Trump Administration, Week 201: Friday, 20 November – Thursday, 26 November 2020 (Days 1,400-1,406)

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, 20 November 2020, Day 1,400:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 20 November 2020: U.S. Passes 12 Million Covid-19 Cases. The country has also set a hospitalization record. Pfizer asked the F.D.A. for emergency approval of its vaccine, which might start being deployed by mid-December. The New York Times, Friday, 20 November 2020:

  • U.S. records 12 millionth case as virus surge gathers speed.

  • As curfews multiply, the U.S. breaks more records for new cases and hospitalizations.

  • Pfizer applies for emergency authorization of its vaccine.

  • Two Chinese port cities mobilize after finding a handful of cases.

  • Donald Trump Jr. tests positive for coronavirus. He has been isolating since Monday.

  • Andrew Giuliani, a White House official, tests positive after attending a news conference with his father and other Trump lawyers.

  • Senator Rick Scott of Florida is the latest member of Congress to test positive.

  • As the U.S. outbreak grows with alarming speed, political conflict hampers the response.

  • Health care systems struggle as newly detected cases approach 200,000 a day in the U.S.

  • Iran shuts businesses in 160 cities and adds restrictions to 200 more as cases rise.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, 20 November 2020: Pfizer applies for emergency vaccine approval as U.S. cases reach new high, The Washington Post, Hannah Knowles, Carolyn Y. Johnson, Darren Sands, Derek Hawkins, Antonia Noori Farzan, Hamza Shaban, Ruby Mellen, Marisa Iati, and Jacqueline Dupree, Friday, 20 November 2020: “Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech on Friday became the first companies to seek emergency authorization for a coronavirus vaccine in the United States, a landmark moment and a signal that a powerful tool to help control the pandemic could begin to be available by late December. Conditions around the country remain dire: The United States reported a record high of more than 196,000 new coronavirus cases on Friday and is likely to cross 12 million cases nationwide on Saturday, six days after surpassing 11 million.

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

  • The Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory committee will meet Dec. 10 to consider the Pfizer-BioNTech request, the agency said late Friday.
  • Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a spokesman.
  • President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team condemned the Trump administration’s decision to end several emergency lending programs.
  • Infection rates dropped in Kansas counties that adopted mask mandates over the summer, while rising sharply in counties that didn’t, according to new research.
  • More than a quarter-million people in the United States have died of covid-19.

Pfizer Applies for Emergency Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) Approval for Covid-19 Vaccine, The New York Times, Noah Weiland and Katie Thomas, Friday, 20 November 2020: “The drug maker Pfizer said on Friday that it had submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration to authorize its coronavirus vaccine for emergency use, setting in motion an accelerated regulatory process that could allow the first Americans to get a vaccine by the middle of December. Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, announced Wednesday that the vaccine was safe and 95 percent effective, and that it also worked well in older people and in preventing severe Covid-19. Another front-runner, Moderna, said on Monday that its vaccine, which uses similar technology, was 94.5 percent effective and that the company also expected to apply soon for emergency authorization. The two vaccines use a synthetic version of coronavirus genetic material, called mRNA, to program a person’s cells to churn out many copies of a fragment of the virus. An emergency authorization would allow limited groups of Americans to get the vaccines before the F.D.A. has completed the typical monthslong approval process, but agency officials have made clear through new guidelines that their bar for emergency authorization will be high.”

Continue reading Week 201, Friday, 20 November  – Thursday, 26 November 2020 (Days 1,400-1,406)

Most coronavirus cases are spread by people without symptoms, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now says, CNN health, Mattie Fox, Friday, 20 November 2020: “Most coronavirus infections are spread by people who have no symptoms, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in newly updated guidance. It’s one of the main reasons mask use is so important, the CDC said. ‘Most SARS-CoV-2 infections are spread by people without symptoms,” the agency said in a section of its website devoted to explaining the science of how to use masks to control the spread of the virus. ‘CDC and others estimate that more than 50% of all infections are transmitted from people who are not exhibiting symptoms,’  it added in the guidance posted Friday. ‘This means at least half of new infections come from people likely unaware they are infectious to others.’ According to the CDC, 24% of people who transmit the virus to others never develop symptoms and another 35% were pre-symptomatic. It also said 41% infected others while experiencing symptoms. Peak infectiousness comes five days after infection, the agency said on the website. ‘With these assumptions, 59% of infections would be transmitted when no symptoms are present but could range (from) 51%-70% if the fraction of asymptomatic infections were 24%-30% and peak infectiousness ranged 4-6 days.'”

Presidential Transition Highlights: After Trump Meeting, Michigan Lawmakers Maintain They Will Follow the Law. Two Republicans who attended the meeting vowed not to interfere with the certification process in their state. In Georgia, the state certified President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state. Mr. Biden met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer. New York Times, Friday, 20 November 2020:

  • Michigan lawmakers, after meeting with Trump, reaffirm that they will honor the state’s vote.

  • Georgia’s governor certifies presidential electors for Biden.

  • Donald Trump Jr. tests positive for coronavirus. He has been isolating since Monday.

  • Biden and Harris met with Pelosi and Schumer in Delaware to discuss Covid-19 aid.

  • Minnesota or Michigan? Trump lawyers mix up ‘M’ states in an affidavit intended to prove vote fraud.

  • Mark Meadows says he won’t run for Senate in North Carolina in 2022.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Election 2020: Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, has tested positive for the coronavirus, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Friday, 20 November 2020: “Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a spokesman. The spokesman said the younger Trump tested positive earlier this week and has been since isolating. Also today, Michigan’s top two Republican lawmakers said after meeting with Trump at the White House Friday that they have learned nothing new to change the outcome of the election in their state. ‘We will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors, just as we have said throughout this election,’ Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield said in a joint statement issued late Friday.

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

  • Trump is using the power of his office to try to reverse the results of the election, orchestrating a pressure campaign to persuade Republican officials in Michigan, Georgia and elsewhere to overturn the will of voters.
  • Biden is trying to minimize as an irresponsible distraction the escalating attempts by Trump and his allies to undermine or overturn the presidential election results.
  • The chaotic effort to upend the U.S. presidential election has moved from the courtroom to traditionally mundane events in county seats and state capitals.
  • Here are the people Biden is picking to fill his White House and Cabinet.
  • Election results under attack: Here are the facts.

Georgia certifies election results–the first to do so among states where Trump is mounting legal challenges, The Washington Post, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Friday, 20 November 2020: “Georgia’s top Republicans on Friday publicly affirmed the state’s election results, including the victory of President-elect Joe Biden, whose lead in the historically red state prompted a barrage of attacks from President Trump and other Georgia Republicans on the integrity of the election in the state. Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who has forcefully rejected criticisms of the election process by fellow Republicans, on Friday officially certified the results of the general election. The result included Biden’s 12,284-vote lead that was confirmed through a hand recount of 5 million presidential ballots. After largely staying on the sidelines in the GOP feud, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp said on Friday that he would follow state law, which requires him to accept the secretary of state’s certified results by 5 p.m. Saturday. On Friday, his office confirmed that he had formally certified the results.” See also, Georgia Officials Certify Joe Biden’s Victory Over Trump, The Wall Street Journal, Alexa Corse, Friday, 20 November 2020: “Georgia’s governor and secretary of state certified the Nov. 3 election results Friday, declaring President-elect Joe Biden the winner of the state with 16 Electoral College votes. Mr. Biden’s final lead was 12,670 votes, the secretary of state’s office said Friday. On Friday evening, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp formalized the certification, a step required by state law. Mr. Kemp said his certification ‘paves the way for the Trump campaign to pursue other legal options,’ and that the campaign could request a separate recount…. President Trump will have until Tuesday to ask for a machine recount, the secretary of state’s office said. Under Georgia law, after an election is certified, a candidate can request a recount if the margin of victory is less than 0.5%. Mr. Trump is within that margin.”

