Trump Administration, Week 200, Friday, 13 November – 19 November 2020 (Days 1,393-1,399)

 

This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently during the day. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process. Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are usually my emphasis, though not always.

 

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Friday, 13 November 2020, Day 1,393:

 

Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 13 November 2020: Lockdowns Return, and North Dakota Issues Mask Mandate. As coronavirus cases trend upward in 49 states, President Trump makes no mention of the surge at a Rose Garden event. New Mexico and Oregon announce lockdowns. The New York Times, Friday, 13 November 2020:

  • More than 1 in 400 Americans test positive in a week, pushing New Jersey to a record and prompting restrictions in North Dakota.

  • Trump projects a rosy view on vaccines, while Biden blasts the federal coronavirus response.

  • Several states add restrictions across the country, including lockdowns in New Mexico and Oregon.

  • N.Y.C.’s mayor warns that public schools could close as early as Monday if positivity rate hits 3 percent.

  • At least 30 Secret Service officers test positive for the virus as others are asked to isolate.

  • Fauci weighs in on celebrating Thanksgiving as the virus rages through the United States.

  • These are the restrictions and mask mandates for all 50 states.

  • Russian and North Korean operatives are trying to hack coronavirus research firms, Microsoft said.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Friday, 13 November 2020: New Mexico is at ‘breaking point’ as U.S. shatters coronavirus case record again with 177,000 new cases, The Washington Post, Hannah Knowles, William Wan, Jacqueline Dupree, Brittany Shammas, Hamza Shaban, Miriam Berger, and Kim Bellware, Friday, 13 November 2020: “New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) said the state is at a ‘breaking point’ and reinstated the country’s most restrictive statewide measures since the fall surge began, while Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced a two-week statewide ‘freeze’ on Friday, which included curbing gatherings ahead of Thanksgiving.Other states are trying to avoid full-blown shutdowns by enacting almost every other kind of restriction, as the United States reported more than 177,000 new coronavirus cases, a record high for the third straight day.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

More than 130 Secret Service officers are said to be infected with coronavirus or quarantining in wake of Trump’s campaign travel, The Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 13 November 2020: “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, according to three people familiar with agency staffing. 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 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. In all, roughly 300 Secret Service officers and agents have had to isolate or quarantine since March because they were infected or exposed to infected colleagues, according to two people with knowledge of the figures.”

Continue reading Week 200, Friday, 13 November  – Thursday, 19 November 2020 (Days 1,393-1,399)

As the Pandemic Surges, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) Issues Increasingly Assertive Advice. Agency scientists often contradict the Trump administration now, but critics urge a more public stance. The New York Times, Apoorva Mandavilli, Friday, 13 November 2020: “As the pandemic engulfs the nation, recent recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been as notable for what they do not say as for what they do. In a turnabout, the agency now is hewing more closely to scientific evidence, often contradicting the positions of the Trump administration. In scientific briefs published on Tuesday, the C.D.C. described the benefits of masks to wearers, not just to those around them. Agency researchers also urged people to celebrate Thanksgiving only with others in their households or, failing that, to wear a mask with two or more layers. Administration officials famously have disregarded evidence about the effectiveness of masks, one reason there have been at least three coronavirus outbreaks at the White House and hundreds of cases linked to President Trump’s rallies.”

Biden Implores Trump to Confront a Surging Pandemic. President Trump broke his near-total silence on the coronavirus on Friday with an appearance in the Rose Garden in which he threatened to deny New York access to a vaccine. New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Friday, 13 November 2020: “President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. demanded on Friday that President Trump do more to confront the coronavirus infections exploding across the country, calling the federal response ‘woefully lacking’ even as Mr. Trump broke a 10-day silence on the pandemic to threaten to withhold a vaccine from New York. In a blistering statement, Mr. Biden said that the recent surge, which is killing more than 1,000 Americans every day and has hospitalized about 70,000 in total, required a ‘robust and immediate federal response. I will not be president until next year,’ Mr. Biden said. ‘The crisis does not respect dates on the calendar, it is accelerating right now. Urgent action is needed today, now, by the current administration — starting with an acknowledgment of how serious the current situation is.'”

Highlights From the Transition: Biden Wins Georgia and Trump Wins North Carolina as Final States Are Called. With his victory in Georgia, President-elect Joe Biden has won a total of 306 electoral votes, flipping five states in the process. The Trump campaign lost a legal challenge to the election results in Michigan and withdrew one in Arizona. The New York Times, Friday, 13 November 2020:

  • Biden wins Georgia and Trump wins North Carolina, the final states to be called.

  • Examine ballot. Recite name. Sort into bin. Repeat 5 million times. Georgia’s audit is underway.

  • Trump puts Giuliani in charge of his lawsuits challenging the election results.

  • The Trump campaign loses legal challenges in Michigan and Pennsylvania and withdraws one in Arizona.

  • Trump, at virus news conference, comes close to acknowledging election result that he has continued to deny.

  • Virus ‘does not respect dates on the calendar,’ Biden warns, as Trump blocks him on health officials.

  • Trump’s refusal to give Biden access to intelligence briefings ‘poses a serious risk,’ officials warn.

  • Trump says he may ‘stop by’ a rally in D.C. of supporters who back his refusal to concede.

Election 2020: Biden is projected to win Georgia, and Trump is projected to win North Carolina, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz and Derek Hawkins, Friday, 13 November 2020: ‘President-elect Joe Biden is projected to win Georgia, and President Trump is projected to win North Carolina in the final calls of the presidential race. Edison Research projects that Biden will capture Georgia’s 16 electoral votes, flipping a state Republicans have won in presidential elections since 1996. Georgia is now conducting a statewide hand recount of presidential votes, but Biden’s current lead of 14,152 votes in Georgia is expected to withstand any recount changes. Trump is projected to add North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes to his total. Overall, Biden is projected to win 306 electoral votes, and Trump is projected to win 232. Trump will deliver an update on the effort to develop and distribute a coronavirus vaccine at 4 p.m., his first public remarks in more than a week. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris continued to meet with transition advisers to plan their administration even as Trump challenges the vote count in several states and refuses to concede. A Michigan judge has rejected a GOP demand to delay certification of the vote count in Detroit. This is the latest in a string of defeats for President Trump and his allies, who have sought to undo — or at least delay — Biden’s electoral victory with long-shot lawsuits claiming election irregularities.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

As Soon as Trump Leaves Office, He Faces Greater Risk of Prosecution, The New York Times, William K. Rashbaum and Benjamin Weiser, Friday, 13 November 2020: “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.”

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro says the White House’s operating ‘assumption is a second Trump term,’ Politico, Nick Niedzwiadek, Friday, 13 November 2020: “White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Friday that the Trump administration is operating as if it will extend into a second term, attempting to stiff-arm the reality of last week’s election and dismissing talk that the incoming Biden administration might unwind many of President Donald Trump’s policies. ‘We are moving forward here at the White House under the assumption there will be a second Trump term,’ Navarro said on Fox Business, echoing a refrain from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the president’s most steadfast allies. Those remarks represent a sharp departure from the electoral reality that President-elect Joe Biden was the victor in last week’s presidential election, claiming at least 290 electoral votes and winning the popular vote by more than 5 million votes.”

Federal Prosecutors Push Back on Attorney General William Barr’s Memo on Voter Fraud Claims. The prosecutors, assigned to monitor this month’s elections, said they had found no evidence to back any ‘substantial allegations’ of voting irregularities. New York Times, Katie Benner and Adam Goldman, Friday, 13 November 2020: “Career Justice Department prosecutors pushed back this week against a memo by Attorney General William P. Barr that opened the door to politically charged election fraud investigations, saying in a pair of messages that Mr. Barr thrust the department into politics and falsely overstated the threat of voter fraud. The protests were the latest rebuke of Mr. Barr by his own employees, who have in recent months begun criticizing his leadership both privately and publicly. They argued that Mr. Barr has worked to advance President Trump’s interests by wielding the power of the department to shield his allies and attack his enemies. On Friday, 16 federal prosecutors across the country who were assigned to monitor elections for signs of fraud wrote to Mr. Barr that they had found no evidence of ‘substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities.’ They also asked him to rescind the memo, saying it thrust the department into partisan politics and was unnecessary because no one has identified any legitimate suspicions of mass voter fraud. The memo ‘is not based in fact,’ the monitors wrote. Issued Monday amid the president’s efforts to falsely claim widespread voter fraud, the memo allows prosecutors to investigate ‘substantial allegations’ of fraud before the results of the presidential race are certified, disregarding longstanding department policies intended to keep law enforcement investigations from affecting the outcome of an election.” See also, Federal prosecutors assigned to monitor election malfeasance tell Attorney General William Barr that they see no evidence of substantial irregularities, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky and Tom Hamburger, Friday, 13 November 2020: “Sixteen assistant U.S. attorneys specially assigned to monitor malfeasance in the 2020 election urged Attorney General William P. 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. In a letter — an image of which was shown to The Washington Post — the assistant U.S. attorneys told Barr that the release of his Monday memorandum — which changed long-standing Justice Department policy on the steps prosecutors can take before the results of an election are certified — ‘thrusts career prosecutors into partisan politics.'”

In Trump’s final days, a 30-year-old aide purges officials seen as insufficiently loyal to Trump, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Juliet Eilperin, John Hudson, and Lisa Rein, Friday, 13 November 2020: “Over the past week, President Trump has axed his defense secretary and other top Pentagon aides, his second-in-command at the U.S. Agency for International Development, two top Homeland Security officials, a senior climate scientist and the leader of the agency that safeguards nuclear weapons. Engineering much of the post-election purge is Johnny McEntee, a former college quarterback who was hustled out of the White House two years ago after a security clearance check turned up a prolific habit for online gambling. A staunch Trump loyalist, McEntee, 30, was welcomed back into the fold in February and installed as personnel director for the entire U.S. government. Since the race was called for President-elect Joe Biden, McEntee has been distributing pink slips, warning federal workers not to cooperate with the Biden transition and threatening to oust people who show disloyalty by job hunting while Trump is still refusing to acknowledge defeat, according to six administration officials.”

