Trump Administration, Week 202: Friday, 27 November – Thursday, 3 December 2020 (Days 1,407-1,413)


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, 27 November 2020, Day 1,407:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 27 November 2020: Los Angeles County Bans Private Gatherings of Multiple Households, The New York Times, Friday, 27 November 2020:

  • Los Angeles County, where the virus is surging, urges residents to stay home.

  • U.S. coronavirus infections shoot past 13 million as officials plead with Americans to spend Black Friday online.

  • Covid is slamming U.S. hospitals with patients and robbing them of staff, pushing health systems to the edge.

  • Nursing homes in the U.S. account for roughly 40 percent of Covid-19 fatalities.

  • Britain moves to quickly approve a coronavirus vaccine with unclear test results.

  • ‘Unprecedented learning loss’: U.S. students rack up failures as grading returns to pre-pandemic standards.

  • The virus won’t stop evolving when a vaccine arrives.

  • After beating back the virus, officials in East Asia are forced to recalibrate their responses.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Presidential Transition Highlights: Appeals Court Rejects Trump Election Challenge in Pennsylvania. The ruling by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals was a complete repudiation of President Trump’s effort to halt Pennsylvania’s certification process. Mr. Trump committed to leave the White House in January if the electors vote, as expected, for President-elect Joe Biden on Dec. 14. The New York Times, Friday, 27 November 2020:

  • A federal appeals court denies the Trump campaign’s challenge to a lower court loss on certifying Pennsylvania’s vote.

  • ‘Certainly I will’: Trump says he’ll leave if the electors vote for Biden.

  • The killing of Iran’s top nuclear scientist could have broad implications for the Biden administration.

  • A final deregulatory rush at the E.P.A. has run into open resistance from career employees emboldened by Biden’s win.

  • Empowered by an odds-defying win, Susan Collins is more influential than ever.

  • Ten years ago, the Olori Sisterhood was a small-time ‘political sorority.’ Now they’re ready for a seat at the table.

  • Biden’s pick to lead the Agriculture Dept. could decide the direction of U.S. hunger policy.

  • Senate Democrats face a power struggle for the top job on the panel that controls judicial nominations.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Iran’s Top Nuclear Scientist Killed in Ambush, State Media Say, The New York Times, Farnaz Fassihi, David E. Sanger, Eric Schmitt, and Ronen Bergman, Friday, 27 November 2020:

Continue reading Week 202, Friday, 27 November  – Thursday, 3 December 2020 (Days 1,407-1,413):

Federal appeals court panel rejects Trump request to block certification of Pennsylvania’s election results, The Washington Post, Jon Swaine, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, and Robert Barnes, Friday, 27 November 2020: “A federal appeals court on Friday rejected President Trump’s request for an emergency injunction to overturn the certification of Pennsylvania’s election results, delivering another defeat to the president’s attempts to reverse the outcome in a state that has already formalized President-elect Joe Biden’s victory there.” See also, Trump’s Campaign Lost in Court, Again, Trying to Undo Biden’s Win in Pennsylvania, BuzzFeed News, Zoe Tillman, Friday, 27 November 2020: “A federal appeals court on Friday handed another loss to the Trump campaign’s effort to undo President-elect Joe Biden’s win in Pennsylvania, with a judge — one of Trump’s nominees — writing that the campaign’s ‘claims have no merit.’ In a 3-0 decision, the US Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit rejected the campaign’s effort to get a do-over of its lawsuit challenging the election results in Pennsylvania, which a lower court had already tossed out last week. ‘Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here,’ Judge Stephanos Bibas wrote in a 3-0 decision from the US Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit.” See also, In Harsh Rebuke, Appeals Court Rejects Trump’s Election Challenges in Pennsylvania, The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Friday, 27 November 2020: “In a blistering decision, a Philadelphia appeals court ruled on Friday that the Trump campaign could not stop — or attempt to reverse — the certification of the voting results in Pennsylvania, reprimanding the president’s team by noting that ‘calling an election unfair does not make it so.’ The 21-page ruling by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals was a complete repudiation of Mr. Trump’s legal effort to halt Pennsylvania’s certification process and was written by a judge that he himself appointed to the bench.”

Environmental Protection Agency’s Final Deregulatory Rush Runs Into Open Staff Resistance, The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Friday, 27 November 2020: “Thomas Sinks directed the E.P.A.’s science advisory office and later managed the agency’s rules and data around research that involved people. Before his retirement in September, he decided to issue a blistering official opinion that the pending rule — which would require the agency to ignore or downgrade any medical research that does not expose its raw data — will compromise American public health. ‘If this rule were to be finalized it would create chaos,’ Dr. Sinks said in an interview in which he acknowledged writing the opinion that had been obtained by The New York Times. ‘I thought this was going to lead to a train crash and that I needed to speak up.’ With two months left of the Trump administration, career E.P.A. employees find themselves where they began, in a bureaucratic battle with the agency’s political leaders. But now, with the Biden administration on the horizon, they are emboldened to stymie Mr. Trump’s goals and to do so more openly.”

Trump officials move to relax rules on killing birds, The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin and Sarah Kaplan, Friday, 27 November 2020: “A rule change easing companies’ liability for killing birds would not cause unacceptable environmental harm, the Trump administration said in an analysis published Friday, clearing the way for it to finalize a major rollback before the president’s term ends on Jan. 20. The administration, which is racing to lock in a series of regulatory changes before President-elect Joe Biden takes office, can now publish a final rule modifying the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s interpretation of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act, The act prohibits unauthorized ‘take’ of protected bird species — regulatory-speak for hunting, killing, capturing, selling or otherwise hurting the animals. For three years, officials at the Interior Department have sought to exclude accidental deaths from the ‘take’ definition, shielding energy companies, construction firms and land developers from prosecution if their operations ‘incidentally’ kill birds.”

Trump administration moves forward with gutting bird protections, PBS News Hour, Friday, 27 November 2020: “The Trump administration moved forward Friday on gutting a longstanding federal protection for the nation’s birds, over objections from former federal officials and many scientists that billions more birds will likely perish as a result. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published its take on the proposed rollback in the Federal Register. It’s a final step that means the change — greatly limiting federal authority to prosecute industries for practices that kill migratory birds — could be made official within 30 days. The wildlife service acknowledged in its findings that the rollback would have a ‘negative’ effect on the many bird species covered by the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which range from hawks and eagles to seabirds, storks, songbirds and sparrows. The move scales back federal prosecution authority for the deadly threats migratory birds face from industry — from electrocution on power lines, to wind turbines that knock them from the air and oil field waste pits where landing birds perish in toxic water. Industry operations kill an estimated 450 million to 1.1 billion birds annually, out of roughly 7 billion birds in North America, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and recent studies.”

Trump moves to strip job protections from White House budget analysts as he races to transform civil service, The Washington Post, Lisa Rein, Friday, 27 November 2020: “The outgoing Trump administration is racing to enact the biggest change to the federal civil service in generations, reclassifying career employees at key agencies to strip their job protections and leave them open to being fired before Joe Biden takes office. The move to pull off an executive order the president issued less than two weeks before Election Day — affecting tens of thousands of people in policy roles — is accelerating at the agency closest to the White House, the Office of Management and Budget. The budget office sent a list this week of roles identified by its politically appointed leaders to the federal personnel agency for final sign-off. The list comprises 88 percent of its workforce — 425 analysts and other experts who would shift into a new job classification called Schedule F. The employees would then be vulnerable to dismissal before Trump leaves office if they are considered poor performers or have resisted executing the president’s priorities, effectively turning them into political appointees that come and go with each administration.”

When he leaves office, can ex-President Trump be trusted with U.S. national security secrets? Some ex-intel officials think Trump shouldn’t get access to any national secrets when he leaves office. NBC News, Ken Dilanian, Friday, 27 November 2020: “When David Priess was a CIA officer, he traveled to Houston, he recalls, to brief former President George H.W. Bush on classified developments in the Middle East. It was part of a long tradition of former presidents being consulted about, and granted access to, some of the nation’s secrets. Priess and other former intelligence officials say Joe Biden would be wise not to let that tradition continue in the case of Donald Trump. They argue soon-to-be-former President Trump already poses a danger because of the secrets he currently possesses, and they say it would be foolish to trust him with more sensitive information. With Trump’s real estate empire under financial pressure and his brand suffering, they worry he will see American secrets as a profit center.”

Biden’s Plan for Seniors Is Not Just a Plan for Seniors. The incoming administration aims to tackle child care, elder care, preschool and more in one ambitious aid program. The New York Times, Paula Span, Friday, 27 November 2020: “President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has no shortage of ideas about how to transform caregiving. One striking feature of his team’s plan: It does not address elder care separately from child care, or divide plans to support family caregivers from those for paid caregivers. Rather, it takes on Medicaid benefits for older and disabled adults, preschool for toddlers and better jobs for home care workers, all in one ambitious, $775 billion-over-a-decade package.”


Saturday, 28 November 2020, Day 1,408:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Saturday, 28 November 2020: The U.S. Passes 4 Million Cases in November Alone, Doubling October’s Tally.  The national outbreak is escalating sharply, and deaths are at their highest levels since April and May. Video of an elderly Italian serenading his dying wife from a hospital courtyard is enchanting the internet. New York Times, Saturday, 28 November 2020:

  • U.S. coronavirus cases pass 4 million for the month of November, doubling the record set in October.

  • Daily Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. rise back toward the record level set in April.

  • In Kansas City, two Covid-19 deaths in one weekend drive home the risks to firefighters.

  • When coronavirus concerns emptied Vanderbilt’s kicking roster, Sarah Fuller made college football history.

