PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP offered JOE BIDEN a backhanded concession this morning, tweeting “He won” amid a series of complaints about the 2020 election. LESS THAN AN HOUR LATER, he took it all back. TRUMP tweeted: “RIGGED ELECTION. WE WILL WIN. … 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!”
ELECTION DAY plus-12 days, TRUMP is still saying he won despite all evidence to the contrary.
HOW TEAM BIDEN IS REACTING: RON KLAIN, Biden’s chief of staff, told CHUCK TODD on NBC’S “MEET THE PRESS” that “Donald Trump’s Twitter feed doesn’t make Joe Biden president or not president. The American people did that. What we really want to see this week, Chuck, is the General Services Administration issue that ascertainment. … Meet with these vaccine officials, kind of get the intelligence briefings for the president-elect, the vice president-elect. That’s really the measure of how this is moving forward this week, I think.”
— ON A POSSIBLE COVID RELIEF BILL: KLAIN: “Speaker Pelosi has done a magnificent job of handling this. What I want her to hear is that we have her back in handling this. But we have the backs of the American people. Speaker Pelosi … was in long negotiations with Secretary Mnuchin to try to find that compromise.
“I mean, Chuck, it’s not that she hasn’t been at the table. She’s been at the table. We just don’t see the administration; the current administration has walked away from the table. So our message to Speaker Pelosi is keep doing what you’re doing to the Republicans. Let’s get this done. I mean, this could be a first example of bipartisan action post the election.”
MEANWHILE … TRUMP’S BACK-AND-FORTH COMMENTS come as he continues to mount legal challenges led by RUDY GIULIANI, which have come up short at nearly every turn. THE PRESIDENT has all but abdicated any role in trying to lead the country through the pandemic that is ripping across the country, with more than 10.9 million Americans having tested positive for the coronavirus and the economy continuing to struggle as cities and states across the country grapple with whether to implement new shutdown measures.
WAPO’S ASHLEY PARKER, JOSH DAWSEY, YASMEEN ABUTALEB and PHIL RUCKER are reporting that TRUMP hasn’t “attended a coronavirus task force meeting in ‘at least five months,’ said one senior administration official with knowledge of the meetings who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share candid details.
“Now, as he fights for his political life, falsely claiming the election was somehow rigged against him, Trump has abdicated one of the central duties of the job he claims to want: leading the country through a devastating pandemic as it heads into a grim winter. ‘I don’t know that I think that’s where his focus is,’ said one senior administration official. ‘But I know that’s where our focus needs to get back to.’”
A PEEK INTO TRUMP’S FUTURE PLANS? — TRUMP also tweeted this morning that FOX NEWS “daytime and weekend daytime have lost their ratings … Many great alternatives are forming & exist. Try @OANN & @newsmax, among others!”
SATURDAY MARKED a disturbing day in Washington. Alongside supporters of the president, far-right extremist groups like the Proud Boys marched down the streets and surrounded the Washington Monument. Street fighting broke out as counter-protesters confronted Trump supporters. There were 20 arrests and one stabbing. Police were injured.
THIS LEVEL of hyperpartisan ugliness was shocking to see on the streets of the nation’s capital, and there’s no sign it’s going away anytime soon.
— “After thousands of Trump supporters rally in D.C., violence erupts when night falls,” by WaPo’s Marissa Lang, Michael Miller, Peter Jamison, Justin Wm. Moyer, Clarence Williams, Peter Hermann, Fredrick Kunkle and John Woodrow Cox: “President Trump’s supporters had celebrated for hours on Saturday, waving their MAGA flags and blaring ‘God Bless the U.S.A.’ as they gathered in Washington to falsely claim that the election had been stolen from the man they adore. The crowd had even reveled in a personal visit from Trump, who passed by in his motorcade, smiling and waving.
“But that was before the people who oppose their hero showed up and the mood shifted, growing angrier as 300 or so counterprotesters delivered a message the president’s most ardent backers were unwilling to hear: The election is over. Trump lost. On stark display in the nation’s capital were two irreconcilable versions of America, each refusing to accept what the other considered to be undeniable fact.