Once Loyal to Trump, Law Firms Pull Back From His Election Fight. Porter Wright withdrew from a federal lawsuit it had filed days earlier. A top Jones Day lawyer said the firm wouldn’t take on new election litigation. The New York Times, Rachel Abrams, David Enrich, and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Friday, 13 November 2020: “Law firms that have represented President Trump and his campaign are now distancing themselves from a quixotic effort by Mr. Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the election won by President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, the law firm leading the Trump campaign’s efforts to challenge the presidential election results in Pennsylvania, abruptly withdrew from a federal lawsuit that it had filed on behalf of the campaign. That followed a similar move by an Arizona law firm that was representing the Republican Party as it challenged that state’s results. And on Friday, a top lawyer at Jones Day, which has represented Mr. Trump’s campaigns for more than four years, told colleagues during a video conference call that Jones Day would not get involved in additional litigation in this election. The moves by the law firms are the latest blows to Mr. Trump’s efforts to use a barrage of litigation to challenge the integrity of the election results. Some lawyers at Porter Wright and Jones Day had become increasingly vocal about their concerns that the work their firms were doing was helping to legitimize the president’s arguments. One Porter Wright lawyer resigned in protest over the summer.”

Trump campaign drops Arizona lawsuit requesting review of ballots, CNN Politics, Kara Scannell, Friday, 13 November 2020: “Lawyers for the Trump campaign have dropped a lawsuit seeking a review of all ballots cast on Election Day after finding that the margin of victory for the presidential contest in Arizona could not be overcome.”

Trump Is Not Doing Well With His Election Lawsuits. Here’s a Rundown. The New York Times, Emily Bazelon, Friday, 13 November 2020: “It is difficult to overturn an American election result, as President Trump was reminded on Friday, when his campaign lost in courts in Michigan and Pennsylvania and dropped a challenge in Arizona. A losing candidate who is within striking distance — say a few hundred votes — might get lucky in a recount. Beyond that, he or she would need to show systemic fraud on a large scale. Mr. Trump has shown nothing like systemic fraud in any of the lawsuits, 16 and counting, that his campaign and allies have filed since Election Day as they seek to block certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the Electoral College. The allegations of fraud are a smattering of unverified accusations about the voting or counting process, usually directly affecting too few ballots to change a state’s results. Other lawsuits in the batch depend on the theory that differences among counties in verifying or including absentee ballots amount to a violation of a voter’s constitutional right to equal protection. Given how decentralized the voting system is in the United States, that argument has yet to get legal traction after this election.”

‘There’s damage to this’: Obama slams Republicans for lining up behind Trump’s fraud claims, Politico, Quint Forgey, Friday, 13 November 2020: “Former President Barack Obama said in a new interview that it ‘has been disappointing’ to see congressional Republicans remain supportive of President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and his refusal to concede the 2020 White House race to President-elect Joe Biden. ‘There’s damage to this,’ Obama said in an interview with ‘CBS Sunday Morning’ that is set to air in full this weekend. ‘Because what happens is that the peaceful transfer of power — the notion that any of us who attain an elected office, whether it’s dog catcher or president, are servants of the people, it’s a temporary job, we’re not above the rules, we’re not above the law — that’s the essence of our democracy.'”

In Unusually Political Speech, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Says Liberals Pose Threat to Liberties, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Friday, 13 November 2020: “In an unusually caustic and politically tinged speech, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. told a conservative legal group that liberals posed a growing threat to religious liberty and free speech. The remarks, made at the Federalist Society’s annual convention Thursday night, mirrored statements Justice Alito has made in his judicial opinions, which have lately been marked by bitterness and grievance even as the court has been moving to the right. While Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has tried to signal that the Supreme Court is apolitical, Justice Alito’s comments sent a different message.”

Trump Administration Plans to Auction Drilling Rights in the U.S. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Before Biden Takes Over, Bloomberg, Jennifer Dlouhy, Friday, 13 November 2020: “The Trump administration is advancing plans to auction drilling rights in the U.S. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who has vowed to block oil exploration in the rugged Alaska wilderness. The Interior Department is set to issue a formal ‘call for nominations’ as soon as Monday, kick-starting a final effort to get input on what tracts to auction inside the refuge’s 1.56-million-acre coastal plain. The plans were described by two people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named detailing administration strategy. Biden has pledged to permanently protect the refuge, saying drilling there would be a ‘big disaster.’ But those efforts could be complicated if the Trump administration sells drilling rights first. Formally issued oil and gas leases on federal land are government contracts that can’t be easily yanked.”

 

Saturday, 14 November 2020, Day 1,394:

 

Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Saturday, 14 November 2020: Doctors Call for More Restrictions and Caution as Virus Surges, The New York Times, Saturday, 14 November 2020:

  • Doctors plead with Americans to take the virus surge seriously.

  • About 1 in 323 Americans test positive in a week, as records fall and North Dakota issues restrictions.

  • A Texas court reverses El Paso’s coronavirus restrictions, and such legal challenges are expected elsewhere.

  • Two dozen infected residents have died in a coronavirus outbreak at a Kentucky veterans center.

  • The months ahead look ‘quite horrifying’ as U.S. deaths increase.

  • Trump drives by a largely unmasked rally of his supporters in D.C.

  • N.Y.C.’s positivity rate stays below 3 percent, leaving schools open.

  • Austria goes into a full lockdown, and other news from around the world.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Trump tunes out the coronavirus pandemic surge as he focuses on denying election loss, The Washington Post, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Philip Rucker, Saturday, 14 November 2020: “President Trump finally received some good news this past week: Amid spiking coronavirus cases nationwide — more than 100,000 new cases a day since Nov. 4, with deaths rising, too — pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced that its experimental coronavirus vaccine was more than 90 percent effective. But the president was furious. The news came six days after Election Day — too late to help Trump in his contest against President-elect Joe Biden — and he said both Pfizer and his own Food and Drug Administration had withheld the announcement to prevent delivering him the sort of pre-election public-relations victory that could have helped him in the polls. Instead of touting the vaccine success as a crowning achievement of his administration, as advisers encouraged, Trump barely mentioned it except to gripe on Twitter that ‘the Democrats didn’t want to have me get a Vaccine WIN, prior to the election.’ Since Election Day and for weeks prior, Trump has all but ceased to actively manage the deadly pandemic, which so far has killed at least 244,000 Americans, infected at least 10.9 million and choked the country’s economy. The president has not attended a coronavirus task force meeting in ‘at least five months,’ said one senior administration official with knowledge of the meetings who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share candid details.”

Highlights From the Transition: Trump, Refusing to Concede, Cheers On Supporters, The New York Times, Saturday, 14 November 2020:

  • Thousands rally in Washington as clashes erupt.

  • Biden campaigned on unity, but the deep divisions that animated Trump’s tenure don’t seem to be receding.

  • Biden implores Trump to confront a surging pandemic.

  • Twelve House races are still uncalled.

  • Biden’s transition teams suggest tougher Wall Street oversight.

  • Democrats in Georgia hope to defy a system designed to hobble them.

  • Newest Trump Pentagon chief calls for troop withdrawal.

Trump lost at the ballot box, His legal challenges aren’t going any better. The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Emma Brown, and Hannah Knowles, Saturday, 14 November 2020: “President Trump lost his reelection bid at the ballot box. But he said he could win it back in court. In five key states, Trump and his allies filed lawsuits that — according to Trump — would reveal widespread electoral fraud, undo President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, and give Trump another four years. ‘Biden did not win, he lost by a lot!’ Trump tweeted. It’s not going well. Rather than revealing widespread — or even isolated — fraud, the effort by Trump’s legal team has so far done the opposite: It’s affirmed the integrity of the election that Trump lost. Nearly every GOP challenge has been tossed out. Not a single vote has been overturned.”

 

Sunday, 15 November 2020, Day 1,395:

 

Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Sunday, 15 November 2020: U.S. Records 1 Million New Coronavirus Cases in a Week, The New York Times, Sunday, 15 November 2020:

  • The U.S. surpasses 11 million infections; Black and Latino Americans still shoulder an outsize share.

  • Michigan and Washington State reimpose tight restrictions.

  • Workers worry about losing wages as states take tough steps.

  • Boris Johnson, despite a past bout with the virus, is quarantining.

  • Trump’s coronavirus team is blocked from working with Biden’s — and that’s a problem, Fauci says.

  • New York City’s public schools remain open, for now.

  • Pandemic pressures are driving thousands of doctors and nurses out of the medical profession.

  • Mexico surpasses one million coronavirus cases, and other news from around the world.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Presidential Transition: As More Republicans Break With Trump, He Refuses to Budge.  Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s team will deploy ‘people, money, resources’ to Georgia, reflecting the high stakes of two Senate races. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has kept a low public profile since her acceptance speech last weekend. New York Times, Sunday, 15 November 2020:

  • More Republicans call for a smooth transition as Trump continues spreading baseless fraud claims.

  • As Trump continues to dwell on Election Day, Biden is looking ahead.

  • Biden may campaign in Georgia, reflecting the high stakes of two Senate contests.

  • Largely out of sight in Washington, Kamala Harris preps for the White House.

  • To reverse Trump’s immigration policies, Biden will need to overhaul Homeland Security.

  • Trump acknowledges Biden’s win, but quickly reverses, saying ‘I concede NOTHING!’

  • For a preview of President Biden, look to the campaign trail.

  • Anxious. Unsatisfied. Surprised. How voters in America’s most divided states feel after the election.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Trump campaign jettisons major parts of its legal challenge against Pennsylvania’s election results, The Washington Post, Jon Swaine and Elise Viebeck, Sunday, 15 November 2020: “President Trump’s campaign on Sunday scrapped a major part of its federal lawsuit challenging the election results in Pennsylvania. Trump’s attorneys filed a revised version of the lawsuit, removing allegations that election officials violated the Trump campaign’s constitutional rights by limiting the ability of their observers to watch votes being counted. Trump and Rudolph W. Giuliani, his personal attorney, have said repeatedly that more than 600,000 votes in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh should be invalidated because of this issue. Trump’s pared-down lawsuit now focuses on allegations that Republicans were illegally disadvantaged because some Democratic-leaning counties allowed voters to fix errors on their mail ballots. Counties have said this affected only a small number of votes. Cliff Levine, an attorney representing the Democratic Party in the case, said on Sunday evening that Trump’s move meant his lawsuit could not possibly change the result. ‘Now you’re only talking about a handful of ballots,’ Levine said. ‘They would have absolutely no impact on the total count or on Joe Biden’s win over Donald Trump.'”