  • The London police arrest over 150 people protesting against England’s coronavirus lockdown and vaccines.

  • To keep up with pandemic boom in online shopping, Amazon hired 427,300 employees in 10 months.

  • An underground New York club with 400 people was shut down for violating coronavirus restrictions.

  • A video in a hospital courtyard captures an 81-year-old Italian’s serenade to his dying wife.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

20 days of fantasy and failure: Inside Trump’s quest to overturn the election, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey, and Amy Gardner, Saturday, 28 November 2020: “The facts were indisputable: President Trump had lost. But Trump refused to see it that way. Sequestered in the White House and brooding out of public view after his election defeat, rageful and at times delirious in a torrent of private conversations, Trump was, in the telling of one close adviser, like ‘Mad King George, muttering, I won. I won. I won.’ However cleareyed Trump’s aides may have been about his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, many of them nonetheless indulged their boss and encouraged him to keep fighting with legal appeals. They were ‘happy to scratch his itch,’ this adviser said. ‘If he thinks he won, it’s like, Shh . . . we won’t tell him.’… The result was an election aftermath without precedent in U.S. history. With his denial of the outcome, despite a string of courtroom defeats, Trump endangered America’s democracy, threatened to undermine national security and public health, and duped millions of his supporters into believing, perhaps permanently, that Biden was elected illegitimately.”

Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit against mail ballots with prejudice in another defeat for Trump, The Washington Post, Elise Viebeck, Saturday, 28 November 2020: “The Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed with prejudice a Republican lawsuit seeking to invalidate more than 2.5 million votes cast by mail in the general election, the latest in a string of legal defeats for the GOP as President Trump fails to undo his losses in key battleground states. Justices on the state high court ruled unanimously late Saturday that Republican petitioners waited too long to file their suit challenging Act 77, the 2019 law that established universal mail voting in Pennsylvania. Trump allies had asked the court to invalidate all votes cast by mail in the most recent election or direct the majority-Republican legislature to choose a slate of presidential electors. The ruling with prejudice means that the plaintiffs are barred from bringing another action on the same claim. The court’s written order called the latter option ‘extraordinary,’ noting that it would disenfranchise 6.9 million voters. ‘The want of due diligence demonstrated in this matter is unmistakable,’ the justices wrote, noting that the lawsuit was filed ‘more than one year’ after no-excuse mail voting was enacted in Pennsylvania. The order blamed petitioners for a ‘complete failure to act with due diligence in commencing their facial constitutional challenge, which was ascertainable upon Act 77’s enactment.'”

In Key States, Republicans Were Critical in Resisting Trump’s Delusional Election Narrative, The New York Times, Peter Baker and Kathleen Gray, Saturday, 28 November 2020: “The telephone call would have been laugh-out-loud ridiculous if it had not been so serious. When Tina Barton picked up, she found someone from President Trump’s campaign asking her to sign a letter raising doubts about the results of the election. The election that Ms. Barton as the Republican clerk of the small Michigan city of Rochester Hills had helped oversee. The election that she knew to be fair and accurate because she had helped make it so. The election that she had publicly defended amid threats that made her upgrade her home security system. ‘Do you know who you’re talking to right now?’ she asked the campaign official. Evidently not. If the president hoped Republicans across the country would fall in line behind his false and farcical claims that the election was somehow rigged on a mammoth scale by a nefarious multinational conspiracy, he was in for a surprise. Republicans in Washington may have indulged Mr. Trump’s fantastical assertions, but at the state and local level, Republicans played a critical role in resisting the mounting pressure from their own party to overturn the vote after Mr. Trump fell behind on Nov. 3.”

Trump spent $3 million for a vote recount in Wisconsin’s largest county to support his baseless claim of ballot fraud but lost by even more than initially thought, Business Insider, Sophia Ankel, Saturday, 28 November 2020:

  • President-elect Joe Biden gained votes in Wisconsin after Trump’s election campaign demanded a recount earlier this month.
  • Milwaukee County, one of the state’s most populous counties, found on Friday that Biden made a total net gain of 132 votes out of nearly 460,000 votes cast.
  • The Trump campaign spent $3 million to request two recounts in Milwaukee and Dane counties, both of which have large numbers of Democrat voters.
  • Dane County is expected to announce its recount results on Sunday.
  • Trump has carried on pushing unproven claims of widespread voter fraud.

Assassination in Iran Could Limit Biden’s Options. Was That the Goal? The New York Times, David E. Sanger, Saturday, 28 November 2020: “The assassination of the scientist who led Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon for the past two decades threatens to cripple President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s effort to revive the Iran nuclear deal before he can even begin his diplomacy with Tehran. And that may well have been a main goal of the operation. Intelligence officials say there is little doubt that Israel was behind the killing — it had all the hallmarks of a precisely timed operation by Mossad, the country’s spy agency. And the Israelis have done nothing to dispel that view. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long identified Iran as an existential threat, and named the assassinated scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, as national enemy No. 1, capable of building a weapon that could threaten a country of eight million in a single blast. But Mr. Netanyahu also has a second agenda. ‘There must be no return to the previous nuclear agreement,’ he declared shortly after it became clear that Mr. Biden — who has proposed exactly that — would be the next president.”

Biden Aides’ Ties to Consulting and Investment Firms Pose Ethics Test. Some of the president-elect’s choices for top posts have done work for undisclosed corporate clients and aided a fund that invests in government contractors. The New York Times, Eric Lipton and Kenneth P. Vogel, Saturday, 28 November 2020: “One firm helps companies navigate global risks and the political and procedural ins and outs of Washington. The other is an investment fund with a particular interest in military contractors. But the consulting firm, WestExec Advisors, and the investment fund, Pine Island Capital Partners, call themselves strategic partners and have featured an overlapping roster of politically connected officials — including some of the most prominent names on President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s team and others under consideration for high-ranking posts. Now the Biden team’s links to these entities are presenting the incoming administration with its first test of transparency and ethics. The two firms are examples of how former officials leverage their expertise, connections and access on behalf of corporations and other interests, without in some cases disclosing details about their work, including the names of the clients or what they are paid. And when those officials cycle back into government positions, as Democrats affiliated with WestExec and Pine Island are now, they bring with them questions about whether they might favor or give special access to the companies they had worked with in the private sector. Those questions do not go away, ethics experts say, just because the officials cut their ties to their firms and clients, as the Biden transition team says its nominees will do.”


Sunday, 29 November 2020, Day 1,409:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Sunday, 29 November 2020: U.S. Health Officials Warn Thanksgiving Travelers They Could Seed a Coronavirus Surge on Top of a Surge, The New York Times, Sunday, 29 November 2020:

  • Warning of a surge on top of a surge, U.S. health officials caution Thanksgiving travelers.

  • In an abrupt shift, Mayor Bill de Blasio will reopen New York City’s pre-K and elementary schools Dec. 7.

  • ‘In the fight of our lives’: New Jersey’s governor spotlights his state’s return to crisis.

  • Should isolation periods be shorter for people with Covid-19?

  • Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado tests positive for coronavirus.

  • The virus has thrown the N.F.L. into disarray.

  • Netanyahu warns Israel may have to return to tighter restrictions.

  • Australia hopes a pilot program for international students can restart its crucial education sector.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Dr. Anthony Fauci warns Thanksgiving travel could worsen Covid-19 surge, NBC News, Ben Kamisar, Sunday, 29 November 2020: “Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s leading infectious disease expert, warned that the travel-heavy Thanksgiving holiday could make the current surge in Covid-19 cases even worse as the country heads into December. Appearing Sunday on NBC News’ ‘Meet the Press,’ Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said public health officials ‘tried to get the word out for people, as difficult as it is, to really not have large gatherings’ during the holiday because of concerns that the celebrations could aggravate the spread of the coronavirus. ‘What we expect, unfortunately, as we go for the next couple of weeks into December is that we might see a surge superimposed on the surge we are already in,’ he said.”

Presidential Transition Highlights: Recounts in Wisconsin Reaffirm Biden’s Victory. President-elect Joe Biden named Jennifer Psaki to be his press secretary on Sunday. Mr. Biden twisted his ankle Saturday while playing with one of the family’s dogs. President Trump again made groundless claims about the election, this time disparaging the F.B.I. and the Justice Department. The New York Times, Sunday, 29 November 2020:

  • Recount in two Wisconsin counties reinforces Biden’s victory.

  • Biden names all-female communications team with Jen Psaki as press secretary.

  • Biden’s doctor says president-elect has hairline fracture after twisting his ankle playing with dog.

  • Who will fill out Biden’s cabinet? Here’s what we know so far.

  • In his first one-on-one interview since losing to Biden, Trump baselessly cast more conspiracy theories.

  • A brazen assassination in Iran could limit Biden’s options. Was that the goal?

  • While Republicans in Washington indulged Trump’s claims of fraud, local and state Republicans pushed back.

  • Biden team wants to tackle child care, elder care, preschool in one overarching plan.

Recount in two Wisconsin Counties reinforces Biden’s victory, The New York Times, Holly Fuchs, Sunday, 29 November 2020: “Wisconsin’s two largest counties have concluded recounts requested by the Trump campaign, with the results slightly increasing Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s margin of victory and reaffirming his win over President Trump in this month’s election. Dane County certified its election results on Sunday, and Milwaukee County certified its totals on Friday. The Wisconsin Elections Commission is scheduled to meet on Tuesday. The conclusion of the recount adds yet another loss in the Trump campaign’s effort to upend Mr. Biden’s win. The president’s team has been dealt a series of losses in court in several key states, including Pennsylvania and Michigan.”

