Trump Administration, Week 203: Friday, 4 December – Thursday, 10 December 2020 (Days 1,414-1,420)

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, 4 December 2020, Day 1,414:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 4 December 2020: San Francisco Bay Area Issues Strict Stay-at-Home Order, The New York Times, Friday, 4 December 2020:

  • The San Francisco Bay Area will enact new restrictions before California orders them.

  • Cases surge in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, often exceeding the scale of the spring outbreak.

  • Bahrain follows Britain in approving Pfizer’s vaccine for emergency use before the U.S. does.

  • The C.D.C. urges Americans to wear face masks outside the home.

  • Outbreaks at nursing homes appear to be linked to Washington State wedding. Seven have died.

  • The New York Young Republican Club held a secret gala, despite coronavirus concerns.

  • Restaurants in Washington State defy governor and invite guests inside.

  • As Miami’s cases soar, officials plead with residents to stay home for the holidays, and other news from around the country.

  • Pence says the nation is in a ‘season of hope’ as vaccine development speeds up.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Friday, 4 December 2020: Bay Area becomes first California region to enact state’s new stay-at-home orders, The Washington Post, Hannah Knowles, Meryl Kornfield, Taylor Telford, Antonia Noori Farzan, Erin Cunningham, Kim Bellware, Siobhán O’Grady, and Paulina Villegas, Friday, 4 December 2020: “Millions of people in the San Francisco Bay Area will be subject to new stay-at-home orders, local officials announced Friday, a day after California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said most of the nation’s most populous state was on track to hit critically low hospital capacity levels, triggering new restrictions. The Bay Area has not reached those triggers yet but became the first region to implement the stay-at-home plans Newsom outlined. Health officials for the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and Santa Clara said Friday that they want to act before hospitals grow too strained. California on Friday reported 22,000 new coronavirus infections, the highest ever single-day total for any state.

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

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has for the first time urged  universal mask use indoors.
  • President-elect Joe Biden encouraged fellow Democrats to get on board with a bipartisan, $908 billion deal even as some liberals blasted it as insufficient.
  • The U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November — the slowest month of growth since the recovery began.
  • Covid-19-related deaths are likely to reach 539,000 by April, according to a new estimate Friday.
  • The United States has set new highs for daily infections three days in a row, climbed past 2,500 deaths a day for four straight days, and hit new highs for hospitalizations for the eighth consecutive day.

Federal Judge Orders the Trump Administration to Fully Reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, The New York Times, Caitlin Dickerson and Michael D. Shear, Friday, 4 December 2020: “A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore an Obama-era program designed to shield young, undocumented immigrants from deportation, dealing what could be a final blow to President Trump’s long-fought effort to end the protections. The program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was created by President Barack Obama in 2012. Over the years, it has protected more than 800,000 individuals, known as ‘dreamers,’ who met a series of strict requirements for eligibility. Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn directed the administration to allow newly eligible immigrants to file new applications for protection under the program, reversing a memorandum issued in the summer by Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, which restricted the program to people who were already enrolled. As many as 300,000 new applicants could now be eligible, according to the lawyers who pushed for the reinstatement. The memo from the Department of Homeland Security also limited benefits under the program, including permits to work, to one year, but the judge on Friday ordered the government to restore them to a full two years. Judge Garaufis, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, also said the government must find a way to contact all immigrants who are eligible for the program to inform them of the change. The program still faces other challenges, including a case in federal court in Texas, where Republican attorneys general have asked a judge to declare the program unlawful. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has vowed to restore the DACA program when he takes office next month, but a legislative solution that would permanently allow the dreamers to live and work legally in the United States remains elusive, leaving their fates to the shifting political winds.” See also, Federal judge restores DACA and orders the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to accept first-time applications from immigrants, The Washington Post, Maria Sacchetti, Friday, 4 December 2020: “Thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children are immediately eligible to apply for an Obama-era program that grants them work permits, a federal judge in New York ruled Friday. U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis in Brooklyn said he was fully restoring the eight-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program to the days before the Trump administration tried to end it in September 2017. He ordered the Department of Homeland Security to post a public notice by Monday to accept first-time applications and ensure that work permits are valid for two years.”

Continue reading Week 203, Friday, 4 December  – Thursday, 10 December 2020 (Days 1,414-1,420):

  • Biden calls on Congress to ‘act now’ to boost sagging economy amid stimulus talks.

  • Pence and Obama offered support to their parties’ candidates in Georgia, the new political battleground.

  • Pelosi voices optimism on stimulus after McConnell agrees to compromise on a year-end spending bill.

  • Nevada, Michigan, Minnesota, Arizona and Wisconsin deliver more defeats to Trump legal effort.

  • The attorney general’s chief of staff resigns.

  • Staff member on Kelly Loeffler’s Senate campaign was killed in an auto accident.

  • Why two House races haven’t been called in Iowa and New York.

  • Education Department extends student loan forbearance through January.

Transfer of Presidential Power: Biden talks inauguration plans; Obama and Pence seek to Boost Georgia Senate candidates, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 4 December 2020: “President-elect Joe Biden told reporters Friday that he expects his January inauguration will be a mostly virtual event absent the mass crowds on the Mall and the celebratory parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. Biden took questions from reporters after delivering remarks about the ‘grim’ November jobs report that showed the slowest month of growth by far since the recovery began. Former president Barack Obama and Vice President Pence staged dueling events aimed at boosting enthusiasm for candidates in Georgia’s two Senate runoff elections next month, which will determine which party controls the upper chamber. President Trump had no public events.

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

  • Biden has selected a close adviser, Vivek H. Murthy, to help lead the nation’s response to the coronavirus crisis, tapping a veteran of the Obama administration to serve as America’s top doctor.
  • Trump has raised $495 million since mid-October — an extraordinary haul resulting from a post-election fundraising effort using a blizzard of misleading appeals about the integrity of the vote.
  • Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) appeared to tacitly acknowledge Biden’s victory in a recording obtained by The Washington Post, speaking just days before Trump plans to travel to Georgia.
  • The daily drumbeat of legal losses for Trump continued on Thursday as he and his allies once again hit roadblocks in court on cases seeking to have the election overturned.

Pentagon blocks visits to military spy agencies by Biden Transition team, The Washington Post, Greg Miller and Missy Ryan, Friday, 4 December 2020: “The Trump administration has refused to allow members of President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team to meet with officials at U.S. intelligence agencies that are controlled by the Pentagon, undermining prospects for a smooth transfer of power, current and former U.S. officials said. The officials said the Biden team has not been able to engage with leaders at the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and other military-run spy services with classified budgets and global espionage platforms. The Defense Department rejected or did not approve requests from the Biden team this week, the officials said, despite a General Services Administration decision Nov. 23 clearing the way for federal agencies to meet with representatives of the incoming administration. The delays came even as Biden advisers spent much of this week meeting with officials at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA, intelligence agencies that are independent of the Defense Department.”

Explainer: Trump’s failing, monthlong fight against the results of the election, Associated Press, Nomaan Merchant and Alanna Durkin Richer, Friday, 4 December 2020: “President Donald Trump’s frantic effort in the courts to delegitimize an election he lost has come no closer in a month to reversing any results. Lawyers for Trump and his allies have asked judges in several states to take the drastic and unprecedented step of setting aside President-elect Joe Biden’s wins. They have filed new cases and vowed to press on with appeals. But the quantity of affidavits, lawsuits and claims made by Trump belies that they are spurious or often repetitive of arguments already rejected by judges and elections officials, some of them Republicans.  [This article takes] a look at where the legal action stands in several key states.”

Biden backs bipartisan stimulus plan, urging immediate action as economy stalls and virus surges, The Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa, Annie Linskey, and Jeff Stein, Friday, 4 December 2020: “President-elect Joe Biden injected himself more directly into congressional negotiations for an economic relief package Friday, encouraging fellow Democrats to get on board with a bipartisan, $908 billion deal even as some liberals blasted it as insufficient. In his most direct call for immediate action since his election last month, Biden used words like ‘dire,’ ‘dark,’ ‘grim’ and ‘real trouble’ to describe the state of the economy amid a spiraling public health crisis.”

House Passes Landmark Bill Decriminalizing Marijuana. The House passed sweeping legislation that would decriminalize marijuana and expunge nonviolent marijuana-related convictions. The measure is all but doomed in the Republican-led Senate. The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Friday, 4 December 2020: “The House on Friday passed sweeping legislation that would decriminalize marijuana and expunge nonviolent marijuana-related convictions, as Democrats sought to roll back and compensate for decades of drug policies that have disproportionately affected low-income communities of color. The 228-164 vote to approve the measure was bipartisan, and it was the first time either chamber of Congress had ever endorsed the legalization of cannabis. The bill would remove the drug from the Controlled Substances Act and authorize a 5 percent tax on marijuana that would fund community and small business grant programs to help those most impacted by the criminalization of marijuana. The legislation is, for now, almost certainly doomed in the Republican-led Senate, where that party’s leaders have derided it as a superficial distraction from the work of passing coronavirus relief, as lawmakers inched toward bipartisan compromise after spending months locked in an impasse. But the bill’s passage in the House amounted to a watershed moment decades in the making for advocates of marijuana legislation, and it laid out an expansive federal framework for redressing the racial disparities in the criminal justice system exacerbated by the war on drugs.” See also, House passes bill decriminalizing marijuana at federal level, CNN Politics, Veronica Stracqualursi and Lauren Dezenski, Friday, 4 December 2020: “The House of Representatives has approved legislation that would decriminalize marijuana and seek to ‘address the devastating injustices caused by the War on Drugs.’ Friday’s vote in the Democratic-led House is the first time a chamber of Congress has voted on federal marijuana decriminalization. It has little chance of passing the Republican-led Senate, however. The bill passed largely along party lines: 222 Democrats, five Republicans and Rep. Justin Amash, a libertarian, voted in support while 158 Republicans and six Democrats voted against.”

