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US Monthly Headline News November 2020 Page 2

By Zack Budryk

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

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

By Kaitlan Collins and Paul LeBlanc, CNN

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

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

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

By Eric Levenson, CNN

(CNN) Since Covid-19 hit US shores, Republican governors in the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains have largely taken a hands-off approach. The results of that strategy have been poor. When adjusted for population, no states have had more new Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths over the past seven days than North and South Dakota. The nearby states of Iowa, Wyoming, Nebraska and Idaho are not far behind.

This surge has pushed hospitals to the brink even as businesses have struggled to keep up a healthy work force. In response, several of these governors have acknowledged the failures of their permissive strategies and pushed for stricter health rules and mask mandates to prevent the virus's spread. "We've relied on people to be responsible," Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon said Friday, "and they're being irresponsible." Yet other governors, including in South Dakota, have continued to resist taking actions like requiring masks. Here's a look at how these governors have dealt with the fall surge. more...

David Knowles·Editor

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was on the defensive Tuesday over disclosures that he had contacted state election officials in states won by Joe Biden in an apparent effort to get them to disqualify some ballots. The Washington Post reported Monday that Graham had called Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger late last week seeking to have legally cast absentee ballots disqualified, which could cut into Biden’s 13,300-vote lead over President Trump there.

Raffensperger said he turned Graham down. In an interview with Yahoo News, Raffensperger, who described himself as a “Republican through and through” and a Trump supporter, said Georgia’s election was honest and fair. Hours after the Post story appeared, Graham denied that he had sought to pressure Raffensperger to intervene on behalf of Trump. “I’m asking him to explain to me the system,” Graham told reporters. “If you send a mail-in ballot to a county, a single person verifies the signature against what’s in the database. They don’t mail out ballots. You got to actually request one. So they expanded mail-in voting, and how you verify the signature, to me, is the big issue of mail-in voting.”

“If you’re going to have mail-in voting, you got to verify the person who signed the envelope is also the person,” Graham added. But in a second interview with the Wall Street Journal, Raffensperger said Graham had called his office twice on Friday. In the second call, Graham suggested the idea of invalidating all absentee ballots from counties with higher signature errors, the Journal reported. Also on the call was Gabriel Sterling, the official who manages Georgia's voting system. On Tuesday, he confirmed that Graham suggested “entire counties need to be redone” in the state but was told that idea was a nonstarter. more...

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

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

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

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

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

Republicans are trying to shift the state’s recount toward President Donald Trump, but the South Carolina senator denied he pressured Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Georgia’s top elections official said on Monday that Sen. Lindsey Graham implicitly proposed he toss out legally mailed ballots in his state, as Republicans seek ways to sway election results in the state in President Donald Trump’s favor. Speaking with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Monday evening, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the South Carolina Republican asked whether he could check signatures on mail-in ballots during Georgia’s recount and use a high frequency of mismatches to justify throwing away mail-in ballots in certain counties. Raffensperger said he took Graham’s comments as “an implication of look hard and see how many ballots you could throw out.”

Graham denied pressuring Raffensperger to throw away legal ballots, telling POLITICO that he had simply had a “very pleasant” conversation about the state’s signature verification process. The Washington Post first reported their conversation, which reportedly took place on Friday — the same day a Georgia lawyer sympathetic to Trump filed a lawsuit to prevent the state from certifying the election until all signatures could be verified. When presented with Graham’s denial on CNN, Raffensperger pointed out that the lawsuit sought to use a tactic similar to the one Graham proposed to stop the inclusion of absentee ballots in the state.

Georgia wound up being one of the key battlegrounds of the 2020 presidential election, with a razor-thin margin that eventually tipped in Democrat Joe Biden’s favor. But Trump has refused to concede and has gone after election officials in critical states — including Georgia — with conspiracy theories that the race was stolen from him. During his CNN interview, Raffensperger balked at the idea of tossing legally cast ballots, and rejected the notion that election workers were not thoroughly verifying votes. “We feel confident the election officials did their job,” Raffensperger said. more...

GOP lawmakers are acknowledging reality, but most still won't push Trump to begin the transition.