Biden hires all-female senior communications team and names Neera Tanden director of the influential Office of Management and Budget (OMB), The Washington Post, Annie Linskey and Jeff Stein, Sunday, 29 November 2020: “President-elect Joe Biden has filled out his economics and communications teams, enlisting mostly women, including several of color, in a move that reflected his campaign pledge to create an administration that presents a diverse face to America as it tackles twin pandemic and economic crises. Biden is expected to nominate Neera Tanden, the chief executive of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, as director of the influential Office of Management and Budget, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the nominations freely. Tanden, whose parents immigrated from India, would be the first woman of color to oversee the agency. The president-elect will also appoint Princeton University labor economist Cecilia Rouse as chair of the three-member Council of Economic Advisers, with economists Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey serving as the other members. Rouse, who is African American, would be the first woman of color to chair the council, which will play a key role in advising the president on the economy, which has been ailing since the pandemic struck the country, throwing tens of millions out of work. Biden earlier named economist Janet Yellen as his treasury secretary. Jennifer Psaki, a veteran Democratic spokeswoman, will be Biden’s White House press secretary, one of seven women who will fill the upper ranks of his administration’s communications staff. It is the first time all of the top aides tasked with speaking on behalf of an administration and shaping its message will be female. Biden’s team will be steered by Kate Bedingfield, a longtime Biden aide who was his campaign communications director and will hold the same title in his White House. Taken together, the plans show the president-elect’s determination to bring in a more diverse leadership team than what Washington has seen in the past.” See also, Biden Names All-Female Communications Team. Jennifer Psaki Is to Be Press Secretary. The New York Times, Annie Karni, Sunday, 29 November 2020: “President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Sunday announced an all-female White House communications staff, with Jennifer Psaki, a veteran of the Obama administration, in the most visible role as White House press secretary. ‘Communicating directly and truthfully to the American people is one of the most important duties of a president,’ Mr. Biden said in a statement, drawing an implicit contrast with the Trump administration’s use of the White House briefing room to disseminate falsehoods and try to undermine the credibility of the news media. The transition team also announced that Kate Bedingfield, 39, who served as a deputy campaign manager for Mr. Biden, will serve as the White House communications director. Karine Jean Pierre, who previously served as the chief public affairs officer for, will be the principal deputy press secretary. Pili Tobar, a former immigrant advocate with the group America’s Voice, will serve as the deputy White House communications director. Symone Sanders, a senior adviser to Mr. Biden on the campaign, will serve as the senior adviser and chief spokeswoman for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Ashley Etienne, a former senior adviser to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will serve as the communications director for Ms. Harris.”

The Cost of Trump’s Assault on the Press and the Truth. Trump is being forced to give up his attempt to overturn the election. But he will continue his efforts to build an alternative reality around himself. The New Yorker, David Remnick, Sunday, 29 November 2020: “Donald Trump began his career convinced that reporters, once exposed to his myriad charms, would be willing stenographers of his story. He learned to elevate himself, his brand, and his interests largely by supplying the New York tabloids with a ready-made character, a strutting snake-oil salesman who provided an unending stream of gossip-page items about his personal and commercial exploits. It was of little concern to anyone that these items were, in the main, preposterous. Occasionally, investigative reporters, profile writers, and the courts would look more deeply into Trump’s swindles and business bankruptcies, but, as long as he skirted total ruin, he seemed to think that even his bad press added to his allure. Trump’s relationship with reporters inevitably changed when he shifted his occupation to the command of the federal government. First as a candidate, and then in the early days of his Presidency, he discovered that the press was a variegated beast; Cindy Adams and Maggie Haberman were not of the same stuff. He could still depend on toadying support from some quarters, particularly the editorial holdings of Rupert Murdoch and emerging properties like Breitbart and Newsmax; however, he was now getting a more scrupulous going-over from what Sarah Palin had called ‘the lamestream media.’ Trump craved the acceptance of such institutions as the Times and the Washington Post, but he knew that his base loathed them. And so he would loathe them, too, while at the same time declaring a new, Trumpian reality, constructed of what his adviser Kellyanne Conway memorably called ‘alternative facts.’ On his second day in office, Trump sent his press secretary, Sean Spicer, to the White House briefing room to con the nation the way he had conned the tabloids. The crowds on the Mall for Trump’s Inauguration, Spicer insisted, were unprecedented, despite the evidence to the contrary. A few weeks later, as news coverage further nettled Trump, he took to Twitter to declare that CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, and the Times were ‘the enemy of the American People.’ The resonance was clear. In the Soviet era, to be branded an ‘enemy of the people’ was to await a boxcar to the Gulag.”


Monday, 30 November 2020, Day 1,410:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Monday, 30 November 2020: California’s Governor Warns of ‘Drastic Action’ as Hospitals Near Crisis, The New York Times, Monday, 30 November 2020:

  • Governor Newsom warns California’s I.C.U. beds could be full before Christmas.

  • Dr. Atlas, Trump’s coronavirus adviser, resigns.

  • Cuomo announces emergency hospital measures as New York enters ‘a new phase in the war against Covid.’

  • It may be weeks before we know if Thanksgiving travel fed a virus surge.

  • Moderna applied for emergency F.D.A. vaccine authorization and says first injections could begin by Dec. 21.

  • Prisons are Covid-19 hotbeds. When should inmates get the vaccine?

  • A humanitarian leader says a ‘pandemic of mistrust’ could torpedo vaccination campaigns.

  • Croatia’s prime minister and his wife have tested positive for the virus.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Monday, 30 November 2020: Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the US, begins a new shutdown, The Washington Post, Antonia Noori Farzan, Rick Noack, Marisa Iati, Adam Taylor, Brittany Shammas, Taylor Telford, Darren Sands, and Reis Thebault, Monday, 30 November 2020: “Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the United States, entered a new shutdown Monday, hoping to slow its worst-ever surge of the coronavirus. The stay-at-home order bans nearly all public gatherings and prohibits people in different households from getting together, even in private. While it’s less severe than the statewide shutdown in March, Los Angeles’s order is the strictest in California. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) warned that intensive care units in the state are already two-thirds full and could fill up by mid-December. If the trends continue, Newsom said, California would need to take ‘dramatic — arguably, drastic — action,’ including wider stay-at-home orders for the hardest-hit regions.

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

  • Scott Atlas, President Trump’s pandemic adviser who embraced a controversial strategy of urging Americans to return to work and school with little restriction and spent months feuding with the White House coronavirus task force’s other doctors, resigned on Monday.
  • An advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is scheduled to meet Tuesday to weigh in on which groups of people should be eligible to receive the first doses of the coronavirus vaccines that may win federal regulatory approval next month.
  • Biotechnology company Moderna, one of the leaders in the race for a coronavirus vaccine, announced that it would file Monday for regulatory clearance for a vaccine that the company said was 94 percent effective at preventing illness in a 30,000-person clinical trial.
  • U.S. stocks delivered a record-breaking November, driven by promising vaccine news, the formal start of the White House transition and the selection of Janet L. Yellen to head up the Treasury Department.
  • New York officials are directing hospitals to initiate emergency measures, including identifying retired health-care workers who could return to duty, as officials try to beat back a rise in hospitalizations statewide.
  • The cascading effects of the pandemic on jobs, wages and profits have pushed 700,000 more people into poverty in the United Kingdom, a London-based think tank found.
  • The United States has reported more than 13.5 million coronavirus cases and at least 267,000 fatalities since February.

Biotechnology company Moderna filed Monday for emergency authorization of its coronavirus vaccine, The Washington Post, Carolyn Y. Johnson, Monday, 30 November 2020: “The federal government could begin distributing two coronavirus vaccines in the next few weeks — a record-shattering feat that now hinges on the decisions of U.S. regulators. Biotechnology company Moderna filed Monday for emergency authorization of its coronavirus vaccine, capping a scientific sprint that began in January. Moderna’s two-dose regimen is about a week behind a similar vaccine developed by Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech. No vaccine can arrive soon enough to blunt an anticipated blitz of coronavirus cases seeded by Thanksgiving travels and gatherings — a surge expected to materialize in the coming days and weeks. But less than a year after a novel virus began hopscotching around the world, U.S. government officials project an unprecedented scientific accomplishment: Approximately 40 million doses of two remarkably effective vaccines could be available by year’s end, enough for 20 million people to receive full protection. Manufacturing will continue to ramp up through early next year, and other vaccines are expected to follow to steadily increase the supply available each month.” See also, Moderna Applies for Emergency Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) Approval for Its Coronavirus Vaccine.  The first shots could be given as early as Dec. 21, if authorization is granted. New York Times, Denise Grady, Monday, 30 November 2020: “The drugmaker Moderna announced highly encouraging results on Monday, saying that complete data from a large study show its coronavirus vaccine to be 94.1 percent effective, a finding that confirms earlier estimates. The company said that it applied on Monday to the Food and Drug Administration to authorize the vaccine for emergency use, and that if approved, injections for Americans could begin as early as Dec. 21. The hopeful news arrives at a particularly grim moment in the U.S. health crisis. Coronavirus cases have surged and overwhelmed hospitals in some regions, and health officials have warned that the numbers may grow even worse in the coming weeks because of travel and gatherings for Thanksgiving.” See also, Moderna applies for FDA authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine, CNN Health, Elizabeth Cohen, Monday, 30 November 2020: “Pharmaceutical company Moderna applied on Monday to the US Food and Drug Administration for authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine. The company asked the FDA to review an expanded data set showing the vaccine is 94.1% effective at preventing Covid-19 and 100% effective at preventing severe cases of the disease.”

