White House refuses to follow McConnell in acknowledging Trump defeat
McConnell publicly recognizes Biden as president-elect
FDA report raises no new concerns with Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine
Dr Fauci calls for Biden and Harris to be vaccinated against Covid ‘as soon as we possibly can’
Pompeo to meet Biden’s secretary of state nominee Blinken this week – reports
Biden heads for Georgia to support Democrats in crucial Senate runoffs
US has over 110,000 people hospitalised with Covid for the first time
Joe Biden has reportedly tapped Pete Buttigieg, his rival for the 2020 Democratic nomination, to lead the department of transportation, according to Reuters, citing two people familiar with the matter.
The 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, helped the president-elect secure the nomination in March when he dropped out of the race and quickly threw his support behind Biden. He helped campaign and fundraise for the Democratic ticket and was widely discussed as a potential member of Biden’s cabinet.
Neither a Biden transition official or a spokesman from Buttigieg has confirmed the report.
McEnany ended the briefing by chastising the media for its coverage – or what she said was a lack of coverage – about a report that a Chinese spy had cozied up California congressman Eric Swalwell, a Democrat and vocal critic of the president. A group of House Republicans have called on Pelosi to remove Swalwell from his position on the House Intelligence Committee.
She also slammed the press for not making a bigger deal of the revelation that Hunter Biden’s tax affairs are under federal investigation. Nearly all major outlets, including The Guardian, have covered the disclosure.
McEnany signaled that Trump would sign a potential coronavirus relief deal if the Congressional leaders reach a deal in the coming days. Trump has lobbied for direct cash payments to Americans, which was not included in the latest bipartisan framework. McEnany emphasized that the White House’s priority was to get relief to the American people but would not say if he would a bill that does not include those payments.
She said Trump still planned to veto the $740bn National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill was approved by Congress with a veto-proof majority.
Asked whether Trump would support the Senate taking up Biden’s cabinet nominees before he is sworn in on 20 January, McEnany called the scenario a “hypothetical” and said Trump has taken all steps to ensure a “smooth transition or a continuation of power.”
In response to a question from Guardian reporter David Smith about Trump’s future political ambitions, McEnany said she Trump was still focused on attempting to reverse the outcome of this election. As such, she would not say whether she would work for a potential Trump 2024 campaign.
White House refuses to follow McConnell in acknowledging Trump defeat
Asked about the electoral college vote, McEnany said: “The president is still involved in ongoing litigation related to the election. Yesterday’s vote was one step in the constitutional process so I will leave that to him.”
She said she has not spoken to Trump since McConnell recognized Biden as the president-elect and directed further questions to the president’s campaign.
Whether Trump will get the vaccine remains unclear. McEnany said he is “absolutely open” to taking the vaccine but because he recovered from Covid-19 earlier this year did not believe he should be among the first to receive the vaccine. She said other senior administration officials would receive the virus, but did not offer names.
“The president wants to send a parallel message which is, our long-term care facility residents and our frontline workers are paramount and he wants to set a good example in that regard,” she said, adding: “I absolutely would be open to taking the vaccine.”
McEnany is now addressing reporters from the briefing room, beginning by declaring that the nation had witnessed a “medical miracle” on Monday, after Americans began receiving the first doses of a vaccine against the coronavirus.
She started her remarks by quoting a host of news reports that suggested a vaccine by the end of the year was unlikely. “These reports deserve their own fact check: false,” she said.
“President Trump has not only been the optimist… he has also been a leader,” she said.
Before departing for Atlanta, Biden told reporters that he had a “good conversation with Mitch McConnell today” during a call to the Republican leader to thank him for his remarks on the Senate floor.
“While we disagree on a lot of things, there are things we can work together on,” Biden told reporters. “We agreed to get together sooner (rather) than later.”
Biden promised to provide a list of other Republican lawmakers he’s spoken to, according to a pool report.
