Good morning! It’s Tuesday, December 15, 2020. Inauguration Day is 36 days away. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.
Have friends or relatives who you think would enjoy Wake Up To Politics? Forward this email and tell them to sign up at wakeuptopolitics.com!
The Electoral College formally affirmed President-elect Joe Biden’s victory on Monday, another setback in President Donald Trump’s attempt to reverse the election outcome. The meetings of electors took place all day across the country and resulted in no surprises; as expected, Biden won 306 electors while Trump won 232.
Addressing the nation after his victory was made official by the Electoral College, Biden declared that “it is time to turn the page” on the election. The president-elect also made his most extensive comments yet on the president’s post-election challenges, noting that Trump “was denied no course of action he wanted to take” and dozens of his lawsuits “were found to be without merit.”
Several Republican lawmakers acknowledged Biden’s status as president-elect for the first time Monday after members of the Electoral College cast their votes, including Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rob Portman (R-OH), among others. “It’s time for everybody to move on,” Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) said.
However, President Trump did not waver in his refusal to his accept his loss, tweeting and retweeting several false claims about the election in the hours after the Electoral College vote. The two top congressional Republicans — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) — also have yet to acknowledge Biden’s victory.
One outgoing Republican congressman, Paul Mitchell (R-MI), left the party and became an Independent on Monday in protest of the GOP leadership’s refusal to “stand up for our democracy.” Notably, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, one of the last holdouts on the world stage, congratulated Biden on his win early this morning, doing so before either McConnell or McCarthy.
Attorney General William Barr will step down next week, about a month before the end of President Trump’s tenure. Trump announced Barr’s early departure on Twitter just moments after President-elect Biden officially clinched the 270 electoral votes he needed to deny the president a second term.
Barr has been a loyal defender of Trump’s throughout his nearly two years at the Justice Department, most notably while overseeing the end of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. However, tensions between the two men have broken into public view in recent weeks, as Trump has raged against Barr for his handling of investigations into the 2016 and 2020 elections, the Obama administration, and Hunter Biden.
Trump was furious at Barr after a Wall Street Journal report revealed that the attorney general had been aware of the Hunter Biden probe for months and worked to prevent it from becoming public. The president has reportedly discussed appointing a special counsel to investigate the younger Biden and claims of fraud in the 2020 election; he could direct Barr’s deputy and soon-to-be acting successor, Jeffery Rosen, to make such an appointment.
Despite their public disagreements, Trump and Barr complimented each other on Monday: the president said Barr had “done an outstanding job,” while the attorney general effusively praised Trump in a two-page letter.
The Food and Drug Administration confirmed this morning that the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna is “highly effective,” clearing the way for emergency authorization later this week. According to the New York Times, the FDA plans to authorize the Moderna vaccine on Friday, which will make it the second available coronavirus vaccine in the United States.
The FDA’s review confirmed the results of Moderna’s 30,000-person clinical trials, which found its two-shot regimen to be 94 percent effective in protecting against the coronavirus.
The new data released this morning comes one day after sites across the United States began administering the nation’s first coronavirus vaccine, which was developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. The U.S. also surpassed 300,000 COVID-19 deaths on Monday, a reminder of the devastation wrought by the pandemic even as signs of hope begin to emerge.
All times Eastern.
President Donald Trump has no public events scheduled.
Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Bloomington, Indiana. He will tour a vaccine production facility at 1:25 p.m. and lead a roundtable discussion on Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s vaccine program, at 1:45 p.m.
President-elect Joe Biden will receive the President’s Daily Brief. Later, he will travel to Atlanta, Georgia, to campaign on behalf of the Democratic candidates in Georgia’s two U.S. Senate runoffs next month.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief. Later, she will hold a virtual meeting with Democratic attorneys general.
The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. and resume consideration of the nomination of Thomas L. Kirsch II to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Seventh Circuit. No roll call votes are currently scheduled, but the chamber may hold some later in the day.
- The chamber will hold its weekly caucus meetings from 12:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.
The House will meet at 3 p.m. for a brief pro forma session.
The Supreme Court is not in session.
Thanks for reading! If you aren’t already subscribed to Wake Up To Politics, you can sign up and learn more here.