Democratic leaders, including president-elect Biden, are marking Transgender Remembrance Day, after one of the deadliest years on record for members of the trans community.
“To transgender and gender-nonconforming people across America and around the world: from the moment I am sworn in as president of the United States, know that my administration will see you, listen to you, and fight for not only your safety but also the dignity and justice you have been denied,” Biden said in a statement.
At least 37 transgender people have been killed this year, according to Human Rights Watch.
In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pointed to Democratic efforts to protect the rights of transgender Americans and applauded the barrier-breaking trans leaders elected to public office in recent years.
“This year, as we mark this solemn day of remembrance, the record number of transgender elected officials who have made history across the country stands as an inspiration,” she said. “These individuals are taking their rightful seat at the table, as they serve our communities and strengthen our democracy.”
Senator Rick Scott, a Republican from Florida and a former governor of the state, announced that he has tested positive for the coronavirus. He said he is “feeling good & experiencing very mild symptoms.”
In a second tweet, he implored Americans to “wear a mask” and “socially distance.”
Scott’s diagnosis comes after Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who at 87 is the oldest and longest-serving Senate Republican the chamber, tested positive for Covid-19. A handful of House members have also recently tested positive for the virus.
Georgia is expected to certify Biden’s victory in the state later this morning, after a hand recount of millions of ballots.
The Associated Press called the race on Thursday evening following the recount, which election officials said reaffirmed Biden’s victory more than two weeks after election day.
It’s the first time a Democratic presidential nominee has carried the state in nearly three decades.
In a statement, a Trump campaign lawyer refused to accept the results, vowing to “pursue all legal options”.
The Guardian’s Sam Levine spoke to Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, about the pressure he is facing from members of his own party to amplify the president’s false narrative of widespread voter fraud and why he is refusing to do so.
Rather unexpectedly this morning there has been a call to name the upcoming Coronavirus vaccines after the current president of the United States. Geraldo Rivera on Fox thinks it would be nice to honor Donald Trump that way.
There have been other ideas.
In that column I just linked to, Rubin touches on one of the eternal dilemmas of covering lies and conspiracy theories. Reporting on them inevitably amplifies them. Not mentioning them doesn’t make them go away, and in fact raises the question “Why aren’t the mainstream media reporting this? They must have something to hide.”
In the spirit of trying to present a spread of reaction to what is going on with Republican attempts to overthrow the election, CNN have this report, which maybe gives a good indicator of the motivation of the senior Republican leaders who currently appear happy to go along with Donald Trump’s unprecedented challenge to the results.
Thirteen days have passed since Joe Biden was declared the president-elect, securing the same number of electoral votes — 306 — that Trump once described as a “landslide.”
But instead of softening or coming to terms with his defeat, a reclusive Trump has been escalating his dark and corrosive efforts to undercut American democracy. As his legal options fizzle and some aides seek to convince him to come to grips with reality, Trump has only entrenched deeper into debunked conspiracy theories.
Some Republicans are growing restless over the delay in moving forward with the transition, aides said, even though few of them have spoken out publicly. Although Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska – two of the lone Republicans known to speak out against Trump – strongly criticized him Thursday night, questions about Trump’s behavior from other GOP members to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other leaders are still answered with the same blunt message from a week ago: Speaking out is not worth running the risk of angering Trump, whose supporters hold the cards in upcoming twin runoff elections in Georgia.
Jennifer Rubin has been very forthright in her Washington Post column to day about how various groups of people should be handlings Trump’s onslaught on democratic norms and his attempt to overturn the 2020 US election result.
First, respectable networks should not cover live any of the Trump lawyers’ events. (They do not cover insane people ranting on a street corner, do they?)
Second, news outlets must hound every Republican lawmaker, official and candidate either to denounce or condone the abuse of the courts to disenfranchise voters. The two Senate Republican candidates in Georgia, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, have joined in the spurious claims of fraud with baseless attacks on the state’s Republican secretary of state; their opponents should tie them to Trump and Giuliani’s antics.
Third, state and federal officials and the Biden transition team should vow to investigate any efforts by Trump, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham or any other Republican politician who attempts to sway election officials or otherwise undermine free and fair elections.
Fourth, private actors (TV advertisers, business leaders, social media) need to stop enabling anti-democratic activities and slanderous accusations designed to deprive millions of Americans of their right to have their votes counted.
Read more here: Washington Post – Trump and Giuliani are the Republican Party
Just a quick update on the new that Pfizer are seeking emergency approval of their Covid-19 vaccine. Associated Press report that Gen. Gustave Perna of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine program says about 40 million doses could be ready for distribution in the US quickly if the Food and Drug Administration authorizes the emergency use.
He told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that states would decide, with guidance from the FDA and the CDC, who will first get the vaccine.