The US added just 245,000 jobs in  November as labor market stalls, CNN Business, Anneken Tappe, Friday, 4 December 2020: “Hiring in the US is now so slow, it could take another 40 months for the job market to fully recover from the pandemic. The US economy added 245,000 jobs in November on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. It was 224,000 fewer than economists had expected and a massive slowdown from the 610,000 jobs added in October, as the recovery is growing more sluggish. The unemployment rate inched down to 6.7%, from 6.9% in October. But the drop occurred because more workers left the labor force in November. Of the people who were not counted in the labor force, 3.9 million were prevented from looking for work because of the pandemic.”

Trump campaign committees spent $1.1 million at Trump properties in the last days of his losing campaign, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, and Anu Narayanswamy, Friday, 4 December 2020: “President Trump’s campaign and its affiliated committees spent more than $1.1 million at Trump’s own properties in the last weeks of the 2020 campaign — continuing a pattern of self-enrichment in which Trump has converted $6.7 million from his campaign donors into revenue for his businesses since taking office, new campaign finance filings show. The filings from Trump Victory — a fundraising committee managed by Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee — show $1.06 million in new spending at Trump properties in September, October and November. Trump’s own campaign, which files a separate spending report, reported spending another $66,000.”

White House fires Pentagon advisory board members and installs loyalists. The board firings come less than a month after President Donald Trump pushed our Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Politico, Lara Seligman, Daniel Lippman, and Jacqueline Feldscher, Friday, 4 December 2020: “The White House removed nine members of the Pentagon’s Defense Business Board on Friday and installed people loyal to President Donald Trump in their place, including presidential allies Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie. The firings marked the latest effort by the Trump administration to clean out the Defense Department in the final weeks of the president’s term.”

Biden administration on track to be the most LGBTQ-inclusive in U.S. History. The Biden-Harris transition team has already named several LGBTQ people to key White House posts, and advocates hope it’s just the beginning. NBC News, Dan Avery, Friday, 4 December 2020: “President-elect Joe Biden has repeatedly vowed to make LGBTQ rights a priority in his administration. But he won’t be working alone: The former vice president has already tapped LGBTQ appointees for several key roles and gay rights advocates are hopeful that more will be named, including the first out Cabinet member confirmed by the Senate. There’s also a push, should an opening become available, for him to nominate the first openly LGBTQ justice to the Supreme Court.”


Saturday, 5 December 2020, Day 1,415:


Come Global Coronavirus Updates for Saturday, 5 December 2020: The World Watches as Russia and Britain Lead the Way in Mass Vaccinations, The New York Times, Saturday, 5 December 2020:

  • Mass vaccinations are beginning. They’re not all the same.

  • Russia begins a mass vaccination campaign in Moscow, with a vaccine that is not fully tested.

  • The U.S. debate over which group should get vaccine priority is getting heated.

  • The Midwest is showing signs of progress. Will it last?

  • The virus is devastating the U.S., and leaving an uneven toll.

  • With Covid-19 hospitalizations at a high, Tennessee asks the National Guard for help.

  • Britain’s vaccine rollout gives Boris Johnson a chance to improve his reputation, and other news around the world.

  • Once a model for how to contain the virus, New Rochelle now mourns its return.

  • Hawaii hopes its pandemic-battered economy will get a boost from mainlanders working remotely.

Trump calls Georgia governor Brian Kemp to pressure him for help overturning Biden’s win in the state, The Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Colby Itkowitz, and Josh Dawsey, Saturday, 5 December 2020: “President Trump called Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Saturday morning to urge him to persuade the state legislature to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state and asked the governor to order an audit of absentee ballot signatures, the latest brazen effort by the president to interfere in the 2020 election. Hours before he was scheduled to hold a rally in Georgia on behalf of the state’s two GOP senators, Trump pressed Kemp to call a special session of the state legislature for lawmakers to override the results and appoint electors who would back the president at the electoral college, according to two people familiar with the conversation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private call. Trump also asked the governor to demand an audit of signatures on mail ballots, something Kemp has previously noted he has no power to do. Kemp declined the president’s entreaty, according to the people…. Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, said that if Trump invoked his federal authority in his conversation Saturday with Kemp, or made the call from the Oval Office, he could have violated criminal provisions of the Hatch Act, which prohibits government officials from political activity in their official roles. Though the civil penalties of the Hatch Act do not apply to the president, the criminal provisions do, she noted. Even if Trump did not commit a crime, Clark added, his actions threaten to disenfranchise voters in Georgia who participated in the November election. ‘Such a move would undermine public confidence in our constitutional system and do damage to future elections,’ she said.” See also, Trump called Georgia’s governor Brian Kemp to urge him to help overturn Biden’s win in the state, The New York Times, Jonathan Martin, Astead W. Herndon, and Hailey Fuchs, published on Sunday, 6 December 2020: “Before President Trump arrived on Saturday to rally for two Republican Senate candidates, the president made no attempt to disguise his central priority as it relates to Georgia: overturning his loss in the state. He began the day with a telephone call with Gov. Brian Kemp, ostensibly to offer his condolences about the death in a car accident of a young man who was close to Mr. Kemp’s family. But in truth, Mr. Trump used the call to urge Mr. Kemp, a Republican, to call the State Legislature into session so the Republican majorities could appoint new electors who would subvert the will of the state’s voters when the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14. He has also called on Mr. Kemp to order an audit of signatures on ballots. On Sunday, Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, said that holding a special session would be ‘nullifying the will of the people.’… At the rally, Mr. Trump amplified the critique he had been making of Mr. Kemp much of the day on Twitter, all but demanding that the governor overturn the will of the voters for him. ‘Your governor could stop it very easily if he knew what the hell he was doing,’ the president said. ‘Stop it very easily.’ The crowd booed when he invoked Mr. Kemp and Mr. Raffensperger, two officials Mr. Trump has been demanding abet his effort to overturn the state’s results.”

At Rally for Georgia Senators, Trump Focuses on His Own Grievances. The president falsely claimed the election was rigged and that he had won. Earlier, he urged Georgia’s governor to call a special legislative session to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the state. The New York Times, Jonathan Martin and Astead W. Herndon, Saturday, 5 December 2020: “One month before a pair of Georgia runoffs that will determine the Senate majority, President Trump used a rally for the Republican senators on Saturday to complain about his own loss last month, insisting he would still prevail and, with notably less ardor, encouraging voters here to re-elect the two lawmakers. Taking the stage for his first rally as a lame duck president, Mr. Trump immediately, and falsely, claimed victory in the presidential race. ‘You know we won Georgia, just so you understand,’ he said. Mr. Trump lost this state by just under 12,000 votes to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who won the White House with 306 electoral votes. But the president has persisted in his baseless claims that the final outcome remains in doubt.”

Washington Post survey finds just 27 congressional Republicans acknowledge Biden’s presidential win, The Washington Post, Paul Kane and Scott Clement, Saturday, 5 December 2020: “Just 27 congressional Republicans acknowledge Joe Biden’s win over President Trump a month after the former vice president’s clear victory of more than 7 million votes nationally [81,255,933 for Biden and 74,196,153 for Trump] and a convincing electoral-vote margin that exactly matched Trump’s 2016 tally [306 for Biden and 232 for Trump].” See also, Where Republicans in Congress stand on Trump’s false claim of winning the election, The Washington Post, Washington Post Staff, updated on Sunday, 6 December 2020.

Trump’s Final Days of Rage and Denial, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Saturday, 5 December 2020: “Over the past week, President Trump posted or reposted about 145 messages on Twitter lashing out at the results of an election he lost. He mentioned the coronavirus pandemic now reaching its darkest hours four times — and even then just to assert that he was right about the outbreak and the experts were wrong. Moody and by accounts of his advisers sometimes depressed, the president barely shows up to work, ignoring the health and economic crises afflicting the nation and largely clearing his public schedule of meetings unrelated to his desperate bid to rewrite the election results. He has fixated on rewarding friends, purging the disloyal and punishing a growing list of perceived enemies that now includes Republican governors, his own attorney general and even Fox News. The final days of the Trump presidency have taken on the stormy elements of a drama more common to history or literature than a modern White House. His rage and detached-from-reality refusal to concede defeat evoke images of a besieged overlord in some distant land defiantly clinging to power rather than going into exile or an erratic English monarch imposing his version of reality on his cowed court. And while he will leave office in 46 days, the last few weeks may only foreshadow what he will be like after he departs. Mr. Trump will almost certainly try to shape the national conversation from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and his relentless campaign to discredit the election could undercut his successor, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. Although many Republicans would like to move on, he appears intent on forcing them to remain in thrall to his need for vindication and vilification even after his term expires.”