‘I concede NOTHING!’ Trump says shortly after appearing to acknowledge Biden won the election, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Tom Hamburger, and Paulina Firozi, Sunday, 15 November 2020: “As Trump continued to falsely accuse Democrats of fraud, an influential Michigan Republican said Sunday that the certification of the state’s election results should not be delayed, in a move likely to further ramp up pressure on the president. ‘He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA,’ Trump said of Biden in a morning tweet, providing no evidence to back up his claim. ‘I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!’ The president’s declaration comes as he and his administration continue to impede the transition. It follows an earlier Sunday morning tweet in which he appeared — if inadvertently — to acknowledge Biden’s win. ‘He won because the Election was Rigged,’ Trump said in the tweet. ‘NO VOTE WATCHERS OR OBSERVERS allowed, vote tabulated by a Radical Left privately owned company, Dominion, with a bad reputation & bum equipment that couldn’t even qualify for Texas (which I won by a lot!), the Fake & Silent Media, & more!’ As with his other accusations, Trump did not provide any evidence, and Twitter quickly flagged the tweet, noting that his ‘claim of election fraud is disputed.'”

Trump, Trying to Cling to Power, Fans Unrest and Conspiracy Theories. The president’s refusal to concede has entered a more dangerous phase as he blocks his successor’s transition, withholding intelligence briefings, pandemic information and access to the government. New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Sunday, 15 November 2020: “President Trump’s refusal to concede the election has entered a more dangerous phase as he stokes resistance and unrest among his supporters and spreads falsehoods aimed at undermining the integrity of the American voting system. More than a week after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. was declared the winner, Mr. Trump continues to block his successor’s transition, withholding intelligence briefings, critical information about the coronavirus pandemic and access to the vast machinery of government that Mr. Biden will soon oversee. Some former top advisers to Mr. Trump have said that his refusal to cooperate is reckless and unwise. John F. Kelly, Mr. Trump’s former chief of staff, called it ‘crazy’ on Friday. John R. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser who wrote a scathing memoir about his time in the administration, said the refusal ‘harms the country.'”

New York City’s Watchdog Agency Accused NYC Police Officers of Serious Misconduct. Few Were Punished. An analysis by The New York Times found that the N.Y.P.D. has reduced or rejected recommendations for stiff discipline of officers in about 71 percent of 6,900 serious misconduct charges. New York Times, Ashley Southall, Ali Watkins, and Blacki Migliozzi, Sunday, 15 November 2020: “One New York City police officer was accused of pepper-spraying a woman, then denying her medical treatment while she was handcuffed in a Bronx holding cell. Another officer slammed a 51-year-old man who had been arguing with some restaurant workers onto the floor, knocking him unconscious, the man said. A third officer was accused of tackling a gay man during a pride parade and using a homophobic slur. The city’s independent oversight agency that investigates police misconduct found enough evidence in all three cases to conclude that the officers should face the most severe discipline available, including suspension or dismissal from the force. But in the end, senior police officials downgraded or outright rejected those charges, and the officers were given lesser punishments or none at all — the kind of routine outcome that has left the Police Department facing a crisis of trust in its ability to discipline its own.”

Federal judge says new DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) rules are invalid, CNN Politics, Dan Berman, Priscilla Alvarez, and Geneva Sands, Sunday, 15 November 2020: “Chad Wolf was not legally serving as acting Homeland Security secretary when he signed rules limiting applications and renewals for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and those rules are now invalid, a federal judge ruled Saturday. Wolf in July issued a memo saying that new applications for DACA, the Obama-era program that shields undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation, would not be accepted and renewals would be limited to one year instead of two amid an ongoing review. The ruling is another defeat for the Trump administration, which is now unlikely to be able to address DACA and the fate of Dreamers. The administration tried ending the program in 2017, but the US Supreme Court blocked their attempt in June. The memo invalidated on Saturday had sought to buy time while the administration decided its next steps. The President has been successful in achieving many immigration limits, but has not been able to significantly dismantle DACA, the now eight-year-old program.”

 

Monday, 16 November 2020, Day 1,369:

 

Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Monday, 16 November 2020: California Issues Tough Restrictions and Iowa Mandates Masks as States Try to Tame Virus, The New York Times, Monday, 16 November 2020:

  • California is reinstating broad restrictions and Iowa is mandating masks.

  • ‘More people may die,’ Biden says, as Trump delays transition.

  • Michigan’s governor calls Trump adviser’s tweet ‘incredibly reckless’ as she faces a backlash over virus rules.

  • Moderna’s vaccine is 94.5% effective, early data shows.

  • Boris Johnson is stalled under quarantine at home.

  • Don Young, the oldest member of the House, tweets that he ‘is alive’ after being hospitalized for the virus.

  • The N.C.A.A. will hold men’s basketball tournament in just one city in 2021, citing pandemic concerns.

  • The Navajo Nation reinstates a stay-at-home order for three weeks.

  • Philadelphia announces a ban on indoor gatherings and dining, and youth sports.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, 16 November 2020: California, slamming emergency brake on reopening, is latest state to ramp up restrictions, The Washington Post, Meryl Kornfield, Kim Bellware, Carolyn Y. Johnson, Antonia Noori Farzan, Adam Taylor, Hannah Denham, Brittany Shammas, Ruby Mellen, and Darren Sands, Monday, 16 November 2020: “California is slamming the emergency brake on reopening, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said Monday, making it the latest state to ramp up restrictions again as it experiences the sharpest increase in coronavirus infections yet. The news came as the biotechnology company Moderna said its experimental coronavirus vaccine is nearly 95 percent effective, according to initial results. Last week, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, lifted the stock market and people’s hopes with the news that their coronavirus vaccine was more than 90 percent effective.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

Early Data Show Moderna’s Coronavirus Vaccine Is 94% Effective, The New York Times, Denise Grady, Monday, 16 November 2020: “The drugmaker Moderna announced on Monday that its coronavirus vaccine was 94.5 percent effective, joining Pfizer as a front-runner in the global race to contain a raging pandemic that has killed 1.2 million people worldwide. Both companies plan to apply within weeks to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization to begin vaccinating the public. Officials said the two companies could produce enough vaccine for a little more than 20 million people in the United States by sometime in December, with the first doses going to people with the highest risk, like health care workers, emergency medical workers and frail residents of nursing homes. But a vaccine that would be widely available to the public is still months away, while the need for one is becoming increasingly urgent.”

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer says Scott Atlas’ call for Michiganders to ‘rise up’ against Covid restrictions stunned her, Politico, Quint Forgey, Monday, 16 November 2020: “Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday that she was stunned by a call from one of President Donald Trump’s top coronavirus advisers for people in her state to ‘rise up’ against new restrictions aimed at slowing the disease’s deadly surge. ‘It actually took my breath away, to tell you the truth,’ Whitmer told MSNBC’s Morning Joe, referring to a tweet posted over the weekend by Scott Atlas, whose skepticism toward Covid-19 mitigation strategies has been the subject of widespread criticism. After Whitmer announced Sunday a three-week pause on indoor dining, in-person learning and several other activities, Atlas wrote: ‘The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept. #FreedomMatters #StepUp.'” See also, Dr. Scott Atlas is under fire for telling Michigan to ‘rise up against COVID-19 restrictions. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer called his comment ‘incredibly reckless.’ ABC News, Libby Cathey, Monday, 16 November 2020: “Dr. Scott Atlas, a controversial member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, is facing heavy criticism after telling Michiganders to ‘rise up’ against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s new COVID-19 restrictions imposed as new cases surge in the state. Whitmer has denounced Atlas’ call to action, in a call with Michigan Capitol reporters Monday morning, slamming it as ‘incredibly reckless, considering everything that has happened, everything that is going on.’ Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases, told NBC’s ‘Today’ program Monday he ‘totally disagrees’ with Atlas, and Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, called the comment ‘particularly irresponsible,’ noting the death threats officials say Whitmer has faced.”

Trump’s failure to work with Biden is becoming more urgent as Covid spreads, CNN Politics, Stephen Collinson, Monday, 16 November 2020: “President Donald Trump is facing a barrage of calls to permit potentially life-saving transition talks between his health officials and incoming President-elect Joe Biden’s aides on a fast-worsening pandemic he is continuing to ignore in his obsessive effort to discredit an election that he clearly lost. The increasingly urgent pleas are coming from inside his administration, the President-elect’s team and independent public health experts as Covid-19 cases rage out of control countrywide, claiming more than 1,000 US lives a day. More than 246,000 Americans have now died from the disease, and a bitter winter lies ahead even amid encouraging news such as Monday’s announcement that a vaccine developed by Moderna is demonstrating a high success rate in early clinical trials, the second such positive vaccine news in about a week. But instead of listening or mobilizing to tackle what some medical experts warn is becoming a ‘humanitarian’ crisis, Trump spent the weekend during which the US passed 11 million infections amplifying lies and misinformation about his election loss. At one point, he appeared to acknowledge Sunday in a tweet that Biden won, before backtracking with a stream of defiance on Twitter. This came as the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said on CNN’s State of the Union’ Sunday that ‘of course it would be better if we could start working with’ the Biden team that will take office on January 20.”

Biden pressures Trump to cooperate, citing risk of additional coronavirus deaths if handoff is delayed, The Washington Post, Matt Viser, Monday, 16 November 2020: “President-elect Joe Biden on Monday ratcheted up pressure on the Trump administration to engage in a transition of power, mincing no words on the dire consequences if his incoming team faces further delays in working with federal agencies. ‘More people may die if we don’t coordinate,’ Biden said during a news conference in Wilmington, Del., following remarks on the economic impact of the coronavirus in which he warned of a ‘very dark winter’ where ‘things are going to get much tougher before they get easier.’ He also pointed out the absurdity that Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), the vice president-elect, still has access to classified intelligence briefings because she is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. But Biden himself is not able to get those briefings because Trump’s administration has yet to acknowledge that Biden won the election.”

Presidential Transition: Biden Plans to Announce Key White House Positions on Tuesday. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. delivered remarks on the struggling economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. He is retaining his lead over President Trump in Georgia as a hand recount there continues. The New York Times, Monday, 16 November 2020:

  • Biden will announce key members of his administration on Tuesday.