Perna said the “states are going to tell us exactly where they want it to be…and as soon as they figure out their distribution plan across their states, we will ensure that the vaccine gets there in a timely manner.”
Health care workers and those in nursing homes and other vulnerable people are expected to get the first vaccines. Health experts say it likely will be spring or later before there’s enough vaccine for early distribution to the general public.
The Philadelphia Inquirer this morning reports on new moves to curb the spread of Covid in the city. The new rules come into effect at 5pm today and are slated to last until at least 1 January.
The guidance closes indoor restaurant dining, gyms, and museums starting on Friday, in addition to banning indoor gatherings. It also requires high schools and colleges to hold classes virtually, bans fans at sporting events, and requires office workers to operate remotely except when impossible. Outdoor restaurant dining can continue, but diners can only eat with members of their own households.
Health Commissioner Thomas Farley urged surrounding counties in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey to join Philadelphia in enacting similar measures, saying earlier this week, “We all use the same hospitals. We all interact with each other.”
2,952 Pennsylvania residents were hospitalized for Covid as of Thursday, according to state data. That’s an increase of more than 750 patients compared to the previous week. The previous record high was 2,800 in April.
Not everybody agrees with the measures though, and a group of Philadelphia restaurant owners have already filed a federal lawsuit against Mayor Jim Kenney over the new rules.
The 11-page complaint argues that Kenney’s restrictions, which were announced this week and take effect at restaurants on Friday, are arbitrary and not supported by evidence that they will help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
“The edicts of the ‘Safer at Home’ policies have no relation to nor bearing upon the conduct of business, liberty, and other constitutional rights,” the lawsuit says.
Mitt Romney is one Republican who has stood up to criticise the president’s actions since he lost the 2020 election. His reward this morning is a barrage of abuse from Trump on Twitter.
Another Republican who has stood up to the pressure from the party and the Trump administration to overturn Joe Biden’s victory is Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger.
One of very few Republican figures to emerge with any credit from the last few days, Raffensperger, who called himself a proud Trump supporter, has again stated today that Joe Biden has won Georgia.
“Like other Republicans. I’m disappointed, our candidate didn’t win Georgia’s electoral votes,” he said. “I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie. As secretary of state, I believe that the numbers that we have presented today are correct.”
While it looks like Donald Trump and the Republican party’s attempted coup to subvert the outcome of the 2020 has little chance of succeeding, it does appear to be working for them in one way – firing up the base.
In Reuters interviews over the last couple of days with 50 Trump voters in Texas, all said they believed the election was rigged or in some way illegitimate. Of those, 20 said they would consider accepting Biden as their president, but only in light of proof that the election was conducted fairly. Most repeated debunked conspiracy theories espoused by Trump, Republican officials and conservative media claiming that millions of votes were dishonestly switched to Biden in key states by biased poll workers and hacked voting machines.
Many voters interviewed by Reuters said they formed their opinions by watching emergent right-wing media outlets such as Newsmax and One American News Network that have amplified Trump*s fraud claims. Some have boycotted Fox News out of anger that the network called Biden the election winner and that some of its news anchors – in contrast to its opinion show stars – have been skeptical of Trump’s fraud allegations.
The widespread rejection of the election result among Republicans reflects a new and dangerous dynamic in American politics: the normalization of false and increasingly extreme conspiracy theories among tens of millions of mainstream voters, according to government scholars, analysts and some lawmakers on both sides of the political divide. The trend has deeply troubling long-term implications for American political and civic institutions, said Paul Light, a veteran political scientist at New York University (NYU). “This is dystopian,” Light said. “America could fracture.*
Adam Kinzinger, a Republican member of the US House of Representatives, is among the few party members to publicly recognize Biden’s victory. He called his Republican colleagues reluctance to reject Trump*s conspiracies a failure of political courage that threatens to undermine American democracy for years. If citizens lose faith in election integrity, that could lead to “really bad things,” including violence and social unrest, he said in an interview.
David Gergen – an adviser to four previous US presidents, two Democrats and two Republicans – said Trump is trying to “kneecap” the Biden administration before it takes power, noting this is the first time a sitting American president has tried to overthrow an election result.
It may not be the last time. Many Republicans see attacks on election integrity as a winning issue for future campaigns – including the next presidential race, according to one Republican operative close to the Trump campaign. The party, the person said, is setting up a push for “far more stringent oversight on voting procedures in 2024,” when the party*s nominee will likely be Trump or his anointed successor.
Brett Fryar, a 50-year-old chiropractor, owns a small business in Texas. He has two undergraduate degrees and a master*s degree, in organic chemistry. He told Reuters “If President Trump comes out and says: ‘Guys, I have irrefutable proof of fraud, the courts won’t listen, and I’m now calling on Americans to take up arms,’ we would go.”
