What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

Today's essential guide to the daily shock and awe in national politics. Read in moderation.
Curated by @matt_kiser

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Day 37: "A critical step."

1/ The House passed the Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by extending civil rights protections to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Last week Biden called the bill “a critical step toward ensuring that America lives up to our foundational values of equality and freedom for all.” The same legislation was previously passed by the House in 2019, but blocked in the Republican-led Senate. While Democrats now control the White House, House, and Senate, the measure still faces an uphill fight in the Senate, where it would need 60 votes to break a legislative filibuster. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene posted an anti-transgender sign outside of her office, which is directly across the hall from another lawmaker who has a transgender child. Rep. Marie Newman had earlier hung a transgender pride flag next to her door in protest over Greene’s opposition to the Equality Act. (NBC News / CNN)

2/ Biden ended Trump’s ban on legal immigration that had dramatically cut legal immigration to the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic. Last spring, Trump ordered a “pause” on the issuance of green cards and halted certain temporary work visas, saying he needed to protect U.S. jobs amid high unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic. Biden said the Trump policy did “not advance the interests of the United States” and had prevented qualified and eligible non-U.S. residents from entering the country. Biden also eliminated Trump’s effort to cut funding for cities he deemed were “permitting anarchy, violence and destruction” following anti-police brutality protests last summer. (NPR / New York Times / NBC News / CBS News / The Guardian /Bloomberg)

  • Biden revoked Trump’s executive order that made classical architecture the preferred style for federal buildings in Washington. Trump had called modern federal buildings constructed over the last five decades “undistinguished,” “uninspiring” and “just plain ugly.” Instead, Trump required all new buildings be “beautiful.” (NPR)

3/ The Biden administration reopened a tent facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, to house up to 700 immigrant teenagers after they cross the U.S.-Mexico border unaccompanied by a parent. The facility, closed since July 2019, is reopening because permanent facilities for migrant children have had to cut capacity by 40% because of the coronavirus pandemic. The administration is also planning to reopen a for-profit emergency temporary shelter in Homestead, Florida that once held up to 3,200 children and came under fire in 2019 following reports of sexual abuse, overcrowding, and negligent hiring practices. The administration has maintained that it has to reopen the facilities because of limited capacity at existing facilities during the pandemic and an influx of unaccompanied children. (Washington Post / Associated Press / Vox / NBC News / CNN / New York Times / CBS News)

  • A federal judge indefinitely blocked the Biden’s administration from enforcing a 100-day moratorium on most deportations. Judge Drew Tipton issued the preliminary injunction sought by Texas, which argued the moratorium violated federal law and risked imposing additional costs on the state. (CBS News)

  • Lawyers have located the parents of 105 children separated by the Trump administration. The parents of 506 separated migrant children, however, still haven’t been found and 322 of them were likely to have been deported. (NBC News)

4/ A new coronavirus variant is spreading rapidly in New York City and contains a mutation that may weaken the effectiveness of vaccines. The new variant, called B.1.526, first appeared in November, but by mid-February it accounted for about 27% of NYC viral sequences deposited into a database. Meanwhile, a new variant detected in California, which goes by two names, B.1.427 and B.1.429, now makes up more than half of the infections in 44 counties in the state. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~112,869,000; deaths: ~2,505,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~28,398,000; deaths: ~508,000; fully vaccinated: ~6.2%; partially vaccinated: ~13.6%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

5/ Another 730,000 people filed for initial unemployment benefits – down from 841,000 the previous week. Continuing claims decreased to a pandemic-era low of 4.42 million, which is significantly higher than the pre-pandemic norm. Although the unemployment rate stands at 6.3%, a broader measure that includes those who have given up on their job searches is closer to 10%. (CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

6/ Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman warned that the same groups involved in the Jan. 6 insurrection want to “blow up the Capitol” and “kill as many members as possible” during Biden’s first official address to Congress. During a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, Pittman told lawmakers that over 10,000 pro-Trump rioters came onto the Capitol grounds and that more than 800 of them ended up breaching the building. “Officers were unsure of when to use lethal force on Jan. 6,” Pittman said. “The department will also implement significant training to refresh our officers as to the use of lethal force.” Biden is expected to deliver an address to a joint session of Congress after passing Covid-19 relief. (NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post)

7/ Trump’s tax returns and other financial documents were turned over to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Cyrus Vance’s office enforced a subpoena on Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, after the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s request to prevent the millions of pages of records from being handed over as part of an ongoing criminal grand jury investigation. Trump spent nearly 18 months trying to keep the records secret. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Politico / CBS News / NBC News / CNBC)

8/ The Senate voted 64-35 to confirm Jennifer Granholm as secretary of the Department of Energy. Granholm – the second woman to head the department – is expected to play a major role in Biden’s promises to accelerate and expand the country’s shift renewable energy sources. (Axios)

9/ Postmaster General Louis DeJoy apologized for “unacceptable” mail delays during the holiday season in testimony before the House Oversight Committee, but warned that the postal system is “in a death spiral” and needs legislation to help restore it to financial stability. During testimony, DeJoy told lawmakers he intends to be around “a long time,” saying: “Get used to me.” Shortly after DeJoy testified, however, Biden announced three nominees to the Postal Service’s Board of Governors, which has the power to appoint and replace the postmaster general. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden wants to see leaders who can do a “better job” running USPS. (NPR / ABC News / Politico / Washington Post / NBC News / Bloomberg

Day 36: "More must be done."

1/ House Democrats plan to pass the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill by Friday, setting up the Senate to approve the bill with a simple majority, and send it to Biden before March 14, when several unemployment programs expire. A ruling from the Senate parliamentarian is expected soon about whether Biden’s proposed $15-an-hour minimum wage increase would be allowable under Senate “budget reconciliation” rules. Meanwhile, more than 150 American companies urged congressional leaders to pass “immediate and large-scale federal legislation to address the health and economic crises brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic,” saying “more must be done to put the country on a trajectory for a strong, durable recovery.” (CNBC / Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~112,420,000; deaths: ~2,493,000
  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~28,322,000; deaths: ~505,000; vaccinated: ~13.4% of total population
  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

2/ The FDA said Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine meets the requirements for emergency use authorization in a document posted ahead of Friday’s FDA advisers meeting, setting the stage the third effective vaccine developed in under a year to be authorized in the U.S. FDA scientists found that the single dose vaccine was 85% effective at preventing severe illness in clinical trials and 66% effective at preventing Covid-19 cases with any symptoms. (ABC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ The Biden administration will make 25 million masks available – for free – to Americans at community health centers and food banks. The masks will be delivered by Department of Health and Human Services, in partnership with the Department of Defense starting in March through May. (ABC News)

4/ Two Senate committees postponed Neera Tanden’s confirmation hearing – Biden’s pick to head the White House Office of Management and Budget. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Senate Budget Committee were set to vote on Tanden’s nomination Wednesday ahead of a full Senate floor vote, but postponed “because members are asking for more time to consider the nominee.” (Axios / USA Today / Politico)

5/ The Biden administration is expected to release a U.S. intelligence report that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Separately, documents filed as part of a Canadian civil lawsuit say two private jets used by the Saudi assassination squad that killed and dismembered Khashoggi were owned by a company that the crown prince had seized less than a year before. Biden reportedly plans to call Saudi Arabia’s King Salman ahead of Thursday’s release of the report, which would be Biden’s first conversation as president with the Saudi king. (Reuters / CNN / The Guardian / Axios)

6/ The Washington, DC, attorney general’s office deposed Trump Jr. related to a lawsuit alleging the misuse of Trump inaugural funds. The attorney general’s office alleges that the Trump Organization signed a contract for a block of rooms at the the Loews Madison hotel during the 2017 inauguration, but forwarded the invoice to the Presidential Inaugural Committee, which then paid the bill. (CNN)

  • The Manhattan district attorney’s office subpoenaed Steve Bannon’s financial records related to crowd-funding border wall effort. The New Jersey attorney general’s office has also launched a civil inquiry into We Build the Wall, in addition to the criminal investigation. (CNN)

poll/ 61% of adults say the possibility that students will fall behind academically without in-person instruction should be given a lot of consideration as K-12 schools decide whether to reopen. In July 2020, 48% said students falling behind academically should be given a lot of consideration about whether to open for in-person instruction in the fall. (Pew Research Center)

poll/ 5.6% of U.S. adults identify as LGBT – up from 4.5% since 2017. (Gallup)

Day 35: "Intelligence failures."

1/ Officials in charge of Capitol security on Jan. 6 blamed “intelligence failures” by the federal government for the “coordinated, military-style” attack on Congress that threatened the peaceful transfer of power. Testifying before a joint bipartisan committee of senators, former Capitol Police chief Steven Sund said he never saw a Jan. 5 FBI report warning that extremists were preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and wage “war” on Jan. 6. “A clear lack of accurate and complete intelligence across several federal agencies contributed to this event, and not poor planning by the United States Capitol Police,” Sund said. “But none of the intelligence we received predicted what actually occurred.” Former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving said that while they were informed that Congress would be a target and some protesters could be armed, “the intelligence was not that there would be a coordinated assault on the Capitol, nor was that contemplated in any of the inter-agency discussions that I attended in the days before the attack.” Acting D.C. police chief Robert Contee added that he and Sund called the National Guard for help after the mob stormed the building, but a top Pentagon official said he would recommend against deploying the National Guard for fear of the “optics” of armed troops in front of the Capitol. (NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / USA Today / BuzzFeed News / ABC News / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The House is expected to approve Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal this week, after the House Budget Committee advanced the bill on Monday. The House will likely pass the bill, which includes $1,400 in direct payments to Americans, money for vaccine distribution and funding to state and local governments, in a party-line vote. It’s unclear, however, whether raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025 will be included in the final Senate version of the legislation. Republicans, meanwhile, have proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $10, but only if businesses are required to use the E-Verify system designed to prevent employers from hiring undocumented workers. (CBS News / USA Today)

3/ The Biden administration is preparing sanctions to punish Russia for poisoning and jailing Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, as well as the SolarWinds hack on government agencies and private companies. The administration is calling the SolarWinds operation “indiscriminate” and “disruptive,” which was not equivalent to the kind of espionage the U.S. conducts. The U.S. is expected to coordinate sanctions with European allies in the coming weeks. (Washington Post / Politico)

4/ Democrats accused Sen. Joe Manchin – a conservative Democrat – and Republicans of having a “double standard” when it comes to confirming the women and people of color that Biden has nominated. Manchin said he was opposed to Neera Tanden becoming the first Asian American woman to lead the Office of Management and Budget because of her past tweets attacking lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Democrats, however, argued that after Trump, there is no justification for having someone’s tweets disqualify them. Manchin has also indicated that he was having doubts about Deb Haaland, who would become the first Native woman to run the Interior, while Republicans have accused Haaland of being “radical,” because of her support for progressive environmental policies and opposition to new oil and gas drilling leases on federal land. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, meanwhile, pointed out that Manchin had voted to confirm Jeff Sessions – Trump’s first attorney general – despite accusations of racism throughout his career. Rep. Grace Meng added that “in the past, Trump nominees that they’ve confirmed and supported had much more serious issues and conflicts than just something that was written on Twitter.” Manchin responded, saying “I’m all about bipartisanship. I really am […] This is not personal at all.” Republicans have also pushed back on Xavier Becerra – Biden’s choice to run the Heath and Human Services Department – citing his views on expanding health care and abortion access to unauthorized immigrants. (Politico / The Guardian)

  • The Senate voted 78-20 to confirm Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Thomas-Greenfield promised to restore the U.S. role as a defender of human rights and will look to repair multilateral relationships. (Axios)

  • The Senate confirmed Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary. The vote was 92-7. (CNN)

  • Georgia Republican David Perdue will not run against an incumbent Democrat, Senator Raphael Warnock, in 2022 – one week after filing paperwork for a new campaign and days after visiting with Trump. (New York Times / Atlanta Journal-Constitution / CNBC)

Day 34: "The work continues."

1/ The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus topped 500,000 with more than 28,000,000 confirmed cases. More Americans have died from Covid-19 than in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined – and public health officials have said the actual death toll is likely significantly higher. Dr. Anthony Fauci called the death toll a “stunning,” “terrible,” “really horrible,” and “historic” figure, adding that the U.S. had “done worse than most any other country” despite being a “highly developed, rich country.” On February 23, 2020, Trump suggested that the coronavirus is “going to go away,” because “we’ve had no deaths” and “we have it very much under control in this country.” The coronavirus has killed more than 2,462,000 people worldwide. (NBC News / New York Times / ABC News / Politico / Washington Post / CNN / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~111,643,000; deaths: ~2,472,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~28,175,000; deaths: ~500,000; vaccinated: ~13.3% of total population

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • First doses of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines have reduced Covid-19 hospital admissions among the elderly in the U.K. by up to 85% and 94%, respectively. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

2/ Biden altered the Paycheck Protection Program to direct more funding toward very small businesses and those owned by minorities or located in underserved communities. Starting March 9, businesses with more than 20 employees will be shut out of the PPP for two weeks. Biden criticized the PPP’s early rollout for privileging larger businesses with existing banking connections while smaller businesses struggled to obtain relief. The administration, however, has not said whether it will seek to extend the program after the current funding expires March 31. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The Supreme Court rejected Trump’s last-ditch effort to keep his private financial records from the Manhattan district attorney. After a four-month delay, the court denied Trump’s motion in a one-sentence order with no recorded dissents, clearing the way for prosecutors in New York City to receive eight years of his tax returns and other financial records as part of an ongoing investigation into possible tax, insurance, and bank fraud. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance can now enforce a subpoena to Trump’s accountants, Mazars USA, to turn over records Trump has repeatedly refused to surrender. Mazars previously said it would comply with the final ruling of the courts. “The work continues,” Vance said in response to the Supreme Court order. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / NBC News / CNN / ABC News / The Guardian)

4/ The confirmation of Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget is in doubt after two Republicans and a Democrat said they will vote against her nomination. Sens. Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, and Joe Manchin said Tanden’s “past actions” on social media behavior, including criticizing Bernie Sanders and Mitch McConnell, demonstrated the animosity that Biden “pledged to transcend” and that the OMB nominee did not have the “experience nor the temperament” to lead the office. The White House, meanwhile, signaled that it will continue to support Tanden, despite her path to confirmation growing increasingly narrow. (Politico / NBC News / Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

  • Republicans in the House and Senate are demanding that Biden withdraw the nomination of Xavier Becerra to head the Department of Health and Human Services, because of his support for abortion rights and “Medicare for All.” Despite the GOP’s opposition to Becerra, Democrats are confident they have the votes to get Becerra confirmed. (Politico / National Reviews)

5/ The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up Republican challenges to the presidential election results in Pennsylvania. Trump and the Pennsylvania Republican Party had urged the justices to review a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling, which had extended the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots until three days after the election. About 10,000 ballots arrived during the three-day window – short of the number needed to overturn Biden’s 80,555-vote victory in the state. The justices offered no public explanation for their decision, but Justice Clarence Thomas dissented. (Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

6/ Dominion Voting Systems sued MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for more than $1.3 billion, alleging that the Trump ally spread a baseless conspiracy theory that its voting machines were rigged “because the lie sells pillows.” Trump’s lawyers, Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, have also each been sued by Dominion for $1.3 billion in damages. (Axios / ABC News / CNBC / NPR)

7/ The Justice Department and the FBI are investigating communications between the rioters who attacked the Capitol and Roger Stone. For weeks Justice Department officials have debated whether to open a full investigation into Stone, but if they find messages showing that Stone knew about or took part in plans to disrupt the certification of Biden’s electoral victory, officials would have a basis to open a full criminal investigation into Stone. Trump commuted Stone’s sentence in July and pardoned him in late December. The pardon, however, does not protect Stone from future prosecutions. (New York Times / Washington Post)

8/ Trump will speak at next week’s Conservative Political Action Conference – his first public appearance since leaving office. Trump reportedly intends to attack Biden’s immigration plan and tell attendees that he is Republicans’ “presumptive 2024 nominee” for president. (Axios / The Guardian / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 17% of Trump voters believe Biden was legitimately elected president, while 73% say Biden wasn’t legitimately elected. (USA Today / Suffolk University)

Day 31: "We have a lot to do."

1/ The United States officially returned to the Paris climate accord, four years after the Trump administration abandoned the global climate pact. “This is a global existential crisis,” Biden said. “We can no longer delay or do the bare minimum to address climate change.” Under the terms of the agreement, the U.S. would reduce its emissions by about 25% by 2025. The country, however, is only on track to achieve about a 17% reduction and Biden has promised to chart a path toward net-zero U.S. emissions by 2050. “We know that just doing Paris is not enough,” John Kerry said, Biden’s special envoy for climate. “We feel an obligation to work overtime to try to make up the difference. We have a lot to do.” (Associated Press / NBC News / NPR / CNN / Bloomberg / The Guardian / Reuters)

2/ Biden affirmed that the United States is “fully committed” to NATO but warned global leaders that “democratic progress is under assault” and the world faces an “inflection point” that could result in a tilt toward autocracy. Without mentioning Trump, Biden said “I know the past few years have strained and tested our transatlantic relationship,” but the U.S. is “determined to reengage with Europe, to consult with you, to earn back our position of trusted leadership.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / NBC News / Bloomberg)

  • The Biden administration said it was ready to restore the Iran nuclear deal that the Trump administration abandoned, offering to hold talks with other world powers and Iran to discuss Tehran’s nuclear program. (NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg)

3/ Biden privately told a group of mayors and governors that the $15-an-hour minimum wage hike was unlikely to be in the final Covid-19 relief bill. “I really want this in there but it just doesn’t look like we can do it because of reconciliation,” Biden told the group. House Democrats, meanwhile, released the full text of the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, which includes an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, $1,400 direct checks for Americans making $75,000 or less, an extension of $400 federal unemployment benefits, and money for small businesses. (Politico / CNN)

4/ The Manhattan district attorney’s office enlisted an expert on white-collar crime to investigate Trump and the Trump Organization. District Attorney Cyrus Vance is investigating possible tax and bank-related fraud, including whether the Trump Organization inflated the value of its properties to obtain loans and tax benefits. Mark Pomerantz will serve as a special assistant district attorney and work exclusively on the Trump investigation. (New York Times)

  • A venture capitalist who donated nearly $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Imaad Zuberi pleaded guilty to tax evasion for filing false foreign agent registration records and providing illegal campaign contributions while lobbying high-level U.S. officials. Zuberi funneled from foreign entities over five years between 2012 and 2016, including a $900,000 contribution to the Trump inaugural committee in December 2016. Zuberi was also fined $1.75 million and ordered to pay $15.7 million in restitution. (NBC News)

5/ The U.S. Capitol Police suspended six officers with pay for their actions during the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Another 29 are under investigation. Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman “has directed that any member of her department whose behavior is not in keeping with the Department’s Rules of Conduct will face appropriate discipline.” The Justice Department, meanwhile, charged six people suspected of being members of the Oath Keepers, alleging that they “did knowingly combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with each other and others known and unknown” to force entry to the Capitol and obstruct Congress from certifying the election results. (CNN / NBC News / CNBC / Washington Post / New York Times)

poll/ 56% of Americans are dissatisfied with U.S. gun laws and policy – the ninth consecutive year of dissatisfaction. (Gallup)

Day 30: "Restore common sense."

1/ The coronavirus pandemic cut life expectancy in the U.S. by an entire year in the first half of 2020 – the largest drop since World War II. Overall, Americans can now expect to live 77.8 years – similar to what it was in 2006. Life expectancy of the Black population, however, declined by 2.7 years to 72 years. The CDC noted that the data only reflects deaths that occurred during the first six months of 2020 and does not show the full impact of Covid-19. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Associated Press / CNN)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~110,181,000; deaths: ~2,438,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~27,882,000; deaths: ~493,000; vaccinated: ~12.7% of total population

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

2/ Another 861,000 people filed for unemployment last week – up 13,000 from the prior week – and another 516,000 claims were filed last week for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a program for gig and self employed workers. The total number of people claiming benefits in all unemployment programs was 18.34 million. According to the Labor Department, since the beginning of the pandemic some 2.5 million women have left the American work force, compared with 1.8 million men. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / New York Times)

  • More than 100 million workers in the world’s largest economies may need to switch occupation by 2030 as the Covid-19 pandemic accelerates changes to the labor force. (Bloomberg)

3/ The White House pledged $4 billion dollars to an international effort to get coronavirus vaccines to low- and middle-income countries. Despite more than 190 countries participating in the Covax program, the Trump administration opted out, partly because of Trump’s feud with the WHO. The U.S. will contribute an initial $2 billion in the coming days and the remaining $2 billion over the next two years. (Washington Post / NBC News)

4/ The U.S. attorney in Brooklyn and the FBI are investigating how New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo handled the Covid-19 pandemic in the state’s nursing homes. Cuomo’s administration recently revealed that more than 15,000 people have died from the coronavirus in New York’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities – up from the 8,500 previously disclosed – and his top aide admitted in a call with state lawmakers that the state had withheld data because it feared that the Trump administration would use the information to begin a federal civil rights investigation. Democrats in the New York State Senate, meanwhile, accused Cuomo of a “cover-up” and are moving to strip him of the emergency powers granted during the pandemic. Cuomo also allegedly threatened to “destroy” a New York State Assemblyman’s political career if he didn’t help cover up the nursing home-related deaths. (NBC News / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

5/ Ted Cruz and his family flew to Cancun as 3 million Texans were left without power, safe drinking water, or heat amid freezing weather. After photos surfaced of his family boarding a flight from Houston, Cruz claimed he flew to Mexico for the night because his “girls asked to take a trip with friends” and he wanted to be a “good dad.” The CDC, however, has advised that Americans “avoid all travel to Mexico” due to the coronavirus pandemic and that “[a]ll air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test” before boarding a U.S.-bound flight. Cruz, meanwhile, booked his return ticket from Cancun to Texas at 6 a.m. today. (Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press / CNN / Axios / Dallas Morning News)

6/ Biden approved emergency declarations for Oklahoma and Texas as the region battles the effects of severe winter weather. The declaration authorizes FEMA to coordinate disaster relief, including sending generators, blankets, and other supplies. (The Hill / Washington Post)

7/ Congressional Democrats introduced a Biden-backed bill to remake the U.S. immigration system and provide a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented Americans. The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, while unlikely to win Republican support, would provide an eight-year pathway to citizenship for 11 million people living in the country without legal status, remove restrictions on family-based immigration, and expand worker visas. “We have an economic and moral imperative to pass big, bold and inclusive immigration reform,” Sen. Bob Menendez said, adding: “We’re here today because last November 80 million Americans voted against Donald Trump and against everything he stood for. They voted to restore common sense, compassion, and competence in our government. And part of that mandate is fixing our immigration system, which is a cornerstone of Trump’s hateful horror show.” (NBC News / New York Times / CNN / Associated Press / Axios)

8/ The White House and congressional Democrats are divided over efforts to force Trump’s former White House counsel to testify about Trump’s efforts to obstruct the Russia inquiry. Under Trump, the Justice Department had been representing Donald McGahn in fighting a subpoena from House Judiciary Committee to testify at an oversight hearing. In a court filing, however, the Biden administration asked “whether an accommodation might be available with respect to the Committee’s request” to force McGahn to testify at an oversight hearing. House Democrats urged the court to move forward in the “interests of judicial efficiency or fairness to the parties.” Biden’s White House lawyers are reportedly worried about establishing a precedent that could someday force them to testify about internal matters. (New York Times)

9/ The Supreme Court has refused – for nearly four months – to act on emergency filings related to a Manhattan grand jury’s subpoena of Trump tax returns. The grand jury is seeking Trump personal and business records back to 2011, including information about the hush-money payments Michael Cohen made to cover up alleged affairs. The justices have not explained the delay.(CNN)

10/ Nearly 5,000 National Guard troops will remain in Washington through mid-March amid concerns that QAnon followers believe Trump will return to office March 4. During a hearing with defense officials, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee said “Some of these people have figured out that apparently 75 years ago, the president used to be inaugurated on March 4. OK, now why that’s relevant, God knows, at any rate, now they are thinking maybe we should gather again and storm the Capitol on March 4. … That is circulating online.” (CNN / The Hill)

11/ South Carolina banned most abortions. After South Carolina lawmakers passed a restrictive “fetal heartbeat” abortion ban bill and S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster signed it into law – five weeks into the legislative session – legislators and members of the public began singing the words “Praise God” to the tune of “Amazing Grace.” (Associated Press / The State)

Day 29: "I'm tired of talking about Donald Trump."

1/ Biden suggested that anyone in the country who wants a vaccine should be able to get one “by the end of July.” Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said in a task force briefing that “We are on track to have enough vaccine supply for 300 million Americans by the end of July.” The U.S. has averaged 1.64 million doses a day over the last week and about 56.3 million total doses have been administered. If the pace of vaccination stays where it is now, Biden’s initial goal of 100 million Covid-19 vaccine shots in the first 100 days of his presidency would be met in late March – around Day 67 of his presidency. (New York Times / USA Today / The Guardian)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~109,837,000; deaths: ~2,428,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~27,812,000; deaths: ~490,000; vaccinated: ~12.2% of total population

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • About a third of U.S. military personnel are declining to be vaccinated. About 960,000 members of the military and its contractors have been vaccinated. (New York Times)

2/ Biden clarified that his goal is to open the majority of K-8 schools by the end of his first 100 days in office. When asked to explain what he meant by “open,” Biden said, “I think many of them five days a week. The goal will be five days a week” in person. Last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration wants more than 50% of schools to have “some teaching” in person “at least one day a week” – not fully reopened – by the end of April. Kamala Harris, meanwhile, stressed that teachers should be given priority for Covid-19 vaccinations, but wouldn’t say if she believed that teacher vaccinations should be a prerequisite for reopening schools. Dr. Anthony Fauci, however, added that vaccinating all teachers against Covid-19 before reopening schools is a “non-workable” solution. (NPR / NBC News / Politico)

3/ The Biden administration will invest more than $1.6 billion to expand coronavirus testing and genetic sequencing. About $650 million will go toward testing in K-8 schools and homeless shelters, $815 million will increase manufacturing to address shortages in testing supplies, and $200 million will go to increasing genetic sequencing efforts to help track existing and new variants. The White House called the $200 million a “down payment” that would increase the number of virus samples that labs can sequence jumping from around 7,000 to around 25,000 each week. Testing coordinator Carole Johnson, meanwhile, described the $1.6 billion package a “pilot” that will serve as a bridge until Congress passes the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill. (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times)

4/ Biden declined to support Democratic proposals to cancel up to $50,000 per borrower in student loan debt, saying “I will not make that happen.” Biden, however, said he was prepared to cancel $10,000 in debt, but anything more than that would require congressional action. Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren, and other lawmakers introduced a resolution in early February calling on Biden to use executive action to wipe out up to $50,000 in student loan debt, arguing that the secretary of education has broad administrative authority to cancel the federal debt. In response to Biden’s dismissal to forgiving student debt, Schumer and Warren issued a joint statement saying that action is needed “to immediately deliver much-needed relief to millions of Americans.” “It’s time to act. We will keep fighting,” they added. (NBC News / CNN / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

5/ Economists warn that millions of jobs that have been eliminated by the coronavirus pandemic are permanent and unlikely to come back. A report coming out later this week from the McKinsey Global Institute says that 20% of business travel won’t come back and about 20% of workers could end up working from home indefinitely, which means fewer jobs at hotels, restaurants, and downtown shops. (Washington Post)

poll/ 52% of voters approve of the job Biden is doing as president. In February, 2017, voters gave Trump a 38% approval rating. (Quinnipiac)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The Biden administration will send generators to Texas amid ongoing power outages and freezing weather. Biden also declared a state of emergency in Texas over the weekend. (Axios)

  2. The Pentagon delayed promotions for two female generals over fears that Trump would replace them before leaving office. Then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed to delay their promotion recommendations for Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost of the Air Force and Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson of the Army until after the November elections on the assumption that the Biden administration would be more supportive. Both promotions are expected to go to the White House and then to the Senate for approval within the next few weeks. (New York Times)

  3. Dominion Voting Systems “imminently” plans to sue MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell over his claims about nonexistent election fraud. The suit would make Lindell the third Trump ally sued by Dominion after the company filed $1.3 billion suits against attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani. (Daily Beast)

  4. Trump issued a highly personal statement attacking Mitch McConnell after McConnell voted no on impeachment but said he held Trump “practically and morally responsible” for the assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6. Trump called McConnell a “dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack” who “doesn’t have what it takes,” claiming that McConnell cost Republicans the Senate and that senator won his reelection because of his endorsement. “If Republican senators are going to stay with him,” Trump said, “they will not win again.” (New York Times / Politico / NBC News)

  5. Biden said he’s spoken to all former presidents “with one exception.” Trump was the first president in modern history to decline to meet with his successor. After confirming that he hasn’t spoken to Trump, Biden added: “I’m tired of talking about Donald Trump, don’t want to talk about him anymore.” [Editor’s note: Amen.] (CNN / Axios)

Day 28: "Get to the truth."

1/ The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee sued Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and two extremist groups, accusing them of conspiring to incite the violent riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in order to interfere with Congress’ certification of the Electoral College count. The lawsuit, filed by the NAACP on behalf of Rep. Bennie Thompson, alleges that Trump and Giuliani, in collaboration with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, violated the Ku Klux Klan Act, an 1871 statute designed to protect lawmakers from violent interference in Congress’s constitutional duties. The suit, filed in federal court in Washington, says that by repeatedly claiming that the election was stolen, Trump and Giuliani “endorsed rather than discouraged” threats of violence from his supporters in the weeks leading up to the assault on the Capitol. And, at the Jan. 6 rally near the White House, the two “began stoking the crowd’s anger and urging them to take action to forcibly seize control of the process for counting and approving the Electoral College ballots.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Politico / Associated Press / NPR / NBC News / The Guardian / ABC News / CNN / Axios)

2/ The White House said Biden would support efforts to establish the creation of a “9/11-type commission” to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Nancy Pelosi said Monday that the House would move to establish an independent commission for Congress to “get to the truth” of the Capitol attack as well as “the interference with the peaceful transfer of power.” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the White House would also cooperate with Congress to deter similar episodes in the future. (Politico / New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN)

3/ House Democrats are finalizing the details of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, aiming to vote on final legislation Feb. 26. Currently, the legislation would provide billions of dollars for schools and small businesses, extend unemployment benefits through the fall, provide $1,400 in direct payments, and gradually increase in the federal minimum wage to $15. While the full House could pass the legislation as soon as next week, two Democrats in the Senate have voiced opposition to raising the federal minimum wage. Any changes made in the Senate would mean that the bill would have to go back to the House for another vote. (New York Times / Bloomberg / CNBC / CNN)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~109,387,000; deaths: ~2,415,000
  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~27,740,000; deaths: ~488,000; vaccinated: ~12% of total population
  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

4/ Biden extended the federal moratorium on home foreclosure through the end of June, saying the pandemic had “triggered a housing affordability crisis.” Biden had previously extended the moratorium, which was set to expire at the end of January, until the end of March in an executive actions on his first day in office. The White House also extended the enrollment window to request forbearance mortgage and six months of additional forbearance for those who enroll on or before June 30. The moves will benefit about 2.7 million homeowners currently in Covid-19 forbearance and extend the availability of forbearance options for around 11 million other government-backed mortgages nationwide. (NBC News / CNBC / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

5/ The Biden administration will increase coronavirus vaccine doses sent to states to 13.5 million a week – up from 11 million doses. The White House will also double vaccines doses shipped to pharmacies, increasing the number of doses per week from 1 million to 2 million. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the weekly vaccine doses sent to states represents a 57% increase in supply since Biden was inaugurated Jan. 20. About 12% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a vaccine. (Washington Post / The Guardian / Bloomberg)

Day 27: "A disgraceful dereliction of duty."

1/ Trump was acquitted for the second time in 13 months. The Senate voted 57-43 Saturday in favor of convicting Trump – one month and a week after insurrectionists incited a riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6 – 10 votes short of the required two-thirds majority necessary for conviction. Republicans Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, and Patrick Toomey joined all 50 Democrats in voting to find Trump guilty of “incitement of insurrection” – the largest number of senators to vote to find a president of their own party guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. Trump is also the only U.S. president to have been impeached twice. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / Politico / ABC News)

  • 👑 Six hours of paralysis: Inside Trump’s failure to act after a mob stormed the Capitol. “He was hard to reach, and you know why? Because it was live TV,” said one close Trump adviser. “If it’s TiVo, he just hits pause and takes the calls. If it’s live TV, he watches it, and he was just watching it all unfold.” (Washington Post)

  • 👑 One Legacy of Impeachment: The most complete account so far of Jan. 6. “Though Mr. Trump escaped conviction, the Senate impeachment trial has served at least one purpose: It stitched together the most comprehensive and chilling account to date of last month’s deadly assault on the Capitol, ensuring that the former president’s name will be inextricably associated with a violent attempt to subvert the peaceful transfer of power, the first in American history.” (New York Times)

2/ Before the vote to acquit, House impeachment managers unexpectedly called for witnesses after Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told her that Trump supported the mob in a phone call as the Jan. 6 attack was unfolding. Herrera Beutler said that McCarthy had relayed the details of his call with Trump to her, and that McCarthy asked Trump “to publicly and forcefully call off the riot.” Trump, instead, reportedly told McCarthy: “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” House impeachment managers seized on her account, saying they wanted to subpoena her as a witness. The Senate then voted to call witnesses, which was reversed a few hours later after a deal to allow her statement read into the record. Trump’s attorney also threatened to seek depositions from 100 or more witnesses, which would have delayed Biden’s agenda by dragging out the trial. (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / Bloomberg / ABC News / NBC News)

3/ Mitch McConnell denounced Trump minutes after voting to acquit, saying Trump was guilty of a “disgraceful dereliction of duty.” In his post-acquittal speech, McConnell said that Trump was “morally and practically responsible for provoking” the Jan. 6 insurrection, but said he is “constitutionally not eligible for conviction” because he is no longer in office. The Senate trial occurred after Trump left office because McConnell said he would not call back the Senate before lawmakers were set to return Jan. 19 unless every senator agreed to do so. The House impeached Trump on Jan. 13. McConnell also suggested that Trump could still face criminal liability, saying “The Constitution makes perfectly clear that Presidential criminal misconduct while in office can be prosecuted after the President has left office,” adding that Trump “didn’t get away with anything yet.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, called it “pathetic” for McConnell to have “kept the Senate shut down” and unable to receive the article of impeachment. Pelosi added that the 43 Republicans who voted to acquit Trump are “a cowardly group […] who apparently have no options, because they were afraid to defend their job, respect the institution in which they serve.” (New York Times / USA Today / NBC News / Washington Post)

4/ Trump celebrated the Senate voting to acquit him of inciting an insurrection minutes after the verdict was announced, calling the proceedings “yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt” perpetuated against him by “one political party.” Trump suggested that the Democrats’ attempt to end his political career had failed, saying “our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun.” Lindsey Graham said Trump remains the party’s “most potent force” even after his second impeachment and that “the Trump movement is alive and well.” Trump, however, has reportedly voiced concern about being charged related to Jan. 6 riot. (NPR / Bloomberg / New York Times / Politico)

  • New York prosecutors are investigating more than $280 million in loans Trump took out for four Manhattan buildings. In court filings, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said he is pursuing an investigation into possible insurance and bank fraud by the Trump Organization and its officers. (Wall Street Journal)

  • The Fulton County district attorney plans to investigate the post-Election Day phone call between Sen. Lindsey Graham and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger as part of a criminal investigation into whether Trump or his allies broke Georgia laws while trying to reverse his defeat in the state.(Washington Post)

5/ Lawmakers in both parties called for a bipartisan 9/11-style commission to investigate why government officials and law enforcement failed to stop the attack on the U.S. Capitol. In a letter to House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi said “our next step will be to establish an outside, independent 9/11-type Commission to ‘investigate and report on the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021 domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex.’” A commission is the primary remaining option for Congress to try to hold Trump accountable for his role in the assault. Separately, two Senate committees will investigate security failures during the riots, and Nancy Pelosi has also asked the House for a review of the Capitol’s security process. (The Guardian / New York Times / CNN / ABC News / Associated Press)

poll/ 58% of American believe Trump should have been convicted. 61% said Trump’s conduct warranted him being impeached and put on trial. (ABC News)

poll/ 75% of Republicans say they’d like to see Trump play a prominent role in the Republican Party. Overall, 60% of Americans do not want Trump to play a prominent role in the party. (Quinnipiac)

poll/ 62% of Americans say a third political party is needed – up from 57% in September. 33% of Americans say the two major parties are doing an adequate job representing the public. (Gallup)


✏️ Notables.

  1. For the first time since November, the daily average of new coronavirus infections in the U.S. fell below 100,000 – well below the average daily infection rate of 200,000 for December and nearly 250,000 in January. (NPR / NBC News)

  2. The U.S. is administering about 1.7 million coronavirus vaccines a day and more than 50 million Americans have now received the Covid-19 vaccine. (New York Times / ABC)

  3. Biden reopened the federal health insurance marketplace on for three months so that uninsured people can buy a plan and those who want to change their marketplace coverage can do so. (NPR / Axios)

  4. The WHO authorized the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for emergency use. The vaccine will be distributed mainly to low- and middle-income countries as part of the global COVAX initiative. (Politico / Bloomberg)

  5. At least 32 million of the 142 million rapid Covid-19 tests distributed by the U.S. government to states last year weren’t used as of early February. The unused tests cost taxpayers $160 million. (Wall Street Journal)

  6. U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy plans to slow down mail delivery and make it more costly by raising postage rates and eliminating first-class mail. DeJoy, with the support of the agency’s bipartisan but Trump-appointed governing board, has discussed lumping all first-class mail into the same three- to five-day window as non-local mail. (Washington Post / NBC News)

  7. Deputy White House press secretary TJ Ducklo resigned after he berated and threatened a female reporter who asked about his relationship with another reporter as part of a story about a potential conflict. (Washington Post / CNN)

Day 24: "Ordinary political rhetoric."

⚖️ Trump’s Second Senate Impeachment Trial: Day 4.

What happened today? Trump’s legal team concluded its defense, accusing House impeachment managers of “political vengeance” and calling Trump’s second impeachment trial “a politically motivated witch hunt.” Trump’s team spent two hours and 32 minutes of the 16 hours allotted to present a defense, calling Democrats’ allegations that Trump incited the Capitol riot “patently absurd” and that his calls for supporters to “fight” on his behalf “ordinary political rhetoric” that fell short of the legal standard for incitement. “No thinking person could seriously believe that the president’s January 6 speech on the Ellipse was in any way an incitement to violence or insurrection,” Michael van der Veen, one of Trump’s attorneys, said. Trump’s defense then showed a selectively edited video of Democrats using the words “fight” or “fighting” in political speeches. Trump’s other lawyer, Bruce Castor, echoed complaints of “cancel culture,” saying “Let us be clear: This trial is about far more than President Trump. It is about silence and banning the speech the majority does not agree with. It is about canceling 75 million Trump voters and criminalizing political viewpoints.” And, finally, Trump lawyer David Schoen complained about “the hatred, the vitriol, the political opportunism that has brought us here today.” He blamed Trump’s impeachment on “hatred, animosity, division, political gain – and let’s face it, for House Democrats, President Trump is the best enemy to attack.”

What’s next? The Senate completed a question-and-answer session, and a vote on whether to convict or acquit could come as early as Saturday.