After meeting with Trump, Michigan Republican leaders say Biden’s win still stands, Politico, Nick Niedzwiadek, Gabby Orr, and Meridith McGraw, Friday, 20 November 2020: “A delegation of Republican state lawmakers from Michigan came to Washington on Friday as part of President Donald Trump’s Hail Mary attempt to usurp the results of the election he lost. But when the day ended, the lawmakers were unequivocal: President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Michigan was still intact. Trump has baselessly cast doubt on the presidential election in Michigan, which he lost to Biden by approximately 150,000 votes, and has waged a campaign over the past two weeks to pressure Republicans in the state to back him in reversing the outcome. And despite White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s insistence that Friday’s gathering was ‘not an advocacy meeting’ — and that no one from the Trump campaign would be present — several attorneys running Trump’s legal effort to overturn the election were expected to call in.”

Mitt Romney lashes Trump for trying to ‘subvert the will of the people,’ The New York Times, Neil Vigdor and Emily Cochrane, Friday, 20 November 2020: “In the strongest criticism of President Trump by a fellow high-ranking Republican so far, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah on Thursday night excoriated the president on Twitter for his continuing and overwhelmingly unsuccessful efforts to overturn his election defeat earlier this month to Joseph R. Biden Jr. Mr. Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, said that the president had exhausted his legal challenges in several battleground states and had resorted to trying to defy the will of the voters. His rebuke of Mr. Trump came on the same day that the president invited Republican state leaders in Michigan to the White House to discuss their efforts to stop the certification of the election results in the state. ‘Having failed to make even a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy before any court of law, the president has now resorted to overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election,’ Mr. Romney wrote. ‘It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American president.'”

Trump’s Legal Team Sets a Precedent for Lowering the Bar,  The New York Times, Mark Leibovich, Friday, 20 November 2020: “[Trump’s] win-loss record in court cases alleging election fraud or other irregularities now stands at 2 to 32, according to a tally maintained by Marc Elias, a Democratic election lawyer. Mr. Elias updated his score on Friday afternoon after a court in Nevada rejected a Republican effort to request a new election. Nevada went for Joseph R. Biden Jr. On Thursday, the president had claimed on Twitter that he had ‘a very clear and viable path to victory” and that “pieces are very nicely falling into place’ for his re-election. Nobody who has been paying attention to the evidence believed this. ‘Working as an engineer throughout my life, I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie,’ said Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, at a news conference on Friday. He reiterated this while confirming Mr. Biden’s victory in the state after a hand recount of ballots. It was merely the latest setback for Mr. Trump, whose helter-skelter effort to reverse Mr. Biden’s victory keeps smashing into the brick walls of ballot math and election law.”

Business and World Leaders Move On as Trump Fights to Reverse Election, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, David Gelles, Mark Landler, and David E. Sanger, Friday, 20 November 2020: “Inside the wrought-iron fences that surround the 18-acre White House complex, the 2020 election rages on, with President Trump angrily refusing to concede. But the rest of the world — and President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. — is moving on. The leaders of Western Europe have called Mr. Biden, while the world’s rising superpower, China, has congratulated him. PayPal’s chief executive extended his ‘warmest congratulations to President-Elect Joe Biden, who will become the 46th president of the U.S.A.’ The Boeing Corporation, which benefited from Mr. Trump’s demands for big-ticket defense items, issued a statement on Friday saying, ‘We look forward to working with the Biden administration.’ It is as if the vast machinery of diplomacy, business and lobbying has suddenly been recalibrated for the Biden era. Mr. Trump, by far the dominant world figure for the past four years, is increasingly treated as irrelevant. Bank trade groups have begun meeting with Biden aides in anticipation of new fights over regulation. Foreign diplomats assuming a sharp turn in American foreign policy are retooling their agendas. Corporate executives, who are usually allergic to political statements, are saying out loud what most of Mr. Trump’s supporters have so far refused to acknowledge.”

More Republican Senators Have COVID-19 Than Have Acknowledged That Joe Biden Won the Presidential Election, HuffPost, Jennifer Bendery, Friday, 20 November 2020: “Here’s a guessing game that perfectly suits the sad state of affairs in the U.S. Senate: How long until the number of Republicans who accept Joe Biden as the president-elect surpasses the number of them who have tested positive for the coronavirus? At the moment, the virus is winning. Rick Scott of Florida announced Friday that he has tested positive for COVID-19, making him the seventh GOP senator infected by the deadly disease. The others are Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Mike Lee (Utah), Bill Cassidy (La.), Rand Paul (Ky.), Thom Tillis (N.C.) and Ron Johnson (Wis.). Paul was the first to test positive, back in March; Grassley and Scott revealed their infections this week. Meanwhile, it’s been nearly two weeks since Biden won enough states to become the president-elect but the vast majority of GOP senators are refusing to publicly acknowledge it. As of Friday, HuffPost counts just five Senate Republicans who have said Biden won or referred to him as the president-elect: Mitt Romney (Utah), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine), Ben Sasse (Neb.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.). That leaves the remaining 48 GOP senators complicit in President Donald Trump’s efforts to undermine people’s faith in democratic institutions to try to make it look like he won.”


Saturday, 21 November 2020, Day 1,401:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Saturday, 21 November 2020: Europe Remains in a Fierce Fight With the Virus, Though the Latest Wave Seems to Have Crested. The antibody treatment President Trump received receives emergency F.D.A. approval. The U.S. case total passes 12 million, and hospitalizations soar past 82,000. The New York Times, Saturday, 21 November 2020:

  • The F.D.A. grants emergency authorization of the coronavirus antibody treatment given to Trump.

  • The latest virus wave appears to have crested in Europe, but the struggle is far from over.

  • States and cities order nightly curfews as health systems strain under record hospitalizations.

  • Fighting the pandemic and healing its economic damage dominate talks at the G20 summit.

  • South Dakota and New Mexico offer a snapshot of the alternate realities in the U.S. pandemic.

  • Hong Kong and Singapore put their planned travel bubble on hold.

  • We asked 635 epidemiologists about their Thanksgiving plans.

  • Sorry, but a negative test does not give you a green light for Thanksgiving.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) Grants Emergency Authorization of Antibody Treatment Given to Trump, The New York Times, Katie Thomas and Noah Weiland, Saturday, 21 November 2020: “The Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency authorization for the experimental antibody treatment given to President Trump shortly after he was diagnosed with Covid-19, giving doctors another option to treat Covid-19 patients as cases across the country continue to rise. The treatment, made by the biotech company Regeneron, is a cocktail of two powerful antibodies that have shown promise in early studies at keeping the infection in check, reducing medical visits in patients who get the drug early in the course of their disease. A similar treatment, made by Eli Lilly, was given emergency approval earlier this month. The emergency authorization for Regeneron’s drug is limited in scope: It is for people 12 and over who have tested positive for the coronavirus and who are at high risk for developing severe Covid-19. Evidence so far suggests that antibody treatments work best early in the course of the disease, before the virus has gained a foothold in the body. Like Eli Lilly’s treatment, Regeneron’s is not authorized for use in people who are hospitalized or who need oxygen.”

