David Wasserman called the special Senate runoff in Georgia with Raphael Warnock (D) defeating Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R). Decision Desk has also called the race. We are still waiting on a call in the Ossoff-Perdue race, but the New York Times’s needle is very confident that Ossoff will win. Indeed, it’s very hard to see a path for either Republican short of a major tabulation error. David Wasserman and Decision Desk have projected that Ossoff will win, meaning that the Democrats will control the U.S. Senate, with 50 seats and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris breaking any ties.
“With new votes joining the tally, we are on a strong path. But even while we wait for more, let’s celebrate the extraordinary organizers, volunteers, canvassers & tireless groups that haven’t stopped going since Nov. Across our state, we roared. A few miles to go… but well done!” — Stacey Abrams, on Twitter, savoring what the New York Times called a 10-year project to turn Georgia blue.
GOP pollster and strategist Frank Luntz told CNBC that he believes Democrats hold the upper hand in Tuesday’s Georgia Senate runoff elections, warning of disappointment for Republicans in those pivotal races and in Wednesday’s upcoming Electoral College presidential confirmation vote on Capitol Hill.
Said Luntz: “There is a greater divide in the Republican party than there is in the Democratic party. The party is in the process of tearing itself apart and you don’t do that now, when you’re this close to the most important Senate election, literally, in a lifetime. Democrats are unified, Republicans are not and that’s what gives them the advantage.”
He added: “I think the next 48 hours are going to be among the worst for the GOP.”
President Trump tweets: “The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.” No, he doesn’t. And the Vice President agrees he doesn’t. “Despite growing pressure from President Donald Trump to help overturn his election loss, Vice President Mike Pence plans to stick to his ceremonial duties and not interfere with the election certification when presiding in Congress on Wednesday, advisers said,” Reuters reports.
“Vice President Mike Pence told President Trump on Tuesday that he did not believe he had the power to block congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election despite Mr. Trump’s baseless insistence that he did,” the New York Times reports.
“Mr. Pence’s message, delivered during his weekly lunch with the president, came hours after Mr. Trump further turned up the public pressure on the vice president to do his bidding when Congress convenes Wednesday in a joint session to ratify Mr. Biden’s Electoral College win.”
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) said that his decision to back the Electoral College when Congress counts the vote was “brutal,” The Hill reports. Said Cramer: “It was brutal, to be honest. But at the end of the day, there are two things. One is my conscience is captive to God, and my oath is to the Constitution of the United States.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) explained in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette his decision to ratify the Electoral College vote tomorrow. “First, Congress would take away the power to choose the president from the people and place it in the hands of whichever party controls Congress. This action essentially would end our tradition of democratic presidential elections, empowering politicians and party bosses in Washington.”
“Second, Congress would imperil the electoral college, which gives small states like Arkansas a voice in presidential elections. Democrats have long complained about Republican candidates winning the electoral college and thus the presidency without a majority of the popular vote. If Congress becomes a new battleground for determining the results of the electoral college, a future Democratic majority could deny the presidency to a Republican president-elect who didn’t receive a majority of the popular vote.”
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) will certify Joe Biden’s Electoral College win, refusing to join the growing number of Republicans planning to object to the process, Axios reports.
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) writes in The Mercury that will vote to certify Joe Biden’s victory as the next president: “To vote to reject these state-certified electoral votes would be to act outside the bounds of the Constitution, which I will not do.”
Politico: “The immediate recrimination [as a result of the Georgia Runoffs] is emblematic of the complicated GOP dynamics that have emerged after Trump’s loss in the November election. Fissures are forming as Republicans decide whether it’s useful to cling to Trump — even as he tries to subvert an election — or to distance themselves. And if the Georgia races are any indication, it appears Republicans are willing to turn on Trump if he can’t reliably turn out the vote for candidates in the months and years ahead.”
“When asked why Republicans didn’t prevail on Tuesday, a senior Senate Republican aide simply said: ‘Donald J. Trump.’”
“The frustration stems from the days after the Nov. 3 election. While Republicans tried to reset in Georgia and prepare for the two runoff races, the president set off a civil war within his own party as he launched a divisive campaign to overturn the 2020 election.”
“When Senate Republicans spent weeks refusing to acknowledge Joe Biden’s victory, Biden’s response was: chill out and give it time,” Politico reports.
