4 min read

Wake Up To Politics - November 30, 2020

It’s Monday, November 30, 2020. Inauguration Day is 51 days away. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

The Biden Transition

President-elect Joe Biden has chosen his top economic and communications advisers, naming women to key roles on both teams. According to the Wall Street Journal, Biden has selected Janet Yellen as Secretary of the Treasury, Neera Tanden as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and Cecilia Rouse as chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA).

  • Yellen, a former Federal Reserve chair, would be the first female Treasury Secretary. Tanden is a longtime Democratic policy hand who leads the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. Rouse is a labor economist at Princeton University.
  • All three positions require Senate confirmation. Tanden is the only one expected to face an uphill battle: she has a long history of antagonizing congressional Republicans and progressive Democrats. She “stands zero chance of being confirmed,” one Senate Republican aide tweeted.
  • Biden is also expected to tap two of his campaign economic advisers, Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey, as members of the CEA, and Obama Foundation president Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo as Deputy Treasury Secretary.
  • According to Politico, Biden has also chosen former Obama administration official Brian Deese as director of the National Economic Council.

The president-elect will formally unveil his economic aides in a statement today, followed by an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday, according to CNN. Biden already named his communications staff on Sunday, announcing in a statement that each of the top roles would be filled by women.

  • Jen Psaki, a former Obama press aide, will serve as White House Press Secretary. Kate Bedingfield, who led communications for the Biden campaign, will serve as White House Communications Director. Psaki’s deputy will be Karine Jean-Pierre, formerly of MoveOn.org; Bedingfield’s deputy will be Pili Tobar, formerly of the immigration group America’s Voice.
  • Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ top communications aides will also be women: Ashley Etienne, a former aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will be Harris’ communications director; Symone Sanders, a Biden campaign senior adviser, will be Harris’ chief spokesperson.

Biden slipped on Saturday while playing with his dog Major, causing a hairline fracture in his right foot. The president-elect visited two separate medical facilities on Sunday, receiving a CT scan which confirmed the fracture of his lateral and intermediate cuneiform bones in the mid-foot.

  • “It is anticipated that he will likely require a walking boot for several weeks,” Biden’s physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, said in a statement.

Campaign 2020

President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the election continue to be met with failure. His latest setbacks came in Pennsylvania, where a federal appeals court rejected his campaign’s attempt to block certification of the state’s results on Friday and the state Supreme Court unanimously dismissed a GOP lawsuit seeking to throw out mail-in ballots on Saturday.

  • “Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here,” Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee, wrote in a 21-page opinion allowing Pennsylvania’s certification to go forward.
  • Two other battleground states are slated to certify their vote totals today: Arizona will certify Biden’s victory at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, while Wisconsin will follow suit at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The Trump campaign paid $3 million for a partial recount in Wisconsin, which led to Biden adding 87 votes to his margin of victory there.
  • Trump told reporters for the first time last week that he would leave the White House if Biden’s win is finalized by the Electoral College next month. However, he has continued to falsely claim that the election was “rigged” and that he was the true winner. “What kind of a court system is this?” he asked in a Fox News interview on Sunday, bemoaning his repeated legal failures.


Moderna announced this morning that it will file for emergency authorization of its coronavirus vaccine today. It will become the second drugmaker to do so, following Pfizer’s request for approval earlier this month. Preliminary data from both companies showed their vaccine candidates were about 95 percent effective, well above the 50 percent efficacy threshold required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

  • An FDA advisory group will meet on December 10 to review Pfizer’s application for emergency approval. The panel will then meet on December 17 to discuss Moderna’s application, meaning the United States could greenlight two vaccines by the end of the year.
  • The federal government is planning to distribute 6.4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine within 24 hours of its approval, with health care workers expected to receive the shot first.
  • United Airlines has already begun flying doses of the Pfizer vaccine, positioning the drug to be quickly distributed.


All times Eastern.

President Donald Trump will have lunch with Vice President Mike Pence at 12:30 p.m.

  • Pence will also lead a video teleconference with governors on COVID-19 response at 2 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will receive the Presidential Daily Briefing for the first time. They will also hold meetings with transition advisers.

The Senate will convene at 3 p.m. The chamber will vote at 5:30 p.m. to advance the nomination of Taylor McNeel to be a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Mississippi.

The House will meet at 2 p.m. for a brief pro forma session.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments by teleconference in Trump v. New York at 10 a.m. and Van Buren v. United States at 11 a.m.

  • In Trump v. New York, the justices will review the president’s plan to exclude undocumented immigrants from the decennial census — a move which would impact how congressional districts are apportioned, removing political power from Democrat-leaning urban districts and strengthening Republican-leaning rural ones.
  • In Van Buren v. United States, the Supreme Court will hear its first cases involving the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The justices will consider whether someone violates the law when they are authorized to view information on a computer but use the access for an improper purpose. The plaintiff is Nathan Van Buren, a Georgia police officer who was authorized to search a license plate database for his job and then searched the records for his own private gain.  — Supreme Court case summaries contributed by Anna Salvatore

Thanks for reading! If this newsletter was forwarded to you, go to wakeuptopolitics.com to subscribe and learn more.