The Republican Party is in an increasingly untenable position — how much longer can it really refuse to recognize Joe Biden as the president-elect? Nearly two weeks after the election, there are signs that Republicans are starting to accept reality. President Donald Trump’s legal campaign to reverse his election loss is crumbling all around him and there’s no mathematical possibility that he can reverse margins of 10,000 or more votes in the five states he won in 2016 but lost to Biden. Meanwhile, the Biden transition is stuck in molasses, and Trump is barely addressing the coronavirus spikes across the country, let alone cooperating with the incoming administration on vaccine distribution efforts.

Most Republicans have been reluctant to contradict Trump’s claim that he can still hold the White House, but there’s been a steady trickle of GOP lawmakers defecting from Trump’s false contention that he was robbed by fraudsters. After Trump tweeted Monday, “I won the election,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) told reporters, “I wouldn’t have advised he put it that way.” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Trump can and should continue his legal challenges but has “every confidence on Jan. 20 we’re going to inaugurate a president. And it will probably be Joe Biden.” more...

By Caroline Kelly, CNN

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

By Ivana Kottasová, CNN

(CNN) The GOP is starting to look a lot like an autocratic party, a large study into political identity has found. Experts from the V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden said the US Republican Party had become more illiberal and populist in recent decades and that its recent retreat from democratic norms has left it resembling authoritarian ruling parties like Hungary's Fidesz and Turkey's AKP. "What we see is that the disrespect of political opponents, the encouragement of violence and also the violation of minority rights ... they have all clearly increased with the Republican Party in recent years, since [President Donald Trump] came in the leadership but also before that," Anna Luehrmann, V-Dem's deputy director and one of the lead authors of the study, told CNN. The US Democratic party has not shown a similar shift towards illiberalism, according to the study. more...

By Doug Walker

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office is sending an investigator to Floyd County first thing Tuesday to help determine what happened to throw the Presidential election count off by 2,500 ballots. It’s not enough to change Georgia’s results in a significant way, but officials are demanding an explanation. “It will be corrected, but this is unacceptable,” Floyd County Commission Chair Scotty Hancock said Monday. Hancock said elections officials are working with Dominion Voting Systems to determine where the breakdown occurred. They’re waiting for the company to find out who was logged into the computer at the time.

“It was either their rep or our rep. And when we find out who was responsible, we will take action,” he said. Floyd County Chief Elections Clerk Robert Brady could not be reached for comment Monday night. Reports that a memory card was not removed from a machine are disputed. Local elections officials said a replacement scanner used at the Floyd County Administration Building for early voting apparently did not tabulate some of the ballots.

Board of Elections Chairman Tom Rees said the hand count added over 2,500 more votes than were registered by computers on election night and the following morning. According to Floyd County GOP Chairman Luke Martin, and tentatively confirmed by Rees, there were an additional 1,643 votes for Republican President Donald Trump, 865 for Democrat President-elect Joe Biden and 16 for Libertarian Jo Jorgensen. more...

By Manu Raju and Ali Zaslav, CNN

(CNN) Top Senate Republicans seemed unmoved Monday by President Donald Trump's baseless charges that the election was "rigged" and his false assertions that he actually won the election, even though the results show he lost the race despite his efforts to sow distrust over a cornerstone of US democracy. As Democrats reacted with alarm to Trump's weekend Twitter rants, Republicans shrugged it off. "He can say whatever he wants," said Sen. Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican who advises Senate GOP leadership.
Asked if she were bothered by Trump's comments, Fischer said: "If I was bothered by everything that everyone around here says, I couldn't come back."

While a growing number of Republicans say that the formal transition process should begin, that Biden should get classified intelligence briefings and are skeptical that Trump's legal challenges will succeed, few are willing to challenge Trump's lies that the election was stolen from him, an allegation rejected by GOP and Democratic election officials across the country. The indifference marks a familiar pattern through four years of Trump's presidency: He stokes a major controversy, and Republicans on Capitol Hill largely ignore it. But this time, Trump is launching one conspiracy theory after another that many fear could sow unrest and have lasting ramifications on trust in US elections and faith in democracy. Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican who chairs the Senate Rules Committee, which oversees elections, downplayed Trump's claims that the election was rigged. "I'm not overly concerned," he said. more...

Rachel Axon USA TODAY

For decades, Gill Gayle thought his story of being sexually abused in Boy Scouts was unique. Two Scout leaders abused him in the 1970s, Gayle said. The incidents were unrelated: The men lived in different cities in Alabama and didn’t know each other. Gayle was in sixth grade when the first scoutmaster fondled him while on a camping trip. He repeated the abuse over months. After Gayle’s family moved during his eighth-grade year, he said he woke up at the second scoutmaster’s house to the man “violently raping” him.

