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“Calling an election unfair does not make it so,” the court wrote.
Tracy Connor

A federal appeals court has shot down the Trump campaign’s attempt to overturn the election result in Pennsylvania—with a judge appointed by the president writing the scathing decision. “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,” 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Justice Stephanos Bibas wrote in a 21-page opinion issued Friday.

The three-judge panel noted that the campaign’s grievances amounted to “nothing more” than allegations that Pennsylvania restricted poll watchers and let voters fix technical defects in their mail-in ballots. “The Campaign tries to repackage these state-law claims as unconstitutional discrimination. Yet its allegations are vague and conclusory,” the opinion says. “It never alleges that anyone treated the Trump campaign or Trump votes worse than it treated the Biden campaign or Biden votes.”

The decision comes after Pennsylvania already certified that President-elect Joe Biden was the winner but makes clear that Trump does not have a legal leg to stand on in contesting the outcome. The court said it would not issue an injunction to undo the certification because “the Campaign’s claims have no merit.” “The number of ballots it specifically challenges is far smaller than the roughly 81,000-vote margin of victory. And it never claims fraud or that any votes were cast by illegal voters,” the court found.

“Plus, tossing out millions of mail-in ballots would be drastic and unprecedented, disenfranchising a huge swath of the electorate and upsetting all down-ballot races too. That remedy would be grossly disproportionate to the procedural challenges raised. So we deny the motion for an injunction pending appeal.” “Voters, not lawyers, choose the President. Ballots, not briefs, decide election.” — Judge Stephanos Bibas

*** Then Trump should have to prove his votes weren't 'illegally obtained'. Trump is nuts. ***

he president tweeted on Friday
By Adam Shaw | Fox News

President Trump on Friday claimed that President-elect Joe Biden must prove that the votes he received in the presidential election were not “illegally obtained” in order to enter the White House -- the latest sign that Trump is not giving up his efforts to challenge the result. Trump tweeted that Biden can only enter the White House as president if he can prove that his "ridiculous 80,000,000 votes were not fraudulently or illegally obtained. When you see what happened in Detroit, Atlanta, Philadelphia & Milwaukee, massive voter fraud, he’s got a big unsolvable problem!"

Trump’s tweet came after Biden crossed the 80 million vote threshold as votes are still being counted. Fox News and other media outlets have projected that Biden has won the presidency. There is no requirement for Biden to “prove” his votes were legally obtained for him to take office. Trump’s tweet is his latest remark to cast doubt on the election result, which he has challenged by alleging voter fraud in multiple swing states that he lost -- specifically Pennsylvania.  His campaign has launched a number of legal challenges related to how votes were counted. But those challenges were dealt blows this week when multiple states certified their results. He had asserted on Wednesday again that the election was stolen and said that “we can’t let that happen.” more...

By Kara Scannell, CNN

(CNN) A federal appeals court denied the Trump campaign's effort to revive a federal lawsuit challenging the election results in Pennsylvania, ruling "the claims have no merit." A panel of three judges for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals denied the request by the Trump campaign, led by Rudy Giuliani, to amend its lawsuit, which had been previously rejected.

"The Campaign never alleges that any ballot was fraudulent or cast by an illegal voter," the judges wrote. "It never alleges that any defendant treated the Trump campaign or its votes worse than it treated the Biden campaign or its votes. Calling something discrimination does not make it so. The Second Amended Complaint still suffers from these core defects, so granting leave to amend would have been futile." The President and some of his allies have been questioning the legitimacy of the 2020 election, saying without evidence that it was fraudulent and seeking to use legal battles to overturn results in key states.

The judges also rejected the President's motion to undo Pennsylvania's certification of votes. "The Campaign's claims have no merit. The number of ballots it specifically challenges is far smaller than the roughly 81,000-vote margin of victory. And it never claims fraud or that any votes were cast by illegal voters. Plus, tossing out millions of mail-in ballots would be drastic and unprecedented, disenfranchising a huge swath of the electorate and upsetting all down-ballot races too. That remedy would be grossly disproportionate to the procedural challenges raised," the judges wrote.

The President's campaign appealed a scathing ruling last weekend when Judge Matthew Brann threw out the lawsuit ruling it could not be amended and refiled. Brann compared it to "Frankenstein's monster ... haphazardly stitched together," and slammed the request to disenfranchise nearly seven million voters in a complaint littered with "strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations." The appeals court referenced the Trump campaign's multiple attempts to alter its lawsuit and praised Brann's handling of the matter. more...

Rory Carroll

For a US president obsessed by size – his hands, his wealth, his crowds – Donald Trump made something of a bold U-turn on Thursday night by addressing the country from a desk seemingly designed for a leprechaun. Trump said on Thursday he would leave the White House if the electoral college votes for the Democratic president-elect, Joe Biden – the closest he has come to admitting defeat – but his furniture stole the limelight.

While he harangued reporters and repeated unfounded allegations of electoral fraud, the internet zeroed in on his unusually small desk. Some called it symbolic of Trump’s diminished stature, some wondered if it was photoshopped (it wasn’t), most just laughed. The actor Mark Hamill tweeted: “Maybe if you behave yourself, stop lying to undermine a fair election & start thinking of what’s good for the country instead of whining about how unfairly you are treated, you’ll be invited to sit at the big boy’s table.” The hashtag #DiaperDon swiftly trended on Twitter, with people mocking the president as an infant banished to the children’s table for Thanksgiving. more...

Thomas Colson

President Trump snapped at a White House reporter and called them a "lightweight" after they asked him whether he would concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden. "Don't talk to me that way. You're just a lightweight. Don't talk to — I'm the president of the United States. Don't ever talk to the president that way," President Trump told Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason on Thursday.

It came after a heated exchange at the White House during which Mason asked the outgoing president whether he would concede if the Electoral College voted for Biden after winning the election earlier this month. During the exchange, the president also said that it would be a "very hard thing to concede" to President-elect Biden, but said he would leave the White House in January if the Electoral College voted for Biden on December 14. "Certainly I will. Certainly I will, and you know that," Trump told a reporter who asked him if he would leave the White House. more...

By Star-Ledger Editorial Board

Donald Trump appears closer to accepting that he can no longer go on pretending that he won the election, after three weeks of hearing judges cackle at his fatuous claims. But let’s not forget how he tried to use racist vote-purging to steal the election, and how members of his party remained mute during this effort to savage our democracy.

Trump’s campaign attempted to throw out millions of ballots that were cast in minority cities such as Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. Never during this process did his legal legions produce evidence of widespread fraud or any impropriety in these places, and multiple courts rejected every challenge, usually with gusto. Yet he persisted, with racist strategies that perfectly encapsulate his political career.

In Wisconsin, Trump’s vote counters called for a recount of ballots in Milwaukee County — which is 58 percent Black and Latino — but not in the whiter counties, and called for the purge of hundreds of thousands of votes because they weren’t folded properly or the ink didn’t match. In Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign made false claims about widespread voter fraud in Philadelphia, and argued that thousands of ballots should be declared void because election observers were not allowed to watch the count — which they had to admit was wrong, after a judge pushed back.

In Michigan, Biden’s 332,000 margin in Wayne County — home to majority-Black Detroit — was essential to his 150,000-vote victory in a battleground state. That was too much for Rudy Giuliani, a master of accidental comedy, who said, “It changes the result of the election if you take out Wayne County.” Trump even called two Republican canvassing board members from Wayne County and pressured these local election officials to not certify the results. more...


WASHINGTON (AP) — Monday seemed like the end of President Donald Trump’s relentless challenges to the election, after the federal government acknowledged President-elect Joe Biden was the “apparent winner” and Trump cleared the way for cooperation on a transition of power. But his baseless claims have a way of coming back. And back. And back. By Wednesday, Trump was phoning into a local Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers’ meeting that had been orchestrated by his campaign to assert falsely, again, that the election was tainted.

“This election was rigged and we can’t let that happen,” Trump said by phone, offering no specific evidence. The 2020 presidential race is turning into the zombie election that Trump just won’t let die. Despite dozens of legal and procedural setbacks, his campaign keeps filing new challenges that have little hope of succeeding and making fresh, unfounded claims of fraud. But that’s the point. Trump’s strategy, his allies concede in private, wasn’t to change the outcome, but to create a host of phantom claims about the 2020 presidential race that would infect the nation with doubt and keep his base loyal, even though the winner was clear and there has been no evidence of mass voter fraud.

“Zombies are dead people walking among the living — this litigation is the same thing,” said Franita Tolson, a professor at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. “In terms of litigation that could change the election, all these cases are basically dead men walking.” It’s a strategy tolerated by many Republicans, most notably Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who are clinging to Trump as they face a test of retaining their own power in the form of two runoff elections in Georgia in January. “This really is our version of a polite coup d’etat,” said Thomas Mann, senior resident scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. “It could end quickly if the Republican Party acknowledged what was going on. But they cower in the face of Trump’s connection with the base.” more...

By Brendan Cole

Former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge has accused President Donald Trump of staging a "bogus event on the hallowed grounds of Gettysburg" to overturn the result of the election. Ridge, who served as the first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security during the George W. Bush administration, tweeted his disdain for a meeting held on Wednesday by Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers to discuss alleged election irregularities.

Trump continues to insist he won the election despite battleground states such as the Keystone State already certifying their results, in effect locking in a victory for President-elect Joe Biden. On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf certified election results showing Biden won the state by more than 81,000 votes. The next day, a Pennsylvania judge ordered state officials to halt any further steps toward certifying election results which is being appealed by the Wolf administration. more...

By Chandelis Duster, CNN

(CNN) Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Wednesday lambasted President Donald Trump, saying that the commander in chief threw him under the bus although he voted for him. "By all accounts, Georgia had a wildly successful and smooth election. We finally defeated voting lines and put behind us Fulton County's now notorious reputation for disastrous elections," Raffensperger wrote in a USA Today op-ed. "This should be something for Georgians to celebrate, whether their favored presidential candidate won or lost. For those wondering, mine lost -- my family voted for him, donated to him and are now being thrown under the bus by him."

The Republican, who has maintained there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the state's election, was attacked by Trump and GOP allies in the days leading up to Georgia's certification of election results last week. Georgia Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Purdue called for him to resign, and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp pressured him to investigate baseless charges of election fraud. President-elect Joe Biden was certified the winner in the Peach State, as Trump, who filed a lawsuit to block the certification, has continued his refusal to concede the election. more...

