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US Monthly Headline News December 2020 Page 1


CNN's Don Lemon reviews President Donald Trump's fourth year as Commander in Chief, playing videos of Trump throughout 2020. video...

*** The election is over Trump lost by 7 million votes get over it. Trump and his republican enablers need to stop trying to steal the election. If you want to stop the steal, tell Donald J. Trump and his republican enablers to stop trying to steal the election. ***

By Daniel Villarreal

The attorneys general of Alabama and Louisiana have expressed interest in possibly joining a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to have the Supreme Court invalidate election results in four key battleground states—Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The suit seeks to have each state's lawmakers decide their electors, rather than having the electors reflect the will of their voting citizens.

"The unconstitutional actions and fraudulent votes in other states not only affect the citizens of those states, they affect the citizens of all states—of the entire United States," Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a statement published Tuesday on Twitter. He pledged to join Paxton's case if the Supreme Court takes it up.

In a separate statement, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry wrote, "Some states appear to have conducted their elections with a disregard to the U.S. Constitution. Furthermore, many Louisianans have become more frustrated as some in media and the political class try to sidestep legitimate issues for the sake of expediency."

Landry claims that because the Constitution leaves the power of deciding the time, place and manner of holding elections to state legislatures, the four aforementioned battleground states made changes to their elections to prevent further spread of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic without passing these changes through the legislature. Thus, Paxton's suit claims, the changes were unconstitutional and the states' election results should be invalidated. more...

It says tools use to assess customer security were accessed
By Jon Porter

One of the US’s leading cybersecurity firms, FireEye, says it’s been hacked by a state-sponsored attacker. Hackers targeted and accessed the firm’s so-called Red Team tools, which it uses to test customer security and find vulnerabilities. Now there’s concern that the hackers could release these tools publicly or use them to attack others, though there is no evidence that this has happened yet. FireEye says that it does not believe any customer information was taken.

Although the blog post, authored by FireEye CEO Kevin Mandia, does not say who is responsible, it says that the attacking nation has “top-tier offensive capabilities.” The Wall Street Journal reports that Russia is a suspect, specifically its foreign-intelligence service known as the SVR. However, the investigation into who is responsible is ongoing.

“This attack is different from the tens of thousands of incidents we have responded to throughout the years,” Mandia wrote in the post, noting that the attackers “are highly trained in operational security and executed with discipline and focus.” The disclosure did not say when the hack took place or when FireEye became aware of it.

“They operated clandestinely, using methods that counter security tools and forensic examination. They used a novel combination of techniques not witnessed by us or our partners in the past,” wrote Mandia. FireEye says it’s investigating the hack alongside the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as industry partners like Microsoft. mmore...

Ashley Collman

A suspected Chinese spy slept with at least two US mayors and got close to numerous Bay Area politicians in a yearslong intelligence campaign directed at influencing American officials early in their careers, according to a new report from Axios. Fang Fang, also known as Christine Fang, was heavily involved in Bay Area and national US politics from 2011 to 2015, the outlet reported. Two of the candidates Fang reportedly fundraised for - Rep. Eric Swalwell and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard - both ran for president in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, Axios said.

According to Axios, Swalwell has not been accused of wrongdoing, and said he cut ties with Fang as soon as he learned about her alleged connections to China. Gabbard told Axios via a spokesperson that she has "no recollection of ever meeting or talking with" Fang. According to Axios, Fang abruptly left the US in mid-2015 amid an FBI investigation into her activities, and has not returned to the US since. The Justice Department has not filed any charges against her. Fang's story shows China's strategy of targeting up-and-coming politicians to influence them years down the line, when they gain more prominence. more...

Sarah Al-Arshani

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah ripped into Republicans who are threatening to protest the Electoral College vote calling any attempt "madness." "This is madness. We have a process, recounts are appropriate, going to the court is approp & pursuing every legal avenue is appropriate, but trying to get electors not to do what the people voted to do is madness," Romney told Frank Thorp of NBC News. A spokesperson for Romney confirmed his statement to Business Insider.

President Donald Trump's campaign as well as a number of Republicans have waged lawsuits in multiple states seeking to overturn the results. President-elect Joe Biden was declared the winner after winning enough states to secure more the 270 needed electoral votes. It took weeks for Trump to allow Biden's transition. "It would be saying, 'Look, let's not follow the vote of the people, let's instead do it what we want, that would not be the way a democratic republic ought to work," Romney said.

On Tuesday, The Supreme Court rejected a request from Rep. Mike Kelly and a group of Pennsylvania state legislators to block the state's certification of its election results. December 8 is the"safe harbor" deadline, which means that while states are not required to certify their results by then if they do so those results are final and must be accepted by Congress. December 14 is the date set for the Electoral College to meet to formally certify Biden's win. more...


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Army on Tuesday said it has fired or suspended 14 officers and enlisted soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, and ordered policy changes to address chronic failures of leadership that contributed to a widespread pattern of violence, including murder, sexual assault and harassment. In a sweeping condemnation of Fort Hood’s command hierarchy, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy fired three top commanders and suspended two others pending a further investigation. He also ordered a separate probe into staffing and procedures at the base’s Criminal Investigation Command unit, which is responsible for investigating crimes on Fort Hood.