  • Speaking on the economy, Biden says ‘we can deliver immediate relief’ and calls on Congress to act quickly.

  • Lindsey Graham suggested invalidating legally-cast mail ballots, Georgia secretary of state says.

  • Michelle Obama, who helped Melania Trump in 2016, criticizes the Trumps for hindering Biden’s transition.

  • Republicans drop election suits in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

  • Biden was asked about canceling student loan debt. Progressives saw an opening.

  • Trump has until Wednesday to request a recount in Wisconsin. It would cost him $7.9 million.

  • Robert O’Brien says the National Security Council will have ‘a very professional transition.’

  • With Georgia’s recount two-thirds done, local officials report no meaningful changes in results.

  • A Biden adviser, Dr. Céline Gounder, talks about the incoming president’s plans to attack Covid.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Trump national security adviser Robert O’Brien says it looks like Biden has won the election, ABC News, Ken Dilanian, Monday, 16 November 2020: “President Donald Trump’s National Security Council is preparing for ‘a very professional transition,’ because it looks like Joe Biden has won the election, national security adviser Robert O’Brien said in comments that aired Monday. His remarks stood in stark contrast to those of the president, who tweeted falsely just before midnight Sunday, ‘I WON THE ELECTION,’ as he continued to make baseless claims of widespread fraud. Twitter put a warning label on the tweet, noting that ‘official sources have called this election differently.'” See also, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien Says It Looks Like Biden Has Won the Election, NPR, Philip Ewing, Monday, 16 November 2020: “National security adviser Robert O’Brien promised a ‘professional transition’ with the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden, partly diverging from the mode in use by President Trump, who says he contests the election. ‘If the Biden-Harris ticket is determined to be the winner — and, obviously, things look that way now — we’ll have a very professional transition with the National Security Council, no doubt about it,” O’Brien said. His remarks, which were made last week, were streamed online Monday by the Soufan Center’s Global Security Forum.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says fellow Republicans are pressuring him to find ways to exclude ballots, The Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Monday, 16 November 2020: “Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Monday that he has come under increasing pressure in recent days from fellow Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), who he said questioned the validity of legally cast absentee ballots, in an effort to reverse President Trump’s narrow loss in the state. In a wide-ranging interview about the election, Raffensperger expressed exasperation over a string of baseless allegations coming from Trump and his allies about the integrity of the Georgia results, including claims that Dominion Voting Systems, the Colorado-based manufacturer of Georgia’s voting machines, is a ‘leftist’ company with ties to Venezuela that engineered thousands of Trump votes to be left out of the count…. The pressure on Raffensperger, who has bucked his party in defending the state’s voting process, comes as Georgia is in the midst of a laborious hand recount of about 5 million ballots. President-elect Joe Biden has a 14,000-vote lead in the initial count. The normally mild-mannered Raffensperger saved his harshest language for Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R-Ga.), who is leading the president’s efforts in Georgia and whom Raffensperger called a ‘liar’ and a ‘charlatan.'”

Legal Experts Say Lindsey Graham Should Be Investigated for Allegedly Pressuring the Georgia Secretary of State to Throw Out Thousands of Legally Cast Mail Ballots, The New Civil Rights Movement, David Badash, Monday, 16 November 2020: “Marc Elias, a top attorney for the Democratic Party who has spent decades defending voting rights, is calling on the Ethics Committee to investigate Senator Lindsey Graham. The Georgia Secretary of State in a Monday interview with The Washington Post accused Graham of pressuring him to throw out what would be thousands of ballots from certain counties. ‘This is both outrageous and should be investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee,’ Elias said via Twitter, in response to Washington Post National political reporter Amy Gardner’s reporting.”

Trump digs in on baseless election claims even as legal options dwindle, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey, Amy Gardner, and Jon Swaine, Monday, 16 November 2020: “President Trump began his third straight week of angry defiance of the election results, brooding behind the scenes about the state of his campaign’s legal challenges and of Georgia’s hand recount while refusing the pleas of some advisers to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. Despite mounting legal losses in courts and a retreat by his attorneys in a federal case filed against Pennsylvania election officials, Trump dug in on his false claim that he ‘won’ the election.”

Trump officials rush to auction off rights to Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before Biden can block it, The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, Monday, 16 November 2020: “The Trump administration is asking oil and gas firms to pick spots where they want to drill in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as it races to open the pristine wilderness to development and lock in drilling rights before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. The ‘call for nominations’ to be published Tuesday in the Federal Register allows companies to identify tracts on which to bid during an upcoming lease sale on the refuge’s nearly 1.6 million-acre coastal plain, a sale that the Interior Department aims to hold before Biden takes the oath of office in January. The move would be a capstone of President Trump’s efforts to open up public lands to logging, mining and grazing, which Biden strongly opposes.” See also, Trump Administration, in Late Push, Moves to Sell Oil Rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, The New York Times, Henry Fountain, Monday, 16 November 2020: “The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would begin the formal process of selling leases to oil companies in a last-minute push to achieve its long-sought goal of allowing oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. That sets up a potential sale of leases just before Jan. 20, Inauguration Day, leaving the new administration of Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has opposed drilling in the refuge, to try to reverse them after the fact…. The Arctic refuge is one of the last vast expanses of wilderness in the United States, 19 million acres that for the most part are untouched by people, home instead to wandering herds of caribou, polar bears and migrating waterfowl. It has long been prized, and protected, by environmentalists, but President Trump has boasted that opening part of it to oil development was among the most significant of his efforts to expand domestic fossil fuel production.”

Trump Sought Options for Attacking Iran to Stop Its Growing Nuclear Program. The president was dissuaded from moving ahead with a strike by advisers who warned that it could escalate into a broader conflict in his last weeks in office. The New York Times, Eric Schmitt, Maggie Haberman, David E. Sanger, Helene Cooper, and Lara Jakes, Monday, 16 November 2020: “President Trump asked senior advisers in an Oval Office meeting on Thursday whether he had options to take action against Iran’s main nuclear site in the coming weeks. The meeting occurred a day after international inspectors reported a significant increase in the country’s stockpile of nuclear material, four current and former U.S. officials said on Monday. A range of senior advisers dissuaded the president from moving ahead with a military strike. The advisers — including Vice President Mike Pence; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; Christopher C. Miller, the acting defense secretary; and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — warned that a strike against Iran’s facilities could easily escalate into a broader conflict in the last weeks of Mr. Trump’s presidency. Any strike — whether by missile or cyber — would almost certainly be focused on Natanz, where the International Atomic Energy Agency reported on Wednesday that Iran’s uranium stockpile was now 12 times larger than permitted under the nuclear accord that Mr. Trump abandoned in 2018. The agency also noted that Iran had not allowed it access to another suspected site where there was evidence of past nuclear activity.”

 

Tuesday, 17 November 2020, Day 1,397:

 

Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Tuesday, 17 November 2020: Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) Authorizes the First At-Home Coronavirus Test. States are taking a piecemeal approach to controlling the surging virus, as Fauci says the United States needs a uniform approach. The New York Times, Tuesday, 17 November 2020:

  • F.D.A. authorizes the first at-home coronavirus test.

  • As American states try to contain the virus, their approach is far from united.

  • Chuck Grassley, the oldest Senate Republican, tests positive for the virus.

  • Fauci calls for a ‘uniform approach’ rather than a ‘disjointed’ state-by-state pandemic response.

  • A new study shows that coronavirus immunity may last longer than previously thought.

  • Colleges are eliminating spring break from their calendars.

  • A Washington State wedding that had 10 times the allowable number of guests has led to 3 outbreaks.

  • Chicago plans to bring youngest students back into classrooms starting in January.

  • Poll suggests Americans are more willing to be vaccinated.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, 17 November 2020: Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes first coronavirus test users can use at home, The Washington Post, Meryl Kornfield, Reis Thebault, Jennifer Hassan, Kim Bellware, Brittany Shammas, Siobhán O’Grady, Hannah Denham, and John Wagner, Tuesday, 17 November 2020: “The Food and Drug Administration authorized Tuesday the first rapid coronavirus test that users can take at home and get their results within minutes, a significant development as companies race to get an accurate, consumer-friendly diagnostic test to market. The move comes as state leaders from both parties have stepped up restrictions and implemented new mask mandates, attempting to beat back a pandemic that has driven death rates to highs not seen since the summer.

Here are a few significant developments included in this article.

  • Officials in Ohio and Los Angeles County, the most populous in the United States, said they would implement a host of new restrictions — including a curfew.
  • Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the chamber’s longest-serving Republican, tested positive for the coronavirus, his office announced Tuesday. The 87-year-old said he will quarantine at home.
  • What you need to know about the Moderna and Pfizer coronavirus vaccines.
  • More than 11.3 million coronavirus cases and at least 247,000 fatalities have been reported in the United States since February.

Immunity to the Coronavirus May Last Years, New Data Hint. Blood samples from recovered patients suggest a powerful, long-lasting immune response, researchers reported. The New York Times, Apoorva Mandavilli, Tuesday, 17 November 2020: “How long might immunity to the coronavirus last? Years, maybe even decades, according to a new study — the most hopeful answer yet to a question that has shadowed plans for widespread vaccination. Eight months after infection, most people who have recovered still have enough immune cells to fend off the virus and prevent illness, the new data show. A slow rate of decline in the short term suggests, happily, that these cells may persist in the body for a very, very long time to come. The research, published online, has not been peer-reviewed nor published in a scientific journal. But it is the most comprehensive and long-ranging study of immune memory to the coronavirus to date.”

Leading medical groups urge Trump to share Covid Data with Biden to ‘save countless lives,’ NBC News, Geoff Bennett, Kristen Welker, Dareh Gregorian, and Rebecca Shabad, Tuesday, 17 November 2020: “Top officials from organizations representing American hospitals, doctors and nurses are calling on President Donald Trump to share critical Covid-19 data with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team ‘as soon as possible’ to ‘save countless lives.’ In a letter released Tuesday, the CEOs of the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association urged the Trump administration to ‘work closely with the Biden transition team to share all critical information related to Covid-19. Real-time data and information on the supply of therapeutics, testing supplies, personal protective equipment, ventilators, hospital bed capacity and workforce availability to plan for further deployment of the nation’s assets needs to be shared to save countless lives,’ they wrote in the letter. ‘All information about the capacity of the Strategic National Stockpile, the assets from Operation Warp Speed, and plans for dissemination of therapeutics and vaccines needs to be shared as quickly as possible to ensure that there is continuity in strategic planning so that there is no lapse in our ability to care for patients.'”

Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, third in line for the presidency, tests positive for coronavirus, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz and Mike DeBonis, Tuesday, 17 November 2020: “Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the president pro tempore of the Senate, which makes him the third in line of succession to the presidency, revealed Tuesday that he has contracted the coronavirus. ‘I’ve tested positive for coronavirus,’ he tweeted. ‘I’ll be following my doctors’ orders/CDC guidelines & continue to quarantine. I’m feeling good + will keep up on my work for the ppl of Iowa from home. I appreciate everyone’s well wishes + prayers &look fwd to resuming my normal schedule soon.’ Grassley (R-Iowa), 87, announced earlier in the day that he would be quarantining after finding out he had been exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus.”

Presidential Transition: Trump Fires Christopher Krebs, the Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Who Disputed His Baseless Claims of Election Fraud. Christopher Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, had called the election “the most secure in American history.” Republican members of an elections board in Wayne County, Mich., changed course after initially refusing to certify results. The New York Times, Tuesday, 17 November 2020:

  • Trump fires Christopher Krebs, official who disputed his election fraud claims.

  • A Michigan county certifies its election results, with Republicans changing course after accusations of partisanship.

  • Biden’s Covid advisers say that by blocking the transition, Trump may hold up vaccine distribution.

  • Former national security officials brief Biden as Trump continues to block access to classified intelligence.

  • The payment Giuliani is said to have requested from Trump could make him one of the most highly paid lawyers anywhere.

  • Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court handed the Trump legal team another loss as they were arguing a separate case.

  • Judy Shelton’s confirmation to the Fed fails to advance to a final vote.

  • On the Senate floor, Republicans who haven’t publicly acknowledged Trump’s loss congratulate Harris.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Election 2020: Trump fires top election security official; Biden names senior staff, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, and John Wagner, Tuesday, 17 November 2020: “President Trump on Tuesday said in a tweet that Chris Krebs, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency director, has been terminated. The president, who has continued to refuse to accept that he lost the election, said a recent statement by Krebs, in which he called the Nov. 3 election ‘the most secure in American history,’ was ‘highly inaccurate.’ There is no evidence to back Trump’s claims. President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday announced the hiring of nine senior White House officials, including close confidants from his winning campaign, as he forged ahead with his transition.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

In reversal, Republican officials in key Michigan county certify ballot count after striking a compromise with Democrats, The Washington Post, Kayla Ruble, Elise Viebeck, Josh Dawsey, and Jon Swaine, Tuesday, 17 November 2020: ‘Republican appointees on a key board in Michigan’s most populous county Tuesday night reversed their initial refusal to certify the vote tallies in the Detroit area, striking a last-minute compromise with Democrats that defused a political fight over the process to formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state. The unexpected twist came after the four-member Wayne County Board of Canvassers had deadlocked on the day of the deadline for Michigan counties to certify the vote — a move President Trump celebrated on Twitter as ‘a beautiful thing.’ The Trump campaign has alleged irregularities in the vote count in the county seat of Detroit, accusations city officials have vigorously denied. Democrats accused GOP officials of seeking to disenfranchise voters in the majority-Black city of Detroit. State Democrats say Trump has no hope of overturning Biden’s 148,000-vote lead.” See also, How Trump tried to steal Michigan, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, published on Wednesday, 18 November 2020. See also, Michigan Republicans Backtrack After Refusing to Certify Election Results, The New York Times, Kathleen Gray, Jim Rutenberg and Nick Corasaniti, Tuesday, 17 November 2020: “Republican members of a key Michigan elections board refused on Tuesday to certify Detroit’s election results in a nakedly partisan effort to hold up Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory over President Trump — only to reverse themselves after an outcry from the city’s voters and state officials. The initial deadlock and pressure-packed turnaround capped a chaotic day of repeated Republican misfires in the party’s attempt to undermine the election results. Republicans lost a case before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and faced a skeptical reception in a separate hearing in federal court in Pennsylvania, and an audit in Georgia confirmed there was no foul play with voting machines. The Republican gambit in Detroit was among the starkest examples of how previously routine aspects of the nation’s voting system have been tainted by Mr. Trump’s effort to challenge his defeat, and he appeared to revel in the night’s chaos with celebratory tweets attacking Detroit even after the deadlock ended. But the reversal by the elections board in Wayne County — which is home to Detroit — showed the limits of what has been, in essence, an effort to disenfranchise large numbers of Americans. The board’s G.O.P. members certified the results only after voters there angrily accused the Republicans of trying to steal their votes.” See also, When Michigan Republicans Refused to Certify Votes, It Wasn’t Normal, The New York Times, Maggie Astor, Wednesday, 18 November 2020: “For a few hours on Tuesday, it looked as though two Republican officials in Wayne County, Mich., might reject the will of hundreds of thousands of voters. President Trump’s campaign cheered them on. But hundreds of Michiganders logged on to a Zoom call to express their fury. And around 9 p.m., the Republicans reversed themselves, certifying the count. Voters in Michigan and beyond were left wondering: What just happened? Could the results of a free election really be blocked that easily, in such a routine part of the electoral process? In this case, the answer was no, but perhaps only because so many people said so.”

Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejects Trump campaign lawsuit over election observers in Philadelphia, NBC News, Pete Williams, Tuesday, 17 November 2020: “The Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out one of the Trump campaign’s longest-running post-election complaints Tuesday, ruling that officials in Philadelphia did not violate state law by maintaining at least 15 feet of separation between observers and the workers counting ballots. The ruling is likely to undercut the Trump campaign’s case in federal court, where Rudy Giuliani joined a hearing Tuesday afternoon to argue on behalf of President Donald Trump’s effort to contest the election results in Pennsylvania. Republican observers said they were kept so far back, behind a waist-high fence, that they couldn’t see any of the details on ballot envelopes or reach any conclusions about whether vote counting procedures were correctly followed. The Trump campaign sued, and a state appeals court said the observers were not given enough access. It ordered the county to move the fence closer to the counting tables. But the state Supreme Court reversed that ruling by a vote of 5-2. It said Pennsylvania law requires only that observers must be allowed ‘in the room’ where ballots are counted but does not set a minimum distance between them and the counting tables. The Legislature left it up to county election boards to make these decisions, the court said.”

Firing Christopher Krebs Crosses a Line, Even for Trump. Trump dismissed the widely respected cybersecurity agency director Tuesday night for pushing back against election disinformation. Wired, Garrett M. Graff, Tuesday, 17 November 2020: “Within minutes of Donald Trump tweeting that he had fired Christopher Krebs as the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency Tuesday night, Twitter slapped on a warning label that the accompanying claim about electoral fraud ‘is disputed.’ The disinformation warning was, in some ways, a fitting denouement to a two-week-long battle between Krebs, the head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and his boss in the Oval Office. Ultimately, Krebs’ mission to protect and defend the November election collided with the president’s refusal to accept its results. The firing of Krebs marks perhaps the most upsetting moment for democracy since the president’s refusal to accept his election loss two weeks ago. Trump has since spread disinformation wildly and has prevented the government bureaucracy from beginning a normal, peaceful transition. His increasingly quixotic legal battle has seen over a dozen courtroom losses across multiple states. Krebs did nothing more than tell the truths that Trump is trying to ignore; he was fired for almost literally pointing out that the emperor has no clothes.” See also, The most significant rebukes of Trump’s voter fraud claims, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Tuesday, 17 November 2020. See also, Trump Fires Christopher Krebs, Official Who Disputed Election Fraud Claims. Mr. Krebs had overseen election cybersecurity efforts, and had joined other officials in declaring the 2020 election “the most secure in American history.” The New York Times, David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth, Tuesday, 17 November 2020: “President Trump on Tuesday night fired his administration’s most senior cybersecurity official responsible for securing the presidential election, Christopher Krebs, who had systematically disputed Mr. Trump’s false declarations in recent days that the presidency was stolen from him through fraudulent ballots and software glitches that changed millions of votes. The announcement came via Twitter, the same way Mr. Trump fired his defense secretary a week ago and has dismissed other officials throughout his presidency. Mr. Trump seemed set off by a statement released by the Department of Homeland Security late last week, the product of a broad committee overseeing the elections, that declared the 2020 election ‘the most secure in American history.'”

Trump’s day on Twitter: Living in an immaterial world, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, Tuesday, 17 November 2020: “President Trump did not appear in public Monday. But the pixels of his Twitter feed continued to live in a world of alternative reality. Here’s a quick guide to a day of false or misleading tweets about the reelection campaign that the president lost, most of which were flagged by Twitter. (Thus we will not provide links.)”

Biden’s first staff appointments include five women and four people of color, The Guardian, David Smith and Daniel Strauss, Tuesday, 17 November 2020: “Joe Biden, the US president-elect, made another sharp break from Donald Trump on Tuesday by naming a White House senior staff that ‘looks like America,’ including several women and people of colour. Trump has been criticised for running the most white and male administration since Ronald Reagan. There are currently four women and 19 men in cabinet or cabinet-level positions. Picks for the federal judiciary are also dominated by white men. But Biden and Kamala Harris, who will be the first female and first Black vice-president, have promised to build a team to reflect shifting demographics. Tuesday’s first wave of appointments included five women and four people of colour.” See also, Biden builds out White House senior staff with top campaign advisers, CNN Politics, Eric Bradner, Tuesday, November 17 2020.

As Trump’s term nears close, administration announces troop level cuts in Afghanistan and Iraq, The Washington Post, Dan Lamothe and Missy Ryan, Tuesday, 17 November 2020: “The U.S. military will halve the number of troops it has in Afghanistan within the next two months, Pentagon officials said Tuesday, as President Trump seeks to move closer to keeping a promise to end wars abroad despite concerns that the decision could undermine negotiations with the Taliban. Pentagon officials also said they would make smaller cuts in Iraq, where U.S. forces have focused on countering the Islamic State.”