Ian Timberlake, AFP USA

“President Trump won by a landslide. We are going to prove it,” Sidney Powell, an attorney for the president, said in a clip posted November 19, 2020 on this pro-Trump Facebook page. It features her speaking that day at a press conference with two other attorneys, Jenna Ellis and Rudy Giuliani, who said they were representing the president and his campaign.

Powell’s “landslide” claim was repeated on Facebook here in a post that called for people to “surround her with prayer” in her efforts to alter the election’s outcome. The claim also featured in this article from the Falungong-linked Epoch Times, headlined this Daily Wire article, and captioned this YouTube clip of an interview with Powell on Newsmax, a channel that is seeking to attract viewers from Fox News. That November 18 clip was viewed almost 700,000 times.

“The election could not have been more rigged than it was... The math just doesn’t add up for anything,” Powell said in the Newsmax interview. “The will of the people in this country was that Donald Trump win in a landslide. If we can get to the bottom of it, and I am determined to do that, I think we’ll find he had at least 80 million votes.” more...

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. government civil servants could face mass firings under an October executive order before President Donald Trump leaves office and Democratic lawmakers, watchdog groups and unions are mobilizing to block the move. Leaders of 23 House committees and subcommittees asked the heads of 61 federal departments and agencies to provide a "full accounting" of any plans to reclassify federal workers under the Oct. 21 order, leaving them vulnerable to firing. They also asked for details about any Trump political appointees who have already been hired into career jobs or are being considered. Initial responses are due Dec. 9, followed by biweekly updates, according to the letter, spearheaded by Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney.

Wednesday's letter came after 13 House Democrats, including Gerry Connolly, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Government Operations and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, on Tuesday urged appropriators to reverse the order in their next spending bill. Trump's order allows agencies to reclassify workers involved in policy-making to a new "Schedule F" category without the job protections they have now. The agencies must complete their reviews by Jan. 19, the day before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration. more...

*** First Trump tried to rig the election by slowing down the mail, and then he tried to steal it before during and after the election using the courts and other methods. ***

By Philip Rucker, Amy Gardner and Josh Dawsey

President Trump is using the power of his office to try to reverse the results of the election, orchestrating a far-reaching pressure campaign to persuade Republican officials in Michigan, Georgia and elsewhere to overturn the will of voters in what critics decried Thursday as an unprecedented subversion of democracy.

After courts rejected the Trump campaign’s baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud, the president is now trying to remain in power with a wholesale assault on the integrity of the vote by spreading misinformation and trying to persuade loyal Republicans to manipulate the electoral system on his behalf.

In an extraordinary news conference Thursday at the Republican National Committee headquarters, Trump’s attorneys claimed without evidence there was a centralized conspiracy with roots in Venezuela to rig the U.S. presidential election. They alleged voter fraud in Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and other cities whose municipal governments are controlled by Democrats and where President-elect Joe Biden won by large margins. more...

By Matthew Impelli

Pennsylvania's attorney general and lieutenant governor blasted President Donald Trump's GOP election hearing on Wednesday, saying that it was "sad and tragic" as well as "devoid of reality." In a tweet, Pennsylvania's Attorney General Josh Shapiro wrote, "The sitting president's remarks today were devoid of reality. The election is over. Pennsylvania has certified results & declared Joe Biden the winner of our Commonwealth." Shapiro added, "Lying through a cell phone at a fake hearing changes nothing." more...

*** Pardons are for the guilty. If Trump did nothing wrong why does he need a pardon? If the Trump administration did nothing wrong why does he need to pardons them? If Trump’s family did nothing wrong why do they need pardons? ***
By Sarah Polus

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) called on President Trump to “wield the presidential pardon power effectively and robustly” while appearing on Fox News’s "The Ingraham Angle" on Tuesday. The House Judiciary Committee member, a vocal Trump ally, told anchor Tammy Bruce that "President Trump should pardon Michael Flynn. He should pardon the Thanksgiving turkey. He should pardon everyone from himself to his administration officials to Joe Exotic if he has to.” He continued, “You see from the radical left a bloodlust that will only be quenched if they come after the people who worked so hard to animate the Trump administration with the policies and the vigor and the effectiveness that delivered for the American people.” more...

*** Trump tried to rig the election. Rigging the mail did not work now Trump is openly trying to steal the election. ***

Christina Wilkie, Kevin Breuninger

President Donald Trump on Wednesday called for President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory to be overturned, and spread unproven claims of voter fraud while falsely insisting he won a series of key swing states that went to Biden. Facing defeat after a string of court losses, Trump made a surprise call-in appearance at a Republican state legislature hearing in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where he stated bluntly that “we have to turn the election over.” Trump claimed his team has gathered “all the evidence,” even though judges in numerous states have rejected his campaign’s legal efforts to halt the certification of ballots or have swaths of mail-in votes invalidated.

“All we need is to have some judge listen to it properly, without having a political opinion or having another kind of a problem,” Trump said from the speaker of a mobile phone held up to a microphone by Jenna Ellis, a member of his campaign’s legal team. She sat next to Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. “This election has to be turned around,” Trump asserted elsewhere in the speakerphone speech. “We won Pennsylvania by a lot, and we won all of these swing states by a lot.” In fact, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday announced that he had signed the “Certificate of Ascertainment” certifying Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the victors in the Keystone State. Nevada, another key state, on Tuesday also certified Biden and Harris as the winners. Michigan and Georgia, too, have certified their votes, dragging Trump’s long-shot bid to undo the election result even further out of reach. more...

The president’s former national security adviser twice pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador. video...
By Charlie Savage

WASHINGTON — President Trump pardoned on Wednesday his former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, who had twice pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about his conversations with a Russian diplomat and whose prosecution Attorney General William P. Barr tried to shut down. “It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. The presidential pardon brings to an end the drawn-out legal saga of Mr. Flynn. The Justice Department had moved in the spring to withdraw the charge against him after a public campaign by Mr. Trump and his allies, but the judge overseeing the case, Emmet G. Sullivan, had held up the request to scrutinize its legitimacy.

Though Mr. Trump had said months ago that he was “strongly considering” pardoning Mr. Flynn and was said to be planning for it after he lost the election, the intervention by Mr. Barr had held out the possibility that his administration could end the prosecution of a presidential favorite without requiring Mr. Trump to take explicit political responsibility for the act. But as the case has lingered — delayed first by Mr. Flynn’s unsuccessful attempt to get an appeals court to block Judge Sullivan from reviewing the basis for Mr. Barr’s move, and then by further weeks of inaction from the judge — Mr. Trump ultimately moved to do so anyway.

Mr. Flynn was the only White House official to be convicted as part of the Trump-Russia investigation that was completed by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Under Mr. Trump and Mr. Barr, the administration has been trying to discredit and dismantle that inquiry. Mr. Trump also commuted the sentence of his longtime friend Roger J. Stone Jr. on seven felonies in a case brought by prosecutors working for Mr. Mueller. more...

Washington — One day after Pennsylvania certified its election results, formalizing President-elect Joe Biden's win over President Trump in the state's presidential race, Mr. Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani is attending a public hearing in Gettysburg on election "issues" and alleged "irregularities." President Trump, unable to attend in person, phoned in his false claims that he won swing states like Pennsylvania and the entire election.  Mr. Trump stated his goal in no uncertain terms: "We have to turn the election over," the president said as he called into the meeting on speakerphone. The outgoing president claimed that what happened was not the United States of America, insisting without evidence there are "many, many cases" of fraud.

"This election was rigged and we can't let that happen. We can't let it happen for our country. And this election has to be turned around, because we won Pennsylvania by a lot and we won all these swing states by a lot," the president said inaccurately and without offering proof. All of the president's false and unfounded statements will not be repeated in this article. At least part of the president's statement was accurate: "The whole world is watching the United States of America," he said. more...

Analysis by Ronald Brownstein

(CNN) President Donald Trump appears determined to end this stage of his political career the same way he began it: by promoting a racist conspiracy theory. Just as he began his long march to the White House by touting the racist "birther theory" that Barack Obama was not an American citizen, Trump and his allies are choregraphing his slow walk away from the Oval Office to a backbeat of accusations that the election was stolen from him in heavily African American cities such as Detroit, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Atlanta. These charges of urban voting fraud -- the distant bookend to his birther slanders -- underscore how much Trump's political message revolves around convincing his coalition that an insidious combination of disdainful elites and dangerous minorities is unfairly taking away "our country," as he often calls America.

"This is in the continuum of the conversation about people losing their country," says Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster. "When talking about the election being stolen from them, what they are really saying is, again, those people are taking our country. When they say, 'Let's disqualify the votes in Milwaukee ... the votes in Philadelphia ... in Atlanta and Detroit,' they are all but saying it: The votes of 'those people' should not count." That Trump and his allies would return to this imagery so quickly after an election in which he made modest but meaningful gains with Black voters, and even larger advances with Hispanics in some areas, shows how difficult it will be for the GOP to disentangle itself from the President's racist messaging and expand beyond those beachheads in the minority community to truly build the "multiracial working class" coalition that some GOP thinkers yearn for.

"If you look at Blacks ideologically, politically, it's a stereotype that they are ultraliberal," says Katherine Tate, a Brown University political scientist who studies Black voting behavior. "Higher percentages of them should have been voting Republican a while ago." Had Republicans nominated another candidate, she says, who avoided Trump's open appeals to racial resentments but offered "the same political agenda, securing the border, skepticism about Covid, withdraw troops from overseas wars and ban immigration as best you can ... that candidate would have done better [with Black voters] than Donald Trump." more...

By Jeremy Diamond, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump called into a Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, "hearing" on Wednesday hosted by GOP state lawmakers over baseless allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 election after his planned trip to the event was canceled. The President had planned on appearing in-person with his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, but two sources told CNN Trump's trip was canceled. The move came shortly after news broke that Giuliani was exposed to another person who had tested positive for coronavirus. One of Trump's campaign advisers, Boris Epshteyn, said Wednesday morning that he has tested positive for the coronavirus and was experiencing mild symptoms. Epshteyn appeared with Giuliani at a campaign legal team news conference in Washington, DC, six days ago. A day after the news conference, Giuliani's son, Andrew, announced that he had tested positive for coronavirus. And that same day, the former New York City mayor said he would be quarantining at a Washington-area hotel.