1/ The CDC released updated guidance to help schools safely bring students back into classrooms during the pandemic. The agency now recommends a combination of in-person and remote learning, proper use of masks, social distancing of six feet, strict cleaning and maintenance of classrooms, and rapid contact tracing. The guidance doesn’t mandate school reopenings, but calls it “critical for schools to open as safely and as quickly as possible for in-person learning.” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky urged states to prioritize teachers for vaccination, saying it would serve as an “additional layer of protection,” but that schools need to keep up safety practices “for the foreseeable future.” (NPR / Politico / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~108,070,000; deaths: ~2,379,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~27,478,000; deaths: ~481,000; vaccinated: ~10.9% of total population

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • The FDA agreed to allow Moderna to put as many as 14 doses in each vial of the company’s coronavirus vaccine — up from the current 10. Moderna currently supplies about half of the nation’s vaccine stock and a 14-dose vial could increase the vaccine supply by as much as 20%. (New York Times / Politico)

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration reportedly covered up the scope of the coronavirus death toll in New York’s nursing homes out of fear it could be used against them by the Trump administration. (New York Times / ABC News)

2/ Trump was sicker with Covid-19 than publicly acknowledged and officials believed he would need to be put on a ventilator. When he was hospitalized with the coronavirus in October, Trump’s blood oxygen levels dropped into the 80s. Covid-19 is considered severe when blood oxygen levels fall to the low 90s. Trump received the Regeneron antibody cocktail before he was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, which was not widely available at the time. Once at the hospital, Trump received the dexamethasone, a steroid recommended for Covid-19 patients with severe or critical forms of the disease, who often need mechanical ventilation or supplemental oxygen. Trump also received a five-day course of the antiviral drug remdesivir. Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, repeatedly downplayed concerns at the time, saying he wanted “to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, his course of illness has had,” and that he “didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction.” (New York Times / CNN)

3/ The 2020 census data needed for legislative districts won’t be ready until Sept. 30 – six months after the March 31 deadline. The delay, first by the coronavirus pandemic and then by the Trump administration’s interference, threatens to upend the 2022 elections as states face tighter redistricting deadlines for Congress, as well as state and local offices. (New York Times / NPR)

4/ The Biden administration will phase in a new asylum process on Feb. 19 for tens of thousands of people seeking asylum at the southern U.S. border who have been forced to wait in Mexico under a Trump-era policy. The Department of Homeland Security plans to process about 300 people per day from among an estimated 25,000 people with “active cases” in the now-defunct “Remain in Mexico” program. (Associated Press / NPR)

5/ Biden’s deputy White House press secretary was suspended for one week without pay after verbally harassing and threatening a female reporter. T.J. Ducklo was put on leave following a Vanity Fair story reporting that Ducklo had made derogatory and misogynistic comments to a Politico reporter, including tell her “I will destroy you,” after learning that Politico was planning to publish an article about his relationship with a reporter at Axios. (NBC News / CNBC)

Day 23: "A new terrible standard."

⚖️ Trump’s Second Senate Impeachment Trial: Day 3.

What happened today? The House impeachment managers prosecuting Trump rested their case, saying that if Trump is not convicted, it sets “a new terrible standard for presidential misconduct.” The managers used their final day of arguments to show how the insurrectionists – using his specific words – carried out the attack on the Capitol at Trump’s direction, warning that Trump could incite more violence if not convicted. The managers also focused on Trump’s history of celebrating violence and his lack of remorse following the Jan. 6 insurrection to demonstrate why he should be convicted and barred from holding federal office again. “Senators, America, we need to exercise our common sense about what happened,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager, said in his final arguments. “Let’s not get caught up in a lot of outlandish lawyers’ theories here. Exercise your common sense about what just took place in our country.”

What’s next? Trump’s defense team will begin their arguments tomorrow against conviction. Trump’s defense is not expected to use all 16 hours of their allotted time for presentations and instead plans finish its arguments in the Senate’s impeachment trial by Friday night. A verdict could come as early as the weekend. Democrats are looking for at least 17 Senate Republicans to join them in voting to convict Trump.

  • ✏️ Sources: New York Times / Politico / The Guardian / CNN / Bloomberg

  • 💻 Live blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Politico / NBC News / The Guardian / ABC News / CNBC / CNN

  • ✏️ News and notes:

  • Sen. Tommy Tuberville told Trump on Jan. 6 that Pence had been evacuated from the chamber before rioters reached Senate. Pence was removed from the Senate at 2:14 p.m., according to video footage from that day. Trump tweeted at 2:24 p.m. that “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.” Meanwhile, Trump reportedly has not expressed remorse for putting Pence in that situation. (Politico / HuffPost)

  • The Justice Department said a leader of the Oath Keepers paramilitary group waited for Trump’s direction before the siege on the Capitol. The Justice Department filing says Jessica Watkins was “concern[ed] about taking action without his backing was evident in a November 9, 2020, text in which she stated, ‘I am concerned this is an elaborate trap. Unless the POTUS himself activates us, it’s not legit. The POTUS has the right to activate units too. If Trump asks me to come, I will. Otherwise, I can’t trust it.’ Watkins had perceived her desired signal by the end of December.” (CNN / New York Times)

  • A federal judge ordered a Proud Boy charged in the Capitol riot to be held without bond. Dominic Pezzola told a court that he was duped by Trump’s “deception” and “acted out of the delusional belief” that he was responding patriotically. (Politico)


1/ The Biden administration secured deals for another 200 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, increasing available supply by 50%. Biden promised last month to purchase an additional 200 million doses — 100 million from Pfizer and 100 million from Moderna. The additional doses are expected to be delivered and available this summer. (Washington Post)

2/ Biden rescinded Trump’s national emergency declaration over the U.S.-Mexico border. In Feb. 2019, Trump used the emergency proclomation to redirect billions of dollars for construction of a wall along the southern border. (Axios / USA Today)

3/ Senior Justice Department officials in 2020 repeatedly tried to block a search warrant for Rudy Giuliani’s records related to his activities in Ukraine. While career Justice Department officials supported the search warrant – about whether Giuliani had illegally lobbied the Trump administration on behalf of Ukrainian officials and oligarchs who had helped him look for dirt on Biden in 2019 –  political appointees raised concerns that the warrant would be issued too close to the election. The prosecutors tried again after the election, but political appointees at the Justice Department wouldn’t approve the warrant because Trump was still contesting the election, which was being led by Giuliani. (New York Times / CNN)

report/ Roughly 40% of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. could have been prevented if the nation’s average death rate matched other industrialized nations. The Lancet Commission on Public Policy and Health in the Trump Era report faulted Trump’s “inept and insufficient” response to Covid-19 for the death rate, saying his actions “caused a lot of citizens to fail to take it seriously and interfered with the kind of coordinated response they have been able to use in a lot of countries that are more successful than the U.S. in controlling the epidemic.” The report also said Trump weakening of the Affordable Care Act caused 2.3 million more Americans to become uninsured, which does not include those who lost health coverage during the pandemic. [Editor’s note: It’s important to highlight that the nation’s poor health outcomes can be traced back to more than four decades of health, economic, and social policies – not just Trump’s response to the pandemic.] (USA Today)

poll/ 66% of Republicans still believe Biden’s election was not legitimate. Overall, 65% of Americans view Biden’s 2020 victory as legitimate. (New York Times)

poll/ 39% of Republicans agreed that violence may be necessary to achieve political goals, while 31% of independents, and 17% of Democrats support taking violent actions if elected leaders do not defend the country. (NPR)

poll/ 29% of Republicans believe the debunked QAnon conspiracy theory that a group of government officials secretly worked to undermine the Trump administration. (Religion News Service)

Day 22: "Inciter in chief."

⚖️ Trump’s Second Senate Impeachment Trial: Day 2.

What happened today? House Democrats opened their impeachment case against Trump arguing that he “assembled, inflamed and incited” the attack against the U.S. Capitol because he “ran out of nonviolent” ways to overturn the result of the election. The House impeachment managers, calling Trump no “innocent bystander” but the “inciter in chief,” presented never-before-seen security footage from Jan. 6 of a pro-Trump mob storming the Capitol, played audio of Capitol Police declaring a riot, and methodically detailed a nearly minute-by-minute account of what happened once the Capitol was breached. The prosecution argued that Trump sought to “prime” his supporters for the deadly Capitol attack months before it happened by engaging in a series of “false, outlandish lies” that he could only lose the election through fraud, likening Trump’s actions to someone trying “to light the match.”

What’s next? The Senate has taken a break in the proceedings for dinner and will resume shortly. Each trial day is expected to last about eight hours, and House managers have 16 total hours to make their presentations, after which Trump’s team will have the same amount of time to present its defense. Thursday’s proceedings are scheduled to begin at noon Eastern.


1/ Trump was reportedly “not happy” and “frustrated” by the performance of his lawyers during the first day of his second impeachment trial. Trump was particularly angry at Bruce Castor, one of his lawyers, for praising the House impeachment manager’s presentation before delivering a meandering, nearly hour-long defense during the first day of the Senate impeachment trial. In fact, Trump’s other lawyer, David Schoen, was supposed to present first, but Castor told the Senate that they “changed what we were going to do on account that we thought that the House managers’ presentation was well done.” Castor also referred to Trump as the “former president,” conceding that Trump lost the 2020 election when “smart” voters elected Biden. One person familiar with Trump’s reaction said that on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the angriest, Trump “was an eight.” (New York Times / CNN / Politico / The Guardian)

  • Mitch McConnell signaled to Republicans that the vote on Trump’s impeachment is matter of conscience, suggesting that senators who disputed the constitutionality of the trial could still vote to convict. Six Republicans on yesterday voted in favor of the constitutionality of the Senate process. (Bloomberg / Politico)

2/ Georgia prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 election result, including a January phone call where Trump pressured the state’s top elections official to “find” enough votes to reverse Biden’s victory. In letters to state Republican officials, including Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis requested that they preserve documents related to “an investigation into attempts to influence the administration” of the 2020 election, “with particular care being given to set aside and preserve those that may be evidence of attempts to influence the actions of persons who were administering that election.” Willis did not mention Trump by name, but the letters indicate that the office is conducting a criminal investigation. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico / Axios / NBC News)

3/ The CDC recommends double masking to reduce exposure to the coronavirus. A new study found that when you and another person double mask – i.e. wear a surgical mask with a cloth mask on top – the risk of transmitting the coronavirus falls more than 95%. The benefit falls to 80% if only one person wears a double mask. For optimal protection, the CDC study suggests improving the fit of the surgical mask – by knotting the ear loops and tucking in the sides close to the face to form a closer fit – so the mask fits snugly against your face. When only one person adjusted their surgical mask for a tighter fit, the protection benefit of double masking fell to 60%. The CDC continues to recommend that everyone age 2 and older should wear a mask when outside their home. (ABC News / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Politico / NPR)

  • The Biden administration is on track to meet its goal of administering 100 million Covid-19 shots in his first 100 days in office. The administration is averaging 1.5 million shots per day – up from 1.1 million two weeks ago. (NBC News)

4/ The White House clarified Biden’s school reopening goal, saying the administration wants more than 50% of schools to have “some teaching” in person “at least one day a week” – not fully reopened – by Day 100. In December, Biden said his goal was for “a majority of our schools” to be open within 100 days – a benchmark that many schools are already hitting. White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the objective “not the ceiling,” adding “hopefully, it’s more.” Last week, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said “there is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen” and that “vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools.” Teachers, however, have called for more coronavirus testing, vaccinations and other safety measures before returning to classrooms. (USA Today / CNN / Bloomberg)

5/ The Biden administration “indefinitely” shelved the Trump administration’s forced U.S. takeover of TikTok. Last year, Trump ordered a ban on the Chinese-owned app, citing on national security concerns, unless it allowed for Oracle and Walmart take a large ownership stake in the popular video app. (Wall Street Journal / ABC News)

6/ Biden announced sanctions against Myanmar and those involved in the military coup. “The military must relinquish power seized and demonstrate respect for the role of the people,” Biden said as he signed an executive order to impose “strong export controls” and freeze U.S. assets that benefit Myanmar’s government. (Politico / NBC News)

poll/ 67% of Americans plan to get the Covid-19 vaccine or have already done so, 15% are certain they won’t, and 17% say probably not. (Associated Press)

poll/ 37% of Americans have a positive opinion of the Republican Party – down from 43% in November. 48% of Americans have a positive opinion of the Democratic Party. (Gallup)

Day 21: "This cannot be our future."

⚖️ Trump’s Second Senate Impeachment Trial:

What happened today?

  1. Trump’s impeachment trial kicked off in the Senate with House Democrats playing a video montage of Trump whipping up a crowd of supporters, encouraging them to march to the U.S. Capitol and “fight like hell,” showing the pro-Trump mob violently breaching the Capitol, attacking police officers, and invoking Trump’s name as they tried to disrupt the certification of the November election. “Senators, this cannot be our future. This cannot be the future of America,” Rep. Jamie Raskin said in opening remarks. “We cannot have presidents inciting and mobilizing mob violence against our government and our institutions because they refuse to accept the will of the people.”

  2. The first day of the proceeding were devoted to a debate over the constitutionality of the House prosecuting a president who has already left office. While Trump’s lawyers condemned the violence, they rejected the suggestion that he was responsible for it and maintained that the Constitution did not allow for an impeachment trial of a former president because it was meant to lead to removal. According to his defense attorneys, Trump was “horrified” by the violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and that it is “absolutely not true” that Trump failed to quickly act to end the riot. In their revisionist history, Trump reportedly tweeted calls for peace “upon hearing of the reports of violence” and took “immediate steps” to mobilize resources to counter the rioters storming the building – these statements, however, conflict with the actual timeline of events. Bruce Castor, one of Trump’s attorneys, argued that Trump should not be punished for a “political speech,” and since he is “no longer is in office … the object of the Constitution has been achieved. He was removed by the voters.” House impeachment managers, meanwhile, argued that there is no “January exception” for presidents to escape repercussions through impeachment on their way out of office, saying the framers of the Constitution did not provide a waiver for accountability.

  3. After House managers and Trump’s team presented their arguments on whether the trial was constitutional, the Senate voted 56 to 44 to proceed with Trump’s impeachment trial. Six Republicans voted to affirm the constitutionality of the trial.

  4. ✏️ Sources: Associated Press / Bloomberg / Politico / CNN / NBC News / NPR

What’s next?

  1. Trump’s trial is adjourned until Wednesday, when each side will have up to 16 hours to present their case, spread out over two days per side. Senators will also have four hours to question the House managers and Trump’s attorneys.
  • 📝 News and Notes:

  • One of Trump’s impeachment lawyers sued him last year, accusing him of making “repeated claims” that mail voting is ripe with fraud “despite having no evidence in support of these claims.” Michael van der Veen filed a lawsuit against Trump, the USPS, and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in August on behalf of a client running for office, claiming that operational changes at USPS would make it harder for voters to cast ballots during the coronavirus pandemic. (Washington Post)

  • Trump – confident of his acquittal – plans a reemergence and retribution after his impeachment trial. (Politico)

  • 77 Days: Trump’s Campaign to Subvert the Election. Hours after the United States voted, the president declared the election a fraud — a lie that unleashed a movement that would shatter democratic norms and upend the peaceful transfer of power. (New York Times)

  • Trump’s Jan. 6 Speech, Annotated. “The speech Trump gave at a rally just before the Capitol riot is at the center of the impeachment proceedings against the former president. Read and listen to the speech, with annotations on passages cited by the two sides.” (Wall Street Journal)

  • 💻 Live blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NPR / CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / Axios / CNN


1/ The Biden administration will begin sending doses of Covid-19 vaccines to community health centers next week and boost the supply of vaccines sent to states by 5%. Since taking office, the number of doses sent to states has increased by 28% to 11 million doses a week. (NBC News / CNBC)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~106,741,000; deaths: ~2,335,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~27,161,000; deaths: ~467,000; vaccinated: ~10% of total population

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • Johnson & Johnson’s suggested that people may need to get vaccinated against Covid-19 annually – just like seasonal flu shots – over the next several years. (CNBC)

  • A team of WHO scientists investigating the origins of the coronavirus pandemic said it’s “extremely unlikely” that the virus was leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan. After 12 days of field work, the team said they found that the virus was spreading in Wuhan both inside and outside the Huanan Seafood Market, which indicates that the market was also not the original source of the outbreak. (Washington Post / NBC News / ABC News / New York Times)

2/ The office of Georgia’s secretary of state launched an investigation into Trump’s attempts to overturn the state’s election results. In December, Trump called Georgia officials amid an ongoing audit, asking Brad Raffensperger’s office to “find the fraud,” telling them they’d be a “national hero” for it. And on Jan. 2, Trump repeatedly demanded that Raffensperger “find” the 11,780 votes needed to overturn the results of the election in the state. (New York Times / ABC News)

3/ The Biden administration asked nearly all U.S. attorneys appointed during the Trump administration to resign. Several acting U.S. attorneys, who aren’t Senate confirmed or were appointed by the courts, will remain until a Biden appointee is approved by the Senate. The Justice Department, however, will allow John Durham to remain in the role of special counsel appointed to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia inquiry. (CNN / NBC News / New York Times)

4/ The Air Force will deploy B-1 bombers and approximately 200 personnel to Norway for the first time in order to react more quickly to potential Russia aggression. (CNN)

poll/ 56% of Americans would like the Senate to vote to convict Trump. The same percentage say Trump encouraged the violence at the Capitol. (CBS News)

poll/ 49% of Americans said they were certain or very likely to get a Covid-19 vaccine, while 19% said they were “somewhat likely” to get vaccinated, and 32% said they were “not likely.” (CNBC / Bloomberg)

Day 20: "More dire than we thought."

1/ The coronavirus variant first found in the U.K. – known as B.1.1.7 – is spreading rapidly across the U.S., doubling roughly every 10 days. The variant is more contagious than earlier forms of the coronavirus, may be more lethal, and the CDC warned that B.1.1.7 could become the predominant strain in the U.S. by March. Meanwhile, South Africa halted use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after evidence emerged that the vaccine offered only “minimal protection against mild-moderate disease” caused by B.1.351 – another variant, which was first seen in South Africa. The B.1.351 variant has already spread to at least 32 countries, including the U.S. Pfizer and Moderna, however, both said that studies indicate that their vaccines should grant protection against both variants, but are less effective against B.1.351. Biden, meanwhile, called the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic, including the number of vaccine doses that were made available, “even more dire than we thought.” Biden added that it would be “difficult” to vaccinate most of the U.S. by summer. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~106,405,000; deaths: ~2,323,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~27,065,000; deaths: ~465,000; vaccinated: 9.8% of total population

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • The Supreme Court partly lifted restrictions on indoor worship services in California put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The restrictions set varying limits on attendance at religious services by county, depending on infection rates. The court blocked that total ban but left in place a 25% capacity restriction and the prohibition on singing and chanting. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • GOP Rep. Ron Wright died after an 18-day battle with COVID-19. A special election will likely be held in 2021 to select a new representative for the district. (Dallas Morning News / Politico)

2/ The House asked the Biden administration to release documents related to the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, “to understand the full scope and impact of efforts by the Trump White House to suppress coronavirus testing.” In a letter to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis alleged that the Trump administration “refused to cooperate” with its inquiries and that Trump officials “failed to fully comply with two subpoenas and at least 20 document requests” by the committee. The letter focuses on Trump administration adviser Dr. Paul Alexander, who downplayed the importance of testing people without symptoms and allegedly tried to suppress scientific data and pressure members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force to alter public information. In August, the CDC changed its Covid-19 testing guidance to say that people without symptoms “do not necessarily need a test” – even if they were exposed to an infected person. But in September, the CDC reversed the guidance, saying that anyone, including those without symptoms, who has been in close contact with an infected person needs a Covid-19 test. (CNN / CNBC / NPR)

3/ Congressional Democrats are expected to propose providing up to $3,600 per child to families as part of Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package. Under the proposal, the IRS would send $3,600 per child under the age of 6 over the year, or $3,000 per child of ages 6 to 17, phasing out the payments for those earning more than $75,000 and couples earning more than $150,000 per year. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / CNBC)

4/ Biden’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour would result in 1.4 million job losses, but lift 900,000 Americans out of poverty by 2025 and raise the income for 17 million people, according to a new study from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. In its cost assessment of Biden’s “Raise the Wage Act of 2021,” the CBO said that the minimum wage increase would also increase the budget deficit by $54 billion over 10 years. While Biden said he didn’t expect the measure to make the $1.9 trillion covid relief package, he said he was prepared for a “separate negotiation” to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour from the current level of $7.25 an hour. “Look, no one should work 40 hours a week and live below the poverty wage,” Biden said. “And if you’re making less than $15 an hour, you’re living below the poverty wage.” (Washington Post / Reuters / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

  • Surprising exactly no one, 50 years of tax cuts for the wealthy have failed to “trickle down.” A London School of Economics study, which examined 18 developed countries from 1965 to 2015, shows that the incomes of the rich grew faster in countries where tax rates were lowered instead of trickling down to the middle class. (CBS News)

5/ Biden instructed the State Department to reengage with the United Nations Human Rights Council – reversing the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw nearly three years ago. The U.S. withdrew from the council in 2018 – calling the council “a cesspool of political bias” that is a “hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights” and “is not worthy of its name” – after the U.N.’s human rights chief called Trump’s policy of separating children at the border “unconscionable.” (NBC News / Politico / Washington Post)

6/ Biden, citing Trump’s “erratic behavior unrelated to the insurrection,” said Trump should not receive intelligence briefings even though they typically have been given to former presidents. “I just think that there is no need for him to have the intelligence briefings,” Biden said. “What value is giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?” (CNN / NBC News / New York Times)

7/ Trump’s attorneys argued that the insurrection at the Capitol was perpetrated by people “of their own accord and for their own reasons” and not because Trump called on them to march on Congress and “fight like hell.” Trump’s lawyers, accusing House Democrats of engaging in “political theater” driven by “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” asserted in a new filing that Trump’s speech before the attack “did not direct anyone to commit unlawful actions,” and that he deserved no blame for the conduct of a “small group of criminals” because he was engaged in free speech protected by the First Amendment when he questioned the election results. Trump’s lawyers also argued that the Senate “lacks jurisdiction” and cannot convict a former president, calling the effort “patently ridiculous.” House impeachment managers, meanwhile, said: “We live in a Nation governed by the rule of law, not mob violence incited by Presidents who cannot accept their own electoral defeat.” (Politico / Washington Post / CNN / NPR / New York Times / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

  • The FBI charged 211 people in the Capitol riot – nearly two dozen had ties to right-wing extremist groups. (NBC News)

  • Trump’s election fraud lies have cost taxpayers at least $519 million in legal fees prompted by dozens of lawsuits, enhanced security in response to death threats against poll workers, repairs following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, and more than $480 million for the military’s deployment through mid-March. (Washington Post)

  • Trump’s reelection campaign moved about $2.8 million of donor money to the Trump Organization – including more than $81,000 since Trump lost the election. (Forbes)

8/ Paul Manafort can’t be prosecuted in New York after Trump’s pardon. In October, a New York appeals court found that efforts to try Manafort for financial fraud violated the state’s double jeopardy law since Manafort had been convicted on similar charges in federal court. In December, Trump pardoned Manafort. Meanwhile, the double jeopardy defense is unlikely to help Stephen Bannon, who was also pardoned by Trump, because Bannon hasn’t been tried (or convicted) yet. (New York Times)

poll/ 67% of American’s approve of Biden’s handling of the coronavirus. In October, 61% said they disapproved of Trump’s response to the pandemic. (Washington Post)

poll/ 52% of Americans favor their senators voting to convict Trump in his second Senate impeachment trial, while 45% prefer their senators find him not guilty, and 3% are unsure. (Gallup)

poll/ 16% of Americans say democracy is working well or extremely well, while 45% think democracy isn’t functioning properly, and another 38% say it’s working only somewhat well. (Associated Press)

Day 17: "Enormous pain."

1/ The House and Senate both advanced a budget resolution, setting up passage of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus plan over near unanimous Republican opposition. The Senate passed the budget blueprint early Friday morning 51-50 on a party line vote after Kamala Harris broke the tie. The House then passed the resolution later Friday in a 219-209 vote. House and Senate committees will now draft legislation using Biden’s framework, which calls for money for vaccine distribution, funding for hospitals and schools, $1,400 stimulus checks for most Americans, and expanded unemployment aid. Democrats are eyeing mid-March for final passage of the relief legislation. (NPR / New York Times / Associated Press / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / Washington Post / Axios)

2/ Nearly 18 million Americans continue to receive unemployment benefits of some kind and there are about 10 million fewer jobs today than before the pandemic. More than 1 million Americans have filed first-time unemployment claims for the 46th consecutive week last week, while almost 40% of jobless workers – about 4 million people – are now classified as long-term unemployed, nearing the record 46% set following the Great Recession. The U.S. economy, meanwhile, added 49,000 jobs in January as the unemployment rate fell to 6.3%. (NBC News / NPR / CNN / CNBC / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Axios / Politico)

3/ Biden, responding to the jobs report, said “it is very clear our economy is still in trouble.” He added that many Americans are “really hurting” and that Congress has the opportunity “to do something consequential here.” Biden pledged “to act fast” on securing passage of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, making it clear that Democrats are willing to move forward without Republican support, while calling his American Rescue Plan “big,” “bold,” and “a real answer to the crisis we’re in.” Biden also pushed back on the Republicans’ Covid-19 relief counterproposal, which totaled to less than half of the $1.9 trillion White House plan, saying “Some in Congress think we’ve already done enough to deal with the crisis in the country. Others think that things are getting better and we can afford to sit back and either do little or nothing at all. That’s not what I see. I see enormous pain.” (CNN / NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / ABC News)

4/ Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered more than 1,000 active-duty troops to help speed up state Covid-19 vaccination efforts. Military personnel will begin arriving in California within the next 10 days with more missions “to come.” The Pentagon is still weighing a request from FEMA for up to 10,000 troops. Biden, meanwhile, will use the Defense Production Act to increase supplies of vaccine, tests, and protective equipment. (Politico / NBC News)

5/ The House voted to remove Marjorie Taylor Greene from her two committee seats for embracing baseless conspiracy theories and supporting violent rhetoric against Democrats, including the assassination of Nancy Pelosi. The House voted 230-199 – with 11 Republicans joining every Democrat who voted – after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy declined to take away her committee assignments. After being removed from the Budget Committee and the Committee on Education and Labor, Greene called Democrats “morons,” and declared that she had been “freed” from “tyrannical government,” adding that “this is going to be fun!” (Politico / New York Times / ABC News / Bloomberg / NBC News / Washington Post / Axios / New York Times / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 47% of Americans believe the Senate should vote to convict Trump during his impeachment trial. 50% say Trump bears a great deal or quite a bit of the responsibility for the events at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. (Associated Press)

Day 16: "America is back."

1/ U.S. Covid-19 hospitalizations are at the lowest point since Thanksgiving as the rate of coronavirus vaccinations has accelerated. Hospitalizations declined by nearly 30% in the last three weeks to 91,000 patients – the lowest number since Nov. 28. More than 27 million Americans have received their first shot – higher than the total number of reported U.S. infections – and more than 6 million are fully inoculated. (ABC News / Washington Post)

  • Biden’s Covid-19 Response Team is considering sending masks directly to Americans. The Trump administration scrapped a similar plan last year, opting instead to send cloth masks to nonprofit organizations and state agencies. (NBC News)

  • Mitt Romney proposed sending at least $3,000 per child to millions of American families as a means of combating child poverty. Romney’s proposal would provide $4,200 a year for every child up to the age of 6 and $3,000 per year for every child 6 to 17. Democrats have drafted similar legislation that would provide $3,600 a year for children ages 0-5 and $3,000 a year for children aged 6-17. (Washington Post / CNBC / Axios / HuffPost)

2/ Weekly unemployment claims fell to 779,000 – the lowest level since the end of November. While claims remained well above the pre-pandemic peak of 695,000, it was the third consecutive decrease in initial claims. (Bloomberg / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

3/ House impeachment managers requested that Trump testify under oath during his own Senate impeachment trial next week about his involvement in the events that led to the Capitol riot Jan. 6. “In light of your disputing these factual allegations, I write to invite you to provide testimony under oath,” Rep. Jamie Raskin wrote in a letter to Trump. The letter comes two days after Trump’s legal team “denied many factual allegations set forth in the article of impeachment.” House impeachment managers invited Trump to testify either before or during his actual impeachment trial. The Senate could also seek to compel Trump’s testimony by subpoena. Trump’s defense team, meanwhile, rejected the invitation, accusing Democrats of waging a “public relations stunt.” (NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / ABC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / USA Today / Associated Press / Axios)

  • A voting technology company filed a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, several of the network’s prominent hosts, Rudy Giuliani, and Sidney Powell. In its 276-page complaint, Smartmatic argues that Giuliani and Powell “created a story about Smartmatic” and that “Fox joined the conspiracy to defame and disparage Smartmatic and its election technology and software.” (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

4/ Biden will halt and reverse several Trump administration foreign policy initiatives, including planned troop withdrawals in Germany and support for the Saudi-led offensive in Yemen that has resulted in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. “America is back, diplomacy is back,” Biden said at the State department, adding that his administration would work toward “reclaiming our credibility and moral authority.” Biden also pledged to strengthen relationships with U.S. allies, saying they have “atrophied from four years of neglect and abuse” under Trump. (Bloomberg / CNBC / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Axios / The Guardian)

  • Biden is expected announcement that he intends to allow more refugees into the United States this year. Trump steadily lowered the annual cap on refugees from the 110,000 in 2016 to a record low 15,000. (New York Times)

poll/ 39% of Americans on average are satisfied with life in the U.S. – the lowest in two decades. (Gallup)

poll/ 61% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of his job in his first days in office. Nearly all modern presidents have had approval ratings averaging 55% or higher over their first three months in office. Trump’s approval rating, however, never surpassed 50%. (Associated Press)

What’s next: The House will vote on whether to strip Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments; and a “vote-a-rama” is underway in the Senate, a sort of free-for-all amendment procedure as part of the budget reconciliation process, known as “the worst part of the United States Senate.”

Day 15: "We need to act."

1/ Biden urged congressional Democrats to press ahead with the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan, saying “I’m not going to start my administration by breaking a promise to the American people.” Biden said he was open to negotiating the price tag for his Covid-19 relief proposal, including narrowing the distribution of $1,400 stimulus checks to focus on poor and middle-class people, but that he wouldn’t reduce the amount of the stimulus checks. “I think we can better target the number,” Biden said, but “We need to act — we need to act fast.” (NPR / NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~104,222,000; deaths: ~2,263,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~26,523,000; deaths: ~450,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said teachers do not need to get vaccinated against Covid-19 before schools can safely reopen. “There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated,” Walensky said. “Vaccinations of teachers is not a prerequisite for safely reopening schools.” (CNBC)

  • California and New York announced plans for stadium sites for mass Covid-19 inoculations. (NBC News / Bloomberg)

  • The AstraZeneca vaccine may slow transmission of the coronavirus. (New York Times)

2/ The Senate approved a power-sharing agreement for governing the upper chamber that will allow Democrats to take control of committees. Without the so-called organizing resolution for the evenly-split Senate, Republicans had remained in control of committees and the confirmation process for Biden’s nominees. (CNN / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

3/ More than 370 Democratic congressional aides signed an open letter to senators urging them to convict Trump for inciting a violent “attack on our workplace” that threatened the peaceful transition of power. “As congressional employees, we don’t have a vote on whether to convict Donald J. Trump for his role in inciting the violent attack at the Capitol, but our senators do,” they wrote. “And for our sake, and the sake of the country, we ask that they vote to convict the former president and bar him from ever holding office again.” The staff members described ducking under office desks, barricading themselves in offices, and watching as rioters “smashed” their way through the Capitol on Jan. 6, blaming Trump and his “baseless, months long effort to reject votes lawfully cast by the American people.” (New York Times / CNN)

4/ The House will vote Thursday on whether to strip Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments after Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy failed to remove the conspiracy theorists for her past comments that Sandy Hook and Parkland school shootings were a hoax, and her endorsement of violence against Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat, said that “it is clear there is no alternative to holding a floor vote on the resolution to remove Representative Greene from her committee assignments” on the Education and Labor Committee, and the Budget Committee. (New York Times / CNN / Politico / NBC News / Washington Post)

5/ The House adopted rules to fine lawmakers up to $10,000 for bypassing security measures that were enacted after the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. The measure passed on a 216-to-210 vote, with all but three Democrats present voting in favor and all Republicans present voting “no.” In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “It is beyond comprehension why any member would refuse to adhere to these simple, commonsense steps to keep this body safe.”(Washington Post / NBC News)

6/ The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office opened an investigation into Steve Bannon. Trump pardoned Bannon, who was indicted on federal fraud charges for his role in a fundraising scheme to build a border wall. Bannon and three others were arrested Aug. 20 and indicted on accusations they stole from hundreds of thousands of people who donated to the We Build the Wall campaign. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

7/ The Space Force “absolutely” has the “full support of the Biden administration,” according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki. On Tuesday, Psaki responded to a question about the future of Air Force branch established by Trump, saying: “Wow. Space Force. It’s the plane of today. It is an interesting question. I am happy to check with our Space Force point of contact. I’m not sure who that is. I will find out and see if we have any update on that.” The House Armed Services Committee’s top Republican called on Psaki to “immediately apologize” for her remarks, which he saw as dissmissive of the guardians in the Space Force. (Axios / New York Times / Politico)

poll/ 24% of Americans say they will likely never get the coronavirus vaccine if they can help it. 50%, meanwhile, plan to get the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as they are allowed, while 19% say they prefer to let other people get it first. (Monmouth University)

poll/ 78% of Americans support the $1,400 stimulus checks Biden is calling for, including 90% of Democrats and 64% of Republicans. 68% of Americans support the $1.9 trillion stimulus package. (Quinnipiac)

Day 14: "Moral failing."

1/ House impeachment managers accused Trump of whipping the crowd in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 “into a frenzy” and then aiming them “like a loaded cannon” at the Capitol. In a memorandum filed ahead of Trump’s second impeachment trial, the House’s nine impeachment managers said Trump was “singularly responsible” for the riot, accusing him of “a betrayal of historic proportions.” They added: “Trump’s responsibility for the events of January 6 is unmistakable” and that his “abuse of office threatened and injured our democratic order” and “his conduct endangered the life of every single member of Congress, jeopardized the peaceful transition of power and line of succession, and compromised our national security.” (Washington Post / NPR / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / CNN / ABC News / CBS News)

2/ Trump’s lawyers denied that he sought to subvert the election results and incite the deadly assault on the Capitol, arguing that the trial is unconstitutional because he is out of office. In a 14-page response to the House’s impeachment charge, Trump’s lawyers argued that Trump did not incite the crowd on Jan. 6 “to engage in destructive behavior” and suggested that case was “substantially flawed” and should be dismissed. Trump’s lawyers also denied that he was “factually in error” when he claimed that he had won the election “in a landslide,” claiming “insufficient evidence exists upon which a reasonable jurist could conclude that the 45th president’s statements were accurate or not, and he therefore denies they were false.” (New York Times / Politico / CNN / ABC News / Bloomberg)

3/ The Biden administration will distribute Covid-19 vaccine doses to retail pharmacies across the nation. Biden’s team said they would begin shipping roughly one million doses per week to about 6,500 pharmacies nationwide as a trial run. White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients also announced that the administration will increase the weekly allocation of vaccines going to states by 5%, bringing the weekly total shipment of vaccines to 10.5 million per week. (Politico / CNN / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

4/ Biden will form a task force to reunite families separated at the southern border under Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy, which an administration official called a “moral failing.” Biden will also sign two other executive orders to authorize a review of Trump’s immigration policies that limited asylum and slowed down legal immigration into the U.S. “Trump was so focused on the wall he did nothing to address the root causes of why are people are coming to our southern border — it was a limited, wasteful and naive strategy, and it failed,” a senior administration official said. “People continue to migrate to the United States — even today — because of it. President Biden’s approach is to deal with immigration comprehensively, fairly and humanely.” (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / Associated Press / CNN / Wall Street Journal / CBS News)

5/ The Senate confirmed Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security – the first Latino and immigrant to lead DHS. Despite opposition from Senate Republicans, Mayorkas secured enough votes for confirmation, by a 56-43 vote. DHS has not had a Senate-confirmed secretary since April 2019, when Trump ousted Kirstjen Nielsen. (Washington Post / NPR / USA Today / CNN / Associated Press)

6/ Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin dismissed hundreds of members of the Pentagon’s policy advisory boards, including the Trump administration’s last-minute nominees. Austin fired all members serving on DoD’s advisory boards and directed the immediate suspension of all committee operations while the Pentagon completes a “zero-based review” of at least 42 defense advisory committees to be completed by June. Last week, Austin suspended the onboarding process for Trump administration nominees to Pentagon advisory boards. (Wall Street Journal / Politico)

7/ The Senate confirmed Pete Buttigieg as Transportation Secretary – the first openly gay Cabinet secretary. Buttigieg was confirmed with bipartisan support by a vote of 86-13. (NPR / USA Today / Washington Post)

8/ Mitch McConnell likened Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s “loony lies and conspiracy theories” to a “cancer” on the Republican Party. While McConnell didn’t mention Greene by name in his three-sentence statement, Greene responded on Twitter, writing “the real cancer for the Republican Party is weak Republicans who only know how to lose gracefully.” McConnell also released a statement defending Rep. Liz Cheney, who has come under fire for voting to impeach Trump last month. (The Hill / NBC News / CNN / NPR / New York Times)

9/ A post-mortem by Trump’s chief pollster shows that Trump lost the 2020 election largely due to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and voter perception that he wasn’t honest or trustworthy. Trump also lost ground with every age group in the 2020 election, compared to 2016, but he had his “greatest erosion with white voters, particularly white men.” It is unclear if Trump has seen the 27-page report prepared by Tony Fabrizio. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

Day 13: "The time for decisive action is now."