Presidential Transition Highlights: Biden’s Victory Is Certified in Wisconsin and Arizona, The New York Times, Monday, 30 November 2020:

  • Wisconsin certifies Biden’s narrow victory, after Arizona does the same.

  • Biden begins receiving intelligence briefings as president-elect.

  • As Senate runoffs approach, Trump’s attacks on Georgia Republicans have worried some in his party.

  • The Supreme Court hears arguments on Trump’s plan to exclude unauthorized immigrants in redistricting.

  • Biden’s picks for his economic team signal a focus on workers.

  • Justice Dept. asks judge to ‘immediately’ dismiss Flynn case, citing Trump’s pardon.

  • Inauguration planning intensifies as committee leaders are named.

  • Why Joe Manchin sees a divided Senate as a ‘golden opportunity.’

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Arizona and Wisconsin certify Biden’s win; president-elect names inauguration planning committee, The Washington Post, Felicia Somnez and John Wagner, Monday, 30 November 2020: “Arizona and Wisconsin certified their results Monday, giving President-elect Joe Biden a win in two more states where President Trump has contested the election. Trump allies have pledged to continue court challenges in the two states.  The action came as Biden forged ahead with plans for his presidency, announcing a committee to organize his Jan. 20 inauguration and formally unveiling his economic team. Biden was also set to get his first President’s Daily Brief, a classified compilation of information from intelligence agencies, though it was not announced whether he had yet received it. Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris received the briefing, at the Commerce Department.

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

Biden’s Economic Team Suggests Focus on Workers and Income Equality, The New York Times, Jim Tankersley, Jeanna Smiatek, and Alan Rappeport, Monday, 30 November 2020: “President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. formally announced his top economic advisers on Monday, choosing a team that is stocked with champions of organized labor and marginalized workers, signaling an early focus on efforts to speed and spread the gains of the recovery from the pandemic recession. The selections build on a pledge Mr. Biden made to business groups two weeks ago, when he said labor unions would have ‘increased power’ in his administration. They suggest that Mr. Biden’s team will be focused initially on increased federal spending to reduce unemployment and an expanded safety net to cushion households that have continued to suffer as the coronavirus persists and the recovery slows. In a sign that Mr. Biden plans to focus on spreading economic wealth, his transition team put issues of equality and worker empowerment at the forefront of its news release announcing the nominees, saying they would help create ‘an economy that gives every single person across America a fair shot and an equal chance to get ahead.'”

The Supreme Court Is Skeptical of Trump’s Plan to Not Count Unauthorized Immigrants in Redistricting. The administration’s efforts, which are subject to practical hurdles, would upset a constitutional consensus and could shift political power from Democratic states to Republican ones. New York Times, Adam Liptak, Monday, 30 November 2020: “A skeptical Supreme Court on Monday reacted with frustration and some confusion to President Trump’s plan to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the calculations used to allocate seats in the House. While there was some discussion about whether the plan was lawful, the more immediate questions for the justices were where the administration stood in its efforts to identify and count the unauthorized immigrants and what role the court should play if substantial numbers were not identified. Removing undocumented immigrants from the census would most likely have the effect of shifting congressional seats and federal money to states that are older, whiter and typically more Republican. But if the Census Bureau cannot provide Mr. Trump with specific information about a large enough number of unauthorized immigrants in the coming weeks, he will not be able to exclude enough of them from the reapportionment to change the way House seats are allocated. That would leave the justices without a concrete dispute to decide.” See also, Supreme Court leery of Trump’s bid to exclude undocumented immigrants from congressional reapportionment, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Monday, 30 November 2020: “Some Supreme Court justices on Monday seemed skeptical of President Trump’s claim he has the authority to exclude undocumented immigrants from population totals when deciding congressional reapportionment. But they also wondered whether a definitive answer is needed now. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was among those questioning whether the court should wait to see whether the Census Bureau, under the direction of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, can even produce useful numbers about the undocumented population. Or if the numbers the government can produce will make a difference when deciding the size of each state’s congressional delegation.” See also, Supreme Court Looks For Ways to Wait Out Trump on Key Census Question, NPR, Nina Totenberg and Hansi Lo Wang, Monday, 20 November 2020: “At the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, the justices expressed doubts about a plan to exclude undocumented immigrants from a key census count — the first time unauthorized immigrants would not be counted for purposes of drawing new congressional districts. The Constitution mandates that the ‘whole number of persons’ living in each state be counted to figure out how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes are allocated to each state. But in July, President Trump issued a memorandum instructing the U.S. Census Bureau to exclude all undocumented immigrants from the count used for apportionment purposes. At the high court Monday, acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall was in the unenviable position of telling the justices he didn’t know how many ‘illegal aliens’ Trump plans to exclude.”

Labor Department Published Flawed Estimates of Weekly Jobless Claims, Watchdog Says. The Government Accountability Office also says jobless-benefits program underpaid millions amid the pandemic. The Wall Street Journal, Paul Kiernan and Sarah Chaney Cambon, Monday, 30 November 2020: “The nation’s system for providing unemployment benefits to jobless workers has consistently produced inaccurate data and lower-than-appropriate payouts to millions of workers amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a government watchdog said Monday. The Labor Department’s weekly reports on jobless claims have published ‘flawed estimates of the number of individuals receiving benefits each week throughout the pandemic,’ the Government Accountability Office said in a periodic report, warning that the inaccuracies could hinder policy makers’ ability to effectively respond to the economic fallout. The report said the weekly data had included overestimates and underestimates at various times, but GAO officials said they didn’t know the full extent of the errors.”

Trump campaign lawyer Joe DiGenova says former cybersecurity chief Chris Krebs should be ‘shot,’ Politico, Matthew Choi, Monday, 30 November 2020: “An attorney for President Donald Trump’s reelection efforts said on Monday that Chris Krebs, the former head of U.S. cybersecurity, should be ‘shot’ for going against the president’s conspiracy theories and declaring the 2020 elections as secure. ‘Anybody who thinks the election went well, like that idiot Krebs who used to be the head of cybersecurity,’ said Trump campaign lawyer Joe DiGenova, ‘that guy is a class A moron. He should be drawn and quartered. Taken out at dawn and shot.'” See also, Trump attorney Joe diGenova issues call for violence against truth-telling former election cybersecurity official Chris Krebs, CNN Politics, Jim Acosta, Jake Tapper, Zachary Cohen, and Devan Cole, published on Tuesday, 1 December 2020: “An attorney for the Trump campaign on Monday issued a call for violence against Chris Krebs, a former cybersecurity official who was unceremoniously ousted from his post by President Donald Trump after he rejected the President’s unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud. Joe diGenova, the attorney for Trump’s campaign, said during an appearance on ‘The Howie Carr Show’: ‘Anybody who thinks the election went well, like that idiot Krebs who used to be the head of cybersecurity. That guy is a class A moron. He should be drawn and quartered. Taken out at dawn and shot.'”

Trump raises more than $150 million appealing to false election claims, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Monday, 30 November 2020: “President Trump’s political operation has raised more than $150 million since Election Day, using a blizzard of misleading appeals about the election to shatter fundraising records set during the campaign, according to people with knowledge of the contributions. The influx of political donations is one reason Trump and some allies are inclined to continue a legal onslaught and public affairs blitz focused on baseless claims of election fraud, even as their attempts have repeatedly failed in court and as key states continue to certify wins for President-elect Joe Biden. Much of the money raised since the election is likely to go into an account for the president to use on political activities after he leaves office, while some of the contributions will go toward what’s left of the legal fight.” See also, Trump Raises $170 Million as He Denies His Loss and Eyes the Future, The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman, published on Monday, 1 December 2020: “President Trump has raised about $170 million since Election Day as his campaign operation has continued to aggressively solicit donations with hyped-up appeals that have funded his fruitless attempts to overturn the election and that have seeded his post-presidential political ambitions, according to a person familiar with the matter. The money, much of which was raised in the first week after the election, according to the person, has arrived as Mr. Trump has made false claims about fraud and sought to undermine public confidence in the legitimacy of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory. Instead of slowing down after the election, Mr. Trump’s campaign has ratcheted up its volume of email solicitations for cash, telling supporters that money was needed for an ‘Election Defense Fund.’ In reality, the fine print shows that the first 75 percent of every contribution currently goes to a new political action committee that Mr. Trump set up in mid-November, Save America, which can be used to fund his political activities going forward, including staff and travel. The other 25 percent of each donation is directed to the Republican National Committee. A donor has to give $5,000 to Mr. Trump’s new PAC before any funds go to his recount account. Still, the Trump campaign continues to urgently ask for cash. On Monday, Mr. Trump signed a campaign email that breathlessly told supporters that the end of November — nearly four weeks after Election Day — represented ‘our most IMPORTANT deadline EVER.'”


Tuesday, 1 December 2020, Day 1,411:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Tuesday, 1 December 2020: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) Recommends That Nursing Homes and Health Workers Get Vaccines First, The New York Times, Tuesday, 1 December 2020:

  • Long-term care residents and health workers should get vaccine first, C.D.C. panel says.

  • The U.K. approves a vaccine, becoming the first nation in the West to do so.

  • The White House summons the head of the F.D.A. to explain why the Pfizer vaccine has not received approval.

  • At least 30 sheriffs have caught the virus. The latest has fought a huge outbreak in his jail.

  • As officials warn about dangers facing hospitals, N.Y.C. urges older adults and vulnerable people to stay home.

  • England exits its lockdown but divides into a strict three-tier system, and other news from around the world.

  • The virus may have been in the U.S. in mid-December, but was probably not spreading.