Giuliani attended Wednesday's "hearing" in Pennsylvania, arriving at the event with a mask before briefly taking it off when he sat down. Most other people in the room were not wearing masks. Trump had expressed strong interest in joining Giuliani for Wednesday's event and directed aides to make plans for him to travel to Pennsylvania, multiple sources said. The trip, which would have been his first outside of the Washington area since Election Day, was not listed on the public schedule released by the White House on Tuesday night, but was being handled internally as an unannounced movement. Speaking Wednesday as a witness via speakerphone during the event, Trump once again falsely claimed that he won the 2020 presidential election. He made unproven, unspecified allegations of voter fraud, ballot dumping and voter suppression against his supporters. State and local election officials have said there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and both a federal court and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court have dismissed lawsuits seeking to prevent the state from certifying the results of the election. Pennsylvania officially certified the results on Tuesday, sealing Biden's win in the key battleground state. more...

Dan Mangan

A top advisor to President Donald Trump’s campaign said Wednesday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, six days after attending a controversial press conference led by Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani. The disclosure of the Covid-19 diagnosis by Boris Epshteyn came as Giuliani, the Trump lawyer who led that press conference, headed to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, for what was being called a hearing by the Pennsylvania Senate Majority Policy Committee on the state’s election.

Giuliani’s son Andrew, who also attended his father’s press conference Thursday at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, revealed last Friday that he tested positive for the coronavirus. Andrew Giuliani is a White House special assistant to Trump. The Gettysburg hearing comes a day after Pennsylvania certified its election results showing a win there for President-elect Joe Biden, the former Democratic vice president. Epshteyn in a tweet said, “I am experiencing mild symptoms, and am following all appropriate protocols, including quarantining and contact tracing.” more...

By Tim Fernholz

Amid the foreign policy wreckage president Donald Trump will leave for his successor are a pair of scrapped aircraft that underpinned a treaty designed to lower the chances of nuclear war. Since 2002, the US, Russia, and 32 other countries have allowed each other’s reconnaissance planes to fly into their airspace and snap pictures of the ground to give each party confidence that the other is adhering to arms control rules and not acting belligerently. Trump formally withdrew from the treaty this week after threatening to do so last year.

The Defense Department is taking the additional step of declaring the aging, specially equipped reconnaissance planes used for the mission “excess defense articles” to hand them off to foreign governments in an effort to kill the program for good. The Trump White House objected to Russian non-compliance with certain aspects of the treaty—including denying access to airspace over certain military installations—but many  observers see the move as part of a worldview that will not tolerate constraints on US power. European allies and arms control advocates believed that pushing Moscow to adhere to the agreement was a smarter approach than withdrawing altogether. more...

By Aris Folley

Josh Holmes, former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said in a new documentary that the Republican leader urged President Trump to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on the night Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. Holmes, who previously served as chief of staff to McConnell from 2010 to 2013, made the comments in a new "Frontline" documentary premiering Tuesday. The project, dubbed “Supreme Revenge: Battle for the Court,” will look at how the nation’s highest court has transformed over the years.

According to an excerpt from the documentary, McConnell contacted Trump shortly after Ginsburg’s death on Friday, Sept. 18. “McConnell told [Trump] two things,” Holmes said. “McConnell said, 'First, I’m going to put out a statement that says we’re going to fill the vacancy.' Second, he said, 'You’ve gotta nominate Amy Coney Barrett.'” The Hill has reached out to McConnell’s office for comment. After Ginsburg's death, reports emerged that the late judge said just days before that her “most fervent wish” is her seat not be filled before a new president takes office. "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed," her granddaughter said the judge said in a statement. Eight days after the death of Ginsburg, Trump nominated Barrett to fill the liberal justice’s seat on the court. more...

A longtime Trump ally calls his legal effort "a national embarrassment."
By Matthew Mosk, John Santucci, Katherine Faulders, Alex Hosenball, and Olivia Rubin

When a federal judge rendered his opinion in President Donald Trump's effort to challenge the outcome of the 2020 election by alleging fraud in Pennsylvania, the ruling not only dismissed the case, it was dismissive of the president's legal team. Judge Matthew Brann, a Republican, described the legal case Saturday as a "Frankenstein's monster" that was "haphazardly stitched together." Some longtime Trump allies were even less charitable. On Sunday, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a former U.S. attorney, did not mince words when describing the legal bid: "Quite frankly, the conduct of the president's legal team has been a national embarrassment," Christie said on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

On Monday, even as Trump accepted steps be taken to begin cooperating with the transition process, he tweeted that the legal effort "STRONGLY continues" and that "I believe we will prevail!" The last time a presidential campaign became embroiled in a protracted legal battle, in 2000, some of the nation's most prestigious lawyers signed on with then-Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore. The case catapulted many of them to greater heights in the legal world. Three of the attorneys on that Bush legal team -- John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett -- now sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Coming into this Election Day, Democrat Joe Biden had built a high-powered legal team that included former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and former White House Counsel Bob Bauer. But as the election approached, Trump struggled to assemble a core group of legal advisers. Over the three weeks since the election, the president's legal bid has unfolded in unpredictable ways, with a revolving cast of characters. To date, the Trump campaign and its allies have lost a succession of legal challenges totaling at least 30 adverse rulings. Of the 19 lawsuits the Trump legal team has brought across five states, 17 of the cases have been denied, dismissed or withdrawn, leaving both his supporters and critics to question whether the post-election legal effort has been worthwhile. more...

The group becomes the latest in a growing list of Trump backers who are encouraging people to either not vote in the runoffs or write in the president’s name.
Lachlan Markay, Will Sommer

Conservative operatives and a super PAC with ties to infamous GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone are calling for Trump supporters to punish Republicans by sitting out Georgia’s crucial Senate runoffs or writing in Trump’s name instead. And though their efforts remains on the party’s fringes, the trajectory of the movement has Republicans fearful that it could cost the GOP control of the Senate. The most aggressive call to boycott or cast protest ballots in the two runoff races has, so far, come from a dormant pro-Trump super PAC with ties to Stone, which unveiled a new initiative to retaliate against the Republican Party’s supposed turncoats by handing Democrats control of the U.S. Senate.

The group, dubbed the Committee for American Sovereignty, unveiled a new website encouraging Georgia Republicans to write in Trump’s name in both of the upcoming Senate runoff elections, which could determine the party that controls the upper chamber during President-elect Joe Biden’s first two years in office. The PAC argued that doing so will show support for the president in addition to forcing Republicans to address the wild election-fraud conspiracy theories floated by Trump supporters and members of his own legal team.

“If we can do this, we have a real chance at getting these RINO senators to act on the illegitimate and corrupt election presided over by a Democrat party that is invested in the Communist takeover of Our Great Nation,” the group wrote on its new website, writeintrumpforgeorgiasenate.com. “We will not stop fighting for you, the American Patriot, against the evils of Socialism and inferior Religions.” more...

Prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky told Congress that the U.S. attorney's office in D.C. told him to recommend a lighter sentence because of Stone's ties to Trump.
By Julia Ainsley and Ken Dilanian

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department inspector general's office has begun investigating the circumstances surrounding the sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone, a longtime friend of President Donald Trump's, according to two sources familiar with the matter. The investigation is focused on events in February, according to the two sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Stone's prosecutors have said that is when they were told to seek a lighter sentence than they had previously considered.

Attorney General William Barr ultimately intervened to override the prosecutors' recommendation of seven to nine years and to ask for a lighter sentence. All four prosecutors quit the case as a result. One of the prosecutors, Aaron Zelinsky, testified before Congress in June that he was told by the office of the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., to recommend a lighter sentence than he otherwise would have because of Stone's close personal relationship with Trump.

Zelinsky said the U.S. attorney at the time, Timothy Shea, was "receiving heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice to cut Stone a break, and that the U.S. Attorney's sentencing instructions to us were based on political considerations." The career prosecutors had recommended the longer sentence in accordance with a 2017 policy put forth by Trump's first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, which requires prosecutors to seek the maximum sentence called for under the guidelines unless there are significant mitigating circumstances.

A source familiar with the matter said comments Zelinsky made during his testimony triggered the inspector general's office to open an investigation. It is not known how far the office has proceeded in its investigation, whom it has interviewed or whether it has found any evidence of wrongdoing. A federal jury convicted Stone of seven felonies after a trial in which prosecutors accused him of lying to Congress and intimidating a witness. They said he was trying to protect Trump by misleading a congressional investigation into ties between Russia and Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. more...

Brian Naylor, Alana Wise

President-elect Joe Biden can finally, formally begin his transition to power, after the General Services Administration on Monday officially ascertained the Democrat's victory over President Trump. The news came shortly after Trump, who has still yet to concede in the White House race, tweeted that he was recommending the GSA and others in his administration begin "initial protocols" to kickstart the formal transfer of presidential power. Emily Murphy, the Trump appointee who heads the GSA, has faced weeks of criticism from Democrats, national security experts and health officials, who argued that delaying the formal transition was hampering the incoming Biden administration from getting up to speed on the response to the coronavirus pandemic and jeopardizing national security. A handful of GOP lawmakers also called for the Murphy to allow the transition to get underway.

In a "letter of ascertainment" to Biden, Murphy wrote that she was now making available resources for his campaign to begin the transition process. "As you know, the GSA Administrator does not pick or certify the winner of a presidential election. Instead, the GSA Administrator's role under the Act is extremely narrow: to make resources and services available in connection with a presidential transition," Murphy wrote. more...

Opinion by Greg Sargent

It seems obvious enough that for the past few years, it has been suboptimal to have our approach to one of our biggest challenges — the threat to humanity’s future posed by global warming — shaped to no small degree around two of President Trump’s worst pathologies. We’re talking about the bottomless zeal to destroy former President Barack Obama’s legacy and the frequent denial of climate change’s very existence.

But the news that General Motors has abruptly withdrawn its support for the Trump administration’s efforts to revoke California’s legal right to place stringent limits on auto emissions, instead siding with California, it crystallizes the point in a new way, one that bodes well for the possibilities of Joe Biden’s presidency. The news was just delivered by GM itself: more...