“Biden is following the same playbook now as dozens of congressional Republicans plan to challenge his Electoral College victory on Wednesday. Biden has intentionally been muted on the topic to give Republicans political space to maneuver and let the factions fight amongst themselves.”
Said one source familiar with Biden’s strategy: “All of this is sort of a deliberate effort to be clear about what’s happening and it being wrong and unacceptable, but being somewhat measured to let others denounce what’s happening.”
“Donald Trump has privately acknowledged he lost the presidency. He knows Joe Biden will replace him. He recognizes Congress will formally certify the results on Wednesday,” Politico reports.
To one person, Trump even confided he was “just disappointed we lost.”
“Trump’s acceptance has taken shape in recent weeks, according to three people who have spoken to Trump in that time span, with one conversation occurring a week ago. Trump admits his defeat, but still maintains he would have won a fair election, they said, despite no concrete evidence emerging of widespread voter fraud. He has even discussed his exit plans from Washington with staff, debating when to move to his South Florida Mar-a-Lago resort.”
Associated Press: “At first, he privately accepted that he had been beaten even as he publicly protested, hoping to show his loyal supporters that he was still fighting while eyeing his own future, politically and financially.”
“But as the weeks have gone on, Trump has embraced the narrative that his victory was stolen. His shrinking inner circle is now largely populated by those peddling conspiracy theories. The president lives in a media echo chamber made up of conservative television and social media voices amplifying his claims of fraud.”
Peter Nicholas visited the White House: “On a day like this, you’d expect the West Wing to be teeming with people. Normally you’d see aides crowding the hallways, or reporters in a single-file line outside Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s doorway. The West Wing halls accessible to the press have a desultory vibe, more like a temp agency than the beating heart of the free world. As I wandered, a handful of aides worked at their desks and talked quietly among themselves. Not one wore a mask, befitting the COVID-19 denialism that has turned the complex into a breeding ground of infection.”
“They’re caretakers for a White House that is shutting down. And for the most part, the people who work in the building know it. None of the advisers and aides I’ve spoken with over the past couple of weeks is under any illusion that Trump will serve a second term. They realize it’s over, though one aide, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to talk more freely, told me that they’ve gotten no guidance from senior officials on what will happen come noon on January 20, when Trump’s term constitutionally ends.”
“Far-right online forums are seething with references to potential violence and urging supporters of President Trump to bring guns to Wednesday’s protests in Washington — in violation of local laws — as Congress meets to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory,” the Washington Postreports.
“Many of the posts appear to be direct responses to Trump’s demands that his supporters pack the nation’s capital in support of his bogus claims that November’s national vote for Biden resulted from election fraud. Congress’s largely ceremonial role in confirming Biden’s victory has emerged as a catalyst for expected unrest that has D.C. police and the National Guard deploying on city streets to quell potential trouble.”
“The leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, was arrested by D.C. police Monday afternoon on a warrant charging him with burning a Black Lives Matter banner taken from a historic Black church during a demonstration last month,” the Washington Post reports.
“Following the abrupt Monday resignation of Byung Jin ‘BJay’ Pak, the U.S. attorney in Atlanta, the Trump administration is bypassing his first assistant, a career prosecutor, to name a new acting leader from outside the office,” TPM reports.
“The new acting U.S. attorney in Atlanta will be Bobby Christine, the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia… Christine will continue simultaneously in both roles.”
Sen. Ted Cruz and about nine or 10 other senators joined Reps. Mo Brooks (R-AL), Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Andy Biggs (R-AZ) on a 50-minute phone call to discuss their plans to challenge the Electoral College vote, Politico reports.
The senators appeared to agree to object to three or four state certifications, even though House members are pushing for six: Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nevada.
The lawmakers are primarily focusing their objections on three states: Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.
The GOP lawmakers did not discuss how long they wanted to draw out the objection process, but a source says the senators weren’t excited about debating past midnight.
Most interesting: Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) was not on the phone call, with a source describing him as a “wild card” in this process.
Michael Gerson: “We are witnessing what happens when treacherous politicians run in packs. A solitary betrayal of the constitutional order by a member of Congress is a source of shame and, perhaps, a cause for expulsion. When 100 and more Republicans join hands and betray the constitutional order, it is a populist cause. They gain the confidence, even the thrill, of shared disloyalty. But their oath of office — in every single case — has been dishonored. They have demonstrated their unfitness for office and called their own patriotism into question.”