  • With the virus spiking on Capitol Hill, the congressional physician asks for more precautions.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, 1 December 2020: An advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says health-care workers and nursing home residents should get coronavirus vaccine first, The Washington Post, Lena H. Sun, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Reis Thebault, Meryl Kornfield, Marisa Iati, and Brittany Shammas, Tuesday, 1 December 2020: “An estimated 20 million health-care workers should get top priority for a vaccine to keep the nation’s hospitals and clinics functioning, an advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Tuesday. Biotechnology company Moderna has requested emergency authorization of its experimental vaccine, which means the U.S. government potentially could start distributing two vaccines in the next few weeks.

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

Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Report Covid-19 Was Likely in the U.S. in Mid-December 2019, The Wall Street Journal, Betsy McKay, Tuesday, 1 December 2020: “The new coronavirus infected people in the U.S. in mid-December 2019, a few weeks before it was officially identified in China and about a month earlier than public health authorities found the first U.S. case, according to a government study published Monday. The findings significantly strengthen evidence suggesting the virus was spreading around the world well before public health authorities and researchers became aware, upending initial thinking about how early and quickly it emerged. Scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found evidence of infection in 106 of 7,389 blood donations collected by the American Red Cross from residents in nine states across the U.S., according to the study published online in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. The scientists based their study on blood samples that the American Red Cross collected between Dec. 13 and Jan. 17 and later sent to the CDC for testing to see if any had antibodies to the new coronavirus, which is named SARS-CoV-2.”

Trump’s virus czar Scott Atlas resigned, drawing cheers from health officials who say his ideas are dangerous, The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Tuesday, 1 December 2020: “President Trump’s coronavirus czar, Dr. Scott W. Atlas, who has had a leading role in the White House’s efforts to play down the virus and politicize efforts to curb its spread, resigned on Monday from a position that was set to expire this week. Dr. Atlas, a radiologist, was heavily criticized by many health experts as his guidance on key issues — including the wearing of masks — conflicted with guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He has also been widely criticized for his support for allowing the virus to spread in order to achieve herd immunity — a point when transmission of the virus stalls because so many people have either previously had it or have been vaccinated for it.”

Presidential Transition Highlights: Justice Department Has No Evidence of Fraud That Would Undo Biden’s Win, Attorney General William Barr Says. President Trump is said to have discussed pre-emptive pardons for his eldest three children and for Rudolph W. Giuliani, his lawyer. A Republican official in Georgia urged Mr. Trump to “stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence.” The New York Times, Tuesday, 1 December 2020:

  • Barr says Justice Dept. hasn’t uncovered fraud that could have tipped the election, and McConnell refers to ‘new administration.’

  • Trump has discussed pardons for his three eldest children and Giuliani.

  • Justice Dept. is investigating whether White House officials were bribed for potential pardon from Trump.

  • Georgia elections official urges Trump to ‘stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence.’

  • Biden announces top members of his economic team as he contends with a recovery strategy.

  • Stimulus stalemate persists as centrists pitch a broad compromise and Senate Republicans insist on a bare-bones bill.

  • In a Fox News interview, Parscale blames Trump’s lack of coronavirus empathy for his election loss.

  • Despite the pandemic, the White House is planning at least 20 holiday parties this month.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Biden pledges ‘a recovery for everybody’ as he introduces economic team in Delaware, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner, Tuesday, 1 December 2020: “President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday pledged ‘a recovery for everybody’ and promised ‘help is on the way’ amid a worsening coronavirus pandemic as he introduced top members of the economic team he intends to bring to Washington, the latest rollout of major players in his incoming administration. President Trump, meanwhile, is continuing to lash out over the election results. Some of his recent attacks have been aimed at Republican governors in Georgia and Arizona, who allowed tallies to be certified in their states despite Trump’s baseless claims that he was cheated of victory. Trump’s claims were undercut Tuesday by Attorney General William P. Barr, who told the Associated Press that he has ‘not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election.’

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

  • Wisconsin and Arizona became the last two of six states where Trump has contested his defeat to finalize their vote counts, dealing a fresh blow to his quest to overturn Biden’s victory. On Tuesday, Trump’s campaign filed a lawsuit with the Wisconsin Supreme Court in a bid to overturn the state’s election results.
  • Trump’s political operation has raised more than $150 million since Election Day, using a blizzard of misleading appeals about the election to shatter fundraising records set during the campaign.
  • Neera Tanden, Biden’s pick to lead the powerful White House budget office, has generated early controversy, emerging as an immediate target for conservatives and Republican lawmakers.

Joe Biden Introduces Team He Says Will Help Economy Recover After Coronavirus. President-elect urges Congress to pass a robust relief package and says more stimulus efforts will be needed later. The Wall Street Journal, Sabrina Siddiqui and Tarini Parti, Tuesday, 1 December 2020: “President-elect Joe Biden formally introduced his picks for key economic positions in remarks on Tuesday, emphasizing their experience and diverse backgrounds as the U.S. weathers the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Flanked by the people he has chosen for top economic roles, Mr. Biden said during the appearance in Wilmington, Del., that his team was working on a plan to revitalize the U.S. economy and help the nation recover from what he called ‘the most unequal economic and job crisis in modern history.’ The president-elect called on Congress to pass a robust coronavirus relief bill but said a larger stimulus effort would be necessary during his administration to address the long-term impact of the pandemic.” See also, ‘Help Is on the Way,’ Biden Says as He Formally Unveils Economic Team, NPR, Brakkton Booker, Tuesday, 1 December 2020.

Disputing Trump, Attorney General William Barr says there was no widespread election fraud, Associated Press, Michael Balsamo, Tuesday, 1 December 2020: “Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared Tuesday the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election. Barr’s comments, in an interview with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month’s voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House. Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but ‘to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.’ The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president’s most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.” See also, Attorney General William Barr says he hasn’t seen fraud that could affect the election outcome, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Tuesday, 1 December 2020: “Attorney General William P. Barr told the Associated Press on Tuesday that he has ‘not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,’ undercutting claims that President Trump and his allies have made — without evidence — of widespread and significant voting irregularities. In an interview, Barr suggested the FBI and Justice Department have looked into some fraud claims, and seemed to take particular aim at one, by attorney Sidney Powell, who alleged a grand conspiracy involving election software changing voting tallies. ‘There’s been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that,’ Barr told the Associated Press, referring to the departments of Homeland Security and Justice.” See also, Attorney General William Barr Acknowledges the Justice Department Has Found No Widespread Voter Fraud, The New York Times, Katie Benner and Michael S. Schmidt, Tuesday, 1 December 2020: “Attorney General William P. Barr acknowledged on Tuesday that the Justice Department has uncovered no voting fraud ‘on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,’ a striking repudiation of President Trump’s groundless claims that he was defrauded. The statement from Mr. Barr affirming Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s win served as a particularly harsh blow to Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the election. Mr. Barr has advanced Mr. Trump’s political agenda perhaps more than any other cabinet member, bringing the Justice Department as close to the White House as it has been since Watergate.”

Attorney General William Barr Makes John Durham a Special Counsel in a Bid to Entrench Scrutiny of the Russia Inquiry, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 1 December 2020: “Attorney General William P. Barr revealed on Tuesday that he had bestowed special counsel status on John H. Durham, the prosecutor he assigned to investigate the officials who conducted the Trump-Russia inquiry — setting the stage to leave him in place after the Biden administration takes over. In a letter to Congress, Mr. Barr disclosed that he had secretly appointed Mr. Durham as a special counsel on Oct. 19, before the election. The action gives Mr. Durham the same independence and protections against being fired that had been enjoyed by Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel who eventually oversaw the Russia investigation.” See also, Attorney General William Barr appoints special counsel in Russia investigation, Associated Press, Michael Balsamo and Eric Tucker, published on Wednesday, 2 December 2020: “Attorney General William Barr has given extra protection to the prosecutor he appointed to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, granting him authority to complete the work without being easily fired. Barr told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel in October under the same federal regulations that governed special counsel Robert Mueller in the original Russia probe. He said Durham’s investigation has been narrowing to focus more on the conduct of FBI agents who worked on the Russia investigation, known by the code name of Crossfire Hurricane. Under the regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.”

Gabriel Sterling, a top Republican election official in Georgia, blames President Trump for fostering violent threats: ‘Someone’s going to get killed,’ The Washington Post, Amy Gardner and Keith Newell, Tuesday, 1 December 2020: “A top Republican election official in Georgia lashed out at President Trump during a news conference Tuesday in Atlanta, blaming him for a flood of threats that have besieged his office and calling on the president and other Republicans to condemn the behavior. Gabriel Sterling, a voting systems manager for Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, was visibly angry and shaken as he approached a lectern in the Georgia Capitol. ‘Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language,’ he said. ‘Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions. . . . Stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence.’… Sterling’s public chastisement represents one of the strongest rebukes yet of Trump’s baseless attacks on the election’s integrity by a member of his own party…. Although more and more local and state Republicans have acknowledged Biden’s victory — and said they have seen no evidence of widespread fraud — most national GOP officials, including Georgia’s two U.S. senators seeking reelection in twin runoffs on Jan. 5, have refused to do so.” See also, ‘It Has to Stop’: Georgia Election Official Gabriel Sterling Lashes Trump, The New York Times, Richard Fausset, Tuesday, 1 December 2020: “In one of the most striking rebukes to President Trump since he launched his baseless attacks on the American electoral process, a top-ranking Georgia election official lashed out at the president on Tuesday for failing to condemn threats of violence against people overseeing the voting system in his state. ‘It has to stop,’ Gabriel Sterling, a Republican and Georgia’s voting system implementation manager, said at an afternoon news conference at the state Capitol, his voice shaking with emotion. ‘Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language.’ He added: ‘This is elections. This is the backbone of democracy, and all of you who have not said a damn word are complicit in this. It’s too much.’  Mr. Sterling’s outburst of anger and frustration came amid a sustained assault on Georgia’s election process by Mr. Trump as he seeks to reverse his loss to his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Mr. Sterling, who previously said he had received threats himself, said that threats had also been made against the wife of his superior, Brad Raffensperger, the Republican secretary of state.”