By Zahra Ahmad | zahmad@mlive.com

The Board of State Canvassers certified Michigan’s November general election results in a 3-0-1 vote Monday. The board, made up of two Republicans and two Democrats, met Nov. 23 to make the vote count official after all 83 Michigan counties certified their election results, which include Joe Biden’s 2.8% statewide victory over President Donald Trump. The state certification of the more than 5.5 million ballots cast comes after Trump and his attorneys and supporters persistently called for delaying certification. Board of State Canvasser Norman Shinkle abstained from the vote. more...

The gatherings contradict government advice as COVID-19 surges in the U.S.
ByBen Gittleson

Americans have been strongly urged to stay home for the holidays and cancel in-person gatherings amid a fresh surge in COVID-19 cases, but the White House said it's still planning to host holiday parties despite dire warnings from health experts -- and in the wake of a September Rose Garden event that became, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, "a super-spreader event." U.S. public health officials have cautioned that large, indoor holiday gatherings during the winter months could lead to a dramatic uptick in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The novel coronavirus already has killed more than a quarter million Americans.

While first lady Melania Trump's spokeswoman and chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, said in a statement Sunday that the White House parties will take place in "the safest environment possible" and noted a series of planned precautions, the gatherings contradict government warnings on events staged even partially indoors. We want everyone to understand that these holiday celebrations can be super-spreader events. For Thanksgiving get-togethers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the "safest choice" is to celebrate "virtually or with the people you live with." If Americans do host a gathering, they should eat outside and limit the numbers of guests, according to the CDC. more...

Tom Porter

When President Donald Trump on November 15 announced the legal team leading his campaign to overturn the result of the presidential election, among them the Dallas attorney Sidney Powell, he described the members as a "truly great team." But only a week later, the Trump campaign abruptly distanced itself from Powell. The attorney's outlandish conspiracy theories apparently became too much even for a president whose political identity is founded on stirring suspicion of "deep state" elites.

Sources close to the president told The New York Times' Maggie Haberman that Powell's claims had become too much for Trump and that for days the president had been "agitating" about Powell and Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor leading the Trump campaign's challenge in the courts. A particular focus of his ire was said to be last Thursday's bizarre press conference, where Powell aired the wild conspiracy theory — with no evidence — that Venezuelan socialists and the Jewish financier George Soros had orchestrated a vast plot using rigged voting machines to steal the election from Trump. more...

By Jeremy Diamond, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump's friends and allies are increasingly doing what he will not: acknowledging the reality that Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States. Steve Schwarzman, a Trump confidant and Blackstone Group CEO, became the latest Trump ally to recognize Biden as President-elect and publicly signal to Trump that it is time to move on, speaking out a day after another Trump friend and adviser, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, called Trump's legal team a "national embarrassment."

"The outcome is very certain today and the country should move on," Schwarzman said Monday in a statement provided to CNN. "I supported President Trump and the strong economic path he built. Like many in the business community, I am ready to help President-elect Biden and his team as they confront the significant challenges of rebuilding our post-COVID economy." Schwarzman's statement adds to the slowly rising pressure Trump is facing to admit defeat in the 2020 election, nearly three weeks after the last ballots were cast and following a mountain of legal defeats the President and his allies have faced in the courts. Schwarzman, who served as a trusted adviser to Trump on trade matters with China, had reportedly defended Trump's initial vow to challenge the results of the election on a call with fellow CEOs days after the election. more...

Here's where things stand this week.
By Pete Williams

President Donald Trump and other Republicans have filed over 30 lawsuits across six swing states in an attempt to contest the election results. Most of them have been shot down or withdrawn and no court has found even a single instance of fraud. Out of at least 36 cases filed, including some not directly involving Trump but which could nonetheless affect his standing, at least 24 were denied, dismissed, settled or withdrawn.

Trump has aggressively ramped up his allegations of election fraud in the weeks since his projected loss, tweeting dozens of debunked theories. His continued refusal to concede to President-election Joe Biden has also deeply hampered the transition process, leaving Biden in the dark on crucial Covid-19 and national security issues. Here is where things stand as of Monday morning: more...

The abrupt shake-up comes as Sidney Powell makes far-fetched and unsupported claims of voter fraud in the 2020 elections.

President Donald Trump appears to have cut ties with Sidney Powell, a key member of his legal team who also represents former national security adviser Michael Flynn in his long-running attempt to unravel a guilty plea for lying about his 2016 contacts with Russia. The abrupt shake-up came in a terse Sunday evening statement from the Trump campaign that offered no explanation for Powell’s removal. “Sidney Powell is practicing law on her own,” Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis said in the statement. “She is not a member of the Trump Legal Team. She is also not a lawyer for the President in his personal capacity.”

Powell had made headlines in recent weeks for her increasingly outrageous and unsupported claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election, repeatedly vowing to “release the kraken” of evidence, only to refuse to produce it when asked by reporters. Powell had made headlines in recent weeks for her increasingly outrageous and unsupported claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election, repeatedly vowing to “release the kraken” of evidence, only to refuse to produce it when asked by reporters.
Key lessons from the 2020 exit polls Powell, in a statement, indicated she intends to keep litigating despite her separation from the Trump team.

"I agree with the statement today. I will represent #WeThePeople and seek the Truth," she said. "I intend to expose all the fraud and let the chips fall where they may. We will not allow the foundations of this great Republic to be destroyed by abject fraud or our votes for President Trump and other Republicans to be stolen by foreign interests or anyone else." Powell has accused election officials in multiple states of committing crimes, and in recent days turned on Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, who on Friday helped certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state. Her attack on Kemp, which also included the threat of a “biblical” lawsuit, appeared to unsettle some of Trump’s allies.

“Sidney Powell accusing Governor Brian Kemp of a crime on television yet being unwilling to go on TV and defend and lay out the evidence that she supposedly has, this is outrageous conduct,” former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said on Sunday. more...

Inquiries into the president and his businesses, one criminal and one civil, are now looking at tax deductions taken on consulting fees. Some of the payments appear to have gone to Ivanka Trump.
By Danny Hakim, Mike McIntire, William K. Rashbaum and Ben Protess

Two separate New York State fraud investigations into President Trump and his businesses, one criminal and one civil, have expanded to include tax write-offs on millions of dollars in consulting fees, some of which appear to have gone to Ivanka Trump, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The inquiries — a criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., and a civil one by the state attorney general, Letitia James — are being conducted independently. But both offices issued subpoenas to the Trump Organization in recent weeks for records related to the fees, the people said.

The subpoenas were the latest steps in the two investigations of the Trump Organization, and underscore the legal challenges awaiting the president when he leaves office in January. There is no indication that his daughter is a focus of either inquiry, which the Trump Organization has derided as politically motivated. The development follows a recent New York Times examination of more than two decades of Mr. Trump’s tax records, which found that he had paid little or no federal income taxes in most years, largely because of his chronic business losses. more...

The president has told lawmakers he won't back down from campaign threat to scuttle defense spending bill over proposed changes.
By Carol E. Lee, Leigh Ann Caldwell and Courtney Kube

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is threatening to veto legislation to fund the military as one of his final acts in office unless a widely supported, bipartisan provision to rename military bases honoring Confederate military leaders is removed, according to White House, defense and congressional sources. Since the Nov. 3 election, Trump has privately told Republican lawmakers that he won't back down from his position during the campaign that he would veto the annual National Defense Authorization Act if it includes an amendment to rename the bases.

A senior administration official confirmed Trump's conversations with Republicans and his veto threat. "He's said that," the official said. Trump's stance has put in doubt legislation that had been agreed to by Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate. It has sent members of Trump's party scrambling to find a path for the defense bill, which outlines military policy and funding, and put them on a collision course with Democrats. While some Republicans are now shifting their positions to align with Trump, Democrats are refusing to budge on the agreed-to amendment, threatening passage of the legislation.

The effort to change the names of military bases honoring Confederate military leaders has been a target for Trump for months. It was among the disagreements he had with his former defense secretary Mark Esper, who was quietly working with Congress to codify the renaming of bases in the bill before Trump fired him this month. The pressure from Trump has increased as members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees have begun formal negotiations to work out the differences in the legislative bodies' respective bills. Both chambers overwhelmingly passed a provision that would change the names of Confederate-named bases as part of their defense bills. more...

Regardless of how you define the word, now is not the time for academic debates.
By Dean Obeidallah, host of "The Dean Obeidallah Show"

President Donald Trump is not trying to simply undermine President-elect Joe Biden's presidency, nor is he primarily trying to position himself for a 2024 presidential run, as many have suggested. No, Trump's No. 1 goal is to overturn the results of the 2020 election. It's time for Biden and other Democratic leaders to describe his actions in the most forceful and universally understandable language possible. And that means, in this case, calling them part of an attempted coup to illegally overthrow the Biden presidency.

In the past few days, several experts have noted that Trump's actions do not technically constitute a "coup" in the academic sense. According to Michael Albertus, an associate professor of political science at the University of Chicago, for example, a coup "typically connotes a violent takeover of government." Yet these same experts warn that Trump's actions are a threat to our democracy.

New York University history professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat, author of the new book "Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present," explained to me that Trump's actions are more aptly described as an "auto-coup" — in which a leader remains in power through undemocratic means. Importantly, Ben-Ghiat notes that this auto-coup should be taken very, very seriously.

Regardless of how you define the word, now is not the time for academic debates. Trump's wildly effective communications strategy proves that sometimes simpler is better. Biden's response, in contrast, has been far too careful and far too polite. On Thursday, Biden called Trump's efforts to undermine the election results "totally irresponsible," adding that his message to immigrants worried about Trump's electoral attacks was "Hang on. I'm on my way." Other leading Democrats have, for the most part, followed Biden's lead.

This message is not surprising given Biden's campaign strategy, which emphasized unity. Such sentiment was also at the heart of Biden's victory speech Nov. 7. But it is nevertheless a very bad strategy. Italy's Benito Mussolini and Russia's Vladimir Putin amassed power through bullying. These types of leaders treat silence or muted responses as a sign of weakness, emboldening them to push further with their authoritarian goals. more...

by Will Bunch

OK, so you haven’t seen so many slam dunks since the USA “Dream Team” won the 1992 Olympics, as Team Trump’s ace legal department actually embraces My Cousin Vinny while racking up a courtroom won-loss record that rivals the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s been more than two weeks since the media and all other reputable observers called the 2020 election as a resounding win for Joe Biden, and yet President Donald Trump and his minions continue to press a case for overturning the result that’s melted faster than the stuff running out of Rudy Giuliani’s hair or his wherever.

