Top government security and election officials released a joint statement on Thursday definitively declaring that the presidential election last week “was the most secure in American history” and making clear that “there is no evidence” that any voting system was compromised in any way,” the New York Times reports. The top U.S. cybersecurity official Christopher Krebs, who worked on protecting the election from hackers, has told associates he expects to be fired by the White House for releasing that statement, Reuters reports.
And indeed, Trump has ordered that firing. But, “Department of Homeland Security acting Secretary Chad Wolf is defying President Trump’s order to terminate election cybersecurity official Christopher Krebs,” multiple sources tell the New York Post. “The White House on Wednesday evening instructed Wolf to fire Krebs after Krebs openly dismissed claims of voter fraud in the Nov. 3 election.”
New York Times: “Mr. Trump has spent his days toggling between his White House residence and the Oval Office, watching television coverage about the final weeks of his presidency. His mood is often bleak, advisers say, though he is not raising his voice in anger, despite the impression left by his tweets, which are often in capital letters.”
“But the work of government has been reduced to something of a sideshow for the president.”
Washington Post: “President Trump spent the day as he has most others this week — sequestered from public view, tweeting grievances, falsehoods and misinformation about the election results and about Fox News’s coverage of him.”
Philip Bump: “If the plan, however dubious, was to allow the virus to spread while offsetting the worst effects, when can we expect that offsetting to take place? The situation now is akin to a fire chief assuring people that the best approach to fires breaking out in an apartment complex is to let the fires burn themselves out while he provides them with fire extinguishers. And then not providing the fire extinguishers. And then spending most of his time tweeting about how he actually won the vote for best fire chief.”
“It’s a grim, grim moment, which is poised to get worse over the short term. Even if the number of deaths is kept down during the winter — a big if — there are long-term health risks posed by even nonfatal infections. ICUs choked with coronavirus patients also mean ICUs unable to handle other serious illnesses or injuries. What’s more, the idea that allowing the virus to spread to build immunity depends on an unproven assumption that reinfections can’t occur over a relatively short period of time.”
“The most remarkable part of all of this is that a vaccine does appear to be close. It’s a moment, then, when we might soon achieve herd immunity the safe way, by inoculating people against the virus without their becoming sick. It’s a moment in which the president and his team could ask for a bit more patience and constraint with light glimmering at the end of the tunnel. Instead, we’re being told to keep our foot on the accelerator and try to live our lives as normal, as though that’s really possible anyway.”
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) announced that his state’s hospitals have reached their limit, and the coming weeks could push them past their capabilities, the Grand Forks Herald reports.
“Sixteen assistant U.S. attorneys specially assigned to monitor malfeasance in the 2020 election urged Attorney General William Barr on Friday to rescind his recent memorandum allowing investigators to publicly pursue allegations of ‘vote tabulation irregularities’ in certain cases before results are certified, saying they had not seen evidence of any substantial anomalies,” the Washington Post reports.
“The signers wrote that in the places where they served as district election officers, taking in reports of possible election-related crimes, there was no evidence of the kind of fraud that Barr’s memo had highlighted.”
President Trump’s campaign has ended a “voter fraud” hotline it established last week so people could report alleged instances of fraud after it was flooded with prank calls, CNN reports.
“A Michigan judge has rejected a GOP demand to delay certification of the vote count in Detroit,” the Washington Post reports. “This is the latest in a string of defeats for President Trump and his allies, who have sought to un-do – or at least delay – President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory with long-shot lawsuits claiming election irregularities.”
Attorneys for the Trump campaign said Friday they’re no longer seeking a court’s intervention into the presidential race in Arizona, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Trump supporters in Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit to stop the certification process in the state but did not provide any evidence of election fraud. Instead, they told the judge that they intend to present evidence to support that claim once they have obtained it. That’s novel.
“Cracks are growing in the GOP defense of President Donald Trump’s long-shot effort to overturn the 2020 election outcome, with many top Republicans contending that Joe Biden should immediately get national security briefings, some calling for the official transition process to begin and others are acknowledging that Trump stands little chance at reversing results clearly showing he lost,” CNN reports.
“Republicans say they are willing to give Trump a chance to make his case in court. But they fully recognize that Trump is losing by margins in key battleground states that make his chances of success in his legal cases extremely grim at best. Many have grown unnerved at his purge of top national security officials. And others are making clear that Trump should concede the race once it’s evident that he’s lost his court challenges.”
“President-elect Joe Biden is considering plucking Angus King from the Senate to serve as director of national intelligence in his new administration,” Politico reports.
“The senator from Maine, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, is a prominent member of the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services committees. His appointment as Biden’s intelligence chief would give the president-elect someone in the position that both he and the intelligence community know well.”
“But it would also vacate a Democratic Senate seat in a state that just overwhelmingly reelected a Republican, Susan Collins, to its other Senate seat.”
Senate Republicans are warning that President-elect Joe Biden would spark “a fight” if he were to nominate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders or former National Security Advisor Susan Rice to his Cabinet, The Hill reports.
The Wall Street Journal profiles Charles Koch: “Mr. Koch said he has since come to regret his partisanship, which he says badly deepened divisions.” Writes Koch, in his new book: “Boy, did we screw up! What a mess!’”
“Still, his political spending remains almost entirely partisan. Koch Industries’ PAC and employees donated $2.8 million in the 2020 campaign cycle to Republican candidates and $221,000 to Democratic candidates.”
Mr. Koch is 85 and seeing death coming soon, so he is trying to get into Heaven now. Too late.
Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) tweeted that masks used to prevent the spread of the coronavirus are “oppressive.” Said Greene: “Our first session of New Member Orientation covered COVID in Congress. Masks, masks, masks… I proudly told my freshman class that masks are oppressive. In Georgia, we work out, shop, go to restaurants, go to work, and school without masks. My body, my choice. #FreeYourFace.”
Susan Glasser: “At times, during this unnerving week in America’s capital, it has felt as though we were watching events unfold in Minsk or some other dictator stronghold where elections are not stolen the day votes are cast but in the weeks afterward, as the defeated President holes up in his palace, defying reality and increasingly urgent crowds in the streets. Here in Minsk-on-the-Potomac, Trump has been perpetrating the Big Lie, claiming the election was stolen from him and apparently persuading millions of Americans to go along with this evidence-free fantasy. Biden, so far, has urged calm. It’s an ’embarrassment,’ he told reporters Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware, where he continued to plan his transition, took congratulatory phone calls from world leaders, and appointed a White House chief of staff. The official line from Biden has been clear and simple: concession or no concession, Trump will have to leave office at noon on January 20th, and that is that.”
“But is it? That we are reduced to even asking this question is a defeat for the United States and a win not only for Trump but for all the Trumpists to come, who will forever have the example of a President of the United States flouting the most basic principle of American democracy: accepting the election results and the consequences that come with them.”
President-elect Joe Biden will be briefed by national security experts next week, amid concerns that being out of the loop due to delays to the transition could be a national security risk, Reuters reports.
“President Trump’s refusal to allow President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his transition staff access to government offices, secure communications and classified briefings prompted growing warnings on Thursday, including from Republicans, that keeping Mr. Biden in the dark potentially endangers the country,” the New York Times reports.
“On Capitol Hill, several Senate Republicans insisted that Mr. Biden should at least be given access to the President’s Daily Brief, the compendium of the nation’s most closely guarded intelligence secrets and assessments of threats like terrorist plots and cyberattack vulnerabilities. Their call amounted to an acknowledgment that Mr. Biden would be declared the victor in the election.”
“President Trump is refusing to concede the 2020 election to President-elect Joe Biden, but once Trump moves to the acceptance stage of his defeat, the urgent business of presidential pardons is likely to surge to the top of his checklist before leaving office,” CNN reports.
“From campaign associates to members of his family — and even possibly himself — Trump could use his expansive pardon power to try to settle legal questions on his way out the door.”
“Perhaps the biggest looming pardon question is whether Trump will consider granting himself a pardon, amid state investigations into his business and finances and the prospect of federal investigators scrutinizing him after he leaves office.”
When White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was asked on Fox Business whether Donald Trump will attend President-elect Biden’s inauguration ceremony, she responded: “I think the president will attend his own inauguration.”
“If Republicans are able to hold onto their majority in the U.S. Senate, the remarkable staying power of Susan Collins will be a big reason why,” the AP reports.
“Collins defied prognostications of doom from Washington’s consultant class to score perhaps the most unexpected victory of the 2020 cycle, hanging a lopsided loss on a Democratic challenger despite a pile of outside Democratic money and open hostility from the leader of her party, President Trump.”
“Revitalized and empowered, Collins now has the chance to wield her influence over a Senate where the sweet spot for President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda will be found somewhere in the moderate middle — the political space she’s happily called home for decades.”
Politico: Susan Collins reaches peak influence after Senate stunner.
Tommy Tuberville (R), who will soon be sworn in as a U.S. Senator from Alabama, told the Alabama Daily News that he thinks the three branches of government are “the House, the Senate and executive.”
After easily defeating Doug Jones (D) to become Alabama’s next U.S. Senator, Tommy Tuberville (R) was addressing supporters in Montgomery and discussing his father – an American G.I. who landed at Normandy and fought in France, WKRG reports. Tuberville described how his father was a part of “liberating Paris from socialism and communism.” Of course, Americans liberated France from German Nazis – fascists, not socialists, nor communists.
“More than 130 Secret Service officers who help protect the White House and the president when he travels have recently been ordered to isolate or quarantine because they tested positive for the coronavirus or had close contact with infected co-workers,” the Washington Post reports.
“The spread of the coronavirus — which has sidelined roughly 10 percent of the agency’s core security team — is believed to be partly linked to a series of campaign rallies that President Trump held in the weeks before the Nov. 3 election, according to the people, who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the situation.”
New York Times: “Doing business with Mr. Trump — with his history of inflammatory rhetoric, meritless lawsuits and refusal to pay what he owes — has long induced heartburn among lawyers, contractors, suppliers and lenders. But the concerns are taking on new urgency as the president seeks to raise doubts about the election results.”
“Some senior lawyers at Jones Day, one of the country’s largest law firms, are worried that it is advancing arguments that lack evidence and may be helping Mr. Trump and his allies undermine the integrity of American elections.”
“At another large firm, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, based in Columbus, Ohio, lawyers have held internal meetings to voice similar concerns about their firm’s election-related work for Mr. Trump and the Republican Party.”
“Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, the law firm leading the Trump campaign’s efforts to cast doubt on the presidential election results in Pennsylvania, abruptly withdrew from a federal lawsuit that it filed days earlier on behalf of President Trump,” the New York Times reports.
“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,” the New York Times reports.
“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.”
“Days after many other countries, China finally on Friday congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris for their U.S. election win, ending whispers over Beijing’s reticence,” the Washington Post reports.
“Beijing’s salutations came just over 24 hours after Biden’s team said he had held phone calls with Australia, Japan and South Korea — U.S. allies that have watched with varying degrees of concern as Beijing has expanded its regional influence.”