Trump Plan to Sell Arctic Oil Leases Will Face Challenges. If lease sales happen in the final days of the Trump administration, they may face disputes in court or could be reversed by the Biden administration. The New York Times, Henry Fountain and John Schwartz, Tuesday, 17 November 2020: “Even if in its waning days the Trump administration succeeds in selling oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, the leases may never be issued, legal and other experts said Tuesday. The leases would face strong and likely insurmountable headwinds from two directions: the incoming Biden administration and the courts, they said. Under new leadership, several federal agencies could reject the leases, which even if purchased at an auction a few days before Inauguration Day would be subject to review, a process that usually takes several months. Mr. Biden vowed during the campaign to oppose oil and gas development in the refuge, a vast expanse of virtually untouched land in northeast Alaska that is home to polar bears, caribou and other wildlife.”

 

Wednesday, 18 November 2020, Day 1,398:

 

Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Wednesday, 18 November 2020: The Coronavirus Has Now Killed 250,000 People in the U.S. New York City public schools are shutting their doors again. And the C.D.C. has deleted a disputed document it posted this summer to support President Trump’s push to reopen classrooms. The New York Times, Wednesday, 18 November 2020:

  • A quarter of a million people have died in the U.S. from Covid-19.

  • New York City, in a major setback, is closing its public schools amid rising virus cases.

  • The C.D.C. has withdrawn its most contentious school reopening document.

  • The F.D.A. authorizes the first at-home coronavirus test.

  • The Mayo Clinic is strained by hundreds of virus infections among its medical staff.

  • As daily deaths top 1,900, a patchwork of local responses hampers the U.S. response.

  • Minnesota cracks down on businesses and socializing to combat the virus.

  • Jordan, once a model of virus control, is now a hot spot.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday, 18 November 2020: Hospitalizations set new record as U.S. toll nears 250,000, The Washington Post, Reis Thebault, Meryl Kornfield, William Wan, Antonia Noori Farzan, Siobhán O’Grady, Paulina Villegas, Lateshia Beachum, and Hannah Denham, Wednesday, 18 November 2020: “With the death toll in the United States nearing a quarter million, several foreboding figures pointed at a pandemic with no end in sight. On Wednesday, covid-19 killed nearly 1,900 people — the highest number of fatalities reported in a single day since the first week of May, during some of the pandemic’s darkest days. And on the same day, the country set a record for the number of virus patients hospitalized, a number that has more than doubled in the last month.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Tops 250,000, The Wall Street Journal, Wednesday, 18 November 2020:

The pandemic’s current record-setting surge in the U.S. has been more intense and accelerated more quickly than some health experts or government officials expected. The number of newly reported Covid-19 cases climbed to nearly 162,000 Tuesday, hospitalizations set yet another record and deaths surpassed 250,000. To try to curb the spread, more states and municipalities are once again imposing a patchwork of new restrictions. Front-line workers told President-elect Joe Biden that a lack of government coordination added to anxieties about exposure to the virus and limited personal protective equipment. World-wide, more than 56 million people have been infected and more than 1.3 million have died, according to Johns Hopkins data.”

New Pfizer Results: Coronavirus Vaccine Is Safe and 95% Effective, The New York Times, Katie Thomas, 18 November 2020: “The drug maker Pfizer said on Wednesday that its coronavirus vaccine was 95 percent effective and had no serious side effects — the first set of complete results from a late-stage vaccine trial as Covid-19 cases skyrocket around the globe. The data showed that the vaccine prevented mild and severe forms of Covid-19, the company said. And it was 94 percent effective in older adults, who are more vulnerable to developing severe Covid-19 and who do not respond strongly to some types of vaccines. Pfizer, which developed the vaccine with its partner BioNTech, said the companies planned to apply to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization ‘within days,’ raising hopes that a working vaccine could soon become a reality. The trial results — less than a year after researchers began working on the vaccine — shattered all speed records for vaccine development, a process that usually takes years.” See also, Pfizer says its coronavirus vaccine is safe and 95% effective and that it will seek emergency authorization within days, The Washington Post, Carolyn Y. Johnson and Laurie McGinley, Wednesday, 18 November 2020: “Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said Wednesday it will seek emergency authorization for its coronavirus vaccine within days, after reporting that its latest analysis showed the vaccine is 95 percent effective at preventing illness and causes no major safety problems. The experimental vaccine, which Pfizer developed with German biotechnology firm BioNTech, had already shown promise in a preliminary analysis announced last week, but the trial sped to completion faster than anticipated because of a spike in coronavirus cases. The new data showed that the vaccine was 94 percent effective among people over 65, a group at high risk of serious illness, and prevented severe as well as mild cases.”

States That Imposed Few Restrictions Now Have the Worst Outbreaks, The New York Times, Lauren Leatherby and Rich Harris, Wednesday, 18 November 2020: “Coronavirus cases are rising in almost every U.S. state. But the surge is worst now in places where leaders neglected to keep up forceful virus containment efforts or failed to implement basic measures like mask mandates in the first place, according to a New York Times analysis of data from the University of Oxford. Using an index that tracks policy responses to the pandemic, these charts show the number of new virus cases and hospitalizations in each state relative to the state’s recent containment measures.”

Federal Judge Halts ‘Public Health’ Expulsions of Children at the Border. A federal judge ruled Wednesday that a public health emergency decree did not give the Trump administration authority to expel unaccompanied children before they could request asylum. New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Wednesday, 18 November 2020: “A federal judge on Wednesday blocked President Trump’s policy of turning away migrant children at the border as public health risks, ruling that the expulsion of thousands of children without due process exceeded the authority that public health emergency decrees confer. The Trump administration has since March used an emergency decree from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to effectively seal the border to migrants, rapidly returning them to Mexico or Central America without allowing immigration authorities to hear their claims for asylum. Top homeland security officials have cited the potential spread of the coronavirus that could come from detaining asylum seekers in border facilities. But Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, an appointee of President Bill Clinton’s, said that while the emergency rule allows the authorities to prevent the ‘introduction’ of foreigners into the United States, it did not give border authorities the ability turn away children who would normally be placed in shelters and provided an opportunity to have a claim for refuge heard. The order applies across the country. Lee Gelernt, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, one of four organizations that brought the class-action lawsuit, praised the decision.”

Presidential Transition: Georgia Nears Its Recount Deadline, With Biden Ahead by Over 12,000 Votes. Republicans in Michigan faced accusations of racism after refusing to certify results in Wayne County, which includes Detroit, a majority-Black city. A Jewish group denounced the White House’s pick for a federal preservation commission. The New York Times, Wednesday, 18 November 2020:

  • Georgia’s nearly finished recount finds Biden ahead by over 12,000 votes with newfound ballots in.

  • G.O.P. faces outcry in Michigan after refusing to certify vote: ‘You could see the racism.’

  • A Jewish group denounces the White House’s pick for a federal preservation commission.

  • Biden calls on the G.S.A. head to authorize the transition so he can focus on the pandemic response.

  • Biden predicts ‘brick walls’ in the Senate if Republicans keep the majority.

  • The Trump campaign is requesting a partial Wisconsin recount focused on Democratic counties.

  • Arizona’s secretary of state says she has received threats as the deadline to certify votes nears.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Election 2020: Biden holds event with front-line health-care workers; Trump to seek Wisconsin recount, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, and John Wagner, Wednesday, 18 November 2020: “President-elect Joe Biden held an event Wednesday with front-line health-care workers as he seeks to maintain a focus on the pandemic ahead of his arrival in the White House. During the event, Biden warned that his team is going to be ‘behind by weeks or months’ on pandemic planning unless the Trump administration stops impeding the transition. Meanwhile, the Trump campaign said it plans to formally petition election authorities to conduct a recount in two counties in Wisconsin. President Trump has no public events scheduled; he continues to keep a low profile while refusing to concede the race to Biden.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Republican appointees on a key board in Michigan’s most populous county reversed their initial refusal to certify vote tallies in the Detroit area, striking a last-minute compromise with Democrats.
  • Trump fired a top Department of Homeland Security official who led the agency’s efforts to help secure the election and was vocal about tamping down unfounded claims of ballot fraud.
  • Biden named top aides who will work in his White House, rewarding loyal supporters and longtime advisers as he builds his administration-in-waiting.
  • Here’s who Biden is picking to fill his White House and Cabinet.
  • Election results are under attack: Here are the facts.

Republicans face an outcry after refusing to certify Detroit vote; ‘You could see the racism.’ The New York Times, Kathleen Gray, Jim Rutenberg, Nick Corasaniti, and Glenn Thrush, Wednesday, 18 November 2020: “Mayor Mike Duggan of Detroit on Wednesday accused President Trump’s allies in Michigan’s most populous county of racism after they initially refused to certify the election results over slight discrepancies in majority-Black precincts — while ignoring similar problems in heavily white areas. The complaint echoed accusations against Mr. Trump and his allies around the country, charging Republicans with preying on ugly racist stereotypes to cast doubt on Black voters in their last-ditch effort to overturn a legitimate election Mr. Trump lost decisively. On Tuesday night, Republican election board members in Wayne County, which contains Detroit and its inner suburbs, refused to certify the county’s election results in a nakedly partisan effort to hold up President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory over Mr. Trump. Hours later, they reversed themselves after an outcry from state officials and Detroit residents who accused them of trying to steal their votes. ‘You could see the racism in the behavior last night,’ Mr. Duggan said at a news conference Wednesday. ‘American democracy cracked last night, but it didn’t break. But we are seeing a real threat to everything we believe in.'”

Trump Campaign Officials Started Pressuring Georgia’s Secretary of State Long Before the Election, ProPublica, Jessica Huseman and Mike Spies, Wednesday, 18 November 2020: “Long before Republican senators began publicly denouncing how Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger handled the voting there, he withstood pressure from the campaign of Donald Trump to endorse the president for reelection. Raffensperger, a Republican, declined an offer in January to serve as an honorary co-chair of the Trump campaign in Georgia, according to emails reviewed by ProPublica. He later rejected GOP requests to support Trump publicly, he and his staff said in interviews. Raffensperger said he believed that, because he was overseeing the election, it would be a conflict of interest for him to take sides. Around the country, most secretaries of state remain officially neutral in elections. The attacks on his job performance are ‘clear retaliation,’ Raffensperger said. ‘They thought Georgia was a layup shot Republican win. It is not the job of the secretary of state’s office to deliver a win — it is the sole responsibility of the Georgia Republican Party to get out the vote and get its voters to the polls. That is not the job of the secretary of state’s office.'”