Trump tweets about election results and skips session on pandemic during G20 summit, CNN Politics, Kevin Liptak, Saturday, 21 November 2020: “President Donald Trump participated in his final Group of 20 summit on Saturday by tweeting throughout the opening session and skipping a special side-conference focused on the coronavirus pandemic. It was a fitting end to Trump’s career in global multilateralism, which he has expressed his displeasure for since his first group summit — a G7 meeting held cliffside in Sicily — resulted in the feeling he was being ganged up upon by other world leaders. It was unclear all week whether Trump would even be present for this year’s G20, which is being held virtually because of the pandemic. But on Friday evening, the White House released a schedule confirming his participation. When the event began, Trump was among the nearly two-dozen world leaders who appeared via video-conference, beaming in from the White House situation room. But only 13 minutes after the scheduled 8 a.m. ET, start time, Trump was sending tweets focused on his efforts to overturn the results of the US presidential election. By 10 a.m. ET, the President had departed the White House on his way to his namesake golf club outside Washington, DC.”

Presidential Transition Highlights: Judge Dismisses Trump Lawsuit in Pennsylvania.  Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, a Republican, said that with the dismissal, the president had “exhausted” his legal options in the state. The New York Times, Saturday, 21 November 2020:

  • Another Trump lawsuit, this one in Pennsylvania, is dismissed by a judge.

  • Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia is in isolation after testing positive for the virus.

  • President Trump makes brief appearance at Group of 20, but skips pandemic meeting.

  • The R.N.C. ramps up pressure on a Michigan board to delay Monday’s electoral certification.

  • Biden marches toward Inauguration Day, as more Republicans acknowledge his win.

  • The Trump administration schedules three more executions during the transition.

  • Corporate leaders call for an orderly transition to the Biden administration.

  • Donald Trump Jr. tests positive for coronavirus. He has been isolating since Monday.

  • Biden’s transition team renews calls for G.S.A. head to authorize the transition process to begin.

In scathing opinion, federal judge dismisses Trump campaign lawsuit in Pennsylvania, The Washington Post, Jon Swaine, Saturday, 21 November 2020: “A lawsuit brought by President Trump’s campaign that sought to block the certification of Pennsylvania’s election results was dismissed by a federal judge on Saturday evening. U.S. District Judge Matthew W. Brann granted a request from Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar to dismiss the suit, which alleged that Republicans had been illegally disadvantaged because some counties allowed voters to fix errors on their mail ballots. The judge’s decision, which he explained in a scathing 37-page opinion, was a thorough rebuke of the president’s sole attempt to challenge the statewide result in Pennsylvania. Brann wrote that Trump’s campaign had used ‘strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations’ in its effort to throw out millions of votes. ‘In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state,’ Brann wrote. In a statement, Trump’s attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and legal adviser Jenna Ellis said they would appeal the decision and expected the case to reach the Supreme Court. ‘We are disappointed we did not at least get the opportunity to present our evidence at a hearing,’ their statement said.” See also, Judge Dismisses Trump Lawsuit Seeking to Delay Certification in Pennsylvania. In a scathing order, a federal judge rejected the Trump campaign’s claim of widespread improprieties with mail-in ballots, removing a major legal hurdle to certifying Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory there. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Saturday, 21 November 2020: “A federal judge in Pennsylvania dismissed on Saturday night a lawsuit by the Trump campaign that had claimed there were widespread improprieties with mail-in ballots in the state, ending the last major effort to delay the certification of Pennsylvania’s vote results, which is scheduled to take place on Monday. In a scathing order, Judge Matthew W. Brann wrote that President Trump’s campaign, which had asked him to effectively disenfranchise nearly seven million voters, should have come to court ‘armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption’ in its efforts to essentially nullify the results of Pennsylvania’s election. But instead, Judge Brann complained, the Trump campaign provided only ‘strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations’ that were ‘unsupported by evidence.'”

Trump campaign requests recount of hand-recounted results in Georgia, The Washington Post, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Saturday, 21 November 2020: “The Trump campaign on Saturday requested a formal recount of the 5 million presidential votes in Georgia in an apparent effort to exhaust its options for challenging the result in a state that narrowly backed President-elect Joe Biden. Biden’s victory in Georgia was certified Friday by the secretary of state and governor after a painstaking audit that involved a manual hand recount. It found no evidence of widespread fraud or irregularities that would change the outcome of the race. But because Biden’s margin of victory was less than 0.5 percent of votes cast, the losing candidate can request a recount of the results under state law. Election officials are now set to rescan the ballots that they reviewed during the hand recount. The rescanning of ballots through counting machines will probably take less time than the week-long audit, which was the largest of its kind in U.S. history in terms of ballots manually recounted. Officials across the state had anticipated Trump’s request and have been preparing equipment and staff to respond accordingly.”

Trump Appointee Michael Pack Unconstitutionally Interfered With the Voice of America, U.S. Judge Beryl Howell Rules, NPR, David Folkenflik, Saturday, 21 November 2020: “The chief executive over the Voice of America and its sister networks has acted unconstitutionally in investigating what he claimed was a deep-seated bias against President Trump by his own journalists, a federal judge has ruled. Citing the journalists’ First Amendment protections, U.S. Judge Beryl Howell on Friday evening ordered U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack to stop interfering in the news service’s news coverage and editorial personnel matters. She struck a deep blow at Pack’s authority to continue to force the news agency to cover the president more sympathetically. Actions by Pack and his aides have likely ‘violated and continue to violate [journalists’] First Amendment rights because, among other unconstitutional effects, they result in self-censorship and the chilling of First Amendment expression,’ Howell wrote in her opinion. ‘These current and unanticipated harms are sufficient to demonstrate irreparable harm.'”


Sunday, 22 November 2020, Day 1,402:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Sunday, 22 November 2020: U.S. Airports See Rise in Travelers as Officials Warn of Deadly Consequences, The New York Times, Sunday, 22 November 2020:

  • Despite officials’ warnings and pleas, travel over Thanksgiving is expected to hit a pandemic peak.

  • With 3 million cases and counting, November is already the worst month by far for the U.S.

  • G20 closes with appeals for global cooperation amid the pandemic.

  • A party of 80 at a sex club in Queens was shut down, and other news from around the U.S.

  • Mass testing at a Shanghai airport causes chaos.

  • Warning of new restrictions, Cuomo says Staten Island hospitals are becoming overburdened.

  • Video of a young German comparing her fight against coronavirus measures to Nazi resistance sparks outrage.

  • Oxford’s 2020 Word of the Year? Well, it’s unprecedented.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Presidential Transition Highlights: Biden Plans to Name Anthony Blinken, Jake Sullivan, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield to Cabinet, The New York Times, Sunday, 22 November 2020:

  • Biden chooses Antony Blinken, a defender of global alliances, as secretary of state.