“While much of the day unfolded peacefully, brief but intense clashes erupted throughout. Activists spewed profanity and shouted threats, threw punches and launched bottles. On both sides, people were bloodied, and at least 20 were arrested, including four whose allegiances remain unknown on gun charges. The chaos also left two officers injured.”
Good Sunday morning.
CLICKER — NYT’S SAVANNAH GUTHRIE PROFILE: “Savannah Guthrie Is Feeling Lucky”
THE CORONAVIRUS IS RAGING … 10.9 MILLION Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus. … 245,617 Americans have died.
— AP: “Mexico reaches 1 million virus cases, nears 100,000 deaths,” by Mark Stevenson and Diego Delgado
— ANTHONY FAUCI told JAKE TAPPER on CNN’S “STATE OF THE UNION” that “if we get most of the country vaccinated in the second, third quarter of the year, and the vaccine continues to prove its efficacy, and people adhere to those fundamental measures, I think we can start approaching the degree — it’s not going to be a light switch, Jake. We are not going to turn it on and off, going from where we are to completely normal. It’s going to be a gradual accrual of more normality as the weeks and the months go by, as we get well into 2021.” Eleanor Mueller has more on Fauci saying it would be better if they could start working with the Biden transition team
— TODD interviewed MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, a member of BIDEN’S Covid-19 Advisory Board. TODD: “We’re seeing the exponential rise that you sadly predicted would happen in Covid cases, you and many others, this fall and winter. Here we are. Are we going to plateau anytime soon, or is this, is this trajectory just going to keep going up and up?”
OSTERHOLM: “Our future is in our hands. And right now, for at least the next three weeks, because cases are already in the — we would say in the pipeline, meaning they’re already infected — these numbers are going to go way up. Our job is to imagine what the world could be like if we do make the changes we need to make.
“We’re going to be heading to a vaccine in the next few months, where we can start to imagine having summer baseball back, barbecues, etc. But in the meantime, we are in a very dangerous period, the most dangerous public health period since 1918. And if we don’t basically take important steps like stop swapping air with our neighbors, our friends, our colleagues, we’re going to see these numbers grow substantially.”
— ABC’S MARTHA RADDATZ interviewed Adm. BRETT GIROIR, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, on “THIS WEEK” about getting the pandemic under control. GIROIR: “We’re going to have to do things like limit attendance or close bars, close indoor restaurants because that’s very important. If we do these things combined with the testing that we have, we can flatten the curve. If we do not do these things, the cases will continue to go up.”
RADDATZ: “But, Admiral, I just want to say again — and I’ve been across the country and it is remarkable how in certain places, and I will say red states, they’re not wearing masks. What do you do about that? How does that affect a curve everybody else might want to flatten?”
GIROIR: “We all have to communicate very clearly that the science is clear, the evidence is overwhelming, whether you want to look at microbiological data or you want to look at epidemiology, city by city, state by state, country by country, that masks do work. They’re highly protective against you spreading it to someone else, and we also know that it provides you protection from getting it from someone else.”
WHERE THINGS STAND — NYT’S JONATHAN MARTIN and ALEX BURNS: “There Was No Knockout, So Democrats and G.O.P. Regroup for Next Round”: “America’s two major parties had hoped the 2020 presidential election would render a decisive judgment on the country’s political trajectory. But after a race that broke records for voter turnout and campaign spending, neither Democrats nor Republicans have achieved a dominant upper hand.
“Instead, the election delivered a split decision, ousting President Trump but narrowing the Democratic majority in the House and perhaps preserving the Republican majority in the Senate. As Joseph R. Biden Jr. prepares to take office and preside over a closely divided government, leaders in both camps are acknowledging that voters seem to have issued not a mandate for the left or the right but a muddled plea to move on from Trump-style chaos.
“With 306 electoral college votes and the most popular votes of any presidential candidate in history, Mr. Biden attained a victory that was paramount to many Democrats, who saw a second Trump term as nothing less than a threat to democracy.
“Yet on the electoral landscape, both parties find themselves stretched thin and battling on new fronts, with their traditional strongholds increasingly under siege. Indeed, Democrats and Republicans are facing perhaps the most unsettled and up-for-grabs electoral map the country has seen in a generation, since the parties were still fighting over California in the late 1980s.”