The actions come after a year that saw at least 25 soldiers assigned to Fort Hood die due to suicide, homicide or accidents, including the bludgeoning death of Spc. Vanessa Guillen. Guillen was missing for about two months before her remains were found. Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, McCarthy said based on an independent panel’s review, he concluded that the issues at Fort Hood, including major flaws in the response to sexual assault and harassment, “are directly related to leadership failures.” He said he was gravely disappointed in the commanders there, adding, “without leadership, systems don’t matter.” Gen. James McConville, the chief of staff of the Army, told reporters that he spoke to Guillen’s mother on Tuesday morning and told her, “We are holding leaders accountable, and we will fix this.” more...

With Georgia’s crucial runoff election less than a month away, Republicans seem to be targeting Black and brown voters as part of the plan to secure wins for Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.
By Tarisai Ngangura

With Georgia’s pivotal Senate runoffs less than a month away, Republican officials are stepping up voter suppression tactics in the region with unprecedented speed. In Cobb County, the third most populous county in the state, less than half of early-voting locations are scheduled to be open for the January election; while there had previously been 11 locations for the county’s more than 537,000 voters, now there will only be five. “We lost several of our advance voting managers and assistant managers due to the holidays, the workload and the pandemic,” Janine Eveler, the Cobb County director of elections, wrote in a letter to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and several other advocacy groups that voiced outrage. “The remaining team members who agreed to work would do so only if the hours were less onerous.”

As the New York Times reported, Cobb County has historically leaned blue, with president-elect Joe Biden “winning it by 14 percentage points.” Among Democrats, there’s suspicion that Georgia officials’ verdicts in the weeks before the runoff might not be entirely aboveboard. (Georgia’s election apparatus is controlled by Republicans.) “There is the stated reason that we’ve been given…but then there’s also the perceived action of having 10 polling locations open to early voting in an area that didn’t fare well for the current majority parity,” Erick Allen, a Democratic state representative, told the Times. “The perception is that there is a fear that doing the same thing would have the same result or contribute to the same result that would be unfavorable to the majority party.” more...

By Ariane de Vogue and Paul LeBlanc, CNN

(CNN) The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a request from Pennsylvania Republicans to block certification of the commonwealth's election results, delivering a near fatal blow to the GOP's long-shot bid to invalidate President-elect Joe Biden's victory. The Supreme Court's action is a crushing loss for Trump, who has frequently touted the high court's potential to overturn his election loss. Just hours before the court's order was released, Trump made a direct appeal to state officials and members of the Supreme Court to assist him in his efforts to subvert the will of voters, as he continually and falsely suggested there was massive voter fraud during the election. "Let's see whether or not somebody has the courage, whether it's legislators or legislatures or a justice of the Supreme Court or a number of justices of the Supreme Court," Trump said. "Let's see if they have the courage to do what everybody in this country knows is right."

Tuesday's one-line order was issued with no noted dissents or comment from any of the nine justices. The court is made up of six conservative justices -- including Trump's three nominees -- Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett -- and three liberals. The order marked Barrett's first vote on an election-related dispute. The quick action with no public dissents (justices may choose whether to announce their dissent) is a signal the Supreme Court may not want to get involved in the ongoing Trump challenges, said Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and University of Texas Law professor. "The fact that the justices issued a one-sentence order with no separate opinions is a powerful sign that the court intends to stay out of election-related disputes, and that it's going to leave things to the electoral process going forward," Vladeck said. "It's hard to imagine a more quietly resounding rejection of these challenges from this court," Vladeck added. Tuesday marks the "safe harbor" deadline for the state under federal law. That means that when Congress tallies the electoral votes in January, it must accept electoral results that were certified before the deadline. more...

*** The Trump coup. Donald J. trump is Trying to steal the election he lost by 8 million votes. Trump tried to rig the mail in votes when that did not work he tried the courts, that did not work now he is interfering to get republicans to give him the election. ***


President Donald Trump spoke with Pennsylvania House Speaker Bryan Cutler twice in the past week, asking one of the state’s highest ranking Republicans to help him reverse Joe Biden’s victory in the state, The Washington Post reported Monday night. Cutler’s office confirmed the calls from the president, The Post reported, but Cutler told Trump the legislature can’t overturn the certified election results. The calls came as Cutler called for the state’s congressional delegation to consider unresolved legal challenges to the state’s presidential election results when the Electoral College vote is tallied early next month. more...

By Scott MartelleEditorial Writer

Let’s start off with the obvious: The presidential election is over, Joe Biden won and Donald Trump lost. No matter how many Trumpsters howl, or feverishly embrace conspiracy theories about missing ballots and dead voters, the American people have had their say, and they said, “Joe.” Enter Texas’ attorney general, Ken Paxton, who is suing Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin because, he says, pandemic-inspired rule changes in conducting the November election in those states somehow led to massive voter fraud that has harmed … wait for it … Texas. This sounds like a football team that’s down by 25 points with 15 seconds to go and deciding to launch a Hail Mary pass — after most of its players have already headed off to the locker room. more...

Although Judge Emmet Sullivan ultimately ended the case, he lambasted the Justice Department.

A federal judge has closed the four-year-old criminal case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn, acknowledging the pardon that President Donald Trump issued last week to the only Trump administration official charged in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan — who’d been wrestling for months with a highly unusual request from Attorney General William Barr to drop the prosecution — said Tuesday that bid was rendered moot by Trump’s decision to grant Flynn a sweeping pardon for his alleged lies to the FBI and any other offenses he may have committed in connection with Mueller’s probe.