  • Biden’s cabinet appointments are set to be officially announced on Tuesday.

  • Trump lawyers disavow Sidney Powell, another member of his legal team, over spurious fraud accusations.

  • Another Trump lawsuit, this one in Pennsylvania, is dismissed by a judge.

  • In two tweets, Trump unleashes a new attack on the democratic process.

  • Senator Kelly Loeffler is in isolation after conflicting virus test results.

  • Several Republicans call on their party to move on and cooperate with the transition.

  • Attention is shifting to two Georgia races as Trump and Biden spend the weekend mostly out of sight.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Republicans rewrite an Old Playbook on Disenfranchising Black Americans. As they try to somehow reverse Joe Biden’s victory, President Trump and his allies have targeted heavily Black cities, painting them as corrupt and trying to throw out huge numbers of votes. The New York Times, Jim Rutenberg and Nick Corasaniti, Sunday, 22 November 2020: “In Pennsylvania, President Trump and Republicans loyal to him have sought to overturn his defeat by making false claims about widespread voting fraud in Philadelphia. In Georgia, they have sought to reverse his loss by leveling similar accusations against Atlanta. In Michigan, Republicans have zeroed in on Detroit, whose elections system the president has falsely portrayed as so flawed that its entire vote should be thrown out. Lost on no one in those cities is what they have in common: large populations of Black voters. And there is little ambiguity in the way Mr. Trump and his allies are falsely depicting them as bastions of corruption. ‘Democrat-led city — that’s code for Black,’ said the Rev. William J. Barber II, the president of the civil rights group Repairers of the Breach. ‘They’re coupling “city” and “fraud,” and those two words have been used throughout the years. This is an old playbook being used in the modern time, and people should be aware of that.'”

Trump Team Disavows Sidney Powell, Lawyer Who Peddles Conspiracy Theories on Voting. President Trump’s campaign issued a striking repudiation of Sidney Powell, who had offered up widely derided conspiracy theories as she tried to aid the president’s baseless challenges to vote counts. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Alan Feuer, Sunday, 22 November 2020: “President Trump’s campaign on Sunday disavowed Sidney Powell, one of his lawyers who has pushed false claims of voter fraud, after she made wild accusations that Republican officials had been involved in a payoff scheme to manipulate voting machines. The repudiation of Ms. Powell, which came at the hands of former allies like Rudolph W. Giuliani, added unwanted drama for the president’s legal team at a moment when it is losing case after case, offering a public window into the chaotic nature and amateurish tactics of most of its attempts so far to fight the election outcome…. Ms. Powell was described as a member of the legal team’s ‘elite strike force’ at the news conference on Thursday as she laid out an elaborate conspiracy theory about efforts by the former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013, to essentially rig elections in the United States by using voting machines made by Dominion Voting Systems. While Mr. Trump has become obsessed with the idea of a global conspiracy, cybersecurity officials from his own government have said there is no evidence that machines were compromised.”

Chris Christie calls the conduct of Trump’s legal team a ‘national embarrassment,’ The Washington Post, Paul Kane and Felicia Sonmez, Sunday, 22 November 2020: “Several prominent Republicans said over the weekend that President Trump’s legal arguments had run their course and called on him to allow the presidential transition process to begin. Chris Christie, a Trump confidant who helped prepare the president for the debates, called the conduct of Trump’s legal team a ‘national embarrassment.’ Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) said Trump had ‘exhausted all plausible legal options’ and urged him to concede. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said it’s time to begin the transition. The comments mark the latest signs of dissent from within the president’s party, with increasingly more Republicans urging Trump to accept the results of the election and move on.”


Monday, 23 November 2020, Day 1,403:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Monday, 23 November 2020: The Coronavirus Surge, Once Centered in the Midwest, Is Accelerating in 45 U.S. States. AstraZeneca said its vaccine candidate was up to 90 percent effective, suggesting that the world could eventually have at least three working vaccines. The New York Times, Monday, 23 November 2020:

  • It’s not just the Midwest: The U.S. outbreak is accelerating all over the map.

  • AstraZeneca becomes the third major vaccine developer to announce promising results.

  • Cuomo announces new restrictions in Upper Manhattan, Staten Island and other hot spots.

  • Boris Johnson will lift restrictions on many businesses in England beginning next week.

  • The governor of California is in quarantine with his family after a possible exposure.

  • A C.D.C. advisory group discussed which Americans should get vaccines first.

  • A new analysis shows how political divisions impacted attitudes toward restrictions.

  • More than one million travelers were screened at airports on Sunday, a new high in the pandemic.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, 23 November 2020: Coronavirus hospitalizations in the U.S. continue to set new records, led by Plains and Midwest, The Washington Post, Antonia Noori Farzan, Rick Noack, Brittany Shammas, Marisa Iati, Ruby Mellen, Hamza Shaban, and Reis Thebault, Monday, 23 November 2020: “Monday was another record-setting day inside U.S. hospitals, which reported more coronavirus inpatients than at any other time in the pandemic — continuing an ominous, nearly month-long streak of fast-rising numbers. At least 85,700 people were hospitalized on Monday with covid-19, according to data compiled and analyzed by The Washington Post. Concurrent increases in the numbers of coronavirus patients in intensive care units and on ventilators show that the most serious cases are also climbing at a dangerous clip.

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

Coronavirus Updates for Monday, 23 November 2020: CNN World, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Emma Reynolds, Ed Upright, Melissa Macaya, and Mike Hayes, Monday, 23 November 2020:

  • AstraZeneca says its experimental coronavirus vaccine developed with the University of Oxford has shown an average efficacy of 70% in large scale trials.
  • The first Americans to receive a Covid-19 vaccine could be immunized as early as the second week of December, the White House vaccine chief said.
  • The US has recorded over 3 million Covid-19 infections already in November, accounting for more than a quarter of its cases since the pandemic began.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine up to 90% effective and easily transportable, company says, The Washington Post, William Booth and Carolyn Y. Johnson, Monday, 23 November 2020: “AstraZeneca on Monday became the third pharmaceutical company to announce positive results from late-stage trials of a coronavirus vaccine, saying that its candidate, developed by Oxford University, was ‘highly effective.’ Scientists and politicians alike hailed the third straight week of buoyant scientific news as a sign that, even as coronavirus cases surge to devastating levels in many countries, an end to the pandemic is in sight. The AstraZeneca candidate was 70 percent effective on average, with up to 90 percent efficacy in a smaller group that got a lower dosage. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech and Moderna have each reported vaccines that were 95 percent effective in clinical trials. Different trial designs make direct comparison complicated, but even with somewhat lower protection, the AstraZeneca vaccine may be a more realistic option for much of the world, as it is likely to be less expensive and does not need to be stored at subzero temperatures.”