Years later, after therapy helped him deal with depression, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts and attempts, Gayle, now 58, knows his story is all too common. On Monday, Gayle’s claims were among the nearly 90,000 filed by the deadline in the Boy Scouts’ federal bankruptcy case – the largest-ever child sex abuse case involving a single national organization.

“There’s nothing about me that’s the least bit unique,” he said. “There needs to be a face to this, not some abstract idea.” Those who missed the Nov. 16 deadline are barred from filing suit against the national organization in the future. As a result, filing of proof of claim forms accelerated in recent weeks, and especially over the weekend. Lawyers for abuse survivors on Friday said about 63,000 had been filed and they then expected the total to exceed 70,000 by the deadline. more...

By James Clayton

Facebook has taken down a string of racist and misogynistic posts, memes and comments about US Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris. The social network removed the content after BBC News alerted it to three groups that regularly hosted hateful material on their pages. Facebook says it takes down 90% of hate speech before it is flagged. One media monitoring body described the pages as "dedicated to propagating racist and misogynistic smears".

'Low-hanging fruit'
However, despite the pages being places where hate-speech is regularly directed towards the vice-president-elect, Facebook said it would not take action on the groups themselves. Media Matters president Angelo Carusone said: "Facebook's removal of this content only after it's been flagged to them by the media confirms that the rules and guidelines they establish are hollow because they put little to no effort into detection and enforcement.

"We are talking about the lowest of low-hanging fruit from a detection perspective. "And yet, these escaped Facebook's notice until flagged by a third party." The pages included accusations Ms Harris was not a US citizen - because her mother was from India and her father from Jamaica. Other comments suggested she was not "black enough" for the Democrats. Another post said she should be "deported to India". And, in several memes, her name is mocked. more...

Will Carless - USA TODAY

As protests over police brutality and racial justice broke out this summer, often resulting in harsh responses from law enforcement, police officers across the country have been accused of favoring a violent extremist group that took to the streets to oppose those demonstrators. The latest example of a cozy relationship between law enforcement and the far-right Proud Boys happened in the nation's capital last week when the Metropolitan Police responded to a stabbing involving members of the Proud Boys and an associate.

Provocateur Bevelyn Beatty and the chairman of the Proud Boys, who was with her, told police they were both stabbed by people associated with Black Lives Matter in a street fight early the morning after the presidential election. The Metropolitan Police Department repeated their claim to media outlets, leading to headlines around the country claiming Black Lives Matter had attacked the Proud Boys. There's no evidence Black Lives Matter had anything to do with the incident. Police officials have since walked back their initial statements, saying it's unclear whether anyone involved was affiliated with political groups.

The department's willingness to echo the accusations of the Proud Boys is another example of law enforcement's deference to the group, said Michael German, a former FBI special agent who is now a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program. “This group has been involved in all kinds of violent activities, and it seems that law enforcement’s response to them has been reluctant,” German said. “That sends a message to far-right groups that their violence is sanctioned by the police.” Meanwhile, law enforcement has clamped down on protests organized by Black Lives Matter and similar groups, he said.

Extremist group doesn't often draw strong police response.
The Proud Boys, which champions a mishmash of prejudicial ideas tied to its slogan of "Western chauvinism," has gotten more attention since it was mentioned in a presidential debate in September. Many Proud Boys espouse white supremacist and white nationalist views, though the group has some nonwhite members. Members – all male – are proud of their tough-guy image. Events promoted by the Proud Boys often end in brawls, and they've been seen attacking people. more...

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN

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

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

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

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

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

By Jacob Jarvis

Democratic Senate hopeful Jon Ossoff has branded Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) "too much of a coward" to debate him after he decline a head-to-head as the pair face off in the Georgia runoffs. Ossoff is challenging the incumbent Perdue for his seat in the runoffs, with polling putting the Republican ahead but only just, with the vote due to be held January 5, 2021. The pair were both invited to an Atlanta Press Club debate on December 6, though its chair, MaryLynn Ryan, said Perdue declined this invitation, CNN reports.