Trump Has Discussed With Advisers Pardons for His 3 Eldest Children and for His Personal Lawyer Rudy Giuliani, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt, Tuesday, 1 December 2020: “President Trump has discussed with advisers whether to grant pre-emptive pardons to his children, to his son-in-law and to his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and talked with Mr. Giuliani about pardoning him as recently as last week, according to two people briefed on the matter. Mr. Trump has told others that he is concerned that a Biden Justice Department might seek retribution against the president by targeting the oldest three of his five children — Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump — as well as Ms. Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner, a White House senior adviser.”

Justice Department investigated potential ‘bribery-for-pardon’ scheme involving the White House, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Tuesday, 1 December 2020: “The Justice Department in August investigated a potential ‘bribery-for-pardon’ scheme in which a large political contribution would be offered in exchange for a presidential pardon by the White House, according to court records unsealed Tuesday. The documents show that U.S. prosecutors were scrutinizing whether two individuals approached senior White House officials as unregistered lobbyists, and a related scheme in which cash would be funneled through intermediaries for a pardon or reprieve of a sentence for a defendant apparently in Federal Bureau of Prisons custody at some point. The status of the investigation is unclear. The slender record is heavily redacted and does not identify the investigation’s targets or whether anyone has been or will be charged. It also does not indicate what senior White House officials did after allegedly being approached.” See also, Justice Department Investigating Potential Bribery Scheme for Trump Pardon, The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Tuesday, 1 December 2020: “The Justice Department has been investigating whether intermediaries for a federal convict offered White House officials a bribe in exchange for a potential pardon or commutation from President Trump, according to court documents unsealed by a federal judge on Tuesday. The documents were heavily redacted, and it was unclear who may have been involved. Nothing directly tied Mr. Trump to the scheme, and the documents said no one had been charged. But the documents offered a few clues about what the White House may have known about the scheme. One passage appears to show that a lawyer for the convict had discussions with the White House Counsel’s Office about a pardon or commutation, but it was unclear whether the discussions were part of the scheme or a normal back-and-forth with the White House about a convict’s case.”


Wednesday, 2 December 2020, Day 1,412:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Wednesday, 2 December 2020: Grim Day in U.S. as Covid-19 Deaths and Hospitalizations Set Records, The New York Times, Wednesday, 2 December 2020:

  • ‘It’s terrible, because it was avoidable’: U.S. virus deaths have passed the spring peak.

  • As deaths rise, U.S. hospitals struggle to keep record numbers of patients alive.

  • Redfield warns this winter may be ‘the most difficult time in the public health history’ of the U.S.

  • Obama says he is planning to take a Covid-19 vaccine.

  • No, a doctor’s selfie does not show a ‘fake hospital’ in Nevada.

  • If authorized, vaccine doses for about 170,000 New Yorkers could arrive on Dec. 15, Cuomo says.

  • Wondering when you can get a vaccine? Here are answers to some common questions about the rollout.

  • A ‘pandemic effect’ is driving a rise in applications to medical schools.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Wednesday, 2 December 2020: Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issues stark warning as new U.S. coronavirus cases top 200,000, The Washington Post, Reis Thebault, Meryl Kornfield, Jacqueline Dupree, Derek Hawkins, Siobhán O’Grady, Paulina Villegas, and Taylor Telford, Wednesday, 2 December 2020: “The United States set a pair of alarming coronavirus records Wednesday, surpassing 200,000 new infections and topping 100,000 covid-19 patients hospitalized — the first time the country has reached either metric in a single day. And Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the worst might still be ahead. He predicted that the U.S. covid-19 death toll could reach 450,000 by February, and he warned that this winter could be ‘the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation.’

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

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Shortens Its COVID-19 Quarantine Recommendations, NPR, Colin Dwyer, Wednesday, 2 December 2020: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revised its guidelines for people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus. Now, instead of the standard 14-day quarantine it has been recommending, the CDC says that potential exposure warrants a quarantine of 10 or seven days, depending on one’s test results and symptoms. If individuals do not develop symptoms, they need only quarantine for 10 days; if they test negative, that period can be reduced to just one week. The revision marks a significant change from the CDC’s recommendations since the start of the pandemic earlier this year. While the agency says a 14-day quarantine remains the safest option, it acknowledged this length placed difficult demands on people.”

Presidential Transition Highlights: Democrats Back Compromise Stimulus Plan as Baseline to Resume Talks, The New York Times, Wednesday, 2 December 2020:

  • Pelosi and Schumer back bipartisan stimulus plan as basis for reviving talks.

  • Biden meets with workers and business owners to discuss economic hardship caused by the pandemic.

  • A day after Justice Dept. found no evidence of widespread election fraud, Trump posts video filled with falsehoods.

  • Biden plans to keep Wray as head of F.B.I., while aides say Cohen is leading choice to take over C.I.A.

  • Suit claiming inaugural committee overpaid a Trump hotel moves forward with Ivanka Trump deposition.

  • Defying Trump, Republicans plan to advance military bill without repeal of liability shield for social media companies.

  • Democratic super PAC starts a multimillion-dollar ad blitz for Georgia Senate runoffs.

  • Democrats should ditch ‘defund the police’ and give Ocasio-Cortez a bigger platform, Obama says.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Transfer of Presidential Power: Biden holds roundtable with workers; Trump draws rebukes for questioning election integrity, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, and John Wagner, Wednesday, 2 December 2020: “President-elect Joe Biden sought to keep a focus on the economy Wednesday by holding a virtual roundtable with workers and small-business owners affected by the downturn. During the event, Biden called on members of Congress to ‘come together and pass a robust package of relief’ amid the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump taped a 46-minute address from inside the White House in which he repeated debunked and misleading claims that his election loss was the result of widespread voting fraud and corruption. In Georgia, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, chided Trump for questioning the integrity of the state’s election, comments he said are responsible for a volley of threats against election workers. Christopher Krebs, the government’s ousted top election security official, also denounced such threats, calling them ‘un-American’ and ‘undemocratic’ in a Washington Post Live event Wednesday.

Here are a few significant developments included in this article.

  • During a White House holiday party Tuesday night, President Trump hinted at a 2024 presidential bid if his ongoing efforts to reverse the 2020 election results are unsuccessful.
  • Mark Kelly, a Democrat, was sworn in to the Senate after winning a special election in Arizona. The state certified its results this week.
  • Attorney General William P. Barr said he has ‘not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,’ undercutting claims that Trump has made — without evidence — of widespread voting irregularities.
  • Representatives of leading U.S. civil rights groups are pressing to meet with Biden, escalating pressure to appoint Black nominees to remaining high-profile Cabinet posts.

In video, Trump recycles unsubstantiated voter fraud claims, Associated Press, Aamer Madhani and Kevin Freking, Wednesday, 2 December 2020: “Increasingly detached from reality, President Donald Trump stood before a White House lectern and delivered a 46-minute diatribe against the election results that produced a win for Democrat Joe Biden, unspooling one misstatement after another to back his baseless claim that he really won. Trump called his address, released Wednesday only on social media and delivered in front of no audience, perhaps ‘the most important speech’ of his presidency. But it was largely a recycling of the same litany of misinformation and unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud that he has been making for the past month.” See also, Trump, in video from White House, Delivers a 46-Minute Diatribe on the ‘Rigged’ Election, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Wednesday, 2 December 2020: “President Trump on Wednesday released a 46-minute videotaped speech that denounced a ‘rigged’ election and was filled with lies the day after his own attorney general joined election officials across the country in attesting to his defeat. Mr. Trump recorded what he said ‘may be the most important speech I’ve ever made’ in the Diplomatic Room of the White House and delivered it behind a lectern bearing the presidential seal. He then posted a two-minute version on Twitter, with a link to the full version on his Facebook page. The president once again refused to concede defeat in his bid for re-election over a month after Election Day, repeating a long list of false assertions about voter fraud and accusing Democrats of a conspiracy to steal the presidency.” See also, Trump escalates baseless attacks on election with 46-minute video rant, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Wednesday, 2 December 2020: “Escalating his attack on democracy from within the White House, President Trump on Wednesday distributed an astonishing 46-minute video rant filled with baseless allegations of voter fraud and outright falsehoods in which he declared the nation’s election system ‘under coordinated assault and siege’ and argued that it was ‘statistically impossible’ for him to have lost to President-elect Joe Biden. Standing behind the presidential lectern in the Diplomatic Reception Room and flanked by the flags of his office and of the country whose Constitution he swore an oath to uphold, Trump tried to leverage the power of the presidency to subvert the vote and overturn the election results.”

Election officials warn Trump’s escalating attacks on voting are putting their staffs at risk, The Washington Post, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Emma Brown, Wednesday, 2 December 2020: “Intensifying attacks on the integrity of the vote by President Trump and his allies are fueling deep alarm among state and local officials, who have watched with dread in recent weeks as election workers have been targeted by fast-spreading conspiracy theories. They echoed calls by Gabriel Sterling, a top Republican election official in Georgia who on Tuesday urged Trump and other GOP politicians to tamp down their baseless claims of widespread fraud. In an impassioned statement, Sterling blamed the president for ‘inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence.'”