“The history of the Constitution, its structure, and the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the pardon power make clear that President Trump’s decision to pardon Mr. Flynn is a political decision, not a legal one,” Sullivan wrote in a 43-page opinion. “Because the law recognizes the President’s political power to pardon, the appropriate course is to dismiss this case as moot. Although Sullivan ultimately ended the case, he lambasted the Justice Department for what he said was a highly questionable, if not indefensible, decision to drop the charges against Flynn. Sullivan also asserted that judges have the power to reject the dismissal of charges in a criminal case when the government’s actions are called into question.

Sullivan declared that the explanations Barr offered through his deputies for the decision to abandon the case were “dubious to say the least” and would arguably overcome the long-held “presumption of regularity” that government officials are generally afforded by the courts. Sullivan said many of the rationales offered by the government “appear pretextual, particularly in view of the surrounding circumstances.” more...

State of the Union

President Trump has repeatedly and falsely attacked Georgia election officials, including the secretary of state whom he called an "enemy of the people" and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, for their handling of the presidential election. The state's Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan speaks to CNN's Jake Tapper about these attacks and calls on the President to stop. video...

The symbolic resolution was rebuffed on a party-line vote by the congressional committee planning the inauguration.

Senior Republicans on Tuesday refused to acknowledge the transition of power to Joe Biden, even as they met to plan his inauguration next month. The top GOP leaders in the Senate and House rejected a symbolic resolution during a meeting of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies that would have essentially affirmed Biden as president-elect.

The Democratic measure sought to notify the American people that Congress is preparing for the inauguration of Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris “in coordination with health experts” as “we observe this transition of power.” It’s the latest sign that Hill Republicans won’t challenge President Donald Trump’s scorched-earth battle to overturn the results of a free and fair election.

All Republicans opposed the measure: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who chairs the Senate’s committee overseeing the inauguration. The resolution failed on a 3-3 vote, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the top Democrat on the panel, in favor. "The extent to which Republicans are refusing to accept the outcome of the election and recognize Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our next president and vice president is astounding," Hoyer, who had offered the resolution, said after the meeting. more...

The Giuliani of the ’90s was far from perfect, but he wasn’t a ranting, bug-eyed ideologue.
By Fred Kaplan

As Rudy Giuliani writhes in his bed at Georgetown University Medical Center, his mind might well be leafing through the storied chapters of his life and how it came to this—the hero of 9/11, “America’s Mayor,” once a plausible candidate for president, now suffering from COVID-19 as a result of the devil’s pact he struck with Donald Trump. His eight years as the mayor of New York City at the turn of the century were packed with controversy, mainly of his own stubborn making, but he was never the ranting, eye-bulging water boy of an ideologue that we’ve seen of late at political conventions, press conferences, and gonzo legal proceedings.

The Giuliani of the 1990s and early 2000s was, for the most part, a pragmatist: an economic conservative but a social liberal, in favor of gun control, abortion rights, gay rights, and immigration reform. As the Boston Globe’s New York bureau chief from 1995-2002, I talked with Giuliani several times. (When the city was in financial straits, he viewed publicity in out-of-town papers as economic development.) In the summer of 1996, I asked him why he wasn’t at the Republican National Convention, which was going in San Diego. “It’s not my sort of thing,” he replied. “I’m much closer to moderates in both parties than to extremists in either.” more...

Miles Parks

It may come and go without much fanfare, but on Tuesday, the U.S. will pass a key deadline cementing President-elect Joe Biden's victory as the 46th president. The day, Dec. 8, is known as the "safe harbor" deadline for states to certify their results, compelling Congress to accept those results. Most Americans see Election Day as the end of the long political season aimed at choosing new federal leadership, but it's really only the beginning. On Nov. 3, voters actually voted for which Electoral College electors to represent them, not for the presidential candidates themselves. Those electors then meet and cast votes, which are counted and finalized by Congress.

"The Electoral College is pretty complicated because it's a process," said Rob Alexander, a political science professor at Ohio Northern University and the author of a book on the Electoral College. "It's not one thing, it's not one event." Court losses have continued to pile up for President Trump, and experts have already written off his ongoing crusade against the presidential election results as a disinformation campaign. Tuesday's deadline further limits what Trump's allies in Congress can do in terms of contesting the results. The process is continuing, but what has been clear for a month is still clear: Joe Biden will be the next president. more...

CBS News

Florida authorities investigating an alleged hack into the state's emergency response system raided the home Monday of a woman fired earlier this year from her job as COVID-19 data curator. Florida Department of Law Enforcement said that Rebekah Jones, who was fired for unauthorized public comments about the data in May, has been under investigation since early November when someone illegally accessed the state's emergency alert health system. Jones tweeted video of the officers entering her home, claiming Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis  "sent the gestapo" to silence her. Jones was fired from her post in May after she raised questions about Florida's COVID-19 data. She had been reprimanded several times and was ultimately fired for violating Health Department policy by making public remarks about the information, state records show. more...

By John Bowden

The Arizona Republican Party late Monday asked supporters if they were willing to give their lives in the fight over the results of the presidential election. The party retweeted right-wing activist Ali Alexander's promise that he is "willing to give my life for this fight." "He is. Are you?" the state GOP added. more...