Yes, it’s so easy to laugh at the ridiculousness of Trump’s scheme — which he telegraphed for months before Election Day — to somehow get judges, or state legislatures, or the Electoral College to anoint him the victor of an election he couldn’t win by getting the most votes, even in the battleground states that handed him the White House in 2016.

The latest proof of the pathetic nature of the president’s plot to allege widespread voter fraud, with zero actual evidence, came Saturday when a Republican, straight-outta-the-Federalist-Society jurist here in Pennsylvania — U.S. District Judge Matthew W. Brann — dismissed his campaign’s latest election challenge with prejudice,” using words like a “Frankenstein’s monster” and “unhinged” to describe the case argued by Giuliani last week. Yet as that was happening, the Trump campaign was demanding a reality-defying third recount that will surely ratify his loss in Georgia, much like the quadruple-amputated knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail continuing to insist that “it’s only a flesh wound.”

But it’s time now for all the laughter to die in outrage. Because we need to state in the clearest and most unambiguous terms what is happening in America in November 2020: The president of the United States is using the power of his office to try to overturn, by any means necessary, the fair and democratic election that will remove him from office. In a nation that stakes its claim to “exceptionalism” on 44 peaceful transfers of power (despite one that wasn’t) over 231 years, its current leader is attempting a coup. more...

Opinion by Richard Galant, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani made a rare appearance as an advocate in a courtroom this week in a baseless and hopeless effort to invalidate Joe Biden's victory. Addressing the former New York City mayor, who was parroting Trump's lie about massive voter fraud, US District Court Judge Matthew Brann posed a devastating question at the hearing on Tuesday. "You're alleging that the two individual plaintiffs were denied the right to vote. But at bottom, you're asking this court to invalidate more than 6.8 million votes, thereby disenfranchising every single voter in the Commonwealth. Could you tell me how this result could possibly be justified?"
On Saturday, the judge effectively answered his own question by dismissing the lawsuit and saying, "this Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations...and unsupported by evidence."

The Giuliani court appearance came on the same day two Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers temporarily blocked certification of votes in Michigan's most populous county, where Biden outpolled Trump by more than 332,000 votes. Both board members received a supportive call from the President afterward. It was also the day Trump fired Chris Krebs, the Homeland Security Department cybersecurity official whose sin, in the President's eyes, was to declare there was no sign of systematic fraud in this year's election.

The Trump-Giuliani scenario of a rigged election, which Joe Biden actually won with a convincing electoral college victory and a popular vote margin of more than six million votes, seemed ripped from Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking-Glass," the sequel to "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." The Queen tries to persuade Alice that you can believe impossible things -- and suggests that it helps if you practice. "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast," she declares. more...

By Kevin Liptak and Devan Cole, CNN

(CNN) A staunch ally of Donald Trump said Sunday it was time for the President to end his futile gambit to overturn the results of the election. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Trump has failed to provide any evidence of fraud, that his legal team was in shambles and that it's time to put the country first. "If you have got the evidence of fraud, present it," Christie said on ABC, where he is a contributor. He decried efforts by the President's lawyers to smear Republican governors who have not gone along with the President's false claims of voter malfeasance.

"Quite frankly, the conduct of the President's legal team has been a national embarrassment," he said, singling out Trump attorney Sidney Powell's accusations against Georgia GOP Gov. Brian Kemp. Georgia will conduct another recount of its presidential ballots following a Trump campaign request Saturday, but the recount is extremely unlikely to change his loss in the state. President-elect Joe Biden, who was declared the winner Friday as the state certified the results, has a 12,670 vote or .2% lead over Trump in Georgia. "This is outrageous conduct by any lawyer," Christie said Sunday, noting Trump's attorneys have levied wild accusations in public but have not, so far, raised them in court, where there are consequences for providing false information.

"They allege fraud outside the courtroom, but when they go inside the courtroom, they don't plead fraud and they don't argue fraud," he said. "Listen," Christie concluded, "I have been a supporter of the President's. I voted for him twice, but elections have consequences, and we cannot continue to act as if something happened here that didn't happen." "If you are unwilling to come forward and present the evidence, it must mean the evidence doesn't exist," he went on. "The country is what has to matter the most. As much as I'm a strong Republican and I love my party, it's the country that has to come first." more...

By Alexandra Garrett

Wisconsin election officials called out President Donald Trump's ballot tabulation observers for hindering the recount, following his requests in Milwaukee and Dane County. Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson said in a report by the Associated Press on Saturday that in some cases, the observers were objecting to almost every ballot pulled for the count.

Christenson continued to note that the complaints were putting the recount behind schedule, and multiple observers were breaking rules by interrupting vote counters with questions and objections. He called the behavior "unacceptable." "It's not our job to train their observers on what they're observing," Christenson said during a media briefing on Saturday, as reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "They clearly don't know what they're doing and so they keep asking questions. more...


PHILADELPHIA (AP) — As they frantically searched for ways to salvage President Donald Trump’s failed reelection bid, his campaign pursued a dizzying game of legal hopscotch across six states that centered on the biggest prize of all: Pennsylvania. The strategy may have played well in front of television cameras and on talk radio. But it has proved a disaster in court, where judges uniformly rejected their claims of vote fraud and found the campaign’s legal work amateurish.

In a ruling late Saturday, U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann — a Republican and Federalist Society member in central Pennsylvania — compared the campaign’s legal arguments to “Frankenstein’s Monster,” concluding that Trump’s team offered only “speculative accusations,” not proof of rampant corruption. Now, as the legal doors close on Trump’s attempts to have courts do what voters would not do on Election Day and deliver him a second term, his efforts in Pennsylvania show how far he is willing to push baseless theories of widespread voter fraud. more...

Donald Trump at a recent press conference. He has tweeted that “Covid is running wild all over the World, not just in the U.S.” Guardian staff and agencies

Donald Trump appears to have admitted that coronavirus is “running wild” across the US, in contrast with his statements throughout the election campaign that the country was “rounding the turn” on the pandemic. As new Covid infections in the US approached 200,000 a day, Trump took to Twitter on Saturday night to insist things were bad outside the United States as well: “The Fake News is not talking about the fact that ‘Covid’ is running wild all over the World, not just in the U.S.”

On Friday the US recorded 195,500 new cases, a global and US record, according to Johns Hopkins University data. On Saturday the country passed 12m cases, by far the largest total in the world. During the election campaign, Trump repeatedly asserted that the US was “rounding the turn” on coronavirus and that the country would hear less about the pandemic after 4 November. In his tweets late on Saturday, he insisted the “fake news” forgets to mention that “far fewer people are dying when they get Covid”.

The US Food and Drug Administration said on Saturday that it had issued an emergency use authorisation for the Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ antibody therapy that was given to the president when he had Covid-19 in October. It comes as daily deaths in the US were approaching the figures seen during the first months of the pandemic. On Thursday more than 2,000 Americans died from Covid, the highest figure since May. more...

The president’s comment comes after a series of legal defeats, and with his options dwindling.

President Donald Trump made explicit Saturday the strategy his legal team has been hinting at for days: He wants Republican-led legislatures to overturn election results in states that Joe Biden won. "Why is Joe Biden so quickly forming a Cabinet when my investigators have found hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes, enough to “flip” at least four States, which in turn is more than enough to win the Election?" Trump said, despite refusing to produce any such evidence either publicly or in court cases filed by his attorneys.

"Hopefully the Courts and/or Legislatures will have the COURAGE to do what has to be done to maintain the integrity of our Elections, and the United States of America itself," Trump said. Trump's comment came after a string of legal defeats, including a rejection by a federal judge in Pennsylvania Saturday who said the Trump team presented no evidence of election fraud or misconduct, despite seeking to invalidate millions of votes. Trump's lead lawyer in the case, Rudy Giuliani, said he intends to appeal the case to the Third Circuit and, if necessary, the Supreme Court.

But with few cases pending in courts, Trump's options have narrowed and he is becoming increasingly reliant on longshot scenarios where election results are not certified and Republican-controlled statehouses in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona and Georgia intervene to declare him the winner. GOP legislative leaders in those states have not endorsed this approach. Trump summoned Michigan legislative leaders to the White House on Friday, but they later issued a statement indicating they had not seen any reason to intervene on Trump's behalf.

To succeed, Trump's plan would require several unprecedented legal steps. First, Republican-led legislatures in states Biden won would need to move to overturn their state's popular vote and appoint a slate of Trump electors when the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14. In Pennsylvania and Michigan, such maneuvers would be certain to meet vetoes from Democratic governors, so the lawmakers would also need to secure a legal determination that they hold the sole power to appoint electors — a disputed legal premise that has never been tested. more...


A Pennsylvania federal court on Saturday denied President Donald Trump's request to block certification of the state's 2020 election results in order to give his lawyers time to find evidence to support their claims of a fraudulent election system and improper ballot counting. In a scathing ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann criticized the lack of evidence the Trump campaign presented to support its argument to potentially disenfranchise every voter in the commonwealth who cast a ballot in the 2020 elections — nearly 7 million in all.

Brann noted that the less than two-week-old case developed a "tortured procedural history" that included a parade of lawyers for the campaign, shifting legal arguments to avoid clashing with a federal appeals court ruling, and an eleventh-hour motion to delay a hearing. Brann wrote that the lone legal claim left standing — an alleged violation of the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause — was like "Frankenstein’s Monster ... haphazardly stitched together" from two legal theories.

The ruling entirely dismissed the case filed by Trump's campaign and two Republican voters who said their ballots were rejected for technicalities, while those cast by thousands of voters in the state's Democratic strongholds were accepted. The decision specifically denied permission to amend the allegations. "This Court has been unable to find any case in which a plaintiff has sought such a drastic remedy in the contest of an election, in terms of the sheer volume of votes asked to be invalidated," Brann wrote in the 37-page decision.

"One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption," he wrote. "Instead, this court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, ... unsupported by evidence. "In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state." more...

By Katelyn Polantz and Kevin Bohn, CNN

(CNN) A US District Court judge Saturday dismissed a lawsuit by the Trump campaign trying to invalidate millions of Pennsylvania mail-in votes in a significant loss for the campaign. Though the case was always extremely unlikely to succeed, President Donald Trump's backers and legal team -- and particularly his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani -- had pinned their hopes on the federal judge in Pennsylvania giving some credibility to their suspicions of fraud and entertaining Trump's attempt to overturn the popular vote for President-elect Joe Biden. But Judge Matthew Brann, a longtime and well-known Republican in Pennsylvania, refused.