Government watchdog sues Trump, Kushner, and the White House to prevent records from being destroyed, Axios, Rebecca Falconer, Wednesday, 2 Dec ember 2020: “A government watchdog group filed a lawsuit against President Trump, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and the White House on Tuesday to prevent them from destroying records during his remaining time in office. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and other groups allege in their suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, that Trump and his administration are violating the Presidential Records Act by failing to properly preserve records of official government business.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo invites hundreds to indoor holiday parties after subordinates are warned against hosting ‘non-mission critical events,’ The Washington Post, John Hudson, Wednesday, 2 December 2020: “Following a sharp spike in coronavirus cases across the country, State Department leadership sent out a notice to employees one week ago recommending that ‘any non-mission critical events’ be changed to ‘virtual events as opposed to in-person gatherings.’ That same week, U.S. event planners were told that the guidance did not apply to the upcoming functions they were working on: large indoor holiday parties hosted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife, Susan, on the eighth floor of the State Department involving hundreds of guests, food and drinks. Pompeo’s lineup of parties in the next three weeks comes as the Trump administration’s own health experts are imploring Americans to limit travel and avoid large gatherings amid a pandemic that has killed more than 270,000 Americans and infected nearly 14 million across the United States.”

2,596 Trades in One Term: Inside Georgia Senator David Perdue’s Stock Portfolio, The New York Times, Stephanie Saul, Kate Kelly, and Michael LaForgia, Wednesday, 2 December 2020: “Along with Senator Kelly Loeffler, a fellow Georgia Republican, Mr. Perdue faces an unusual runoff election in January. With control of the Senate at stake, and amid renewed concern about the potential for conflicts of interest in stock trading by members of Congress, Mr. Perdue’s investment activity — and especially his numerous well-timed trades — has increasingly come into the public glare. Last week, The New York Times reported that the Justice Department had investigated the senator for possible insider trading in his sale of more than $1 million worth of stock in a financial-analysis firm, Cardlytics. Ultimately, prosecutors declined to bring charges. Other media outlets have revealed several trades in companies whose business dealings fall under the jurisdiction of Mr. Perdue’s committees. An examination of Mr. Perdue’s stock trading during his six years in office reveals that he has been the Senate’s most prolific stock trader by far, sometimes reporting 20 or more transactions in a single day. The Times analyzed data compiled by Senate Stock Watcher, a nonpartisan website that aggregates publicly available information on lawmakers’ trading, and found that Mr. Perdue’s transactions accounted for nearly a third of all senators’ trades reported in the past six years. His 2,596 trades, mostly in stocks but also in bonds and funds, roughly equal the combined trading volume of the next five most active traders in the Senate.”

Release of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan recipients’ data reveals troubling patterns. Tenants paying rent at Trump Organization and Kushner Company properties are beneficiaries of PPP loans. NBC News, Ben Popken and Andrew W. Lehren, Wednesday, 2 December 2020: “Sweeping data released by the Small Business Administration on who benefited from pandemic relief programs raises questions about the equitability and distribution of loans intended for small businesses, an initial analysis by NBC News shows. The analysis found that tenants paying rent at properties owned by the Trump Organization as well as the Kushner Companies, owned by the family of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, benefited financially from the program. These tenants received loans, which they then were required to put toward rent for the loans to be forgiven. The data did not show that the Trump Organization received PPP loans for its properties.” See also, More than half of emergency small-business funds went to larger businesses, new data show, The Washington Post, Jonathan O’Connell, Andrew Van Dam, Aaron Gregg, and Alyssa Fowers, Wednesday, 2 December 2020: “More than half of the money from the Treasury Department’s coronavirus emergency fund for small businesses went to just 5 percent of the recipients, according to data on more than 5 million loans that was released by the government Tuesday evening in response to a Freedom of Information Act request and lawsuit. According to data on the government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), about 600 mostly larger companies, including dozens of national chains, received the maximum amount allowed under the program of $10 million. Officials from the Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration (SBA) have argued the program primarily benefited smaller businesses because a vast majority of the loans ― more than 87 percent ― were for less than $150,000, as of August. But the new data shows more than half of the $522 billion in the same time frame went to bigger businesses, and only 28 percent of the money was distributed in amounts less than $150,000.”

A Hotter Planet Is Already Killing Americans, Health Experts Warn. A new report presented climate change as an immediate public health danger and urged lawmakers to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The New York Times, Somini Sengupta, Wednesday, 2 December 2020: “Rising temperatures and environmental pollutants are already endangering the health and well-being of Americans, with fatal consequences for thousands of older men and women, a team of public health experts warned Wednesday. Their report, published in The Lancet, called on lawmakers to stem the rise of planet-warming gases in the next five years. The section on the United States presents climate change as a public health risk now, rather than a hazard faced by future generations. It points to the immediate dangers of extreme heat, wildfires and air pollution, and makes the case for rapidly shifting to a green economy as a way to improve public health. The coronavirus pandemic, the authors point out, has served as a reminder of the urgent need to strengthen the country’s public health system — something that’s going to be all the more necessary for Americans to deal with the health effects of climate change, which, the authors conclude, disproportionately harm those with the fewest resources to respond to threats.”

Democratic lawmakers unveil anti-slavery constitutional amendment, Associated Press, Aaron Morrison, Wednesday, 2 December 2020: “National [Democratic] lawmakers introduced a joint resolution Wednesday aimed at striking language from the U.S. Constitution that enshrines a form of slavery in America’s foundational documents. The resolution, spearheaded and supported by Democratic members of the House and Senate, would amend the 13th Amendment’s ban on chattel enslavement to expressly prohibit involuntary servitude as a punishment for crime. As ratified, the original amendment has permitted exploitation of labor by convicted felons for over 155 years since the abolition of slavery. The 13th Amendment ‘continued the process of a white power class gravely mistreating Black Americans, creating generations of poverty, the breakup of families and this wave of mass incarceration that we still wrestle with today,’ Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon told The Associated Press ahead of the resolution’s introduction.” See also, Democrats Push ‘Abolition Amendment’ to Fully Erase Slavery From the U.S. Constitution, NPR, Brakkton Booker, published on Thursday, 3 December 2020: “As the nation grapples with issues of racial injustice and social inequality, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are pushing to remove the so-called slavery loophole from the United States Constitution. With the adoption and ratification of the 13th Amendment 155 years ago, the practice of slavery formally ended in this country, but it did not strip away all aspects of involuntary servitude. A joint resolution dubbed the Abolition Amendment, introduced by Democrats in the House and Senate Wednesday, seeks to correct that. It would remove the ‘punishment’ clause from the amendment, which effectively allows members of prison populations to be used as cheap and free labor. ‘Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction,’ Section 1 of the amendment states. Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, one of the Democrats leading the effort to amend the Constitution, put the change in the context of the overall campaign for justice. ‘As we take on the long and difficult challenge of rooting out systemic racism in our nation, ending the slavery loophole in the 13th Amendment is [a] critical step in that challenge,’ Merkley said in a statement. ‘Slavery is our nation’s original sin and this loophole has been exploited for far too long to criminalize Black and Brown Americans,’ he said.”


Thursday, 3 December 2020, Day 1,413:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Thursday, 3 December 2020: After a Skirmish Over U.K. Vaccine Approval, Dr. Anthony Fauci Offers an Olive Branch, The New York Times, Thursday, 3 December 2020:

  • As the U.K. claims bragging rights for the best vaccine regulators (yes, really), U.S. officials beg to differ.

  • California will impose stay-at-home orders in areas where intensive care units are close to capacity.

  • Biden says he will ask Americans to wear masks for 100 days.

  • N.Y.C. surpasses a positive test rate last seen at the end of May.

  • At-home saliva kits are the next frontier in virus testing.

  • Moderna’s vaccine provides protection against Covid-19 for at least three months, a study finds.

  • A couple were arrested after boarding a plane knowing they were infected, the police say.

  • Stay home this Christmas, a Canadian premier begs citizens.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Thursday, 3 December 2020: New California covid restrictions are coming soon, governor says, The Washington Post, Meryl Kornfield, Antonia Noori Farzan, Jennifer Hassan, Adam Taylor, Kim Bellware, Paulina Villegas, Taylor Telford, and Hannah Knowles, Thursday, 3 December 2020: “Most of California is headed for new stay-at-home orders, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced Thursday, saying major regions of the state are days away from critically low hospital capacity that will trigger new restrictions. Newsom warned that 4 of the 5 geographic regions dividing the state could soon need to pull “the emergency brake” and enact a three-week limited lockdown. Under the new order, residents would be directed to remain in their homes except for essential activities; restaurants would only offer takeout or delivery; and bars, wineries, hair salons and other personal services would close. Schools could remain open, as well as retail with a maximum 20 percent capacity. These restrictions would be enforced in conjunction with already-implemented local and statewide rules, including a 10 p.m. curfew in most of the populous counties.

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

Former Presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton volunteer to get coronavirus vaccine publicly to prove it’s safe, CNN Politics, Jamie Gangel and Shelby Lin Erdman, Thursday, 3 December 2020: “Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are volunteering to get their Covid-19 vaccines on camera to promote public confidence in the vaccine’s safety once the US Food and Drug Administration authorizes one. The three most recent former presidents hope an awareness campaign to promote confidence in its safety and effectiveness would be a powerful message as American public health officials try to convince the public to take the vaccine.”

Biden Transition Highlights: Biden Says He Will Ask Americans to Wear Masks During First 100 Days of His Presidency, The New York Times, Thursday, 3 December 2020:

  • Biden urges action on the pandemic, saying he will ask Americans to wear masks for 100 days.