Presidential Transition Highlights: Trump Authorizes Administration to Begin Working With Biden on Transition.  Michigan certified its election results. New York Times, Monday, 23 November 2020:

  • The G.S.A. administrator has formally designated Biden the apparent winner of the presidential election.
  • Michigan certifies its election results, making Biden’s win official and rebuffing Trump.
  • Feinstein, under fire by progressives, says she will step down as top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.
  • Trump is renovating Mar-a-Lago, ostensibly preparing for life post-presidency.
  • Senator Kelly Loeffler plans to return to the campaign trail after two negative virus test results.
  • Republicans, caught between Trump’s wrath and reality, have splintered into two groups.
  • Biden is expected to name Janet Yellen, former Fed Chair, as Treasury secretary. She’d be the first woman in the job.
  • Biden will tap Avril Haines to lead intelligence and Alejandro Mayorkas to run Homeland Security.
  • Philadelphia is the latest county in Pennsylvania to certify results.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Election 2020: General Services Administration (GSA) ready to begin transition; Biden to name first female heads of national intelligence and treasury, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, and Paulina Firozi, Monday, 23 November 2020: “Emily Murphy, head of the General Services Administration, said in a letter to President-elect Joe Biden on Monday that her office is ready to begin the formal presidential transition, after weeks of pressure from Democrats to allow the process to go ahead. The letter came after a four-member canvassing board in Michigan certified that state’s election results, effectively awarding Michigan’s 16 electoral votes to Biden, who defeated President Trump with a margin of more than 155,000 votes. Trump thanked Murphy in tweets Monday night and said he had recommended that she and her team ‘do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols.’ But he also maintained, ‘Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail!’ Earlier Monday, Biden announced several picks for top jobs in national security and foreign relations, and is also expected to name Janet L. Yellen as treasury secretary, according to three people in close communication with aides to the president-elect. The nominations are: Alejandro Mayorkas to head the Department of Homeland Security, the first immigrant in that position; Avril D. Haines as director of national intelligence, the first woman in that position; and former secretary of state John F. Kerry as special presidential envoy for climate.

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

  • Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris met virtually Monday with about 50 mayors.
  • Biden confirmed that he plans to name Antony Blinken as secretary of state, Jake Sullivan as national security adviser and Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. See Biden’s picks so far for his Cabinet.
  • A group of leading GOP national security experts urged congressional Republicans to demand Trump concede the election and immediately begin the transition to the incoming Biden administration.
  • Four Republican senators — Rob Portman (Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and Bill Cassidy (La.) — joined the ranks of those acknowledging Biden as the apparent winner and urging the Trump administration to allow the transition to go forward.
  • Former president Barack Obama, in a live interview hosted by The Washington Post, praised Biden’s national security and foreign relations picks, some of whom served in his administration as well.

Trump relents on transition as Republicans join mounting calls for him to acknowledge Biden’s win, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Tom Hamburger, Amy Gardner, and Philip Rucker, Monday, 23 November 2020: President Trump effectively surrendered his three-week protest of the election results Monday by submitting to the government’s official transition to the incoming Biden administration, bowing to a growing wave of public pressure yet still stopping short of conceding to President-elect Joe Biden. Trump authorized the federal government to initiate the Biden transition late Monday, setting in motion a peaceful transfer of power by paving the way for the president-elect and his administration-in-waiting to tap public funds, receive security briefings and gain access to federal agencies. Though procedural in nature, Trump’s acceptance of the General Services Administration starting the transition amounted to a dramatic capitulation and capped an extraordinary 16-day standoff since Biden was declared the winner on Nov. 7. By continuing to subvert the vote and delay the transition, Trump risked becoming isolated within his own party as a growing chorus of Republican officials recognized Biden as president-elect following a succession of defeats in courts by the Trump campaign.” See also, Trump Administration Approves Start of Formal Transition to Biden. A key official designated President-elect Joe Biden as the apparent winner after Michigan certified his victory there and President Trump lost another court decision in Pennsylvania. The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Maggie Haberman, Nick Corasaniti, and Jim Rutenberg, Monday, 23 November 2020: “President Trump’s government on Monday authorized President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. to begin a formal transition process after Michigan certified Mr. Biden as its winner, a strong sign that the president’s last-ditch bid to overturn the results of the election was coming to an end. Mr. Trump did not concede, and vowed to persist with efforts to change the vote, which have so far proved fruitless. But the president said on Twitter on Monday night that he accepted the decision by Emily W. Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration, to allow a transition to proceed. In his tweet, Mr. Trump said that he had told his officials to begin ‘initial protocols’ involving the handoff to Mr. Biden ‘in the best interest of our country,’ even though he had spent weeks trying to subvert a free and fair election with false claims of fraud. Hours later, he tried to play down the significance of Ms. Murphy’s action, tweeting that it was simply ‘preliminarily work with the Dems’ that would not stop efforts to change the election results. Still, Ms. Murphy’s designation of Mr. Biden as the apparent victor provides the incoming administration with federal funds and resources and clears the way for the president-elect’s advisers to coordinate with Trump administration officials.”

Republican national security experts call on Trump to concede and begin the transition to a Biden presidency, The Washington Post, Tom Hamburger and Ellen Nakashima, Monday, 23 November 2020: “A group of leading GOP national security experts — including former homeland security secretary Tom Ridge — urged congressional Republicans on Monday to demand President Trump concede the election and immediately begin the transition to the incoming Biden administration. ‘President Trump’s refusal to permit the presidential transition poses significant risks to our national security, at a time when the U.S. confronts a global pandemic and faces serious threats from global adversaries, terrorist groups, and other forces,’ said a statement signed by more than 100 GOP luminaries.”

Business Leaders, Citing Damage to Country, Urge Trump to Begin Transition, The New York Times, Kate Kelly and Danny Hakim, Monday, 23 November 2020: “Concerned that President Trump’s refusal to accept the election results is hurting the country, more than 160 top American executives asked the administration on Monday to immediately acknowledge Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the president-elect and begin the transition to a new administration. Even one of Mr. Trump’s stalwart supporters, Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of Blackstone, the private equity firm, said in a statement that ‘the outcome is very certain today and the country should move on.’ While he did not sign a letter sent to the administration by the other executives, he said he was ‘now ready to help President-elect Biden and his team.’Signatories to the letter included the chief executives of Mastercard, Visa, MetLife, Accenture, the Carlyle Group, Condé Nast, McGraw-Hill, WeWork and American International Group, among others. They included some of the most important players in the financial industry: David M. Solomon, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs; Laurence D. Fink, chief executive of the asset management giant BlackRock; Jon Gray, Blackstone’s president; and Henry R. Kravis, a prominent Republican donor who is the co-chief executive of KKR, a private equity firm.”

With John Kerry Pick, Biden Selects a ‘Climate Envoy’ With Stature, The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Monday, 23 November 2020: “When John Kerry served as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state, he helped steer the negotiation of the Paris Agreement on climate change, locking down commitments from nearly 200 nations — including his own — to begin to reverse the dangerous warming of the planet. Now his diplomatic task may be even tougher. On Monday, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. said he would name Mr. Kerry his special presidential envoy for climate, creating a new cabinet-level position. In that role, Mr. Kerry will need to convince skeptical global leaders — burned by the Trump administration’s hostility toward climate science and its rejection of the 2015 Paris Agreement — that the United States not only is prepared to resume its leadership role but will also stay the course…. The appointment of Mr. Kerry not only as a roving diplomat but also as a sitting member of Mr. Biden’s National Security Council elevates the issue of climate change to the highest echelons of government, and indicates that the incoming administration intends to treat ‘the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat that it is,’ Mr. Kerry said in a statement.”