By Harper Neidig

Texas announced on Tuesday that it would be filing a lawsuit in the Supreme Court against four battleground states in an effort to halt presidential electors from finalizing President-elect Joe Biden's victory. Texas argued that electors from Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin should not be allowed to cast their votes in part because those states unconstitutionally changed their voting procedures during the coronavirus pandemic to allow for increased mail-in ballots. Biden won all four states.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) alleges that the new voting processes in the battleground states skewed the 2020 election results and asked the Supreme Court to delay next Monday's deadline for the Electoral College to make Biden's victory official. "Their failure to abide by the rule of law casts a dark shadow of doubt over the outcome of the entire election," Paxton said in a statement. "We now ask that the Supreme Court step in to correct this egregious error.” Paxton's 154-page complaint echoes the legal arguments made by President Trump and his allies in courts across the country seeking to overturn election results in Biden's key states. That legal effort, which has failed to notch any meaningful victories so far, has pushed dubious claims of widespread voter fraud and manipulation by elections officials. more...

By Zack Budryk

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Monday warned state lawmakers that they cannot appoint pro-Trump presidential electors. Kemp said while speaking at the Biennial Institute for Georgia Legislators that legislators appointing their own electors was “not an option.” “You all will be taking an oath to uphold the laws and constitution of our state and now, more than ever, it is important to remember that thousands of brave men and women have paid the ultimate sacrifice for those laws, that constitution and all that they protect,” Kemp said, according to USA Today. “I’m confident that each of you will live up to the words and greater calling regardless of political consequences. That’s what I’ve been doing,” he added.

Kemp and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both Republicans, have been singled out for condemnation by the Trump administration over their refusal to overturn the results of the presidential election in the Peach State. The state certified its election results last week following a hand audit and recount of ballots.

A report last week indicated President Trump has personally pressured Kemp to call a special session of the state legislature to appoint a slate of pro-Trump electors. The president has repeatedly promoted evidence-free allegations of voter fraud in the state, as well as various others where President-elect Joe Biden defeated him. more...

By Joseph Choi

Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) on Tuesday rebuked President Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the election, calling it an “attempted coup.” “This is an attempt to overthrow our government. You may not call it a coup, but this is an attempted coup,” said Clyburn while appearing on CNN’s "New Day." “Now some people said he's trying to steal the election; he's not trying to steal the election. That denotes some kind of unknown activity, when you're stealing. No, that's not what he's doing. He is in your face, trying to overthrow the will of the people.”

As CNN host John Berman noted, Trump has called GOP officials in several states to try to change election results. On Tuesday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) warned state legislators that they cannot appoint pro-Trump presidential electors. Kemp made this statement less than a week after Trump reportedly called him and asked him to persuade state legislators to overturn the results of the election. In Pennsylvania, Trump asked state House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R) on Monday to “fix” a law that prevented lawmakers from replacing electors. Clyburn pointed out in his interview that he had previously predicted Trump would not leave the White House easily. more...

By Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump's staunchest defenders on Capitol Hill are urging him not to concede even after President-elect Joe Biden wins the Electoral College vote next week, calling on their party's leader to battle it out all the way to the House floor in January as he makes unsubstantiated claims of widespread election fraud. The view of Trump's defenders is at odds with that of many top congressional Republicans, including leaders of the Senate, who believe the election will be over next Monday when electors cast their votes and make Biden's win official -- even though the Democrat's victory in the presidential race has been clear for weeks.

But conservative House Republicans argue that next week doesn't mark the end of Trump's desperate efforts to overturn the election results, which he has failed to do through scores of fruitless lawsuits and brazen efforts to pressure state and local leaders to subvert the will of voters and appoint new slates of electors to the Electoral College. They said that Congress should engage in a full-throated debate over the results in key states because of their allegations of fraud, which have yet to be borne out in court. Asked if Trump should concede next Monday, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio said bluntly: "No. No way, no way, no way."

"We should still try to figure out exactly what took place here. And as I said that includes, I think, debates on the House floor -- potentially on January 6," Jordan, a trusted Trump confidant, told CNN. It is not unusual for a losing candidate's most fervent supporters to take their case to the House floor -- something that occurred after the 2016, 2004 and 2000 presidential races. But it is unusual for the losing candidate to mount a weeks-long public campaign aimed at sowing discord and distrust over a pillar of democracy, something that Trump has done relentlessly since losing the race. Even if Trump loses a bevy of GOP support for his unprecedented quest after next week, the backing of his staunchest supporters is likely to only encourage the mercurial President to continue his barrage of attacks against the integrity of the elections. more...

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

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

Jocelyn Benson, the Michigan secretary of state. Officials last month certified the state’s election results that showed Biden defeated Trump.

Michigan secretary of state Jocelyn Benson said dozens of armed protesters gathered in a threatening manner outside her home on Saturday evening chanting “bogus” claims about electoral fraud. Michigan officials last month certified the state’s election results showing President-elect Joe Biden had won Michigan, one of a handful of key battleground states, in the course of his 3 November election victory. President Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed, contrary to evidence, that the outcome was marred by widespread fraud in multiple states. State and federal officials have repeatedly stated that there is no evidence of fraud on any significant scale, and Biden is to sworn into office on 20 January.