Sunday, 6 December 2020, Day 1,416:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Sunday, 6 December 2020: Rudy Giuliani Tests Positive for Coronavirus, The New York Times, Sunday, 6 December 2020:

  • Giuliani has tested positive for the coronavirus, Trump says.

  • Residents of nursing homes could receive vaccine by the end of December, official says.

  • Parents and lawmakers in California push back against closing playgrounds.

  • Biden has selected Xavier Becerra as his nominee for secretary of health and human services.

  • Christmas tree sales are booming as pandemic-weary Americans seek solace.

  • A new home test can tell whether you’ve got the flu or the coronavirus.

  • After defying virus rules, a bar manager drove his car into a sheriff’s deputy.

  • No. 1 Gonzaga cancels four basketball games because of virus issues.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, tests positive for coronavirus, Trump says, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez and Josh Dawsey, Sunday, 6 December 2020: “Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney and point man in his bid to overturn the results of the November election, has contracted the coronavirus, the president said Sunday in a tweet. ‘.@RudyGiuliani, by far the greatest mayor in the history of NYC, and who has been working tirelessly exposing the most corrupt election (by far!) in the history of the USA, has tested positive for the China Virus,’ Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon. ‘Get better soon Rudy, we will carry on!!!’ Giuliani, 76, traveled to Michigan, Arizona and Georgia last week and met indoors with state legislators in an effort to persuade them to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Videos of the appearances showed that Giuliani was not wearing a mask during the meetings. Hours before Trump’s tweet, Giuliani appeared on Fox News’s ‘Sunday Morning Futures,’ where he repeated the president’s false claims of election fraud.” See also, Arizona Legislature shuts down after Rudy Giuliani possibly exposed lawmakers to COVID-19, AZCentral, Maria Polletta, Sunday, 6 December 2020: “The Arizona Legislature will close for a week “out of an abundance of caution” after Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, possibly exposed several Republican lawmakers to COVID-19. The president announced Giuliani had tested positive for the virus Sunday afternoon, less than a week after the former New York City mayor visited Arizona as part of a multistate tour aimed at contesting 2020 election results. The 76-year-old was later admitted to Georgetown University Medical Center. Giuliani had spent more than 10 hours discussing election concerns with Arizona Republicans — including two members of Congress and at least 13 current and future state lawmakers — at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix last Monday. He led the meeting maskless, flouting social distancing guidelines and posing for photos. Giuliani also met privately with Republican lawmakers and legislative leadership the next day, according to lawmakers’ social media posts.”

Anti-Vaccine Doctor Has Been Invited to Testify Before Senate Committee, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Sunday, 6 December 2020: “A doctor who is skeptical of coronavirus vaccines and promotes the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a Covid-19 treatment will be the lead witness at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Tuesday, prompting criticism from Democrats who say Republicans should not give a platform to someone who spreads conspiracy theories. Dr. Jane M. Orient is the executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a group that opposes government involvement in medicine and views federal vaccine mandates as a violation of human rights.”

Presidential transition Highlights: Trump’s Misinformation Is ‘Only Hurting’ the Electoral Process, Georgia Official Says, The New York Times, Sunday, 6 December 2020:

  • Georgia Republicans push back as Trump calls for a special legislative session.

  • Biden has selected Xavier Becerra as his nominee for secretary of health and human services.

  • ‘It would be stupidity on steroids if Congress doesn’t act’ on a stimulus plan, Senator Mark Warner said.

  • Giuliani has tested positive for the coronavirus, Trump says.

  • The pandemic removed many barriers to voting. Will it change the way America conducts elections?

  • Amid a wave of G.O.P. women joining Congress next month, Cynthia Lummis will be the only one joining the Senate.

  • At a rally for Republican Senate candidates, Trump again claims voter fraud.

  • The last act of the Trump drama: rage, denial and retribution.

  • Two retiring senators, friends from opposite parties, fundamentally disagree on what’s wrong with the Senate.

  • Under a tight deadline, organizers set out to mobilize Native Americans in Georgia.

Biden Picks Xavier Becerra to Lead Health and Human Services, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Michael D. Shear, Sunday, 6 December 2020: “President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has selected Xavier Becerra, the Democratic attorney general of California, as his nominee for secretary of health and human services, tapping a former congressman who would be the first Latino to run the department as it battles the surging coronavirus pandemic. Mr. Becerra became Mr. Biden’s clear choice only over the past few days, according to people familiar with the transition’s deliberations, and was a surprise. Mr. Becerra has carved out a profile on the issues of criminal justice and immigration, and he was long thought to be a candidate for attorney general. But as attorney general in California, he has been at the forefront of legal efforts on health care, leading 20 states and the District of Columbia in a campaign to protect the Affordable Care Act from being dismantled by his Republican counterparts. He has also been vocal in the Democratic Party about fighting for women’s health. If confirmed, Mr. Becerra will immediately face a daunting task in leading the department at a critical moment during a pandemic that has killed more than 281,000 people in the United States — and one that has taken a particularly devastating toll on people of color.” See also, Biden picks Xavier Becerra as nominee for health and human services secretary, The Washington Post, Amy Goldstein and Seung Min Kim, Sunday, 6 December 2020: “President-elect Joe Biden has chosen California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, a critical position in the coalescing administration for which fighting the coronavirus pandemic looms as the most urgent mission once Biden takes office next month. In selecting Becerra, a 24-year member of Congress before taking the attorney general post, Biden picked someone with an unorthodox background for HHS secretary. The job running the sprawling department often has gone to governors, and public health officials have been urging the Biden transition team to select someone with expertise in medicine, given that the raging pandemic will remain front and center for many months. But Biden had also been under pressure to select more Latinos in his Cabinet. Becerra becomes the second designated nominee who is Latino, after Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s pick for homeland security secretary. The choice of Becerra, first reported by the New York Times, was confirmed Sunday night by three individuals familiar with the decision who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the selection.”

Attorney General William Barr Is Said to Be Weighing Whether to Leave Before Trump’s Term Ends, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Michael S. Schmidt, and Peter Baker, Sunday, 6 December 2020: “Attorney General William P. Barr is considering stepping down before President Trump’s term ends next month, according to three people familiar with his thinking. One said Mr. Barr could announce his departure before the end of the year. It was not clear whether the attorney general’s deliberations were influenced by Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede his election loss or his fury over Mr. Barr’s acknowledgment last week that the Justice Department uncovered no widespread voting fraud. In the ensuing days, the president refused to say whether he still had confidence in his attorney general.”


Monday, 7 December 2020, Day 1,417:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Monday, 7 December 2020: U.S. Breaks Record for Most Deaths in a Week, The New York Times, Monday, 7 December 2020:

  • The U.S. has recorded its most Covid-19 deaths in a week.

  • Trump administration officials passed when Pfizer offered months ago to sell the U.S. more vaccine doses.

  • The governors of New York and California warn of a crisis that is filling up hospitals.

  • The United Kingdom will become first Western nation to launch a vaccine drive on Tuesday.

  • Students fall behind in math and reading during remote learning, a study says.

  • France’s infection numbers remain high, clouding plans to ease its lockdown.

  • Canada will start receiving vaccine next week, prime minister says.

  • Officials across Europe implement a wave of varied restrictions for Christmas.

  • Florida’s fired virus data manager says the police seized her computer.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Monday, 7 December 2020: Dr. Anthony Fauci says Christmas could lead to more coronavirus spread than Thanksgiving, The Washington Post, Lateshia Beachum, Reis Thebault, Teo Armus, Erin Cunningham, Brittany Shammas, Marisa Iati, Siobhán O’Grady, and Hamza Shaban, Monday, 7 December 2020: “Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s leading infectious-disease expert, warned Monday that Christmas celebrations could facilitate the spread of the virus even more than Thanksgiving, because Christmas gatherings often start several days before the holiday and continue through New Year’s.

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

Rochelle Walensky, Biden’s choice to run the CDC, is a respected specialist who is unafraid to speak her mind, The Washington Post, Lena H. Sun, Monday, 7 December 2020: “President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to run the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a widely respected infectious-diseases specialist regarded as a strong communicator unafraid to speak her mind, qualities critical to returning the beleaguered public health agency to its traditional front-line role and to bringing the coronavirus pandemic under control…. Walensky, 51, heads the infectious-diseases department at Massachusetts General Hospital, one of the nation’s storied medical centers, and is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. She has conducted pioneering research on HIV/AIDS, with an emphasis on equity and access to treatment.”

Trump administration officials passed when Pfizer offered months ago to sell the U.S. more vaccine doses, The New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere, Katie Thomas, and Noah Weiland, Monday, 7 December 2020: “Before Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine was proved highly successful in clinical trials last month, the company offered the Trump administration the chance to lock in supplies beyond the 100 million doses the pharmaceutical maker agreed to sell the government as part of a $1.95 billion deal months ago. But the administration, according to people familiar with the talks, never made the deal, a choice that now raises questions about whether the United States allowed other countries to take its place in line. As the administration scrambles to try to purchase more doses of the vaccine, President Trump plans on Tuesday to issue an executive order that proclaims that other nations will not get the U.S. supplies of its vaccine until Americans have been inoculated. But the order appears to have no real teeth and does not expand the U.S. supply of doses, according to a description of the order on Monday by senior administration officials.”