A statement from the Atlanta Press Club, included in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's report of Perdue ducking the debate, said its event will carry on with an empty podium representing the Republican. "The Atlanta Press Club's Loudermilk-Young Debate Series is disappointed that Sen. David Perdue has decided to not participate in his debate," the statement said.

"Jon Ossoff has confirmed his participation, so according to our rules, we will proceed with the debate and Sen. Perdue will be represented by an empty podium." It added that this was "not our preference," and that the group feels debates are "an essential part of the democratic process for voters to have an opportunity to hear an exchange of ideas from the candidates so they can be better informed when they cast their ballots." more...

Democrats intent on springing the long-sought documents aren't likely to give up.

President Donald Trump’s defeat will make it a lot easier for Democrats to finally get his tax returns, and some prominent lawmakers plan to keep the heat on the incoming Biden administration and House leaders to deliver. Once Biden controls the Treasury Department, his administration could simply hand over the long-sought records to its allies in Congress, who have been fighting in court to force Trump to turn them over, so far unsuccessfully.

But Biden is casting himself as a moderate uniter, and releasing Trump’s returns risks looking like a vindictive investigation of his predecessor. Not just that. It could also prove a distraction at a time when Biden is trying to push his own legislative agenda through a narrowly divided Congress. Yet, if Democrats were to suddenly say “never mind,” it would not only be an embarrassing about-face, it would also infuriate people such as Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), the head of the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee.

“In a perfect world, we could have mercy — but this is not a perfect world,” said Pascrell, who has helped lead the push to spring Trump’s returns. “Even if he is no longer the president, there needs to be some accountability.” “We have got to follow through on this.” more...

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

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

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

Analysis by Marshall Cohen, CNN

Washington (CNN) It was the nightmare scenario everyone saw coming: a nail-biter presidential election that was too close to call on election night, with the entire world forced to patiently wait on slow results from Pennsylvania as it sifted through millions of mail-in ballots. President Donald Trump held Florida and Ohio, which quickly reported their mail-in results on election night. By the next afternoon, Democratic nominee Joe Biden had flipped Michigan and Wisconsin. But for four arduous days, the outcome of the 2020 election lingered in purgatory.

All eyes fell on Pennsylvania, with millions of still-uncounted votes. The delay was largely caused by Republican state lawmakers who defied local officials and nonpartisan experts, and refused to let counties process mail ballots before Election Day, as is allowed in other states. So the election went into overtime. As the days crept by, Trump's massive election night lead of 700,000 votes slowly disappeared as Pennsylvania's 67 counties churned through their mail-in ballots, revealing a narrow win for Biden. This predictable shift gave rise to a bevy of conspiracy theories, disinformation and baseless accusations of voter fraud, stoked chiefly by the President. more...

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

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

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

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

Kelsey Snell

House Democrats started this month hoping, and preparing, to gain seats in the election. Instead, their once-robust majority in the House has dwindled and Democrats are on track to begin next year with the slimmest majority in decades. Now members on the progressive left and party moderates are again at odds over whose policies won in 2020 and how they should govern as a party.

Some Democrats are frustrated that the debate is happening at all. Joe Biden won the presidential election, and Democrats will hold their majority in the House. While the control of the Senate is still to be decided, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., returned to Washington, D.C., after the election to celebrate the wins that have already materialized. "We'll be able to do great things for the American people," Pelosi told reporters at a press conference. "We've lost some battles but we won the war. We have the gavel." more...

Sean D. Naylor and Jenna McLaughlin, Yahoo News

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

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

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

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

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

Analysis by Gloria Borger, CNN Chief Political Analyst

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

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

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

Dhara Singh

As President-Elect Joe Biden prepares for his first year in office, he’ll have to grapple with the future funding problems facing Social Security and how to insure financial security for older Americans. From imposing a new 6.2% Social Security tax on earnings above $400,000 to increasing minimum benefits to 125% of the federal poverty level, Biden’s plan — while comprehensive — falls short of solving the biggest issues with Social Security.

But it would lift an estimated 1.4 million Americans out of poverty — only if it can manage to pass Congress. “Biden’s plan is a noble one, designed to pay more to those who need it most, prevent elder poverty, and provide people with a basic safety net beyond what it does today,” said Chad Parks, CEO of Ubiquity Retirement + Savings, a financial firm. “He intends on paying for these increased benefits with an increase in tax revenue from those earning over $400,000, but it does not do enough.”