MORE SUNDAY BEST — SO THAT’S NOT A NO … TAPPER asked Sen. BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vt.) if he has had conversations with the BIDEN transition about a possible Cabinet post. SANDERS: “I talk to the Biden administration. I want to do my best in whatever capacity, as a senator or in the administration, to protect the working families of this country.”
— FOX NEWS’ CHRIS WALLACE spoke with KEN STARR on “FOX NEWS SUNDAY” about the status of the president’s legal challenges. STARR: “Our system is designed to check. Let’s check it out. And a lawsuit was filed just on Wednesday in Michigan. Let’s let this process run. A lawsuit was just filed by the legendary Lin Wood in Georgia, don’t mess with Lin Wood. Let’s find out.
“In the United States, we allow the jury to hear all the evidence and that’s what’s happening right now. Don’t rush to judgment, it’s important, especially given the fact that so many … Americans feel right now disenfranchised. So let’s get the facts in, allow this litigation to run its course just as in Bush v. Gore ran for 37 days.”
THE TRANSITION … “After ambitious campaign promises, Biden faces a governing grind,” by WaPo’s Michael Scherer and Matt Viser: “President-elect Joe Biden campaigned on a transformational liberal policy platform, calling for ‘revolutionary institutional changes’ and $7 trillion of new spending to remake the American economy as he styled himself a modern-day FDR.
“Yet Biden’s decisive electoral college victory — he won the national popular vote by more than 5 million and flipped five states — came with no coattails down ballot that would help him push through his ambitious plans. Instead, the country appears to have rejected both President Trump and the idea of Democratic control, with the liberal policy overhaul it would have brought — forcing a rapid recalibration by Biden of what remains possible.
“Biden’s allies say the platform on which he campaigned should not be counted out, not least because he retains the ability to govern through executive action, as did Trump and President Barack Obama. And depending on what happens in the coming months, they expect at minimum attempts to craft legislation early next year on coronavirus response and infrastructure.”
ALL EYES ON HARRIS — “Largely Out of Sight in Washington, Kamala Harris Preps for White House,” by NYT’s Michael Crowley: “After spending election week in Delaware, she has returned to the two-bedroom Washington condominium she bought after she was elected to the Senate in 2016. From there, she is in regular touch with Mr. Biden, by text message or telephone, according to aides with the Biden-Harris transition team, and with other transition officials. Ms. Harris’s husband, Douglas Emhoff, also has a close relationship with the incoming first lady, Jill Biden; the two campaigned together in the race’s final weeks.
“One focus of her time is the quantum leap Ms. Harris is soon to make from the legislative to the executive branch. Whereas Mr. Biden will have virtually no learning curve upon returning to the White House after eight years as vice president, Ms. Harris has spent little, if any, substantive time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. (A transition official could not immediately say when she had last visited there.) …
“For now, Ms. Harris remains a senator. It is unclear when she might relinquish her seat. Mr. Obama stepped down from his Senate seat days after his 2008 election, but Mr. Biden, ever the sentimentalist, hung on to his until shortly before he was sworn in as vice president the following January, telling friends he wanted to take one last oath of office for the seat he had held for decades. (Mr. Biden also said he wanted to retain his vote in case it might be needed in a lame-duck Senate session.)”
— “Harris’s allies wonder anxiously: Will she have real clout?” by WaPo’s Chelsea Janes and Sean Sullivan: “When Kamala D. Harris stepped onstage for the first time as vice president-elect recently, she spoke emotionally of ‘Black women, who are often — too often — overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy.’
“But while Black activists remain excited about Harris’s ascent, many now worry that the administration will not deliver much beyond her historic election — a fear sharpened by Democrats’ disappointing performance in congressional races, which has dramatically limited Biden’s maneuvering room.
“Their worries are underlined by the ongoing uncertainty over what exactly Harris’s portfolio will be in the Biden administration, and how much freedom she will have to chart her own course on issues like racial justice and immigration.” WaPo
IN GEORGIA — JAMES ARKIN in Columbus, Ga.: “Health care vs. ‘radical leftists’: Parties re-running 2020 playbooks in Georgia runoffs”: “Republicans want to save Georgians from socialism. Democrats want to save their health care and flip the Senate. The dueling messages last week defined the kickoff of the two runoff elections in Georgia that will decide control of the Senate in January. Win both races, and Democrats have a 50-50 Senate with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris breaking ties. Lose both, and Democrats are relegated once again to the minority, with a Republican Senate standing in the way of President-elect Joe Biden’s ambitious agenda.