Elevating Fringe Theories, Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson Questions Virus Science. The Wisconsin Republican has transformed his Senate panel into a forum for amplifying dubious theories and questionable treatments pushed by President Trump. New York Times, Catie Edmondson and Nicholas Fandos, Monday, 7 December 2020: “In choosing a slate of doctors to testify about coronavirus treatments before his committee on Tuesday, Senator Ron Johnson has assembled a cast of witnesses who question much of the public health consensus about the virus. There is a prominent vaccine skeptic, an outspoken critic of masking and social distancing, and at least two doctors who have promoted the use of an anti-parasitic drug that government scientists have recommended against using to treat the coronavirus. It is the latest example of how Mr. Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican who has used his powerful investigative panel to amplify groundless accusations pushed by President Trump, has now embraced the role of the Senate’s leading Covid contrarian.”

Leading Covid-19 vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna decline invitations to White House ‘Vaccine Summit,’ StatNews, Lev Facher, Monday, 7 December 2020: “Both Pfizer and Moderna, the two major drug manufacturers likely to receive emergency authorizations for a Covid-19 vaccine in the coming weeks, have rejected invitations from President Trump to appear at a White House ‘Vaccine Summit’ on Tuesday, according to two sources familiar with the event’s planning. The Trump administration has openly feuded with Pfizer in recent weeks over its involvement in Operation Warp Speed and the timing of a data release showing its vaccine to be highly effective, but had nonetheless invited CEO Albert Bourla to appear on a panel about the vaccine development process. Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel was also invited, but neither he nor another company executive will attend. The vaccine manufacturers’ absences will be conspicuous at a ‘Vaccine Summit,’ an event that drug industry figures and one Trump administration official largely viewed as a public relations stunt when STAT first reported the event last week.”

Presidential Transition Highlights: Biden Plans to Pick Lloyd Austin, Ex-Iraq Commander, for Defense Secretary, The New York Times, Monday, 7 December 2020:

  • Biden plans to tap a retired four-star Army general as the first Black defense secretary.

  • Trump pressed Pennsylvania’s House speaker about overturning his election loss.

  • Georgia recertifies election results, affirming Biden’s victory.

  • The House will vote Wednesday on a stopgap spending bill to keep the government running.

  • Kudlow praises Biden’s economic team as Trump continues to wrongly claim victory.

  • Biden will officially introduce his health team on Tuesday, including Xavier Becerra as secretary.

  • The Labor Department finalized a rule expanding religious exemptions in hiring.

  • The Pompeos’ dinners at the State Department cost taxpayers $43,000, documents show.

  • Georgia’s third-largest county will open fewer than half of early voting locations for Senate runoffs.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Presidential Transfer of Power: Biden to announce his choice for Defense Secretary this week; Georgia recertifies results after third count, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, and Paulina Firozi, Monday, 7 December 2020: “President-elect Joe Biden said on Monday that he will announce several more Cabinet picks, including his choice for defense secretary, later this week. Earlier Monday, Biden formally rolled out his nominations for key members of his health-care team, notably California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, as he forged ahead with his transition to the White House. Meanwhile, Georgia announced it has recertified its results after a third count showed Biden defeating President Trump in the state. During an Oval Office event Monday, Trump continued to falsely assert that he had won the election and compared the United States to a third-world country.

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

Top Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling debunks ‘ridiculous’ claims about election fraud, The New York Times, Nick Corasaniti, Monday, 7 December 2020: “Late on Nov. 3, election workers in Fulton County, Georgia, heard that they would be allowed to go home for the night. So they packed uncounted ballots into suitcases and prepared to lock up for the evening. When word came that they couldn’t leave yet, they dragged the suitcases back out and began counting the ballots again. That singular scene — of workers taking out suitcases of votes — was then selectively edited and shared by allies of President Trump as a conspiracy theory that election workers had dragged out fraudulent ballots under the cover of night. According to the theory, those suitcases helped swing Georgia’s Electoral College votes to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. But on Monday, Georgia’s secretary of state office dedicated part of a morning news conference to debunking that falsehood and many others, in what was called ‘Disinformation Monday.’ Gabriel Sterling, the voting implementation manager in Georgia and a Republican, said in the news conference that watching the entire surveillance footage of Election Day showed that workers had first packed the suitcases with valid, uncounted ballots and then later unpacked those same ballots. They had not taken out suitcases full of fake ballots, he said. ‘The reason they were packed away is because they were under the misbegotten impression that they were getting to go home, which, if you notice when you go back to see the videos on this, they were packing these things up 10, 10:30 at night,’ Mr. Sterling said. He ran through a list of other pieces of misinformation being spread about the Georgia elections and rebuked the baseless claims. Conspiracy theories have been running rampant in the state, which also will hold runoff elections for its two Senate seats on Jan. 5. About the rumor that a ‘water main break’ had damaged ballots and the tally in Fulton County on Election Day, Mr. Sterling said, ‘There was no water main break.’ He cited surveillance footage that showed that there was simply a water leak and that it did not affect any ballots. ‘You’ll see when they walk in, and they see the obvious water leak on the floor,’ he said. ‘You will see when they move all the stuff out of the way. You will see the Zamboni, little carpet-dryer thingy driving around. I mean, you can see all the things happen, you can see the table get put in place.’ Mr. Sterling criticized Mr. Trump and his allies for sharing a clip of the water leak incident and making it appear to show something else that was false and deceptive. ‘What’s really frustrating is the president’s attorneys had this same videotape,’ he said. ‘They saw the exact same things the rest of us see, and they chose to mislead state senators and the public about what was on that video.'”

Armed pro-Trump protesters gather outside home of Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s Secretary of State, The Guardian, Monday, 7 December 2020: “Michigan secretary of state Jocelyn Benson said dozens of armed protesters gathered in a threatening manner outside her home on Saturday evening chanting ‘bogus’ claims about electoral fraud. Michigan officials last month certified the state’s election results showing President-elect Joe Biden had won Michigan, one of a handful of key battleground states, in the course of his 3 November election victory. President Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed, contrary to evidence, that the outcome was marred by widespread fraud in multiple states. State and federal officials have repeatedly stated that there is no evidence of fraud on any significant scale, and Biden is to be sworn into office on 20 January. The protesters who rallied outside Benson’s home held up placards saying ‘Stop the Steal’ and chanted the same message, according to various clips uploaded on social media. In a Twitter statement on Sunday, Benson said the protesters were trying to spread false information about the security and accuracy of the US election system. ‘The demands made outside my home were unambiguous, loud and threatening.'”

Trump Administration Declines to Tighten Soot Rules, Despite Link to Covid Deaths. Health experts say the E.P.A. decision defies scientific research showing that particulate pollution contributes to tens of thousands of premature deaths annually. The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Monday, 7 December 2020: “The Trump administration on Monday declined to tighten controls on industrial soot emissions, disregarding an emerging scientific link between dirty air and Covid-19 death rates. In one of the final policy moves of an administration that has spent the past four years weakening or rolling back more than 100 environmental regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency completed a regulation that keeps in place the current rules on tiny, lung-damaging industrial particles, known as PM 2.5, instead of strengthening them, even though the agency’s own scientists have warned of the links between the pollutants and respiratory illness. In April, researchers at Harvard released the first nationwide study linking long-term exposure to PM 2.5 and Covid-19 death rates.” See also, Trump administration rejects tougher standards on soot, a deadly air pollutant, The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, Monday, 7 December 2020: “The Trump administration on Monday rejected setting tougher standards on soot, the nation’s most widespread deadly air pollutant, saying the existing regulations remain sufficient even though some public health experts and environmental justice organizations had pleaded for stricter limits. The Environmental Protection Agency retained the current thresholds for fine-particle pollution for another five years, despite mounting evidence linking air pollution to lethal outcomes in respiratory illnesses, including covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Documents obtained by The Washington Post show that the EPA has disregarded concerns raised by some administration officials that several of its air policy rollbacks would disproportionately affect minority and low-income communities.”


Tuesday, 8 December 2020, Day 1,418:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Tuesday, 8 December 2020: Biden Sets Ambitious Pandemic Goals for First 100 Days, The New York Times, Tuesday, 8 December 2020:

  • Introducing his health team, Biden sets ambitious goals for pandemic response in his first 100 days.

  • Britain rolls out the Pfizer vaccine, a huge task but a sign of hope.

  • For frontline workers in Britain, a simple ‘jab’ opens a new front in the coronavirus battle.

  • North Carolina orders a curfew and other restrictions to combat soaring coronavirus cases.

  • A new paper from Oxford on the AstraZeneca vaccine does little to answer the most pressing questions about its data.

  • Another lawyer on the Trump team, Jenna Ellis, tests positive for the virus.

  • Left unchecked, the virus infected 70 percent of people in a city in the Brazilian Amazon.

  • When England’s schools reopened this summer, few students fell ill, a study finds.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, 8 December 2020: U.S. surpasses 15 million coronavirus cases as Spread accelerates, The Washington Post, Reis Thebault, Lateshia Beachum, Katie Shepherd, Erin Cunningham, Adam Taylor, Brittany Shammas, Paulina Villegas, and Hamza Shaban, Tuesday, 8 December 2020: “It took about 100 days for the United States to record its first 1 million coronavirus cases, and 44 more passed before the country topped 2 million. But now, in the middle of the most severe surge yet, it has taken just five days to record one million infections, and on Tuesday, the country surpassed 15 million, more than anywhere else in the world by a wide margin.

