It’s Friday, November 13, 2020. Inauguration Day is 68 days away. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.
Fraud claims rebutted, Trump focuses on his future
President Donald Trump falsely claimed on Thursday that “tens of thousands of votes of votes were stolen from us and given to Biden” due to election software which he called “horrible, inaccurate and anything but secure.”
But members of Trump’s own administration take a starkly different view. “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history,” a group of national, state, and local election officials said in a joint statement released on Thursday.
“There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” they declared. The group included federal officials from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a government body Trump himself created in 2018 as part of the Department of Homeland Security.
Their statement was a powerful one, simply and clearly knocking down “unfounded claims...about the process of our elections,” many of which have come from the president himself. Trump’s lawyers have also made expansive allegations of fraud, without providing any evidence of systematic irregularities.
With his legal pursuits seemingly going nowhere, Trump is reportedly beginning to grasp that his re-election campaign has come to an end. According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump “understands that the fight isn’t winnable” but is still seeking last-ditch ways to delay battleground states from certifying their election results as victories for President-elect Joe Biden. (Each of the states has various certification deadlines; they are all within the next three weeks.)
Once the results have been formally certified, according to a New York Times report, Trump has told advisers that “he will announce a 2024 campaign shortly afterward.”
In the meantime, the Washington Post reported, “he is leveraging the power of his office in a long-shot bid to stay in the job while ignoring many of the public duties that come with it.”
Trump has made only one public appearance — a Wednesday visit to Arlington National Cemetery — in the past week. He has tweeted 264 times since Election Day; none of the messages mentioned “coronavirus,” despite cases and hospitalizations in the United States reaching record heights, which the White House has yet to acknowledge at all.
Biden, on the other hand, has delivered two public addresses in that time span — both of which focused heavily on the pandemic — and spoken with a litany of foreign leaders. The president-elect has also met repeatedly with his private group of coronavirus advisers; the president has not sat down with his government task force in months.
While mostly ignoring the new coronavirus surge (even the one within his inner circle), Trump has devoted his focus to consolidating control within the Republican Party and avenging perceived rivals. The president has waded into a fight over the leadership of the Republican National Committee, while also repeatedly bashing Fox News for their election coverage. (Like other news organizations, the network has declared Biden to be the president-elect; according to Axios, Trump “has told friends he wants to start a digital media company to clobber Fox News and undermine the conservative-friendly network.”)
The president has also been punishing officials within the government as well, ousting a succession of appointees at the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security.
The head of CISA, the DHS agency which pushed back against Trump’s claims of election fraud, reportedly fears he could be next. The agency’s director, Christopher Krebs, “has told associates he expects to be fired,” according to Reuters.
Krebs “drew the ire of the Trump White House over a website run by CISA dubbed ‘Rumor Control’ which debunks misinformation about the election,” according to the report. CISA officials have declined to remove information from the website, despite White House requests.
Senate Republicans have begun to call for President-elect Biden to receive classified intelligence briefings. Susan Collins (ME), Lindsey Graham (SC), Chuck Grassley (IA), and John Thune (SD) are among the senior Republican senators who have said Biden should receive the briefings. Presidents-elect have received daily intelligence briefings since the 1960s, but the Trump administration’s refusal to acknowledge Biden’s victory has prevented him from receiving classified information.
- Even as many broke with Trump’s resistance to beginning a formal transition process, few Senate Republicans have publicly congratulated Biden on their victory. Incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain told MSNBC on Thursday that Biden had spoken privately to “some Republican senators,” although he declined to name them.
- In contrast to Biden’s domestic political rivals, an outpouring of foreign countries have congratulated the president-elect on his win. China became the latest to do so early this morning.
The United States recorded more than 150,000 coronavirus cases in a single day for the first time on Thursday. “A record-breaking surge in U.S. coronavirus cases is being driven to a significant degree by casual occasions that may feel deceptively safe, officials and scientists warn — dinner parties, game nights, sleepovers and carpools,” according to the Washington Post. Many states and cities are now considering imposing new restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, as new records for cases and hospitalizations are set on a near-daily basis.
- The virus is spreading within the upper ranks of President Trump’s campaign and administration as well. Corey Lewandowski, a senior adviser to his 2020 campaign and manager of his 2016 bid, became the latest Trump aide to test positive on Thursday. He joins other Trump allies, including White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, and campaign adviser David Bossie, who have become infected since attending an Election Night party at the White House.
- Rep. Don Young (R-AK) also announced he had tested positive for the virus on Thursday. Young, 87, is the oldest and longest-serving member of Congress currently in office.
All times Eastern.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will receive an update on Operation Warp Speed, the administration’s coronavirus vaccine initiative, at 12 p.m. in the Oval Office.
- Later in the day, Pence will travel to Virginia to address two conservative groups: the Young America’s Foundation, at 12:40 p.m. in Arlington, and the Council for National Policy, at 7:30 p.m. in McLean.
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will hold meetings with transition advisers in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
The House and Senate are not in session.
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will hold her weekly press conference at 10:45 a.m. at the Capitol.
The Supreme Court justices will hold their weekly conference by phone.
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