1/ The Biden administration reached a $231 million deal for 8.5 million at-home, over-the-counter Covid-19 rapid tests. The test, made by Ellume, “can detect Covid with roughly 95 percent accuracy within 15 minutes.” The FDA granted an emergency use authorization in December for the tests, which are expected to cost about $30 each. (NPR / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~103,334,000; deaths: ~2,236,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~26,297,000; deaths: ~443,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Top Trump officials actively lobbied Congress to deny states any extra funding for the Covid-19 vaccine rollout last fall. Paul Mango, the former deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department of Health and Human Services, repeatedly argued that states didn’t need more federal funding because they hadn’t spent the $200 million provided by the government earlier in the year. (STAT News)

  • The Biden administration is trying to locate upwards of 20 million vaccine doses that have been sent to states but have yet to record as being administered to patients. (Politico)

  • The Biden administration warned health care providers against holding Covid-19 vaccine doses for second shots that could be administered for initial shots. Andy Slavitt, a senior adviser to the White House’s Covid response team, said providers should be confident that there will be a steady supply of doses and that stockpiling “does not need to happen and should not happen.” (CNN / Politico)

  • Dodger Stadium’s Covid-19 vaccination site was temporarily shut down after about 50 protesters gathered at the entrance, which included members of anti-vaccine and far-right groups. (Los Angeles Times)

  • FEMA asked the Pentagon to ready as many as 10,000 troops to support 100 Covid-19 vaccination sites nationwide. The goal is to administer 450,000 vaccinations a day. (CBS News)

2/ A group of 10 Republican senators proposed a $618 billion coronavirus relief plan – about one-third the size of Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal. The proposed GOP package provides $160 billion for testing and vaccines, extends the $300 weekly unemployment insurance payments until July, and provides $1,000 direct payments. Democratic leaders, meanwhile, are prepared to pass Biden’s stimulus plan through a process called budget reconciliation, which allows legislation to pass with just 51 votes. (NBC News / Politico / CBS News / NPR / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN / Axios / Wall Street Journal)

3/ Biden is reportedly open to scaling down his $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package but the $618 billion GOP counterproposal is “not going to scratch the itch.” In particular, the White House said it is open to scaling down stimulus checks for families making more than $150,000 per year. According to Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, “The risk is not that [Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion package] is too big. The risk is that it is too small.” Biden, meanwhile, agreed to meet with Republicans senators to discuss their Covid counterproposal. Ahead of the meeting, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer filed a joint budget resolution that they said will pave the way for “the landmark Biden-Harris coronavirus package,” declaring that “the time for decisive action is now.” (CNN / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico)

4/ The Congressional Budget Office projected that the economy will recover to its pre-pandemic size by the middle of 2021 – faster than previously expected. The nation’s unemployment rate, however, will remain above its pre-pandemic levels through the rest of this decade. Under the CBO’s projections, the unemployment rate would average 4.1% from 2026 to 2031, well above the 3.7 percent it averaged in 2019. The CBO projections do not assume any new stimulus, including Biden’s $1.9 trillion plan. (Washington Post / CNBC / New York Times / NBC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

5/ Trump’s five impeachment lawyers quit after he wanted his defense to focus on his baseless claim that the election was stolen from him. Trump’s lawyers planned to question whether impeaching a president who has already left office was unconstitutional. Trump, however, wanted his defense team to argue during his second impeachment trial that he won the 2020 election and that it was stolen from him while citing his own false claims of election fraud. Trump also reportedly insisted that the case was “simple” and has told advisers he could argue it himself and save the money on lawyers. Trump’s Senate trial for his role in inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol begins Feb. 9. (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / Politico / NBC News)

  • Trump named two lawyers, David Schoen and Bruce Castor, who will represent him in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate. Schoen has disputed official reports that Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of sexually abusing dozens of girls, killed himself in jail, and maintains his belief that Epstein may have been murdered. Castor, meanwhile, declined to prosecute Bill Cosby in 2005. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / New York Times)

  • The rally that preceded the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol was funded in part by a top Trump campaign donor. The heiress to the Publix Super Markets chain, Julie Jenkins Fancelli, donated about $300,000 through a top fundraising official for Trump’s 2020 campaign, which Alex Jones, a noted conspiracy theorist, helped facilitate. Fancelli paid for more than half of the roughly $500,000 rally at the Ellipse where Trump spoke. Fancelli tapped Caroline Wren, who served as a deputy to Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, at Trump Victory, to organize the event with Ali Alexander, a far-right activist and leader of the “Stop the Steal” movement. Wren was listed as a “VIP Advisor” in the National Park Service permit for the rally. Federal Election Commission records show that Fancelli has donated more than $1 million to Trump Victory, Trump’s campaign, and the Republican National Committee since 2018. (Wall Street Journal / ProPublica)

  • Trump and the Republican Party raised $255.4 million in the weeks following the Nov. 3 election as he tried to undermine and overturn the results. (New York Times)

6/ A New York judge ordered Trump’s tax firm to turn over documents to New York Attorney General Letitia James. In December, Judge Arthur Engoron of State Supreme Court in Manhattan ordered the Trump Organization to produce records related to an investigation into whether Trump had inflated his assets in financial statements to secure bank loans and reduce his tax bill. The Trump Organization argued that the documents are protected by attorney-client privilege. On Friday, Justice Engoron ordered the Trump Organization to release even more documents to James’s office, rejecting the lawyers’ claim that the documents were privileged. (New York Times / CNN)

  • The Scottish Parliament will vote on an Unexplained Wealth Order into Trump’s finances. (The Scotsman)

7/ House Democrats introduced a resolution to force Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from her two committee assignments for her inflammatory and false statements, including promoting conspiracy theories that the nation’s deadliest mass shootings were staged and that the 2018 California wildfires were started by “Jewish space lasers.” Greene also endorsed violence against Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats before she was elected. Last week, Greene was assigned seats on the House Education and Labor Committee and the House Budget Committee. (Politico / NBC News)

Day 10: "Wake-up call."

1/ Johnson and Johnson’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine was 66% effective overall at preventing moderate to severe illness in a global study. In the U.S., the vaccine was 72% effective, but the efficacy rate dropped to 57% in South Africa, where a highly contagious variant is driving new cases. The vaccine was particularly effective at stopping severe disease in all regions, preventing 85% of severe infections and 100% of hospitalizations and deaths. Johnson and Johnson said it planned to apply for emergency authorization of its vaccine from the FDA, putting it on track to receive clearance later in February. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / Politico / New York Times / The Guardian / NBC News)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~101,880,000; deaths: ~2,202,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~25,875,000; deaths: ~436,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci called the new coronavirus variants a “wake-up call” to move faster on vaccinating the population. The highly transmissible variant, known as B.1351, has been identified in more than two dozen countries and has played a role in prompting Canada, Britain and Germany to introduce new travel bans. (Washington Post)

  • The Pentagon could send active-duty troops to assist with vaccines at roughly 100 vaccine sites nationwide. (New York Times)

2/ The Trump administration spent $200 million to send more than 8,700 ventilators to countries around the world last year with no way to keep track of where they ended up. In only 12 of 43 countries did the federal government have a good idea where the ventilators are. And, a Government Accountability Office report said it was unable to identify the Trump administration’s “criteria used for what ventilators went to what countries.” (Washington Post)

3/ There are currently 106 pending Republican-backed bills across 28 states that would restrict access to voting despite the 2020 election being “the most secure in American history.” Nearly a year ago, there were 35 restrictive bills pending across 15 states. (The Guardian / Brennan Center for Justice / The Hill)

  • A Republican Arizona lawmaker introduced a bill that would give the state Legislature the ability to revoke the secretary of state’s election certification at any time before the presidential inauguration. The bill rewrites parts of the state’s election law, such as sections on election observers and securing and auditing ballots, but also grants the Legislature, which is currently under GOP control, the ability to revoke the secretary of state’s certification “by majority vote at any time before the presidential inauguration.” (NBC News)

4/ The FBI said two pipe bombs discovered on Jan. 6 near the Democratic and Republican party headquarters were planted the night before the insurrection at the Capitol. The reward for information leading to the location, arrest, and conviction of the person or people responsible for placing the bomb is now $100,000. (Washington Post / CNN)

  • Some House lawmakers are privately refusing to work with each other, as Democratic leaders are putting pressure on the Republican leadership to denounce Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who endorsed violence against members of Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, warned that “the enemy is within,” after two-thirds of the House Republicans voted to overturn the election hours after lawmakers were attacked by a mob on Jan. 6 demanding that very action. (Politico / Washington Post / The Hill / New York Times)

  • The acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police called for permanent fencing around the Capitol building. Capitol Police will also be stationed at airports in Washington, D.C., and at the railroad terminal at Union Station to provide security on days with increased lawmaker travel. (ABC News / NBC News / New York Times)

5/ The Pentagon suspended the processing of a number of Trump’s last-minute appointees to defense advisory boards. The move effectively prevents a number of Trump allies, including Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, from serving on the panels for the time being. The Biden team, meanwhile, is looking into whether it can replace dozens of Trump’s last-minute appointments to boards and commissions across the government. (Politico)

6/ Putin agreed to extend the New START nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and the United States for five years – a week before the pact was due to expire. The treaty limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers. Russia had long proposed prolonging the pact, but the Trump administration waited until last year to start talks. (Politico)

7/ The former FBI lawyer who admitted to doctoring an email that officials used to justify secret surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser was sentenced to 12 months of probation. Kevin Clinesmith admitted last August that he had altered an internal FBI email in the course of seeking a court’s permission to continue government surveillance of Carter Page, changing an e-mail about Page so that it said he was “not a source” for the CIA when he had been one. Prosecutors had asked that Clinesmith spend several months in prison for his crime. (Politico / NBC News / Washington Post)

Day 9: "Beyond the pale."

1/ Democrats plan to bypass Republicans and approve a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on a party-line basis using budget reconciliation. The process allows some legislation tied to the budget to pass the Senate with a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster. Republicans have repeatedly rejected Biden’s plan, which would provide a $1,400 check, increase and extend federal unemployment, provide funds for vaccine distribution, state and local governments, and schools. Press secretary Jen Psaki also ruled out splitting up the package, saying the Biden administration is “not going to do this in a piecemeal way or break apart a big package meant to address the crisis we’re facing.” (Politico / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~101,254,000; deaths: ~2,185,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~25,709,000; deaths: ~432,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Covid-19 Live Blogs:

  • Scientists warn the United States is in a “race against new variants” of the coronavirus. A new variant, called P.1, emerged in early December in Brazil. The first confirmed case of P.1 in the U.S. was detected Monday. A separate variant that is thought to have emerged in South Africa has forced Moderna and Pfizer to reformulate their COVID-19 vaccines, creating “booster” shots to make sure the vaccines maintain their efficacies. (NPR / NBC News)

  • Health officials identified the first U.S. cases of the coronavirus variant that was initially detected in South Africa. The CDC said the variant, known as B. 1.351, has been found in South Carolina. The B. 1.351 variant is considered to be even more worrisome than the B.1.1.7 variant first seen in the United Kingdom. (NPR / Bloomberg / Politico / Washington Post)

  • The New York attorney general accused the state of severely undercounting Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes, saying that the official tally of about 8,500 may be off by as much as 50%. (New York Times / Politico / Axios)

2/ Biden signed two executive actions to expand access to reproductive health care and health insurance through the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid. “There’s nothing new that we’re doing here other than restoring the Affordable Care Act and restoring Medicaid to the way it was before Trump became president,” Biden said. “Because by fiat, he changed — made [it] more inaccessible, more expensive and more difficult for people to qualify for either of those two plans.” The order instructs the Department of Health and Human Services to open a special enrollment period for the ACA from Feb. 15 to May 15, giving Americans who lost their employer-based health insurance due to the pandemic an opportunity to sign up for coverage. Biden also issued a presidential memorandum unwinding the so-called Mexico City Policy, which prohibits international non-profits from receiving U.S. funding if they provide abortions, advocate to legalize and expand abortion access, or provide abortion counseling. The memorandum also directs the HHS to “take immediate action to consider” whether to remove regulations under Title X that supports family planning. (NPR / Politico / CBS News / Bloomberg / Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / The Guardian)

3/ The U.S. economy shrank by 3.5% in 2020 – the worst year for economic growth since World War II. It’s the first time the economy has contracted for the year since 2009, when GDP shrank by 2.5%. (Washington Post / New York Times)

4/ Senators are contemplating censuring Trump as an alternative to an impeachment trial, which will likely result in his acquittal as it’s become clear that Democrats won’t find the 17 Republican votes needed for a conviction. Susan Collins and Tim Kaine plan to file a censure resolution that Trump “gave aid and comfort” to the insurrectionists by “repeatedly lying about the election, slandering election officials, pressuring others to come to Washington for a wild event and encouraging them to come up to Congress.” A censure resolution requires only a simple majority vote and could prevent Trump from holding office again. Democratic senators said they’re ready move on to coronavirus pandemic relief, climate legislation, and Biden’s Cabinet confirmations. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Axios / Politico)

5/ After the Trump administration relocated the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters to Colorado, more than 87% of staffers either quit or resigned. A total of 287 BLM employees left the job while 41 people moved to the new office in Colorado. About 95% of the more than 9,000 BLM staffers were working outside of Washington before the relocation took place. (Washington Post)

6/ House Republicans appointed a conspiracy theorist – who called school shootings a hoax – to the committee overseeing education. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has openly supported and spread conspiracy theories, including QAnon, for years, wrote on Facebook in 2018 that she agreed that the Parkland massacre that killed 17 students was a “false flag,” and posted a video in 2020 harassing a Parkland survivor, who was visiting Capitol Hill to lobby for gun safety measures. Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Greene’s appointment “absolutely appalling” and “beyond the pale,” saying she was “concerned about […] Republican leadership […] willing to overlook, ignore those statements.” Another post showed Greene endorsing executing top Democrats — including Pelosi — in 2018 and 2019. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Politico / NBC News / Bloomberg / NPR)

Day 8: "It's time to act."

1/ The Department of Health and Human Services diverted millions of dollars in federal funds intended for vaccines research and public health emergencies to pay for unrelated salaries, administrative expenses, the removal of furniture, news subscriptions, and legal services. In 2018, an unidentified whistleblower alleged the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response had been misusing money since at least 2010 that Congress had allocated for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. A HHS inspector general report says the agency couldn’t account for $517.8 million from 2007 to 2016. And, as recently as fiscal year 2019, more than $25 million was improperly taken from BARDA. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / Axios)

2/ The Department of Homeland Security warned of “ideologically-motivated violent extremists” in the U.S. The DHS bulletin said the threat of violence – spurred by “grievances fueled by false narratives” about the unfounded claims about the 2020 election and “anger over COVID-19 restrictions … and police use of force” – will persist for “weeks” following Biden’s inauguration. The National Terrorism Advisory System was last used a year ago to warn of potential retaliation by Iran for the U.S. assassination of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani. A year before that, DHS highlighted the threat from foreign terrorist groups, like ISIS or al-Qaida. (Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News / Politico / Axios)

  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene reportedly endorsed executing Democratic leaders and federal agents in 2018 and 2019 before being elected to Congress. In January 2019, Greene “liked” a comment that said “a bullet to the head would be quicker” to remove House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and in other posts, Greene “liked” comments about executing FBI agents who, she believed, were part of a “deep state” working against Trump.(CNN / Washington Post)

  • A second police officer died by suicide following the insurrection at the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. A third member of law enforcement died from injuries he sustained during the Capitol attack. (Politico)

3/ House and Senate Democrats introduced legislation that would make Washington, D.C., the 51st state. The bill, first introduced in 2013, would give the District full authority over local issues and grant it full representation in Congress. While the bill could pass the House, its unlikely to clear the Senate because Democrats would need to overcome a filibuster for the legislation to pass. Meaning, they’d need at least 10 Republicans to join them. Most GOP lawmakers, however, are opposed to the legislation because D.C.’s congressional representation would likely be Democratic. (NBC News / The Hill)

4/ Democrats reintroduced the Raise the Wage Act, which would gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25, and hasn’t been increased since 2009. The majority of Republicans oppose the measure. (CNN / CNBC)

5/ The Biden administration started staffing a bipartisan commission to study reforms to the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary. Between nine and 15 members are expected to be appointed to the commission, which will study structural changes as part of a broader court review and reform effort. Biden, who is “not a fan of court packing,” proposed the commission in response to the Republican push to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court weeks before the November election. (Politico)

6/ The Biden administration will resume contact with Palestinian leaders and restore U.S. contributions to the U.N. agency which provides aid to Palestinians. Trump’s policies overwhelmingly favored the interests of Israel’s government, and the administration closed the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Washington, D.C., stopped contributions to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognized Israeli sovereignty, and presented a peace proposal which left all Israeli West Bank settlements in place. (NPR)

7/ The Biden administration paused arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as part of a review of Trump administration agreements worth billions of dollars. The Trump administration pushed through arms sales to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi in 2020 as part of agreements to normalize relations with Israel. In 2019, Trump declared a national security “emergency” in order to authorize a multibillion-dollar sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, which bypassed congressional review. (Wall Street Journal / CNN)

8/ Biden affirmed the United States’ commitment to NATO, saying said he “strongly, strongly, strongly” backs the alliance’s collective defense. In 2017, Trump declined to pledge “unwavering” commitment to a provision in the NATO charter that commits members to rise to the defense of others in the pact. Trump also called the alliance “obsolete” during his first presidential campaign. (Bloomberg)

9/ Biden replaced the director of the nation’s immigration court system. During James McHenry’s tenure, the Trump administration placed quotas on the number of cases immigration judges should complete, while restricting their ability to grant asylum, close cases, and suspend deportation proceedings for certain immigrants. Jean King will take over on an acting basis as director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review. (Politico / BuzzFeed News / CBS News)

10/ Biden warned the climate crisis poses an “existential threat” that needs to be addressed “with a greater sense of urgency.” Biden then signed executive orders directing the government to elevate climate change to a national security priority, pause oil and gas leasing on federal land, conserve 30% of the country’s lands and waters in the next 10 years, double offshore wind energy, and move to an all-electric federal vehicle fleet, among other changes. “We have already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis, we can’t wait any longer,” Biden said. “We see it with our own eyes, we feel it in our bones. It’s time to act.” (NBC News / Associated Press / The Guardian / Politico / New York Times)

Day 7: "Down into the gutter of rancor and vitriol."

1/ Global Covid-19 cases topped 100 million – less than three months after the world hit 50 million cases and just over a year after the first confirmed U.S. case. The U.S. accounts for more than 25 million infections. (NBC News / CNN / CNBC)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~100,092,000; deaths: ~2,152,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~25,408,000; deaths: ~425,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Biden will reopen the Affordable Care Act marketplace and reverse changes to Medicaid. (Washington Post / Reuters)

  • Several hundred Biden staffers have been administered the coronavirus vaccine “to ensure a COVID-safe working environment around the president and key leaders who have national security and continuity of government responsibilities.” (Axios)

2/ The Biden administration plans to purchase an additional 200 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, with the goal of having enough supply to vaccinate nearly the entire U.S. population by the end of the summer. The administration says it’ll buy an additional 100 million doses each from Moderna and Pfizer. The purchases would be in addition to the 400 million combined doses the companies had already committed to providing to the U.S. and would increase available supply by 50%, bringing the total to 600 doses by this summer. Weekly allocations of coronavirus vaccines will also increase by roughly 16% next week – about 1.5 million additional doses. The weekly allocation is expected to go from about 8.6 million doses to about 10 million doses. (NPR / NBC News / Washington Post / Bloomberg / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

3/ Mitch McConnell dropped his demand that Democrats promise to preserve the filibuster, easing a stalemate that prevented new senators from being seated and party leaders from negotiating a power-sharing agreement. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer refused to meet McConnell’s demands. McConnell, however, said he received “assurances” from two centrist Democrats – Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema – that they opposed getting rid of the procedural tool Republicans could use to obstruct Biden’s agenda. (New York Times / NPR / Politico / Washington Post / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

4/ The House formally delivered the article of impeachment to the Senate, charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the deadly Capitol riot. House impeachment managers walked the article of impeachment through National Statuary Hall and the Capitol Rotunda to the Senate to present the article to the secretary of the Senate. Chief Justice John Roberts will not preside over the trial, like he did for Trump’s first impeachment trial. Instead, Sen. Patrick Leahy, the president pro tempore of the Senate, will preside. Biden, meanwhile, said Trump’s impeachment trial “has to happen” because there would be “a worse effect if it didn’t happen.” Trump is the first U.S. president to have been impeached twice and will be the first to be tried after leaving office. (Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN)

5/ Senate Republicans voted en masse in an attempt to dismiss the impeachment charge against Trump as unconstitutional because he is no longer in office. All but five Republican senators endorsed the effort, signaling that the Senate does not have the votes to convict and that the proceedings will likely end with Trump’s acquittal. “Impeachment is for removal from office, and the accused here has already left office,” Rand Paul argued on the Senate floor earlier, adding that the trial would “drag our great country down into the gutter of rancor and vitriol, the likes of which has never been seen in our nation’s history.” To convict Trump, it would require 67 members of the 100-member Senate. Trump’s trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 9. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Associated Press / NBC News)

6/ The Pentagon restricted the commander of the D.C. National Guard’s authority ahead of the riot at the U.S. Capitol, requiring higher-level sign-off to deploy the guard. Maj. Gen. William Walker told House Appropriations Committee members that his authority to quickly deploy the guard was removed ahead of the riot and he needed approval from former Army secretary Ryan McCarthy and acting defense secretary Christopher Miller before dispatching troops. The acting chief of the Capitol Police, meanwhile, apologized to Congress for the security failures on Jan. 6, acknowledging that the department knew there was a “strong potential for violence” but “failed to meet its own high standards” to prevent what she described as a “terrorist attack.” Capitol Police officers are discussing holding a no-confidence vote targeting department leaders. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNN)

poll/ 56% of Americans approve of the House impeaching Trump for “incitement of insurrection,” while 42% disapprove. 52% want the Senate to convict Trump, while 44% do not. (Monmouth University)

poll/ 50% of Americans say they have a great or fair amount of trust in the federal government to provide accurate information about the coronavirus – up from 40% two weeks ago. (Axios)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Biden signed four executive orders aimed at advancing racial equity for Americans. The measures direct the Department of Housing and Urban Development “to take steps necessary to redress racially discriminatory federal housing policies,” direct the Department of Justice to end its use of private prisons, reaffirm the federal government’s “commitment to tribal sovereignty and consultation,” and combat xenophobia against Asian American and Pacific Islanders. (NPR / Politico / Washington Post / Axios / Wall Street Journal)

  2. The Senate voted 84-15 to confirm Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary – the first woman to serve as Treasury secretary. (Axios / Politico)

  3. The Senate confirmed Antony Blinken as secretary of state. Blinken promised a harder line against Russia and a review or Trump’s policy toward North Korea, which he described as “a problem that has not gotten better; in fact, it’s gotten worse.” (New York Times / Politico / NPR / CNBC)

  4. Biden will suspend new oil and gas leasing on federal land. (Wall Street Journal)

  5. The Justice Department rescinded a Trump-era memo that established a “zero tolerance” policy for migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson issued the new memo to federal prosecutors across the nation, saying the department would return to its “longstanding principle of making individualized assessments in criminal cases.” (Associated Press)

  6. A federal judge in Texas blocked Biden’s 100-day deportation “pause.” Biden’s executive action ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement to halt most deportations for 100 days, allowing ICE to overhaul its enforcement priorities. (Washington Post / New York Times)

Day 6: "Attempted sedition."

1/ Biden reversed Trump’s ban on transgender troops serving in the military, restoring protections first put in place by Obama. In 2017, Trump tweeted that the U.S. would no longer “accept or allow” transgender people in the military, saying the military “must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory” and it could not afford to accommodate them. As Biden signed the executive order, he said: “What I’m doing is enabling all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform.” The order provides protection for all transgender service members, stops all involuntary separations or discharges based on gender identity, and directs the secretary of Defense and the secretary of Homeland Security to implement the order and brief Biden within 60 days on their progress. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NPR / Associated Press / NBC News / Axios)

2/ Biden signed an executive order requiring the federal government to “Buy American” for products and services where possible. The new policies will tighten existing government procurement rules, reduce opportunities for waivers, and make it harder for federal agencies to purchase imported products. The order also ensures that small and midsize businesses will have better access to bid for government contracts. (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

3/ Trump considered a plan in early January to replace the acting attorney general with a different Justice Department lawyer who would pursue his baseless claims of voter fraud. The plan would have forced Jeffrey Rosen out as the acting attorney general and replaced him with Jeffrey Clark, who had been working with Trump to devise ways to force Georgia lawmakers to overturn its presidential election results. Trump also pushed for the Justice Department to file its own lawsuit against four states, asking the Supreme Court to invalidate Biden’s victory. The efforts failed after Trump’s own appointees at the Justice Department refused to file what they viewed as a legally baseless lawsuit. Later, Trump forced Rosen and Clark to make their case to him in a White House meeting that two officials compared with an episode of “The Apprentice.” Trump ultimately backed off that plan after senior Justice Department leadership threatened to resign en masse if he removed Rosen. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, demanded that the Justice Department’s inspector general launch a probe “into this attempted sedition,” saying it is “unconscionable a Trump Justice Department leader would conspire to subvert the people’s will.” (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

  • 👑 Portrait of a president: Trump’s chaotic last week. “Trump, in those final weeks in office, hadn’t simply dented the guardrails of governance. He’d demolished them.” (Vanity Fair)

  • The Justice Department and FBI are debating whether to not charge some of the individuals who stormed the U.S. Capitol. Some federal officials have argued that those who only unlawfully entered the Capitol should not be charged, while others have pushed back against the suggestion, saying it’s important to send a forceful message that the kind of political violence needs to be punished to discourage similar conduct in the future. Prosecutors, however, have signaled they’re considering charges of seditious conspiracy against anyone who planned and carried out violence aimed at the government. (Washington Post)

  • Ohio Republican Rob Portman will not seek a third Senate term in 2022. Portman previously said Trump “bears some responsibility” for the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. (Politico / Axios / CNN)

4/ The Justice Department’s inspector general will investigate whether any department official “engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome” of the 2020 election. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced the investigation following reports that Trump considered replacing his acting attorney general with an official more amenable to his unfounded claims of voter fraud. (Associated Press / NBC News / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNBC / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Axios)

5/ Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani. Dominion is seeking more than $1.3 billion in damages, accusing Giuliani of carrying out “a viral disinformation campaign about Dominion” made up of “demonstrably false” allegations intended to promote the “false preconceived narrative” that the election was stolen from Trump and enrich himself through legal fees and his podcast. The lawsuit comes after Dominion sued lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation earlier this month. In that lawsuit, Dominion also said it was seeking more than $1.3 billion in damages. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post)

  • Rudy Giuliani acknowledged that an associate had sent an email to Trump campaign officials asking that Giuliani be paid $20,000 a day for his work. When asked about the fee request in November, Giuliani called it a “lie.” (New York Times)

6/ The Supreme Court dismissed two cases over whether Trump illegally profited off his presidency. Both lawsuits involved the Constitution’s emoluments clauses, which forbids a president from receiving “any present, emolument, office or title of any kind whatever from any king, prince, or foreign state” or any state in the U.S. While lower court rulings had allowed the lawsuits to go forward, the Supreme Court also ordered that those rulings be thrown out because Trump is no longer in office. (NBC News / Associated Press / CNN / CNBC)

  • The Biden administration hasn’t decided whether to release Trump’s federal tax records to investigators. Since last March, a lawsuit filed by the House Ways and Means Committee to enforce a statutory request and a subpoena for six years of Trump’s federal tax records has been frozen. (Washington Post)

7/ CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned that the federal government doesn’t know how much coronavirus vaccine the nation has. Walensky said the lack of knowledge of vaccine supply is indicative of “the challenges we’ve been left with.” (CNBC)

8/ Biden reinstated Covid-19 travel restrictions on non-US citizens who have been to Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and much of Europe in an effort to contain the spread of the new coronavirus variant. The restrictions will also extend to travelers who have recently been to South Africa. Trump rescinded the travel restrictions two days before his term ended. (Reuters / CNN / Associated Press / Bloomberg / NPR / NBC News / Washington Post)

9/ Texas sued the Biden administration over its decision to pause most deportations for 100 days. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton cited a last-minute agreement between the state and the Trump administration that required Homeland Security to consult with the state and provide six months’ notice before making changes. (Axios / CNN / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

10/ Biden’s Treasury Department is “exploring ways to speed up” the process of adding Harriet Tubman to the front of the $20 bill. The Trump administration delayed the Obama-era initiative, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying in 2019 that adding new security features was more important than the new imagery. (New York Times / CNN)

poll/ 56% of Americans approve of the House impeaching Trump for his role in inciting the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6. 52% support a Trump conviction by the Senate. (Politico)

Day 3: "Transparent, open and honest."

1/ Nancy Pelosi will transmit the article of impeachment charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection” to the Senate on Monday, triggering the start of Trump’s second impeachment trial. “The Senate will conduct a trial on the impeachment of Donald Trump,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “It will be a fair trial. But make no mistake, there will be a trial.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, suggested that Trump’s trial should be delayed to mid-February to give him time to “mount a defense,” adding that “this impeachment began with an unprecedentedly fast and minimal process over in the House.” Under Senate rules, the impeachment trial must begin within one day after the House transmits the article if the chamber is in session. (NPR / Politico / CNN / NBC News / New York Times / CNBC / Washington Post / Axios)

  • Dozens of influential Republicans – including former top Trump administration officials – have reportedly lobbied GOP Senators to convict Trump. The effort would require at least 17 GOP votes to join all 50 Democrats in order to convict Trump. Some GOP members, however, are reportedly backing a long-shot bid to dismiss Trump’s trial, claiming it’s unconstitutional to put an ex-president on trial. (CNN / Politico / The Hill)
  • Trump hired South Carolina attorney Butch Bowers to defend him at his second impeachment trial after struggling to find someone to lead his defense. As attorneys who previously represented Trump declined to sign on for a second trial. (Politico / CNBC)
  • Trump’s campaign paid more than $2.7 million to the organizers of the Jan. 6 rally that led to violent rioters storming the U.S. Capitol. (Bloomberg)

2/ Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that the new coronavirus variant first found in England “may be associated with a higher degree of mortality.” Some studies have suggested that the variant, known as B117, is 50 to 70% more transmissible. The CDC has also warned that the new variant might become the dominant source of infection in the U.S. by March. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNBC)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~97,902,000; deaths: ~2,100,000
  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~24,738,000; deaths: ~413,000
  • Source: Johns Hopkins University
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged that the Trump administration’s lack of truthfulness and resistance to following the science on coronavirus “very likely” cost American lives. Fauci, was sidelined by the Trump task force in favor of advisers, like Scott Atlas, who pushed coronavirus misinformation, said the Biden administration’s approach to the pandemic will be “completely transparent, open and honest” with the American people. (CNN / Axios)

3/ Biden is expected to sign an executive order to significantly increase federal food assistance for millions of families struggling amid the pandemic. The orders will increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for about 12 million families and provide money for families to replace the free or reduced-price lunches meals students would have normally received at school before the pandemic forced students out of classrooms. National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said the orders are “not a substitute” for the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill that Biden hopes Congress will pass, but instead a “critical lifeline” for millions of Americans who need assistance now. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC)

4/ The Senate confirmed Lloyd Austin to be the new Defense secretary, making the retired four-star Army general the first Black person to run the Pentagon. The 93-2 vote came a day after Congress granted General Austin a waiver to hold the post because he hadn’t been out of uniform for the legally mandated seven-year period. (New York Times / NPR / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

5/ Biden revoked Trump’s order banning federal agencies, contractors, and recipients of federal funding from conducting diversity training. Trump had deemed the workplace trainings “un-American” and harmful to white workers. (ABC News)

Day 2: "The gravest damage."

1/ Biden marked the start of his presidency by signing or finalizing 17 executive orders, memorandums, and proclamations to roll back some of Trump’s policies. Hours after his inauguration, Biden began signing orders on a range of issues, which included defunding the construction of Trump’s border wall, reversing Trump’s travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries, ending the Trump administration’s efforts to exclude undocumented immigrants from the Census, recommitting to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, revoking the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and rejoining the Paris climate agreement. “There’s no time to start like today,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office as he began signing. “I’m going to start by keeping the promises I made to the American people.” Biden also signed an order appointing Jeffrey Zients as his Covid-19 response coordinator who will report to the president, in an effort to “aggressively” gear up the nation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. One of Biden’s top advisers described the flurry of executive authority as an effort to “reverse the gravest damages” done to the country by Trump. (New York Times / NPR / CBS News / CNN / Washington Post / The Guardian / Politico / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

  • Biden signed an executive order requiring all political appointees to sign an ethics pledge, including a ban on lobbying for two years after they leave the administration. (The Hill)

  • Biden will reverse a Trump administration policy prohibiting funding for nongovernmental groups that provide or refer patients for abortions. (NPR)

  • Biden revoked a Trump administration report that aimed to promote “patriotic education” in schools. Biden disbanded Trump’s presidential 1776 Commission and withdrew the report that it released Monday. (Associated Press)

2/ Biden, pledging a “full-scale wartime effort” to combat the coronavirus, signed at least 10 executive orders and directives on his second day in office aimed at addressing the pandemic. Biden’s national strategy will address testing, treating, and vaccinating people for Covid-19 by ordering federal agencies to invoke the Defense Production Act to boost the manufacture of necessary supplies of masks, gowns, gloves, rapid test kits, testing agents and material for vaccines. Biden will also require travelers to wear masks on planes, trains, buses, and at airports, as well as require a negative Covid-19 test before flying to the U.S. Other orders and directives will create a public dashboard with real-time national and state-level data on cases, testing, vaccinations, and hospitalizations, deploy FEMA to set up 100 community vaccination sites in the next 30 days, and create a Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force to “address the disproportionate and severe impact of Covid-19 on communities of color and other underserved populations.” (New York Times / NPR / Politico / NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg / CNBC / Associated Press / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

3/ Biden reversed Trump’s move to leave the World Health Organization – exactly one year after the United States recorded its first Covid-19 case. “I am honored to announce that the United States will remain a member of the World Health Organization,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told U.N.’s health agency. Dr. Fauci said the U.S. would re-engage at all levels and would join Covax, a program to distribute vaccines to poorer nations. The agency’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, thanks Biden and Dr. Fauci for recommitting to the Covid-19 fight, saying: “This is a good day for the WHO and a good day for global health.” (NPR / New York Times / Washington Post)

4/ The Biden administration identified 12 “immediate supply shortfalls” in the Trump administration’s pandemic response plans, including a nonexistent coronavirus vaccine distribution plan. Biden called the vaccine rollout “a dismal failure thus far,” adding “we didn’t get into this mess overnight,” and that “things are going to continue to get worse before they get better.” The shortfalls identified by the Biden team include a lack of N95 surgical masks and isolation gowns, swabs, reagents and pipettes used in testing. “What we’re inheriting from the Trump administration is so much worse than we could have imagined,” Jeff Zients, the Biden administration’s Covid-19 czar, said in a call. “We don’t have the visibility that we would hope to have into supply and allocations.” Meanwhile, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the new director of the CDC, warned that the Covid-19 vaccine would not be widely available by late February, as the Trump administration previously promised. The CDC also expects the U.S. to see another 100,000 or more Covid-19 deaths by next month, bringing the death toll to 508,000 by February 13. Dr. Anthony Fauci added that his “best-case scenario” is getting 85% of Americans vaccinated by the end of summer. (New York Times / CNN / Daily Beast / NBC News / CNN / Washington Post)

5/ Around 900,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week. While down slightly from last week, jobless claims remain above the pre-pandemic peak of 695,000. (Politico / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

6/ Senate Republicans refused to agree to a power-sharing agreement unless Democrats promised to preserve the filibuster. Mitch McConnell has pressed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to keep the 60-vote threshold on most legislation as part of their agreement. Democrats, however, have rejected the proposal, saying it would be a mistake to take the filibuster off the table now that they’re in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House for the first time in more than a decade. The stalemate is slowing down confirmation of Biden’s nominees, Trump’s impeachment trial, and more. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / Axios)


✏️ Notables.

  1. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was “ready” to transmit the House’s impeachment charge against Trump to the Senate “soon,” declining to provide an exact date for doing so. Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, proposed delaying the impeachment trial until February to give Trump’s lawyers more time to prepare. The question of who will represent Trump also remains unanswered. (New York Times / ABC News / Washington Post / CNN)

  2. The Biden administration is seeking a five-year extension to its nuclear arms treaty with Russia, which expires Feb. 5. Letting the treaty expire would allow both countries to deploy an unlimited number of nuclear-armed submarines, bombers, and missiles. (Washington Post)

  3. The Senate confirmed Avril Haines as the director of national intelligence. Haines is the first woman to become director of national intelligence, where she’ll oversees 18 intelligence agencies and units, including the CIA and the National Security Agency. (Wall Street Journal / Politico / Axios)

  4. Biden will keep FBI Director Christopher Wray in his role. Wray was appointed in 2017 after Trump fired James Comey. (CNN / Politico / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

  5. Trump’s Pentagon blocked members of Biden’s incoming administration from accessing information about current operations, including the troop drawdowns, upcoming operations in Africa, and the Covid-19 vaccine distribution program. (Politico)

  6. The Senate Armed Services Committee approved a waiver for Lloyd Austin’s nomination for defense secretary. The full Senate is expected to confirm Austin, who would be the first Black defense secretary. Austin required a waiver because the law requires that he be out of uniform for seven years before becoming Pentagon chief. Austin retired in 2016. (Politico)

  7. Trump appointee Michael Pack resigned as the CEO of the federal agency over the Voice of America. On Pack’s first day as head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, he sidelined or fired senior leaders at the agency and the chiefs of all the government-sponsored foreign broadcast networks. Biden named senior VOA news executive Kelu Chao as acting CEO. (NPR)

  8. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathy Kraninger resigned at Biden’s request. (The Hill)

  9. The Biden administration fired the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, a Trump appointee who was seen as a foe by worker advocates and labor unions, after Peter Robb refused a request from the new administration to resign. (Bloomberg Law / Washington Post / New York Times)

  10. China imposed sanctions on 28 former Trump administration officials, including outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The statement from China’s foreign ministry was released just minutes after Biden took office, which the new administration called “unproductive and cynical.” (NPR / NBC News)

  11. Seven Senate Democrats filed an ethics complaint against Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz for their objections to the 2020 presidential election results. Democrats are requesting an investigation for their “objections to the electors after the violent attack” on Jan. 6. that “lent legitimacy to the mob’s cause and made future violence more likely.” (Politico)

Day 1: "Democracy has prevailed."