“The eight-week sprint to the Jan. 5 runoffs comes amid the backdrop of rapidly rising Covid-19 infections, along with the start of Biden’s transition — even as Republicans defend President Donald Trump’s efforts to undermine and fight the results of the election. Both sides agree on one thing: Georgia is about to determine the shape of American politics for at least the next two years. But they diverge sharply on how that prospect motivates voters. …
“Ossoff, who is challenging GOP Sen. David Perdue, and Rev. Raphael Warnock, who is running in a special election against appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler, both focused on protecting health care in their first events last week, a continuation of Democrats’ general-election message. In his stump speech at the drive-in rally, Ossoff called for investing in rural hospitals, expanding Medicaid and preserving pre-existing conditions protections. The event was in a massive parking lot by the local Civic Center, with attendees sitting in cars or distanced on the pavement.”
TRUMP’S SUNDAY — THE PRESIDENT has nothing on his public schedule. He arrived earlier this morning at his golf course in Virginia for “a second straight day and his fourth golf outing since the election,” via NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell. VP MIKE PENCE and second lady KAREN PENCE will travel to Cape Canaveral, Fla., to attend a viewing of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 Mission Launch.
BIDEN is attending church this morning. He and HARRIS will meet with transition advisers.
JOSH GERSTEIN: “Judge: Trump appointee lacked authority to rein in DACA”: “Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf lacked the authority to issue a directive that blocked new applications for the Obama-era program benefiting so-called Dreamers, a federal judge ruled Saturday. Brooklyn-based U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis concluded that a series of bureaucratic and legal moves that the Trump administration took last year to install Wolf atop the Department of Homeland Security without Senate confirmation were unlawful and invalid.
“‘DHS failed to follow the order of succession as it was lawfully designated,’ wrote Garaufis, an appointee of President Barack Obama. ‘Therefore, the actions taken by purported Acting Secretaries, who were not properly in their roles according to the lawful order of succession, were taken without legal authority.’
“The most immediate beneficiaries of the court ruling are likely to be immigrants who are eligible for DACA but did not apply before the Trump administration cut off applications in September 2017. The decision could also lead DHS to restore a DACA benefit the administration largely halted at the same time: the ability for Dreamers to leave the country and return, without losing their quasi-legal status and work permits.”
TRADE WARS — “Asia-Pacific Countries Sign Major Trade Pact in Test for Biden,” by WSJ’s Jon Emont and Alastair Gale in Singapore: “Fifteen countries including China signed a major trade deal on Sunday after years of tricky negotiations, posing an early challenge to President-elect Joe Biden as he formulates his administration’s trade policies.
“The agreement, called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, creates a regional bloc that covers around a third of global economic output. It stretches across many of Asia-Pacific’s largest and most vibrant economies, which set aside geopolitical differences to boost trade and growth during the coronavirus pandemic. Apart from China, it includes Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and 10 Southeast Asian nations, from Indonesia and Vietnam to Thailand and Singapore. …
“The world’s largest economy, the U.S., isn’t a part of the deal. It was involved in the conception of a different bloc called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, that didn’t include Beijing and was aimed in part at countering China’s growing clout. But Washington, which shunned big multilateral trade pacts under the Trump administration, pulled out of that pact, a modified version of which was signed by the other 11 countries in the grouping.
“The deal signed Sunday increases pressure on Mr. Biden to deepen U.S. trade engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. He warned last year that if America doesn’t write the rules of the road, China will, and said he would try to renegotiate the TPP, but hasn’t taken a firm position either way.”
FOR YOUR RADAR — “Israel advances plans in sensitive east Jerusalem settlement,” by AP’s Tia Goldenberg in Jerusalem: “A settlement watchdog group said Sunday Israel is moving ahead with new construction of hundreds of homes in a strategic east Jerusalem settlement that threatens to cut off parts of the city claimed by Palestinians from the West Bank.
“The group, Peace Now, said the Israel Land Authority announced on its website Sunday that it had opened up tenders for more than 1,200 new homes in the key settlement of Givat Hamatos in east Jerusalem.
