Washington Post: “The president’s denunciation of the agreement represented a stunning public broadside against his own treasury secretary, who for four years loyally shielded the president’s tax returns, endured repeated presidential tirades in private, and defended even Trump’s most incendiary and contradictory remarks. Through it all, Mnuchin had emerged with the unique ability to walk a tightrope between Trump and congressional leaders, serving as an emissary in difficult negotiations. That all ended on Tuesday, when Trump posted a video on Twitter ridiculing the agreement.”
“In addition to a possible government shutdown on Tuesday, the entire emergency relief package is in jeopardy. The $600 stimulus checks Mnuchin had promised would be sent later this week cannot be sent if the bill isn’t signed into law. And a range of other emergency relief programs that were part of the package, from rental protections to small-business aid, airline assistance and vaccine distribution money, are also now frozen.
President-elect Joe Biden pressed President Trump to immediately sign a COVID-19 relief bill that is stuck in limbo, blasting what he deemed Trump’s “abdication of responsibility,” The Hill reports.
Said Biden: “It is the day after Christmas, and millions of families don’t know if they’ll be able to make ends meet because of President Donald Trump’s refusal to sign an economic relief bill approved by Congress with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority. This abdication of responsibility has devastating consequences.”
“Expanded unemployment benefits were set to lapse for millions of struggling Americans on Saturday, a day after President Trump expressed more criticism of a $900 billion pandemic relief bill that was awaiting his signature and would extend them,” the New York Times reports.
CBS News: COVID relief bill flown to Florida, as Trump went golfing.
New York Times: “If Mr. Trump signs the bill on Saturday, states will still need time to reprogram their computer systems to account for the new law, according to Michele Evermore of the National Employment Law Project, but unemployed workers would still be able to claim the benefits.”
Jonathan Bernstein: “Those Senate Republicans are the ones who could put a stop to it all. They could threaten to remove Trump if he persists. (Yes, there’s not enough time for the House to do a regular impeachment process and for the Senate to hold a full trial, but neither are required by the constitution — if the votes were there, both chambers could get it done in a week.) Such a threat might be enough to ensure they wouldn’t actually have to go through with it. Or they could follow up on what Thune said Monday and make a more public condemnation of the president. Even if that didn’t stop him, it might reduce the damage.”
“But it’s also not likely to happen, since attacking Trump would risk their own popularity and future re-elections.”
Jared Kushner has developed a reputation in Trumpland for being conspicuously absent when things turn rocky, the Daily Beast reports. Said a senior Trump aide: “This is just what Jared does.”
President-elect Biden said that the Russia-tied cyberattack, which formerly was known to go back to as early as March, began “at least last year,” Axios reports.
“An administration source verified the earlier breach date — compounding the work and expense involved in rooting out the intruders, discovering what was lost and fixing for the future.”
“On this, even President Donald Trump’s most fevered critics agree: He has left a deep imprint on the federal courts that will outlast his one term in office for decades to come,” the AP reports.
“He used the promise of conservative judicial appointments to win over Republican skeptics as a candidate. Then as president, he relied on outside conservative legal organizations and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to employ an assembly line-like precision to install more than 230 judges on the federal bench, including the three newest justices of the Supreme Court. Trump never tired of boasting about it.”
HuffPost: Trump’s presidency is over. his judges will be here for decades.
President Trump ramped up his criticism of Senate Republicans over their unwillingness to aid his efforts to overturn the election. Said Trump: “If a Democrat Presidential Candidate had an Election Rigged & Stolen, with proof of such acts at a level never seen before, the Democrat Senators would consider it an act of war, and fight to the death. Mitch & the Republicans do NOTHING, just want to let it pass. NO FIGHT!”
In a tweetstorm beginning early Saturday morning, President Trump railed against the the Department of Justice and U.S. attorney John Durham for failing to produce a report that exposed wrongdoing in the FBI’s Russia probe, Politico reports.
Said Trump: “Where the hell is the Durham Report? They spied on my campaign, colluded with Russia (and others), and got caught.”
Trump also took aim at the Supreme Court, calling it “totally incompetent and weak” and again questioning why it wouldn’t hear a suit filed by Texas claiming election fraud, effectively ending legal challenges to the electoral process.
President Trump criticized glossy US magazines for not offering his wife Melania Trump a single cover shoot while he has been in office, Business Insider reports.
Trump retweeted a Breitbart post that said “elitist snobs in the fashion press” were snubbing the “most elegant First Lady in American history.”
“Conflicting internal memos created confusion inside the White House on Wednesday about when staffers in the Executive Office of the President should begin preparing to leave work ahead of the transition next month,” Politico reports.
“In an email Wednesday morning from the White House Management Office, EOP staffers were instructed to ‘please disregard’ an earlier memo that had been sent Tuesday informing them that they ‘will start departing’ on the week of Jan. 4.”
The spokesman for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) deactivated his Twitter account after he tweeted in the middle of night that photos of each dead COVID-19 victim should be balanced with 99 photos of people who survive the disease, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Said Fred Piccolo: “I’m wondering since 99% of Covid patients survive shouldn’t you have 99 photos of survivors for every one fatality? Otherwise you’re just trying to create a narrative that is not reality.”
Los Angeles Times: “Christmas arrived in Los Angeles County with hospitals in a full-blown coronavirus crisis. There are now so many patients that some hospitals are running dangerously low on oxygen and other supplies critical to treating those with COVID-19.”
“The House will begin the new session of Congress with an important to-do list: swearing in new members, electing a speaker in the House, defining the rules of the new Congress and certifying the results of the presidential election,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Democrats will have little wiggle room, with a margin of just a few votes as Republicans push to stop the majority’s plans.”
“Underscoring the sense of urgency, the House and Senate will start the session on a Sunday, for the first time on record. The Constitution dictates that Congress starts on Jan. 3, but in the past when the day has fallen on the weekend, lawmakers have come to an agreement to move the date to start during the workweek. But this year, Democrats wanted to start as early as possible, with the certification of Joe Biden’s election win set for Jan. 6 and Democrats wanting to avoid any recess appointments by President Trump, which could occur if there is any gap between sessions.”
Washington Post: “Apartment tenants who have fallen behind on their rent face catastrophe at the end of the year, as Congress and President Trump have yet to approve emergency aid for renters or extend an eviction moratorium beyond Dec. 31, when it is set to expire.”
“An estimated 11.3 million households in the country are behind on rent or won’t be able to pay next month according to the Census Bureau, creating a backlog in unpaid rent estimated at $70 billion by Moody’s Analytics. Landlords have responded by filing hundreds of thousands of eviction notices at local courthouses around the country, cases that are ready to advance once moratoriums are no longer in place.”
Amanda Marcotte compiles a list of the ten dumbest things Donald Trump did while in office.