General Motors Drops Its Support for Trump Climate Rollbacks and Aligns With Biden, The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Monday, 23 November 2020: “General Motors turned its back Monday on the Trump administration’s legal fight to nullify California’s strict fuel economy rules, signaling that it was ready to work with President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. to reduce climate-warming emissions from cars and trucks. The decision by Mary Barra, the General Motors chief executive, to withdraw her company’s support for Trump administration efforts to strip California of its ability to set its own fuel efficiency standards was a striking reversal. It was also a signal that corporate America is moving on from President Trump. More specifically, it was a sign that Mr. Biden may find the auto industry amenable as he tries to reinstitute and rebuild Obama-era climate change regulations that Mr. Trump systematically dismantled, at times with the help of industry.”

Trump set on veto of defense bill over renaming military bases honoring Confederates. Trump has told lawmakers he won’t back down from a campaign threat to scuttle defense spending bill over proposed changes. NBC News, Carol El Lee, Leigh Ann Caldwell, and Courtney Kube, Monday, 23 November 2020: “President Donald Trump is threatening to veto legislation to fund the military as one of his final acts in office unless a widely supported, bipartisan provision to rename military bases honoring Confederate military leaders is removed, according to White House, defense and congressional sources. Since the Nov. 3 election, Trump has privately told Republican lawmakers that he won’t back down from his position during the campaign that he would veto the annual National Defense Authorization Act if it includes an amendment to rename the bases.”

Biden picks John Kerry as climate czar and Janet Yellen as treasury secretary, NBC News, Allan Smith, Geoff Bennett, Carol E. Lee, and Kristen Welker, Monday, 23 November 2020: “President-elect Joe Biden made official his picks for a number of high-level administration and Cabinet positions Monday, including former Secretary of State John Kerry to be his special presidential envoy for climate and Antony Blinken as secretary of state. Biden also plans to nominate Janet Yellen to be treasury secretary, NBC News confirmed. Yellen, a former chair of the Federal Reserve, would be the first woman to hold the job if she is confirmed by the Senate. As treasury secretary, Yellen would lead the administration’s effort to get the economy back on its feet after the devastation caused by Covid-19. Biden earlier announced his intention to nominate Alejandro Mayorkas as his homeland security secretary, Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Avril Haines as director of national intelligence. Jake Sullivan, a State Department official during Hillary Clinton’s term as secretary of state, will serve as Biden’s national security adviser. Mayorkas is the first Latino and the first immigrant picked to head Homeland Security, and Kerry’s selection marks the first time that the National Security Council will include an official dedicated to climate change.” See also, Biden Picks Janet Yellen for Treasury Secretary. If confirmed by the Senate, Yellen would be first woman to hold the job. The Wall Street Journal, Nick Timiraos, Kate Davidson, and Ken Thomas, Monday, 23 November 2020: “President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate former Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, an economist at the forefront of policy-making for three decades, to become the next Treasury secretary, according to people familiar with the decision. If confirmed by the Senate, Ms. Yellen would become the first woman to hold the job. Mr. Biden’s selection positions the 74-year-old labor economist to lead his administration’s efforts to further the recovery from the destruction caused by the coronavirus pandemic and shutdowns. Ms. Yellen, who was the first woman to lead the Fed, would become the first person to have headed the Treasury, the central bank and the White House Council of Economic Advisers.” See also, Who Joe Biden is picking to fill his White House and Cabinet, The Washington Post, Monday, 23 November 2020.


Tuesday, 24 November 2020, Day 1,404:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Tuesday, 24 November 2020: Thanksgiving Travel Drops as People in the U.S. Rethink Rituals, The New York Times, Tuesday, 24 November 2020:

  • Holiday travel drops, as Americans rethink a comforting ritual.

  • The surge in California shatters records as officials scramble to head it off.

  • Pennsylvania bans booze sales on one of the busiest nights of the year.

  • Macron says that France is past the peak of the second wave and that shops can reopen on Saturday.

  • In the first distribution push, 6.4 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine will be shipped across the U.S.

  • A Chinese firm seeks permission to market a vaccine before it has completed trials.

  • Britain will loosen most restrictions for a short period to allow people to celebrate Christmas.

  • For Biden, the start of the transition means his battle against the coronavirus begins.

  • The organizers of a gigantic Brooklyn wedding will be fined $15,000 for violating pandemic rules.

Other significant developments are included in this article

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, 24 November 2020: Nearly 2,100 died of covid-19 in the U.S. on Tuesday, the deadliest day since early summer, The Washington Post, Antonia Noori Farzan, Jennifer Hassan, Rick Noack, Derek Hawkins, Paulina Firozi, Hamza Shaban, Siobhán O’Grady, Reis Thebault, Ruby Mellen, and Lena H. Sun, Tuesday, 24 November 2020: “Tuesday was the deadliest day in the coronavirus pandemic for the U.S. since early summer — a troubling sign that the worst is still on the horizon. The country reported nearly 2,100 covid-19 deaths Tuesday, according to data tracked and analyzed by The Washington Post. It’s the highest mark since May 6, when states reported a combined 2,611 virus fatalities.

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

Presidential Transition Highlights: President-Elect Biden Announces Some Cabinet Choices, The New York Times, Tuesday, 24 November 2020:

  • Biden says his cabinet picks are ‘ready to lead the world, not retreat from it.’

  • Trump stress-tested the election system, and the cracks showed.

  • A competition emerges among Democrats for the top slot on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

  • Janet Yellen, Biden’s expected Treasury pick, would assume a vast policy portfolio.

  • Pennsylvania, Nevada, North Carolina and Minnesota certify their election results.

  • Stacey Abrams believes Georgia turning blue this year wasn’t a fluke, but the new normal.

  • A lame-duck president takes part in his final turkey pardon.

Election 2020 Transition: Pennsylvania and Nevada certify Biden’s wins; president-elect introduces national security team, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, and John Wagner, Tuesday, 24 November 2020: “Pennsylvania and Nevada, two key battleground states, certified President-elect Joe Biden’s wins Tuesday, even as President Trump continued to fight results in court and insisted that he will ‘never concede.’ Meanwhile, Biden introduced several foreign policy and national security picks at an event in Wilmington, Del., calling them a team that will ‘make us proud to be Americans.’ Trump made a brief appearance at the White House to tout that the Dow Jones industrial average reached 30,000 points for the first time in history, and later for the annual pre-Thanksgiving turkey pardons. He took no questions at either event.

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

Trump Stress-Tested the Election System, and the Cracks Showed, The New York Times, Alexander Burns, Tuesday, 24 November 2020: “For now, the country appears to have avoided a ruinous breakdown of its electoral system. Next time, Americans might not be so lucky. While Mr. Trump’s mission to subvert the election has so far failed at every turn, it has nevertheless exposed deep cracks in the edifice of American democracy and opened the way for future disruption and perhaps disaster. With the most amateurish of efforts, Mr. Trump managed to freeze the passage of power for most of a month, commanding submissive indulgence from Republicans and stirring fear and frustration among Democrats as he explored a range of wild options for thwarting Mr. Biden. He never came close to achieving his goal: Key state officials resisted his entreaties to disenfranchise huge numbers of voters, and judges all but laughed his legal team out of court. Ben Ginsberg, the most prominent Republican election lawyer of his generation, said he doubted any future candidates would attempt to replicate Mr. Trump’s precise approach, because it has been so unsuccessful. Few candidates and election lawyers, Mr. Ginsberg suggested, would regard Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell — the public faces of Mr. Trump’s litigation — as the authors of an ingenious new playbook. ‘If in a few months, we look back and see that this Trump strategy was just an utter failure, then it’s not likely to be copied,’ said Mr. Ginsberg, who represented former President George W. Bush in the 2000 election standoff. ‘But the system was stress-tested as never before.’ That test, he said, revealed enough vague provisions and holes in American election law to make a crisis all too plausible. He pointed in particular to the lack of uniform standards for the timely certification of elections by state authorities, and the uncertainty about whether state legislatures had the power to appoint their own electors in defiance of the popular vote. The 2020 election, he said, ‘should be a call for some consideration of those issues.’ Yet even without precipitating a full-blown constitutional crisis, Mr. Trump has already shattered the longstanding norm that a defeated candidate should concede quickly and gracefully and avoid contesting the results for no good reason.”