1/ Biden was sworn as the 46th president of the United States, moments after Kamala Harris took her oath of office, making her the first woman and the first woman of color to serve as vice president. “This is America’s day,” Biden said as he began his Inaugural Address. “This is democracy’s day.” Biden – the oldest man to be sworn in as president at 78 – described today as “our historic moment of crisis and challenge,” as he called on the nation to end its “uncivil war” and embrace “Unity [as] the path forward. And we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you we will not fail.” Four years after Trump attacked the Washington establishment throughout his Inaugural Address, declaring that the “American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” Biden offered a direct rebuttal: “We’ve learned again that democracy is precious, democracy is fragile — and at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.” (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Politico)

  • Biden’s Inaugural Address, Annotated. (NPR)

  • Biden inauguration live blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / The Guardian / Politico / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / NBC News / CNN

  • Trump left a note for Biden in the Oval Office’s Resolute Desk. A Trump White House spokesperson did not reveal the contents of what Trump left for Biden to read. (Politico / USA Today)

  • Melania Trump outsourced her “thank you” notes to the White House residence staff who cared for her and her family for the last four years. A low-level East Wing staffer wrote them “in her voice,” and she signed her name. (CNN)

  • 💡 Biden inherits a country that is older, on shakier economic footing, and is more politically polarized. “The coronavirus pandemic halted the 11-year economic expansion and drove up unemployment just as the typical American household was starting to enjoy sustained income growth. Americans were living longer until the pandemic exacted a swift, deadly toll.” (Wall Street Journal)

  • 💡 Trump will step into a financial minefield that appears to be unlike anything he has faced. “Baseless election fraud claims and the Capitol riot have compounded already-looming threats to his bottom line. And the cash lifelines he once relied on are gone.” (New York Times)

2/ Trump, who refused to concede, never congratulated Biden and skipped his successor’s swearing-in, held a small, socially distanced military-style send-off for himself before leaving for his Florida resort. “I hope they don’t raise your taxes,” Trump told the crowd of several hundred people at Joint Base Andrews. “But if they do, I told you so.” While Trump did not mention Biden by name, he did “wish the new administration great luck and great success.” Trump concluded his remarks, vowing to “be back in some form” and, as the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.” began playing, Trump told his supporters: “Have a good life.” (Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian)

  • Trump discussed forming a new political party and wants to call it the “Patriot Party.” (Wall Street Journal)

  • The Proud Boys mock Trump, call him “extraordinarily weak” and a “total failure.” (New York Times)

  • Believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory struggled to square their falsehoods with the inauguration. As it became clear that their long-awaited mass arrests of Biden and other “deep-state” Democrats, followed by the restoration of the Trump presidency, did not happen, QAnon believers began to wonder if they had been tricked. (Daily Beast / New York Times)

3/ Trump granted clemency to 143 people in his final hours as president, wiping away the convictions and prison sentences for a host of corrupt politicians and business executives. In total, Trump issued a batch of 73 pardons and 70 commutations, including a pardon for Stephen Bannon, his former White House chief strategist who was charged with defrauding donors to a private fundraising effort for construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, and Elliott Broidy, who pleaded guilty in October to acting as an unregistered foreign agent and lobbying the Trump administration on behalf of foreign interests. Trump, however, did not preemptively pardon himself or his family. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian)

  • Full list of Trump’s pardons and commuted sentences. (NBC News)

4/ Trump rescinded his administration’s ethics pledge intended to “drain the swamp.” In 2017, Trump signed an executive order that barred political appointees from lobbying the government or working for foreign countries related to their agency for five years. At the time Trump joked that his political appointees would “not be subject to those commitments after noon January 20, 2021.” However, in a late-night executive order issued in the final hours of his presidency, Trump rescinded the executive order. The Trump White House did not offer any justification for the reversal. (Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg)

  • Trump extended post-presidency Secret Service protection to 14 members of his family who were not entitled to receive it, at no cost to them. (Washington Post)

  • Trump declassified some documents related to the FBI’s Russia investigation. No documents, however, were immediately released. (New York Times)

5/ Trump administration officials said Homeland Security entered into last-minute agreements to “sabotage” the Biden administration’s efforts to unwind its immigration policies. Homeland Security signed legal agreements with state and local authorities in recent weeks that would require the agency to delay making changes for 180 days. (NBC News)

6/ Biden plans to make immediate and extensive use of executive orders to undo much of the last four years under Trump. On Day One, Biden is expected to sign 17 executive actions, memorandums, and proclamations from the Oval Office to address the pandemic, economic relief, immigration, climate change, and racial equity. Biden will also sign executive orders to extend bans on pandemic-related home evictions and foreclosures, revoke the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and reverse Trump’s travel ban on several largely Muslim and African countries. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

Day 1461: How it ended.

1/ In a farewell video, Trump claimed that he “took on the tough battles” during his four years in office and vowed that “the movement we started is only just beginning.” Trump did not concede, take responsibility for encouraging his supporters to attack the Capitol, or mention Biden by name in his farewell address.“We did what we came here to do,” Trump said, “and so much more.” Pence, meanwhile, confirmed he will not attend Trump’s farewell event tomorrow, but will instead attend the inauguration of Biden and Kamala Harris. Trump leaves office as the only twice-impeached U.S. president. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Axios / Associated Press)

2/ Mitch McConnell said the mob that stormed the Capitol was “fed lies” and “provoked by the president” into violence, referring to Trump’s attempts to overturn the election based on his baseless claims of voter fraud. McConnell’s remarks came on his last full day as majority leader, shortly before he met with Chuck Schumer to work out rules for Trump’s Senate impeachment trial for “willful incitement of insurrection.” Former Attorney General William Barr, meanwhile, said that questioning the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 election “precipitated the riot,” but he didn’t blame Trump for inciting the mob. (New York Times / Politico / NPR / Bloomberg / CNBC / The Guardian / New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ Federal prosecutors filed conspiracy charges against three members of the Oath Keepers, an extremist militant group, for their role in the attack on the Capitol. The three were allegedly part of a group who had planned to breached the Capitol on opposite sides to hunt for lawmakers in an “organized and practiced fashion” so they could make “citizen’s arrests.” In charging papers, the FBI said during the riot, one of the members received a Facebook message that said: “All members are in the tunnels under capital seal them in. Turn on gas.” (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Washington Post / CNN)

  • The National Guard removed 12 people from inauguration duty after background checks found links to right-wing extremist movements or other security concerns.The service members include at least two with possible sympathies for anti-government groups, while another 10 were removed for reasons that defense officials declined to detail. (Bloomberg / New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / The Guardian)

  • QAnon extremists discussed posing as National Guard members in Washington in an effort to disrupt the inauguration. Others have reviewed maps of vulnerable spots in Washington and discussing how to interfere in security during the inauguration. (Washington Post)

4/ More than 400,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the United States – reaching the milestone on the eve of the anniversary of the first confirmed case and the final full day of Trump’s presidency. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~96,059,000; deaths: ~2,054,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~24,217,000; deaths: ~402,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

5/ Biden rejected Trump’s effort to lift travel restrictions on much of Europe, the United Kingdom, and Brazil aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus to the U.S. In an executive order issued Monday evening, but effective on Jan. 26, Trump said that the travel restrictions would no longer be needed because the CDC will require all passengers from abroad to present proof of a negative coronavirus test before boarding a flight. Biden’s incoming White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, tweeted “On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26. In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of Covid-19.” (Wall Street Journal / CNN / The Guardian / New York Times)

poll/ 73% of voters believe that the country is on the wrong track, compared with 21 percent who say it’s headed in the right direction. 73% also believe the country will remain divided over the next four years, compared to 24% who think it will be able to unite. (NBC News)

poll/ 51% of Americans say the coronavirus pandemic in the United States is not at all under control. 3% say it is completely under control, while 44% say it is mostly or somewhat under control. (Washington Post)

poll/ 55% of Americans say police response to the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol would have been harsher if the rioters had been mostly Black rather than mostly white. 28% say the response would have been the same, while 9% say the response would have been less harsh to a largely Black mob. (USA Today)

poll/ About 20% of Republicans said they approve of convicting Trump in his Senate impeachment trial. Overall, about 55% said they approve of the Senate convicting Trump and about 37% said they disapprove. (Politico)

poll/ Trump’s approval rating dropped to 34% – down 12 percentage points since the Nov. 3 election. Obama left office with a 59% approval rating. (Bloomberg)

poll/ 60% of voters think Trump will be remembered as either below average or one of the worst presidents in U.S. history. 75% said the country is headed in the wrong direction – the highest percentage since 1992. (NPR)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The Trump administration issued oil and gas leases for more than 430,000 acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (New York Times)

  2. A federal appeals court vacated a Trump administration rule that eased restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the Trump administration’s rule was based on a “mistaken reading of the Clean Air Act.” (ABC News / Wall Street Journal)

  3. Biden will propose an overhaul of immigration laws on his first day in office, including providing a pathway to citizenship for immigrants without legal status and an expansion of refugee admissions. (Washington Post)

  4. The State Department declared that China’s internment, forced labor, and forced sterilization of over 1 million Muslim minorities in Xinjiang constitutes “genocide” and “crimes against humanity.” The determination could lead to further sanctions against China under the Biden administration. Biden previously said the policies by Beijing amounted to “genocide.” (New York Times / Axios)

  5. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that multiculturalism “is not who America is,” claiming “all the -isms” only “points in one direction — authoritarianism.” (New York Times)

  6. Trump’s “1776 Commission” report was supposed to be the definitive “patriotic” view of U.S. history, but aside from being mocked by historians, about 26% of the content was lifted from other sources without citations. The 18-member commission was formed after the protests that followed the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white police officer. Trump insisted that the protests were the result of “left-wing indoctrination in our schools” and required a new “pro-American” curriculum. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

Day 1460: "Indefensible."

1/ Trump is expected to pardon or commute the sentences of more than 100 people on his final full day in the White House. Trump met with Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and other aides Sunday to review a list of pardon requests, including whether to issue preemptive pardons to his adult children, aides, and himself. Trump allies, meanwhile, have reportedly sold their access to the White House to lobby Trump and White House aides for pardons. While there is nothing illegal about Trump associates being paid to lobby for clemency, any explicit offers of payment to Trump in return could be be a possible violations of bribery laws. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian)

2/ The FBI is vetting all 25,000 National Guard troops in Washington tasked with securing the inauguration. U.S. defense officials said they were concerned about an inside threat from service members. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said that the vetting process hasn’t flagged any issues with the troops. (Associated Press / NBC News / Washington Post)

  • Capitol Police warned three days before the Capitol riot that “Congress itself” could be targeted by Trump supporters on Jan. 6. “Supporters of the current president see January 6, 2021, as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election,” according to the 12-page internal intelligence report. “This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent. Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th.” (Washington Post)

  • The FBI is investigating whether foreign governments or groups helped fund the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, including payments of $500,000 in bitcoin to key figures in the alt-right. (NBC News)

3/ The director of the Census Bureau resigned after whistleblower complaints warned that political appointees were pressuring staff to release “statistically indefensible” data on the number of unauthorized immigrants in the country by Jan. 15, which could be “misinterpreted, misused, or otherwise tarnish the Bureau’s reputation.” Steven Dillingham’s term was scheduled to expire on Dec. 31, 2021. Trump appointed Dillingham to lead the agency in 2019 as the Trump administration pushed to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census, which was ultimately blocked by the Supreme Court. (Talking Points Memo / NPR / Politico / Washington Post)

4/ The National Security Agency moved to install a former GOP political operative and White House official as its general counsel. Under pressure from the White House, Defense Secretary Christopher Miller ordered NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone to place Michael Ellis the role. Nakasone was reportedly not in favor of Ellis’s selection and tried to delay his installation. Ellis tried to prevent the release of a portion of John Bolton’s, the former national security adviser, manuscript that dealt with Ukraine and would presumably be damaging to Trump. The Pentagon plans to swear Ellis in on Tuesday. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN)

5/ At least five anti-vaccine organization received more than $850,000 in loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. The groups all oppose or question the safety of vaccination, and are known to spread misleading information about the coronavirus, raising questions about why the Trump administration approved loans to groups that actively opposed its own public health agenda. (Washington Post)

6/ By the time you read this, the number of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. will have surpassed 400,000 and more than 2 million people worldwide will have been killed by the virus. The U.S. confirmed its first case of the virus in Seattle on Jan. 21, 2020. As the total number of U.S. coronavirus cases surpassed 24 million, California health officials reported a new coronavirus variant linked to about 25% of new cases in the state. The new variant, known as L452R, is distinct from the highly contagious British mutation, known as B117, which has also been found in California. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Los Angeles Times)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~95,441,000; deaths: ~2,038,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~24,046,000; deaths: ~399,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • One Year, 400,000 Coronavirus Deaths: How the U.S. Guaranteed Its Own Failure. After the White House declined to pursue a unified national strategy, governors faced off against lobbyists, health experts and a restless public consumed by misinformation. (New York Times)

poll/ 56% of Americans believe there will be more violence at the inauguration, and 70% say America’s democracy is weaker – not stronger – than it was four years ago. (USA Today)

poll/ 43% of voters gave Trump a positive job approval rating – down from 45% before the November election and 44% shortly after he took office in 2017. (NBC News)

poll/ 67% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the presidential transition. In 2017, 40% of Americans approved of Trump’s handling of the transition. (Washington Post)

Day 1457: "Justice is coming."

1/ Federal prosecutors said there was “strong evidence” the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol planned to “capture and assassinate elected officials.” Hours later, however, the head of the investigation cautioned that the probe is still in its early stages and there was “no direct evidence of kill and capture teams.” The accusation came in an 18-page motion filed Thursday as part of the federal criminal case against Jacob Anthony Chansley, a well-known conspiracy theorist who was photographed shirtless, but wearing a fury hat with horns during the insurrection. “Strong evidence, including Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol, supports that the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States Government,” prosecutors wrote in their memo urging the judge to keep Chansley behind bars. Chansley also wrote a note for Pence in the Senate chamber, which read: “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.” (Associated Press / USA Today / NBC News / New York Times / Reuters)

2/ Secret Service officers evacuated Pence from the Senate chamber moments before the violent mob that stormed the Capitol reached the second-floor landing in the Senate. If the mob had arrived seconds earlier, Pence would have been in eyesight of the mob as he was being rushed across a reception hall into the a hideaway less than 100 feet from that landing. A Capitol Police officer, however, lured the rioters away from the Senate. Pence was later evacuated to a more secure location in the Capitol complex while rioters were still inside the Capitol. (Washington Post)

  • The inspectors general for the departments of Justice, Defense, Interior, and Homeland Security opened a review of its Capitol security and intelligence preparedness. “The inspectors general for all of those agencies will review what people knew and how they prepared for that day, along with their actions during the riot.” (Washington Post / NBC News)

  • Investigators have opened 275 criminal cases and charged 98 people in connection to the riot at the Capitol. The FBI has also conducted dozens of interviews into the killing of the Capitol Police officer, who died while confronting the pro-Trump mob. (CNN / New York Times)

  • Federal authorities are investigating several Bitcoin transactions made to right-wing figures ahead of the assault on the Capitol. On Dec. 8, someone made a simultaneous transfer of about $500,000 in Bitcoin to 22 different virtual wallets belonging to prominent right-wing organizations and personalities. (Yahoo News / New York Times)

  • 👑 Portrait of a president: Trump explodes at Nixon comparisons as he prepares to leave office. “Inside the building, Trump has been weathering a second impeachment and growing isolation from his onetime allies in sullen desolation. He has grown more and more worried about what legal or financial calamities may await him when he is no longer president, people who have spoken to him said, fueled by warnings from lawyers and advisers. He is weighing pardons, including for himself and his family, as he attempts to muster a legal team for another impeachment trial. And he is resentful of Republicans who he feels abandoned him in his hour of need, including the GOP leaders of the House and Senate.” (CNN)

3/ More than two million people have died from the coronavirus worldwide. The global death toll passed one million deaths in late September – more than nine months after the pandemic began. The coronavirus death toll in the U.S., meanwhile, is quickly approaching 400,000 and is “expected” to hit half a million deaths next month. (Washington Post / New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~93,627,000; deaths: ~2,005,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~23,476,000; deaths: ~392,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

4/ Coronavirus vaccine reserves were already exhausted when the Trump administration promised to release additional doses. No such reserve existed because the Trump administration had already distributed what was available at the end of December, taking the doses directly off the manufacturing line. Nevertheless, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced on Tuesday that the administration would be “releasing the entire supply for order by states, rather than holding second doses in reserve.” (Washington Post / CNN)

  • Biden plans to deploy FEMA and the National Guard to build coronavirus vaccine clinics in order to “quickly jumpstart” efforts to make the vaccines available at local pharmacies. (CNBC)

5/ Operation Warp Speed waited more than two months to approve a plan to distribute the Covid-19 vaccines, leaving states with little time to prepare for the largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history. The CDC wanted to start planning in June, but officials at Operation Warp Speed held the release of the CDC’s distribution plan, saying it needed to go through the interagency-clearance process. The Biden administration, meanwhile, said it plans to retire the “Operation Warp Speed” name, citing “failures” by the Trump administration. (Wall Street Journal / NPR)

6/ The CDC warned that the U.K. variant of the coronavirus could become the predominant strain in the United States by March. While only 76 cases of the variant have been identified in the U.S., researchers estimate that is roughly 50% more transmissible than the more common strain. The variant, however, is not known to be more deadly or to cause more severe disease. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

7/ Trump will leave Washington hours before Biden’s inauguration and fly to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida to begin his post-presidential life. The White House is considering holding an elaborate send-off event for Trump that would have the feel of a state visit, with a red carpet, color guard, military band, and a 21-gun salute. (Associated Press / Bloomberg / NBC News)

poll/ 89% of Americans oppose the storming of the Capitol by Trump’s supporters. 57% say Trump deserves significant responsibility for the attack on the Capitol. (Washington Post)

poll/ 58% of Americans blame Trump for the violent insurrection that took place at the U.S. Capitol by a mob of his supporters. (NPR)

poll/ 29% of voters approve of the job Trump is doing as president – his lowest job approval rating ever. 68% of voters do not want Trump to remain a major political figure in the future. (Pew Research Center)

Day 1456: "Self-pity mode."

1/ Biden released a $1.9 trillion economic and health care rescue package to deliver direct aid to families, businesses, and communities, and provide money for testing and vaccine distribution. The emergency relief plan includes $400 billion for fighting the coronavirus, more than $1 trillion in direct relief to families, including direct payments of $1,400 to most Americans, and $440 billion for aid to communities and businesses. Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, and help advance his plans to reopen most schools by the spring. (Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press / CNBC / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~92,851,000; deaths: ~1,989,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~23,254,000; deaths: ~388,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

2/ Biden urged the Senate to balance the impeachment trial of Trump with the “other urgent business of this nation.” The Senate won’t return until Jan. 19 – the day before Biden’s inauguration – which means Trump’s trial will create a logistical challenge, and risks delaying confirmation of Biden’s cabinet nominees and legislative initiatives. All 100 senators must consent to allow the chamber to confirm Biden’s Cabinet and pass his legislative agenda on one track, and begin Trump’s trial for “incitement of insurrection” on another. Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, hasn’t detailed her schedule for transmitting the single article of impeachment to the Senate. (CNN / Bloomberg / Politico / NPR / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal / CBS News / Washington Post)

3/ Trump is reportedly in “self-pity mode” after becoming the only U.S. president to be impeached twice. According to White House advisers and people close to him, Trump and has become “increasingly isolated, sullen, and vengeful” after being left to fend for himself at the White House as impeachment quickly gained steam. Trump has also instructed aides not to pay Rudy Giuliani’s legal fees, demanding that he personally approve any reimbursements for the expenses Giuliani incurred while traveling on his behalf to challenge election results. Trump has apparently expressed concern with some of Giuliani’s decisions. The lawyers who defended Trump in his previous impeachment trial, including Jay Sekulow and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, have declined to defend him during the second impeachment trial. (Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg)

4/ Trump issued an appeal for nonviolence after the House voted to impeach him for “incitement of insurrection,” saying he “unequivocally” condemned the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump released the five-minute video following heavy pressure from his advisers. He offered no humility, regret, or self-reflection, failed to mention the election, and did not concede that Biden won a free and fair election. The video was released through the White House Twitter account, because his personal account was permanently suspended on fears it could incite further violence. Trump alluded to the ban, saying there had been an “unprecedented assault on free speech.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNBC)

5/ Democratic lawmakers accused Republican colleagues of leading groups on “reconnaissance” tours of the Capitol the day before Trump supporters stormed the building. Rep. Mikie Sherrill said she saw “members of Congress who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5 for reconnaissance for the next day.” At least one protest organizer said he coordinated with three House Republicans and Capitol Police officers said they wouldn’t be surprised if some lawmakers helped organize the attack. Meanwhile, at least 31 members of Congress demanded that the acting House Sergeant of Arms, acting Senate Sergeant of Arms, and Acting Chief of the Capitol Police investigate what they described as an “extremely high number of outside groups” let into the building on Jan. 5 at a time when most tours were restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic. The letter says the tours were “unusual” and “concerning” and were reported to the Sergeant at Arms on Jan. 5, adding that the groups “could only have gained access to the Capitol Complex from a Member of Congress or a member of their staff.” Dozens of people on the FBI’s terrorist watch list were in Washington D.C. on the day of the Capitol insurrection – the majority suspected white supremacists whose past conduct was so alarming that their names had been previously added to the national Terrorist Screening Database. (New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / Politico /BuzzFeed News / NBC News / CNN)

  • Several Republican members of Congress complained about or circumvented metal detectors put in place after the deadly riot at the Capitol. The new safety measures to enter the House floor included metal detectors and physical pat-downs in some instances. (NPR / NBC News)

✏️ Notables.

  1. The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” border policy was pushed by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, despite warnings that the government wasn’t prepared to deal with the consequences, according to a report from the Justice Department’s inspector general. The report concludes that top Justice Department officials were the “driving force” behind the 2018 decision to separate families and refer parents for prosecution. (NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / BuzzFeed News)

  2. The D.C. Attorney General’s office notified Trump Jr. that it wants to interview him as part of a lawsuit alleging that Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee improperly funneled money to his business. In January 2020, the D.C. Attorney General’s office sued the Trump Organization and the Presidential Inaugural Committee, alleging that they wasted more than $1 million raised by the nonprofit by “grossly overpaying” to use the Trump Hotel in Washington for the 2017 inauguration. (Washington Post / CNN)

  3. U.S. taxpayers spent $3,000 a month – more than $100,000 to date – to rent an apartment so Secret Service agents for Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner could use the bathroom while standing guard in front of their Washignton home. Agents were instructed to not use any of the half-dozen bathrooms inside the couple’s house. (Washington Post)

  4. Unemployment claims jumped to 965,000 – the highest since August. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

  5. 2020 was the second-hottest year in recorded history and the last decade was hotter on average than any time in at least 2,000 years. The last seven years have been the warmest since measurement began in the 19th century. (NBC News / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

Day 1455: "He must go."

1/ The House voted to impeach Trump, making him the only American president to be impeached twice. Ten Republicans, including the House’s No. 3 Republican, Liz Cheney, joined with all Democrats in a 232 to 197 vote to impeach Trump for “willful incitement of insurrection” – the gravest charge ever lodged against a sitting president – for his role in a riot by his supporters that left five dead and the Capitol ransacked. “We know that the President of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion against our common country,” Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor ahead of the vote. “He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.” (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Politico / The Guardian / CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CBS News / ABC News / NBC News)

  • EARLIER: The House approved a resolution encouraging Pence to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office before his term ends on Jan. 20. Pence, however, told Pelosi that he does not believe invoking the 25th Amendment “is in the best interest of our nation.” (NBC News)

  • Trump issued a statement calling on Americans to “ease tensions and calm tempers.” The statement was released as the House was debating his impeachment. (NPR / New York Times)

  • YouTube suspended Trump’s channel over concern about “ongoing potential for violence.” (New York Times)

  • 👑 Portrait of a President: Pence Reached His Limit With Trump. It Wasn’t Pretty. “You can either go down in history as a patriot,” Trump told him, “or you can go down in history as a pussy.” (New York Times)

  • 👑 Portrait of a President: Trump grows defiant as the White House becomes a ghost town. As he becomes the first president to be impeached twice, Trump lacks a robust response for the first time. (NBC News)

  • Trump Impeachment 2.0 Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / The Guardian / NPR / ABC News / NBC News / CNN / CNBC

2/ Mitch McConnell rejected calls to bring the Senate back for an emergency session to begin Trump’s impeachment trial before Jan. 19. McConnell, however, told Republican senators that he has not ruled out voting to convict Trump on the House’s impeachment charge. Trump impeachment trial won’t begin until after Biden becomes president on Jan. 20. If the Senate convicts Trump, it could also vote to ban him from ever seeking office again. (CNN / Axios / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The United States reported more than 4,200 Covid-19 deaths Tuesday – a single-day record. Tuesday’s deaths represents at least 1,597 more people than those killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Coronavirus cases, meanwhile, have continued to tick up over the past two weeks in more than 30 states. Only Tennessee, Idaho, and South Dakota are experiencing slight declines in case rates. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~92,112,000; deaths: ~1,974,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~22,999,000; deaths: ~384,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Live blogs:

poll/ 55% of Americans support impeaching Trump while 45% oppose the effort. (CBS News)

poll/ 34% of Americans approve the job Trump is doing as president – his lowest in four years. 63% disapprove. (Politico)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The Census Bureau stopped working on Trump’s directive to produce a count of unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. for purposes of redrawing congressional districts in 2021. (NPR / ABC News)

  2. Trump appointees at the EPA overruled the agency’s career scientists on a safety assessment for a toxic chemical that’s contaminated the drinking water for an estimated 860,000 Americans. (Politico)

Day 1454: No regrets.

1/ Trump refused to take responsibility for inciting the deadly riot at the Capitol, offered no regrets, and defended his pre-riot speech as “totally appropriate.” In his first public remarks since the violence last week that left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer, Trump deflected blame and called the effort by House Democrats to impeach him for a second time a “witch hunt” that was “causing tremendous anger.” The attack on the Capitol came after Trump encouraged a crowd of supporters to march to the building and “fight like hell,” saying: “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.” Trump also took aim at social media sites that have banned him, saying they had made a “catastrophic mistake” and acted in a “divisive” manner. Trump then left Washington to travel to Alamo, Tex., to tour a section of his border wall. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN / ABC News / Politico / NPR / Bloomberg / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal)

  • Trump privately – and falsely – blamed “Antifa people” for storming the Capitol despite overwhelming evidence showing the rioters were Trump supporters. (Axios)

  • The city of New York is “reviewing whether legal grounds exist” to terminate its business relationships with Trump. The city pays the Trump Organization about $17 million a year to run a carousel, two ice rinks, and a golf course in city parks. (Washington Post)

  • The director of Voice of America reassigned a reporter after asking Secretary of State Mike Pompeo questions he refused to answer. Patsy Widakuswara asked if Pompeo if he regretted saying in November that the presidential transition would proceed smoothly into a second term for Trump. (Vox / Washington Post)

  • Trump-Biden Transition Live Updates: New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / ABC News / NBC News / CNN

2/ Mitch McConnell indicated that he believes Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is reportedly “pleased” that Democrats are moving to impeach him. McConnell, who blames Trump for Republicans losing the Senate, believes impeaching Trump a second time would make it easier to “purge” him from the party. Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, has asked other Republicans whether he should call on Trump to resign. Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House, said she will vote to impeach Trump, saying there has “never been a greater betrayal” by a president to his office and his oath to the Constitution. (New York Times / CNN / NBC News / Washington Post)

3/ Two days before the riot at the Capitol, the FBI warned that extremists were traveling to Washington to commit violence and “war.” The internal FBI report, produced Jan. 5 by the F.B.I.’s Norfolk office in southern Virginia and sent to the bureau’s Washington Field Office, included examples of people sharing a map of the Capitol’s tunnels and possible meet-up points in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and South Carolina before traveling to Washington. The report also said “An online thread discussed specific calls for violence to include stating ‘Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.” (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Several Capitol Police officers have been suspended and more than a dozen others are under investigation for suspected involvement in the deadly riot at the Capitol. (Washington Post)

  • The House and Senate sergeants-at-arms face questions about why they failed to do more to deter Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol last week. Both have since resigned. (New York Times)

4/ Capitol Police briefed House Democrats about three more planned demonstrations in the coming days, including a plot to form a perimeter around the Capitol, the White House, and the Supreme Court to block Democrats from entering the Capitol so that Republicans could take control of the government. Another demonstration is being billed as the “largest armed protest ever to take place on American soil.” The pro-Trump extremists have reportedly published rules of engagement. (CNN / HuffPost)

5/ Trump declared a state of emergency in Washington, D.C., citing the “emergency conditions” surrounding Biden’s inauguration. Trump’s order allows the Department of Homeland Security and the FEMA to assist the city in any emergency response. There will be at least 10,000 National Guard troops in Washington, D.C., by Saturday – that’s more troops than in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. (Politico / Business Insider))

  • The Joint Chiefs of Staff condemned the Capitol riot and confirmed that Biden will become the 46th commander in chief of the armed forces on Jan. 20. In a memo to the entire U.S. military, the top generals called the riot as “a direct assault on the U.S. Congress, the Capitol building and our Constitutional process.” The top Pentagon brass said the military remained fully committed to protecting and defending the Constitution “against all enemies foreign and domestic.” (Washington Post)

6/ Three Democratic members of Congress have tested positive for Covid-19 after being locked down with colleagues who refused to wear masks during the riot at the U.S. Capitol. Reps. Brad Schneider, Pramila Jayapal, and Bonnie Watson Coleman all tested positive for Covid-19 since Monday. Schneider said “several Republican lawmakers in the room adamantly refused to wear a mask […] even when politely asked by their colleagues.” Jayapal added that “several Republicans not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but recklessly mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one.” (Axios / NBC News / HuffPost)

7/ The Trump administration expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to all Americans over 65 to accelerate distribution. Health Secretary Alex Azar also said future doses will be allocated based on the pace that states administer the vaccine. The government had been holding about half of newly available doses since the rollout began, but will instead release the second doses of the vaccine, which were reserved for booster shots. (CNN / Axios / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

Day 1453: "Significant failures."

1/ House Democrats introduced an article of impeachment against Trump for “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the riots at the Capitol that left five people dead last week. The four-page impeachment article charges Trump with “inciting violence against the government of the United States.” Nancy Pelosi said the House will vote to impeach Trump on Wednesday if Pence doesn’t seek to remove him under the 25th Amendment or Trump doesn’t resign first. The impeachment resolution has at least 218 co-sponsors – enough to ensure passage – which would make Trump the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. While it’s unlikely that the Senate will hold a trial before Trump leaves office on Jan. 20, a conviction after his term ends would prevent Trump from federal office again. Earlier, during a pro forma session, Democrats attempted to pass a measure by unanimous consent calling on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump, but House Republicans blocked the request. Pence reportedly hasn’t ruled out invoking the 25th Amendment, but wants to preserve the option in case Trump becomes more unstable. (New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / CNN / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / NBC News / ABC News / The Guardian / CNBC)

  • Live Updates: New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / NBC News / CBS News

  • A 75-year-old congresswoman tested positive for the coronavirus after sheltering in a room with lawmakers who refused to wear masks during the takeover of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, a cancer survivor, tested positive after maskless Republicans — including Reps. Andy Biggs, Michael Cloud, Markwayne Mullin, and Scott Perry — refused masks offered by Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester while in the room. (Washington Post / Washington Post)

2/ White House counsel Pat Cipollone and former Attorney General William Barr warned Trump against pardoning himself. Trump was advised that he could potentially face civil liability for his role in inciting the attack by encouraging his supporters to storm Congress. The federal investigation into the insurrection has put the entire pardon process “on hold,” meaning people who have been lobbying Trump for pardons, including Rudy Giuliani, may not receive one. (CNN / ABC News)

3/ The FBI warned law enforcement agencies of possible “armed protests” at all 50 state Capitols and at the U.S. Capitol starting Jan. 16. The FBI has also received information about a group calling for “storming” state, local, and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings if Trump is removed from office prior to Biden’s inauguration. “They have warned that if Congress attempts to remove POTUS via the 25th Amendment,” the bulletin read, “a huge uprising will occur.” (ABC News / NBC News / CNN)

  • The National Guard will increase the number of troops in Washington, D.C., to at least 10,000 in advance of the presidential inauguration. Troop levels could rise to 15,000. About 6,200 Guardsmen have already deployed to D.C. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Axios)

  • House and Senate security officials declined Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund’s request that the D.C. National Guard be placed on standby two days before pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol. The FBI and the New York City Police Department also passed information to Capitol Police about the possibility of violence before the rally last week (Washington Post / NBC News)

  • Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf resigned, days after criticizing Trump over the riot at the U.S. Capitol. Wolf joins Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as the the third Cabinet-level official to quit. (CNBC / Associated Press / Axios / CNN / Washington Post)

4/ Twitter permanently banned Trump “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.” The decision came after Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitch, Reddit, and other platforms made similar decisions. Twitter said two tweets that Trump had posted — one calling his supporters “patriots” and another saying he would not go to Biden’s inauguration — “were highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.” Trump then tried to evade the ban by using the @POTUS Twitter account to send four tweets complaining that “Twitter has gone further and further in banning free speech,” accusing Twitter employees of coordinating with Democrats “to silence me.” The Trump campaign’s Twitter account was also permanently banned after it shared the same four-tweet thread that Trump had attempted to post from the @POTUS account. Twitter also removed the accounts of Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, and other supporters of Trump who promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory. Trump reportedly went “ballistic” after getting banned and losing direct access to more than 88 million followers. (New York Times / CNN / NBC News / NPR / CNBC / Axios / CBS News)

  • Amazon, Apple, and Google removed Parler – an app popular with Trump supporters, conservatives, and extremists – from their platforms. Parler, meanwhile, sued Amazon, alleging that the decision was “motivated by political animus” and anti-competitive reasons. Amazon Web Services cut off service to Parler, saying the platform violated Amazon’s terms of service by not doing enough to combat death threats and other risks to public safety. (New York Times / BuzzFeed News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / Politico)

  • Stripe will no longer process credit card payments for Trump’s campaign website following last week’s riot at the Capitol. (Wall Street Journal)

  • The PGA Championship will no longer be held at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., next year. The organizers canceled plans to hold the event at Trump’s golf club in 2022 in the wake of last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol, saying “It’s become clear that conducting the PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster would be detrimental to the PGA of America brand.” The Trump Organization responded, saying: “This is a breach of a binding contract, and they have no right to terminate the agreement.” (Associated Press / Washington Post / ABC News / NJ.com / New York Times)

5/ Trump urged Georgia’s lead elections investigator to “find the fraud” in a December phone call, saying the official would be a “national hero.” The call was separate from another Trump call to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, pressuring him to “find” enough votes to overturn the state’s presidential election results. On Dec. 23, Trump called the investigations chief for the Georgia secretary of state’s office and attempted to intervene in Raffensperger’s ongoing investigation into allegations that Cobb election officials had accepted mail ballots with signatures that didn’t match those on file. State officials ultimately concluded that the allegation had no merit. Since Election Day, Trump has made at least three calls to government officials in Georgia in an attempt to overturn Biden’s victory. (Washington Post)

  • White House officials forced Atlanta’s top federal prosecutor to resign because Trump was upset he wasn’t doing enough to investigate baseless claims of election fraud. (Wall Street Journal)

6/ About 2% of the U.S. population has been vaccinated since the FDA approved the first two vaccine candidates a month ago. The U.S. seven-day average of coronavirus-related deaths, meanwhile, now exceeds 3,000 a day. In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Senate Democrats demanded that the Trump administration correct its “significant failures” in the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, saying the U.S. “cannot afford for this vaccination campaign to continue to be hindered by the lack of planning, communication, and leadership we have seen so far.” The Trump administration set a goal of inoculating 20 million Americans by the end of December, but only 9 million have received their first dose despite nearly 25.5 million doses have been distributed. Biden has promised 100 million shots in his first 100 days. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNN)

poll/ 74% of voters say democracy in the United States is under threat. 56% say they hold Trump responsible for the mob that stormed the Capitol. (Quinnipiac / New York Times)

poll/ 57% of Americans want Trump to be immediately removed from office after he encouraged his supporters to riot inside the Capitol. (Reuters / ABC News)

Day 1450: "Incitement of insurrection."

1/ House Democrats plan to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump on Monday for “incitement of insurrection.” A draft copy of the impeachment resolution states that Trump “has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and […] thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.” The move follows Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s earlier call for Trump to “immediately” resign for his role in a “horrific assault on our democracy,” adding “If the President does not leave office imminently and willingly, the Congress will proceed with our action.” Pence, meanwhile, privately ruled out invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. The House could vote on the articles of impeachment early as early as the middle of next week. More than 196 members of the House and 37 Senators have called for Trump to be removed from office. (CNN / New York Times / ABC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Axios / NBC News)

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. (CNBC)

  • 💻 Trump-Biden Transition Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / CNN

  • 👑 Portrait of a President: A President Increasingly Angry and Isolated. With resignations thinning the ranks around him and growing calls for his removal, president says he will depart peacefully on Jan. 20. (Wall Street Journal)

  • 👑 Portrait of a President: The White House slips deeper into crisis in the final days of the Trump presidency. (New York Times)

2/ Nancy Pelosi spoke to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about “preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities” or accessing the nuclear codes. In a letter to her House colleagues, Pelosi said “The situation of this unhinged President could not be more dangerous, and we must do everything that we can to protect the American people from his unbalanced assault on our country and our democracy.” Pelosi said Gen. Mark Milley “assured [her] that there are safeguards in place.” (New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / NBC News)

3/ Prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s office opened a murder investigation into the death of a Capitol Police officer, who died after suffering injuries from the violent mob of Trump supporters at the Capitol. The investigation is being conducted jointly between the FBI and the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, with cooperation from U.S. Capitol Police. (ABC News / CNN / Axios / New York Times / NBC News)

4/ Trump condemned the “heinous attack” on the Capitol that he incited and said he would leave office peacefully Jan. 20 after facing bipartisan calls for his removal and pressure from advisers to more forcefully respond to the riot, which left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer. In his first tweet since getting temporarily blocked for egging on the violence by his supporters, Trump accepted no responsibility for the riot, but instead said: “To those who broke the law, you will pay.” The message came a day after Trump had encouraged the rioters to “go home” but ended with, “I love you.” White House counsel Pat Cipollone, meanwhile, has reportedly considered resigning after warning Trump that he risked legal exposure if he didn’t forcefully denounce the actions of his supporters who attacked the Capitol. In a separate video played at the Republican National Committee winter meeting, Trump thanked the committee members for their “loyalty.” (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / NPR)

  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos resigned. DeVos decided resigned after learning that Pence opposed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. DeVos is the second cabinet-level official to step down. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

5/ Surprising no one, Trump announced that he will not attend Biden’s inauguration – two days after inciting a deadly riot at the Capitol. Trump will be the first president in more than 150 years — and only the fourth in U.S. history — to skip the ceremony. Biden addressed Trump’s decision, saying “It’s a good thing, him not showing up […] One of the few things he and I have ever agreed on.” (CBS News / CNBC / New York Times / Bloomberg)

  • Dominion Voting Systems sued lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation, demanding more than $1.3 billion in damages for spreading “wild” and “demonstrably false” allegations. Powell pushed Trump’s attempts to overturn election. (Washington Post / NBC News)

6/ The United States set a record for daily coronavirus-related deaths for the second day in a row, topping 4,000 deaths for the first time. Nearly 20,000 people in the country have died of Covid-19 in January alone. “We believe things will get worse as we get into January,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview. (CNBC / New York Times / NPR)

7/ The U.S. lost 140,000 jobs in December – the first net decline in payrolls since last spring’s mass layoffs. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, remained unchanged at 6.7%, which is down from its high of nearly 15% in April but about double the 3.5% rate this time last year. (CNN / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

8/ Twitter permanently suspended Trump “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.” The decision came after Facebook made a similar decision to extend an initial 24 hour suspension to an indefinite one. Twitter also removed the accounts of Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, and other supporters of Trump who promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory. (NBC News / CNBC / Axios)

Day 1449: "A horror show for America."