Asked when Biden might take a vaccine, the president-elect said he was advised by Dr Fauci that he should get it “sooner than later”. He said he planned to do it “by the numbers” and that he would receive the shot “publicly.”
Newsmax, the pro-Trump media platform that gained a wave of new viewers after refusing to recognize the president’s electoral defeat, said it was ready to accept reality and will refer to Biden as the president-elect.
“As a result of the Electoral College vote Joe Biden is the president-elect and will be referred to as such on Newsmax,” a spokesperson for the media company told The Hill. “We also recognize President Trump continues to contest the results and we will cover aspects of that news story.”
Newsmax is one of the few media outlets that did not project Biden as the winner in the days following the 3 November election. They touted that as a point of distinction from networks like Fox News, which declared Biden the president-elect along with other mainstream news outlets and networks.
The decision sparked outrage from viewers and the president, who was already furious at the network for being one of the first media organizations to call Arizona for Biden. A group of the president’s supporters announced a boycott of Fox News and other outlets and turned to pro-Trump sites like Newsmax, which reported record viewership in the days and weeks following the election.
It’s unclear how viewers will respond to their decision to refer to Biden as the president-elect. But the move is a further blow to Trump’s public pressure campaign to delegitimize the election result.
Elections officials – from low-level public servants and volunteers to high-ranking government officials – have faced an escalation of threats and intimidation for simply doing their job. In some instances, the president weighed in, as he did today, to attack those who defended their state’s voting process against fallacious claims of fraud or who supported the outcome of an election that Trump lost.
Perhaps no official has drawn the ire of his party and his president quite like Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, who has resisted the president’s attempt to reverse his loss int he state.
Speaking on Tuesday, after Trump re-tweeted a conservative lawyer calling for Raffensperger to be imprisoned, the Republican revealed that someone had attempted to break into his daughter-in-law’s townhouse.
On Monday, Biden praised the election officials who he said withstood enormous political pressure and threats to their physical safety to “carry on the flame of democracy.”
“They showed a deep and unwavering faith in and a commitment to the law,” Biden said in a speech from Wilmington. “They knew the elections they oversaw were honest and free and fair. They saw it with their own eyes and they wouldn’t be bullied into saying anything different.”
Politico reporters that top congressional leaders will meet this afternoon in an attempt to reach a deal on coronavirus relief before millions of Americans risk losing their unemployment benefits at the end of the year.
A deal has eluded Congress for months. But now the virus is again raging across the country, as some states and localities begin imposing new restrictions and shutdown orders. McConnell suggested in remarks earlier that Congress’ last act of the Trump era would be a bipartisan relief bill.
The White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced that she will hold a briefing at 1pm EST.
McEnany, who has all but abandoned the tradition of a daily briefing from the White House, has continued to amplify the president’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and declined to accept Biden’s victory. She is likely to face questions about why the president still refuses to concede even after the electoral college confirmed his defeat and what avenues the president believes are still open to him now that the Senate Republican leader has accepted Biden’s win.
She may also be asked to provide proof of Trump’s recent claim of newfound “evidence” that the presidential vote had been tainted by fraud or whether Trump had plans to attend Biden’s inauguration next month, as is customary.
It’s now official that Biden will be sworn in to office on 20 January, but the ceremony will look a lot different this year because of the coronavirus pandemic that has already claimed more than 300,000 American lives and shows few signs of abating before Trump leaves office.
The Presidential Inauguration Committee (PIC) announced that the ceremony to officially swear in Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States will be “extremely limited” and encouraged Americans to participate the events from home.
“The ceremony’s footprint will be extremely limited, and the parade that follows will be reimagined,” the committee said in a statement. “The PIC is urging the public to refrain from any travel and participate in the inaugural activities from home.”
As per tradition, Biden and Harris will take their oaths of office at the US Capitol on 20 January during a ceremony that will include “vigorous health and safety protocols.” After being sworn in, Biden will deliver his inaugural address, in which he is expected to “lay out his vision to beat the virus, build back better, and bring the country together.”