Biden’s plan will cover some, but not all, of Social Security’s shortfall
The fund that pays out Social Security benefits is largely funded by a payroll tax, plus earned interest on accumulated reserve holdings, invested in Treasury securities. For decades, the money from the payroll taxes more than covered the benefits the fund paid out, creating a surplus. more...


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

“I do not see, short of finding some type of fraud — which I haven’t heard of anything — I don’t see us in any serious way addressing a change in electors,” said Rusty Bowers, Arizona’s Republican House speaker, who says he’s been inundated with emails pleading for the legislature to intervene. “They are mandated by statute to choose according to the vote of the people.” The idea loosely involves GOP-controlled legislatures dismissing Biden's popular vote wins in their states and opting to select Trump electors. While the endgame was unclear, it appeared to hinge on the expectation that a conservative-leaning Supreme Court would settle any dispute over the move. more...

Opinion by Colbert I. King

Four days before President Barack Obama taking the oath of office in January 2009, radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh declared, “I hope he fails.” In August 2009, eight months after Obama became president, pastor Steven L. Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Ariz., told his congregation that he prays for the death of Obama. Anderson said: “I’m not going to pray for his good, I’m going to pray he dies and goes to hell.”

Not to put too fine a point on it, the preacher said: “I’d like him to die of natural causes. I don’t want him to be a martyr; we don’t need another holiday. I’d like to see him die, like Ted Kennedy, of brain cancer.” The following month, during Obama’s Sept. 9, 2009, speech to a joint session of Congress, South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson shouted, “You lie!,” while boorish behavior flourished in the GOP seats.

A year later, Sen. Mitch McConnell said in an Oct. 23, 2010, interview published in the National Journal: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” It was like that for the eight years that Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were in the White House. Make no mistake, Republican congressional leadership, and many right-wing commentators, didn’t honor the Obama-Biden victories in 2008 or 2012. They never wished them well during their eight years of service. Instead, they looked for every opportunity to obstruct their leadership. more...

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN

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

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

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

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

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

Why on earth would someone risk an extramarital affair while running for a Senate seat that could determine the country’s future?
By Christina Cauterucci

Cal Cunningham, the Democrat who tried to unseat Sen. Thom Tillis in North Carolina, finally conceded on Tuesday. Right after doing so, he released a statement expressing gratitude to his campaign staff, volunteers, and supporters. “I’ll always be proud of the work we did together to lift up the voices of North Carolinians who feel left behind by our politics,” he wrote.

One hopes that Cunningham is considerably less proud of the work he personally did during this campaign. A few weeks before the election, a series of leaked text messages revealed that Cunningham had been having an affair with a public relations consultant. In the aftermath of that news, Cunningham’s favorability ratings dropped and his consistent polling lead shrank. Even if he hadn’t lost—which, again, he did—his decision to jeopardize the entire Democratic project in the face of a tyrannical president and an increasingly dangerous and corrupt Republican Party should disqualify him from running for public office in the future. Lest we forget, Cunningham’s loss makes it all the more certain that Republicans will hold the Senate for the foreseeable future. So maybe, until the Democrats win the Senate, he should hide away in shame.

It’s impossible to say how much Cunningham’s affair affected the final outcome in his race. Many polls overestimated Democrats’ chances in this year’s election. In North Carolina, Cunningham underperformed his polls by a larger margin—more than 3 percentage points—than Joe Biden did. The final RealClearPolitics polling average had Cunningham up by 2.6 points and Donald Trump up by 0.2 points. With 99 percent of North Carolina’s vote counted, it looks like Tillis will beat Cunningham by 1.7 points and Trump will beat Biden by about 1.4. more...

*** The Trump way, if you cannot win honestly find ways to cheat. ***

Tom Porter

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

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) For just the second time in more than seven decades, a Democrat will carry Arizona in a presidential election, a monumental shift for a state that was once a Republican stronghold. CNN projected on Thursday that President-elect Joe Biden will carry Arizona, defeating President Donald Trump and providing Democrats in Arizona and the universe of allied grassroots organizations in the state with a crowning achievement a decade in the making.

Biden's win in the state that propelled Republican leaders like Barry Goldwater and John McCain to national prominence could foretell problems for the party going forward. Three key shifts in the state helped Democrats this year: a growing Latino population that leans Democratic, a surge in voters moving to Arizona from more liberal states like California and Illinois, and the way suburban voters have starkly broken with a Republican Party led by someone like Trump.

