Trump news – live: Congress leaders get vaccine as Pentagon forces ‘abrupt’ halt to Biden briefings

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Michael Flynn says Trump should use military to ‘rerun’ election in swing states

As Congress irons out details over a belated and critically needed coronavirus relief package as the government approaches a midnight deadline to fund the government, chief leaders in Washington received their first doses of Covid-19 vaccine.

Vice president Mike Pence received his first dose on Friday, followed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. President-elect Joe Biden will receive a dose on Monday; the White House has not announced plans for Donald Trump to be vaccinated.

Meanwhile, his former adviser Michael Flynn has urged the president to use the military to force an election “rerun” in the swing states he lost to his Democratic opponent, following the electoral college cementing his win in the 2020 election.

The former national security adviser said in an interview with Newsmax on Thursday that there is “no way” the US is going to be able to “move forward as a nation” unless Mr Biden’s win is overturned and suggested Mr Trump seized voting machines, the subject of numerous right-wing conspiracy theories that have been roundly dismissed by election officials from both parties.

It comes as the Pentagon has ordered a halt to briefings for the transition team of president-elect Joe Biden. A senior Defence Department official told Axios it was a “simple delay of the last few scheduled meetings until after the new year”. But a spokesperson for the Biden transition team on Friday said the administration’s claims that there was an agreed-upon break for those meetings is false.

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Trump aides talked him out of backing bigger stimulus payments for Americans, report says

Donald Trump was talked out of calling for large stimulus payments for struggling Americans by White House aides, a report says.

On a phone call, the outgoing president said he believed the relief package payment should be “at least” $1,200 and as much as $2,000, officials told The Washington Post.

Graeme Massie18 December 2020 21:20

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Pence to recognise anniversary of Space Force – on anniversary of Trump’s impeachment

It will be Pence, not Trump, presiding over the “first birthday” of the US Space Force this afternoon, which is the anniversary of the president’s impeachment. Trump was impeached in the House on 18 December 2019 on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Space Force is the eighth branch of the US Armed Forces, founded on 20 December through passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020.

Alex Woodward18 December 2020 21:00

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Murdoch gets Covid-19 vaccine

News Corp chair Rupert Murdoch has received a Covid-19 vaccine in the UK, his office confirmed on Friday.

“He would like to thank the keyworkers and the [National Health Service] staff who have worked so hard throughout the pandemic, and the amazing scientists who have made this vaccine possible,” the statement said.

Alex Woodward18 December 2020 20:45

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GOP congressman, citing ‘freedom’, won’t take vaccine

As vice president Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell received their first doses of a Covid-19 vaccine on Friday, Republican Congressman Ken Buck of Colorado told Fox Business said he won’t take it.

“I’m an American and I have the freedom to decide if I’m going to take a vaccine or not and in this case I am not going to take the vaccine,” he said.

He pointed to baseless claims about the vaccine’s safety, saying he’s more worried about its side effects than he is about the “side effects of the disease.”

Buck has also stepped down as state party chairman of the Colorado Republican Committee.

Alex Woodward18 December 2020 20:36

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Congress scrambling to pass coronavirus relief legislation before midnight shutdown deadline

GOP senator Ron Johnson blocked an effort to get another round of $1,200 checks to struggling Americans, and both chambers have been warned to keep their weekends open, as both sides iron out details over a belated and critically needed relief package as Congress approaches a midnight deadline to fund the government.

At the end of December, moratoriums on evictions could expire, and without extended unemployment benefits and other safety nets in place, millions of Americans could face a dire winter ahead of Biden’s inauguration.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke on Friday ahead of a recess in the House to get a better picture where things stand among the parties and chambers.

Alex Woodward18 December 2020 19:56

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Report: Trump ‘shrunken’ after loss with singular focus on overturning results

Following Insider’s report of Jared Kushner’s massive payouts through a shell company involving the president’s re-election campaign, The New York Times reports that a “deflated” president now sits on a massive war chest, more than enough to pay off his remaining bills and spurious legal challenges that have been roundly dismissed across the US.

The paper reports that White House aides says Joe Biden’s victory “has stunted internal political planning … with some advisers in his shrinking circle of confidantes hesitant to even approach him about setting a course of action for 2021 and beyond.”

Trump “appears shrunken, and over his job; this detachment is reflected in a Twitter feed that remains stubbornly more focused on unfounded allegations of fraud than on the death toll from the raging pandemic.”

Alex Woodward18 December 2020 19:30

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Congressional leaders receive Covid-19 vaccine doses

Following Mike Pence’s morning jab, the first dose to a high-ranking US official, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi got her first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Then Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell:

Alex Woodward18 December 2020 19:00

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Biden economic adviser hits back over GOP attempts to undermine Fed in relief talks

As lawmakers near a deal for critically needed support for millions of Americans, congressional Republicans pushed to strip Biden’s Federal Reserve of its ability to provide credit to businesses and governments by rescinding funds for Fed lending programs and preventing the nation’s bank from restarting them with other funds.  

Biden’s incoming National Economic Council director Brian Deese demanded that the relief package “should not include unnecessary provisions that would hamper the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve’s ability to fight economic crises.”

“As we navigate through an unprecedented economic crisis, it is in the interests of the American people to maintain the Fed’s ability to respond quickly and forcefully,” he said in a statement on Friday. “Undermining that authority could mean less lending to Main Street businesses, higher unemployment, and greater economic pain across the nation. Congress’s good faith effort to deliver immediate relief should not be delayed by provisions that could put our future financial stability at risk.”

Alex Woodward18 December 2020 18:50

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Biden transition team says there was no agreed-upon break in Pentagon briefings

Following reports that the Department of Defense had paused briefings with the president-elect before he takes office next month, Biden’s team says that the Trump administration’s claims that the break was mutual are false.

“We have met isolated resistance in some corners including from political appointees within the Department of Defense,” Biden transition spokesperson Yohannes Abraham told reporters on Friday.

The transition team has voiced concerns about the “abrupt” pause in briefings when there is  “already limited cooperation” from some Trump agencies, he said.

Alex Woodward18 December 2020 18:33

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Bidens will receive Covid-19 vaccine on Monday

Joe and Jill Biden will receive their first Covid-19 vaccine doses on Monday in Delaware, according to the president-elect’s transition.

Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff will receive their doses the following week.

The president-elect has promised to receive his dose publicly. Vice president Mike Pence also received a shot on Friday on live broadcast, the highest-ranking US official to receive a vaccine.

Alex Woodward18 December 2020 18:20