“So maybe it is for the best that they stand up and be counted. Maybe it is best for Americans to know who will ‘support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic’ — and who will not. By all means, let’s engrave their names into a marble slab — a roll call of those who failed the most important test of self-government in our lifetimes. There are a lot of monuments honoring bravery. Let’s have one dedicated to abject cowardice.”
George Will: “On Wednesday, the members of the Hawley-Cruz cohort will violate the oath of office in which they swore to defend the Constitution from enemies ‘foreign and domestic.’ They are its most dangerous domestic enemies.”
Ben Jacobs: “It’s a banzai charge. The path to successfully contesting election results required a number of contingencies to come into place in several states. It hasn’t happened in a single one. State election officials have found consistent Biden victories in contested states and, as a result, state legislatures have declined to send competing slates of electors. However, Trump has been undeterred by his legal team’s constant failures in courts of law (as well as frequent humiliations in the court of public opinion). At this point, the strategy of his legal team is far more Jim Jones than James Baker.”
“But this has long left the realm of a legal fight. Instead, it’s a political battle governed by two facts. Donald Trump refuses to acknowledge that he has lost the election, and he has a sky-high approval rating with Republican voters. This means many Republican elected officials have either fully drunk the Kool-Aid… or just believe that their prospects for future electoral success rely on staying in Trump’s good graces.”
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) claimed that “Antifa scumbags” threatened his wife and newborn daughter while demonstrating outside the family’s Washington, D.C., residence.
He said protesters “screamed threats, vandalized, and tried to pound open our door.”
The Hill: “Video of the event shared on Twitter showed a handful of protesters holding what was billed as a ‘candlelight vigil’ outside the residence, while largely remaining on the street. At one point, several protesters are seen carrying a sign to the front door of the residence and ringing the doorbell while an activist speaks over a megaphone. A woman is seen inside looking out the window, but not answering the door.”
“Republican lawyer Cleta Mitchell, who advised President Trump during his Saturday phone call with Georgia’s secretary of state in an effort to overturn the election, resigned on Tuesday as a partner in the Washington office of the law firm Foley & Lardner,” the Washington Post reports.
“Mitchell’s resignation came after the law firm on Monday issued a statement saying it was ‘concerned by’ her role in the call.”
“The U.S. intelligence community stated Tuesday that Russia is ‘likely’ behind a major and ongoing series of cyberhacks of federal government agencies — its first official indication of blame,” the Washington Post reports.
“The breaches were so alarming that they had government and private-sector personnel working through the holidays, the task force said. That sense of urgency stands in contrast to Trump’s effort last month to downplay the significance of the breaches.”
Zeynep Tufekci: “We are in a race against time, and the virus appears to be gaining an unfortunate ability to sprint just as we get closer to the finish line.”
Washington Post: “Los Angeles County has been so overwhelmed it is running out of oxygen, with ambulance crews instructed to use oxygen only for their worst-case patients. Crews were told not bring patients to the hospital if they have little hope of survival and to treat and declare such patients dead on the scene to preserve hospital capacity.”
“Several Los Angeles hospitals have turned away ambulance traffic in recent days because they can’t provide the air flow needed to treat patients.”
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) announced that undocumented workers at meatpacking plants will not be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“President Trump could be planning a trip to Scotland to avoid attending his successor Joe Biden’s inauguration,” the Sunday Post reports.
“Prestwick airport has been told to expect the arrival of a US military Boeing 757 aircraft, that is occasionally used by Trump, on January 19 – the day before his Democratic rival takes charge at the White House.”
“Speculation surrounding Trump’s plans has been fuelled by the activity of US Army aircraft, which were based at Prestwick airport for a week and said to be carrying out 3D reconnaissance of the president’s Turnberry resort.”
Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, said President Trump will not be allowed to visit the country to play golf during Joe Biden’s inauguration, as reports indicated he was planning, the Independent reports.
Given the global pandemic, Sturgeon stressed it is currently illegal to travel in or out of the country without a valid reason: “Coming to play golf is not what I would consider to be an essential purpose.”
“A British judge ruled on Monday that Julian Assange cannot be extradited to the United States, granting the WikiLeaks founder a major victory against the U.S. authorities who have accused him of conspiring to hack government computers and violating the Espionage Act with the release of confidential communications in 2010 and 2011,” the New York Times reports.