  • McConnell and Pelosi discuss stimulus, but a deal still appears out of reach.

  • The Wisconsin Supreme Court refuses to take up Trump’s election case.

  • Trump has raised $207.5 million since Election Day combined with the Republican Party.

  • Harris announces more staff picks, a roster of top aides who are almost all women of color.

  • Alyssa Farah, White House communications director, resigns.

  • New Mexico official rebukes Biden team’s treatment of Michelle Lujan Grisham.

  • Republicans ask Supreme Court to retroactively throw out all mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Biden transition updates: Trump declines to say whether he has confidence in Attorney General William Barr; Kamala Harris names Tina Flournoy chief of staff, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, and Colby Itkowitz, Thursday, 3 December 2020: “President Trump declined Thursday to say whether he retains confidence in Attorney General William P. Barr, who this week undercut the president by saying he had not seen any evidence of fraud on a scale that would alter the election results. Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to take up a challenge to the presidential election filed by Trump’s campaign, a new blow to his floundering efforts to overturn the election. Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris named Tina Flournoy as her chief of staff and selected other key aides Thursday as the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden forged ahead with its transition to power.

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

  • Anthony S. Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious-disease official, said he would be engaging in his first ‘substantive discussions’ about the pandemic with Biden’s transition team on Thursday.
  • Former president Barack Obama plans to campaign virtually Friday for the two Democrats in Senate runoffs in Georgia.
  • Trump’s planned trip to Georgia on Saturday to campaign for two Senate candidates embroiled in tight runoff races has put some Republicans on edge that he could do more harm than good.
  • Trump distributed a 46-minute video rant filled with baseless allegations of voter fraud and outright falsehoods in which he argued that his election loss was ‘statistically impossible.’

Biden picks Brian Deese to lead National Economic Council, signaling focus on climate and economic recovery, The New York Times, Jim Tankersley and Lisa Friedman, Thursday, 3 December 2020: “President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has officially selected Brian Deese, who played a leading role in bailing out the automotive industry and negotiating the Paris climate agreement under President Barack Obama, to head the National Economic Council, his transition team said Thursday. The appointment, which does not require Senate confirmation, highlights Mr. Biden’s plans to use economic policy initiatives to drive climate policy. It also defies pre-emptive criticism from some environmental groups, who have targeted Mr. Deese for his work in recent years as the sustainability director for asset-management giant BlackRock.”

Kamala Harris Adds to a Diverse Staff Where a Majority, Like Their Boss, Are Women of Color, The New York Times, Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, Thursday, 3 December 2020: “Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has chosen Tina Flournoy, a longtime aide to President Bill Clinton, to be her chief of staff, transition officials announced on Thursday, pairing a veteran gatekeeper with a newcomer to national elected office. Ms. Flournoy, a founding member of a group of powerful Black women in Democratic politics who branded themselves the ‘Colored Girls,’ will oversee an office where the majority of senior staff members named so far are women of color like their history-making boss. Ms. Harris, who has not yet resigned from her California Senate seat, named her Senate chief of staff, Rohini Kosoglu, who also played a central role in her presidential campaign, as her domestic policy adviser. As a Senate Democratic staff member, Ms. Kosoglu helped hammer out the details of the Affordable Care Act a decade ago and is expected to serve as Ms. Harris’s liaison with Congress.”

Trump aide Heidi Stirrup banned from the Justice Department after trying to pressure staff to give up sensitive information about election fraud and other matters, Associated Press, Michael Balsamo and Zeke Miller, Thursday, 3 December 2020: “The official serving as President Donald Trump’s eyes and ears at the Justice Department has been banned from the building after trying to pressure staffers to give up sensitive information about election fraud and other matters she could relay to the White House, three people familiar with the matter tell The Associated Press. Heidi Stirrup, an ally of top Trump adviser Stephen Miller, was quietly installed at the Justice Department as a White House liaison a few months ago. She was told within the last two weeks to vacate the building after top Justice officials learned of her efforts to collect insider information about ongoing cases and the department’s work on election fraud, the people said.”

Ivanka Trump was deposed Tuesday in DC attorney general’s inauguration lawsuit, CNN Politics, Kara Scannell, Thursday, 3 December 2020: “Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter and adviser, sat for a deposition Tuesday with investigators from the Washington, DC, attorney general’s office as part of its lawsuit alleging the misuse of inaugural funds, according to a court filing. In January, the DC attorney general’s office sued the Trump Organization and Presidential Inaugural Committee alleging they abused more than $1 million raised by the nonprofit by ‘grossly overpaying’ for use of event space at the Trump hotel in Washington for the 2017 inauguration. Depositions of witnesses as part of the lawsuit have been underway over the past several weeks.” See also, Lawsuit claiming inaugural committee overpaid a Trump hotel moves forward as Ivanka Trump testifies, The New York Times, Eric Lipton, Thursday, 3 December 2020: “Ivanka Trump testified on Tuesday in a closed-door deposition as part of a lawsuit filed in January by the attorney general in the District of Columbia claiming that President Trump’s inaugural committee overpaid the Trump International Hotel in 2017. The deposition is one of a series now underway after Attorney General Karl A. Racine of Washington, a Democrat, managed to beat back an effort in September by lawyers for the Trump inauguration committee and the Trump Organization to dismiss the case, which was pending in federal court in Washington. Others deposed so far include Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a major donor to Mr. Trump and the chairman of the inaugural committee, and Mickael Damelincourt, the managing director of Trump International Hotel in Washington.” See also, Ivanka Trump confirms she was questioned by the D.C. attorney general’s office over Inaugural Committee spending at Trump International Hotel, The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany and David A. Fahrenthold, Thursday, 3 December 2020: “Ivanka Trump was questioned for more than five hours this week by investigators from the D.C. attorney general’s office, which has accused President Trump’s Inaugural Committee of wasting donated money on an overpriced ballroom at the president’s D.C. hotel, Ivanka Trump said on Twitter Thursday. The D.C. attorney general’s office revealed Wednesday in a court filing that it had taken Ivanka Trump’s deposition earlier in the week. In Trump’s tweet, she said investigators had ‘questioned the rates charged by the Trump Hotel at the inauguration’ in 2017.”

U.S. Used Patriot Act to Gather Logs of Website Visitors, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Thursday, 3 December 2020: “The government has interpreted a high-profile provision of the Patriot Act as empowering F.B.I. national security investigators to collect logs showing who has visited particular web pages, documents show. But the government stops short of using that law to collect the keywords people submit to internet search engines because it considers such terms to be content that requires a warrant to gather, according to letters produced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.”

How an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Contractor Tracks Phones Around the World, Vice, Joseph Cox, Thursday, 3 December 2020:  “Venntel, a government contractor that sells location data of smartphones to U.S. law enforcement agencies including ICE, CBP, and the FBI, gathers information through a highly complex supply chain of advertising firms, data resellers, and ultimately innocuous-looking apps installed on peoples’ phones around the world, according to a cache of documents obtained by Norwegian media organization NRK and shared with Motherboard. Although it’s not clear if Venntel ultimately provides all data generated from this specific supply chain to agencies such as ICE, the documents provide much deeper and previously unreported insight into how data moves from apps, middlemen companies, and through to data brokers. In this case, Venntel.”

Sale of Oil and Gas Leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska Is Set for Early January, The New York Times, Henry Fountain, Thursday, 3 December 2020: “The Trump administration said Thursday that it would sell oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska in early January, further accelerating its last-ditch effort to allow drilling there. The Bureau of Land Management said the sale would take place on Jan. 6, following the publication next Monday of a notice of sale in the Federal Register. That notice requires a 30-day comment period before a sale can occur. The announcement of a sale date came just 16 days after the bureau released a ‘call for nominations,’ which allowed oil companies and others to detail which tracts of land in the refuge were of interest for drilling. Normally, a call for nominations allows at least 30 days for such responses, followed by weeks of analysis by the bureau to ultimately decide which tracts will be offered. That time frame would have pushed a sale to just a few days before, or beyond, the Jan. 20 inauguration of Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has opposed drilling in the refuge. The announcement, which came from the bureau’s Alaska offices, did not mention why the timetable had been accelerated. But the Trump administration has made no secret of its desire to sell drilling rights in the refuge before leaving office.”

Trump Associates Said to Have Been Scrutinized in Suspected Pardon Scheme. A billionaire from the San Francisco area sought clemency for a psychologist convicted of monetary crimes. The Republican donor Elliott Broidy and a lawyer who later represented Jared Kushner were enlisted. New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Kenneth P. Vogel, Katie Benner, and Adam Goldman, Thursday, 3 December 2020: “The Justice Department investigated as recently as this summer the roles of a top fund-raiser for President Trump and a lawyer for his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in a suspected scheme to offer a bribe in exchange for clemency for a tax crimes convict, according to two people familiar with the inquiry. A federal judge in Washington unsealed heavily redacted court documents on Tuesday that disclosed the existence of the investigation into possible unregistered lobbying and bribery. The people said it concerned efforts by the lawyer for Mr. Kushner, Abbe Lowell, and the fund-raiser, Elliott Broidy, who pleaded guilty in October to a charge related to a different scheme to lobby the Trump administration.A billionaire real estate developer from the San Francisco area, Sanford Diller, enlisted their help in securing clemency for a Berkeley psychologist, Hugh L. Baras, who had received a 30-month prison sentence on a conviction of tax evasion and improperly claiming Social Security benefits, according to the filing and the people familiar with the case. Under the suspected scheme, Mr. Diller would make “a substantial political contribution” to an unspecified recipient in exchange for the pardon. He died in February 2018, and there is no evidence that the effort continued after his death.”