The protesters who rallied outside Benson’s home held up placards saying “Stop the Steal” and chanted the same message, according to various clips uploaded on social media. In a Twitter statement on Sunday, Benson said the protesters were trying to spread false information about the security and accuracy of the US election system. “The demands made outside my home were unambiguous, loud and threatening.” Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel, in a separate Twitter post, accused the pro-Trump demonstrators of “mob-like behavior (that) is an affront to basic morality and decency”. “Anyone can air legitimate grievances to Secretary Benson’s office through civil and democratic means, but terrorizing children and families in their own homes is not activism.” Benson added: “They targeted me in my role as Michigan’s chief election officer. But the threats of those gathered weren’t actually aimed at me – or any other elected officials in this state. They were aimed at the voters.” more...

CBS News

Senator Kelly Loeffler repeatedly refused to acknowledge that President Trump lost re-election in November, as she debated her Democratic opponent, Reverend Raphael Warnock, on Sunday ahead of twin Georgia runoff elections that will determine which party controls the Senate. Asked specifically about President-elect Joe Biden's victory in Georgia and whether she agreed with Mr. Trump's unfounded accusations of widespread voter fraud, Loeffler sidestepped the matter. "The president has every right to every legal recourse, and that's what's taking place," Loeffler said. The senator later alleged, without any supporting details, irregularities in the November elections and repeated Mr. Trump's right to "legal recourse" without acknowledging that the president's campaign has lost round after round of post-election court challenges, including in Georgia, which has already certified its results. more...

Darla Mercado, CFP®

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

Matthew S. Schwartz

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

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

Analysis by Stephen Collinson

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

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

By Jamie Crawford, CNN

(CNN) The mysterious head injuries suffered by US diplomatic staff in China and Cuba that had been described as "sonic attacks" are consistent with the use of directed microwave energy, according to a report published Saturday by the National Academy of Sciences. "Overall, directed pulsed RF (radio frequency) energy, especially in those with the distinct early manifestations, appears to be the most plausible mechanism in explaining these cases among those that the committee considered," the report said. The report added that it considered possible incidents of persistent postural-perceptual dizziness as a possible secondary issue in some of those affected a contributing factor. While the report does not conclude that the use of directed microwave energy in these instances was done deliberately, it said such action could be used for nefarious purposes. "The mere consideration of such a scenario raises grave concerns about a world with disinhibited malevolent actors and new tools for causing harm to others, as if the U.S. government does not have its hands full already with naturally occurring threats," the report said. The report said that it considered chemical exposures, infectious diseases and psychological issues as potential causes or aggravating factors of the injuries, but the overall analysis appeared to show they were not the likely cause. more...

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

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

William Cummings and Sarah Elbeshbishi, USA TODAY

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

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

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

As lawyers keep pushing Trump election challenges, calls for sanctions mount
Some legal experts say attorneys have crossed the line with unsupported claims.
By Olivia Rubin and Matthew Mosk

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

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


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

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

Rudy Giuliani Accuses Judge of Creating a 'Fantasy,' Says 'We Don't Need Courts' in Election Fight
By Natalie Colarossi

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

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

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

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

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

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

Efforts to develop a vaccine is a plot by Russia and China to spread communism worldwide, said department readiness and countermeasures manager Igor Shepherd.
By The Associated Press

CASPER, Wyo. — A Wyoming Department of Health official involved in the state's response to the coronavirus questioned the legitimacy of the pandemic and described a forthcoming vaccine as a biological weapon at a recent event. The “so-called pandemic” and efforts to develop a vaccine are plots by Russia and China to spread communism worldwide, department readiness and countermeasures manager Igor Shepherd said at the Nov. 10 event held by the group Keep Colorado Free and Open.

Shepherd was introduced as and talked about being a Wyoming Department of Health employee in the hour-plus presentation in Loveland, Colorado. Shepherd's baseless and unsubstantiated claims undermined Wyoming's public health measures — and public exhortations — to limit the spread of the virus, as well as its plans to distribute Covid-19 vaccines in the months ahead. Even so, Wyoming officials including Gov. Mark Gordon, who at a recent news conference called people not taking the virus seriously “knuckleheads,” declined to comment. more...

By Priscilla Alvarez, CNN

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

By Veronica Stracqualursi and Lauren Dezenski, CNN

Washington (CNN) The House of Representatives has approved legislation that would decriminalize marijuana and seek to "address the devastating injustices caused by the War on Drugs." Friday's vote in the Democratic-led House is the first time a chamber of Congress has voted on federal marijuana decriminalization. It has little chance of passing the Republican-led Senate, however. The bill passed largely along party lines: 222 Democrats, five Republicans and Rep. Justin Amash, a libertarian, voted in support while 158 Republicans and six Democrats voted against.

The Republicans who voted for the bill are Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, the bill's co-sponsor, as well as Reps. Brian Mast of Florida, Tom McClintock of California, Denver Riggleman of Virginia and Don Young of Alaska. The Democrats against were Reps. Cheri Bustos and Dan Lipinski of Illinois, Henry Cuellar of Texas, Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania, Chris Pappas of New Hampshire and Collin Peterson of Minnesota. "Millions of Americans' lives have been upended as a result of convictions for possessing small amounts of marijuana, and the racial disparities in conviction rates for those offenses are as shocking as they are unjust," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said in a statement after the vote. "That's why we passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act today."