This was essentially the last major case seeking to throw out or block enough votes that could swing a key state in Trump's favor, and Brann's decision on Saturday is the 30th loss or withdrawal of a case from the Trump campaign and its allies since Election Day. There have only been two wins in court, about very small numbers of votes. "Plaintiffs ask this Court to disenfranchise almost seven million voters. This Court has been unable to find any case in which a plaintiff has sought such a drastic remedy in the contest of an election, in terms of the sheer volume of votes asked to be invalidated," US District Court Judge Matthew Brann wrote Saturday. Brann went on to admonish the Trump campaign lawyers for not presenting factual proof for seeking to invalidate so many votes in the key battleground state. more...

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany's comment was contradicted by several statements the president made after the 2016 election.
Bethania Palma

On Nov. 20, 2020, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany held a news conference in the White House briefing room. Addressing U.S. President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede his electoral loss to President-elect Joe Biden and his administration’s stonewalling of Biden’s transition team, McEnany said this about Trump’s own transition into power after the 2016 election: “Also, something that I would note is, just we talked a lot about transfer of power and the election, and it’s worth remembering that this president was never given an orderly transition of power. His presidency was never accepted.”

The claim was at odds with reality. In 2016, after being defeated by Trump, Hillary Clinton gave a concession speech the day after the election. “We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead,” she stated in the speech. Trump in 2016 stated that Clinton contacted him the night of the election in what he described as a “lovely” phone call: “She couldn’t have been nicer. She just said, ‘Congratulations, Donald. Well done.'” Similarly the General Services Administration, an executive branch agency that is currently under fire for its refusal to hand transition resources off to Biden’s transition team, gave Trump’s team the reins the day after Election Day in 2016.

McEnany’s comments were even contradicted by those made by the president himself during his inauguration address on Jan. 20, 2017: “Every four years we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power. And we are grateful to President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.” The transition period between Biden’s election and inauguration has been anything but “orderly.” Trump and his supporters, including McEnany, have echoed a conspiracy theory holding that Trump only lost the election on account of a massive voter fraud scheme involving deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and billionaire philanthropist George Soros. more...

By Katelyn Polantz and Kevin Bohn, CNN

(CNN) A US District Court judge Saturday dismissed a lawsuit by the Trump campaign trying to invalidate millions of Pennsylvania mail-in votes in a significant loss for the campaign. Though the case was always extremely unlikely to succeed, President Donald Trump's backers and legal team -- and particularly his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani -- had pinned their hopes on the federal judge in Pennsylvania giving some credibility to their suspicions of fraud and entertaining Trump's attempt to overturn the popular vote for President-elect Joe Biden.

But Judge Matthew Brann, a longtime and well-known Republican in Pennsylvania, refused. This was essentially the last major case seeking to throw out or block enough votes that could swing a key state in Trump's favor, and Brann's decision on Saturday is the 30th loss or withdrawal of a case from the Trump campaign and its allies since Election Day. There have only been two wins in court, about very small numbers of votes.

"Plaintiffs ask this Court to disenfranchise almost seven million voters. This Court has been unable to find any case in which a plaintiff has sought such a drastic remedy in the contest of an election, in terms of the sheer volume of votes asked to be invalidated," US District Court Judge Matthew Brann wrote Saturday. Brann went on to admonish the Trump campaign lawyers for not presenting factual proof for seeking to invalidate so many votes in the key battleground state. more...

Despite the absence of evidence, many Trump supporters believe the 2020 election results are illegitimate. Brett Fryar is a middle-class Republican. A 50-year-old chiropractor in Sundown, Texas, he owns a small business. He has two undergraduate degrees and a master’s degree, in organic chemistry. He attends Southcrest Baptist Church in nearby Lubbock. Fryar did not much like Donald Trump at first, during the US president’s 2016 campaign. He voted for Texas Senator Ted Cruz in the Republican primaries.

Now, Fryar says he would go to war for Trump. He has joined the newly formed South Plains Patriots, a group of a few hundred members that includes a “reactionary” force of about three dozen – including Fryar and his son, Caleb – who conduct firearms training. Nothing will convince Fryar and many others in Sundown, Texas – including the town’s mayor, another Patriots member – that Democrat Joe Biden won the November 3 presidential election fairly. They believe Trump’s stream of election-fraud allegations and say they are preparing for the possibility of a “civil war” with the American political left. “If President Trump comes out and says: ‘Guys, I have irrefutable proof of fraud, the courts won’t listen, and I’m now calling on Americans to take up arms,’ we would go,” said Fryar, wearing a button-down shirt, pressed slacks and a paisley tie during a recent interview at his office. more...

By James Crowley

President Donald Trump supporters protesting the outcome of the 2020 election have a new and surprising opponent: the Republican Party. A viral video of protesters, as well as posts on social media platform Parler, indicate that Trump supporters are looking to boycott the upcoming Georgia Senate runoff elections.

A video, shared on Twitter on Saturday, shows a protester speaking into a mic criticizing Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Utah Senator Mitt Romney, who are both Republicans. The protester calls them "traitors." Seemingly reacting to certification from Georgia election officials that President-elect Joe Biden had indeed won the Peach State following an election recount, the protesters disavowed the GOP.

"Any Republican who allows this to happen is complicit, and we will finish you," the protester, donning a camo sweatshirt with an elephant on it, shouts into the microphone. "For any Republicans not explicitly helping Trump to 'stop the steal,' we will make sure you are never elected ever again." more...

198,500 new US cases reported in 24-hour period as president skips event focused on ‘coordinated response’ to Covid
Lauren Aratani

Donald Trump skipped the G20 summit’s “Pandemic Preparedness” event to visit one of his golf clubs on the same day that a record 198,500 new Covid-19 infections were reported in a 24-hour period in the United States. The summit, attended by world leaders from across the globe, is being held virtually this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has now killed more than 250,000 Americans – by far the largest total in the world. Trump’s apparent disinterest in the summit started earlier on Saturday when he started tweeting about the election results after the scheduled start time of the summit at 8am ET. By 10am, Trump was leaving the White House to go to his golf course outside of Washington DC, according to CNN.

The event featured remarks from leaders, including the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, and was focused on the “coordinated response to the coronavirus pandemic and improved global pandemic preparedness”, according to its description. Before he left the White House to go to the golf course, Trump implied to leaders that he will be working with them in the future, a reference to the losing fight he has put up against the results of the presidential election. more...

Damon Linker

On Thursday afternoon, when lawyers for the president of the United States were alleging (wholly without evidence) that Democrats stole the presidential election for Joe Biden with a combination of fraudulent mail-in ballots and voting machines rigged by Venezuela's deceased left-wing populist autocrat Hugo Chavez, a new YouGov poll of 1,500 registered voters revealed that 88 percent of Republicans think Donald Trump was the rightful winner of the 2020 election.

There is no sign whatsoever that Trump will ever concede the election or cease trying to discredit it. How likely is it that this will “work,” in the sense that he will succeed in preventing Biden from taking the oath of office just past noon on Jan. 20, 2021? Almost none, as several informative articles have explained in detail.

Yet for me the past couple of days have begun to feel a little bit like those weeks in the winter of 2016 when a range of pundits insisted, in the face of an avalanche of polls showing Trump solidly leading the pack of candidates in the GOP primary field, that he couldn't possibly win the Republican Party's presidential nomination. Back then, my stock response to these denialists was to ask naively, “Why not?” The answers, pointing to mysterious inner workings of party institutions, never succeeded in persuading me that it couldn't happen. As long as Trump had the voters behind him, he would win — because in reality there was no institutional or legal mechanism to prevent it from happening.

Thankfully, there is such an institutional and legal mechanism standing in Trump's way this time. So he won't be able to ride a wave of outrage among his supporters to a second term. more...

Richard Wolffe

Here are some of the most slimy steps down the slippery slope towards The End of America As We Know It. Donald Trump is the kind of populist who hates the people: specifically, the clear majority of the people who voted him out of office. So he has set about one last gambit – what Dick Cheney liked to call “the last throes” – to steal the election he lost by gumming up the electoral college.

He will fail in his crass attempts to corrupt the election, just as he has failed in his crass lawsuits to challenge the vote counts. Just as he has failed in his entire presidency. But let’s not brush aside this moment because of its grotesque ineptitude and corruption. It’s not just another Trump tantrum. It may not be a coup, but it is an attempt to destroy American democracy forever. So let us count the ways this loser of a president has tried to Trumpify America’s elections. And let us never forget that he did so in cahoots with the formerly Grand Old Party that used to belong to Republicans but now belongs to the Trumpistas. Here are some of the most slimy steps down the slippery slope towards The End of America As We Know It.

1 The founding myth of election night
It started in the bunker, with a few dozen of his closest cronies, watching the voters overrun every defensive position across a country he thought he knew well. When Trump finally spoke to the cameras in the East Room of the White House on election night, he declared that he was on track to win in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan. He claimed it would be “nice” to win Arizona, but he didn’t even need it. more...

Heard on All Things Considered
Ryan Lucas

Of all the perks of being president, Donald Trump may soon miss most the legal protection that it affords. For four years, Trump has benefited from the de facto immunity from prosecution that all presidents enjoy while in office. But that cloak will pass to Joe Biden when he's sworn in on Jan. 20, leaving Trump out in the legal cold.

"Clearly, the president enjoyed immunity when he was in office," said Danya Perry, a former state and federal prosecutor in New York. "And it's possible, as a matter of law, that he could be indicted on Jan. 21." There's no indication that an indictment is imminent, and it's possible that Trump could emerge entirely unscathed. But there's also no doubt that once he's out of office, he'll be facing a higher level of legal jeopardy than he has in years. "His legal risks increase immeasurably come Jan. 21, both on the civil and the criminal side," Perry said.

Potential federal liability
The most developed case that could ensnare Trump might be out of the Southern District of New York. It stems from the federal prosecution against Michael Cohen, Trump's onetime personal attorney and fixer. Cohen pleaded guilty to a range of crimes, including arranging illegal hush money payments to keep women silent during the 2016 campaign about extramarital affairs they say they had with Trump before he was president. Trump has denied the allegations. Cohen has said he acted at the direction of and in coordination with Trump. Prosecutors, meanwhile, referred to the president in court papers as "Individual 1." more...

