What Now?! – January 4, 2021

“President Trump urged fellow Republican Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, to ‘find’ enough votes to overturn his defeat in an extraordinary one-hour phone call Saturday that election experts said raised legal questions,” the Washington Post reports.

“The Washington Post obtained a recording of the conversation in which Trump alternately berated Raffensperger, tried to flatter him, begged him to act and threatened him with vague criminal consequences if the secretary of state refused to pursue his false claims, at one point warning that Raffensperger was taking ‘a big risk.’”

“Throughout the call, Raffensperger and his office’s general counsel rejected his assertions, explaining that Trump is relying on debunked conspiracy theories and that President-elect Joe Biden’s 12,779-vote victory in Georgia was fair and accurate.”

Josh Marshall: “If you haven’t I recommend listening to the actual audio which has been released. As is often the case, seeing the words on paper doesn’t convey quite totality of it. Again, listen to the audio. It will bring it home in a deeper way.

There’s an additional substantive point I want to draw your attention to. We know President Trump acts like a thug. This is almost a literal replay of the Zelensky phone call which got Trump impeached. But there’s something more. This is a private call. It’s not for public consumption. This isn’t about stoking grievances for 2024 or maintaining control over the post-presidency GOP. President Trump is clearly very intent on remaining in office past January 20th and desperate to do so. He doesn’t think this is a closed question. He’s willing to do anything to remain in office and he believes enough threats can get him there.”

“The call by President Trump on Saturday to Georgia’s secretary of state raised the prospect that Mr. Trump may have violated laws that prohibit interference in federal or state elections, but lawyers said on Sunday that it would be difficult to pursue such a charge,” the New York Times reports.

“The rules of Congress’ Jan. 6 session governing the counting of Electoral College votes will remain identical to those used for decades, under a proposal set to be introduced Sunday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell,” Politico reports.

“Many of Donald Trump’s most dogmatic supporters see a mass protest in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6—just two weeks shy of Inauguration Day 2021—as their last chance to disrupt President-elect Joe Biden’s win. But for the president himself, it’s just another day to complain,” the Daily Beast reports.

“Two people familiar with the matter say that in recent days, Trump has told advisers and close associates that he wants to keep fighting in court past Jan. 6 if members of Congress, as expected, end up certifying the electoral college results.”

Said one source: “The way he sees it is: Why should I ever let this go?… How would that benefit me?”

“Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) on Sunday challenged the seating of lawmakers from Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin,” The Hill reports.

“Roy — one of the few conservatives not backing the effort to challenge the results of the presidential election on Jan. 6 — argued that if there was widespread voter fraud to the level that it would change the presidential election results, as many of his colleagues claim, the legitimacy of results down ballot are also called into question.”

“A growing number of Republican senators — led by Ted Cruz — are set to announce today they also will object to certifying state Electoral College votes on Wednesday,” Axios reports.

“Cruz, who, like Josh Hawley, is thought to be considering a 2024 presidential bid, plans to release a statement this afternoon announcing his plans. Once the Texas Republican does so, several other senators from his party are expected to follow in a coordinated effort they consider distinct from Hawley’s.”

“Republicans involved in these talks include Sens. Ron Johnson, James Lankford, Steve Daines, John Kennedy, Marsha Blackburn and Mike Braun, as well as Sens.-elect Cynthia Lummis, Roger Marshall, Bill Hagerty, and Tommy Tuberville.”

The New York Times notes that none of the 12 Republican U.S. senators who said they would vote to invalidate the electoral vote “has made a specific allegation of fraud, instead offering vague suggestions that some wrongdoing might have occurred and asserting that many of their supporters believe that it has.”

In fact, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes that Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) just last month said that he regarded the election as legitimate and had no plans to object to the Electoral College votes.

Playbook: “The speaker’s vote intrigue is being overshadowed by an all-out GOP civil war in the Senate. Three days after Mitch McConnell told his colleagues that the vote to certify the presidential election results on Jan. 6 would be ‘the most consequential I have ever cast,’ a dozen Republican senators have now publicly endorsed objecting to the Electoral College tallies that will make Joe Biden’s victory official.”

“In short, there’s a growing rebellion inside the GOP conference instigated by President Donald Trump, who promises more GOP senators will join the effort and also called for mass protests in D.C. on Wednesday. (Yes, the Proud Boys and right-wing militias will be there, and, yes, there is cause for concern about the prospect of violence.)”

“We can’t say this emphatically enough: This does not happen to Mitch McConnell. For four years, the Senate leader has managed to maintain order in his ranks as Trump unleashes daily mayhem on the GOP from the White House. That’s all gone to hell.”