Arizona, by going blue, is moving closer to its neighbor to the northwest -- Nevada, where Democrats have taken control of almost all aspects of government -- and away from the state's traditional rightward bent. The Democratic victory -- declared days after CNN projected Biden's win in the presidential race -- was anchored by Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and nearly 60% of all people in the state. Maricopa is the fastest-growing county in the country, transforming over the last two decades into a sprawling mass of metropolitan hubs, sun-scorched planned communities and bustling strip malls.

"Maricopa County won the state of Arizona for Mark Kelly and Joe Biden," said Steven Slugocki, chair of Maricopa County's Democrats. "Here in Maricopa, we committed our resources to contact voters of color, women and traditionally underrepresented groups throughout the state. Our strategy proved to be effective." Biden's win of Arizona's 11 electoral votes brings his total to 290 while Trump has won 217 electoral votes. Biden is just the second Democrat to win Arizona since 1948, when Harry Truman won. more...

Trump Is Far More Vulnerable to Federal Prosecution Than People Think
By Ankush Khardori

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

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


Olivia Nuzzi Reacts Trump Insider To NYT He's Out Of Money Worried About Being Arrested. Trump Out Of Money Worried About Being Arrested After Leaving White House. video...

Late Night with Seth Meyers

Seth takes a closer look at Trump and his campaign getting quickly batted down every time they file a new lawsuit or spread a new lie about voter fraud. video...

The president is more vulnerable than ever to an investigation into his business practices and taxes.
By William K. Rashbaum and Benjamin Weiser

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

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

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

Analysis by Brandon Tensley, CNN

Washington (CNN) Millions of White voters are once again showing who they are and -- spoiler -- it's not really that great for America, but in particular for Black and brown people. The miasmic uncertainty hanging over the 2020 presidential election, as hundreds of thousands of legal votes in key battleground states continue to be counted, is damning, even if Democrat Joe Biden ekes out a victory. For one thing, despite four years of President Donald Trump -- that is, of a man who has made White nationalism a central part of his administration and whose abject negligence in the face of a pandemic has contributed to more than 230,000 dead -- millions of voters are turning out for him.

White voters, especially. While early exit polls (which, it's important to underscore, are notoriously mercurial) indicate that Trump may receive slightly more support from voters of color this year than he did in 2016, the more significant story is that his White base seems sturdy. As the political scientist Melanye Price wrote in October of the Trump campaign's efforts to court Black men, "Even if Black male Republican support increases in 2020, most of the responsibility for a second Trump victory will be attributable to White voters."
Indeed, one thing that this week has clarified is the lengths to which many White Americans are willing to go in order to protect their Whiteness, to centralize it, even after a summer that saw unprecedented support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

But that's only a piece of why the election is so shameful. That the contest appears as tight as it does speaks to the relative success of the Republican Party, the minority party, at holding on to power via maneuvering such as disenfranchisement, gerrymandering and voter suppression, which disproportionately affect voters of color, who overwhelmingly back the Democratic Party. more...

Republicans said they hope to consolidate their power in the drawing of 30 state electoral maps next year. Democrats are preparing for a decadelong fight.
By Phil McCausland

Democrats may have won the presidency, but they failed to fulfill one of their biggest hopes of this election cycle: taking control of state legislatures and the power to draw electoral districts. Now, organizers and party officials said, they will be forced to bank on litigation, friendly state courts, Democratic governors, recent state reforms and a growing grassroots movement to hold the line against their fears of Republican gerrymandering — embedding a political advantage in the drawing of electoral maps.

"Let's have fair maps. Let's have an actual battle of ideas," said Patrick Rodenbush, communications director of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. "Republicans are afraid of the voters they say they want to represent, and they are cheating the American people out of representation by doing this."

After each census is completed, state legislatures take up the responsibility of drawing the maps for congressional and legislative districts. Republicans took control of the majority of state Houses after the 2010 census, and they were able to maintain much of that dominance this year. Republicans said they plan to try to cement their power in the drawing of 30 state maps. Democrats control 19 legislatures.