Congressman Bill Pascrell of New Jersey seeks to have Rudolph Giuliani disbarred over attempts to overturn election, The Washington Post, Kim Bellware, Tuesday, 24 November 2020: “In the three weeks since Election Day, Rudolph W. Giuliani has waged a prodigiously unsuccessful legal fight on behalf of President Trump’s campaign to overturn the election results. Giuliani’s bizarre news conferences and literal meltdown became fodder for late-night talk show hosts, while his even more bizarre legal arguments have prompted federal judges to unleash withering rebukes. Giuliani and the rest of the efforts of the Trump campaign’s legal team won’t shift the election results in the president’s favor, but legal ethicists such as Scott Cummings of the UCLA School of Law do not view the former New York mayor as harmless. ‘People are emailing me saying this is comical, and I’d say it would be comical if it weren’t so dangerous,’ Cummings told The Washington Post on Monday in reference to Giuliani’s actions on Trump’s behalf. ‘We’re living through this moment where actions that should have consequences don’t seem to — at least not in a way we would have predicted in the past — and that erodes trust in the system.’ Trump and, to a lesser extent, those in his orbit have a track record of eluding consequences for violating democratic and political norms. And although a legal reckoning may still await Trump outside the White House, one congressional Democrat in New Jersey is pushing for lawyers such as Giuliani, who have enabled the president, to face swift and severe professional sanctions. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.) filed complaints on Friday in five states against Giuliani and 22 other lawyers working with the Trump campaign, calling for them to be stripped of their law licenses for filing ‘frivolous’ lawsuits and allegedly engaging in ‘conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.'”

Purdue Pharma Pleads Guilty to Role in Opioid Crisis as Part of Deal with the Justice Department, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Tuesday, 24 November 2020: “Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty on Tuesday to criminal charges that it misled the federal government about sales of its blockbuster painkiller OxyContin, the prescription opioid that helped fuel a national addiction crisis. The admission brought a formal end to an extensive federal investigation that led to a multibillion-dollar settlement between the company and the Justice Department. ‘The abuse and diversion of prescription opioids has contributed to a national tragedy of addiction and deaths,’ Jeffrey A. Rosen, the deputy attorney general, said in a statement. ‘Today’s convictions underscore the department’s commitment to its multipronged strategy for defeating the opioid crisis.’ Purdue’s chairman, Steve Miller, acknowledged in a remotely conducted hearing in federal court in New Jersey that in order to meet sales goals, the company told the Drug Enforcement Administration that it had created a program to prevent OxyContin from being sold on the black market, even though it was marketing the drug to more than 100 doctors suspected of illegally prescribing OxyContin. Purdue also pleaded guilty to paying illegal kickbacks to doctors who prescribed OxyContin and to an electronic health records company, Practice Fusion, for targeting physicians with alerts that were intended to increase opioid prescriptions. Practice Fusion has paid $145 million in fines for taking those kickbacks. Doctors overprescribing OxyContin, along with illicit distribution of the drug, have contributed to the deaths of more than 450,000 Americans since 1999.”


Wednesday, 25 November 2020, Day 1,405:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Wednesday, 25 November 2020: U.S. Deaths Climb Toward Daily Record, but More People Are Surviving Infection, The New York Times, Wednesday, 25 November 2020:

  • U.S. virus deaths are climbing toward an all-time high. But the bad news comes with an asterisk.

  • ‘Hang on,’ Biden urges Americans as the virus surges.

  • Another Trump campaign lawyer tests positive, along with other officials.

  • An outbreak strikes a major P.P.E. supplier, and other news from around the world.

  • About 200 homeless men must vacate an Upper West Side hotel, a Manhattan judge rules.

  • The N.F.L. postpones a Thanksgiving game because of a Ravens outbreak, and Coach Saban tests positive.

  • Sewage testing may offer early signs of coronavirus outbreaks.

  • Germany extends its partial lockdown through December.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Wednesday, 25 November 2020: California and Texas set nationwide records for new coronavirus infections in a single day, The Washington Post, Antonia Noori Farzan, Rick Noack, Hamza Shaban, Paulina Villegas, Adam Taylor, Kim Bellware, Meryl Kornfield, and Reis Thebault, Wednesday, 25 November 2020: “The country’s two largest states broke the nationwide record for most new coronavirus infections reported in a single day on Wednesday, with California tallying 18,350 and Texas nearly 16,100 — around 3,000 and 1,000 cases more than the previous high, respectively. The new records come amid a trio of surging metrics: infections, virus hospitalizations and deaths are all on the rise across the country. Wednesday was the 33rd consecutive day that the United States set a new record in its seven-day average of reported cases, according to data compiled and analyzed by The Washington Post. Nearly 90,000 people are currently in hospitals with covid-19, another record. The United States logged nearly 2,300 coronavirus-related fatalities on Wednesday. It was the pandemic’s deadliest day in the country since early May.

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

Presidential Transition Highlights: We’re at War With the Virus, Not With Each Other, Biden Tells the Nation, The New York Times, Wednesday, 25 November 2020:

  • ‘America is not going to lose this war,’ Biden says as he urges the country to persevere against the virus.

  • Trump says on Twitter that he has granted Michael Flynn a full pardon.

  • Biden delivers a sober Thanksgiving message as Trump grinds out his grievances.

  • Biden to officially name Yellen and other economic team members next week.

  • After canceling a planned trip to meet with Republicans in Pennsylvania, Trump invites them to the White House.

  • Stock trades made by David Perdue, who faces a runoff in Georgia, prompted a Justice Department inquiry.

  • Trump is said to be planning a wave of additional pardons.

  • ‘We do not feel that it is necessary’ for Biden and Trump to speak, a Biden aide said of the transition.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Trump  pardons former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman and Josh Dawsey, Wednesday, 25 November 2020: “President Trump on Wednesday announced he had pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, ending a three-year legal saga that included Flynn’s guilty plea for lying to the FBI, his later effort to withdraw that plea and then a controversial decision by Attorney General William P. Barr to try to drop the case altogether. Trump’s move marks a full embrace of the retired general he had ousted from the White House after only 22 days on the job — and a final salvo against the Russia investigation that shadowed the first half of his term in office. The pardon he granted Flynn, an early backer of his 2016 White House bid, underlines how Trump has used his clemency power to benefit allies and well-connected offenders. White House officials said Trump has been considering other pardons before leaving office, including possibly other former aides who were convicted of crimes as part of the special counsel probe of Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.” See also, Trump Pardons Michael Flynn, Ending Case His Justice Department Sought to Shut Down, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Wednesday, 25 November 2020: “President Trump pardoned on Wednesday his former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, who had twice pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about his conversations with a Russian diplomat and whose prosecution Attorney General William P. Barr tried to shut down. ‘It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon,’ Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. The presidential pardon appeared to bring to an end the drawn-out legal saga of Mr. Flynn. The Justice Department had moved in the spring to withdraw the charge against him after a public campaign by Mr. Trump and his allies, but the judge overseeing the case, Emmet G. Sullivan, had held up the request to scrutinize its legitimacy.”