Many Republican Governors Still Won’t State Plainly that Biden Won the Election, The New York Times, Rick Rojas, Campbell Robertson, and Will Wright, Wednesday, 18 November 2020: “Ten days after the presidential race was called for Joseph R. Biden Jr., only about a half-dozen of the nation’s 26 Republican governors have unequivocally acknowledged his victory or said that President Trump should concede. Some have repeated Mr. Trump’s unfounded allegations about election fraud. But most have been operating in a murky middle ground in which they neither give full credence to Mr. Trump’s claims nor affirm that Mr. Biden is the president-elect. The stakes go beyond political optics. The coronavirus is surging across the country with a renewed fury, threatening to overwhelm hospitals and driving officials in some states to return to the strict measures used in the spring to curb the pandemic’s initial spread. In Mr. Biden’s first few months as president, his administration will need to closely coordinate with states to distribute a vaccine and ramp up testing to try to gain control of the rampant spread. Many governors, including at least two Republicans, have raised concerns that the turbulence surrounding the transition could stir confusion and serve as a dangerous distraction from the efforts to combat the pandemic.”

As defeats pile up, Trump tries to delay vote count in last-ditch effort to cast doubt on Biden victory, The Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Robert Costa, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Wednesday, 18 November 2020: ‘President Trump has abandoned his plan to win reelection by disqualifying enough ballots to reverse President-elect Joe Biden’s wins in key battleground states, pivoting instead to a goal that appears equally unattainable: delaying a final count long enough to cast doubt on Biden’s decisive victory. On Wednesday, Trump’s campaign wired $3 million to election officials in Wisconsin to start a recount in the state’s two largest counties. His personal lawyer, ­Rudolph W. Giuliani, who has taken over the president’s legal team, asked a federal judge to consider ordering the Republican-controlled legislature to select the state’s electors. And Trump egged on a group of GOP lawmakers in Michigan who are pushing for an audit of the vote there before it is certified. Giuliani has also told Trump and associates that his ambition is to pressure GOP lawmakers and officials across the political map to stall the vote certification in an effort to have Republican lawmakers pick electors and disrupt the electoral college when it convenes next month — and Trump is encouraging of that plan, according to two senior Republicans who have conferred with Giuliani and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter candidly. But that outcome appears impossible. It is against the law in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin law gives no role to the legislature in choosing presidential electors, and there is little public will in other states to pursue such a path.”

Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects, The Hill, Rebecca Beitsch, Wednesday, 18 November 2020: The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) on Wednesday finalized its decision to weaken environmental analysis of many of its plans, excluding a number of actions from scientific review or community input. The new rule allows the service to use a number of exemptions to sidestep requirements of the bedrock National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), something critics say will speed approval of logging, roads, and pipelines on Forest Service land…. [E]nvironmentalists say the service is sidestepping analysis it needs to make informed decisions about how to respond to fire damage or ensure runoff from roads won’t hurt its forests.”

 

Thursday, 19 November 2020, Day 1,399:

 

Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Thursday, 19 November 2020: A Bright-Red Map and a Dire Warning as the Coronavirus Task Force Meets at the White House, The New York Times, Thursday, 19 November 2020:

  • After a long absence, the U.S. coronavirus task force returns with a plea for vigilance.

  • As the U.S. nears the 200,000 daily case mark, Americans are urged to avoid Thanksgiving travel.

  • Trump officials object, but school doors are closing across the country.

  • California announces a curfew aimed at curbing the rise in infections.

  • As schools in New York City close, a debate grows over tighter restrictions statewide.

  • U.S. colleges have reported over 320,000 virus cases, one-fifth of them in the last month.

  • In a wealthy region of Italy, health care was privatized, and the virus profited.

  • A senior Defense Department official is infected with the virus, and others were exposed.

As the U.S. nears the 200,000 daily case mark, Americans are urged to avoid Thanksgiving travel, The New York Times, Roni Caryn Rabin, Karen Zraick, Michael D. Shear, Michael Gold, and Niraj Chokshi, Thursday, 19 November 2020: “The United States has set yet another record: 183,000 new daily cases. The record was set as the United States struggles with surging coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday urged Americans not to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday and to consider canceling plans to spend time with relatives outside their households. The new guidance, which contrasted sharply with recent White House efforts to downplay the threat, states clearly that ‘the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with,’ and that gathering with friends and even family members who do not live with you increases the chances of becoming infected with the virus or the flu, or transmitting the virus. Officials said they were strengthening their recommendations against travel because of a startling surge in infections in just the past week. Recent numbers of hospitalizations — more than 79,000 reported on Wednesday — and new daily cases keep shattering U.S. records. As of Wednesday, the seven-day average of new cases across the country had surpassed more than 162,000, an increase of 77 percent from the average two weeks earlier.”

Dr. Scott Atlas, Trump’s top pandemic adviser, is on the outs with coronavirus task force, but he is still pushing Trump’s pandemic claims. He hasn’t attended a White House task force meeting in person since September. NBC News, Monica Alba and Carol E. Lee, Thursday, 19 November 2020: “President Donald Trump’s top medical adviser on the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Scott Atlas, has not attended White House task force meetings in person since late September, according to two administration officials, as he continues to spread misinformation about the worsening health crisis. The growing split between Atlas and task force leaders came after the group’s leading medical experts — Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci — indicated that they did not appreciate Atlas’ controversial input or contributions in the Situation Room gatherings. ‘That was done in deference to Fauci and Birx because they basically said they will not work with him,’ a senior administration official said about the adviser’s absence at the meetings.”

Unemployment claims rise as pandemic shutdowns increase nationwide, The Washington Post, Eli Rosenberg, Thursday, 19 November 2020: “The number of new unemployment claims rose last week to 742,000, an increase of 31,000 from the previous week, as rising coronavirus cases have spurred a new wave of restrictions and closures begin to weigh on parts of the economy. Since Oct. 10, weekly jobless claims have been slowly trending downward or remaining flat, according to Labor Department data. An additional 320,000 claims were processed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the program for gig and self-employed workers.”

Presidential Transition: Georgia Completes Full Recount, Reaffirming Biden’s Win.  The Georgia secretary of state’s office confirmed the results after six days of hand counting, as president Trump also sought to insert himself into vote-counting in Michigan. And Mitt Romney characterized President Trump’s maneuvering as an attempt to “overturn the election.” New York Times, Thursday, 19 November 2020:

  • Georgia completes its full recount, reaffirming Biden’s victory.

  • Trump tries to subvert the election, inviting Michigan G.O.P. lawmakers to the White House.

  • House Democrats want the G.S.A. administrator to brief Congress on her refusal to begin the transition process.

  • Federal judge blocks lawsuit seeking to halt certification of votes in Georgia.

  • Biden condemns Trump’s ‘incredible irresponsibility’ in delaying transition process.

  • ‘Absolutely outrageous.’ Joni Ernst bristles at Trump team’s groundless claims about election results.

  • Michigan Democrats sharply criticize G.O.P. lawmakers invited to meet with Trump.

  • Mitt Romney admonishes Trump’s attempts to overturn his election defeat.

  • Giuliani spouted falsehoods for 90 minutes. Fox News aired it in its entirety.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Election 2020: Georgia’s hand recount confirms Biden’s lead; president-elect speaks virtually with governors, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez, Thursday, 19 November 2020: “After a hand recount of roughly 5 million votes cast in the presidential election, Georgia election officials confirmed President-elect Joe Biden received more votes than President Trump in the state. Georgia’s secretary of state ordered the recount as a part of the risk-limiting audit process to ensure the public’s trust in the outcome of the presidential vote in the state, where Biden led by 12,284 votes, according to the audited results. That resulted in a 0.0099 percent variation from the original margin, they said. Biden spoke virtually with governors Thursday about the coronavirus pandemic, a major focus of his transition efforts, as Trump continued to press an array of legal challenges that aim to undercut the Democrat’s victory.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Trump on Tuesday called a GOP canvassing-board member in Wayne County, Mich., who announced Wednesday she wanted to rescind her decision to certify the results of the presidential election, the member said in a message to The Washington Post.
  • Trump has abandoned his plan to win reelection by disqualifying enough ballots to reverse Biden’s wins in key states, pivoting to a new goal: delaying a final count long enough to cast doubt on Biden’s victory.
  • Here are the people Biden is picking to fill his White House and Cabinet.
  • Election results under attack: Here are the facts.

Trump Targets Michigan in His Ploy to Subvert the Election. In a brazen step, the president invited Republican state leaders in Michigan to the White House as he and his allies try to prevent the state from certifying Joe Biden’s clear victory there. New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Jim Rutenberg, Nick Corasaniti, and Reid J. Epstein, Thursday, 19 November 2020: “President Trump on Thursday accelerated his efforts to interfere in the nation’s electoral process, taking the extraordinary step of reaching out directly to Republican state legislators from Michigan and inviting them to the White House on Friday for discussions as the state prepares to certify President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. the winner there. For Mr. Trump and his Republican allies, Michigan has become the prime target in their campaign to subvert the will of voters backing Mr. Biden in the recent election. Mr. Trump called at least one G.O.P. elections official in the Detroit area this week after she voted to certify Mr. Biden’s overwhelming victory there, and he is now set to meet with legislators ahead of Michigan’s deadline on Monday to certify the results. The president has also asked aides what Republican officials he could call in other battleground states in his effort to prevent the certification of results that would formalize his loss to Mr. Biden, several advisers said. Trump allies appear to be pursuing a highly dubious legal theory that if the results are not certified, Republican legislatures could intervene and appoint pro-Trump electors in states Mr. Biden won who would support the president when the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14.” See also, Trump invites Michigan Republican leaders to meet him at White House as he escalates attempts to overturn election results, The Washington Post, Tom Hamburger, Kayla Ruble, David A. Fahrenthold, and Josh Dawsey, Thursday, 19 November 2020: “President Trump has invited the leaders of Michigan’s Republican-controlled state legislature to meet him in Washington on Friday, according to a person familiar with those plans, as the president and his allies continue an extraordinary campaign to overturn the results of an election he lost. Trump’s campaign has suffered defeats in courtrooms across the country in its efforts to allege irregularities with the ballot-counting process, and has failed to muster any evidence of the widespread fraud that the president continues to claim tainted the 2020 election. Trump lost Michigan by a wide margin: At present, he trails President-Elect Joe Biden in the state by 157,000 votes. Earlier this week, the state’s Republican Senate majority leader said an effort to have legislators throw out election results was ‘not going to happen.’ But the president now appears to be using the full weight of his office to challenge the election results, as he and his allies reach out personally to state and local officials in an intensifying effort to halt the certification of the vote in key battleground states. In an incendiary news conference in Washington, Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor who is now serving as Trump’s lead attorney, made baseless claims that Biden had orchestrated a national conspiracy to rig the vote.” See also, Trump’s escalating attacks put pressure on vote certification process, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Beth Reinhard, Elise Viebeck, and Emma Brown, Thursday, 19 November 2020: “The chaotic effort to upend the U.S. presidential election has moved from the courtroom to a series of traditionally mundane events in county seats and state capitals, deliberations now under enormous pressure as President Trump and his allies seek to block formal recognition of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in key battleground states. In the immediate term, the focus is on the four-member Michigan state canvassing board, which is scheduled to meet Monday on whether to certify Biden’s large win in that state. On Thursday, one of the two Republicans on the board said that although he expected Biden to win the election, he may suggest a delay to allow for an audit of the state’s ballots amid unfounded allegations by the president’s legal team of widespread fraud. Biden is now leading in Michigan by roughly 150,000 votes.”