1/ Congress confirmed Biden’s presidential victory after a violent mob loyal to Trump stormed the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the election. Following the violent assault on the Capitol, members of Congress and Pence made Biden’s victory official just after 3:40 a.m. in Washington. Biden received 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232, and will be inaugurated the 46th president on Jan. 20. (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / Reuters)

2/ Trump agreed to “an orderly transition” one day after inciting a mob to storm the Capitol and minutes after Congress certified Biden’s win. While Trump acknowledged for the first time he will leave office, he didn’t, however, admit defeat or concede. Instead, in a statement tweeted at 3:49 a.m. by aide Dan Scavino, Trump said: “Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again.” (Politico / Bloomberg / Washington Post / NPR / CNN)

3/ Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer called on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to immediately remove Trump from office. “By inciting sedition as he did yesterday, he must be removed for office,” Pelosi said. Earlier, Schumer said that “What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president. This president should not hold office one day longer” and the “quickest and most effective way” to remove Trump would be under the 25th Amendment. If Pence declines to act, Pelosi said Democrats were prepared to impeach Trump for a second time, and did not rule out canceling next week’s recess to bring the House back into session. “While there’s only 13 days left,” Pelsoi said, “any day could be a horror show for America.” (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / Politico / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / Bloomberg / ABC News / CNN)

  • A trade group representing 14,000 U.S. companies called on Pence to “seriously consider” invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. “This is sedition and should be treated as such,” the National Association of Manufacturers said. “The outgoing president incited violence in an attempt to retain power, and any elected leader defending him is violating their oath to the Constitution and rejecting democracy in favor of anarchy.” (CNBC / New York Times)

  • Biden characterized the mob of Trump supporters that stormed the Capitol as “insurrectionists domestic terrorist,” referring to the violence as “one of the darkest days in the history of our nation” and the attack an “unprecedented assault on our democracy.” Biden blamed Trump for inciting the violence, saying he had “unleashed an all-out assault on our institutions of democracy” and that he’s a “president who’s made his contempt for our democracy, the Constitution, the rule of law clear in everything he has done.” (Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

  • Trump refused requests to mobilize the National Guard to stop the mob at the Capitol. Pence eventually approved the order. (New York Times / CNN)

4/ The Justice Department said it would not rule out pursuing charges against Trump for his role in inciting a mob of his supporters to march on the Capitol and storm the building. “We are looking at all actors, not only the people who went into the building,” Michael Sherwin, the U.S. attorney in Washington, said. “If the evidence fits the elements of a crime, they’re gonna be charged.” The chairs of five House committees requested that FBI Director Christopher Wray brief them on the agency’s efforts to investigate the riot. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

5/ Trump told aides and advisers that he wants to pardon himself before leaving office. In multiple conversations since the election, Trump has asked whether he should pardon himself, including what the legal and political implications would be. It’s not clear, however, if Trump has brought up the idea since he incited his supporters to march on the Capitol and “fight.” Following the riots, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone advised Trump that he could face legal jeopardy for encouraging his supporters to storm the Capitol building. Trump has also considered pre-emptive pardons for Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and Rudy Giuliani. (New York Times / ABC News)

6/ Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram suspended Trump after he posted a video of himself repeating baseless claims that the election had been “stolen” while urging his supporters, who he had earlier incited to go to the Capitol, to “go home.” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Trump would be banned from Facebook and Instagram “indefinitely.” The ban will not be lifted before Inauguration Day. Twitter locked Trump’s account and deleted three tweets for using the platform “for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes.” Twitter threatened to permanently suspend Trump if he violated its rules again. YouTube also removed the video, while Shopify removed the online stores run by the Trump Organization and Trump campaign. (Politico / The Verge / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times / TechCrunch / NBC News)

  • Ivanka Trump deleted a tweet calling for “American patriots” – who stormed the Capitol – to stop the violence. (The Hill)

7/ Multiple Trump administration officials resigned after a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, including Elaine Chao (transportation secretary), Mick Mulvaney (Trump’s former acting chief of staff, now special envoy to Northern Ireland), Matthew Pottinger (deputy national security adviser), John Costello (senior cybersecurity official), Tyler Goodspeed (acting chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers), Stephanie Grisham (chief of staff to Melania Trump), Rickie Niceta (event planner), and Sarah Matthews (deputy White House press secretary). Mulvaney reportedly called Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and told him: “I can’t do it. I can’t stay.” (New York Times / Axios / CNN / Associated Press / The Guardian / NPR)

  • White House Counsel Pat Cipollone reportedly instructed White House officials not to speak to Trump so they could reduce the chance that they could be prosecuted for treason under the Sedition Act. (Vanity Fair)

  • Trump banned Pence’s chief of staff from the White House. Trump blamed Marc Short for Pence’s decision to follow the Constitution as he presided over the Electoral College certification session. (Axios / Business Insider)

8/ A record 3,915 people died of Covid-19 in the United States on Wednesday – the second straight day that the country logged a record number of fatalities from the disease within a 24-hour period. The number of patients currently hospitalized nationwide is at a record high and 12 states hit a record number of hospitalizations. (Washington Post / ABC News)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~87,793,000; deaths: ~1,893,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~21,482,000; deaths: ~365,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Another 787,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, a slight decline from the previous week. (Politico / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

9/ Trump awarded Medals of Freedom to three golfers less than 24 hours after pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the Capitol building and stalled congressional efforts to certify electoral college votes for Biden. (Washington Post)

poll/ 63% of voters believe Trump is at least “somewhat” responsible “for the events that led to” the riot at the Capitol. 49% say Trump is “very” responsible. (Politico)

Day 1448: "Death spiral."

1/ Pence rejected Trump’s demand to block certification of Biden’s win, saying only lawmakers can decide whether to accept or reject the Electoral College votes. On Tuesday, Pence told Trump that he does not have the authority to reject the electoral votes from states he lost. The meeting came hours after Trump inaccurately tweeted “The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.” This statement is not true and the vice president does not have the unilateral power to alter the results sent to Congress. On Wednesday, Pence informed lawmakers that he was rebuffing Trump’s demand as lawmakers gathered for a joint session of Congress to count the electoral votes, saying “It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.” (Politico / CNN / New York Times / Axios / USA Today)

2/ Mitch McConnell rebuked his Republican colleagues’ efforts to block the certification of the Electoral College, saying that overturning the results of the election “would damage our republic forever” and risked sending democracy into a “death spiral.” McConnell’s speech came after an objection was raised to the certification of Arizona’s 11 electoral votes to Biden and Harris by Rep. Paul Gosar and 60 other House colleagues minutes into the proceeding. McConnell denounced Trump’s “sweeping conspiracy theories” about election fraud and said he “will not pretend” voting to overturn the election would be a “harmless protest gesture.” (Axios / USA Today / ABC News)

3/ Trump encouraged thousands of supporters during a rally at the Ellipse to protest the count of electoral votes at the Capitol, saying “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol […] because you’ll never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength and you have to be strong.” Trump, speaking about an hour before the start of the joint session of Congress, told his fans: “We will never give up. We will never concede. You don’t concede when there is theft involved. Your country has had enough. We will not take it anymore. We won this election, and we won it by a landslide. This was not a close election.” Trump added: “We will stop the steal […] I’m going to be watching because history is going to be made.” During the rally, Trump urged Pence to take action, saying “If not I’m going to be very disappointed in you” and vowed to “primary the hell out of” members of Congress who didn’t go along with his bid to overturn the election results, calling them “pathetic” and “weak Republicans.” (NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC)

4/ The U.S. Capitol went into lockdown as a mob of Trump supporters surrounded and then stormed the building, forcing Congress to abruptly pause the constitutional process to affirm Biden’s win. Shortly after 1 p.m. ET, House offices were evacuated as Trump’s supporters stormed Capitol barriers and dozens of people breached the building while the constitutional proceedings continued inside. Lawmakers inside the House chamber were told to shelter in place and put on gas masks as tear gas and smoke grenades were fired in the Rotunda. Several House office buildings were evacuated due to potential bomb threats. Pence, meanwhile, was evacuated. At least one person was shot and taken to a hospital. As the mob engulfed the Capitol, Trump did not call for calm but instead tweeted that “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.” The Army activated the entire District of Columbia National Guard – 1,100 troops – in response to a request from Mayor Muriel Bowser, who also declared a citywide curfew starting at 6 p.m. It was the first time the Capitol had been breached since the British attacked and burned the building during the War of 1812. Lawmakers, meanwhile, will resume counting Electoral College votes late Wednesday night. (Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / CNN / Politico / Wall Street Journal / USA Today / Bloomberg / CNBC / Associated Press)

5/ Trump blamed his opponents for the violence and praised the mob that stormed the Capitol as “very special,” saying “we can’t play into the hands of these people.” In a televised speech Biden condemned Trump for stoking the violence and demanded that the president call on his supporters to end the “unprecedented assault” on democracy. “This is not dissent. It’s disorder. It’s chaos. It borders on sedition, and it must end now,” he added. “I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward.” Moments later, Trump tweeted a one-minute video – more than two hours after the mob overtook the building – repeating his lie that “the election was stolen” while advising the group to “go home now. We have to have peace.” He added: “We love you.” Trump later reiterated his false claim that the election was stolen, tweeting for his supporters to “remember this day.” (New York Times / Bloomberg / Washington Post / The Guardian / CNBC / Axios)

6/ Democrats won control of the Senate with victories in Georgia’s two runoff elections, assuring slim majorities in both chambers of Congress for Biden. Raphael Warnock defeated Kelly Loeffler, and Jon Ossoff won his race against David Perdue. With the Senate split, Kamala Harris will break 50-50 ties, putting Democrats in charge of the legislative agenda, committee chairmanships, and Congress’ confirmation and investigative powers. Some Republicans blamed Trump’s weeks of baseless claims that Georgia’s electoral system was rigged for the Democratic sweep. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Politico)

7/ The Trump administration is attempting undo some civil rights protections for minority groups. The Justice Department submitted a change to how it enforces Title VI of the Civil Rights Act for White House approval. (New York Times)

8/ Russian hackers behind the cyber espionage campaign accessed the Justice Department email accounts. About 3,500 employees’ emails accounts were accessed. There is no indication that classified systems were affected. (Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / ABC News)

9/ Trump administration officials auctioned off oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge despite a number of banks saying they would not finance Arctic energy projects due to flat oil prices. The sale of 11 tracts on just over 550,000 acres for $14.4 million was a fraction of what Republicans predicted it would yield. (Washington Post)

10/ Biden plans to nominate Merrick Garland for attorney general. Biden selected Garland over former Sen. Doug Jones and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates. Republicans blocked Garland’s Supreme Court nomination in 2016. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / USA Today / Axios)


  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~86,949,000; deaths: ~1,878,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~21,226,000; deaths: ~360,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

Day 1447: "Save America."

1/ Trump falsely claimed that Pence has the power to unilaterally throw out electoral votes when Congress meets to certify the election results on Wednesday. While Pence’s constitutional role is to ceremonially oversee Congress’s count of the Electoral College votes, Trump instead wants Pence to reject the votes for Biden, tweeting – falsely – that Pence “has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.” And during a rally in Georgia, Trump told supporters: “I hope Mike Pence comes through for us.” Meanwhile, a group of House and Senate Republicans plan to object to the certification of several states, forcing as much as 12 hours of debate and a half-dozen votes. There are not, however, enough votes in either chamber to overturn the outcome of the election and Pence would have to announce the failure of each one. Trump, nevertheless, vowed to continue to “fight like hell” to keep the White House and – again – falsely alleged that Democrats stole the election. When a joint session of Congress convenes Wednesday to certify the Electoral College votes, Trump plans to speak at a “Save America” rally near the White House. (New York Times / NBC News / NPR / Washington Post / CBS News / CNN / New York Times / ABC News)

  • Georgia Senate Runoff Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / CNN / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal

  • A federal judge in Georgia denied another attempt by Trump to decertify the state’s presidential election results. Trump and his lawyers asked the judge to throw out the verified results, citing several previously debunked fraud allegations. Attorneys for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger called the effort a bid to “disenfranchise millions of Georgia voters at the thirteenth hour.” (Politico / New York Times / CNN)

  • Trump replaced the top federal prosecutor in Atlanta with another Trump-appointed prosecutor – bypassing the top career prosecutor who would normally take over on an acting basis. U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak abruptly resigned Monday after serving three years in the role. Pak’s resignation came a day after the release of a recording of a phone call between President Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. During the call, Trump seemed to denigrate a federal prosecutor in Georgia, saying, “You have your never-Trumper U.S. attorney there.” (Talking Points Memo / Politico / Atlanta Journal-Constitution / The Hill)

  • Dominion Voting Systems plans to sue attorney Sidney Powell for defamation, and is exploring similar suits against Trump and others. (Axios)

2/ Arizona, California, and Rhode Island have the highest Covid-19 infection rates per capita of anywhere in the world. Coronavirus cases in the South, meanwhile, are rising quickly and account for more cases than any other U.S. region. And, nine states reported record Covid-19 hospitalizations Monday. (NBC News / Bloomberg / ABC News)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~86,231,000; deaths: ~1,866,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~21,008,000; deaths: ~357,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Scientists are analyzing research data to see if they can double the supply of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine by cutting doses in half. (New York Times)

  • The House and Senate are using a Covid-19 test that the FDA says is prone to false results. (Politico)

3/ Four American intelligence agencies confirmed that the hack of the U.S. government and corporations was “likely Russian in origin.” The FBI, the National Security Agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said that “fewer than 10” federal agencies had been compromised by “an intelligence gathering effort.” The rare joint statement also said that the operation was “ongoing” – nearly a month after it was discovered. Trump, meanwhile, has cast doubt on that hack, suggesting that it could have been China and that “everything is well under control.” (Associated Press / New York Times / NBC News)

4/ The EPA finalized a “transparency” rule which will limit or exclude research about how pollution impacts human health. The new rule requires researchers to disclose their raw data. Leading researchers and academic organizations, however, argue that the new rule will restrict the EPA from using the most consequential research, because it often includes confidential medical records and other data that cannot be released because of privacy concerns. (Washington Post / CNN)

5/ Trump will not be allowed to visit Scotland to play golf during Biden’s inauguration. Prestwick airport has reportedly been told to expect the arrival of a U.S. military Boeing 757 aircraft, which is sometimes used by Trump, on January 19. Scotland’s first minister, however, stressed that it is illegal to travel in or out of the country without a valid reason, saying “Coming to play golf is not what I would consider to be an essential purpose.” Following news reports of Trump’s potential trip to Turnberry, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the reports were “not accurate. President Trump has no plans to travel to Scotland.” (New York Times / Washington Post / The Independent / Sunday Post / The Guardian)

Day 1446: "No way."

1/ Trump pressured Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” him enough votes to overturn the state’s presidential election results. Trump told Brad Raffensperger in an hourlong phone call, which also included Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and legal advisers, “We have won the election in Georgia based on all of this. And there’s nothing wrong with saying that, Brad.” Raffensperger pushed back, telling Trump “the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong.” Trump, however, continued to push his debunked theories of election fraud, like “stuffed ballot boxes,” and, at one point said: “So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.” Trump later added: “So what are we going to do here, folks? I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break.” At one point, Trump warned that Raffensperger was taking “a big risk” by not pursuing his false claims and threatened him with “a criminal offense.” Throughout the call, Trump repeated that “There’s no way I lost Georgia […] There’s no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes.” Trump lost to Biden by 11,779 votes. Since the election, there have been 18 attempted calls from the White House to the Georgia secretary of state’s office. An intern monitoring the line, however, thought the calls were a prank and hung up. (Washington Post / Atlanta Journal-Constitution / New York Times / NPR / Politico)

2/ Trump’s call to Georgia’s secretary of state may have violated laws that prohibit interference in federal or state elections. Brad Raffensperger said that while it was unlikely his office would open an investigation into the call with Trump, he suggested that a criminal probe could still be launched by an Atlanta-area district attorney. Raffensperger added, “I understand that the Fulton County district attorney wants to look at it. Maybe that’s the appropriate venue for it to go.” A pair of House Democrats, meanwhile, asked FBI Director Christopher Wray to open a criminal probe, believing that Trump “engaged in solicitation of, or conspiracy to commit, a number of election crimes.” (New York Times / Politico / NBC News / The Guardian / NPR)

3/ A top election official in Georgia accused Trump’s legal team of “intentionally misleading” voters about voter fraud. In a press conference, Gabriel Sterling, a Georgia voting system implementation manager, systematically refuted Trump’s already-debunked claims of voter fraud, saying “This is all easily, provably false. Yet the president persists, and by doing so undermines Georgians’ faith in the election system.” Sterling added: “It was intentional, it was obvious, and anybody watching this knows that.” (USA Today / New York Times)

4/ A group of at least 11 Republican senators and senators-elect plan to challenge Biden’s Electoral College win on Jan. 6, calling for an “emergency 10-day audit” to investigate Trump’s numerous unfounded election fraud claims. The senators – led by Ted Cruz – provided no evidence, but cited unsubstantiated allegations of fraud and said they intend “to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given’ and ‘lawfully certified.’” The same claims have been repeatedly rejected by courts. The new Congress will meet Wednesday to formally count the Electoral College votes. Pence, as the president of the senate, will preside over the joint session and signaled support for the effort to vote against certification. (NBC News / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Axios)

  • A federal judge threw out a lawsuit from Rep. Louie Gohmert and several Arizona Republicans seeking to force Pence to decide the outcome of the 2020 election. (CNN / Politico)

5/ Covid-19 cases in the United States eclipsed 20 million as Trump falsely tweeted that the coronavirus cases and deaths are “exaggerated.” Dr. Anthony Fauci pushed back on the claim, saying “The numbers are real. We have well over 300,000 deaths. We are averaging two to three thousand deaths per day.” U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams also contradicted Trump’s claim, saying there is “no reason to doubt” the CDC’s Covid-19 death toll. The nation reported more than 210,000 new cases for Sunday as hospitalizations hit a record-high 125,544. (Politico / NBC News / CNN / NPR / ABC News / Wall Street Journal)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~85,521,000; deaths: ~1,850,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~20,758,000; deaths: ~353,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • The Trump administration fell well short of its goal to vaccinate 20 million people by January 1. About 12.4 million doses have been distributed to states, but only 2.8 million doses have been administered. (CNN / New York Times / Axios / Bloomberg)

  • Colorado officials reported the first known case of the more contagious coronavirus variant discovered in Britain. Scientists said the variant is more transmissible but does not make people sicker. The variant was detected in a man in his 20s with no travel history. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, meanwhile, ordered a third national lockdown for England as a more contagious coronavirus variant has surged. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg)

  • Trump skipped his annual New Year’s Eve party, leaving guests to party maskless with Rudy Giuliani and Vanilla Ice at Mar-a-Lago. (CNN / New York Times)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office retained a forensic accounting specialists to help with its criminal investigation of Trump and his business. The investigation was opened in 2018 to examine the alleged hush-money payments made to two women who claimed to have had affairs with him years earlier, but has since expanded to include the Trump Organization’s activities more broadly. (Washington Post)

  2. The Senate voted to override Trump’s veto of the $741 billion defense authorization bill – the first successful veto override of Trump’s presidency. (New York Times / Washington Post

  3. Trump awarded Devin Nunes with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Nunes defended Trump during the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, as well as during his impeachment. Nunes also once sued a fake cow for defamatory tweets. (NPR / Washington Post / The Guardian)

Day 1440: "Death wish."

  • Editor’s note: WTFJHT is currently on Infrastructure Week holiday. This will be the last edition of WTFJHT until Monday, January 4. (There will also be a members-only update on the state of WTFJHT next week, so if you want in on that, be sure to become a supporting member). In the mean time, I hope you all have a safe and happy New Years, and – please! – don’t forgot to watch your distance, wear your mask, and wash your damn hands. I’m glad you’re here.

1/ Mitch McConnell blocked a House-passed bill to increase stimulus checks in the coronavirus relief package from $600 to $2,000, saying instead that the Senate would “begin a process” to consider bigger payments. The Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help (Cash) Act passed the House with a bipartisan 275-to-134 vote. Trump, responding to the Senate developments, tweeted for McConnell to act unless he and other Republicans have a “death wish.” (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / CNBC / Politico / Bloomberg / Washington Post / NBC News / The Guardian)

2/ The House voted to override Trump’s veto of the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act – the first time a chamber of Congress has agreed to override a Trump veto. In a string of tweets, Trump wrote “WE NEED NEW & ENERGETIC REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP,” calling them “weak and tired,” and the override vote “a disgraceful act of cowardice.” Mitch McConnell said the Senate would vote Wednesday on the military policy bill. Bernie Sanders, however, promised to filibuster the override vote of Trump’s veto unless the Senate holds a vote on providing $2,000 direct payments to Americans. (New York Times / NPR / Washington Post / Politico / Axios)

3/ Trump signed the coronavirus stimulus package and spending bill to avert a government shutdown, but not before two unemployment programs expired, guaranteeing a delay in benefits for about 14 millions of unemployed Americans. The legislative package will provide $900 billion for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, funds for schools, small businesses, hospitals, and direct payment checks for families. The package also extends unemployment benefits, the federal moratorium on evictions, and funds the federal government through September. Trump, however, blindsided lawmakers when he called the bill a “disgrace” days earlier, which was negotiated by his own Treasury secretary. (New York Times / NBC News / Politico / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Washington Post)

4/ The CDC predicts that the U.S. will see 400,000 coronavirus deaths by the time Trump leaves office on Jan. 20, 2021. U.S. case numbers surpassed 19 million Saturday, meaning at least 1 in 17 people have been infected. The virus has killed more than 332,000 people – or 1 in 1,000 have died. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the FDA, said that the U.S. is facing a “a grim month ahead of us.” Biden, meanwhile, will deliver an address on the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday as the nation experiences what Dr. Fauci described as a surge in cases “that has just gotten out of control in many respects.” (Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post / CBS News / Axios / CNN)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~81,747,000; deaths: ~1,785,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~19,449,000; deaths: ~337,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Biden plans to invoke the Defense Production Act after he takes office to boost production of COVID-19 vaccines and personal protective equipment. (CNBC)

5/ Trump issued 26 new pardons, including for Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner’s father, Charles. Manafort, who admitted his crimes and initially agreed to cooperate with Robert Mueller but then lied to prosecutors, spent nearly two years in prison for bank and tax fraud, illegal foreign lobbying and witness tampering conspiracies before being released because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Stone, meanwhile, never cooperated after lying to Congress to protect Trump and was sentenced for obstruction of Congress and threatening a witness. Stone’s sentence was later commuted by Trump – days before he was set to surrender. The wording of the pardons for Manafort and Stone referred to the Mueller investigation as the “Russian collusion hoax,” “prosecutorial misconduct,” and “injustice.” Of the 65 pardons and commutations that Trump has granted, 60 have gone to people with a personal or political connection to Trump. (New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

6/ Biden accused Trump and his political appointees of obstructing the transition of power “in key national security areas.” Biden said his transition team had encountered “roadblocks” from political appointees in the Office of Management and Budget and the Defense Department, saying “It’s nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility […] We need full visibility […] in order to avoid any window of confusion or catch-up that our adversaries may try to exploit.” (Washington Post)

  • Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert sued Mike Pence in federal court. Gohmert and several other Republicans, including the Republican slate of electors from Arizona, want to permit Pence to overturn Trump’s defeat by ignoring Biden’s electors and count Trump’s losing slates instead when Congress meets to count Electoral College votes on Jan. 6. The lawsuit challenges the 1887 Electoral Count Act, alleging that the law unconstitutionally prevents Pence from exercising his authority to choose which votes to count. (Dallas Morning News / Politico)

7/ Since Jan. 20, 2017, Trump’s donors have contributed $10.5 million to his businesses. About $8.5 million came from the Trump campaign and various entities that Trump directly controls, while another $2 million came from other Republican candidates and committees. (HuffPost)

8/ Americans named Trump and Michelle Obama the most admired man and woman of 2020. Trump’s first-place finish ends Barack Obama’s 12-year run as most admired man. (Gallup)

poll/ 16% of Americans are satisfied with the direction the country is going – down from 21% in November. Trump’s job approval rating stands at 39% – down from 43% in November. Biden’s transition, however, is 65% – higher than Trump’s in 2016. (Gallup)

Day 1434: "Unnecessary."

1/ Trump vetoed a $741 billion defense spending bill, which the House and Senate passed with veto-proof majorities. Trump refused to sign the legislation, saying it includes “provisions that fail to respect our veterans’ and military’s history” – a reference to a provision instructing the military to strip the names of Confederate leaders from military bases. Trump suggested that the bill was a “‘gift’ to China and Russia” and complained that the bill limited his authority to remove troops from Afghanistan and Germany. Trump also demanded a repeal of Section 230, which protects companies from legal responsibility for content posted on their websites. A repeal of Section 230 was not included in the National Defense Authorization Act. Both chambers plan to return the week after Christmas and are expected to vote to override the veto, making it the first successful veto override of Trump’s presidency. (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / Axios)

2/ Trump suggested that he would not immediately sign the $900 billion coronavirus relief package passed by Congress, calling it a “disgrace” that was full of “wasteful and unnecessary” items. Trump demanded that Congress increase the “ridiculously low” $600 stimulus checks to $2,000. Trump largely left negotiations over the measure to lawmakers and his Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who was responsible for the $600 stimulus check idea. “It’s called the Covid relief bill, but it has almost nothing to do with Covid,” Trump said in a video posted online. If Trump refuses to sign the bill, the government would shut down on Dec. 29, the emergency economic aid would be frozen, and benefits from the previous COVID relief bill would expire at the end of the month, including a moratorium on evictions and extended unemployment insurance – all of which were addressed in the package approved by a veto-proof margin. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, responded to Trump’s call to increase stimulus checks to $2,000 per adult, saying she’d bring the measure to the floor by “unanimous consent” this week. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg / NPR / CNBC / CNN)

3/ The Trump administration agreed to buy 100 million more doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. The $1.95 billion agreement doubles the U.S. order of the vaccine to 200 million doses. Combined with the 200 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, the U.S. has acquired 400 million total doses – enough to treat 200 million people. Just over 1 million people in the U.S., meanwhile, have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, roughly 19 million doses short of the federal government’s goal of inoculating 20 million Americans by the end of the year. (Politico / New York Times / CNBC)

4/ Trump granted clemency to 20 people, including two people who pleaded guilty in Robert Mueller’s Russia inquiry, four Blackwater contractors convicted in the killing of 14 Iraqi civilians, and three former Republican members of Congress. Trump pardoned former campaign aide George Papadopoulos and Alex van der Zwaan. Both pleaded guilty to lying to investigators during the Russia investigation and neither cooperated with Mueller. More than half of the cases did not meet the Justice Department’s standards for consideration. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN / The Guardian)

5/ The White House sent staffers a memo that they “will start departing” the week of Jan. 4., but were later instructed to “please disregard” the email. In the first memo, staffers were sent information about their pay, benefits, records, and security clearance, including a note that they would receive a “comprehensive checklist” in the coming days and be directed to “take inventory of your office space.” (Politico)

6/ A top Dominion Voting Systems employee sued the Trump campaign, several campaign surrogates, and pro-Trump media outlets alleging defamation. Despite no evidence of widespread voter fraud or irregularities, Eric Coomer was forced into hiding after becoming the subject of baseless conspiracy theories accusing him of using his position to steal the election for Biden. Among those being sued, include Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Newsmax, One America News Network, OANN reporter Chanel Rion, blogger Michelle Malkin and others. Separately, the law firm representing Dominion Voting Systems sent letters to White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Giuliani instructing them to preserve all records related to Trump’s conspiracy theories. The defamation attorneys warned Giuliani to stop making “defamatory claims against Dominion” and to “preserve and retain all documents relating to Dominion and your smear campaign against the company” because legal action is “imminent.” (NPR / CNN)

Day 1433: "It appears to be significant."

1/ U.S. deaths are expected to top 3 million for the first time, making this the deadliest year in U.S. history. The U.S. is on track to see at least 400,000 more deaths in 2020 than in 2019 – due mainly to the coronavirus pandemic. (Associated Press)

2/ The Senate approved more than $900 billion in emergency economic relief, government funding, and tax cuts shortly after the House passed the same package, which now head to Trump’s desk. While Trump is expected to sign that measure, logistical complexities – it must be enrolled on parchment paper, physically delivered to the White House and reviewed by administration lawyers – prevented the bill from quickly getting to him. Separately, Trump signed a seven-day government spending bill, averting a federal shutdown. Tucked inside the spending bill was over $110 billion in tax breaks for special interests. The stimulus bill will also limit the Federal Reserve’s ability to aid businesses, states, and cities through emergency lending. Biden, meanwhile, warned that the “darkest days” of the pandemic “are ahead of us, not behind us.” He called on Congress to prepare for a third stimulus package early next year. (NPR / Bloomberg / Washington Post / USA Today / Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg / CNBC)

3/ Trump met privately with a group of congressional Republicans at the White House in preparation of a final effort to overturn the election results. The discussion reportedly focused on a contingent of House and Senate Republicans who are committed to objecting to the election results, prompting a marathon debate on the floor on Jan. 6, which would roll into Jan. 7. Rep. Mo Brooks said there are plans to challenge the results in six states, which could lead to about 18 hours of debate. Brooks and the group also met with Pence, who will preside over the joint session of Congress when lawmakers certify the Electoral College votes on Jan. 6. Trump, meanwhile, has been complaining about Pence, who he views as not fighting hard enough for him. In particular, Trump reportedly views Pence’s constitutional duty to certify the election result as the ultimate betrayal. Trump, meanwhile, lashed out at Mitch McConnell for acknowledging Biden’s victory, sending Republican senators a slide taking credit for McConnell’s career that read: “Sadly, Mitch forgot” – a reference to his June 19 tweet endorsing the Senate leader. (Politico / CNN / Axios / Washington Post / The Guardian)

  • Presidential Transition Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / ABC News

  • Federal prosecutors have discussed making a legal request for Rudy Giuliani’s emails and other electronic communications. The Southern District of New York would need Justice Department approval before it can request a search warrant for materials that may be protected by attorney-client privilege. The Southern District has been reviewing Giuliani’s bank records as part of an investigation into his dealings in Ukraine. (NBC News)

  • Biden plans to nominate Miguel Cardona to be his secretary of education. Cardona has spent his career working as an elementary school teacher, principal, district administrator, and assistant superintendent. (NPR / Politico / Washington Post)

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to fill the Senate seat being vacated by Kamala Harris. Padilla will be the first Latino senator to represent the state. (NBC News / Politico / New York Times)

4/ Russian hackers accessed dozens of email accounts used by senior officials at the Treasury Department. “The agency suffered a serious breach, beginning in July, the full depth of which isn’t known,” Senator Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said. “Treasury still does not know all of the actions taken by hackers, or precisely what information was stolen,” but it “appears to be significant.” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, meanwhile, said “I can assure you, we are completely on top of this,” but did not explain how the Russian intrusion was not detected for more than four months. (New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN)

5/ Trump’s longtime banker at Deutsche Bank resigned and will leave the bank next week. Rosemary Vrablic oversaw more than $300 million in loans to Trump’s company since 2011. Vrablic’s longtime colleague, Dominic Scalzi, also resigned. (New York Times)

Day 1432: "Everything is well under control."

1/ Trump discussed appointing a lawyer who promoted conspiracy theories about rigged voting machines as a special counsel to investigate nonexistent voter fraud. In a “heated” meeting in the Oval Office, Trump met with Sidney Powell, her client, Michael Flynn, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, and counsel Pat Cipollone. Rudy Giuliani participated by phone. The meeting reportedly broke out into a screaming match as Meadows and Cipollone pushed back on Powell and Flynn’s suggestions for overturning the election, while Powell accused Trump’s advisers of being quitters. Among the ideas discussed was Flynn’s earlier suggestion that Trump impose martial law and deploy the military to “rerun” the election. Giuliani, seperately, called the Department of Homeland Security’s Ken Cuccinelli and asked if it was possible for DHS to seize voting machines. Cuccinelli told Giuliani that DHS does not have that authority. Trump also asked about Powell getting a security clearance to pursue her work. While Trump later dismissed reports of the martial law discussion as “fake news” on Twitter, Trump had previously urged Attorney General William Barr to appoint a special counsel to look into election fraud, as well as one to investigate Hunter Biden. Barr, however, was unwilling to do what Tump wanted and later announced his resignation. (New York Times / CNN / NBC News / Axios / CNN / ABC News / Vox)

2/ Attorney General William Barr said he saw “no basis now for seizing [voting] machines” and that he would not appoint a special counsel to investigate allegations of voter fraud. Barr said that while he was “sure there was fraud in this election,” there was no evidence that was so “systemic or broad-based” that it would change the result. Barr added: “If I thought a special counsel at this stage was the right tool and was appropriate, I would name one, but I haven’t, and I’m not going to.” It was Barr’s final public appearance. (Washington Post / Associated Press / CNN / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / ABC News)

3/ Trump’s campaign filed a petition with the Supreme Court to overturn three separate Pennsylvania Supreme Court decisions related to mail-in ballots. Trump’s campaign asked the court to reject 2.6 million mail-in ballots and allow the Pennsylvania General Assembly to pick its own slate of electors. Overturning the Pennsylvania results, however, wouldn’t change the outcome of the election. If Biden somehow lost the state’s 20 electoral votes, he would still have 286 votes. (Associated Press / Bloomberg)

4/ Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both blamed the Russians for the SolarWinds hack that compromised at least a half dozen federal agencies. On Saturday, Pompeo said “we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians” behind the hack of the federal government. Hours later, however, Trump tweeted that “it may be China (it may!)” – not Russia – saying “everything is well under control,” while insisting that the “Lamestream” news media had exaggerated the hack and suggested – without evidence – that the real issue was whether the election results had been compromised. But on Monday, Barr said that “from the information I have, I agree with Secretary Pompeo’s assessment” that “it certainly appears to be the Russians” behind the hack. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / NBC News)

5/ Congress reached an agreement on a $900 billion coronavirus stimulus package. The agreement includes $600 stimulus checks per adult and child, $300 per week in enhanced unemployment for 11 weeks, $319 billion for small businesses, including $284 billion for Paycheck Protection Program loans, $20 billion in EIDL Grants, $69 billion in testing and vaccine distribution funds, $82 billion in funding for colleges and schools, and $15 billion for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions. More than $13 billion in food assistance is also in the bill. The package excludes liability protection from COVID-19-related lawsuits for businesses and universities and doesn’t include money for states and localities for Medicare. The relief package, however, includes a tax break for corporate meal expenses pushed by the White House – referred to as the “three-martini lunch” by critics – as a way to revive the restaurant industry during the pandemic. Both the House and Senate plan to pass the stimulus bill — which will be paired with a year-end spending measure — by midnight, when the latest government funding deadline hits. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / CNBC / CNN / Politico / Axios)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~77,189,000; deaths: ~1,700,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~17,948,000; deaths: ~319,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / CNN / NBC News

  • The FDA authorized emergency use of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine was nearly 95% effective in clinical trials that enrolled 30,000 patients. (Politico)

  • A CDC advisory committee recommended that people 75 and older or frontline essential workers receive the COVID-19 vaccine next – following the frontline health care workers and nursing home residents, who have already started receiving the vaccine. (NPR)

  • A death every 33 seconds in the U.S. “For all of the efforts by some to diminish the death toll and to shrug at the steadily expanding saturation of American hospital beds, our country is losing an American every 33 seconds to covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus that emerged last year.” (Washington Post)

  • More than 16 million Britons are forced to stay at home in London and southeast England as a new coronavirus variant is spreading more quickly. The U.K. warned that the new variant that is thought to be up to 70% more transmissible than the original strain of the disease. (Bloomberg / NBC News / CNBC)

  • More than 2 million people passed through security checkpoints at U.S. airports on Friday and Saturday, despite guidance to stay home for the holidays. (NPR / ABC News )

  • The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis subpoenaed Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Robert Redfield. The oversight subcommittee is seeking documents that shed light on allegations of “efforts to interfere with scientific work at CDC.” (Wall Street Journal)

6/ The Trump administration is weighing legal immunity for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a federal lawsuit accusing him of ordering the assassination attempt of a former top intelligence officer. The Saudi government asked to shield the prince from liability in response to a complaint brought by Saad Aljabri, a former Saudi counterterrorism leader and longtime U.S. intelligence ally now living in exile in Canada, who could disclose damaging secrets about the prince’s rise to power. (Washington Post)

7/ Trump signed an executive order requiring “beautiful” architecture as the preferred style for federal buildings. (Bloomberg)

Day 1429: "Contingencies and speculation."

1/ Congress plans to try and pass a two-day government funding extension in order to avoid a government shutdown after midnight as lawmakers struggle to finalize a $900 billion coronavirus relief package. The relief proposal is expected to include $600 direct payments for American families and children – half the stimulus checks issued last spring – $325 billion for small businesses, and $300 in enhanced weekly unemployment benefits, along with billions of dollars for small businesses, vaccine distribution, and schools. White House aides intervened and talked Trump out of calling for “at least” $1,200 in stimulus payments per person. Instead, Trump said that “stimulus talks [are] looking very good.” Meanwhile, Democrats accused Republicans of trying to “sabotage” Biden’s ability to lead an economic recovery after he takes office by cutting off the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending powers created by the CARES Act to protect the economy. [Editor’s note: FYI this entire blurb could be old news by the time you read this.] (CNBC / NBC News / CNN / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

2/ Biden’s team of medical advisers warned that getting the coronavirus vaccine to every American could take six months or longer. One physician close to the transition speculated that it might not be until late summer or early fall before the vaccine begins to be widely available to the general public. Trump administration officials, however, have promised that the general public could start getting the vaccine in late February. The U.S., meanwhile, has ordered enough doses of the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine to inoculate 150 million people. (NBC News)

3/ The suspected Russian hacking campaign hit more than 40 organizations in the U.S., Belgium, Canada, Israel, Mexico, Spain, the U.A.E., and the United Kingdom. In the U.S., hackers with ties to the Russian government penetrated several federal agencies, including departments of Homeland Security, Treasury, Commerce and State, as well as the nuclear weapons agency, and at least three states. The hacks began at least as early as March, but were discovered last week. Biden warned that his administration would impose “substantial costs” on those responsible, adding “We need to disrupt and deter our adversaries from undertaking significant cyber attacks in the first place.” Trump, meanwhile, has not publicly acknowledged the hack, which the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency called a “grave risk to the federal government.” (NBC News / Bloomberg / New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / Reuters / CNBC / The Intercept)

4/ Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller ordered a Pentagon-wide halt to briefing the Biden transition team, calling it “a holiday pause.” While Miller said the halt in cooperation “mutually agreed upon,” a Biden spokesman said “there was no mutually agreed upon holiday break” and that the move reflected “isolated resistance” by political appointees. (Axios / Bloomberg / New York Times / Business Insider)

5/ Biden will nominate Rep. Deb Haaland to lead the Department of the Interior and Michael Regan to lead the EPA. If confirmed, Haaland would become the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary and Regan would be the first Black man to head the EPA. (NPR / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

6/ The Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s plans to exclude undocumented immigrants from the final census count. The unsigned opinion said it would be “premature” to rule on the case, because it is “riddled with contingencies and speculation” and that the Trump administration doesn’t know how many undocumented immigrants there are or where they live. It’s not clear, however, if Trump will receive final numbers from the Census Bureau before he leaves office next month. The census is used to determine how many members of Congress each state gets in the House of Representatives. (NPR / NBC News / New York Times / Axios / CNBC)

7/ The Trump campaign spent more than $700 million since 2019 through a shell company that Jared Kushner helped create. American Made Media Consultants helped Trump’s campaign dodge federally mandated disclosures while also paying some of Trump’s top advisors and family members. Lara Trump, Pence’s nephew John Pence, and Trump campaign Chief Financial Officer Sean Dollman all served on the shell company’s board. When Trump leaves the White House as a private citizen next month, he’ll have more than $60 million in his new Save America PAC – about as much money as he spent to win the presidential nomination in 2016. (Business Insider / New York Times / New York Times)

8/ Trump reportedly plans to issue several pardons for friends and allies today. While it’s unclear who will be included, Trump has considered a pardon for his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, as well as preemptive pardons for family members. (Axios)

Day 1428: "A grave risk."