Stock Trades by Senator David Perdue Said to Have Prompted Justice Department Inquiry, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Adam Goldman, Nicholas Fandos, and Kate Kelly, Wednesday, 25 November 2020: “Early this year, Senator David Perdue, Republican of Georgia, sold more than $1 million worth of stock in the financial company Cardlytics, where he once served on the board. Six weeks later, its share price tumbled when the company’s founder announced he would step down as chief executive and the firm said its future sales would be worse than expected. After the company’s stock price bottomed out in March at $29, Mr. Perdue bought back a substantial portion of the shares that he had sold. They are now trading at around $120 per share. The Cardlytics transactions drew the attention this spring of investigators at the Justice Department, who were undertaking a broad review of the senator’s prolific trading around the outset of the coronavirus pandemic for possible evidence of insider trading, according to four people with knowledge of the case who described aspects of it on the condition of anonymity. Though Mr. Perdue alluded to the federal inquiry in a campaign ad this fall, its details have not been previously reported.”

Unemployment claims jumped last week as coronavirus cases surge nationwide, The New York Times, Ben Casselman, Wednesday, 25 November 2020: “Applications for unemployment benefits rose for the second week in a row last week, the latest sign that the nationwide surge in coronavirus cases is threatening to undermine the economic recovery. More than 827,000 people filed first-time applications for state unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Wednesday. That was up 78,000 from a week earlier, before adjusting for seasonal patterns, and more than 100,000 from the first week of November, when weekly filings hit their lowest level since pandemic-induced layoffs began last spring.”

Trump Races to Weaken Environmental and Worker Protections and to Implement Other Last-Minute Policies before 20 January. The Trump administration is rushing to approve dozens of eleventh-hour policy changes. Among them: The Justice Department is fast-tracking a rule that could reintroduce firing squads and electrocutions to federal executions. ProPublica, Isaac Arnsdorf, Wednesday, 25 November 2020: “Even as Trump and his allies officially refuse to concede the Nov. 3 election, the White House and federal agencies are hurrying to finish dozens of regulatory changes before Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20. The rules range from long-simmering administration priorities to last-minute scrambles and affect everything from creature comforts like showerheads and clothes washers to life-or-death issues like federal executions and international refugees. They impact everyone from the most powerful, such as oil drillers, drugmakers and tech startups, to the most vulnerable, such as families on food stamps, transgender people in homeless shelters, migrant workers and endangered species. ProPublica is tracking those regulations as they move through the rule-making process.”


Thursday, 26 November 2020, Day 1,406: Happy Thanksgiving!


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Thursday, 26 November 2020: Americans Gather for Thanksgiving at a Moment of National Peril, The New York Times, Thursday, 26 November 2020:

  • A somber holiday for the U.S. amid a record number of daily virus cases and deaths.

  • Cuomo criticizes the Supreme Court’s decision barring New York’s restrictions on religious services.

  • One mayor ignored his own travel advice, but for most leaders it was a day to give thanks.

  • As with everything in 2020, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was drastically different.

  • England details post-lockdown restrictions, and other news from around the world.

  • In the county with the first U.S. case, virus numbers are hitting records.

  • The military’s role in a vaccine will be strictly behind the scenes, despite Trump’s claims.

  • Mothers have received less breastfeeding support from hospitals during the pandemic, a study finds.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Midnight Ruling Exposes Rifts at a Supreme Court Transformed by Trump, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Thursday, 26 November 2020: “A few minutes before midnight on Wednesday, the nation got its first glimpse of how profoundly President Trump had transformed the Supreme Court. Just months ago, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was at the peak of his power, holding the controlling vote in closely divided cases and almost never finding himself in dissent. But the arrival of Justice Amy Coney Barrett late last month, which put a staunch conservative in the seat formerly held by the liberal mainstay, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, meant that it was only a matter of time before the chief justice’s leadership would be tested. On Wednesday, Justice Barrett dealt the chief justice a body blow. She cast the decisive vote in a 5-to-4 ruling that rejected restrictions on religious services in New York imposed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to combat the coronavirus, shoving the chief justice into dissent with the court’s three remaining liberals. It was one of six opinions the court issued on Wednesday, spanning 33 pages and opening a window on a court in turmoil. The ruling was at odds with earlier ones in cases from California and Nevada issued before Justice Ginsburg’s death in September. Those decisions upheld restrictions on church services by 5-to-4 votes, with Chief Justice Roberts in the majority. The New York decision said that Mr. Cuomo’s strict virus limits — capping attendance at religious services at 10 people in “red zones” where risk was highest, and at 25 in slightly less dangerous “orange zones” — violated the First Amendment’s protection of the free exercise of religion. Wednesday’s ruling was almost certainly a taste of things to come. While Justice Ginsburg was alive, Chief Justice Roberts voted with the court’s four-member liberal wing in cases striking down a restrictive Louisiana abortion law, blocking a Trump administration initiative that would have rolled back protections for young immigrants known as Dreamers, refusing to allow a question on citizenship to be added to the census and saving the Affordable Care Act.” See also, Trump’s imprint on Supreme Court shows conservative effect in key coronavirus ruling, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Thursday, 26 November 2020: “The Supreme Court’s new conservative majority showed its muscle on Thanksgiving Eve, with Justice Amy Coney Barrett playing a key role in reversing the court’s past deference to local officials when weighing pandemic-related restrictions on religious organizations. All three of President Trump’s nominees to the court were in the 5-to-4 majority that blocked New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s restrictions on houses of worship in temporary hot spots where the coronavirus is raging. The court’s most conservative justices distanced themselves from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, Trump’s first nominee, went out of his way to say that lower courts should no longer follow Roberts’s guidance of deference, calling it ‘mistaken from the start.'”

Trump commits to stepping down if electoral college votes for Biden, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Thursday, 26 November 2020: “President Trump said on Thursday that he would leave the White House if the electoral college voted for President-elect Joe Biden next month, though he vowed to keep fighting to overturn the election he lost and said he may never concede. ‘Certainly I will, and you know that,’ he said when asked if he would leave the White House if the electoral college picked Biden. Though advisers have long said he would leave on Jan. 20, it was Trump’s first explicit commitment to vacate office if the vote did not go his way.”

Fact-checking Trump’s cellphone rant of election falsehoods, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, Thursday, 26 November 2020:  “On Thanksgiving eve, President Trump called into a news conference held by his allies in a Gettysburg, Pa., hotel, yet again falsely claiming that Joe Biden stole the presidential election. The presidential rant lasted less than 10 minutes, but Trump still managed to squeeze in at least 15 false or misleading statements.”