The committee announced the appointment of chief medical advisor, Dr David Kessler to help shape public safety guidelines around the event.
“The pandemic is continuing to have a significant public health impact across the nation,” Kessler said in a statement. “Americans everywhere must do their part to slow the spread of the virus: wear masks, stay home, and limit gatherings. We are asking Americans to participate in inaugural events from home to protect themselves, their families, friends, and communities.”
Moments after McConnell acknowledged Biden’s victory, Trump again refused to accept his defeat.
In a tweet that Twitter immediately labeled “disputed,” the president claimed that there was “tremendous evidence pouring in on voter fraud. There has never been anything like this in our Country!” Trump offered no proof of the “evidence” that purportedly supports his claims of rampant voter fraud, which his departing attorney general acknowledged were unsubstantiated.
The president re-tweeted a conservative lawyer who suggested Trump jail Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, and secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, after they certified Biden’s victory in the state.
Lin Wood, a pro-Trump lawyer in Atlanta who helped filed lawsuits challenging the outcome of Georgia’s election, tweeted just after midnight that Trump “gave @BrianKempGA & @GaSecofState every chance to get it right. They refused. They will soon be going to jail.”
Hours later, Trump re-tweeted the post, which includes a doctored image of the officials wearing a face mask with the Chinese flag. The officials, both Republicans, resisted pressure and verbal attacks from Trump, who demanded they reject the result of their state’s election even though multiple recounts that affirmed Biden’s victory in Georgia.
Trump has been pressuring the justice department for years to prosecute his political foes, including his Democratic opponent, Biden, and his predecessor, Barack Obama.
Often, these brazen directives are treated as the rantings of a leader railing against his fate, rather than an extraordinary attempt by a democratically-elected president to exert his authority over the criminal justice system. Nevertheless, his attorney generals have ignored the president’s calls to jail political opponents while a number of Trump associates and allies have been convicted of crimes during his presidency.
At the end of McConnell’s remarks on the Senate floor, he added that he looked forward to “finishing out the next 36 days strong with President Trump”.
“Our nation needs us to add another bipartisan chapter to this record of achievement,” he said, hinting at the need for Congress to reach a deal on coronavirus relief that has eluded Capitol Hill for months.
McConnell publicly recognizes Biden as president-elect
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly recognized Biden as the president-elect for the first time on Tuesday, after the electoral college affirmed Biden’s victory over Trump on Monday.
The Republican leader had for weeks declined to acknowledge Biden as the winner of the presidential election.
Declaring that the Electoral College “had spoken,” McConnell congratulated Biden in a speech delivered from the Senate floor on Tuesday morning.
Yesterday, electors met in all 50 states. So, as of this morning, our country officially has a President-elect and a Vice President-elect. Many millions of us had hoped the presidential election would yield a different result. But our system of government has processes to determine who will be sworn in on January the 20th. The Electoral College has spoken. So today I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden.”
McConnell’s comments mark an important turning point for Senate Republicans, who had largely chosen to ignore reality or remain silent as Trump waged an unprecedented assault on the nation’s system of voting.
But as state after state certified the result of their elections, and courts at every level rejected the president’s attempts to reverse the outcome, cracks in Trump’s support began to appear.
McConnell focused the bulk of his speech praising Trump’s record of achievement at home and abroad, though he spoke of the president in the past tense.
“As you can see, it would take far more than one speech to catalog all the major wins the Trump Administration has helped deliver for the American people,” he said. “The outsider who swore he would shake up Washington and lead our country to new accomplishments both at home and abroad proceeded to do exactly that.”
After the electoral college met on a Monday, a groundswell of Republicans accepted that Biden had won the election. And yet McConnell’s comments are significant because a number of Republicans still refused to recognize the result, even after the electoral college vote made the Democrat’s win official.
His speech is likely to pave the way for more Republicans to accept Trump’s defeat, even if the president refuses to concede.