“The move may test ties with the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden, who is expected to take a firmer tack against Israeli settlement expansion after four years of a more lenient policy under President Donald Trump, who has largely turned a blind eye to settlement construction.”
— “Trump’s student loan cliff threatens chaos for Biden,” by Michael Stratford: “At midnight on New Year’s Eve, President Donald Trump’s pause on student loan payments for 33 million Americans is set to expire, just three weeks before President-elect Joe Biden is slated to take over.
“The Education Department started warning borrowers through text messages and emails this week that their monthly payments will resume in January. Even though Trump said this summer that he planned to later “extend” the freeze beyond Dec. 31, a White House spokesperson declined to comment on whether the president is still considering another executive action to move the expiration date.
“If Trump doesn’t act unilaterally and Congress doesn’t act to avert the cliff either, Biden could waive his own executive wand once inaugurated, though the president-elect’s campaign will not divulge his plans. The intervening weeks of limbo could cause mass confusion and uncertainty for borrowers. For the incoming president, the economic and administrative mess could take months to untangle, consuming the early days of his Education Department.”
MEDIAWATCH — “Parler Makes Play for Conservatives Mad at Facebook, Twitter,” by WSJ’s Jeff Horwitz and Keach Hagey: “As Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. have taken a more assertive role in curbing content on their platforms, prominent conservatives on both platforms have responded with a frequent retort: Follow me on Parler.
“Launched in 2018, the libertarian-leaning social network was the most downloaded app on both Android and Apple devices for most of last week, according to data from Google and analytics firm App Annie. Its leaders envision it as a free-speech-focused alternative to the giants of Silicon Valley.
“The platform also has some deep-pocketed investors. Rebekah Mercer, daughter of hedge-fund investor Robert Mercer, is among the company’s financial backers, according to people familiar with the matter. The Mercers have previously financed a number of conservative causes.
“After The Wall Street Journal reported on the Mercers’ ties with Parler, Chief Executive John Matze confirmed that Ms. Mercer was the lead investor in the company at its outset and said that her backing was dependent on the platform allowing users to control what they see.”
— Allison Gualtieri is joining CBSNews.com as a senior news editor. She is a Washington Examiner and U.S. News & World Report alum.
Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at [email protected].
WEEKEND WEDDING — Kristen Lebryk, health and life sciences government affairs coordinator at BGR Group, and Kyle Thomas, Senate liaison and congressional affairs specialist at FEMA, got married in a small ceremony in the Turks and Caicos on Saturday. They met on Capitol Hill while both working in the Cannon House Office Building. Pic
BIRTHDAYS: Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) is 36 … Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.) is 54 … Fox News’ John Roberts is 64 … AP’s Zeke Miller … Jen Palmieri (h/t Tim Burger) … Joe Sandler (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) … Amanda Renteria … Zach Bauer of VP Mike Pence’s office … Bill Richardson is 73 … Helen Brosnan, independent expenditure director for Justice Democrats (h/ts Ben Chang) … Asha Rangappa … Robert Draper … Gail Gitcho … WaPo’s Greg Miller … Molly O’Toole … Madge Bush … John Easton … Augie McGinnity, digital director for Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) (h/t Aaron Bennett) … Jennifer Jones … Chris Doherty (h/t Jon Haber) … Adam Snider, comms specialist at the Electrification Coalition, is 41 …
… Josh Venable … CNN’s Laura Bernardini … Elliott Phaup … Davan Maharaj … Lee Cochran of the Blackstone Group … Sarah Fanning … Eugene Mulero is 42 … Chris Graham … Matthew Fried … Tomos Lewis … Emily Schlichting … Jim Boyle, chief marketing and comms officer at BBB National Programs … AARP’s Joe Valenti … Ben Goodman, national director of Mission: Readiness (h/t John Connolly) … Cyril Dadd, director of federal legislative affairs at Lumen Technologies … Mike Mills … Robert McCreary … FT’s Silvia Sciorilli Borrelli … Tammy Sun … Alexandra Lippman (h/t proud brother Daniel) … Mark Naymik … Erin (Shaw) Stinner … Ryan Miner … Nancy Kohn … Chris Fluhr