1/ The United States reported a record 247,403 new coronavirus cases and 3,656 COVID-19 deaths – the deadliest day of the pandemic to date. Three times as many people in the U.S. are dying every day now than three months ago, and the number of new cases is six times what it was then. (New York Times / NPR / The Guardian)

2/ Another 885,000 Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week – the highest weekly total in three months. Another 455,000 people applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program for the self-employed, gig workers, and others who don’t qualify for traditional unemployment benefits. Before the pandemic, weekly jobless claims typically numbered about 225,000. (Associated Press / Politico / Bloomberg / New York Times / CBS News / The Guardian)

3/ While lawmakers are close to a $900 billion coronavirus stimulus deal, Congress is preparing for the possibility of a short government shutdown. Lawmakers have to pass a government funding and pandemic rescue package before federal funding lapses at 12:01 a.m. ET on Saturday. Republican leaders reportedly want to pass a stop-gap spending bill to extend the current government funding deadline an additional 48 hours, but Democrats want to pressure negotiators to come up with a deal by Friday night. The draft coronavirus proposal includes $600 in payments for individuals, $300-per-week in supplemental unemployment payments, aid for small businesses, and about $17 billion for airlines. It does not include aid for state and local governments or lawsuit liability protection. About 12 million people are set to lose benefits if pandemic-era provisions to expand unemployment eligibility expire and millions country could face eviction if a federal moratorium expires at the end of the year. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC / ABC News)

  • Trump promised to follow through on his threat to veto the defense policy bill that passed with veto-proof majorities in both the House and the Senate. Trump has demanded that the defense bill eliminate Section 230, which provides tech companies with liability protections related to user-generated content on their platforms, and he’s insisted that language requiring the Pentagon to rename military commemorating Confederate-era figures be removed. (CNBC / NBC News / The Guardian)

4/ Suspected Russian hackers accessed the networks that maintain the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency warned that the hacks posed a “grave risk” to government networks and “critical infrastructure.” The list of known victims of the Russian hacks include the National Nuclear Security Administration, the State, Treasury, Energy, Commerce and Homeland Security departments, as well as the National Institutes of Health. (Politico / Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • [Opinion] From Trump’s homeland security adviser: “We’re Being Hacked.” (New York Times)

5/ The House Judiciary Committee intends to reissue a subpoena for former White House Counsel Don McGahn’s testimony in 2021. McGahn was a central witness in Robert Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation. McGahn told Mueller’s investigators that Trump twice ordered him to have Mueller removed and instructed him to create a false record about the decision. (Politico)

6/ Trump’s Mar-a-Lago neighbors say he can’t live there after he leaves the White House. In 1993, Trump signed an agreement with the town that prohibits club members from spending more than 21 days a year in the club’s guest suites and they can’t stay there for more than seven consecutive days. In a letter to the town of Palm Beach and the Secret Service, a lawyer representing a family that lives next to Mar-a-Lago reiterated that “Mar-a-Lago is a social club, and no one may reside on the property.” In 2018, Trump changed his domicile to Mar-a-Lago, in part for tax purposes. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / The Guardian)

Day 1427: "We want them infected."

1/ Nearly 8 million Americans fell into poverty over the past five months. The poverty rate jumped to 11.7% in November – up 2.4 percentage points since June. The federal poverty line is $26,200 for a family of four. (Washington Post)

  • The Federal Reserve officials expect the U.S. economy to shrink by 2.4% this year and for the GDP to roughly equals that of 2009 — the worst year of the Great Recession. (Politico / Washington Post)

2/ Congressional leaders and the White House are nearing agreement on a roughly $900 billion coronavirus relief deal that would include another round of direct payments. Checks are expected to be in the $600 to $700 range per person – less than the checks of $1,200 per person in the initial round earlier this year. The measure would also contain enhanced federal unemployment insurance, roughly $300 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans, money for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and testing, and relief for hospitals. The bill, however, is not expected to include any new money for state and local governments. Congress must also pass a new spending bill by midnight Friday to avoid a government shutdown. (Washington Post / NPR / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / New York Times)

3/ A Trump administration official repeatedly urged top health officials to adopt a “herd immunity” approach to COVID-19 and encourage millions of Americans to be infected by the virus. “Who cares” if “infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle aged with no conditions” get infected, Paul Alexander, a senior adviser at the Department of Health and Humans Services, wrote in an email to health officials. “We want them infected.” Alexander also argued that colleges should stay open to facilitate the spread of COVID-19, saying “There is no other way, we need to establish herd, and it only comes about allowing the non-high risk groups expose themselves to the virus. PERIOD.” (Politico / Bloomberg / Axios)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~73,970,000; deaths: ~1,645,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~16,886,000; deaths: ~307,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / NBC News / CNN

  • The Trump administration is negotiating with Pfizer to secure more coronavirus vaccines this spring, despite the company’s warning that worldwide deals have locked in hundreds of millions of doses through the summer. (Washington Post / Politico)

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceled his indoor holiday party after being forced him into quarantine because he was exposed to someone who tested positive for coronavirus. The department said Pompeo had tested negative for the virus. (Washington Post / ABC News / Associated Press / CNN / Washington Post)

  • 👑 Portrait of a president: Trump appointees describe the crushing of the CDC. “The White House insisted on reviewing — and often softening — the C.D.C.’s closely guarded coronavirus guidance documents, the most prominent public expression of its latest research and scientific consensus on the spread of the virus. The documents were vetted not only by the White House’s coronavirus task force but by what felt to the agency’s employees like an endless loop of political appointees across Washington.” (New York Times)

4/ The White House counsel’s office “strongly” advised Trump not to fire FBI Director Christopher Wray after the election because it could put him in potential legal jeopardy. Trump wanted Wray to more aggressively investigated his political opponents, including announcing a probe into Biden’s son before November’s election. White House lawyers, however, told Trump that firing Wray would risk creating the perception of a “loyalty test” and could be seen as retaliation because Trump had publicly pressured him to take specific actions on certain investigations. (NBC News / Bloomberg)

  • Trump’s Director of National Intelligence is considering withholding certification of a report on foreign efforts to interfere with the Nov. 3 election. While the report is supposed to be delivered to lawmakers on Friday, John Ratcliffe wants the report to cite China more prominently.(Bloomberg)

5/ Trump has reportedly been pushing to have a special counsel appointed to investigate his baseless allegations of voter fraud and allegations surrounding Hunter Biden. Trump — angry that Attorney General William Barr didn’t publicly announce the investigation into Hunter Biden before the election — has consulted with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, and outside allies on names of potential appointees. While a special counsel must be named by the attorney general, the Justice Department will undergo a change in leadership next week when Barr resigns. Trump has asked whether he could name one himself. (Associated Press / CNN)

6/ Betsy DeVos urged career employees at the Education Department to “be the resistance” when the Biden administration takes over next month. During a department-wide virtual meeting to discuss the transition to the new administration, DeVos told employees: “Let me leave you with this plea: Resist. Be the resistance against forces that will derail you from doing what’s right for students. In everything you do, please put students first — always.” (Politico)

7/ Biden will nominate Jennifer Granholm to run the Energy Department. Arun Majumdar, a scientist and engineer who led a new research agency under the Obama administration, is under consideration as deputy secretary. Biden also tapped Gina McCarthy, who ran the EPA under Obama, to coordinate the administration’s domestic climate agenda. (Politico / Washington Post)

8/ The U.S. Postal Service released Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s calendar following a Freedom of Information Act request. The calendar released from June 15 to Nov. 7, however, is almost entirely redacted. (HuffPost)

Day 1426: "A modicum of grace and dignity."

1/ The FDA confirmed that Moderna’s two-dose COVID-19 vaccine was “highly effective” and safe for adults, setting it up for an emergency authorization later this week to become the country’s second authorized COVID-19 shot. The FDA said the vaccine is 94.5% effective at preventing COVID-19 cases at least 14 days after vaccination and that there were no significant safety concerns. An FDA document also shows that asymptomatic infection was reduced by 63% after the first shot. Between the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, the U.S. has acquired 300 million doses in the first quarter of 2021 – enough doses for 150 million people. (ABC News / Politico / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The FDA authorized the first home test for COVID-19 that doesn’t require a prescription. The test will cost about $30 and be available by January. The antigen test takes about five minutes to collect the sample and produces results within 15 minutes. (NPR / Politico / CBS News)

  • Pence will likely get the coronavirus vaccine by the end of the week. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, meanwhile, said that Trump is open to taking the coronavirus vaccine, but would not commit to the timing or Trump being inoculated in public to inspire confidence in its efficacy. (CNN)

3/ Mitch McConnell acknowledged Biden as president-elect for the first time – six weeks after the November election. McConnell also urged Senate Republicans not to join House members in contesting the state electoral results during the Jan. 6 joint session. “Many of us hoped that the presidential election would yield a different result, but our system of government has processes to determine who will be sworn in on Jan. 20,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor. “The Electoral College has spoken. So today, I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer later took the floor, saying, “For the sake of the country President Trump should take his cue from leader McConnell that it’s time to end his term with a modicum of grace and dignity,” adding, “enough is enough.” (New York Times / ABC News / Politico / NPR / CNN / CBS News / Axios / CNBC)

4/ The White House refused to follow Mitch McConnell in acknowledging Trump’s election defeat. When asked about the electoral college vote, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said: “The president is still involved in ongoing litigation related to the election. Yesterday’s vote is one step in the constitutional process. So I will leave that to him and refer you to the campaign for more on that litigation.” When asked whether Trump plans to invite Biden to the White House, McEnany declined to say. (The Guardian / Washington Post)

5/ Biden will nominate Pete Buttigieg to be his secretary of transportation. Buttigieg would be the first openly gay Cabinet secretary should his nomination make it through the chamber. The transportation secretary is expected to play a central role in Biden’s push for a bipartisan infrastructure package. (Politico / Washington Post / CNN / Reuters)

6/ Trump is diverting 75% of most donations for the Georgia Senate runoff elections to his new Save America political action committee, which he plans to use to fund his future political activities. The other 25% is going to the Republican National Committee. (Politico / Business Insider)

7/ A New York judge rejected Trump’s claim of attorney-client privilege to shield documents from the New York Attorney General’s office. The Trump Organization has until Friday to turn over documents related to its Seven Springs Estate and its $21.1 million tax break. New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating whether the Trump Organization improperly inflated the value of Seven Springs as part of the conservation easement on the property. (ABC News)

8/ Russian hackers breached at least five federal agencies as part of a months-long global espionage campaign. Hackers compromised the Treasury and Commerce departments, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Institutes of Health, and parts of the Pentagon. About 18,000 private and government users downloaded a software update from SolarWinds, a widely used network-management software, that was manipulated by Russian hackers. Among those who use SolarWinds software include the CDC, the State Department, the Justice Department, parts of the Pentagon, and numerous utility companies. (Washington Post / New York Times)

poll/ 71% of Americans said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine – up from 63% in August. (NPR)

Day 1425: "Congratulations USA!"

1/ The Electoral College affirmed Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States after the Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit by Texas seeking to throw out the election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin that Trump lost in November. All 538 electors cast their votes for president based on the election results that were recently certified by all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The president-elect is expected to speak in prime time after surpassing 270 electoral votes needed to win. On Friday, the Supreme Court issued a short, unsigned order that said Texas had “not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections.” It dismissed all pending motions about the case. All six battleground states – Michigan, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – that Trump contested cast their votes for Biden. (Politico / Bloomberg / NBC News / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / Politico / NPR / Bloomberg)

2/ The United States administered the first shots of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to health care workers as the U.S. topped 300,000 total deaths since the pandemic began. On Friday, the FDA authorized the vaccine from Pfizer for emergency use in the United States for people age 16 and older. An initial shipment of about 2.9 million doses of the vaccine will be sent to 636 locations by the end of this week. Federal officials expect 20 million people to get the first of two required doses by the end of the month and have 100 million people in total immunized by the end of March. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted: “First Vaccine Administered. Congratulations USA! Congratulations WORLD!” (New York Times / Washignton Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / CNBC / New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post)

3/ Trump delayed a plan for senior White House staff members to receive the coronavirus vaccine early. In a tweet, Trump said he asked White House staffers to receive the coronavirus vaccine “somewhat later in the program, unless specifically necessary” after it was reported that the administration was planning to rapidly distribute the vaccine to staffers despite the first doses generally being reserved for health care workers. It’s not clear how many doses were allocated for the White House since many staff members had already tested positive for the virus and recovered. (New York Times / Bloomberg / The Guardian / CNN / Washington Post)

4/ Russian government hackers breached the Treasury, Commerce, and Homeland Security departments as part of a months-long global espionage campaign. While the full scope and significance of the breaches remain unclear, the hack, which may have begun as early as spring, led to an emergency National Security Council meeting at the White House on Saturday. The hackers, known as APT29 or Cozy Bear, are part of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, SVR, which also hacked the State Department and the White House email servers during the Obama administration. Last month, Trump fired the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Chris Krebs, after Krebs vouched for the integrity of the presidential election and disputed Trump’s claims of widespread electoral fraud. (Reuters / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Politico / Associated Press / NBC News / Washington Post)

5/ Attorney General William Barr resigned and will leave “just before Christmas,” Trump announced via tweet. Trump said he and Barr had a “very nice meeting” and that their “relationship has been a very good one.” In a meeting last week, however, Trump raised the idea of firing Attorney General William Barr, reportedly “furious” that Barr had kept a federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes from becoming public before the November election. Trump also told Fox News this weekend that Barr “should have stepped up” on the matter. Trump was also reportedly upset that Barr was considering resigning before January 20. Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen will become Acting Attorney General. (CNN / New York Times / NPR / Washington Post / NBC News / Associated Press)

  • SATURDAY: Trump attacked Barr on Twitter for not violating Justice Department policy to publicly reveal an investigation into Hunter Biden during the election. Trump retweeted a post that said Barr “should be fired by the end of business today” if he had worked to keep a criminal investigation of Biden’s son Hunter Biden secret during the election, following a report in the Wall Street Journal. Trump also called Barr “A big disappointment!” (New York Times / CNBC)

  • The Justice Department subpoenaed Hunter Biden, seeking documents and information related to more than two dozen entities, including Ukraine gas company Burisma. Meanwhile, Biden’s former business partner sent him an email in 2017 saying he did not disclose on his tax returns $400,000 in income from Burisma, where he sat on the board. Federal authorities are also actively investigating Hunter’s business dealings in foreign countries, principally China. (Associated Press / NBC News / CNN)

  • Trump and senior White House officials have discussed the possibility of appointing a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden. Under Justice Department regulations, the appointment of a special counsel would have to be made by the attorney general. (Wall Street Journal)

Day 1422: "The dam vaccines."

1/ The White House ordered the FDA commissioner to grant emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine by the end of the day or resign. An FDA panel of outside advisers recommended that the agency grant emergency use authorization yesterday, and signoff was expected this weekend. Following White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’s call with Stephen Hahn, the FDA accelerated its timetable for approving America’s first vaccine from Saturday morning to later Friday, saying “it will rapidly work toward finalization and issuance of an emergency use authorization.” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, meanwhile, said the Trump administration informed Pfizer that they “intend to proceed towards an authorization for their vaccine.” (Washington Post / CNN / ABC News / Politico / The Guardian / CBS News / Axios)

2/ Trump called the FDA “a big, old, slow turtle” for not approving a COVID-19 vaccine faster, while pressuring Commissioner Stephen Hahn to “get the dam vaccines out NOW.” Trump added: “Stop playing games and start saving lives!!!” Hahn, however, has repeatedly said the agency will not approve a vaccine that has not been proven safe and effective. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Devin Nunes tested positive for COVID-19. Test results for the California Republican’s cow, however, were unavailable. (Axios)

3/ The coronavirus will kill more people in the United States every day for the next 60 to 90 days than died on Sept. 11 or Pearl Harbor, CDC Director Robert Redfield said. Almost 3,000 Americans died on 9/11, and more than 2,400 were killed in Pearl Harbor. The U.S. – again – broke single-day COVID-19 records for reported deaths (3,110), cases (229,928), and hospitalizations (12,940), and is now averaging over 2,300 new coronavirus related deaths a day. (Washington Post / NBC News / ABC News)

4/ The attorneys general for Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia asked the Supreme Court to reject Republican efforts to overturn Biden’s victory. Pennsylvania called the last-ditch legal effort by Texas and Trump “seditious” and built on an “absurd” foundation, warning that “Texas invites this court to overthrow the votes of the American people and choose the next president of the United States. That Faustian invitation must be firmly rejected.” The New York Times reports that the lawsuit, filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and backed by 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.” Trump – repeating his baseless claims of widespread fraud – demanded that the court “save our Country from the greatest Election abuse in the history of the United States.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CBS News / BuzzFeed News / Axios)

5/ The FBI issued at least one federal subpoena for records from the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton amid whistleblower allegations. In early October, aides alleged that Paxton may have been committing crimes that include abuse of office and bribery. Paxton, who is leading the last-ditch effort to overturn election results in four battleground states lost by Trump, also faces a 5-year-old indictment on felony securities fraud charges. Paxton, however, said he has not discussed a presidential pardon with the White House, calling the suggestion “ridiculous.” (KVUE-ABC / The Hill / KXAN-NBC / KENS-CBS / Business Insider / Talking Points Memo)

6/ The Manhattan district attorney’s office interviewed employees at Trump’s lender and insurer as part of the investigation into the Trump Organization. Prosecutors interviewed employees at Deutsche Bank, which has loaned more than $300 million to the Trump Organization, and at Aon, an insurance broker, which has worked with the Trump Organization. Trump will lose his protection from criminal prosecution when he leaves office in January. (New York Times / CNN)

7/ Trump’s legal team is attempting to halt the defamation lawsuit by E. Jean Carroll, asking to stay the case while the Justice Department appeals an October decision that the Justice Department can’t represent Trump because he wasn’t acting in his official capacity as president when he denied raping Carroll. (ABC News)

8/ The Senate approved a $741 billion defense authorization bill despite multiple threats from Trump that he would veto the measure. Both the House and Senate, however, approved the legislation by veto-proof margins. (CNBC / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

9/ Sen. Mike Lee blocked legislation to establish national museums dedicated to the histories of Latino Americans and American women, arguing the museums would “further divide an already divided nation with an array of segregated, separate-but-equal museums for hyphenated identity groups.” [Editor’s note: Mike Lee can be reached at 202-224-5444 in Washington, DC or at 801-524-5933 in Salt Lake City] (NPR / New York Times / Politico)

10/ The Senate passed a one-week funding bill to avert a government shutdown at midnight. The bill heads to Trump for his signature. (CNN / Bloomberg / CNBC)

Day 1421: "Nonsense detrimental to our democracy."

1/ The United States recorded more than 3,100 COVID-19 deaths in a single day, exceeding the record set one week earlier. It’s the first time the U.S. recorded more than 3,000 deaths in a single day and it comes two weeks after Thanksgiving. The U.S. also reported 222,994 new coronavirus cases – another pandemic record. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / The Guardian)

2/ CDC Director Robert Redfield directed staff to delete an email from a Trump political appointee attempting to meddle with the agency’s scientific report on the coronavirus’s risk to children. Paul Alexander – then the scientific adviser to Health and Human Services spokesperson Michael Caputo – sent an Aug. 8 email to Redfield demanding that the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports be changed to match Trump’s rhetoric downplaying the virus. Alexander also accused career scientists of trying to subvert Trump’s reelection bid. Redfield instructed staff to delete the email. HHS Secretary Alex Azar, meanwhile, said that instructing staff to delete documents is unethical and possibly a violation of federal record-keeping requirements. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

3/ An FDA advisory panel recommended the approval of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use in people over 16 years old. The FDA is expected to follow the recommendation and could grant emergency use authorization as early as Friday. Once authorized, vials of the vaccine will begin shipping to all 50 states, giving health care workers and nursing home residents first priority to begin receiving the first shots early next week. (CNBC / Associated Press / New York Times / NBC News / USA Today / Washington Post / CNN)

4/ New unemployment claims rose to 853,000 last week – the highest level since September – and an increase of 137,000 from the week before. Continuing claims, meanwhile, jumped by 230,000 to 5.76 million – the first increase since August. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / NBC News)

5/ Mitch McConnell told House and Senate leadership that Senate Republicans would not support a $908 billion bipartisan coronavirus relief proposal. Senate Republicans have taken exception to the group’s proposal to combine $160 billion in state and local aid with a temporary liability shield for businesses. It’s unclear what kind of package both the GOP-controlled Senate and Democratic-held House could support. Senate, meanwhile, must pass a spending bill – and have Trump sign it – by Friday night to avert a government shutdown. (Politico / Washington Post / CNBC)

  • More Americans have been forced to shoplift for food as aid runs out during the pandemic. About 12 million Americans will run out of unemployment benefits the day after Christmas and an estimated 54 million Americans will struggle with hunger this year – a 45% increase from 2019. (Washington Post)

6/ All 50 states and the District of Columbia certified their presidential results. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson, however, announced that he would hold a hearing on election “irregularities” on Dec. 16 — two days after the electoral college casts its votes. Biden is projected to win 306 electoral votes, while Trump is projected to win 232. Chuck Schumer called on Republicans to drop plans for the “ridiculous” hearing, asking “When is this nonsense detrimental to our democracy going to end?” (CNN / Washington Post / Politico)

7/ More than two dozen states filed motions with the Supreme Court opposing Texas’ bid to invalidate Biden’s win in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed the lawsuit Tuesday asking the Supreme Court to invalidate the ballots of millions of voters in the four battleground states despite no evidence of widespread fraud. Pennsylvania called the lawsuit a “seditious abuse of the judicial process,” and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr called the lawsuit an “attack on Georgia’s sovereignty” that should be dismissed outright because it is “constitutionally, legally and factually wrong.” Trump, meanwhile, warned Carr not to rally other Republican officials against the Texas lawsuit in a 15-minute phone call. Earlier Wednesday, Trump asked the Supreme Court to let him join the Texas lawsuit challenging the election results and met with several state attorneys general that are backing the legal challenge at the White House. (NBC News / CNN / Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

8/ Biden picked Susan Rice to lead the White House Domestic Policy Council, a position that does not require confirmation by the Senate. Rice served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration and was ambassador to the United Nations and national security adviser under Obama. (NPR / Politico / Bloomberg)

  • Biden will nominate Denis McDonough for secretary of Veterans Affairs. McDonough served as Obama’s chief of staff from 2013 until 2017. (Politico)

poll/ 60% of voters say Biden’s victory is legitimate compared to 34% who think his win is not legitimate. (Quinnipiac)

Day 1420: "That might not go over well."

1/ The U.S. recorded 2,249 COVID-19 deaths on average over the last seven days – breaking the previous mark of 2,232 set on April 17. Coronavirus cases per day, meanwhile, have surpassed 200,000 on average for the first time – an increase of 15% from the average two weeks earlier. (Associated Press / New York Times)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~68,693,000; deaths: ~1,566,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~15,330,000; deaths: ~289,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / CNN / ABC News

  • Canada became the third country to authorize use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA is expected to authorize use of the vaccine as early as this weekend. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

  • At least 31 countries have reserved more COVID-19 vaccine per capita than the U.S. It is behind the 27 European Union countries, and sandwiched between Chile and Japan in 31st and 33rd, respectively. (Bloomberg)

  • U.S. emergency stockpile of COVID-19 personal protective equipment is short of targets. In May, the Trump administration said it would increase its supply of N95 respirator masks to 300 million. By mid-November, the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile and the Federal Emergency Management Agency held 142 million N95 masks. (Wall Street Journal)

2/ More than a third of Americans are living in areas where hospitals have fewer than 15% of intensive care beds available, according to data released by the Department of Health and Human Services. One in 10 Americans in the Midwest, South, and Southwest live in areas where intensive care beds are either full, or fewer than 5% of beds are available. (New York Times)

  • Rudy Giuliani’s “star” witness alleging voter fraud in Michigan will not self-quarantine and will not get tested despite Jenna Ellis and Giuliani’s positive coronavirus tests. Mellissa Carone said she’s “not concerned at all” about COVID-19. Health officials, however, ordered anyone who had been in contact with Giuliani at close range and for more than 15 minutes to self-quarantine. (Washington Post / Daily Beast)

3/ Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer rejected the Trump administration’s $916 billion coronavirus relief proposal. The Trump-backed plan offered pared-down unemployment benefits in exchange for $600 stimulus checks. A moderate, bipartisan group of lawmakers, meanwhile, have proposed a $908 billion framework that includes about $180 billion in new federal unemployment benefits – enough to fund $300 per week in federal supplementary unemployment benefits – and extends various unemployment programs set to expire at the end of the year. The framework, however, did not include another round of stimulus payments. Instead, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin proposed that lawmakers approve another stimulus check worth $600 per person and $600 per child, and provide about $40 billion in new funding for federal unemployment benefits. While Mnuchin’s plan would extend expiring benefits, it does not include any supplementary federal benefit. (Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times)

4/ The House passed a $741 billion defense authorization bill by a veto-proof margin. Trump, however, has threatened to veto the bill because it doesn’t repeal Section 230 – a law that shields internet companies from being liable for what’s posted on their platforms – and contains provisions that limit how much money he can allocate for his border wall, and the requirement that Confederate names be stripped from American military bases. The National Defense Authorization Act now heads to the Senate, where it’s also expected to pass with bipartisan support. It’s unclear, however, if it will similarly reach a veto-proof majority in the chamber. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

5/ Biden named Gen. Lloyd Austin, a retired four-star Army general, as his choice to lead the Department of Defense. Senate Democrats, however, are uneasy about granting a rarely invoked waiver from a law requiring a defense secretary to have been retired from active duty for at least seven years. In 2017, Jim Mattis received the waiver and was confirmed as secretary. If confirmed, the retired general would become the first Black defense secretary. (New York Times / NPR / CNN / Politico / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

  • Trump-Biden Transition Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / ABC News / CNN

  • Biden ­selected Rep. Marcia Fudge as his Housing and Urban Development secretary, making her the second Black person to be chosen as a department head in his Cabinet. Fudge, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, and her allies in the Congressional Black Caucus, however, had lobbied openly for agriculture secretary. (Politico / Washington Post)

  • Biden plans to name Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary, which would return him to the job he held for eight years during the Obama administration. The Department of Agriculture funds the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and school meals. The USDA estimates that 1 in 4 Americans use at least one of these food programs during a typical year. (NPR / Politico / CNN / Reuters)

  • A special purpose acquisition company with ties to at least two people selected by Biden for his Cabinet pitched unique access and insight into the federal government to investors. Since the initial pitch, Pine Island Acquisition Corp. has raised over $218 million from Wall Street. Pine Island’s team includes Tony Blinken – Biden’s choice to be secretary of State – and Ret. Gen. Lloyd Austin – his nominee for Defense secretary. (CNBC)

  • Seventeen states told the Supreme Court they support the effort by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to sue to reverse Biden’s projected win in the Electoral College. The filing came a day after Paxton asked the Supreme Court for permission to sue Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – all of which Biden won – over their voting processes. (CNBC)

poll/ 24% of Republicans accept the results of the 2020 election. Overall, 61% of Americans trust the results of the election. (NPR)

poll/ 47% of Americans plan to get a vaccinated against COVID-19, while 27% aren’t sure and 26% say they definitely will not get vaccinated. Experts estimate at least 70% of the U.S. population needs to be vaccinated to keep the virus held in check. (Associated Press)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Federal officials in Delaware – working with the IRS Criminal Investigation agency and the FBI – are investigating Hunter Biden’s taxes and business dealings. The criminal investigation that included tax issues began in 2018, and had been largely been dormant in recent months due to Justice Department guidelines prohibiting overt actions that could affect an election. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware advised Biden’s lawyers of the investigation for the first time on Tuesday. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Politico / NBC News / CNN)

  2. The Federal Trade Commission and 48 attorneys general filed an antitrust lawsuits to break up Facebook, seeking to force the sell-off of assets such as Instagram and WhatsApp as independent businesses. The lawsuit accused Facebook of anti-competitive tactics to buy, bully or kill its rivals and illegally squash competition. (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NPR / Politico / NBC News / CNN)

  3. Melania Trump “just wants to go home,” according source familiar with Melania’s state of mind. When asked how Melania feels about rumors that Trump might announce a 2024 bid, the source added: “That might not go over well.” (CNN)

Day 1419: "I literally don't know."

1/ The FDA said Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine “met the prescribed success criteria” for emergency authorization in a clinical study, saying the shot showed “a favorable safety profile, with no specific safety concerns.” The FDA noted that the two-dose vaccine reduced the risk of getting COVID-19 by about half after the first injection. The vaccine was found to be 95% effective after the second dose, three weeks later. The vaccine had several tolerable, short-term side effects, including sore arms, fatigue, headaches, muscle pain, and chills that typically resolved within one to two days. The FDA will meet Thursday to discuss the data and make recommendations in advance of a vote on whether to recommend authorization of the Pfizer vaccine. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / ABC News)

2/ The Trump administration declined “multiple” offers from Pfizer to secure an additional 100 million to 500 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine. In July, Pfizer offered the Trump administration the option to purchase additional doses as part of a $1.95 billion deal for an initial 100 million doses. The Trump administration, however, turned down the offer. The Pfizer vaccine requires a two-dose treatment, meaning that 100 million doses is enough to vaccinate 50 million Americans. On Nov. 11, the European Union finalized a supply deal with Pfizer for 200 million doses. Trump, meanwhile, issued a symbolic executive order that prioritized the shipment of the coronavirus vaccine to Americans before other nations. Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientist of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, however, was unable to explain how the executive order would be enforced, saying: “Frankly, I don’t know, and frankly, I’m staying out of this. I can’t comment. I literally don’t know.” (New York Times / CNN / Politico / Axios / The Guardian / ABC News)

3/ Biden pledged to distribute “100 million shots in the first 100 days” of his presidency. The pledge to administer 100 million shots aligns with vaccine supplies already secured. Biden also called on all Americans to wear masks in public for those 100 days to slow the spread of the virus and he said he would sign an executive order the day he is sworn in requiring Americans to wear masks on buses and trains crossing state lines. Biden also promised to prioritize reopening “the majority of our schools” in the same time frame. (Politico / Washington Post / The Guardian / NBC News / Bloomberg)

4/ Trump’s lawyer Jenna Ellis tested positive for the coronavirus after attending a senior staff Christmas party last week. Ellis reportedly did not wear a mask during the party, which included top administration officials. Ellis and Rudy Giuliani, who tested positive on Sunday, have been leading the Trump campaign’s legal efforts to dispute the results of the 2020 presidential election. (Politico / CNN / Axios)

5/ The Supreme Court rejected a last-minute attempt by Trump’s allies to overturn Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania. The justices – in a one-sentence order – turned down the emergency request from Rep. Mike Kelly and two other House candidates to decertify the results, who argued that a 2019 state law authorizing universal mail-in voting was unconstitutional and that all ballots cast by mail – more than 2.5 million in total – should be thrown out. Biden won the state by a more than 80,000-vote margin. (CNBC / Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / Wall Street Journal / Axios / USA Today / CNN / Politico)

  • Trump-Biden Transition Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / CNN / ABC News

  • Trump called the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives – twice – to request help reversing his loss in the state. Speaker Bryan Cutler, however, told Trump he had no authority to step in, or to order the legislature into special session. (Washington Post / Bloomberg)

  • The Texas attorney general sued four battleground states Biden won – Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Ken Paxton claimed that pandemic-era changes to election procedures in those states violated federal law and is seeking to have the Supreme Court invalidate the election results. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel called Paxton’s motion “a publicity stunt, not a serious legal pleading.” Trump, meanwhile, tweeted praise for Paxton, saying “COURAGE & BRILLIANCE!” (Texas Tribune / NBC News / The Guardian / Bloomberg)

  • Federal judges in Michigan and Georgia denied Republican efforts to decertify Biden as the winner of the presidential election. (NBC News)


✏️ Notables.

  1. A federal judge dismissed Michael Flynn’s prosecution after Trump’s pardon. Judge Emmet Sullivan said Trump’s pardon, which he called “extraordinarily broad,” does not mean the former national security adviser is innocent of lying to FBI agents about his talks with the Russian government. Sullivan also called the Justice Department’s previous arguments for dismissing the case “dubious to say the least” and suggested he “likely” would have rejected them. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / CNBC)

  2. The nation’s former cybersecurity and infrastructure security chief sued the Trump campaign, attorney Joseph diGenova, and the cable channel Newsmax for defamation, emotional distress, and conspiracy. Trump fired Christopher Krebs last month after Krebs said the recent presidential election was “the most secure in American history.” DiGenova said in an interview aired on Newsmax on Nov. 30 that Krebs “should be drawn and quartered” and “taken out at dawn and shot.” (NPR / Axios / CNBC / Washington Post)

  3. A Trump appointee overseeing Voice of America and other federally funded news agencies has declined to cooperate with Biden’s transition team. Michael Pack refused to make officials from his agency available to answer questions about the agencies’ operations or provide records. (Washington Post)

  4. Congressional Republican leaders rejected a resolution recognizing Biden is president-elect. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer offered a motion to affirm that it is preparing for the inauguration of Biden and Harris, but Mitch McConnell and Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt voted with House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy in blocking the motion. A Republican congressman, meanwhile, wants to condemn his GOP colleagues who refuse to support Trump’s efforts to challenge the election results. Rep. Alex Mooney proposed a resolution titled “Counting Every Legal Vote” that supported Trump’s efforts to question the results in states he lost, “investigate and punish election fraud,” and “condemns any member who calls upon Trump to concede prematurely before these investigations are complete.” (CNN / Washington Post)

Day 1418: "Nullifying the will of the people."

1/ Trump called Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and urged him to call a special session of the state legislature so lawmakers could appoint electors who would back him at the electoral college and overturn Biden’s win in the state. Trump also asked Kemp to order an audit of absentee ballot signatures. “I will easily & quickly win Georgia if Governor @BrianKempGA or the Secretary of State permit a simple signature verification. Has not been done and will show large scale discrepancies,” Trump tweeted. “Why are these two ‘Republicans’ saying no? If we win Georgia, everything else falls in place!” Kemp, however, told Trump that he did not have the authority to order an audit and denied the request to call a special session. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, meanwhile, said a special session to overturn the state’s election results “would be then nullifying the will of the people.” (Washington Post / Politico / CNN / Axios / Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Trump-Biden Transition Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / CNN /NPR / ABC News

  • 👑 Trump’s Final Days of Rage and Denial. “The last act of the Trump presidency has taken on the stormy elements of a drama more common to history or literature than a modern White House.” (New York Times)

  • 👑 As Trump rants over election, his administration accelerates push to lock in policy and staffing gains. “Over the final six weeks of Trump’s presidency, the administration has no plans to wind down its efforts to remake federal policies and even the government bureaucracy itself, aides said, despite the pending handoff to the incoming Democratic administration.” (Washington Post)

2/ Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger recertified the state’s election results and reaffirmed Biden’s victory after a second statewide recount of votes. The presidential ballots in Georgia have been counted three times. Biden prevailed in all three counts of the vote in Georgia. (Washington Post / ABC News / New York Times / CNN / Politico)

  • 27 congressional Republicans acknowledge Biden’s win over Trump, and two Republicans consider Trump the winner despite all evidence showing otherwise. 220 Republicans in the House and Senate would not say who won the election. (Washington Post)

  • White House trade adviser Peter Navarro repeatedly violated the Hatch Act by using his official authority for campaign purposes. Navarro is one of more than a dozen Trump administration officials the Office of Special Counsel has found to have violated the act. (Axios)

3/ The Trump administration rejected requests from Biden’s transition team to meet with officials at the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and other intelligence agencies. The Pentagon’s recently appointed chief of staff, Kash Patel, reportedly “told everybody we’re not going to cooperate with the transition team,” according one former official, and he has “put a lot of restrictions on it.” In some instances, Patel blocked some career officials and experts from providing information about key defense issues to the Biden transition team, telling political appointees to take the lead instead. The Pentagon, meanwhile, pushed back against reports that the Trump administration had intentionally blocked the Biden transition team from meeting with defense intelligence agencies, saying the Biden team had improperly reached out to the agencies instead of the DoD transition team. (Washington Post / NBC News / Politico)

4/ Biden selected California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to serve as his secretary of Health and Human Services. If confirmed, Becerra would be the first Latino to run the health department. Biden’s transition team also announced other key public health roles, including Dr. Vivek Murthy to be surgeon general, Rochelle Walensky to be director of the CDC, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith to be COVID-19 Equity Task Force co-chair, Dr. Anthony Fauci to be chief medical adviser on COVID-19, Jeff Zients to be counselor to the president and coordinator of the COVID-19 response, and Natalie Quillian to be deputy coordinator of the COVID-19 response. (New York Times / CBS News / Politico / NPR)

  • Biden’s pick to run the Office of Management and Budget runs a think tank that solicited donations from corporate and foreign interests. Neera Tanden spent nine years running the Center for American Progress, and between 2014 and 2019, CAP received at least $33 million from firms in the financial sector, private foundations funded by wealth earned on Wall Street, and in other investment firms. As OMB director, Tanden would have a hand in setting fiscal and personnel policy for agencies, oversee the regulatory process across the executive branch, and execute the annual spending plan. Tanden told staff that she will remain as CAP president through her confirmation, but suspended her involvement in fundraising after Biden announced her nomination. (Washington Post)

5/ Rudy Giuliani tested positive for the coronavirus and has been admitted to Georgetown University Medical Center. Giuliani, who has frequently appeared maskless, traveled to Michigan, Arizona, and Georgia last week and met indoors with state legislators to advance Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud. The Arizona Legislature, meanwhile, will close for a week “out of an abundance of caution” after Giuliani possibly exposed several Republican lawmakers to COVID-19. And public health officials in Michigan ordered several state lawmakers to begin quarantining after they were in recent, close contact with Giuliani. “Get better soon Rudy, we will carry on!!!” Trump tweeted. (New York Times / NBC News / Arizona Republic / Washington Post / CNN)

  • Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar promised that every American will be able to get a coronavirus vaccine by the second quarter of 2021. The FDA, however, hasn’t authorized a vaccine, yet. (Axios)

  • Trump plans to hold a “vaccine summit” at the White House on Tuesday. Both Pfizer and Moderna – the two drug manufacturers likely to receive emergency authorizations for a COVID-19 vaccine – however rejected the invitations. (STAT News / Bloomberg)

  • The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee invited an anti-vaccine doctor who promoted hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment to testify. Dr. Jane Orient is the executive director of a group that opposes government involvement in medicine and views federal vaccine mandates as a violation of human rights. (New York Times)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~67,448,000; deaths: ~1,542,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~14,889,000; deaths: ~284,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Live Blogs: Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / NBC News / ABC News / CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal

6/ Attorney General William Barr is considering resigning before January 20. Trump declined to say whether he had confidence in Barr last week after his attorney general said the Justice Department had found no evidence of widespread election fraud. The two later had a “contentious,” lengthy meeting inside the West Wing. (New York Times / CNN)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The EPA declined to adopt stricter regulations on soot pollution, disregarding the recommendation of its own scientists to implement tougher standards. Administrator Andrew Wheeler, who was appointed by Trump, signed the standards Friday to retain the current thresholds for fine particle pollution for another five years. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

  2. A federal judge ordered the Trump administration to fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Trump tried to end the DACA program in September 2017, and in July Chad Wolf, the acting secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, suspended DACA pending a “comprehensive” review. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, however, ruled in November that Wolf had unlawfully ascended to the agency’s top job and vacated his suspension of protections for migrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / Politico / Axios)

  3. Trump ordered the withdrawal “a majority” U.S. troops from Somalia in early 2021. There are currently about 700 troops in Somalia to assist the government fight against Al-Shabab, a terrorist group with links to al Qaeda. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / New York Times)

  4. Melania Trump announced completion of a new White House tennis pavilion. The project refurbished the existing White House Tennis Court and Grandchildren’s Garden, and erected a new 1,200-square-foot building on the South Lawn. (Associated Press / Bloomberg)

Day 1415: "Grim."