JR Radcliffe Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

President Donald Trump is pursuing an election recount in Wisconsin's two largest counties, Milwaukee and Dane, in a process that gets under way Friday. Trump could see a long-shot chance of getting multiple states to change their vote totals. Or, a legal challenge could provide Trump fodder to keep his base revved up for a 2024 run, alleging the long-standing process of electing presidents that delivered former Vice President Joe Biden a victory was unfair. The official canvass of votes in the Nov. 3 election showed a 20,608-vote difference between Trump and Biden in Wisconsin. Members of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel politics team will be providing live updates of the recall process as they roll in.

Dane Couelection officials reject attempt to throw out tens of thousands of ballots
President Donald Trump’s campaign sought to throw out tens of thousands of ballots Friday in Dane County as it got its recount under way, but election officials rejected the effort. Christ Troupis, a representative for Trump’s campaign, told the Dane County Board of Canvassers it should eliminate all in-person early votes; all mailed-in absentee ballots if written applications for them could not be tracked down; all votes submitted by those who say they are indefinitely confined; and all absentee ballots where clerks wrote in the addresses of witnesses. more...

By Richard Miniter, Zenger News

The real endgame for President Donald Trump's lawyers is to throw the 2020 election into the U.S. House of Representatives, where Trump would prevail, says former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz. "I think the strategy of the Trump team is not to get him to 270, but to keep [Joe] Biden from getting to 270," Dershowitz told Zenger News in a video interview, referring to the minimum number of Electoral College votes required to capture the White House. Today Biden would have 306 electoral votes if all 50 state governments were to certify their unofficial vote totals.

"I don't think this is a charade of some kind," he said of the many legal efforts of Trump's legal team, now spread thin across Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. He believes the legal claims advanced by the Republicans appear to be largely sound. "Vice President Biden is not yet the president-elect. He hasn't gotten the 270 certified votes yet," Dershowitz said. "There are so many contingencies that could occur, that anyone who tells you now with 100 percent certainty they can predict the outcome is not being straight with you," he said. more...

By Elliot Hannon

The litany of prosecutions President Donald Trump may be facing when he turns back into a plain old real estate magnate frog on Jan. 20, 2021, just got a little longer, the New York Times reported Friday. Trump’s unseemly business dealings have manifested themselves in some murky tax filings, both of which have been a source of interest for New York state investigators: Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is conducting a criminal investigation while state Attorney General Letitia James carries out a civil one. Both probes, the Times reports, have recently expanded to include tens of millions of dollars in tax write-offs by Trump and his business, the Trump Organization, including deductions taken for paying his daughter Ivanka as a consultant while she was simultaneously on the payroll of the company as an executive officer. The investigations have ramped up of late, and, the Times reports, subpoenas have been issued to the Trump Organization.

Trump has paid essentially no taxes for decades by exploiting tax loopholes that allowed him to cover his substantial business losses, but also by deploying accounting methods that look an awful lot like fraud. To help keep his tax bill close to nonexistent, the Times now reports Trump took $26 million in tax deductions from 2010 to 2018 for fees paid to unidentified consultants that Trump classified as business expenses. When it comes to Ivanka, $747,622 in payments were made to Trump’s daughter through the consulting company TTT Consulting LLC, of which Ivanka is a co-owner. Ivanka disclosed the income when joining the White House in 2017. The exact same amount was listed in the Trump Organization’s tax deductions for a pair of hotel projects.

“While companies can deduct professional fees, the Internal Revenue Service requires that consulting arrangements be market-based and reasonable, as well as ‘ordinary and necessary’ to running a business,” the Times notes. “The I.R.S. has sometimes rejected attempts to write off consulting fees if they were meant to avoid taxes and did not reflect arms-length business relationships.” While these federal returns would fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government, the Times points out that they would also be included Trump’s New York state returns, which would provide an avenue for state-level prosecution. more...

By Grace Segers

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany refused to acknowledge President-elect Joe Biden's victory in a press briefing on Friday— her first press briefing since October 1 and since President Trump lost the election. Mr. Trump refuses to concede and continues promoting false claims of voter fraud. "The president's been very clear, he wants every legal vote to be counted," McEnany said. She did not say when Mr. Trump would concede, but said there were "very real claims" of voter fraud without identifying any evidence. She repeatedly called Mr. Biden "the former vice president" instead of the president-elect.

McEnany declined to comment on ongoing campaign litigation, even though she has appeared on cable news networks in her capacity as a campaign adviser. McEnany said during her briefing that Mr. Trump's meeting with Republican lawmakers from Michigan on Friday had nothing to do with the campaign, even though Mr. Trump has expressed the desire to overturn Mr. Biden's win in the state. On Tuesday, McEnany appeared on Fox News host Sean Hannity's show, holding up what she claimed were 234 pages of sworn affidavits raising allegations of fraud in Wayne County, Michigan. However, the Wayne County canvassers certified Mr. Biden's victory in the county that night, and the president-elect's win was then certified across the state. There is no legal recourse for undoing a certification, according to the Michigan secretary of state. more...

Critics see politics at play after Mnuchin’s decision not to extend some of the Fed’s expiring emergency loan programs.
Martin Crutsinger and Christopher Rugaber

WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin denied that he is attempting to limit the choices President-elect Joe Biden will have to promote an economic recovery by ending several emergency loan programs being run by the Federal Reserve. Mnuchin said his decision was based on the fact that the programs were not being heavily utilized. He said Friday that Congress could make better use of the money by re-allocating it in another direction to support grants to small businesses and extended unemployment assistance.

“We’re not trying to hinder anything,” Mnuchin said in a CNBC interview. “We don’t need this money to buy corporate bonds. We need this money to go help small businesses that are still closed.” However, critics saw politics at play in Mnuchin’s decision, saying the action would deprive the incoming administration of critical support the Fed might need to prop up the economy as coronavirus infections spike nationwide. “There can be no doubt, the Trump administration and their congressional toadies are actively trying to tank the U.S economy,” Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said in a prepared statement Friday. “For months, they have refused to take the steps necessary to support workers, small businesses and restaurants. As the result, the only tool at our disposal has been these facilities.” more...

Austin Sarat and Dennis Aftergut

This has been his plan: fracture democracy’s foundation, create chaos and see where the shards and chips fall. The red light flashing danger to democracy grew more intense on 19 November. We thought it could hardly get worse, with Trump toady Lindsey Graham sticking his nose into Georgia’s business – he asked, per Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensberger, and a witness, about tossing legal ballots. And then the president did him one better.

After calling a member of Wayne county, Michigan’s Board of Elections who had previously voted to certify that county’s pro-Biden vote, he invited Republican Michigan legislators to the White House. The same legislators who, under the Constitution’s article II, could theoretically appoint a slate of Trump electors to Congress on 3 January when the president is formally selected, in total defiance of Michigan’s 140,000 more voters who chose Joe Biden.

This has been the president’s plan all along: if he loses, fracture democracy’s foundation, the vote. Create chaos, as is his wont, and see where the shards and chips fall. Delegitimize the victor to keep Trump the center of attention, to hold his base, dominate and intimidate Republicans everywhere.

The president may be hoping that his desperate, post-election maneuvers will miraculously deliver, and that three battleground state Republican legislatures will send alternate slates. Not impossible. But the odds are somewhere south of cherries across the board on your first pull of the slot-machine arm. more...

Tyler Whetstone Knoxville News Sentinel

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Retiring U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander isn’t ready to say Vice President Joe Biden is president-elect, but he’s close. In the meantime, he said, the former vice president should have been getting presidential briefings for weeks. Alexander made the comments Thursday afternoon in an exclusive interview with Knox News, his first about the election. “It looks like he has a very good chance to be (president-elect),” he said about Biden, “and if there’s any chance that he will be — and it looks like there is a very good chance — I believe the Trump administration ought to provide the Biden administration with all the transition materials and sources and meetings necessary so we have a smooth transition so both sides are ready on day one.” more...

The meeting comes one a day after the Trump campaign dropped its final federal lawsuit in Michigan.

A delegation of Republican state lawmakers from Michigan arrived in Washington on Friday as part of President Donald Trump’s Hail Mary attempt to usurp the results of the election he lost. Trump has baselessly cast doubt on the presidential election in Michigan, which he lost by approximately 150,000 votes, and has waged a campaign over the past two weeks to pressure Republicans in the state to back him in reversing the outcome. It is unclear how many GOP legislators will visit the White House, but the group is expected to include Michigan state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey.

Shirkey and state Sen. Tom Barrett were met by a throng of protesters and reporters outside Reagan National Airport upon their arrival Friday. The pair passed through the airport without talking to the media. Earlier this week Shirkey told Bridge Michigan, a nonprofit news outlet, that the idea the legislature would defy the voters is "not going to happen." It is uncertain whether state House Speaker Lee Chatfield will also be in attendance. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said during a Friday morning CNN interview that she received a text message from Chatfield that he had not committed to going to the White House. Jason Wentworth, who is succeeding Chatfield as speaker, was also spotted at the D.C. airport.

"I know these individuals, who are people who respect the rule of law, and the rule of law is quite clear here,” Benson, a Democrat, said. “And the will of the voters is also quite clear." The meeting comes one a day after the Trump campaign dropped its final federal lawsuit in Michigan and falsely declared victory after local election officials briefly declined to certify the results in the county that includes Detroit. Those election officials quickly relented, voting unanimously to certify the county's results. more...

By Annie Grayer and Caroline Kelly, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump will meet with the Republican leaders of the Michigan state legislature at the White House Friday afternoon as Trump and his legal team continue to mount a long-shot effort to overturn the results of the election he lost to President-elect Joe Biden. Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield, Speaker-elect Jason Wentworth and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey will attend, a source familiar with the meeting said. The meetings come as the President, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and other allies continue to peddle false claims of nationwide voter fraud. There are also discussions currently underway with Trump about inviting Republican state legislators from Pennsylvania to the White House, two sources told CNN.