Trump campaign drops remaining lawsuit in Michigan, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Thursday, 19 November 2020: “The Trump campaign withdrew its last remaining federal lawsuit in Michigan Thursday, falsely claiming that local election officials had declined to certify the Detroit-area’s vote tabulation even though they voted unanimously to do so Tuesday night. At the heart of the Trump campaign’s claim are two affidavits — filed by the GOP election officials who joined Democrats to certify the votes in Wayne County Tuesday night — claiming they only did so under significant public pressure and an assurance that Michigan’s secretary of state would conduct a thorough review of their concerns about absentee voting. The two officials, Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, both initially voted to oppose certifying the Wayne County results, potentially upending the count of hundreds of thousands of votes in Detroit and its suburbs that were key to Joe Biden’s victory in the state. But within hours, as public pressure from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Joyce Benson and members of the public participating in the meeting, both Republicans reversed and backed certification. The Trump campaign has mounted a string of legal challenges to voting procedures in states that helped propel Biden to victory, including Michigan and Pennsylvania. But courts there have nearly all quickly dispatched with the challenges as meritless, even as Trump has continued to falsely claim he won the election.”

Biden Calls Trump’s Attack on Electoral Process ‘Totally Irresponsible.’ Choosing his words carefully, the president-elect stepped up his criticism of President Trump and warned that the delayed transition sent “a horrible message about who we are as a country.” The New York Times, Michael Crowley and Michael D. Shear, Thursday, 19 November 2020: “In his sharpest condemnation yet of President Trump’s efforts to undermine the legitimacy of the 2020 election, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. said on Thursday that Mr. Trump’s refusal to authorize an orderly transition ensured that he would be remembered as ‘one of the most irresponsible presidents in American history. It’s hard to fathom how this man thinks,’ Mr. Biden said in response to a question about the president’s extraordinary interventions in Michigan’s election certification process. ‘I’m confident he knows he hasn’t won, and is not going to win, and we’re going to be sworn in on Jan. 20.’ But Mr. Biden warned that as a result of Mr. Trump’s actions, ‘incredibly damaging messages are being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy functions. It sends a horrible message about who we are as a country,’ he added.”

Trump’s Attempts to Overturn the Election Are Unparalleled in U.S. History, The New York Times, David E. Sanger, Thursday, 19 November 2020: “President Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election are unprecedented in American history and an even more audacious use of brute political force to gain the White House than when Congress gave Rutherford B. Hayes the presidency during Reconstruction. Mr. Trump’s chances of succeeding are somewhere between remote and impossible, and a sign of his desperation after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. won by nearly six million popular votes and counting, as well as a clear Electoral College margin. Yet the fact that Mr. Trump is even trying has set off widespread alarms, not least in Mr. Biden’s camp.”

Trump uses power of presidency to try to overturn the election and stay in office, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Amy Gardner, and Josh Dawsey, Thursday, 19 November 2020: “President Trump is using the power of his office to try to reverse the results of the election, orchestrating a far-reaching pressure campaign to persuade Republican officials in Michigan, Georgia and elsewhere to overturn the will of voters in what critics decried Thursday as an unprecedented subversion of democracy. After courts rejected the Trump campaign’s baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud, the president is now trying to remain in power with a wholesale assault on the integrity of the vote by spreading misinformation and trying to persuade loyal Republicans to manipulate the electoral system on his behalf. In an extraordinary news conference Thursday at the Republican National Committee headquarters, Trump’s attorneys claimed without evidence there was a centralized conspiracy with roots in Venezuela to rig the U.S. presidential election. They alleged voter fraud in Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and other cities whose municipal governments are controlled by Democrats and where President-elect Joe Biden won by large margins.”

Rudy Giliani baselessly alleges ‘centralized’ voter fraud at free-wheeling news conference. Trump’s legal team flooded the zone with false claims. NBC News, Jane C. Timm, Thursday, 19 November 2020: “President Donald Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, took the president’s voter fraud claims even further on Thursday, baselessly alleging during a frenzied news conference that the fraud was nationally coordinated. The president’s legal team alleged already debunked claims of voter fraud, baseless allegations of corrupted and hackable voting machines, election interference by foreign communists, and even references to antifa. The former New York City mayor also offered alternative election results for swing states and argued the president had a viable path to a second term. ‘It’s not a singular voter fraud in one state,’ Giuliani said, speaking at Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington. ‘This pattern repeats itself in a number of states, almost exactly the same pattern, which any experienced investigator prosecutor, which suggests that there was a plan — from a centralized place to execute these various acts of voter fraud, specifically focused on big cities, and specifically focused on, as you would imagine, big cities controlled by Democrats, and particularly if they focused on big cities that have a long history of corruption.'” See also, Fact-checking Giuliani and the Trump legal team’s wild, fact-free press conference, CNN Politics, Tara Subramaniam and Holmes Lybrand, published on Friday, 20 November 2020: “In a wild, tangent-filled and often contentious press briefing led by President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, the Trump campaign’s legal team laid out its case for widespread voter fraud in the election. The roughly 90-minute briefing was overflowing with falsehoods and conspiracy theories. At no point did Trump’s legal team offer any proof for their allegations of widespread fraud. Jenna Ellis, a legal adviser for the campaign, said the group was laying out an ‘introductory statement’ with more to come, and called the team an ‘elite strike force.’ Also working for the campaign, attorney Sidney Powell made extreme, baseless claims about communist Venezuela and George Soros supposedly interfering in the US election. Giuliani on multiple occasions made allegations citing individuals he said couldn’t be revealed for their own safety and wellbeing. Many of their specific claims have already been refuted by federal election security experts and a wide, bipartisan array of election administrators across the country.” See also, Fact-checking the craziest news conference of the Trump presidency, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, Thursday, 19 November 2020: “‘What we are really dealing with here and uncovering more by the day is the massive influence of communist money through Venezuela, Cuba and likely China and the interference with our elections here in the United States.’” — Sidney Powell, attorney for the Trump campaign, Nov. 19. This is just a snippet of a truly bonkers presentation made by attorneys for the Trump campaign alleging massive fraud in the U.S. voting system. Powell described a convoluted scheme under which an ‘algorithm’ manipulated by Democrats switched votes from Trump to Biden. But she claimed it broke down because support was so strong for Trump, so Democrats were forced to use a ‘back door’ method to manipulate the vote with mail-in ballots slipped in during the dark of night. If this sounds crazy, that’s because it is. There is no evidence to support any of these conspiracy theories. It would require election workers across many states to be engaged in a massive fraud scheme that won Biden the presidency but failed to flip the Senate from Republican control and cost the Democrats seats in the House. Meanwhile, her colleague, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, made other allegations that have largely been rejected by judges when presented with the supposed evidence. There’s no law against lying to the news media, of course. But in court, Trump’s attorneys have been more circumspect, saying they were not alleging fraud or a stolen election.”

Trump Tax Write-Offs Are Ensnared in 2 New York Fraud Investigations, The New York Times, Danny Hakim, Mike McIntire, William K.Rashbaum, and Ben Protess, Thursday, 19 November 2020: “Two separate New York State fraud investigations into President Trump and his businesses, one criminal and one civil, have expanded to include tax write-offs on millions of dollars in consulting fees, some of which appear to have gone to Ivanka Trump, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The inquiries — a criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., and a civil one by the state attorney general, Letitia James — are being conducted independently. But both offices issued subpoenas to the Trump Organization in recent weeks for records related to the fees, the people said. The subpoenas were the latest steps in the two investigations of the Trump Organization, and underscore the legal challenges awaiting the president when he leaves office in January. There is no indication that his daughter is a focus of either inquiry, which the Trump Organization has derided as politically motivated. The development follows a recent New York Times examination of more than two decades of Mr. Trump’s tax records, which found that he had paid little or no federal income taxes in most years, largely because of his chronic business losses. Among the revelations was that Mr. Trump reduced his taxable income by deducting about $26 million in fees to unidentified consultants as a business expense on numerous projects between 2010 and 2018.”

Census Officials Say They Can’t Meet Trump’s Deadline for Population Count. Officials have concluded the Census Bureau won’t have data on time to carry out the administration’s goal of stripping unauthorized immigrants from population totals for apportionment. New York Times, Michael Wines and Emily Bazelon, Thursday, 19 November 2020: “In a blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to strip unauthorized immigrants from census totals used for reapportionment, Census Bureau officials have concluded that they cannot produce the state population totals required to reallocate seats in the House of Representatives until after President Trump leaves office in January. The president said in July that he planned to remove unauthorized immigrants from the count for the first time in history, leaving an older and whiter population as the basis for divvying up House seats, a shift that would be likely to increase the number of House seats held by Republicans over the next decade. But on Wednesday, according to three bureau officials, the Census Bureau told the Commerce Department that a growing number of snags in the massive data-processing operation that generates population totals had delayed the completion of population calculations at least until Jan. 26, and perhaps to mid-February. Those officials spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals from the Trump administration.”