Nothing will convince Fryar that Biden won. And as CNN’s Jake Tapper notes, this isn’t the fringes of the internet enabling it, this isn’t just Trump and his outriders, this is the Republican party itself.
Here’s the Washington Post today on the strategy that Joe Biden is pursuing while he waits for the transition period to the new Biden-Harris administration to become official.
President-elect Joe Biden tried Thursday to minimize as an irresponsible distraction the ever-escalating attempts by President Trump and his allies to undermine or overturn the presidential election results.
The decision reflected confidence among Biden’s advisers that Trump’s maneuverings — from pushing Michigan Republicans to block certification of the results to unfounded claims that US voting machine software had been tampered with by allies of the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez — were little more than public spectacle aimed at satisfying Trump’s sense of grievance with no chance of overturning the vote.
Biden said he did not plan any new legal moves in response to Trump’s latest efforts, but also did not rule out taking action against the General Services Administration at a future date to force a belated recognition of his presidential transition. The GSA, following Trump’s dictate, has refused to allow the traditional exchange of information with the incoming administration, even blocking intelligence and pandemic briefings.
Democratic strategists and elected officials have largely closed ranks behind Biden’s strategy to avoid engaging directly with Trump’s efforts to spread false conspiracy theories about voter fraud.
“The president-elect has taken the right tack, frankly, to stay above it, to keep focused on preparing himself for the work ahead, to be meeting with people who can help prepare him, even if the president continues to stonewall the transition — and let other actors push back,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff said.
The New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was among members of the ‘Squad’, a group of progressive Democrats, who spoke at a Sunrise Movement rally in Washington yesterday to push Joe Biden on tackling the climate emergency.
AOC said they would urge Biden to ‘keep his promises’ to working families, women, minorities and climate activists as he fills his cabinet.
In July, Biden outlined an ambitious climate plan that would spend $2tn over four years investing in clean-energy infrastructure while vowing to cut carbon emissions from electrical power to zero in 15 years.
Chris McGreal has been in Howard county, Iowa for us, looking at how Donald Trump managed to boost his support among rural Americans in the election, despite his overall defeat.
Just a few months ago, Neil Shaffer thought Iowa was lost to Donald Trump.
“I was worried. We were in the midst of Covid and the economy wasn’t doing so good and Trump wasn’t handling the Covid interviews very well, and I was thinking this is gonna be a bloodbath,” said the farmer and chair of a county Republican party in the north-east of the state.
But on election day, rural Iowa turned out in force for Trump. He not only beat Joe Biden decisively in a state that opinion polls consistently predicted would be close, but the president significantly increased his vote in counties that put Barack Obama into the White House and which then flipped to Trump.
“Out here, I think 2016 was less a vote for Trump than a vote against Hillary,” said Shaffer. “A lot of people were not sold on her and so they were willing to roll the dice on Trump. Now they are Trump people. They believe in him. They came out in force.”
Shaffer said Trump commands a loyalty among a core of rural voters that he has not seen for a president before, and that it isn’t going away even when he leaves office.
Read more of Chris McGreal’s report here: ‘He made a connection’: how did Trump manage to boost his support among rural Americans?
Donald Trump is currently spreading more paranoid conspiracy theories about the election on social media, by retweeting charts that show that mail-in ballots were counted after election day. This is an extremely normal part of the election process, and has been for many years.
Indeed, it is worth reminding ourselves that in several of the crucial battleground states, Republican legislators took action to ensure that – unlike, in say, Texas or Florida – mail-in ballots were not allowed to be processed before election day. That is the simple reason that counts in Texas and Florida were much faster than those in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
I mentioned earlier that today Donald Trump is planning to meet Michigan’s state legislative leaders, Senate majority leader Mike Shirkey and House speaker Lee Chatfield, where he is expected to pressure them to find a way to award the state’s 16 electoral college votes to him, rather than Joe Biden who won the vote.
Also in the president’s diary today, early morning he is taking part in a virtual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting at, and later will be delivering remarks on lower prescription drug prices at 2.30pm.
He’s also up and tweeting and plugging Congressman Matt Gaetz’s book “Firebrand: Dispatches from the front lines of the MAGA revolution”, which I’m sure is a cracking read.
Vice president Mike Pence is in Georgia, and will be speaking at campaign rallies for Republican Senate candidates David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in Canton at 1.05pm and Gainesville at 4.10pm.
President-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris meet House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic minority leader Chuck Schumer in Wilmington. Pelosi is also expected to give her own press conference this morning.
And there’s a couple of hearings worth keeping an eye on: House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the US military mission in Afghanistan at 9am, and Internal Revenue Service commissioner Charles Rettig testifies before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight at 10am.