1/ Biden will ask all Americans to wear masks for 100 days after he is inaugurated, saying “Just 100 days to mask, not forever. One hundred days.” Biden also asked Dr. Anthony Fauci to stay on as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – the same position he has held since 1984 across six administrations. Fauci called Biden’s proposal a “good idea.” The CDC, meanwhile, now recommends “universal mask use” outside people’s homes as part of its updated coronavirus guidance. (CNN / Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / Axios / NPR)

2/ The U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November on a seasonally adjusted basis as the unemployment rate fell to 6.7%, from 6.9% in October. The economy has brought back 12.3 million of the 22 million jobs lost in the first two months of the coronavirus pandemic, but there are still 10.7 million unemployed Americans, compared with 5.8 million in February. Hiring is now so slow that it could take another 40 months for the job market to fully recover from the pandemic. Biden, meanwhile, said the “grim” jobs report shows the economic recovery is stalling and warned of a “dark winter” ahead unless Congress passes a coronavirus relief bill immediately. (CNN / New York Times / CNBC / NPR / Reuters / The Guardian)

3/ Trump could preemptively pardon as many as 20 aides and associates before leaving office. Republicans, however, say offering legal reprieves to his friends and family members would be unprecedented, could tarnish, his legacy, and harm a 2024 campaign. (Politico)

4/ The Justice Department investigated Jared Kushner’s lawyer and a top Trump fundraiser over a possible scheme to offer bribes in exchange for clemency for a tax crimes convict. Unsealed, but heavily redacted court documents, disclosed that Abbe Lowell and Elliott Broidy were the subject of an investigation as recently as this summer into possible unregistered lobbying and bribery related to securing clemency for Hugh Baras, who had received a 30-month prison sentence on a conviction of tax evasion and improperly claiming Social Security benefits. The scheme involved Sanford Diller, a real estate developer, making a “substantial” political contribution in exchange for a pardon for Baras. However, Diller died in 2018 and Baras never received clemency. Broidy, meanwhile, pleaded guilty in October to a different scheme to lobby the Trump administration. (New York Times / NBC News)

5/ Trump’s campaign and its related committees spent more than $1.1 million at Trump’s own properties in the last weeks of his losing 2020 campaign. The Trump Victory fundraising committee, which is managed by Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee, spent $1.06 million at Trump properties in September, October, and November. And, Trump’s own campaign reported spending another $66,000. (Washington Post)

6/ The White House fired several members of the Pentagon’s Defense Business Board. Loyalists Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie were then appointed to the board. The firings come less than a month after Trump removed Defense Secretary Mark Esper. (Politico / Washington Post)

7/ White House communications director Alyssa Farah resigned after more than three years with the Trump administration. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

8/ The House voted to remove marijuana from the federal schedule of controlled substances, marking the first time a congressional chamber has voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level. The legislation, however, is almost certainly doomed in the Republican-led Senate. (Washington Post / Axios / CNN / New York Times)

Day 1414: "A tremendous achievement."

1/ The U.S. recorded over 3,100 COVID-19 deaths in a single day – marking the single-worst daily death toll since the pandemic began and surpassing the April 15 high of 2,752 deaths. The U.S. also recorded nearly 205,000 new cases of COVID-19 – a month after topping 100,000 cases for the first time – as hospitalizations from the virus reached 100,000 – also the highest reported during the pandemic and more than double the number since the beginning of November. In total, more than 14 million cases in the U.S. have been reported since the start of the pandemic. (NBC News / Associated Press / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~65,000,000; deaths: ~1,502,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~14,087,000; deaths: ~276,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / CNN / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / CNBC

  • New claims for unemployment benefits fell to 714,000 last week – down from 836,000 in the prior week but well above pre-pandemic levels. Seasonally adjusted, the weekly initial claims were 712,000 and 787,000, respectively. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci will meet virtually with Biden’s transition team for the first time to discuss the coronavirus response. Fauci will also stay on at the National Institutes of Health. (CBS News / Axios / CNN)

  • Obama, Bush, and Clinton volunteered to get their COVID-19 vaccines on camera to promote public confidence in what a Trump spokeswoman called the “Trump Vaccine.” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called it a “tremendous achievement” for the U.S. to have as many as 40 million vaccine doses ready by year’s end, crediting the accomplishment to “having a businessman as president.” (Bloomberg / CNN / NPR)

  • poll/ 60% of Americans say they would definitely or probably get a coronavirus vaccine if it was available today – up from 51% in September. 21%, however, do not intend to get vaccinated and are “pretty certain” more information will not change their mind. The remaining 18% say they definitely or probably would not get a coronavirus vaccine, but it’s possible they would decide to get vaccinated once people start getting a vaccine and more information becomes available. (Pew Research Center)

2/ Trump released a 46-minute video rant denouncing the election as “rigged” while repeating his baseless allegations of voter fraud that – he claims – was “massive” and “on a scale never seen before.” Trump claimed – without evidence – that “corrupt forces” had stuffed ballot boxes and that the voting system was “under coordinated assault and siege,” arguing that it was “statistically impossible” for him to have lost to Biden. Trump also called on the Supreme Court to “do what’s right for our country” and disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters so that “I very easily win in all states.” Trump called his diatribe “may be the most important speech I’ve ever made” and again refused to concede defeat. The video was released a day after Attorney General William Barr said that despite inquiries by the Justice Department and the FBI, “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.” (New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ Trump and Attorney General William Barr had a “contentious,” two and a half hour meeting at the White House after Barr disclosed that the Justice Department had not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the election results. When asked by reporters whether he had confidence in Barr, Trump replied: “Ask me that in a number of weeks from now. They should be looking at all of this fraud […] He hasn’t done anything. He hasn’t looked” for voter fraud, “which is a disappointment, to be honest with you.” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany also refused to say whether Trump still has faith in Barr. One source briefed on the meeting described Barr’s interaction with the president as “intense,” and one senior administration official indicated there was a chance Barr could be fired. (ABC News / CNN / Washington Post / NBC News / CNBC / The Hill)

4/ The White House liaison to the Justice Department has been banned from the building after trying to pressure staffers to give up information about election fraud. Heidi Stirrup was installed at the Justice Department as a White House liaison by chief of staff Mark Meadows in September. Stirrup has already been appointed as a member of the Board of Visitors to the Air Force Academy. (Associated Press / CNN)

5/ Ivanka Trump was deposed as part of suit from the Washington, D.C., attorney general over the costs of Trump’s 2017 inauguration. The Washington, DC, attorney general’s office is suing the Trump inaugural committee for “grossly overpaying” for event space at the Trump International Hotel. As a nonprofit, the committee must not allow “any portion of its funds to be spent in a way that are designed to benefit private persons or companies,” according to the lawsuit. The inaugural committee spent $1 million to rent event space at the Trump family’s hotel. (CNN /NPR / CBS News)

Day 1413: "A very dangerous place."

1/ Trump discussed whether to grant pre-emptive pardons to Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Jared Kushner. While Trump Jr. was under investigation – but never charged – by Robert Mueller for his contacts with Russians offering damaging information on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign, any potential criminal exposure of Eric Trump or Ivanka Trump is unclear. Kushner, meanwhile, omitted several contacts with Russians offering damaging information on Clinton during the campaign when he filled out a form for his White House security clearance. Trump has also discussed preemptively pardoning Rudy Giuliani. (New York Times / ABC News)

2/ The Justice Department is investigating a potential “bribery-for-pardon” scheme involving a large political contribution in exchange for a presidential pardon by the White House. Heavily redacted documents revealed that prosecutors were investigating whether two individuals approached senior White House officials as unregistered lobbyists and secretly lobbied or paid bribes to obtain a pardon for someone convicted of a federal crime. The documents also show that a lawyer for a federal convict had discussions with the White House Counsel’s Office about a pardon or commutation. The documents, however, do not name the individuals involved or Trump, and they do not indicate if any other White House officials had knowledge of the scheme. The status of the investigation is unclear. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / NBC News / Bloomberg / ABC News)

3/ A government watchdog group sued Trump, Jared Kushner, and the White House to prevent them from deleting official emails and WhatsApp messages before they can be archived. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics allege that Trump and his administration are violating the Presidential Records Act by failing to correctly preserve records of official government business. CREW and the other plaintiffs also say Trump has “planned or executed destruction” of records without notifying the archivist or Congress as required by law. (Axios / The Hill)

4/ Properties owned by the Trump Organization and the Kushner Companies profited from coronavirus pandemic relief programs, according to Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster loan data released by the Small Business Administration. Over 25 PPP loans, more than $3.65 million were given to businesses with addresses at Trump and Kushner real estate properties, who paid rent to those owners. Of those, 15 properties reported that they only kept one job, zero jobs or did not report a number at all. More than half of the money from the emergency fund for small businesses went to 5% of the recipients. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times)

5/ The director of the CDC warned that this winter may be “the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation.” Dr. Robert Redfield predicted that “December and January and February are going to be rough times” and the total deaths from COVID-19 could reach “close to 450,000” by February unless a large percentage of Americans embrace social distancing and mitigation strategies, like mask wearing. The number of COVID-19 patients in U.S. hospitals is at an all-time high and the U.S. has averaged 161,448 new cases daily over the last week – about 2.5 times the July peak. The White House coronavirus task force, meanwhile, warned that “we are in a very dangerous place” and “the COVID risk to all Americans is at a historic high.” (New York Times / CNN)

6/ The CDC shortened its 14-day coronavirus quarantine guidance in an effort to boost compliance because Americans are bad at this. Instead of a 14-day quarantine, the CDC now recommends that potential exposure warrants a quarantine of 10 or seven days, depending on a person’s test results and symptoms. Those who lack symptoms can stop quarantining after 10 days or seven days with a negative COVID-19 test. “Reducing the length of quarantine may make it easier for people to take this critical public health action by reducing the economic hardship associated with a longer period, especially if they cannot work during that time,” Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s incident manager for its COVID-19 response, said. CDC officials also announced new guidance for traveling: If you’re planning a trip, you should get tested one to three days in advance and then be tested again three to five days after returning. (NPR / Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / Politico)

7/ White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows summoned FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn to the West Wing to explain why the agency hasn’t approve the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. Pfizer applied for emergency clearance on Nov. 20, and the FDA is scheduled meet on Dec. 10 to discuss the request for authorization. Before the meeting, Hahn said that his agency was balancing speed with making “an appropriate decision.” Following the meeting, Hahn said the agency has “all hands on deck” and is “working day and night, and on the weekends” to evaluate and approve multiple coronavirus vaccines for emergency use authorization. (Axios / CNBC / ABC News)

8/ Trump threatened to veto an annual defense bill authorizing nearly $1 trillion in military spending unless Congress repeals a federal law that gives online companies broad legal protections for the content on their platforms. Section 230 is considered one of the Web’s foundational laws because it spares sites and services from being held liable for the content posted by their users. Trump previously threatened to veto the same defense bill over his opposition to provisions that would rename military bases honoring Confederate commanders. Top Republicans and Democrats, however, plan to ignore Trump’s demand. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

Day 1412: "We just don’t have time to waste time."

1/ Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department has “not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,” undercutting Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voting irregularities. Barr suggested that the FBI and Justice Department looked into some fraud claims, but they “haven’t seen anything to substantiate” any “claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results.” Last month, Barr authorized U.S. attorneys to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities, if they existed, before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence of widespread fraud at that time. (Associated Press / Washington Post / Axios / ABC News)

2/ Trump’s political operation has raised between $150 million and $170 million since Election Day, using misleading appeals about voter fraud to fund his failed attempts to overturn the election. The first 75% of every contribution goes to a new political action committee that Trump set up in mid-November, Save America, which could be used on political activities after he leaves office. The other 25% is directed to the Republican National Committee. The campaign has sent about 500 post-election fundraising pitches to donors. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Trump Jr. launched a super PAC to mobilize Trump backers to vote in the upcoming Georgia Senate runoffs. The Save the U.S. Senate PAC will start airing commercials this week – only on conservative radio and TV stations – featuring Trump Jr. that are aimed at mobilizing Trump backers across Georgia. (Politico)

3/ An attorney for the Trump campaign called for the former head of U.S. cybersecurity to be executed for saying that the election was the “most secure in United States history.” Chris Krebs was fired after he rejected Trump’s unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud. Joe DiGenova, nevertheless, said that “Anybody who thinks the election went well, like that idiot Krebs […] that guy is a class A moron. He should be drawn and quartered. Taken out at dawn and shot.” Krebs suggested he might take legal action, calling DiGenova’s comments “more dangerous language, more dangerous behavior.” DiGenova, meanwhile, tried to walk back his remarks, saying it was “obvious that my remarks were sarcastic and made in jest.” (The Bulwark / Axios / Politico / CNN / NBC News)

4/ Attorney General William Barr appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as special counsel to continue investigating the origins of the FBI’s 2016 probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. Barr made the appointment on October 19 and kept it secret so as not to interfere in the election. In 2019, Barr appointed Durham to investigate the FBI’s justification for the investigation that became Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference. That investigation has only netted one criminal charge — a low-level FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to altering a surveillance application Carter Page. A special counsel can only be fired by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty, or conflict of interest, which must be documented in writing. (Associated Press / Axios / CNN / Bloomberg)

5/ Trump and Rudy Giuliani discussed a pardon preempting any charge or conviction before Trump leaves office. Giuliani has been under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York for more than a year, reportedly focused on his actions in Ukraine, where he tried to dig up dirt about the Biden’s. A Giuliani spokeswoman said Trump’s personal attorney “cannot comment on any discussions that he has with his client.” Giuliani, however, tweeted: “Fake News NYT lies again. Never had the discussion they falsely attribute to an anonymous source. Hard to keep up with all their lies.” While rare, it is legal for a president to preemptively pardon people for federal crimes before they’ve been charged. (New York Times / CNBC / The Guardian / Politico)

6/ Scientists at the CDC found evidence that the coronavirus was present in the U.S. weeks earlier previously thought. While COVID-19 was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, it wasn’t until about Jan. 20 that the first confirmed COVID-19 case was identified in the U.S. Testing of 7,389 blood donations collected by the American Red Cross from residents in nine states, however, identified 106 infections in samples collected between Dec. 13 and Jan. 17. (NPR / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / ABC News / CNN)

7/ Trump’s coronavirus adviser resigned. Dr. Scott Atlas, a radiologist with no experience in immunology, repeatedly made comments that were at odds with public health experts, including the experts on Trump’s coronavirus Task Force. Atlas fought against lockdowns, downplayed the seriousness of the virus, questioned the efficacy of masks, and urged the White House to embrace a strategy of “herd immunity.” Trump invited him to join the task force in August after seeing him on Fox News. (Politico / CNN / CBS News / NBC News / The Guardian)

8/ Biden formally introduced his six-person economic team, saying “help is on the way.” Biden tapped Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary, and nominated former Obama economics adviser Adewale Adeyemo as deputy secretary of the Treasury, Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget, and Cecilia Rouse to chair the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey will join Rouse as Council members. Progressive Democrats and Republicans have expressed opposition to Tanden for her ties to corporate and establishment political leaders. Since 2011, Tanden has been CEO of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, and its political arm, the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Biden, meanwhile, said Congress should come together to pass a “robust” aid package, repeated his call for “immediate relief” in the current lame duck period, and pledged “a recovery for everybody.” (CNN / NBC News / NPR / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / Bloomberg)

  • Biden’s agenda for his first 100 days in office will center on the passage of a broad economic aid package and a series of executive actions. Transition officials say that the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recovery, and tackling racial inequality are his most urgent priorities, and that executive actions will be aimed at delivering on his campaign promises and undoing the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine government agencies. (CNN)

9/ A bipartisan group of senators introduced a coronavirus aid proposal worth about $908 billion, which Mitch McConnell immediately rejected. The bipartisan compromise, which was described as a “bridge,” would provide $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits for roughly four months, $160 billion in funding for state and local governments, as well as a temporary moratorium on some coronavirus-related lawsuits against companies. McConnell said he wants to pass a “targeted relief bill” instead because “we just don’t have time to waste time.” Congress needs to approve funding legislation by Dec. 11 to avoid a government shutdown. (Washington Post / CNBC / Politico / NBC News)

Day 1411: "Hapless."

1/ Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in the United States reached an all-time high of 93,238 on Sunday – surpassing Saturday’s record of 91,635 COVID-19 patients. The number of coronavirus infections in the U.S., meanwhile, surpassed 13 million on Friday and Sunday marked the 27th consecutive day that the U.S. reported more than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases. (ABC News / Bloomberg / The Guardian / New York Times)

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that Thanksgiving travel could make the current surge in COVID-19 cases worse. “What we expect, unfortunately, as we go for the next couple of weeks into December, is that we might see a surge superimposed on the surge we are already in,” Dr. Fauci said. (NBC News / NPR / The Guardian / CNBC)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~63,119,000; deaths: ~1,466,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~13,512,000; deaths: ~268,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / ABC News

2/ Moderna applied for FDA emergency authorization of its coronavirus vaccine, becoming the second company to do so. Moderna’s vaccine was 94.1% effective in a 30,000-person clinical trial at preventing COVID-19 and 100% effective at preventing severe cases of the disease. If approved, vaccinations for Americans could begin as early as Dec. 21. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / CNN)

3/ Biden’s senior White House communications team will be composed entirely of women – a first – with Jennifer Psaki, a veteran of the Obama administration, as White House press secretary. The transition team also announced that Kate Bedingfield will serve as the White House communications director; Karine Jean Pierre will be the principal deputy press secretary; Pili Tobar will serve as the deputy White House communications director; Symone Sanders will serve as the senior adviser and chief spokeswoman for Kamala Harris; and Ashley Etienne will serve as the communications director for Harris. Biden is also expected to nominate Neera Tanden as director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Cecilia Rouse to be chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Tanden would be the first woman of color to oversee the agency and Rouse would be the first woman of color to chair the council. Biden will also nominate former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to be the first female treasury secretary. (New York Times / Washington Post / The 19th / Politico / NPR / Wall Street Journal)

  • Trump-Biden Transition Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / CNN / ABC News

  • Several members of Biden’s team and others under consideration for high-ranking posts have done work for undisclosed corporate clients and a fund that invests in government contractors. The consulting firm, WestExec Advisors, and the investment fund, Pine Island Capital Partners are strategic partners with an overlapping team of officials. WestExec’s founders include Antony Blinken, Biden’s choice for secretary of state, and Michèle Flournoy, one of the leading candidates to be his defense secretary. This year, Pine Island Capital purchased a weapons system parts manufacturer and another company that sells weapons training systems to the Pentagon and law enforcement agencies. Pine Island Capital, where Blinken and Flournoy have also served as advisers, raised $218 million this month for a new fund to invest in additional military and aerospace companies. In addition, Avril Haines, Biden’s pick to be director of national intelligence, Christina Killingsworth, who is helping with Biden’s White House budget office, Ely Ratner, who is helping organize the Biden transition at the Pentagon, and Jennifer Psaki, Biden’s pick for White House press secretary, all came out of WestExec. (New York Times)

4/ Arizona certified its election results, awarding the state’s 11 electoral votes to Biden. The certification came as Rudy Giuliani appeared before some Republican Arizona lawmakers in an unofficial hearing to ask lawmakers to overturn the election results, citing baseless claims of widespread election fraud. Biden beat the president in Arizona by more than 10,000 votes. (Politico / Axios / CNN)

5/ Two recounts in Wisconsin – requested by the Trump campaign – were completed and confirmed that Biden won the state. Trump’s campaign paid $3 million to cover the cost of recounts in two counties, which resulted in Biden gaining an additional 87 total votes. Biden won Wisconsin by more than 20,000 votes. (Washington Post/ USA Today / Axios)

6/ A federal appeals court unanimously rejected the Trump campaign’s emergency appeal to challenge Pennsylvania’s election results, writing that the campaign’s lawsuit lacked proof and its allegations in Pennsylvania “have no merit.” In five hours of oral arguments last week, Rudy Giuliani argued that the 2020 presidential election had been marred by widespread fraud in Pennsylvania. However, Giuliani failed to offer any tangible proof of that in court. The three-judge panel for the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals denied the campaign’s effort to refile its lawsuit, saying “Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here. Voters, not lawyers, choose the President. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections.” (Associated Press / CNN / Axios / Washington Post / BuzzFeed News)

7/ Trump said he’ll leave the White House if the Electoral College affirms Biden’s win next month. When asked whether he would acknowledge defeat, Trump said it would “be a very hard thing to concede” – even if the Electoral College confirms Biden’s victory – adding: “If they do, they’ve made a mistake. This election was a fraud.” A day later, Trump reiterated his baseless claims of voter fraud, tweeting that Biden “can only enter the White House as President if he can prove that his ridiculous ‘80,000,000 votes’ were not fraudulently or illegally obtained.” (Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post / CBS News)

  • Trump continued to discredit the Georgia voting system, attacking both GOP Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Trump called Kemp “hapless,” urging him to use his “emergency powers… to overrule his obstinate Secretary of State.” Kemp’s office, meanwhile, responded Trump’s demands to overturn the election results, saying state law “prohibits the governor from interfering in the election.” (ABC News / Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • 👑 Inside Trump’s quest to overturn the election. “The result was an election aftermath without precedent in U.S. history. With his denial of the outcome, despite a string of courtroom defeats, Trump endangered America’s democracy, threatened to undermine national security and public health, and duped millions of his supporters into believing, perhaps permanently, that Biden was elected illegitimately.” (Washington Post)

poll/ Since the election, Biden’s favorability rating has risen six percentage points (55%) while Trump’s favorability has dropped three points (42%). (Gallup)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The Supreme Court heard arguments on Trump’s efforts to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the census count, which is used to allocate seats in the House. The Court reportedly sounded skeptical that Trump could categorically exclude people living in the country illegally from the population count. Census Bureau officials have said they cannot produce the required data until after Trump leaves office in January. (Associated Press / New York Times / NPR / NBC News)

  2. The Justice Department created a new rule that would allow methods – including firing squads and electrocution – to be used for federal executions. “Last week, the Justice Department announced that it plans to execute three more inmates on federal death row. If the administration does so, along with two other executions already scheduled, it will have put 13 prisoners to death since July, marking one of the deadliest periods in the history of federal capital punishment since at least 1927.” (New York Times)

  3. The Trump administration moved to relax rules on companies’ liability for killing birds, releasing an analysis that says that modifying the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act would not cause any substantial environmental harm. (Washington Post / Axios)

  4. FCC Ajit Pai announced that he would step down when Biden is sworn in. Pai led the partisan repeal of Obama-era net neutrality regulation in 2017, which prohibited internet providers from blocking or slowing traffic to particular sites and offering higher speed “lanes” at higher prices. (CNBC / Politico / Washington Post)

  5. Carter Page filed a $75 million lawsuit against the FBI, Justice Department, and James Comey, claiming he was the victim of “unlawful spying” during the bureau’s Russia investigation. (Axios)

  6. The Government Accountability Office reported that the system for providing unemployment benefits consistently produced inaccurate data and lower-than-appropriate payouts to millions of workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Labor Department’s weekly reports on jobless claims have published “flawed estimates of the number of individuals receiving benefits each week throughout the pandemic,” the GAO said. (CNN / Wall Street Journal)

Day 1406: "A truly fantastic Thanksgiving!"

1/ Trump pardoned Michael Flynn, his first national security advisor, who pleaded guilty – twice – to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts during the presidential transition in late 2016 and early 2017. Trump announced the news on Twitter and wished Flynn “a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!” The pardon was issued before a judge ruled on a Justice Department motion to dismiss charges and undo Flynn’s guilty plea to lying to the FBI. Since last year, Flynn’s lawyers have sought to withdraw his guilty plea. In May, Attorney General William Barr and the Justice Department sought to dismiss its charges, declaring that prosecutors should not have brought the case against Flynn. The request to withdraw charges has been pending before a federal judge, who has been reviewing the case. Flynn’s pardon is expected to be part of a series of pardons that Trump issues between now and when he leaves office, including former Trump campaign advisers Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos. (CNBC / NBC News / Washington Post / NPR / Axios / New York Times / Politico / The Guardian / CNN)

2/ Biden dismissed pursuing investigations into Trump after he leaves office, saying “I will not do what this president does and use the Justice Department as my vehicle to insist that something happened.” Biden’s comments, however, didn’t rule out that the Justice Department could still investigate Trump, since it traditionally operates independently of the White House on criminal matters. Biden also acknowledged that states could continue pursue their own investigations. (USA Today)

3/ Unemployment claims rose for the second week in a row with 778,000 people filing for benefits. Claims haven’t risen for two consecutive weeks since July and it was the largest two-week increase since April. Another 311,000 people applied for jobless benefits under an emergency federal program for gig workers and the self-employed. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / NPR / CNBC)

4/ The U.S. reported its highest daily coronavirus death toll in more than six months. The nearly 2,100 COVID-19 deaths reported Tuesday is the highest mark since May 6, when states reported a combined 2,611 fatalities. The U.S. has added more than one million new cases in each of the past two consecutive weeks. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~60,187,000; deaths: ~1,418,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~12,728,000; deaths: ~262,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / CNBC

  • Trump administration health officials held their first “Operation Warp Speed” briefing with Biden. The initial meeting was focused on COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and distribution. (Politico)

  • The first 6.4 million doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine could be distributed as early as mid-December if authorized by the FDA and an independent advisory panel to the CDC. Officials said they are on track to have 40 million doses of vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna by the end of the year – enough to vaccinate 20 million people. (Washington Post)

5/ Biden’s pick for Secretary of State and a top contender for defense secretary co-founded a Washington consulting firm where at least 21 of the 38 employees donated to his campaign. Because WestExec’s staffers aren’t lobbyists – they aren’t directly advocating for federal dollars on behalf of clients – they don’t have to disclose who they worked for. One of WestExec former principals, Avril Haines, is Biden’s pick for director of national intelligence, and Michèle Flournoy, a potential pick for defense secretary, raised more than $100,000 alone for Biden. At least five WestExec employees are helping staff Biden’s review teams for the Pentagon, the Treasury Department, the Council of Economic Advisers and other agencies, including Jen Psaki, who is advising Biden’s transition team. Two other former WestExec employees, Lisa Monaco and Julianne Smith, are also considered potential Biden administration hires. (Politico)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The Army Corps of Engineers denied a permit for a gold and copper mine in Alaska, saying it was “contrary to the public interest.” In a statement, the Army Corps said it would block the Pebble Mine because the project’s waste “does not comply with Clean Water Act guidelines.” (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post)

  2. The City of El Paso hired legal counsel to collect more than $500,000 in debt owed by the Trump campaign from a rally that took place almost two years ago. (KTSM)

  3. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plans to transfer $455 billion in unspent Cares Act funding into an account that will require congressional authorization to use. The move leaves Janet Yellen, Mnuchin’s presumed successor, with just under $80 billion available in the Treasury’s Exchange Stabilization Fund. (Bloomberg)

Day 1405: "Meets this moment."

1/ Biden introduced six of his top foreign policy and national security appointments and nominees, saying “the team meets this moment.” The announcement comes a day after the Trump administration ended its 16-day stalemate and said it would to begin cooperating with the incoming administration. “It’s a team that reflects the fact that America is back,” Biden said. “Ready to lead the world, not retreat from it.” Biden added that his nominees bring “experience and leadership, fresh thinking and perspective, and an unrelenting belief in the promise of America.” Hours after the General Services Administration authorized the Biden transition, Trump tweeted his insistence that he had won the election and that he will “never concede.” (New York Times / CNN / NPR / ABC News / Bloomberg / CNBC / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • The White House signed off on Biden receiving the President’s Daily Brief. (CNN)

  • Trump-Biden Transition Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / NPR / ABC News / CNN

  • 📌 Day 1404: Biden named a number of high-level administration and Cabinet positions for his foreign policy and national security team, tapping Linda Thomas-Greenfield as the ambassador to the United Nations, Alejandro Mayorkas as homeland security secretary, and Avril Haines as director of national intelligence. Mayorkas would be the first Latino to run the department responsible for managing the nation’s immigration policies. Haines would be the highest-ranking woman to serve in the intelligence community. Biden also named his longtime adviser Antony Blinken as secretary of state, John Kerry as his climate czar, and Jake Sullivan as his national security adviser. Biden also plans to nominate Janet Yellen as treasury secretary. (Bloomberg / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Politico / Bloomberg / CNN / The Guardian / New York Times / NPR)

2/ Pennsylvania and Nevada certified their 2020 election results, awarding a combined 26 electoral votes to Biden. North Carolina also certified its presidential vote totals, awarding the state’s 15 electoral votes to Trump. Biden has collected 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. (CNN / Associated Press / NBC News / Axios /Politico / CNBC / Washington Post)

  • The lame-duck president pardoned his final turkeys. “Thanksgiving is a very special day for turkeys,” Trump said. “Not a very good one, if you think about it.” Before walking off, Trump ignored a question from a reporter about whether he would pardon himself. (New York Times / ABC News)

3/ Trump made an impromptu appearance in the White House briefing room to celebrate the Dow surpassing 30,000 points for the first time, telling reporters he wanted to “congratulate the people of our country because there are no people like you.” Trump called the milestone a “sacred number” and then left without taking questions. The Dow rose by over 450 points a day after the Trump administration agreed to start the transition process and the news that Biden was set to nominate former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as his Treasury secretary. Trump has repeatedly claimed that if Biden won the election, the stock market and the economy would “crash.” In the three weeks since Election Day, Trump has tweeted some 400 times in an attempt to undermine the integrity of the 2020 election results. (Politico / NPR / New York Times / CNBC / The Hill / NBC News)

4/ The White House coronavirus task force called for “significant behavior change of all Americans,” including the wearing of masks, to mitigate the spread. “There is aggressive, rapid, and expanding community spread across the country, reaching over 2,000 counties,” a set of task force reports said. The U.S. reported 154,656 new infections Monday, continuing a record high seven-day average of new cases. More than 85,000 coronavirus patients have been admitted to hospitals – a 17% rise – and daily fatalities increased by more than 30% over the past week. The nation is averaging 172,000 new virus cases per day – about doubling since the end of October. The CDC, meanwhile, is finalizing new guidance to shorten the length of time it recommends that people self-quarantine after potential exposure to the coronavirus from 14 days to seven or 10 days. The goal is to encourage more people to comply with self-quarantining. (CNN / Washington Post / CNN / Associated Press)

poll/ 53% of Republicans would vote for Trump in 2024. 12% said they would support Pence, and 8% would support Trump Jr. (Politico)

poll/ 3% of Trump voters believe that Biden legitimately won the 2020 election, while 73% consider Trump the winner. 24% said they are not sure. (CNBC)

Day 1404: "A monster."

1/ The General Services Administration formally recognized Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election – more than two weeks after securing the electoral votes necessary to win the White House. Emily Murphy, the Trump appointee who runs the GSA, faced weeks of criticism from Democrats, national security, and health experts, who argued that delaying the formal transition was hampering the incoming Biden administration from receiving classified briefings and preparing for the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine. In a letter to Biden, Murphy said she was “never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official — including those who work at the White House or the G.S.A.” Biden is now able to access millions of dollars in federal funds and resources to begin his transition to power. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that he had recommended that the GSA begin “initial protocols” for the transition. Trump also said he was not conceding. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / NPR / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

2/ A group of Republican national security experts demanded that Trump concede the election. The statement’s signers – including former homeland security secretary Tom Ridge – urged Republican leaders to “strongly oppose” Trump’s “dangerous and extra-legal efforts to threaten and intimidate state officials in order to prevent a vote by the Electoral College,” adding that “Trump’s refusal to permit the presidential transition poses significant risks to our national security.” Meanwhile, more than 160 top American executives asked the Trump administration to acknowledge Biden as the president-elect and begin the transition, writing that “Every day that an orderly presidential transition process is delayed, our democracy grows weaker in the eyes of our own citizens and the nation’s stature on the global stage is diminished.” Some of the executives who signed on to the letter have also discussed withholding campaign donations from the two Republican Senate candidates in Georgia until party leaders push for a presidential transition. (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR)

3/ A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by Trump’s campaign seeking to block the certification of Pennsylvania’s election results. Judge Matthew Brann wrote that Trump’s campaign, which had asked him to disenfranchise nearly seven million voters, should have come to court “armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption” in its efforts to essentially nullify the results. The Trump campaign had claimed there were widespread improprieties with mail-in ballots in the state. In his 37-page ruling, Brann said he expected a compelling legal argument “and factual proof of rampant corruption” from the Trump campaign, but instead “this court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations” that were “unsupported by evidence.” Brann added: “This claim, like Frankenstein’s Monster, has been haphazardly stitched together.” (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Bloomberg / CNN / Politico)

  • The Michigan State Board of Canvassers voted to certify the state’s presidential election results, effectively awarding the state’s 16 electoral votes to President-elect Biden. (Washington Post / NBC News)

4/ Biden named a number of high-level administration and Cabinet positions for his foreign policy and national security team, tapping Linda Thomas-Greenfield as the ambassador to the United Nations, Alejandro Mayorkas as homeland security secretary, and Avril Haines as director of national intelligence. Mayorkas would be the first Latino to run the department responsible for managing the nation’s immigration policies. Haines would be the highest-ranking woman to serve in the intelligence community. Biden also named his longtime adviser Antony Blinken as secretary of state, John Kerry as his climate czar, and Jake Sullivan as his national security adviser. Biden also plans to nominate Janet Yellen as treasury secretary. (Bloomberg / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Politico / Bloomberg / CNN / The Guardian / New York Times / NPR)

5/ A third COVID-19 vaccine is reportedly highly effective. AstraZeneca said the results of an interim analysis show that its vaccine could be up to 90% effective in preventing the disease. Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the AstraZeneca vaccine doesn’t have to be stored at freezer temperatures, making it potentially easier to distribute. (NBC News / Associated Press / Washington Post)

6/ Trump Jr. tested positive for the coronavirus. A spokesman said Trump Jr. tested positive at the start of last week has been “quarantining out at his cabin since the result.” Trump Jr. is the first of Trump’s adult children to test positive, although his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle tested positive in July, and Trump’s youngest child, Barron Trump, tested positive in October. Trump himself tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 1, and was hospitalized at Walter Reed Medical Center one day later. Trump Jr.’s announcement came hours after Rudy Giuliani’s son, Andrew Giuliani, a special assistant to the president, announced that he had tested positive. Two Republican senators, Rick Scott and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, also said they tested positive. (Bloomberg / CBS News / ABC News / New York Times / CNN)

  • Sen. Kelly Loeffler is self-isolating after she tested positive for the coronavirus. The Georgia senator, a Republican, is currently campaigning in a runoff election that could determine control of the Senate. Loeffler tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday evening and then receiving an inconclusive result on Saturday. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution / New York Times)

  • Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said he became “extremely sick” from COVID-19, but now believes he is “out of the woods” after receiving an antibody treatment. Carson said his initial symptoms were light, but then he became “desperately ill,” and noted that he has “several co-morbidities” that played a role. (NPR / CNN)

7/ The White House still plans to host partially indoor holiday parties despite warnings from health experts and a surge in COVID-19 cases. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, meanwhile, warned that Americans, including the White House, should follow the CDC guidelines and avoid large gatherings during what he called a “dire point” in the pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci called the September Rose Garden event “a super-spreader.” (ABC News / CNN)

8/ Trump skipped the G-20 summit’s “Pandemic Preparedness and Response” event to play golf. Trump briefly participated in the virtual summit from the Situation Room, tweeting throughout the opening session about his efforts to overturn the results of the presidential election. He then departed the White House for the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia. The U.S., meanwhile, recorded 195,500 new COVID-19 infections – another record. (New York Times / The Guardian / CNBC / CNN / Slate)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Trump will veto legislation to fund the military unless a bipartisan provision to rename military bases honoring Confederate military leaders is removed. Both the Senate and House overwhelmingly passed a provision that would change the names of Confederate-named bases as part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act. (NBC News)

  2. General Motors dropped its support of Trump’s lawsuit seeking to end California’s right to set its own fuel economy standards. Four years ago, GM was one of the first automakers to push Trump to loosen Obama-era standards on fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions and in 2019, GM supported the Trump administration’s legal effort to revoke California’s congressionally granted authority to set tougher standards than the federal government. (Associated Press / Bloomberg / New York Times)

  3. The Trump administration acquired at least 135 tracts of privately owned land to build Trump’s border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border – and plans to acquire another 991 tracts. According to a study by the Government Accountability Office, the Justice Department filed 109 lawsuits against landowners between January 2017 and August 2020 to seize their property permanently. Trump administration lawyers have prepared another 100 lawsuits against landowners to permanently acquire their property. (CBS News)

  4. Twenty-eight migrant children and their parents are facing deportation after refusing to be separated in detention and then losing an appeal for the right to claim asylum in the U.S. Because they crossed the border during Trump’s policy prohibiting immigrants from claiming asylum in the U.S. if they first passed through another country, they were not able to make their claim before an immigration judge. The policy has since been overturned, but immigrants who entered the U.S. when it was in place were not helped by the decision. (NBC News)

Day 1401: "Incredible irresponsibility."

1/ Michigan’s Republican legislative leaders met with Trump at the White House ahead of the state’s canvassing board meeting on Monday, when the election results are expected to be certified. Details of the meeting with Mike Shirkey, the leader of the State Senate, and Lee Chatfield, the speaker of the state House, are unclear. Trump and his campaign have openly floated the idea that the board of canvassers could choose to not to certify the results, forcing the state legislatures to appoint new electors who would overturn the will of the voters. All 83 counties, however, have certified their vote counts, giving Biden a 156,000-vote margin of victory. The state board of canvassing is scheduled to meet Monday to certify the final state tally. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, meanwhile, refused to acknowledge President-elect Joe Biden’s victory – her first press briefing since October 1 and since Trump lost the election – and denied that Trump had invited officials from the Michigan state legislature to the White House as part of an “advocacy meeting.” Rudy Giuliani was involved in arranging the meeting, but won’t attend after being exposed to the coronavirus. Giuliani’s son, Andrew Giuliani, a White House aide, tested positive for COVID-19. And, finally, Trump has expressed interest in inviting Republican state legislators from Pennsylvania to the White House for a similar meeting. (NPR / Bloomberg / Politico / Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / The Hill / CBS News / Axios / Reuters / CNN)

  • ✏️ Notables.