The goal once the new census data come in, said Adam Kincaid, executive director of the National Republican Redistricting Trust, is to redraw maps to "protect our legislative majorities, protect our congressional incumbents and then expand our ability to take over the House in 2022 and beyond." That Republicans maintained their hold is a major disappointment for Democrats, who invested more than $50 million from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and millions more from a constellation of progressive groups. more...

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) For just the second time in more than seven decades, a Democrat will carry Arizona in a presidential election, a monumental shift for a state that was once a Republican stronghold. CNN projected on Thursday that President-elect Joe Biden will carry Arizona, defeating President Donald Trump and providing Democrats in Arizona and the universe of allied grassroots organizations in the state with a crowning achievement a decade in the making.

Biden's win in the state that propelled Republican leaders like Barry Goldwater and John McCain to national prominence could foretell problems for the party going forward. Three key shifts in the state helped Democrats this year: a growing Latino population that leans Democratic, a surge in voters moving to Arizona from more liberal states like California and Illinois, and the way suburban voters have starkly broken with a Republican Party led by someone like Trump.

Arizona, by going blue, is moving closer to its neighbor to the northwest -- Nevada, where Democrats have taken control of almost all aspects of government -- and away from the state's traditional rightward bent. The Democratic victory -- declared days after CNN projected Biden's win in the presidential race -- was anchored by Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and nearly 60% of all people in the state. Maricopa is the fastest-growing county in the country, transforming over the last two decades into a sprawling mass of metropolitan hubs, sun-scorched planned communities and bustling strip malls. more...

The justice railed against COVID restrictions, same-sex marriage, abortion, and the alleged persecution of conservatives.
By Mark Joseph Stern

On Thursday night, Justice Sam Alito delivered the keynote address at this year’s all-virtual Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention. The Federalist Society, a well-funded network of conservative attorneys, has come under unusual scrutiny after Donald Trump elevated scores of its members to the federal judiciary. Its leaders insist that it is a mere debate club, a nonpartisan forum for the exchange of legal ideas. But Alito abandoned any pretense of impartiality in his speech, a grievance-laden tirade against Democrats, the progressive movement, and the United States’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Alito’s targets included COVID-related restrictions, same-sex marriage, abortion, Plan B, the contraceptive mandate, LGBTQ non-discrimination laws, and five sitting Democratic senators.

Ironically, Alito began his pre-recorded address by condemning an effort by the U.S. Judicial Conference to forbid federal judges from being members of the Federalist Society. He then praised, by name, the four judges who spearheaded a successful effort to defeat the ban—or, as Alito put it, who “stood up to an attempt to hobble the debate that the Federalist Society fosters.” Alito warned that law school students who are members of the Federalist Society tell him they “face harassment and retaliation if they say anything that departs from the law school orthodoxy.” more...

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

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

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

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

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

Danielle Kurtzleben

Minnesota's sprawling, rural 7th Congressional District has been represented by conservative Democrat Collin Peterson for 30 years. It was considered one of Democrats' most vulnerable seats going into this year's election, and the GOP flipped it when Michelle Fischbach won by 13 points. Rep.-elect Fischbach credited one particular Republican with helping her win: Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York.​

"Whenever advice was needed, I always was able to call and talk to her about whatever kinds of bumps or things you would run into," Fischbach said. "But in addition to that, she provided fundraising and dollars to the campaign, which is so important." Now, Fischbach is one of a record 35 Republican women who will serve in Congress next year, breaking the previous record of 30 and a sharp increase from the 13 GOP women elected to the House of Representatives in 2018.

This year's number could still grow as more races are called. The Republican Party is celebrating that as a win, just two years after Democrats had their own record-setting year electing women. more...

Jacob Pramuk

The top Democrats in Congress said Thursday that a record surge in U.S. coronavirus infections raises the urgency for a new relief bill. The part of the process that has confounded Washington for months — crafting a bill backed by both Democrats and Republicans — has become no less of a challenge since Election Day.

Speaking to reporters in Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she still supports legislation to inject at least $2.2 trillion into the American health-care system and economy. The California Democrat, who will see her party’s majority shrink by at least six seats after the 2020 election, cited Wednesday’s record 143,231 new Covid-19 infections as reason to stick to a spending demand the GOP has seen as unreasonable. “We’re at the same place, even more so with the pandemic,” she said. “Because look at those numbers!” more...

