👋 Away Message: Hi there! Matt is currently out on parental leave. He'll return August 30th-ish. More details can be found here. In the meantime, Joe (the voice of the newscast/podcast) will be publishing an abridged version of WTF Just Happened Today? every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can expect 5-7 news items covering a slightly wider range of political news in about two sentences each. We'll return to our regularly scheduled WTFJHT programming when Matt returns in late August.
Send your thoughts, suggestions, or complaints to:
1/ The U.S. topped more than 153,000 coronavirus cases for the first time, hospitalizations hit another all-time high, and New Mexico and Oregon issued new lockdown orders. It’s the seventh time in nine days that the confirmed cases reached a new high. The death toll, meanwhile, surpassed 242,000. Biden’s coronavirus task force rejected the possibility of a national lockdown, but Biden did say he would ask governors to institute a mask mandate in their states. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)
😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~53,186,000; deaths: ~1,301,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~10,708,000; deaths: ~245,000
Source: Johns Hopkins University
2/ More than 130 Secret Service officers are quarantining due to positive coronavirus tests or exposure stemming from Trump’s campaign rallies before Election Day. Roughly 10% of the agency’s core security team has been sidelined. At least 30 uniformed Secret Service officers tested positive and about 60 have been asked by the agency to quarantine. (Washington Post / New York Times / Axios)
3/ Trump’s efforts to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory suffered three major setbacks in Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. In Arizona, Trump’s campaign dropped a legal challenge of a number of ballots in Maricopa County, saying Biden’s overall lead in the state is too big for the disputed ballots to make a difference. In Michigan, a judge declined a request to block the certification of election results in Detroit. And in Pennsylvania, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said a recount and a re-canvass was not necessary because Biden leads the vote count by more than 53,500 votes – outside the margin that would permit a recount. The law firm leading the Trump campaign’s efforts to challenge the election results in Pennsylvania withdrew from a federal lawsuit that it had filed on behalf of the campaign. And, a top lawyer at Jones Day, told colleagues that the firm would not get involved in additional litigation in this election. Meanwhile, North Carolina was called for Trump by four networks, with ABC and CNN projecting a Biden win in Georgia. All 50 states’ presidential races have been called, leaving Trump with 232 electoral votes to Biden’s 306 electoral votes. (CNBC / Bloomberg / New York Times / Politico / ABC News / CNN / CNN)
Trump’s campaign ended its “voter fraud” hotline after it was flooded with prank calls. While the campaign set up a conference room for hotline staff to take calls, sources said it was mostly spam or calls from people mocking the hotline. (CNN)
4/ The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency reported that the presidential election was “the most secure in American history,” rejecting Trump’s repeated baseless claims of voter fraud. The statement from state and federal election officials said they found “no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised,” and acknowledged the “many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections.” Hours earlier, Trump repeated a baseless report that a voting machine system “deleted 2.7 million Trump votes nationwide.” Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that Democrats have complained for years about unsafe elections but “Now they are saying what a wonderful job the Trump Administration did in making 2020 the most secure election ever.” (New York Times / Bloomberg / Associated Press / NPR / The Guardian / CNN / Axios)
5/ Trump continues to insist to aides that he beat Biden and has asked advisers whether he could pressure Republican legislatures to pick pro-Trump electors in key states to steal the electoral votes needed to change the math and give him a second term. People briefed on the conversation say it wasn’t a very serious conversation as “Trump has spent his days toggling between his White House residence and the Oval Office, watching television coverage about the final weeks of his presidency. His mood is often bleak, advisers say.” For much of the week, Trump has been “sequestered from public view, tweeting grievances, falsehoods and misinformation about the election results and about Fox News’s coverage of him.” A half-dozen advisers and people close to Trump have concluded that there is no grand strategy and “Trump is simply trying to survive from one news cycle to the next.” (New York Times / Washington Post)
6/ Trump will lose the constitutional protection from prosecution when he leaves the White House on January 20, making him vulnerable to a pending grand jury investigation by the Manhattan district attorney into the Trump Organization and his taxes. Trump is expected to pardon campaign associates and members of his family as he leaves office. The biggest looming pardon question, however, is whether Trump will grant himself a pardon, amid state investigations into his business and finances and the prospect of federal investigators scrutinizing him after he leaves office. Trump’s pardon power does not extend to state crimes and would not protect him or others from ongoing investigations into the Trump Organization being led by the New York attorney general and the Manhattan district attorney. (New York Times / CNN)
- White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said the Trump administration is operating “under the assumption there will be a second Trump term.” (Politico)
7/ The Trump administration is urging Mitch McConnell to confirm Chad Wolf as Homeland Security secretary before before Inauguration Day. Wolf has been serving in an acting capacity for a year and his appointment has been cast as invalid by the Government Accountability Office and in federal court. (CNN)
8/ The Trump administration plans to auction drilling rights in the U.S. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before Biden’s inauguration. Biden, meanwhile, has pledged to permanently protect the refuge, saying drilling there would be a “big disaster.” (Bloomberg)
9/ Federal officials granted TikTok a 15-day extension to find an American buyer after the Trump administration failed to enforce its own deadline. Attorney General William Barr was responsible for enforcing Trump’s order. A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment on why the Trump administration did not enforce the initial deadline. (NPR / Wall Street Journal)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.