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Wake Up To Politics - November 23, 2020

It’s Monday, November 23, 2020. Inauguration Day is 58 days away. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

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The dominoes begin to fall for Trump

For the first time since he lost his re-election bid three weeks ago, pressure is beginning to build on President Donald Trump to concede to President-elect Joe Biden — or at least allow Biden’s transition to move forward unimpeded.

A growing chorus of Republicans called on Trump this weekend to accept defeat. “President Trump should accept the outcome of the election and facilitate the presidential transition process,” Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) said in a statement on Saturday, becoming the latest Republican senator to acknowledge Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.

Other GOP lawmakers also began to inch in that direction: “It’s past time to start a transition, to at least cooperate with a transition,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the third-highest-ranking House Republican, urged Trump in a statement to respect “the sanctity of our electoral process” if he cannot provide evidence for his claims of widespread voter fraud. “We’re beginning to look like we’re a banana republic,” Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“It’s over,” Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) said bluntly in a interview on CNN.  

Trump, seeking to maintain control over the Republican Party going forward, lashed out at Toomey, Cheney, and Hogan in successive tweets, sending a signal to others who may be considering crossing him. “Stop golfing and concede,” Hogan tweeted in response.

The growing pressure — which is coming from the business community and GOP nationals security experts as well — followed a string of high-profile losses suffered by Trump’s legal team in recent days. Most notably, on Saturday, a federal judge dismissed the Trump campaign’s attempt to block certification of the vote totals in Pennsylvania.

“One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption,” U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann wrote in a scathing order. “That has not happened.”

According to NBC News, at least 24 of the 36 election lawsuits filed by Trump and Republican allies have been denied, dismissed, settled, or withdrawn. The president’s legal team is also hemorrhaging attorneys, severing ties on Sunday with former federal prosecutor Sidney Powell, who had made a series of increasingly bizarre claims accusing the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, the Republican governor of Georgia, and various other figures of conspiring against Trump.

“Quite frankly, the conduct of the president’s legal team has been a national embarrassment,” former Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), a top Trump ally who helped lead his debate preparations earlier this year, said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Several key states are scheduled to certify their votes in the week ahead, limiting Trump’s ability to carry on with legal challenges against the results. Georgia certified Biden’s victory on Friday; following Judge Brann’s order, counties in Pennsylvania are set to certify today. In addition, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. to consider finalizing results.

The Michigan board is made up of two Republicans and two Democrats; the state Republican Party is urging the GOP members not to certify the results, which could lead to a deadlocked vote that would have to be settled in the courts. Trump has showered the most focus on Michigan in his efforts to overturn the election outcome, calling a county canvassing board member last week and inviting state legislators to the White House.

Trump publicly called on state legislatures on Saturday to ignore Biden’s victory, urging them to appoint slates of electors who would back his re-election when the Electoral College meets on December 14. But the strategy seems to have few takers: the Republican state legislative leaders in Michigan who met with Trump on Friday promptly issued a statement refusing to go through with his plan and promising to “follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors.”

The Biden Transition

President-elect Biden plans to announce his first Cabinet picks on Tuesday. According to several news reports, Biden will name Antony Blinken as secretary of state, Jake Sullivan as national security adviser, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield as ambassador to the United Nations.

  • Blinken is a longtime Biden aide, who served on the president-elect’s staff when he chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and later served as his national security adviser during his vice presidency. Blinken also served as deputy national security adviser and deputy secretary of state during President Barack Obama’s second term.
  • Sullivan also served as national security adviser to then-Vice President Biden. He was also a close aide to Hillary Clinton during her 2016 presidential campaign and her tenure at the State Department. Thomas-Greenfield served for 35 years in the U.S. Foreign Service, rising to become U.S. Ambassador to Libera and later Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs

More on Biden’s picks in tomorrow’s newsletter.


A third drug maker announced encouraging results for its coronavirus vaccine candidate this morning. AstraZeneca, which has been working to develop a vaccine with the University of Oxford, tested two dosing regimens for the vaccine. The company said that one regimen was only 62 percent effective, but the other was 90 percent effective, an efficacy average of 70 percent.

  • AstraZeneca’s results were not as promising as announcements from Pfizer and Moderna, which both said their vaccines were about 95 percent effective in combatting coronavirus. However, the AstraZeneca vaccine — which still surpasses the FDA’s authorization threshold of 50 percent effectiveness — is cheaper and easier to store, making its potential distribution much simpler.


All times Eastern.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have no public events scheduled.

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will meet virtually with the United States Conference of Mayors.

The House and Senate are not in session.
The Supreme Court justices will release additional orders from their Friday conference.

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