Here are a few significant developments included in this article.

Pfizer’s Vaccine Offers Strong Protection After First Dose. The Food and Drug Administration’s first analysis of the clinical trial data also found that the coronavirus vaccine worked well regardless of a volunteer’s race, weight or age. The New York Times, Noah Weiland and Carl Zimmer, Tuesday, 8 December 2020: “The coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech provides strong protection against Covid-19 within about 10 days of the first dose, according to documents published on Tuesday by the Food and Drug Administration before a meeting of its vaccine advisory group. The finding is one of several significant new results featured in the briefing materials, which include more than 100 pages of data analyses from the agency and from Pfizer. Last month, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that their two-dose vaccine had an efficacy rate of 95 percent after two doses administered three weeks apart. The new analyses show that the protection starts kicking in far earlier. What’s more, the vaccine worked well regardless of a volunteer’s race, weight or age. While the trial did not find any serious adverse events caused by the vaccine, many participants did experience aches, fevers and other side effects.” See also, FDA Says Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Is Safe and Effective, The Wall Street Journal, Thomas M. Burton and Jared S. Hopkins, Tuesday, 8 December 2020: “The Food and Drug Administration said the first Covid-19 vaccine being considered for U.S. distribution ‘met the prescribed success criteria’ in a clinical study, paving the way for the agency to green-light distribution as early as this weekend. An outside panel of scientific advisers will review the FDA report Thursday, along with a companion analysis from the vaccine’s manufacturers, Pfizer Inc. and German partner BioNTech SE. BNTX -4.20% A favorable recommendation from the panel is expected to be followed within a few days by the FDA granting emergency authorization for the vaccine.”

Presidential Transition Highlights: Biden Picks Marcia Fudge for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Tom Vilsack to Lead U.S.D.A. The Supreme Court refused a request from Pennsylvania Republicans to challenge election results in the state. President-elect Joe Biden introduced his health team at an event in Wilmington, Del. New York Times, Tuesday, 8 December 2020:

  • Biden picks Marcia Fudge for housing secretary and Tom Vilsack for agriculture secretary.

  • Supreme Court refuses request from Pennsylvania G.O.P. to overturn state’s election results, and receives a suit from Texas.

  • Introducing his health team, Biden sets ambitious goals for pandemic response in his first 100 days.

  • Biden plans to tap a retired four-star Army general as the first Black defense secretary.

  • The U.S. has reached ‘safe harbor.’ Here’s what that means.

  • Mnuchin offered Pelosi a $916 billion stimulus offer as talks gained momentum.

  • House overwhelmingly passes defense bill, defying Trump’s veto threat.

  • The Trump administration is planting loyalists in Biden transition meetings.

  • In his final days in office, Trump taps his friends and supporters for boards and commissions.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Presidential Transfer of Power: Biden picks Tom Vilsak for agriculture secretary and Representative Marcia Fudge for Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, and John Wagner, Tuesday, 8 December 2020: “President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday pledged to ‘change the course’ of the coronavirus pandemic as he introduced key members of his health team at an event in Wilmington, Del. As he continues to build his administration, Biden has said he will announce his nominations for two other marquee jobs — including attorney general — by the end of the week. Meanwhile, according to people familiar with the transition plans, Biden is expected to name former agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack for the position again, and pick Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio) to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development. President Trump, who continues to insist he won the election, appeared at a White House ‘vaccine summit’ to tout his administration’s efforts to combat the pandemic. He also expressed hope that he would have a second term.

Here are a few significant developments included in this article.

  • Biden plans to tap retired Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III to be defense secretary, according to three officials familiar with the decision. If confirmed, Austin would be the first Black Pentagon chief.
  • Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) is denouncing Trump’s efforts to have the Pennsylvania legislature overturn his election loss, calling the president’s actions ‘completely unacceptable.’ Trump called the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives twice during the past week to make the extraordinary request.
  • Tuesday is ‘safe harbor’ day. Under federal law, every state is expected to have made its election results official by the end of the day, setting up Biden for an electoral college victory next week.
  • Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), chairman of the Biden inaugural committee, said that many of the Jan. 20 inauguration activities will be virtual because of the pandemic but that he hopes a more complete celebration can occur on the Fourth of July.

Supreme Court Rejects Republican Challenge to Pennsylvania Vote. In a one-sentence order, the court refused to overturn election results that had already been certified and submitted. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Tuesday, 8 December 2020: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused a long-shot request from Pennsylvania Republicans to overturn Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the state, delivering an unmistakable rebuke to President Trump in the forum on which he had pinned his hopes. The Supreme Court’s order was all of one sentence, and there were no noted dissents. But it was nonetheless a major setback for Mr. Trump and his allies, who have compiled an essentially unbroken losing streak in courts around the nation. They failed to attract even a whisper of dissent in the court’s first ruling on a challenge to the outcome of the election. The court now has three justices appointed by Mr. Trump, including Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whose rushed confirmation in October was in large part propelled by the hope that she would vote with the president in election disputes. But there was no indication that she or the other Trump appointees were inclined to embrace last-minute arguments based on legal theories that election law scholars said ranged from the merely frivolous to the truly outlandish. Mr. Trump and his Republican allies have lost about 50 challenges to the presidential election in the past five weeks, as judges in at least eight states have repeatedly rejected a litany of unproven claims — that mail-in ballots were improperly sent out, that absentee ballots were counted wrongly, that poll observers were not given proper access to the vote count and that foreign powers hacked into and manipulated voting machines.” See also, Supreme Court denies Trump allies’ bid to overturn Pennsylvania election results, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Elise Viebeck, Tuesday, 8 December 2020: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a last-minute attempt by President Trump’s allies to overturn the election results in Pennsylvania, a blow to the president’s continuing efforts to reverse his loss to Democrat Joe Biden. The court’s brief order denying a requested injunction provided no reasoning, nor did it note any dissenting votes. It was the first request to delay or overturn the results of last month’s presidential election to reach the court, and it appears that Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s latest nominee, took part in the case.”

Trump Asked Pennsylvania House Speaker About Overturning His Loss. President Trump has failed to persuade elected Republicans in Michigan and Georgia to subvert the will of voters, and his effort appears to have stalled in Pennsylvania too. New York Times, Trip Gabriel, Tuesday, 8 December 2020: “Intensifying his efforts to undo his loss to Joseph R. Biden Jr., President Trump twice called the Republican speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in recent days to encourage challenges to the official results in the state. Mr. Trump pressed the speaker, Bryan Cutler, on how Republicans planned to reverse the results of an election that Mr. Biden was certified to have won by more than 80,000 votes, a spokesman for Mr. Cutler, Michael Straub, said Monday night.” See also, Trump asks Pennsylvania House speaker for help overturning election results, personally intervening in a third state, The Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Josh Dawsey, and Rachael Bade, Tuesday, 8 December 2020: “President Trump called the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives twice during the past week to make an extraordinary request for help reversing his loss in the state, reflecting a broadening pressure campaign by the president and his allies to try to subvert the 2020 election result. The calls, confirmed by House Speaker Bryan Cutler’s office, make Pennsylvania the third state where Trump has directly attempted to overturn a result since he lost the election to former vice president Joe Biden. He previously reached out to Republicans in Michigan, and on Saturday he pressured Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) in a call to try to replace that state’s electors. The president’s outreach to Pennsylvania’s Republican House leader came after his campaign and its allies decisively lost numerous legal challenges in the state in both state and federal court. Trump has continued to press his baseless claims of widespread voting irregularities both publicly and privately.”

Texas files an audacious suit with the Supreme Court challenging the election results, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Tuesday, 8 December 2020: “The state of Texas filed an audacious lawsuit in the Supreme Court on Tuesday against four other states, asking the justices to extend the Dec. 14 deadline for certification of presidential electors. The suit, filed by the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, said Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin had engaged in election irregularities that require investigation, and it asked the court to ‘enjoin the use of unlawful election results without review and ratification by the defendant states’ legislatures.’ Legal experts called the suit outlandish, and it comes at a time when Mr. Paxton is battling a scandal in his own state over whistle-blower allegations that he engaged in bribery and other wrongdoing to illegally help a wealthy Austin real estate developer and political donor.” See also, In new lawsuit, Texas contests election results in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, The Texas Tribune, Emma Platoff, Tuesday, 8 December 2020: “Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing four battleground states — Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — whose election results handed the White House to President-elect Joe Biden. In the suit, he claims that pandemic-era changes to election procedures in those states violated federal law and asks the U.S. Supreme Court to block the states from voting in the Electoral College. The last-minute bid, which legal experts have already characterized as a long shot, comes alongside dozens of similar attempts by President Donald Trump and his political allies. The majority of those lawsuits have already failed.”