The MORE Act would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and eliminate criminal penalties for individuals who manufacture, distribute or possess marijuana. It also includes creating a process to remove prior convictions, known as expungement, and conduct sentencing review hearings for federal cannabis offenses. more...

By Kate Sullivan and Jennifer Agiesta, CNN

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

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

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

*** Voter suppression in Georgia. ***

By Jenni Fink

Headlines about Georgia's election are focused on President Donald Trump's legal battle to turn the state in his favor but plaintiffs in a new lawsuit say the real focus should be on the people who were removed from voter rolls ahead of Election Day. "We haven't seen massive scale voter fraud, but we've definitely seen massive scale voter suppression," LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter Fund and a plaintiff in the suit, said. "Those folks should not be denied their right to participate in this election."

A lawsuit that was filed on Wednesday alleges the state incorrectly canceled 198,000 voters' registrations because they were incorrectly believed to have moved. With the Senate runoff elections only weeks away, those filing the suit say resolving this voter issue in a timely fashion is vital, as it could affect who takes control of the Senate in January.

News about wrongful purge first came out in September when the ACLU issued a report. Greg Palast, of the Palast Investigative Fund, led the investigation and hired firms to cross-reference a list of 313,243 citizens who would be removed from Georgia's voter rolls with Postal Service records and the Advanced Address List Hygiene, an "industry standard for residential address verification." Ultimately, they found 198,351 voters had their registration canceled but had not moved. more...

By Mark Joseph Stern

A former U.S. attorney has asked Georgia to open an investigation into Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham’s potentially criminal interference in the state’s election. Michael J. Moore, who served as U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia from 2010 to 2015, sent his request to the Georgia State Board of Elections on Thursday. Moore cited multiple public interviews given by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, in which Raffensperger said that Graham pressured him to throw out valid mail ballots. According to the secretary of state, Graham asked whether he could toss all mail ballots from any county with a high rate of “signature mismatch”—signatures that don’t match those on a voter’s registration form. (Under a federal court order, Georgia is required to let voters cure a mismatched signature.) Signature mismatch disproportionately affects racial minorities, who lean Democratic overall. Graham requested that even ballots with matching signatures be rejected in precincts with large populations of Black voters. It thus appears that Graham wanted Raffensberger to throw enough Democratic ballots to swing the state toward Donald Trump. more...

By Christina Zhao

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

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

By Chris Mills Rodrigo

The National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against Google Wednesday alleging that the company illegally spied on and then fired two employees for organizing. The complaint says that Google violated labor laws by surveilling and terminating Laurence Berland and Kathryn Spiers, both former engineers at the company's San Francisco office, in 2019.

Berland was fired after organizing against Google's decision to hire the notorious union-busting firm IRI Consultants. He had found out about the work with IRI from colleague's calendar events, which Google claimed was in violation of their policies.

“Google’s hiring of IRI is an unambiguous declaration that management will no longer tolerate worker organizing," he said in a statement Wednesday. "Management and their union busting cronies wanted to send that message, and the NLRB is now sending their own message: worker organizing is protected by law." more...

By Ramsey Touchberry

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

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

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

Matthew Brown USA TODAY

Former President Barack Obama told progressives that they might be hurting their own cause by using slogans like "defund the police" as rallying cries for goals such as reforming the criminal justice system. In an interview with Snapchat’s “Good Luck America,” Obama said such phrases and labels such as "socialism" can drive away moderate voters and cost elections for Democratic candidates. A transcript of portions of the interview was released Wednesday. "If you believe, as I do, that we should be able to reform the criminal justice system so that it's not biased and treats everybody fairly, I guess you can use a snappy slogan, like 'defund the police.' " "But, you know, you lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you're actually going to get the changes you want done," he told Snapchat's Peter Hamby. more...

Adrian Horton

Quincy Fortier was once Nevada’s physician of the year. As unspooled in a new documentary, he had a dark secret: dozens of children fraudulently fathered through his fertility clinic At 22, Cathy Holm was newly married, settling into a new home in Las Vegas, Nevada, and struggling to start a family. It was the early 1960s, and infertility was a largely taboo topic; devoid of options, she looked up a doctor listed as a “fertility specialist” in the phonebook. Dr Quincy Fortier, a respected obstetrician who opened Sin City’s first women’s hospital, had a record of helping couples achieve a viable pregnancy, and promised to inseminate Holm with a sample of her husband’s sperm.

Decades later, in March 2018, Holm’s daughter, Wendi Babst, bought an ancestry kit to celebrate her retirement as a detective in the Clackamas county, Oregon, sheriff’s office. Like many Americans, Babst was hoping to glean a comprehensive picture of her genealogy, but she was unnerved by her DNA test results: numerous close matches, despite no known first cousins or half-siblings, and the repetition of a name she hadn’t heard of, Fortier.

The database unmasked, with detached clarity, a dark secret hidden in plain sight for decades: the physician once named Nevada’s doctor of the year, who died in 2006 at age 94, had impregnated numerous patients with his own sperm, unbeknownst to the women or their families. The decades-long fertility fraud scheme, unspooled in the HBO documentary Baby God, left a swath of families – 26 children as of this writing, spanning 40 years of the doctor’s treatments – shocked at long-obscured medical betrayal, unmoored from assumptions of family history and stumbling over the most essential questions of identity. Who are you, when half your DNA is not what you thought? more...