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

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

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

By Dan Merica, Kevin Liptak, Jeff Zeleny, David Wright and Rebecca Buck, CNN

Washington (CNN) Barack Obama directly confronts the racist politics of President Donald Trump in the first volume of his post-presidency memoir, bluntly suggesting how he believes his historic election in 2008 opened a wave of bitter and divisive turmoil that fueled Republicans' obstructionism and ultimately changed the party, according to a copy of the book obtained by CNN.

"It was as if my very presence in the White House had triggered a deep-seated panic, a sense that the natural order had been disrupted," Obama writes. "Which is exactly what Donald Trump understood when he started peddling assertions that I had not been born in the United States and was thus an illegitimate president. For millions of Americans spooked by a Black man in the White House, he promised an elixir for their racial anxiety."The 768-page memoir, titled A Promised Land and due out on November 17, chronicles the future president's childhood and political rise, before diving deeply into his historic 2008 campaign and first four years in office.

Obama dedicates hundreds of pages to the fights and characters that colored his tenure, from his work to pass Obamacare in 2010 to the complexities of dealing with a slate of world leaders and finally his decision to approve the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. But some of his most thoughtful examination comes at the expense of the party that opposed him and how it evolved during his eight years in office, starting with the elevation of Sarah Palin to the Republican presidential ticket in 2008. "Through Palin, it seemed as if the dark spirits that had long been lurking on the edges of the modern Republican Party -- xenophobia, anti intellectualism, paranoid conspiracy theories, an antipathy toward Black and brown folks -- were finding their way to center stage," Obama writes

Throughout, Obama casts his presidency as comprised of hard choices, sometimes made more difficult by internal disputes, mismanagement by the previous administration and obstructionism by Republicans, which he suggests was rooted in an attempt to appeal to anxieties about the first Black president. more...

By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business) Jeffrey Toobin, a prominent writer and CNN's chief legal analyst, was fired from The New Yorker on Wednesday after he accidentally exposed himself to colleagues with the New Yorker and WNYC during a Zoom call last month.
"I am writing to share with you that our investigation regarding Jeffrey Toobin is complete, and as a result, he is no longer affiliated with our company," Stan Duncan, chief people officer at Condé Nast, which owns the New Yorker, wrote in an email to employees.
"I want to assure everyone that we take workplace matters seriously," Duncan added. "We are committed to fostering an environment where everyone feels respected and upholds our standards of conduct." Toobin confirmed the news on Twitter, writing, "I was fired today by @NewYorker after 27 years as a Staff Writer. I will always love the magazine, will miss my colleagues, and will look forward to reading their work." more...

Shawna Chen

Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced on Wednesday a "full, by-hand recount" of ballots cast in the presidential election in every county in the state. Why it matters: Joe Biden leads by about 14,000 votes in the traditionally red state. No winner has been declared in either of the state's two Senate battles, which means we likely won’t know which party will hold the Senate majority until 2021. more...

Analysis by Harry Enten, CNN

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

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

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

Jill Filipovic

When the president refuses to concede, it has a tangible impact on the nation’s future. Why are Republicans enabling this? The Republican party has spent four years enabling Donald Trump: backing up his lies, defending his most egregious misbehaviors, shattering longstanding democratic norms to keep his, and by extension their, iron grip on power. But by refusing to push him to concede an election he clearly lost, they’re truly following him off a cliff – and threatening to take America with them. Donald Trump lost the popular vote by 5 million. He was handily trounced in the electoral college, too. There is no real question that he lost the election and Joe Biden won.

And yet, predictably, the president who has spent his entire time in office denying the facts that are in front of his face is insisting that the clear results of this election must be the result of malfeasance. We know that to assuage his own ego and maintain his position, he will say and do just about anything. We know that he is not a statesman or a person who cares about anything beyond himself; we know he is happy to tear the nation apart at the seams if it means he gets what he wants. And we know that many members of the Republican party have thus far aided and abetted him.

But there was some question of when enough would be enough. Surely there was some line the president could cross that would directly imperil America itself and make Republicans finally say: enough. Now, the president is mounting what in any developing country would be called an attempted coup. He is spreading outright lies about America’s system of free and fair elections, claiming he won when he didn’t. His sycophantic legal team is pulling issues out of thin air to undermine the American system of voting. He is wielding his power to try to install himself as an unelected leader. He is refusing to concede so that he might find some way to illegally grab power. And Republicans are letting him. more...

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