Letter from 1,500 attorneys says Trump campaign lawyers don’t have ‘license to lie,’ The Washington Post, Kem Bellware and John Wagner, Tuesday, 8 December 2020: “More than 1,500 lawyers condemned efforts by the Trump campaign’s legal team to reverse the election results in an open letter that urged the American Bar Association (ABA) to investigate the conduct of the team, including its leader, Rudolph W. Giuliani. ‘President Trump’s barrage of litigation is a pretext for a campaign to undermine public confidence in the outcome of the 2020 election, which inevitably will subvert constitutional democracy,’ the letter says. ‘Sadly, the President’s primary agents and enablers in this effort are lawyers, obligated by their oath and ethical rules to uphold the rule of law.’ The letter escalates the concerns of Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.) who on Nov. 20 filed complaints with ethics boards in five states calling for Giuliani and other members of the team to be investigated and disbarred. The criticism has been echoed in op-eds and letters by attorneys who have rebuked the team for filing frivolous lawsuits and tarnishing the legal profession. ‘It’s really unusual to see a coalition like this calling for disciplinary action; it takes a lot,’ Deborah Rhode, a Stanford Law School professor and one of the leading American legal ethicists, told The Washington Post on Tuesday. ‘Many of these letters have been crossing the political aisle, and that testifies to both the egregiousness of the conduct and its seriousness for the rule of law and the democratic process.'”

Trump’s Attacks on Local Officials Are Spreading Hatred and Inciting Violence, The New Yorker, John Cassidy, Tuesday, 8 December 2020: “Among political leaders and the national press, there seems to be a consensus that Donald Trump’s ongoing efforts to overturn the 2020 election result, although reprehensible, are also something of a farce. Across the country, state officials are busy certifying the vote tallies and selecting electors to the Electoral College. Every day, it seems, the courts deliver another blow to the President’s legal team. With Trump’s chances of prevailing vanishingly slim, it is tempting to dismiss his incendiary behavior as grifting or theatre…. On the Democratic side, Trump’s demagoguery has evoked widespread condemnation. But Democratic leaders would like to shift the focus to the incoming Administration, and some of them want to preserve the possibility of obtaining coöperation from Republicans in the next Senate should the G.O.P. retain control. Such considerations perhaps explain a certain tempering in their recent public response. In an interview with CNN last week, Biden went so far as to say that he could understand why many Republican senators hadn’t publicly acknowledged his victory. Politics sometimes demands tactical behavior. Right now, though, the urgent responsibility of all elected officials in Washington—especially the congressional leadership of the Republican Party—is to make it clear that they stand together behind democracy. The best way to do this is to state unequivocally that the President’s charges are baseless, and to demand that the targeting of local officials by Trump and his goons stop immediately. In the words of the Vermont secretary of state’s office: ‘Silence is complicity.'”

House Overwhelmingly Passes Defense Bill That Requires That Confederate Names Be Stripped from U.S. Military Bases, Defying Trump’s Veto Threat, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Tuesday, 8 December 2020: “The House overwhelmingly passed a $741 billion defense policy bill on Tuesday that would require that Confederate names be stripped from American military bases, defying President Trump’s veto threat and moving lawmakers one step closer to a potential showdown in his final weeks in office. The 335-78 bipartisan vote to approve the legislation that authorizes pay raises for American troops reflected optimism among lawmakers in both parties that Congress would be able to force the enactment of the bill over Mr. Trump’s objections, in what would be the first veto override of his presidency. The margin surpassed the two-thirds majority both the House and Senate would need to muster to do so. It also amounted to a remarkable break from the president by Republicans, who refused to defer to Mr. Trump’s desire to derail the critical bill as his time in the White House comes to a close.”

Trump appointee who oversees Voice of America refuses to cooperate with Biden transition team, The Washington Post, Paul Farhi, Tuesday, 8 December 2020: “A Trump appointee with a short but controversial record of overseeing Voice of America and other federally funded news agencies has declined to cooperate with President-elect Joe Biden’s representatives as they seek access to records and personnel. Michael Pack, who has headed the U.S. Agency for Global Media since June, has defied requests from Biden’s transition team to make officials from his agency available to answer questions about the agencies’ operations. Biden’s aides have indicated that he would replace Pack, who has ordered a series of sweeping changes that have shaken up VOA and sister agencies, such as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Office for Cuba Broadcasting and Radio Free Asia.”

A $4.5 billion Trump food program is running out of money early, leaving families hungry and food assistance charities scrambling, The Washington Post, Laura Reiley and Greg Jaffe, Tuesday, 8 December 2020: “Only weeks before the holidays, a $4.5 billion food program that has kept millions of Americans fed through the pandemic is running out of money. The Farmers to Families Food Box program, a staple of food lines across America, was launched by the Trump administration in May to support struggling farmers and feed jobless Americans battered by the pandemic. It was supposed to provide food support through the end of the year. But because of soaring demand and a shortage of federal money, it is ending a month early in many regions of the country, leaving tens of thousands of families without a critical supply of food. Anti-hunger experts warned that several other federal food programs are also set to expire, causing food banks across the country to lose about 50 percent of the food they receive from the Agriculture Department, even as food banks report an average 60 percent increase in need.”

Shift to a Not-So-Frozen Arctic Is Well Underway, Scientists Warn, The New York Times, Henry Fountain, Tuesday, 8 December 2020: “The Arctic continued its unwavering shift toward a new climate in 2020, as the effects of near-record warming surged across the region, shrinking ice and snow cover and fueling extreme wildfires, scientists said Tuesday in an annual assessment of the region. Rick Thoman, a climate specialist at the University of Alaska and one of the editors of the assessment, said it ‘describes an Arctic region that continues along a path that is warmer, less frozen and biologically changed in ways that were scarcely imaginable even a generation ago. Nearly everything in the Arctic, from ice and snow to human activity, is changing so quickly that there is no reason to think that in 30 years much of anything will be as it is today,’ he said.”


Wednesday, 9 December 2020, Day 1,419:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Wednesday, 9 December 2020: U.S., Breaking a Record, Tops the 3,000 Daily Death Mark, The New York Times, Wednesday, 9 December 2020:

  • A grim new record for the U.S. as daily deaths from the virus top 3,000.

  • Just how full are U.S. intensive care units? New data paints an alarming picture.

  • Canada approves the vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech, and shots may begin next week.

  • Pennsylvania’s governor, Tom Wolf, says he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

  • The U.K. says people with severe allergies should not take the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine while two reactions are under investigation.

  • Angela Merkel calls for stricter lockdown measures, and other news around the world.

  • In a reversal, California says playgrounds can remain open despite stay-at-home orders.

  • Cuomo offers more specifics on the state’s vaccine and hospitalization plans.

  • The U.S. will initially hold back half the first vaccine supply.

  • Men with the virus are hospitalized and die at higher rates than women.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday, 9 December 2020: U.S. records more than 3,000 deaths in a single day, a new high, The Washington Post, Reis Thebault, Jacqueline Dupree, Hannah Knowles, Kim Bellware, Siobhán O’Grady, Hamza Shaban, Teo Armus, Erin Cunningham, and Rick Noack, Wednesday, 9 December 2020: “After weeks of surging infections and rising levels of virus hospitalizations, the United States recorded more than 3,000 covid-19 deaths in a single day, a pandemic record, according to a Washington Post analysis. The harrowing milestone comes as two vaccine candidates appear to be on the verge of clearing the country’s final regulatory hurdles. Yet the new death record, as well as a new high of more than 106,000 covid-19 patients in hospitals, are grim reminders of the pandemic’s devastating toll.

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

  • Canada granted interim authorization to a vaccine made by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech.
  • British regulators ordered hospitals not to give the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to people with a history of ‘significant’ allergic reactions after two health-care workers reacted adversely to the first dose.
  • A U.S. official said 2.9 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would be going in the initial shipments following approval.
  • The State Department hosted roughly 200 guests Tuesday night at the presidential guesthouse despite concerns of public health experts.
  • At least 288,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the United States, and more than 15.3 million infections have been reported nationwide.

U.S. Supplies of Covid-19 PPE Fall Short of Targets, The Wall Street Journal, Stephanie Armour, Betsy McKay, and Susan Pulliam, Wednesday, 9 December 2020: “The federal government has fallen well short of its goal to shore up an emergency stockpile of respirator masks and some other personal protective equipment for health workers amid the current surge in Covid-19 cases. The Trump administration said in May it was aiming to increase its emergency supply of N95 respirator masks to 300 million in the coming 90 days. It never met the goal; by mid-November, the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile and the Federal Emergency Management Agency held 142 million N95 masks, which filter out at least 95% of small particles and fit snugly to the face.”

‘There’s No Place for Them to Go’: I.C.U. Beds Near Capacity Across the U.S., The New York Times, Lauren Leatherby, John Keefe, Lucy Tompkins, Charlie Smart, and Matthew Conlen, Wednesday, 9 December 2020: “More than a third of Americans live in areas where hospitals are running critically short of intensive care beds, federal data show, revealing a newly detailed picture of the nation’s hospital crisis during the deadliest week of the Covid-19 epidemic.”

Presidential Transition Highlights: Trump Asks Ted Cruz to Argue Texas Election Suit if It Reaches the Supreme Court, The New York Times, Wednesday, 9 December 2020:

  • Trump asked Ted Cruz to argue a case seeking to overturn the election if the Supreme Court agreed to hear it.

  • Biden taps Katherine Tai as trade representative.

  • 17 states support Texas’ lawsuit to the Supreme Court challenging the election results.

  • Biden formally names a retired general to be the first Black secretary of defense.

  • Hunter Biden says his taxes are being investigated by federal prosecutors.

  • Moderate lawmakers struggle to finalize a bipartisan stimulus deal as leaders remain at odds.