By Elliot Hannon

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

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

Jamie Ross

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

By Jacob Jarvis

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) faces criticism over suggesting a bipartisan proposal on further stimulus is a waste of time, after detailing a plan of his own and insisting the priority is something President Donald Trump will back. It has been more than eight months since the last major COVID-19 relief package, the CARES Act, was signed by the president. A prolonged stalemate in attempting to secure a follow-up continues.

A group including Republican and Democrat lawmakers unveiled a $908 billion compromise proposal on Tuesday, in a bid to breach the impasse. Asked about this pitch at a news conference, and the need for the House to pass something as well as the president to sign it, McConnell said: "We just don't have time to waste time. We have a couple of weeks left here. Obviously, it does require bipartisan support to get out of the Congress but it requires a presidential signature. more...

Judd Legum and Tesnim Zekeria

The re-election campaign of Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) is increasingly focused on attacking the theology of her Democratic opponent, Reverend Raphael Warnock. Loeffler's media appearances, campaign events, websites, and TV ads all attack Warnock as a dangerous radical. Here is what Loeffler said during a November 29 interview on Fox News: [Warnock] has espoused radical views from the pulpit. He is someone that attacked our police officers, calling them gangsters, thugs, bullies, and a threat to our children...he's also said that you can't serve in the military and serve God.

As evidence for this claim, Loeffler cites snippets from Warnock's sermons at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Warnock has served as senior pastor since 2005. The clips are featured on a website created by the Loeffler campaign, RadicalRaphael.com. That site calls him the "most radical and dangerous candidate in America."

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

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

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

By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

Since he was confirmed as attorney general, William Barr has been somewhat of a hero in the right-wing media universe. He has assailed the Russia probe. He has talked a big game about cracking down on Antifa. He has sharply criticized the news media. On and on it goes. But his celebrity status took a hit on Tuesday when he undercut President Trump's brazenly false contention that there was massive voter fraud in the 2020 election. Speaking to the Associated Press, Barr said that, "to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election."

The statement from Barr, which merely recited a simple fact, not only cut against what Trump has been saying, but also what Trump's propagandists and allies in right-wing media have been feeding their audiences. For weeks, these media personalities have strung their audiences along, suggesting that damning proof of fraud was just around the corner. Which is why the comment from Barr stung so bad.

The comment effectively forced these right-wing stars to pick between acknowledging the reality Barr laid out or continuing Trump's fantasy. Trump's most devoted propagandists chose the latter. And so they started to throw Barr under the bus, just as they've done with every other conservative who has dared to contradict the president. (Think about how former conservative stars such as Jeff Sessions, Justin Amash, Paul Ryan, and others were treated when they didn't blindly oblige Trump's demands.)

"A liar or a fool or both"
Fox Business host Lou Dobbs, whose conspiratorial program is a favorite of the president, attacked Barr in brutal terms on his show. "For the attorney general of the United States to make that statement — he is either a liar or a fool or both," Dobbs said. Dobbs then went further, suggesting Barr was "perhaps compromised." He characterized Barr as having "appeared to join in with the radical Dems and the deep-state and the resistance." more...

Jacob Pramuk

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected a proposed bipartisan coronavirus stimulus package Tuesday amid months of congressional inaction on curbing the economic damage from the outbreak. The Kentucky Republican, who has supported about $500 billion in new aid spending, said he wants to pass what he called a “targeted relief bill” this year. McConnell said he spoke to White House officials about what President Donald Trump would sign into law. He plans to offer potential solutions to GOP senators and get their feedback.

“We just don’t have time to waste time,” he told reporters in response to the roughly $908 billion plan put together by bipartisan members of the GOP-controlled Senate and Democratic-held House. McConnell said a must-pass spending bill and pandemic relief provisions will “all likely come in one package.” Congress needs to approve funding legislation by Dec. 11 to avoid a government shutdown. more...

Xeni Jardin

Breaking news from CNN late on Tuesday: "The Justice Department is investigating a potential crime related to funneling money to the White House in exchange for a presidential pardon, according to a court record unsealed on Tuesday by the chief judge of the DC District Court." more...

By Travis Fain, WRAL statehouse reporter

Spokespeople for a North Carolina investor facing more than 7 years prison on a federal bribery conviction declined comment Friday on a national report that he may seek a presidential pardon in the coming days. Greg Lindberg was once North Carolina's largest political donor, but he was convicted earlier this year of trying to bribe the state's insurance commissioner. He began serving that sentence last month in an Alabama prison camp. more...

This came hours after the attorney general said there was no evidence of widespread, election-changing fraud in the 2020 race.
Justin Baragona

Fox Business Network host and top Donald Trump sycophant Lou Dobbs was absolutely beside himself on Tuesday over the news that Attorney General William Barr said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the election results. Dobbs even accused Trump’s loyal A.G. of being part of the “deep state” and “perhaps compromised.” The pro-Trump TV personality, who has been one of the loudest boosters of the president’s baseless “rigged” election narrative, kicked off his program Tuesday evening by erupting at the attorney general for admitting the Justice Department has been unable to find any proof to back Trump’s claims that President-elect Joe Biden “stole” the election.