It's not clear if those invitations have been extended yet, but Trump has expressed interest in doing so as he tries to insert himself into the vote certification process. The deadline for counties in Pennsylvania to certify their totals is Monday. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany would not say what Trump will discuss with the Michigan lawmakers. "So he will be meeting later on. This is not an advocacy meeting. There will be no one from the campaign there. He routinely meets with lawmakers from all across the country," McEnany said. Certification is usually a formality, but Trump is trying to block or delay the process in key states as part of a long-shot effort to overturn his election defeat through the Electoral College. Giuliani and other allies have suggested that GOP state legislatures in battleground states Biden won should try to use a delay in certification to appoint their own slate of electors and ignore the states' popular votes for Biden. more...

And I fear there’s no going back.
By Timothy Egan

Just when we thought we could sleep again. Just when we thought his malevolent reign was over, his poison bottled, that the sun was coming out tomorrow. Just when nearly 80 million Americans could shout the words of Dr. Seuss to Marvin K. Mooney: “Please go now!” Then, this: a shameless attempt to reject the will of hundreds of thousands of voters in the most populous county in Michigan and ultimately hand a state that Joe Biden won by some 157,000 votes over Donald Trump.

And this: In Nevada and Pennsylvania, Trump’s campaign asked courts to thwart the choice of a majority of voters and award their states’ Electoral College votes to the only president in history to lose the popular vote twice. It promised evidence of fraud but produced none. It was a blunt, raw, purely Trumpian move. Try to stop me. And this: Trump has invited Michigan legislators to the White House in a last-ditch — and legally dubious — effort to subvert the election.

What’s unfolding now is an attempted coup by a con. It’s a bigger political scandal than Russian interference four years ago. And yes, it is likely to fail, and the system is likely to prevail. But the American majority cannot rest, nor rely on its sense of decency, until the election hooligans are beaten back. Failing in court, this most authoritarian of presidents is pressuring Little Trumpers everywhere to overturn an election that Trump’s own cybersecurity chief, Christopher Krebs, said was “the most secure in American history.” He’s trying to force canvassers, certifiers, election board referees and state legislators to create enough chaos so that he can steal a win. more...

Martin Pengelly in New York

As the US death toll from Covid-19 surpassed 250,000 on Wednesday, with a caseload above 11.3m and more than 161,000 new cases added the previous day, an internal White House taskforce report warned of “aggressive, unrelenting, broad community spread across the country, without evidence of improvement but, rather, further deterioration”. The report, which leaked widely to the media, added: “Current mitigation efforts are inadequate and must be increased.”

Daily death numbers are rising: 1,707 were reported by Johns Hopkins University on Tuesday. With some forecast models predicting a death toll beyond 400,000 by March, a year after the pandemic began, states across the US are implementing targeted social restrictions in attempts to beat back rising case numbers and reduce pressure on hospital resources. According to the Covid Tracking Project, an all-time high of 76,830 people were hospitalised with the virus as of Wednesday morning.

Speaking anonymously, one White House official told the Associated Press the taskforce had concluded existing efforts to slow the spread “are inadequate and must be increased to flatten the curve” and that Thanksgiving travel and gatherings, around the US holiday next Thursday, could “amplify transmission considerably”. more...

By Timothy Bella

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney late on Thursday denounced President Trump’s attempt to pressure Republican officials to reverse the results of the election, describing it as among the most “undemocratic” actions ever taken by a sitting president. “Having failed to make even a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy before any court of law, the President has now resorted to overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election,” the Utah senator and frequent Trump critic said in a statement posted to Twitter. “It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American President.” Romney joined Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) as the only two GOP senators on Thursday to publicly oppose the president’s actions, as Trump and his campaign continue lobbing baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud in Michigan and other states in hope of remaining in power. more...

By Brad Reed

Some supporters of President Donald Trump in Texas say they’re willing to take up arms against the American government the minute that Trump gives them the order. In an interview with Reuters, Texas-based chiropractor Brett Fryar says he has joined a militia group called the South Plains Patriots who are conducting firearms training sessions in case they need to stage an armed revolt against the American government.

“If President Trump comes out and says: ‘Guys, I have irrefutable proof of fraud, the courts won’t listen, and I’m now calling on Americans to take up arms,’ we would go,” he explained. In total, Reuters interviewed 50 different Trump supporters across the country and found that all of them believe that President-elect Joe Biden had stolen the election from Trump.

What’s more, only 20 expressed a willingness to accept that Biden had won, but only if presented with evidence that no fraud had occurred. Janet Hedrick, a 70-year-old Trump supporter from West Virginia, told Reuters that she believes all of the president’s debunked conspiracy theories about the election being stolen. “There’s millions and millions of Trump votes that were just thrown out,” she said. “That computer was throwing them out.” more...

Sam Levine in New York - guardian.org

The president refuses to acknowledge Biden’s win, but experts say there is no constitutional path forward for him to remain in the White House. Joe Biden won the presidential election, a fact that Donald Trump and other Republicans refuse to acknowledge. There are worries the president and other Republicans will make every effort to stay in power. “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, said last week. William Barr, the attorney general, has also authorized federal prosecutors to begin to investigate election irregularities, a move that prompted the head of the justice department’s election crimes unit to step down from his position and move to another role. On Tuesday, Trump fired Christopher Krebs, the director of the federal agency that vouched for the reliability of the 2020 election and had pushed back on the president’s baseless claims of voter fraud.

Yet, despite all of Trump’s machinations, it is extremely unlikely he can find a way to stay in power or stage a coup. Here’s an explanation of why: Trump refuses to accept that Joe Biden won the presidential election. Is there a constitutional path for him to stage a coup and stay in office for another term? Not really. The electoral college meets on 14 December to cast its vote for president and nearly every state uses the statewide popular vote to allocate its electors. Biden is projected to win far more than the 270 electoral votes he needs to become president. His victory doesn’t hinge on one state and he has probably insurmountable leads in Michigan, Nevada, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Arizona. more...

Kevin Stankiewicz

Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ripped President Donald Trump on Friday over his refusal to concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden, calling a delay in the transition “outrageous” and “bad for the country.” “We need to have the transition begin as soon as possible. These kind of ridiculous challenges that are not based on fact need to end,” Hogan, a frequent Trump critic, said on “Squawk Box.”

“We have to move forward with the transition. Like it or not, we cast the votes, we count the votes and we live with the result. We’ve always had a peaceful transition of power,” added Hogan, who weighed a primary challenge to Trump last year and did not vote for him in the Nov. 3 election. Instead, Hogan cast a write-in ballot for former President Ronald Reagan, who died in 2004.

Trump has not conceded the presidential race to Biden, despite media organizations including NBC News calling the race nearly two weeks ago. The president’s campaign is waging numerous legal fights in key battleground states, in addition to filing for a partial vote recount in Wisconsin, a state Biden won. The president has falsely claimed he prevailed in the election and asserted — without presenting evidence — that there has been rampant voter fraud designed to favor Biden. He also fired a top U.S. cybersecurity official who repeatedly defended the integrity of the election. more...


Despite a lack of evidence of widespread irregularities or fraud, President Donald Trump’s legal team used a Thursday press conference to go through a laundry list of far-fetched, thoroughly debunked claims on the 2020 election. Trump attorney Sidney Powell spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez” — the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. She also said Trump beat Democrat Joe Biden “by a landslide,” which he decidedly didn’t — Biden was the clear winner.

A look at the claims and reality: POWELL: “The Dominion Voting Systems, the Smartmatic technology software, and the software that goes in other computerized voting systems here as well, not just Dominion, were created in Venezuela at the direction of Hugo Chavez to make sure he never lost an election after one constitutional referendum came out the way he did not want it to come out.”

THE FACTS: No, Dominion does not have any ties to Venezuela, nor does it have a partnership with Smartmatic, according to Eddie Perez, a voting technology expert at the OSET Institute, a nonpartisan election technology research and development nonprofit. Smartmatic is an international company incorporated in Florida by Venezuelan founders. The company states on its website that it’s not associated with governments or political parties of any country. more...

By Dana Bash and Gloria Borger, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump told an ally that he knows he lost, but that he is delaying the transition process and is aggressively trying to sow doubt about the election results in order to get back at Democrats for questioning the legitimacy of his own election in 2016, especially with the Russia investigation, a source familiar with the President's thinking told CNN on Thursday. The President's refusal to concede, as CNN has previously reported, stems in part from his perceived grievance that Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama undermined his own presidency by saying Russia interfered in the 2016 election and could have impacted the outcome, people around him have said.

Trump continues to hold a grudge against those who he claims undercut his election by pointing to Russian interference efforts, and he has suggested it is fair game to not recognize Joe Biden as the President-elect, even though Clinton conceded on election night in 2016 and the Trump transition was able to begin immediately. Trump is also continuing to process the emotional scars of losing to a candidate he repeatedly said during the campaign was an unworthy opponent whose win would amount to humiliation. He again made no public appearances on Thursday, skipping the first coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in more than six months. He is planning to participate in a virtual Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation summit Friday, a senior administration official told CNN.

Trump has heard from a multitude of friends and business associates who have been urging him to at least let the transition begin, even if he doesn't want to concede, another source who is also familiar with the President's thinking told CNN. His answer: No. You're wrong. "Absolutely wrong," according to one source. When Trump has been told to get Rudy Giuliani and other members of his legal team off the case, the President has disagreed. He wants to continue the fight, and people close to the President have even expressed concern that he is buying into Giuliani's false claims that his legal efforts can change the election's outcome. He has shown no signs of backing down, even as those around him continue indicating that the end is near. Those allies have expressed worry that a sizable faction of the country thinks the election was stolen from Trump and that Biden isn't receiving national security briefings. more...

Trump is not just a childish man having a tantrum or a selfish man who can't accept defeat. His actions are dangerous to America's health and security.
Dr. Kenneth Paul Rosenberg and Norman Ornstein

One of us is a psychiatrist, the other a political scientist. We have watched the fiasco since the election with mounting trepidation, from two very different perspectives. But we have a common bond: For more than a decade, each of us has worked to advocate for people with serious mental illness to get treatment. We are coming together now to advocate for immediate intervention for our president.

Since President Donald Trump’s election, the psychiatric community has debated calling out his illness(es). The American Psychiatric Association says we should remain silent out of fear that we would violate the Goldwater Rule — an APA rule adopted largely to prevent the partisan misuse of psychiatric diagnoses to unduly influence an election. But it is clear what many psychiatrists know privately, and a few have said publicly. The threat to our democracy is too great to remain silent. more...

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