country and inform the public, businesses, government agencies, and other entities what is and is not prohibited under the MBTA.” more...

Trump and his allies have lobbied for votes in Wayne County, home to majority-Black Detroit, to be thrown out.
By Anya van Wagtendonk

With Michigan’s Monday deadline for certifying its election results looming, attempts by President Donald Trump to overturn the outcome in the state has led to a voting rights lawsuit — and could lead to a criminal investigation of officials there. On Friday, a group of Detroit voters filed a federal lawsuit, alleging that the Trump campaign’s legal actions aimed at throwing out some votes in Wayne County, home to Detroit, amounted to a mass disenfranchisement of Black voters. “Repeating false claims of voter fraud, which have been thoroughly debunked, Defendants are pressuring state and local officials in Michigan not to count votes from Wayne County, Michigan,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants’ tactics repeat the worst abuses in our nation’s history, as Black Americans were denied a voice in American democracy for most of the first two centuries of the Republic.”

The city of Detroit is nearly 80 percent Black, and overwhelmingly votes Democratic in national elections. President-elect Joe Biden won Wayne County by about 332,000 votes, and it was critical to his 150,000-vote victory in Michigan, a battleground state that was key to Trump’s 2016 victory. Essentially, as Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said in a Thursday press conference: “It changes the result of the election in Michigan, if you take out Wayne County.” To that end, Wayne County’s election results have been challenged by the Trump campaign and its loyalists throughout the week. more...

Juana Summers

When Joe Biden thanked Black voters in his first remarks as president-elect, he credited them with lifting his campaign from its lowest point during the Democratic primaries. "You've always had my back, and I'll have yours," he promised. While Biden won Black voters overwhelmingly across the country, they were key to his victories in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia — places where President Trump and his allies have been targeting ballots in cities with large Black populations in an attempt to overturn the president's defeat and retain power.

Trump's campaign and his allies have presented no real evidence of widespread voter fraud or other impropriety in any of these cities, and they have faced multiple defeats in court. But the persistence of the president and loyal Republicans has alarmed Black leaders, civil rights activists and historians who see an unprecedented attempt to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters, many of them Black. The president's campaign has denied racial motivations in its lawsuits, saying that its recount strategy is not targeting Black voters. Jenna Ellis, the Trump campaign's senior legal adviser, said in a statement to NPR that "every American deserves to know that our elections are conducted in a legal manner, no matter who they are or where they live."

"That's our only goal: to ensure safe, secure, and fair elections," Ellis added. "That's what our Constitution requires." But Bob Bauer, a senior legal adviser to the Biden campaign, said the Trump campaign's "targeting of the African American community is not subtle. It is extraordinary" and that "it's quite remarkable how brazen it is." more...

As they try to somehow reverse Joe Biden’s victory, President Trump and his allies have targeted heavily Black cities, painting them as corrupt and trying to throw out huge numbers of votes.
By Jim Rutenberg and Nick Corasaniti

In Pennsylvania, President Trump and Republicans loyal to him have sought to overturn his defeat by making false claims about widespread voting fraud in Philadelphia. In Georgia, they have sought to reverse his loss by leveling similar accusations against Atlanta. In Michigan, Republicans have zeroed in on Detroit, whose elections system the president has falsely portrayed as so flawed that its entire vote should be thrown out. Lost on no one in those cities is what they have in common: large populations of Black voters.

And there is little ambiguity in the way Mr. Trump and his allies are falsely depicting them as bastions of corruption. “‘Democrat-led city’ — that’s code for Black,” said the Rev. William J. Barber II, the president of the civil rights group Repairers of the Breach. “They’re coupling ‘city’ and ‘fraud,’ and those two words have been used throughout the years. This is an old playbook being used in the modern time, and people should be aware of that.”

Mr. Trump’s fruitless and pyromaniacal campaign to somehow reverse President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the election rests on the wholesale disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of voters, a disproportionate number of them Black Americans living in the urban centers of Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. Notably absent from the effort has been any focus on predominantly white suburban areas where the president performed better, but where he lost ground compared with four years ago and arguably lost the election. more...

By James Crowley

A lawsuit by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) is challenging President Donald Trump's campaign's claims about voter fraud, saying that the attempts to overturn the results in Michigan are disenfranchising Black voters. The complaint filed on Friday named both Trump and his campaign as the defendants. It claims that the Trump campaign has sought to pressure local and state officials to not count ballots for Wayne County, where Detroit is located. The lawsuit said that the president's efforts violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which rules against disenfranchising Black Voters.

Trump has filed a number of lawsuits, claiming that voter fraud cost him the election. But as the LDF lawsuit pointed out, most of the lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign have been unsuccessful. "Defendants are openly seeking to disenfranchise Black voters," said the suit, adding: "Defendants' tactics repeat the worst abuses in our nation's history, as Black Americans were denied a voice in American democracy for most of the first two centuries of the Republic." more...

Crystal Hill

The Trump campaign has repeatedly attempted to use the judicial system to overturn the president’s defeat to President-elect Joe Biden, filing more than two dozen unsuccessful lawsuits since Election Day. But the president’s campaign now finds itself on the other side of a legal case in a newly filed federal lawsuit alleging that it violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 when it sought to “disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters,” particularly African Americans in metropolitan areas of Michigan.

“It’s not even about the success of President Trump and the Trump campaign’s attempts to overturn the election,” Monique Lin-Luse, assistant counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, which filed the lawsuit, told Yahoo News. “The very attempt ... to overturn it by disenfranchising and de-legitimizing Black voters is what we believe is unlawful, and it's also dangerous and corrosive to our democracy.” more...

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