  • Trump appointees are participating in some transition meetings, chilling the flow of some information.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Presidential Transfer of Power: Biden touts defense secretary nominee General Lloyd J. Austin II; Hunter Biden’s taxes are under investigation, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, and John Wagner, Wednesday, 9 December 2020: “President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday touted retired Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, his nominee to lead the Defense Department, as ‘the right person for this job at the right moment’ at an event in Wilmington, Del. Biden’s remarks come as he accelerates his efforts to fill top-level positions in his incoming administration. Biden’s son Hunter said in a statement that the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware is investigating his ‘tax affairs.’ He said he handled everything ‘legally and appropriately.’ President Trump is continuing to falsely claim that he won the election even as he and his allies rack up more losses in court battles, including one Tuesday at the Supreme Court. Trump has advertised no public appearances Wednesday but has been tweeting grievances about the election.”

17 states tell Supreme Court they support Texas bid to reverse Biden win, CNBC, Dan Mangan and Kevin Breuninger, Wednesday, 9 December 2020: “Seventeen states whose elections were won by President Donald Trump told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that they support Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s bid to file a lawsuit that could effectively reverse President-elect Joe Biden’s projected Electoral College victory. The filing backing Paxton by those states came a day after he asked the Supreme Court for permission to sue Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all of which Biden won, over their voting processes. Later Wednesday, Trump filed a motion to intervene in the case “in his personal capacity” as a presidential candidate. The Supreme Court has yet to rule on Paxton’s request. The states supporting the suit, all of which have Republican attorneys general, are Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.”

Biden Brings Tom Vilsack Back to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Despite Criticism From Reformers, NPR, Dan Charles, Wednesday, 9 December 2020: “President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate Obama Cabinet veteran and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as secretary of agriculture, a source familiar with transition discussions confirmed to NPR. Vilsack returns to an agency he helmed for eight years as Barack Obama’s agriculture secretary. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is best known for supporting farmers but actually has a much greater impact on the country through its funding of food aid programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and school meals. The USDA estimates that 1 in 4 Americans takes advantage of at least one of these food programs during a typical year. Vilsack became the safe, comfortable choice for Biden after competition for the USDA job set off a battle between two wings of the Democratic Party. Traditional farm lobby groups had rallied behind former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, while reformers, who want the USDA to spend its money fighting hunger and climate change, pushed for Rep. Marcia Fudge from Cleveland. Biden has now named Fudge as secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the first Black woman to head the agency since the 1970s. If Biden hoped that the two camps both would welcome Vilsack’s return, he’s likely to be disappointed. Vilsack is currently chief executive of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, an organization backed by the dairy industry.”

New York’s $226 Billion Pension Fund Is Dropping Fossil Fuel Stocks. The fund will divest from many fossil fuels in the next five years and sell its shares in other companies that contribute to global warming by 2040. The New York Times, Annie Barnard, Wednesday, 9 December 2020: “New York State’s pension fund, one of the world’s largest and most influential investors, will drop many of its fossil fuel stocks in the next five years and sell its shares in other companies that contribute to global warming by 2040, the state comptroller said on Wednesday. With $226 billion in assets, New York’s fund wields clout with other retirement funds and its decision to divest from fossil fuels could accelerate a broader shift in global markets away from oil and gas companies, energy experts and climate activists said. The announcement came months after the fund moved to sell its stock in 22 coal companiesNew York City, San Francisco, Washington and several smaller cities have also adopted fossil-fuel divestment programs, but New York State’s commitment to an even more sweeping plan is more significant, especially given the state’s centrality to the global financial markets.” See also, New York State Just Set a New Standard for Fossil Fuel Divestment, Gizmodo, Brian Kahn, Wednesday, 9 December 2020: “After an eight-year fight to get New York to divest its $226 billion pension fund from fossil fuels, activists have won a major victory. On Wednesday, New York Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced the state will take a systematic approach to ensure the third-largest pension fund in the U.S. divests from fossil fuels by 2025. But the state isn’t stopping there, with a promise to completely decarbonize the fund by 2040. That would put it 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement timeframe of global decarbonization by 2050 and will turn up the pressure on other institutions to follow suit or be left holding worthless investments of a bygone fossil-fueled era.”

Earth Is Still Sailing Into Climate Chaos a Major United Nations Report Says, but Its Course Could Shift, The New York Times, Somini Sengupta, Wednesday, 9 December 2020: “The world as a whole is dangerously behind schedule in slowing catastrophic climate change, and its richest people will have to make big changes in their everyday lives in order to shift course, a major United Nations report warned Wednesday. But nearly five years after a landmark international climate agreement in Paris, there are signs of a sea change, including from some of the biggest polluters in the world. The ‘undercurrent’ of the global economy has shifted, said Christiana Figueres, a former United Nations diplomat who led the negotiations that yielded the Paris Agreement in 2015. ‘We are moving faster than we ever were,’ she said in a call with reporters Wednesday. Most of the world’s biggest emitters of planet-warming gases, including China, have promised to draw down their emissions to net-zero by midcentury, meaning that they would eliminate as much of the greenhouse gases as they emit. If those promises are kept (a big if) the world would come very close to the Paris agreement’s goal of limiting temperature rise to the levels required to avert the worst climate disasters.”

Human-made materials now outweigh Earth’s entire biomass, The Guardian, Sandra Laville, Wednesday, 9 December 2020: “The giant human footprint stamped across the world in 2020 is greater than the impact on the planet of all other living things, research suggests. The amount of plastic alone is greater in mass than all land animals and marine creatures combined, the study estimates. While human beings might believe in ‘the immensity of the globe and the seeming infinity of the natural world,’ the researchers say they wanted to provide an objective and rigorous measure of the reality of the balance between man and nature. Their research shows that human activity including production of concrete, metal, plastic, bricks and asphalt has brought the world to a crossover point where human-made mass – driven mostly by enhanced consumption and urban development – exceeds the overall living biomass on Earth. On average, every person in the world is responsible for the creation of human-made matter equal to more than their bodyweight each week, the paper published in Nature says.”

U.S. and States Say Facebook Illegally Crushed Competition, The New York Times, Cecilia Kang and Mike Isaac, Wednesday, 9 December 2020: “The Federal Trade Commission and more than 40 states accused Facebook on Wednesday of buying up its rivals to illegally squash competition, and they called for the deals to be unwound, escalating regulators’ battle against the biggest tech companies in a way that could remake the social media industry. Federal and state regulators of both parties, who have investigated the company for over 18 months, said in separate lawsuits that Facebook’s purchases, especially Instagram for $1 billion in 2012 and WhatsApp for $19 billion two years later, eliminated competition that could have one day challenged the company’s dominance.” See also, Facebook Hit With Antitrust Lawsuits by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and State Attorneys General, The Wall Street Journal, Brent Kendall and John D. McKinnon, Wednesday, 9 December 2020: “The Federal Trade Commission and 46 states sued Facebook Inc. on Wednesday, accusing the social-media giant of buying and freezing out small startups to choke competition. The FTC’s sweeping antitrust case seeks to force Facebook to unwind its acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, two of its landmark deals. The states filed a separate and similar lawsuit, alleging a lack of competition has harmed consumers, including by weakening privacy protections. The lawsuits come weeks after the Justice Department brought a case alleging Google was illegally maintaining a monopoly in its search business. Collectively, the cases reflect U.S. concern about the power of dominant online platforms.”


Thursday, 10 December 2020, Day 1,420:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Thursday, 10 December 2020: States Announce Crackdowns as Virus Numbers Reach New Highs, The New York Times, Thursday, 10 December 2020:

  • Virginia and Pennsylvania crack down as cases keep rising.

  • The next stop for a newly recommended vaccine is the F.D.A.

  • After more than 3,000 U.S. deaths in a day, a warning: ‘The worst is yet to come.’

  • A C.D.C. official says she was ordered to destroy an email showing a Trump appointee interfering with a report’s publication.

  • Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline delay plans for a trial after experimental vaccine fails in some older patients.

  • Covid-19 caused the sudden death of a top state lawmaker in New Hampshire.

  • Do you have questions about coronavirus tests? These experts have answers.

  • Already hobbled by remote learning, schools confront a growing problem: hackers.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday, 10 December 2020: U.S. sets death record again as Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisers recommend Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, The Washington Post, Reis Thebault, Meryl Kornfield, Carolyn Y. Johnson, Laurie McGinley, Paulina Firozi, Kim Bellware, Erin Cunningham, Hamza Shaban, and Miriam Berger, Thursday, 10 December 2020: “For the second day in a row, the United States has reported a record number of covid-19 deaths, topping even the worst days of the spring surge. The back-to-back records are dark reminders that, even as vaccines appear to hurtle toward approval, the country is still far from the pandemic’s end. By Thursday evening, the daily U.S. toll topped 3,300. The country recorded 3,140 deaths Wednesday. States in the South and the Midwest, along with California, are contributing most to the increase. The steadily rising fatality numbers also come after weeks of soaring levels of infection and coronavirus patients in need of hospitalization. Public-health experts anticipate that the country will soon exceed the week’s death milestones nearly every day in the coming two to three months.