Grumbling that Barr has “been absent for weeks,” Dobbs insisted that the president’s legal team is “making advances” in the “battle for the White House” while reassuring his viewers that the campaign’s beyond-longshot lawsuits will “bolster President Trump’s charge that there has been clear electoral fraud.” Dobbs went on to complain that while the president’s “progress” in his quest to claim victory in the election has put him at odds with “insidious RINOs” and the “deep state,” a member of Trump’s “own cabinet appeared to join in with the radical Dems and the deep state and the resistance.”

Seething at Barr’s remarks about the lack of evidence of voter fraud, Dobbs—who also serves as an informal Trump adviser—blasted the attorney general in an extremely personal manner. “For the attorney general of the United States to make that statement, he is either a liar or a fool or both,” he exclaimed. “He may be, um, perhaps compromised. He may be simply unprincipled. Or he may be personally distraught or ill!” The Fox Business host would go on to cite the various conspiracies and unfounded allegations that Trump and his legal team have peddled, despite the fact that the president’s legal challenges have repeatedly been laughed out of court and states continue to certify their votes. more...

Dan Mangan

A Republican congressman from Pennsylvania on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to issue an emergency order that would block his state from taking further action to certify its election results showing a win for President-elect Joe Biden over President Donald Trump. Rep. Mike Kelly’s request comes after Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf certified that the Democratic former vice president won the state and its 20 Electoral College votes.

Given that, Kelly asked the Supreme Court to “nullify” Wolf’s certification and all other actions that would legally confirm Biden’s victory. His filing Tuesday also asked the Supreme Court to hear an appeal of his challenge to a change in mail-in ballot rules in the state. The request is related to an earlier case filed in state courts, where Kelly claimed that the Pennsylvania legislature violated the state’s constitution when it allowed no-excuse absentee voting in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected that claim earlier this week. Biden is currently projected to win 306 votes in the Electoral College, 36 more than he needs to clinch a victory in the White House race. more...

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN

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

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

Dan Mangan, Kevin Breuninger

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

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

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

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

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

By Chandelis Duster, CNN

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

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

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

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

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

Jacob Pramuk

Bipartisan lawmakers unveiled a coronavirus stimulus package Tuesday after months of congressional inaction on curbing the economic damage from the outbreak. The roughly $908 billion proposal includes $288 billion in small business aid such as Paycheck Protection Program loans, $160 billion in state and local government relief and $180 billion to fund a $300 per week supplemental unemployment benefit through March, according to a draft framework. It would put $16 billion into vaccine distribution, testing and contact tracing, funnel $82 billion into education, put $45 billion into transportation and allocate funds for rental assistance, child care and broadband.

The proposal would not include another direct payment to most Americans. It also would offer temporary federal protection from coronavirus-related lawsuits — a provision Democrats have opposed — while states determine their own laws. Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, a member of the congressional group that has discussed a new relief plan, earlier called it an “interim package” to provide support until President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January. more...

Patrick Marley, Molly Beck Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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

Martin Pengelly in New York

Joe Biden’s nominee for a key economic post has deleted more than a thousand of her own tweets, some of which were critical of senators who now hold her fate in their hands. The Daily Beast first reported the steps by Neera Tanden, the president of the Center for American Progress (CAP) thinktank who Biden has nominated to lead the federal Office of Management and Budget. “Can people on here please focus their ire on [Senate majority leader Mitch] McConnell and the GOP senators who are up [for re-election] this cycle who enable him,” Tanden wrote in June 2019, in a tweet recovered by the Beast.

Tanden named those “enablers” as Cory Gardner, Susan Collins, Joni Ernst, John Cornyn, David Perdue, Thom Tillis “and many more”. A tweet calling McConnell “#MoscowMitch”, a common nickname for the majority leader among liberals during the investigation of Donald Trump’s links to Russia, was also among those deleted. Tanden’s fate may hinge on two runoff elections in Georgia in January. If Democrats win both seats – one held by Perdue – they will control the Senate via Kamala Harris’s casting vote as vice-president. That would make Tanden’s confirmation achievable – if party discipline held. more...

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

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

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

Wisconsin certification comes after partial recount expanded Biden’s margin, as president continues to fight results
David Smith in Washington and agencies

Joe Biden’s victories in the US presidential election battlegrounds of Arizona and Wisconsin were officially recognised on Monday, handing Donald Trump six defeats out of six in his bid to stop states certifying their results. The finalised vote counts took Biden a step closer to the White House and dealt yet another blow to Trump’s longshot efforts to undermine the outcome. The certification in Wisconsin followed a partial recount that only added to Biden’s nearly 20,700-vote margin over Trump, who has promised to file a lawsuit seeking to undo the results.

“Today I carried out my duty to certify the November 3rd election,” Wisconsin’s governor, Tony Evers, said in a statement. “I want to thank our clerks, election administrators, and poll workers across our state for working tirelessly to ensure we had a safe, fair, and efficient election. Thank you for all your good work.” Trump is mounting a desperate campaign to overturn the results by disqualifying as many as 238,000 ballots in the state, and his attorneys have alleged without evidence that there was widespread fraud and illegal activity.

Trump paid $3m for recounts in Dane and Milwaukee counties, the two largest Democratic counties in Wisconsin, but the recount ended up increasing Biden’s lead by 74 votes. Wisconsin’s Democratic attorney general, Josh Kaul, said in a statement on Monday: “There’s no basis at all for any assertion that there was widespread fraud that would have affected the results.” more...

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