  • Trump is using the power of his office to try to reverse the results of the election, orchestrating a pressure campaign to persuade Republican officials in Michigan, Georgia, and elsewhere to overturn the will of voters in what critics call an unprecedented subversion of democracy. “In an extraordinary news conference Thursday at the Republican National Committee headquarters, Trump’s attorneys claimed without evidence there was a centralized conspiracy with roots in Venezuela to rig the U.S. presidential election. They alleged voter fraud in Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and other cities whose municipal governments are controlled by Democrats and where President-elect Joe Biden won by large margins.” (Washington Post)

  • Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election are unprecedented in American history. “Mr. Trump has only weeks to make his last-ditch effort work: Most of the states he needs to strip Mr. Biden of votes are scheduled to certify their electors by the beginning of next week. The electors cast their ballots on Dec. 14, and Congress opens them in a joint session on Jan. 6.” (New York Times)

  • Trump’s election power play: Persuade Republican legislators to do what U.S. voters did not. “Trump’s strategy for retaining power despite losing the U.S. election is focused increasingly on persuading Republican legislators to intervene on his behalf in battleground states Democrat Joe Biden won.” (Reuters)

  • Trump and his allies are taking increasingly frantic steps to subvert the results of the 2020 election. “Election law experts see it as the last, dying gasps of the Trump campaign and say Biden is certain to walk into the Oval Office come January. But there is great concern that Trump’s effort is doing real damage to public faith in the integrity of U.S. elections.” (Associated Press)

2/ Georgia certified the state’s general election results, then issued a correction to say certification is still on-going because a staffer “sent out the wrong press release,” and then officially certified the results. The certification ensured that Biden received the state’s 16 electoral votes. The certification followed a hand recount of the state’s five million votes that was requested by the Trump campaign. The recount found that Biden beat Trump by more than 12,000 votes. (New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / Bloomberg)

3/ The United States reported a record high of more than 185,000 new coronavirus cases, a record number of hospitalizations, and more than 2,000 deaths. Less than three weeks ago, the U.S. reported 100,000 daily coronavirus cases for the first time. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus coordinator, said, “This is faster, it is broader and, what worries me, is it could be longer.” Health experts and epidemiologists, meanwhile, added that the U.S. hasn’t seen the peak and that the worst is yet to come. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

4/ Pfizer asked the FDA for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine after initial results showed the vaccine was safe and 95% effective. The process is expected to take a few weeks, and an advisory committee meeting to review the vaccine has been tentatively scheduled for early December. Emergency use authorization would allow limited groups of Americans to get the vaccines before the FDA has completed the typical approval process. (New York Times / Stat News / CNBC)

5/ The Trump Administration vaccine distribution team will not brief Biden’s transition team and has “no plans to do so.” Trump’s unwillingness to share plans with the incoming administration “risks President-elect Biden’s team not being ready on day one to implement the plan or make adjustments to it,” Senator Chris Murphy said. Biden, meanwhile, called Trump’s refusal to concede “incredible irresponsibility, an incredibly damaging message being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy functions.” (Reuters / NBC News / New York Times)

6/ Biden named four more officials to White House posts and Judge Merrick Garland is under consideration to serve as attorney general. Louisa Terrell was named director of White House Office of Legislative Affairs, Cathy Russell was named director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, Carlos Elizondo was named White House social secretary, and Mala Adig was named policy director for Jill Biden. Garland, meanwhile, joins former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former civil rights chief Deval Patrick, and former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones, among others, on Biden’s short list for attorney general. (USA Today / NPR)

7/ The Census Bureau won’t be able to produce the state population totals required to reallocate seats in the House of Representatives until after Trump leaves office in January. In July, Trump said he wanted to remove unauthorized immigrants from the count, which would leave an older and whiter population as the basis for divvying up House seats, shifting the number of House seats held by Republicans over the next decade. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham cited “anomalies” discovered in processing that could delay the report past January 20, 2021. (New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

8/ Two separate New York State fraud investigations into Trump and his businesses have expanded to include about $26 million in consulting fee tax write-offs – some of which went to Ivanka Trump. The two inquiries — a criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney and a civil one by the state attorney general — are being conducted independently, but both offices issued subpoenas to the Trump Organization in recent weeks. On a 2017 disclosure Ivanka filed when joining the White House, she reported receiving payments from a consulting company she co-owned, which totaled $747,622 – exactly matching consulting fees claimed as tax deductions by the Trump Organization. Ivanka, meanwhile, called the investigations “harassment […] motivated by politics, publicity and rage.” (New York Times / Politico)

9/ The Supreme Court postponed a planned hearing into congressional efforts to see Robert Mueller’s secret grand jury material from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The House Judiciary Committee said the status of the case has changed because of the election, and that Biden and the new Congress should decided whether to pursue the grand jury material. (Washington Post)

Day 1400: "The American way."

1/ The CDC warned Americans against traveling for Thanksgiving, citing record rises in new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Despite the guidance, around 50 million Americans are expected to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday next week. Officials said they were alarmed to see more than 1 million new cases reported across the U.S. within the past week. Nearly 80,000 patients are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.S. – another record. The CDC also projected that “newly reported COVID-19 deaths will likely increase over the next four weeks, with 7,300 to 16,000 new deaths likely to be reported in the week ending December 12, 2020.” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, meanwhile, called the new guidelines and restrictions “Orwellian,” adding “that’s not the American way.” (New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~56,076,000; deaths: ~1,347,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~11,486,000; deaths: ~251,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / NBC News / NPR / CNN / Wall Street Journal

  • The states that imposed fewer coronavirus-related restrictions now have the worst outbreaks. Outbreaks are comparatively smaller in states where efforts to contain the virus were stronger over the summer and fall. (New York Times)

  • Trump’s top medical adviser on the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Scott Atlas, has not attended White House task force meetings in person since late September. Atlas, however, has continued to spread misinformation about the worsening health crisis. (NBC News)

2/ More than 743,000 workers filed new unemployment claims – an increase of 31,000 from the previous week. An additional 320,000 claims were processed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the program for gig and self-employed workers. Roughly 20.3 million people are claiming some form of unemployment insurance. About 12 millions Americans are scheduled to lose their jobless benefits the day after Christmas unless Congress passes another relief bill. (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / ABC News)

3/ After the Wayne County Board of Canvassers certified the presidential results, Trump called both of the Republican board members who now say they want to “rescind” their votes to certify the election in the Michigan county. After briefly trying to block the county from certifying its election results, Monica Palmer and William Hartmann later voted Tuesday to certify the results of the Nov. 3 election. But in a pair of affidavits signed late Wednesday night, Palmer and Hartmann allege that they were improperly pressured into certifying the election and accused Democrats of reneging on a promise to audit votes in Detroit. The two Republicans are now seeking to rescind their decision to certify their county’s results – a day after the deadline and roughly 24 hours after Trump had spoken with Palmer and Hartmann. Trump, meanwhile, invited Michigan’s Republican state legislators to meet with him at the White House on Friday. (Washington Post / ABC News / New York Times / Detroit Free Press / Axios / CNN / Washington Post / The Guardian)

4/ The Trump campaign dropped its federal election lawsuit in Michigan seeking to block certification of the results, falsely claiming that the Wayne County Board of Canvassers certification had declined to certify the results, which had already been certified in favor of Biden. Rudy Giuliani said the campaign decided to withdraw its lawsuit “as a direct result of achieving the result we sought: to stop the election in Wayne County from being prematurely certified before residents can be assured that every legal vote has been counted and every illegal vote has not been counted.” Michigan’s secretary of state, however, said the two board members can’t rescind their votes and that the next step is for the state to certify its results on Nov. 23. (CBS News / Bloomberg / NBC News / Politico)

Day 1399: "We did it right."

1/ More than 3 million people in the United States – about 1% of the population – have active coronavirus infections and are potentially contagious, according to a team of infectious-disease experts tracking the pandemic. The estimate does not include an approximately equal number of latent infections – the people who were infected in recent days but can’t pass it on yet because it is still incubating. On Monday, at least 1,707 new COVID-19 deaths were reported – about one American every minute – and by Wednesday, the U.S. had recorded it’s 250,000 death with a record 76,000 people hospitalized with the coronavirus. The White House coronavirus task force, meanwhile, stated in it’s weekly report that there is “now aggressive, unrelenting, expanding broad community spread across the country, reaching most counties, without evidence of improvement but rather, further deterioration.” (Washington Post / CNN / The Guardian / NBC News / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is reportedly 95% effective with no serious side effects. The company said it planned to apply for emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration “within days.” Pfizer said it could have up to 50 million doses available by the end of the year, but only about half of the supply will go to the United States this year – or enough for about 12.5 million people. Moderna said this week that an early analysis of its vaccine showed it was nearly 95% effective. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~56,076,000; deaths: ~1,347,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~11,486,000; deaths: ~251,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / CNN / CNBC

  • New York City’s entire public school system will close Thursday after the city reached a 3% test positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average. (New York Times)

  • The CDC deleted two documents it posted this summer to support Trump’s push to reopen schools this fall. The documents titled “The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools this Fall,” was issued two weeks after Trump complained about the agency’s guidance as “very tough and expensive” and threatened to withhold funding from schools that did not offer in-person classes. (New York Times)

  • The FDA authorized the first at-home coronavirus test. The test requires a prescription from a health care provider. The molecular single-use test and is expected to cost $50 or less. (New York Times / NPR)

  • Chuck Grassley tested positive for COVID-19. The 87-year-old is the oldest Republican currently serving in the Senate. (NBC News / USA Today / CNN)

3/ Trump fired the Department of Homeland Security director who repeatedly refuted Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud. Christopher Krebs, the nation’s top election security official, was fired after his agency, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, released a statement calling the 2020 election “the most secure in American history.” Trump – in two misleading tweets about the security of the election – said Krebs’ termination was “effective immediately.” The former director acknowledged Trump’s action in a tweet: “Honored to serve. We did it right. Defend Today, Secure Tomrorow.” Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, called the move “pathetic and predictable from a president who views truth as his enemy.” (NPR / Associated Press / Washington Post /Axios / USA Today / The Guardian)

4/ The Trump campaign formally asked election authorities in Wisconsin to conduct a recount in two counties. In a statement, the campaign said it transferred $3 million to Wisconsin to cover the costs of recounting votes in Milwaukee and Dane counties. Biden received 577,455 votes in the two counties compared with 213,157 for Trump. Biden won the state by a little more than 20,000 votes. (NPR / Reuters / Associated Press)

5/ Election officials in Michigan’s largest county certified the presidential election results after Republican members of the board initially refused to certify the vote tallies. The four-member Wayne County Board of Canvassers had deadlocked on the day for Michigan counties to certify the vote – which Trump called “a beautiful thing” on Twitter. Hours later, however, the board — composed of two Republicans and two Democrats — reversed itself and unanimously agreed to certify the results and ask the secretary of state to conduct an independent audit. (Politico / Washington Post / CNN)

6/ A federal judge ordered the Trump administration to stop expelling immigrant children who cross the southern border alone before they could request asylum or other protections under federal law. The Trump administration has expelled at least 8,800 unaccompanied children since March. (NBC News)

7/ White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows “can’t guarantee” that lawmakers will reach a deal to avert a mid-December shutdown. Congress and the White House have until Dec. 11 to approve new spending legislation to prevent the federal government from shutting down. (Washington Post)

Day 1398: "Move on."

1/ The leaders of three major medical associations urged Trump to share “all critical information related to COVID-19” with the incoming Biden administration “as soon as possible” in order to “save countless lives.” The CEOs of the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Nurses Association urged the Trump administration to share “real-time data and information on the supply of therapeutics, testing supplies, personal protective equipment, ventilators, hospital bed capacity […] the capacity of the Strategic National Stockpile, the assets from Operation Warp Speed, and plans for dissemination of therapeutics and vaccines […] so that there is no lapse in our ability to care for patients.” Biden, meanwhile, noted that getting a coronavirus vaccine to more than 300 million Americans is a “huge, huge, huge undertaking” that would be further complicated by a continued delay in the presidential transition. Over the past 14 days, coronavirus cases have increased in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. There has also been a 100% or more increase in confirmed cases over 14 days in Vermont, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Iowa, Ohio, Colorado, Michigan, Nebraska, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and New York. The seven-day average of new deaths in the U.S., meanwhile, eclipsed the Aug. 2 peak of 1,150. And, more than 73,000 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Monday – a new record. Dr. Anthony Fauci, meanwhile, called for the nation to adopt “a uniform approach” to the coronavirus pandemic, rather than the current “disjointed” state-by-state response. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected the Trump campaign’s claim that election observers were improperly denied access to watch ballot counting in Philadelphia. The court noted that state law mandates that observers be permitted to be “in the room” during ballot counting, but the law does not set a minimum distance between them and the counting tables. The 5-2 ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court came as Rudy Giuliani appeared in federal court on behalf of the Trump campaign, claiming that Republican election observers weren’t allowed to get close enough to the vote counting tables in Philadelphia and Allegheny Counties. The loss in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court could harm the Trump campaign’s related legal effort in the federal court to block the state from certifying its election results in coming weeks. (CNBC / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / ABC News)

3/ Lindsey Graham proposed throwing out legally mailed ballots to Georgia’s top elections official in an effort to reverse Trump’s narrow loss in the state. According to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Graham questioned him about the state’s signature-matching law, whether political bias could have prompted poll workers to accept ballots with non-matching signatures, and if he had the power to throw out all mail ballots in counties found to have higher rates of non-matching signatures. Raffensperger said he took Graham’s comments as “an implication of look hard and see how many ballots you could throw out.” Graham denied pressuring Raffensperger to throw away legal ballots, calling the allegation “ridiculous.” Graham, however, acknowledged that he also reached out officials in Arizona and Nevada – states Biden also won – in an attempt to learn how they validate signatures on mail-in ballots. (Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / CNN / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal)

4/ Biden told aides that he’s concerned that Trump investigations would consume his presidency and divide the nation. Biden, however, wants his Justice Department to function independently from the White House and said he would leave the decisions to investigate up to the DOJ. Biden reportedly “just wants to move on” from Trump. (NBC News)

5/ Biden announced his first nine campaign aides and longtime advisers who will join him in the White House in January, including five women and four people of color. In a statement, the transition team said Biden was committed to “to building an administration that looks like America.” (Associated Press / The Guardian / Politico / CBS News / NBC News / CNN / ABC News)

6/ Trump’s acting defense secretary announced that the U.S. military will halve the number of troops it has in Afghanistan within the next two months. The military will also cut a smaller number in Iraq. Christopher Miller announced the plan eight days after he took over for fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who had submitted a memo recommending that Afghanistan did not warrant reductions. (Washington Post / CNBC / Bloomberg)

7/ Trump asked his top national security aides what options were available to taking action against Iran’s main nuclear site in the coming weeks. The meeting occurred a day after international inspectors reported a significant increase in Iran’s stockpile of nuclear material. Seniors advisers reportedly warned Trump that a strike against Iran’s facilities could escalate into a broader conflict in the last weeks of his presidency. Officials left the meeting believing a missile attack inside Iran was off the table. Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei warned against an attack, saying “Any action against the Iranian nation would certainly face a crushing response.” Biden, meanwhile, has promised to rejoin the nuclear deal with Iran as long as Iran also comes back into compliance. (New York Times / The Guardian)

Day 1397: "More people may die."

1/ More than 1 in 400 Americans tested positive for the coronavirus last week. The United States surpassed 11 million reported cases Sunday – one week after hitting the 10 million mark – and the number of COVID-19 deaths now stands at more than 246,000. The seven-day average of new daily cases is more than 140,000, with 49 states trending upward. Meanwhile, governors and mayors are implementing new restrictions to slow the spread with Chicago issuing a new stay-at-home advisory, Philadelphia announcing strict new rules, New Mexico going into a two-week lockdown, North Dakota imposing a new mask mandate, New Jersey limiting gatherings, and California putting more than 94% of its population in its most restrictive reopening tier. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Bloomberg)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~54,786,000; deaths: ~1,323,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~11,173,000; deaths: ~248,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNN

  • 40% of Americans are planning to participate in large gatherings of 10 or more people this holiday season despite concerns over the spread of COVID-19. (United Press International)

  • The Third Surge Is Breaking Healthcare Workers. “Hospitals have put their pandemic plans into action, adding more beds and creating makeshift COVID-19 wards. But in the hardest-hit areas, there are simply not enough doctors, nurses, and other specialists to staff those beds.” (The Atlantic)

2/ Trump has not attended a coronavirus task force meeting in “at least five months.” Since Election Day, Trump has reportedly ceased to actively manage the pandemic, which has killed at least 244,000 Americans, infected at least 10.9 million, and slowed the country’s economy. Instead, Trump has repeatedly and falsely claimed the election was rigged against him. (Washington Post)

3/ Trump’s coronavirus adviser called for Michiganders to “rise up” against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s new COVID-19 restrictions. After Whitmer announced Sunday a three-week pause on indoor dining, Dr. Scott Atlas tweeted: “The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept.” Whitmer denounced Atlas’ call to action, saying it is “incredibly reckless.” Dr. Anthony Fauci added that he “totally disagrees” with Atlas. (ABC News / Politico / New York Times)

4/ Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine candidates is 94.5% effective, according to the early findings from a 30,000-subject trial that is still under way. The news comes a week after a similar shot developed by Pfizer and BioNTech said their candidate was more than 90% effective in an interim analysis. The two companies could have enough vaccine for about 25 to 30 million people in the U.S. in December, with the first doses going to the highest risk groups. Moderna’s vaccine was co-developed with Dr. Anthony Fauci’s institute. Trump, meanwhile, seeking to take credit for the vaccine news, tweeted: “For those great ‘historians’, please remember that these great discoveries, which will end the China Plague, all took place on my watch!” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico / Bloomberg / Politico / The Guardian)

5/ Biden called the vaccine news “really encouraging” but warned “more people may die” if the Trump administration doesn’t cooperate and start the transition process. “We are going into a very dark winter,” Biden said. “If we have to wait until January 20th to start that planning, it puts us behind, over a month and a half,” Biden continued. Dr. Anthony Fauci, meanwhile, said it is “obvious” that the Trump administration’s refusal to begin the presidential transition is not good from a public health perspective and could stall the rollout of potential vaccines. “Of course it would be better if we could start working with” Biden’s team, adding that the “virus is not going to stop and call a time out while things change. The virus is just going to keep going. The process is just going to keep going.” (The Guardian / NPR / Politico / NBC News / Politico / Associated Press / CNN)

6/ Trump acknowledged that Biden won the presidential election, but then refused to concede. “He won because the Election was Rigged,” Trump tweeted, but an hour later added: “RIGGED ELECTION. WE WILL WIN!“ followed by “He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!“ Trump also continued to blame his loss on debunked conspiracies theories about the 2020 election in a series of posts that Twitter flagged for their disputed information. (CNN / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / New York Times)

7/ National security adviser Robert O’Brien promised a “professional transition” with the incoming Biden administration. “If the Biden-Harris ticket is determined to be the winner — and, obviously, things look that way now — we’ll have a very professional transition with the National Security Council, no doubt about it,” Trump’s national security adviser said. Trump, however, has refused to acknowledge the results of the Nov. 3 election, which he lost to Biden. He has falsely proclaimed several times on Twitter that “I WON THE ELECTION” or complained about the process. Twitter put a warning label on the tweets, noting that “official sources have called this election differently.” A growing number of top Republicans have urged Trump to start an orderly transition of power. (NPR / NBC News / Politico / New York Times)

  • The General Services Administration official blocking President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team from accessing government resources is looking for a new job. Emily Murphy, who is responsible for deciding when election results are clear enough to trigger a transition of power, recently sent that message to an associate asking about career opportunities in 2021. (ABC News)

8/ Sixteen federal prosectors assigned to monitor the 2020 election said they had not seen evidence of any substantial fraud. The assistant U.S. attorneys urged Attorney General William Barr to rescind his directive allowing investigators to pursue allegations of “vote tabulation irregularities” before results are certified, saying “the policy change was not based in fact.” (Washington Post)

  • The Trump campaign withdrew a central part of its lawsuit seeking to stop the certification of the election results in Pennsylvania. Trump’s attorneys, in revised version of the lawsuit, removed allegations that election officials violated the Trump campaign’s constitutional rights by limiting observers from watching votes being counted. Trump’s campaign initially wanted 682,479 mail-in and absentee ballots to be thrown out, claiming they were processed without its representatives able to watch. Trump, meanwhile, has put Rudy Giuliani in charge of his campaign lawsuits related to the election. (Associated Press / The Guardian / New York Times / Politico / Washington Post)

  • Lawsuits that tried to disrupt Biden’s wins in four states are withdrawn. (CNN)

9/ The Trump administration will auction off oil and gas drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska before Biden takes office. The Federal Register posted a “call for nominations” from the Bureau of Land Management relating to lease sales in about 1.5 million acres of the refuge along the coast of the Arctic Ocean. In a reversal of decades of protections, Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress in 2017 authorized potential oil and gas development in the refuge. Biden has opposed drilling in the refuge and any sales would be subject to review by the Biden administration. (Washington Post / New York Times)

10/ Chad Wolf has not been serving lawfully as the acting secretary of Homeland Security and his suspension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is invalid, a federal judge ruled. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration wrongly tried to shut down DACA protections, but Wolf nonetheless suspended DACA on July 28. The Trump administration, meanwhile, has renewed its effort to get Wolf confirmed before Inauguration Day. (CNN / NBC News / Axios)

11/ Trump is expected to order the Pentagon to reduce troop levels to 2,500 in Afghanistan and 2,500 in Iraq before Trump leaves office on January 20. The Pentagon, however, has repeatedly warned that doing so could jeopardize lasting peace in the region. There are currently 4,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and 3,000 in Iraq. (CNN / ABC News / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

12/ Hate crimes in the U.S. rose to the highest level in more than a decade. The number of hate crime murders also hit a record high in 2019. White nationalist hate groups, meanwhile, rose by 55% between 2017 and 2019. (Associated Press / Axios)

Day 1394: "Trying to survive."

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)

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–Biden Transition Live Blogs: Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / The Guardian / ABC News / NBC News / Wall Street Journal

  • 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)

  • Obama called Republican lawmakers supporting Trump’s unfounded claims of voter fraud “disappointing,” adding “there’s damage to this.” (Politico / NBC News)

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)

Day 1393: "Very stressful."

1/ Dr. Anthony Fauci urged Americans to “double down” on precautions as the U.S. recorded more than 145,000 coronavirus cases Wednesday – yet another record. The nation’s top infectious disease expert said that while “help is on the way […] it isn’t here yet,” referring to the early results from the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine candidate, which was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 infections. The rise in infections comes with new highs in the number of deaths. The U.S. reported 1,549 deaths Wednesday – the highest since May 14. Fauci, meanwhile, added that working alongside the Trump administration has been “very stressful.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Axios / CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Corey Lewandowski tested positive for the coronavirus. The Trump campaign advisor, who has helped lead efforts to undermine Biden’s victory, was in Philadelphia for the news conference at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, alongside Rudy Giuliani and former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Lewandowski also attended the election night party at the White House, where several other people later tested positive. (New York Times / CNBC / CNN)

  • White House political affairs director Brian Jack tested positive for coronavirus. Jack attended Trump’s election night party at the White House. (New York Times / CNN)

  • Republic National Committee chief of staff Richard Walters tested positive for coronavirus. Walters was not at the White House election night party. (NBC News)

3/ Biden formed a COVID-19 transition team to coordinate the coronavirus response across the government. While the team has not yet been formally announced – and is different from the coronavirus task force that Biden unveiled Monday – it consists of 52 transition officials across most federal agencies. Biden’s 13-member coronavirus task force will eventually be integrated into the COVID-19 transition team. (Politico)

4/ Several Senate Republicans warned that Trump’s continued refusal to concede and allow Biden to begin the transition jeopardizes national security. Senate Republicans have said that Biden should at least be given access to the President’s Daily Brief. Sen. James Lankford, who chairs a Homeland Security subcommittee, said he will intervene if the the General Services Administration doesn’t certify the election by Friday. Without sign-off from Trump, Biden cannot receive the intelligence briefings. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post)

5/ Biden named long-time aide Ron Klain as his White House chief of staff. In a statement, Biden called Klain an “invaluable” adviser, noting the work they did together during the economic crisis in 2009 and the Ebola outbreak in 2014. Klain has also been a senior adviser to Democratic presidents, vice presidents, candidates and senators. (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

6/ The White House forced two senior Department of Homeland Security officials to resign. Bryan Ware, the Assistant Director for Cybersecurity for the DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and Valerie Boyd, DHS assistant secretary for international affairs, were both pressured to resign. (CNN / Reuters)

7/ The Trump administration notified Congress of its intent to sell $23 billion in weapons to the United Arab Emirates. While there have been bipartisan efforts in Congress to block potential arms sales to Persian Gulf states, the sale will go forward after 30 calendar days unless both houses of Congress pass a resolution of disapproval by a veto-proof majority. (CNN / New York Times / CNBC / Axios)

8/ Trump told friends that he wants to start a digital media company to “wreck” Fox News. The subscription-based streaming platform would be similar to Fox Nation and would leverage Trump’s database of email and cellphone contacts collected during his campaign to launch. (Axios / Bloomberg / CNN)

Day 1392: "Covid hell."

1/ U.S. COVID-19 hospitalizations reached an all-time high of 61,964, as new daily cases passed 139,000 for the first time. The previous record for hospitalizations was 59,780 on April 12. The U.S., meanwhile, recorded more than 1 million new coronavirus cases in the past 10 days and is averaging more than 111,000 new cases a day – a record. More than 1,440 new deaths were also reported, pushing the the seven-day average to more than 1,000 new deaths a day for the first time since August 19. Public health experts, meanwhile, warn that the U.S. is heading for a “dark winter,” a “Covid hell,” and the “darkest days of the pandemic” – aka the next few months of the coronavirus pandemic will be unlike anything the nation has seen yet. (New York Times / CNBC / The Guardian / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

  • Two more people who attended Trump’s Election Night party at the White House have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, bringing the current tally of COVID-19 cases from the event to at least five. (CNBC)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~51,927,000; deaths: ~1,281,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~10,362,000; deaths: ~241,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / USA Today / CNBC

2/ Election officials in 45 states representing both political parties said there was no evidence of voter fraud or irregularities. State officials and secretaries of state in four of the five remaining states reported no major voting issues. Officials in Texas did not respond when asked whether they suspected or had evidence of illegal voting. (New York Times)

3/ A Pennsylvania postal worker admitted that he fabricated the allegations that a postmaster instructed postal workers to backdate ballots mailed after Election Day. Richard Hopkins told investigators from the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General that the allegations of widespread voting irregularities were not true, and he signed an affidavit recanting his claims. Hopkins’s claim was cited by Lindsey Graham in a letter to the Justice Department calling for a federal investigation. Attorney General William Barr subsequently authorized federal prosecutors to investigate credible allegations of voting irregularities and fraud before results are certified. The Trump campaign also cited Hopkins’s allegation in a federal lawsuit seeking to prevent Pennsylvania election officials from certifying the states’ results. (Washington Post)

  • Georgia will conduct a statewide hand recount of ballots cast in the election amid baseless accusations of election fraud from Republicans. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the hand recount, which will likely be both less accurate than a machine recount and more costly, “will help build confidence.” Meanwhile, Georgia’s Lieutenant Gov. Geoff Duncan, a Republican, said there have not been “any sort of substantial instances” of voter fraud in the state. (NPR / CNBC / CBS News / CNN)

  • The Trump campaign filed another lawsuit in Michigan challenging the election results over alleged irregularities, seeking to stop the state from certifying results that show Biden leading by about 146,000 votes. (Bloomberg)

4/ The Office of the Director of National Intelligence won’t provide Biden with intelligence reports until the General Services Administration recognizes that Biden won the election. GSA chief Emily Murphy has yet to sign the letter of “ascertainment,” which allows Biden’s transition team to begin the transfer of power. As a result, Biden is not receiving the President’s Daily Brief and it’s not clear whether any of his top advisers are getting access to any classified material at all. (NBC News / New York Times)

5/ Trump made his first public appearance in six days to visit Arlington National Cemetery for a ceremony commemorating Veterans Day. He did not speak at the event. Trump’s official schedule has been devoid of public events since Biden surpassed the 270 electoral votes. (Associated Press / CNN)

6/ Trump named three loyalists to top Pentagon jobs a day after firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper. James Anderson, who had been acting undersecretary for policy, resigned and was replaced by Anthony Tata, a retired Army one-star general and former Fox News commentator who failed to get through Senate confirmation earlier this year. Joseph Kernan, a retired Navy vice admiral, stepped down as undersecretary for intelligence, and was replaced by Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who becomes acting undersecretary for intelligence. Trump also named Christopher Miller as defense chief. (Associated Press)

poll/ 86% of Trump voters don’t think Biden legitimately won the election, but can’t provide any evidence to support the claim. (Washington Post)

Day 1391: "A smooth transition."

1/ Attorney General William Barr authorized federal prosecutors to investigate “substantial allegations” of voter fraud – if they exist – before the results of the election are certified, despite no evidence of widespread fraud. In a reversal of long-standing Justice Department policy, Barr wrote that investigations “may be conducted if there are clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State.” In Barr’s directive, he said he had already approved probes related to the 2020 election “in specific instances,” but did not elaborate on the circumstances or whether they remained open. (New York Times / Associated Press / Politico / Washington Post)

  • Trump’s campaign filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania to block state officials from certifying President-elect Biden’s victory in the state. The lawsuit, brought by the campaign and two registered voters, alleged Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting system “lacked all of the hallmarks of transparency and verifiability that were present for in-person voters.” (Reuters / Bloomberg)

2/ The Justice Department’s top election crimes prosecutor resigned in protest after Barr authorized U.S. attorneys to probe alleged elections fraud. Richard Pilger told colleagues in an email that Barr’s memorandum breaks with the Justice Department’s policy on avoiding interference with elections that has stood for 40 years. A Justice Department official confirmed that the department is “looking into” allegations of ineligible voters in Nevada and mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania. (NPR / NBC News / CNN / Axios / The Guardian)

3/ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ignored Biden’s victory and claimed there will be a “smooth transition” to a second Trump term. “We must count every legal vote,” Pompeo said. “We must make sure that any vote that was not lawful ought not be counted, that dilutes your vote if it’s done improperly, gotta get that right. When we get it right, we’ll get it right.” When asked whether the State Department was prepared to engage with Biden’s transition team, Pompeo replied: “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” (CNBC / Bloomberg / Axios / The Hill)

  • Trump installed Kash Patel as chief of staff to new acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller. (Wall Street Journal)

4/ The White House budget office instructed federal agencies to proceed with plans for Trump’s February budget. “The decision to proceed with Trump’s budget for the 2022 fiscal year has rankled and surprised several career staffers given Biden’s victory, as well as the fact that the incoming Biden administration is expected to submit its budget plan to Congress early next year.” The White House budget proposal is typically issued in February, which would be at least two weeks after Trump leaves office. (Washington Post)

5/ The White House continues to vet political appointees for Trump’s nonexistent second term. The White House Presidential Personnel Office is in the process of vetting candidates for job openings in the federal government and the White House intends to fill early next year. (Daily Beast)

6/ The Biden-Harris transition team is considering legal action if the Trump administration doesn’t formalize Biden’s win and give him access to agencies and transition funding. The General Services Administration is tasked with “ascertaining” the results of the presidential election, but GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, a Trump appointee, has refused to sign the paperwork to begin the transition. Biden, meanwhile, called Trump’s refusal to concede the election an “embarrassment” that “will not help his legacy.” (CBS News / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / ABC News / The Guardian)

  • Trump’s adviser leading his post-election challenge tested positive for the coronavirus. David Bossie joins Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who both contracted the virus in the past week. (Bloomberg / CNBC)

7/ The FDA issued an emergency use authorization for a monoclonal antibody therapy to treat mild to moderate coronavirus infections in adults and children. The single antibody treatment is similar to the therapy given to Trump after he contracted the coronavirus. Eli Lilly said that its treatment should be administered as soon as possible after a positive coronavirus test, and within 10 days of developing symptoms. (New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN / Washington Post)

8/ Lawyers can’t find the parents for 666 migrant kids separated by the Trump administration – a higher number than the 545 previously reported. (NBC News)

9/ Trump removed the official in charge of the program that produces the federal government’s scientific report on climate change. Michael Kuperberg, a climate scientist who had been executive director of the U.S. Global Change Research Program since July 2015, had been expected to stay on through the production of the fifth edition of the congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment. The move comes days after the White House tapped Betsy Weatherhead to lead the climate study. (Politico / Washington Post)

poll/ 70% of Republicans do not believe the election “free and fair” despite no evidence of fraud. (The Guardian)

Day 1390: "A mask is not a political statement."

1/ More than 10 million people have been infected with the coronavirus in the United States, which is about one-fifth of the 50 million infections worldwide. At least 105,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Sunday, down slightly from the daily record set a day earlier. All but one state had more cases last week than the week before. (NPR / ABC News / USA Today / CNN / Bloomberg)

2/ Biden named 13 health experts to his Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board and declared the pandemic “one of the most important battles our administration will face.” Biden added: “I will be informed by science and by experts.” The panel will be co-chaired by the former FDA commissioner, former Surgeon General, and an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Yale. While Biden is unable to take control of the country’s response until after his Jan. 20 inauguration, the advisory board will work to create a plan for bringing the pandemic under control — a process Biden says will begin immediately after his inauguration – despite uncertainty over how much the Trump administration will cooperate. Biden also warned that the U.S. was facing a “dark winter” as the coronavirus continues to spread and appealed to Americans to wear mask, saying “a mask is not a political statement.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / Axios / NPR / NBC News / Bloomberg)

3/ Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is reportedly more than 90% effective, according to an analysis by an independent data monitoring committee. Pfizer plans to ask the FDA for emergency authorization later this month, after it has collected two months of safety data. By the end of the year it will have manufactured enough doses to immunize 15 to 20 million people. Pfizer did not join Operation Warp Speed, the Jared Kushner initiative to rush a vaccine to market by providing funding for research and manufacturing. Instead, Pfizer invested $2 billion on the project and then made a $1.95 billion deal with the U.S. government to provide 100 million doses. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / STAT News / Politico / CNBC)

  • Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson tested positive for COVID-19, days after Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also tested positive. Meadows and Carson attended the White House’s largely mask-free election night party alongside a group of officials in Trump’s Cabinet. (Axios / Washington Post)

  • Rep. Matt Gaetz, a close Trump ally, tested positive for coronavirus antibodies on Election Day. In March, Gaetz wore a gas mask on the House floor during a vote on an emergency funding bill to fight the spread of COVID-19. (Politico / The Hill)

4/ Biden plans to sign a series of executive orders after being sworn into office on Jan. 20 to reverse Trump’s policies, including rejoining the Paris climate accord, reversing the country’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization, repealing the ban on travel from some Muslim-majority countries, and reinstating the program allowing “Dreamers” to remain in the country. (Washington Post)

5/ Trump and his campaign continue to baselessly claim widespread election fraud, alleging that observers were blocked from ballot-counting rooms. The claim is without any basis in fact and is contradicted by several of Trump’s own legal filings. (New York Times / Washington Post / Axios)

  • Trump plans to hold campaign-style rallies in an effort to fight against the election results. He also reportedly plans to display the obituaries of people who supposedly voted but are dead. (Axios)

6/ Mitch McConnell supported Trump’s refusal to concede the election, saying Trump was “100 percent within his rights” to challenge the outcome and “look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options.” McConnell, declining to recognize Biden’s victory, added that Trump was right to not concede the presidential race because no states have certified their results yet. Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Trump’s reelection effort, said conceding “is not even in our vocabulary right now.” (New York Times / NBC News / Politico)

7/ A Trump administration appointee has refused to recognize Biden as the winner of the election and has declined to sign a letter allowing Biden’s transition team to formally begin its work. Emily Murphy, the administrator for the General Services Administration, must first affirm the election results in order for Biden’s transition to receive the legally mandated millions of dollars in federal funding, as well as access to government officials, office space in agencies, and equipment authorized for the transition team. Meanwhile, John Barsa, the acting deputy administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development told political appointees that the transition of power hasn’t started and will not begin until Murphy signs off. (Washington Post / CNBC / CNN)

8/ Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper by tweet. Trump tweeted that Christopher Miller, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, would immediately become acting defense secretary now that “Esper has been terminated.” Trump nominated Esper last year as his fourth defense secretary and the two had been at odds since Esper declined to deploy active-service troops to U.S. cities at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests this summer. Two White House officials said that FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director Gina Haspel could be next. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / CNN / The Guardian / Reuters / USA Today)

9/ Trump told advisers he’s thinking about running for president again in 2024. (Axios)

Day 1388: A total loser.

1/ Biden defeated Trump to become the 46th president of the United States. The Associated Press and TV networks called Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes for Biden, putting him over the 270-vote threshold needed to win the Electoral College. Shortly after, Nevada was also called for Biden. “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” Biden said in the statement. “It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.” Shortly before news organization called the race, Trump tweeted “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!” Kamala Harris will become the nation’s first woman, first Asian American, and first Black vice president. Trump, meanwhile, is the first president since 1992 to fail to win a second term. Biden is expected to give his victory speech at 8 p.m. Saturday — a full five days after the last ballots were cast. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NPR / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / Los Angeles Times / USA Today / ABC News / NBC News / CNN)

2/ Moments after CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, AP, and Fox News called the presidential election for Biden, Trump refused to concede, falsely claimed that the election was “far from over,” accused Biden of “rushing to falsely pose as the winner,” and threatened legal action to contest the results in some states. “Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated,” Trump said in a statement issued while he was golfing at his club in Virginia. The Trump campaign has already filed — and lost — multiple lawsuits alleging voting violations in several states. (Fox News / NPR / Associated Press / Politico / CNN / @brianstelter)

3/ The U.S. recorded more than 1,000 coronavirus deaths for the fourth straight day. The U.S. also set a daily record for new cases for the third straight day, with more than 132,700 new cases. At least 17 states reported single day records for new cases, and four states reported record deaths. (New York Times)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~49,625,000; deaths: ~1,248,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~9,788,000; deaths: ~237,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

4/ White House chief of staff Mark Meadows tested positive for the coronavirus. He didn’t issue a statement after testing positive for coronavirus this week and directed officials and advisers to not disclose his condition. At least five other people within Trump’s orbit tested positive for coronavirus in the days before and after Election Day, including top campaign aide Nick Trainer. (Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

5/ Trump fired the leaders of the agencies responsible for the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, electricity and natural gas regulation, and overseas aid. The White House declined comment on the firings, and declined to say whether there would be more following the election. (NPR)

Day 1387: "I don't like losers."

Today in one sentence: Biden is on the verge of winning the presidency after taking the lead in the vote count in Pennsylvania and Georgia; Trump – citing no evidence – continued to question the integrity of the election and promised legal action; and the U.S. recorded at least 121,000 new coronavirus cases a day after hitting 100,000 for the first time since the pandemic began.


1/ Biden is on the verge of winning the presidency after taking the lead in the vote count in Pennsylvania and Georgia. While a recount is expected in Georgia due to the narrow margin, Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes alone would put Biden over the 270 threshold needed to win the presidency. In the past 50 years, few recounts have led to changes in the winners. In Nevada, Biden’s lead doubled to about 22,000 votes by Friday morning, while his lead in Arizona shrank to about 43,800 votes with more than 200,000 ballots left to be counted. Trump needs to win at least four of the five outstanding states — Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania – all of which are too close to call. Biden and Harris, meanwhile, are expected to address the nation in a primetime speech Friday evening. In July, Trump declined to say whether he would accept the results of the election if he lost, saying “I’m not a good loser. I don’t like to lose.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / NPR / USA Today / The Guardian / NBC News)

2/ Trump – citing no evidence – continued to question the integrity of the election and promised legal action, baselessly tweeting “I easily WIN the Presidency of the United States with LEGAL VOTES CAST. The OBSERVERS were not allowed, in any way, shape, or form, to do their job and therefore, votes accepted during this period must be determined to be ILLEGAL VOTES. U.S. Supreme Court should decide!” There’s no evidence of widespread illegal votes in any state and the 3:10 a.m. tweet by the president was labeled as “misleading” by Twitter. Trump’s tweet followed a Thursday evening public address, which turned into his most