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

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield instructed staff to delete an email from a Trump political appointee seeking control over the agency’s scientific reports on the pandemic, a senior CDC official told congressional investigators this week, Politico, Dan Diamond, Thursday, 10 December 2020: “Redfield’s apparent instruction was revealed in a Monday closed-door interview with the House subcommittee probing the White House’s coronavirus response, which includes the Trump administration’s interference at the federal public health agency. It came following an Aug. 8 email sent by Paul Alexander, who was then the scientific adviser to Health and Human Services spokesperson Michael Caputo, aiming to water down the CDC’s famed Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports to align with President Donald Trump’s efforts to downplay the virus.” See also, CDC director Robert Redfield allegedly ordered deletion of an email written by a top Trump administration health official showing effort to interfere with coronavirus guidance, The Washington Post, Lenny Bernstein and Lena H. Sun, Thursday, 10 December 2020: “The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allegedly ordered the destruction of an email written by a top Trump administration health official who was seeking changes in a scientific report on the coronavirus’s risk to children, the head of a congressional oversight subcommittee charged Thursday. In a letter to CDC Director Robert R. Redfield and his superior, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) expressed ‘serious concern about what may be deliberate efforts by the Trump Administration to conceal and destroy evidence that senior political appointees interfered with career officials’ response to the coronavirus crisis at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.’ The report was not altered or withdrawn. But Clyburn, chairman of the House select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis, cited an interview three days ago with the editor of the CDC’s most authoritative publication, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, known as MMWR. Charlotte Kent, editor in chief of that report, told investigators that while on vacation in August, she received instructions to delete the email written by Paul Alexander, a senior adviser to Azar.”

Presidential Transition Highlights: Biden Warns ‘Defund the Police’ Slogan Could Hurt Democrats in Georgia Senate Runoff Races, The New York Times, Thursday, 10 December 2020:

  • Biden warns ‘defund the police’ slogan could hurt Democrats in Georgia runoffs.

  • ‘Seditious abuse of the judicial process’: States targeted by Texas’ election suit denounce it.

  • Biden adds to the ranks of advisers with longstanding relationships by picking McDonough and Rice.

  • McConnell aides privately warned that Republicans are unlikely to support the bipartisan stimulus proposal.

  • A majority of House Republicans endorsed Texas’ lawsuit challenging Biden’s victory.

  • State Department watchdog announces early departure as Pompeo criticizes his office.

  • The federal investigation into his son is likely to hang over Biden as he takes office.

  • Biden clashes with liberals over student loan cancellation.

Presidential Transfer of Power: Biden picks Denis McDonough for Veterans Affairs and Susan Rice for top domestic policy job, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, Matt Viser, Lisa Rein, and Annie Linskey, Thursday, 10 December 2020: “President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Denis McDonough, a former chief of staff to President Barack Obama, to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, and he has picked Susan E. Rice, Obama’s former national security adviser, to run the White House Domestic Policy Council. Earlier Thursday, Biden’s team announced that he will travel next week to Georgia to campaign for the two Democratic candidates whose runoff elections next month will effectively determine which party controls the Senate for at least the first two years of Biden’s term. President Trump, who continues to insist that he won the election, held a White House luncheon Thursday for a group of Republican state attorneys general, most of whom are supporting a long-shot lawsuit aimed at undoing Biden’s victory. A total of 106 House Republicans on Thursday signed on to an amicus brief backing the lawsuit.

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

  • Attorneys general in 17 states won by Trump asked the Supreme Court to take up a Texas lawsuit that calls for unprecedented judicial intervention in the presidential election — disallowing the results from four swing states that went for Biden.
  • Trump is shifting his focus to Congress after the courts roundly rejected his bid to overturn the results of the election, pressuring congressional Republicans into taking a final stand to keep him in power.
  • Federal prosecutors have been investigating Hunter Biden, the president-elect’s son, to determine whether he failed to report income from China-related business deals.
  • Biden’s top advisers have asked at least one outside advocacy group for input about Sen. Doug Jones as a potential attorney general, one indication that his team is giving serious consideration to the Alabama Democrat as the nation’s top law enforcement official.
  • Election results have been under attack. Here are the facts.

With time running out, Trump and his Republican allies turn up pressure on Supreme Court in election assault, The Washington Post, David Nakamura and Robert Barnes, Thursday, 10 December 2020: “With his legal options dwindling and time running out before a key electoral college deadline, President Trump on Thursday ramped up pressure on the Supreme Court to help overturn Joe Biden’s victory, gaining the support of more than 100 congressional Republicans in the unprecedented assault on the U.S. election system. In a morning tweet, Trump called on the court to ‘save our Country from the greatest Election abuse in the history of the United States,’ repeating his baseless claims of widespread fraud. He had a private lunch at the White House with some of the attorneys general from 18 Republican-led states asking the court to dismiss the results in four swing states that Biden won, an effort supported by the Trump administration. By late afternoon, 106 GOP House members — a majority of the 196-member Republican caucus — had signed on to an amicus brief to support the Texas-led motion, among them Minority Whip Steve Scalise (La.) and Rep. Tom Emmer (Minn.), the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee.”

In Blistering Retort, 4 Battleground States Tell Texas to Butt Out of Election. The attorneys general of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia asked the Supreme Court to reject a lawsuit from Texas seeking to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victories. The New York Times, Adam Liptak and Jeremy W. Peters, Thursday, 10 December 2020: “In blistering language denouncing Republican efforts to subvert the election, the attorneys general for Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to reject a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the victories in those states by President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., calling the audacious effort an affront to democracy and the rule of law. The lawsuit, filed by the Republican attorney general of Texas and backed by his G.O.P. colleagues in 17 other states and 106 Republican members of Congress, represents the most coordinated, politicized attempt to overturn the will of the voters in recent American history. President Trump has asked to intervene in the lawsuit as well in hopes that the Supreme Court will hand him a second term he decisively lost. The suit is the latest in a spectacularly unsuccessful legal effort by Mr. Trump and his allies to overturn the results, with cases so lacking in evidence that judges at all levels have mocked or condemned them as without merit. Legal experts have derided this latest suit as well, which makes the audacious claim, at odds with ordinary principles of federalism, that the Supreme Court should investigate and override the election systems of four states at the behest of a fifth.” See also, ‘Seditious abuse of the judicial process’: States reject Texas effort to overturn Biden’s election, Politico, Kyle Cheney and Zach Montellaro, Thursday, 10 December 2020: “Officials from four presidential swing states forcefully criticized an effort by Texas and President Donald Trump to enlist the Supreme Court to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election, with Pennsylvania calling the last-ditch legal effort ‘seditious’ and built on an ‘absurd’ foundation. ‘The Court should not abide this seditious abuse of the judicial process, and should send a clear and unmistakable signal that such abuse must never be replicated,’ Pennsylvania said in a 43-page brief signed by Attorney General Josh Shapiro and his deputies.”

Supreme Court rules for Muslims placed on no-fly list after refusing to become FBI informants, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Thursday, 10 December 2020: “The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that three Muslim men may seek monetary damages from the government agents they say placed them on a no-fly list because they refused to become FBI informants. The men filed a lawsuit in 2013 under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which provides relief from government actions that substantially burden a person’s religious beliefs. ‘The question here is whether ‘appropriate relief’ includes claims for money damages against government officials in their individual capacities. We hold that it does,’ Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the 8-0 court. Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed after the case was argued in October and did not take part in the decision.”

U.S. Unemployment Claims Rise to Highest Level Since September, The Wall Street Journal, Eric Morath, Thursday, 10 December 2020: “The economic recovery has downshifted, with job growth slowing and layoffs persisting at a high level amid rising coronavirus cases and related restrictions. The number of workers seeking unemployment benefits, a proxy for layoffs, climbed sharply by 137,000 to 853,000 last week, the Labor Department reported. The level of applications was the highest since September, but still well down from a peak of nearly seven million in late March. The number of applications for a separate federal pandemic program also rose sharply last week.”

Donald Trump Labelled ‘Loser of the Year’ by Europe’s Biggest News Magazine Der Spiegel, Newsweek, Brendan Cole, Thursday, 10 December 2020: “The German magazine Der Spiegel has delivered a withering assessment of President Donald Trump‘s 2020 in an article headlined ‘The loser of the year.’ The piece of more than 3,300 words pulled no punches in criticizing Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, his refusal to accept an election defeat, and for good measure, it took swipes at other presidential actions this year. Headlined in German ‘Der Verlierer des Jahres’ the article published online on Thursday describes how Trump’s refusal to accept President-elect Joe Biden‘s victory is ‘not surprising,’ because, as Roland Nelles and Ralf Neukirch write: ‘nothing is normal under Trump. Instead, he speaks of massive electoral fraud, although there is no evidence for it. Trump’s presidency ends as it began. Without decency and without dignity.'” See also, Trump has been labeled ‘loser of the year’ by one of Europe’s biggest news magazines, Business Insider, Thomas Colson, published on Friday, 11 December 2020: “Donald Trump has been branded ‘loser of the year’ by one of Europe’s biggest news magazines, as President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris were named Time Magazine’s ‘Person[s] of the Year.’ Der Spiegel, one of Germany’s most widely read German-language news websites, published a long article in German about the president under the headline ‘Der Verlierer des Jahres,’ which translates as ‘The Loser of the Year.’ The article, published on Thursday, criticised the president for refusing to concede the election to Biden and described him as ‘a man who … was never concerned with the common good, but always with one thing – himself.'”