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) told Fox News that House Republicans held a rare Saturday night conference call to address their goal of overturning certain state’s Electoral College results on Jan. 6. Brooks said 50 lawmakers including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), President Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows were on the call.

“I could never have imagined seeing these things in the greatest democracy in the world. Has ambition so eclipsed principle?” — Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), in a statement blasting the “egregious ploy” of his Republican colleagues to invalidate electoral votes.

“I think it’s awful. I am going to support my oath to the Constitution. That’s the loyalty test here.” — Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), quoted by Politico, on Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) intent to challenge the Electoral College vote on January 6.

New York Times: “The initial vaccine deliveries were mostly for frontline medical workers and nursing home staff members and residents. But there was less of a clear consensus on how to distribute the second round of doses, and public health and elected officials had warned the process would become messier.”

“Those warnings appear to have been borne out, leaving the U.S. inoculation campaign behind schedule and raising fears about how quickly the country will be able to tame the epidemic.”

Ashish Jha: Vaccinations are going slowly because no one is in charge.

“President Trump is torching his own party and its leaders on his way out of power — and tossing gas on the fire with a public call for mass protest next week and a vote to overturn his defeat,” Axios reports.

“Trump is demanding Republicans fully and unequivocally embrace him — or face his wrath. This is self-inflicted, self-focused — and dangerous for a Republican Party clinging to waning Washington power.”

CBS News: Are congressional Republicans breaking away from Trump?

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the only woman to serve as speaker, was reelected by a narrow margin in a closely divided House. The final vote came hours after it began as lawmakers were forced to vote in groups of about 72, a precaution dictated by the coronavirus pandemic,” the Washington Post reports.

“Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is poised to win her fourth term as House speaker on Sunday, but a narrower Democratic majority and uncertainties caused by the coronavirus pandemic will make for little wiggle room,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Democrats expect to have 222 seats to Republicans’ 211. One race in New York is still in dispute, and a seat in Louisiana will be vacant because Republican Rep.-elect Luke Letlow died on Tuesday from complications of Covid-19. Two other Republican lawmakers are expected to be absent because they have tested positive for Covid-19. It isn’t known if any Democrats will miss the vote.”

The Hill: Covid-19 is wildcard as Pelosi faces tricky Speaker vote.

New Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi declared a “fiscal emergency” and ordered the island’s Department of Justice to step up anti-corruption efforts Saturday — hours after being sworn in, Bloomberg reports.

More than 350,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the U.S., with another surge of cases and deaths expected in the coming weeks as a result of holiday gatherings.

The Hill: Model predicts 150,000 more deaths from coronavirus within the next month.

“Joe Biden faces historic challenges when he enters the White House on Jan. 20: a raging pandemic, persistently high unemployment, simmering tensions with China and Russia — and a predecessor who won’t go away,” Bloomberg reports.

“Aware of the chaos and distraction Donald Trump has proved he can muster, the president-elect and his advisers have developed a strategy they believe is the only way to neutralize the threat: ignore him.”

“One lesson of Biden’s winning presidential campaign, they say, is that there’s little incentive to engage with Trump, and that his penchant for spectacle is wearing thin with the American people.”

A federal appeals court on Saturday dismissed a lawsuit by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and other Republicans that sought to expand Vice President Pence’s legal authority to effectively overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral win, The Hill reports.

“But if bottom line is, the court is saying, ‘We’re not going to touch this. You have no remedy’ — basically, in effect, the ruling would be that you gotta go the streets and be as violent as Antifa and BLM.” — Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), on Newsmax, on his attempts to overturn the electoral vote.

Vice President Mike Pence’s office released a statement on efforts by some GOP lawmakers to invalidate the Electoral College vote:

“Vice President Pence shares the concerns of millions of Americans about voter fraud and irregularities in the last election.”

“The Vice President welcomes the efforts of members of the House and Senate to use the authority they have under the law to raise objections and bring forward evidence before the Congress and the American people on January 6th.”

Washington Post: “Though Pence’s role is strictly ceremonial, the lawyer Sidney Powell and other conspiracy-minded Trump allies are trying to convince the president that Pence has the power to overturn the election by rejecting some of Biden’s electors.”

“After Pence labored for four years to stay in the mercurial president’s good graces, his performance on Wednesday could risk a rupture on their 14th-to-last day in office.

Trump adviser Peter Navarro falsely told Fox News that President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20 can be postponed.

Said host Jeanine Pirro: “January 20th cannot be changed, that’s constitutional.”

Replied Navarro: “Well it can be changed, actually. We can go past that date… we can go past that date if we need to.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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