That’s all for today!
Here’s a recap:
- Joe Biden and Kamala Harris introduced top officials he has selected to serve on the national security team, including his picks for secretary of state and ambassador to the United Nations. He said the team would “tell me what I need to know, not what I want to know”. Read more about who’s who here.
- After the GSA agreed to begin the transition process, the Trump administration is “working out my ability to get presidential daily briefs”, he told Lester Holt on NBC Nightly News. “I must say, the outreach has been sincere. There’s has not been begrudging so far. And I don’t expect it to be,” Biden added.
- Donald Trump pardoned Corn the turkey. During a muted turkey pardoning ceremony, the president celebrated vaccine advancements and thanked health workers, but failed to offer condolences to the families of who’ve died of Covid-19.
- Biden was certified as the winner of the presidential election in Pennsylvania. Weeks of long-shot legal challenges from the Trump campaign did not work in the president’s favor.
Call it a bit of a turkey.
At a much diminished White House ceremony earlier today, marking the annual Thanksgiving tradition during which a president pardons a bird from the dinner table ahead of the holiday, Donald Trump seemed to realize his star had already begun to wane, the Guardian’s David Smith writes ...
On Tuesday, Biden introduced the brainy grownups of his government-in-waiting at a weighty event with lofty talk of restoring America’s moral leadership and saving the planet from the climate crisis.
An hour later, at the White House, a turkey was pardoned by a lame duck discovering how fickle the media circus can be.
The gathering in the Rose Garden was naturally diminished by the coronavirus pandemic, but his last Thanksgiving ceremony was a muted affair that also struggled to break through on cable news.
“Ladies and gentleman, the president of the United States and Mrs Trump,” said an announcer, the words suddenly elegiac as abnormal administration fades to black.
Los Angeles bans restaurant dining and plans stay-at-home order
Los Angeles is shutting down restaurant dining and plans to adopt a new stay-at-home order as California faces record Covid-19 infections, a potential shortage of hospital beds and an expected surge in cases tied to the holidays.
LA officials announced on Sunday that the county would be prohibiting dining at restaurants for at least three weeks starting on Wednesday, and urged residents not to travel or gather in groups for Thanksgiving this week. With a record of 6,124 new cases reported on Monday in LA and an alarming increase over the last week, the county is expected to launch another lockdown, officials said on Monday.
The new restrictions, which will be discussed on Tuesday, are hitting the largest county in the US as the state experiences by far the highest level of Covid spread since the start of the pandemic.
California reported a record of more than 15,000 new Covid cases statewide on Saturday, and another 14,000 cases on Sunday. LA county has been a Covid hotspot in the state for months and now has a record surge, with a five-day average of more than 4,500 people reporting new infections each day – a number that has nearly doubled in just two weeks, the LA Times reported.
Tomorrow, Biden will deliver a Thanksgiving address, from Wilmington, Delaware, and will “discuss the shared sacrifices Americans are making this holiday season and say that we can and will get through the current crisis together”, per the transition team.
It will likely stand in stark contrast to Donald Trump’s turkey pardoning today. Trump thanked healthcare workers and celebrated vaccine development advances, but did not offer condolences for the families of the quarter-million who’ve died of the coronavirus.
Joe Biden also said that he wouldn’t “use the Justice Department as my vehicle” to investigate Donald Trump and his allies.
In the interview with NBC Nightly News, he told Lester Holt: “There are a number of investigations that I’ve read about that are at a state level. There’s nothing at all I can or cannot do about that.”
Biden on NBC: 'this is not a third Obama term'
“We face a totally different world than we faced in the Obama-Biden administration,” Biden told NBC’s Lester Holt, in the president-elect’s first televised interview since winning the election.
He’d like his administration to represent the “spectrum of the American people as well as the spectrum of the Democratic party” Biden added, agreeing that he’d even consider appointing a Republican who voted for Trump.
“I want this country to be united,” Biden said.
Who are Joe Biden's top cabinet picks?
Anthony Blinken – secretary of state
Joe Biden’s choice for secretary of state marks a sharp break with the Trump administration. The former deputy secretary of state is a committed internationalist, who spent some of his childhood in Paris and is fluent in French. He views US engagement with the world, and particularly Europe, as vital. He was a member of Bill Clinton’s White House staff in the 1990s and served under President Barack Obama. In 2019 he expressed strong opinions about Brexit, saying: “This is not just the dog that caught the car, this is the dog that caught the car and the car goes into reverse and runs over the dog. It’s a total mess.”
Janet Yellen – treasury secretary
The 74-year-old economist was the first woman to chair the US Federal Reserve, and looks set to achieve another first: becoming the country’s first female treasury secretary. Professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley, a former assistant professor at Harvard and a lecturer at the London School of Economics, Yellen is an expert in labour markets and has highlighted the economic impact of uneven growth in the jobs market. Donald Trump declined to reappoint her after his election, making her the first central bank chief not to serve two terms since the Carter administration.
Alejandro Mayorkas – secretary of homeland security
Described by the former Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro as “a historic and experienced choice to lead an agency in desperate need of reform”, the Cuban-American lawyer served as the deputy secretary of homeland security for nearly three years under Obama. Formerly Obama’s director of US citizenship and immigration services, if confirmed, the 61-year-old would be the first Latino and the first immigrant to lead the department.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield – US ambassador to the United Nations
The Louisianian was formerly assistant secretary of state for African affairs under the Obama and Trump administrations. She was also the US ambassador to Liberia under George W Bush and Obama. Of her appointment, Thomas-Greenfield, 68, has said: “My mother taught me to lead with the power of kindness and compassion to make the world a better place. I’ve carried that lesson with me throughout my career in foreign service and, if confirmed, will do the same as ambassador to the United Nations.”
Progressive Democrats, including representatives Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, have signed a petition advising against a role for former Biden chief of staff Bruce Reed in the Biden-Harris Administration.
“Reed has a history of putting deficit reduction ahead of economic recovery,” the petition reads. “We are extremely concerned by the reports that Reed is a frontrunner to head the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Biden administration, given his history of antipathy towards economic security programs that working people rely on.”
So far, progressives have lauded Biden’s choice of Janet Yellen for Treasury Secretary, and Ron Klain as chief of staff.
After the party united to help Biden defeat Donald Trump, progressives have pushed the president-elect to welcome progressive candidates and policies into his incoming administration.
Joe Biden told NBC News’ Lester Holt that the transition “has already begun”.
“They’re already working out my ability to get Presidential Daily Briefs,” he told Holt. “We’re already working out meeting with the Covid team in the White House. And how to not only distribute, but get from a vaccine being distributed, to a person being able to get vaccinated. So I think we’re going to not be so far behind the curve, as we thought we might be in the past. And there’s a lot of immediate discussion, and I must say, the outreach has been sincere. There’s has not been begrudging so far. And I don’t expect it to be.”
Biden: 'We do not want a guarded border' between UK and Ireland
Speaking to reporters, Joe Biden said he’d like to avoid seeing a guarded border between the UK and Ireland.
“We do not want a guarded border. We want to make sure – we’ve worked too long to get Ireland worked out, and I talked with the British prime minister, I talked with the Taoiseach, I talked with others, I talked to the French. The idea of having a border north and south once again being closed is just not right, we’ve just got to keep the border open,” he told reporters, according to the press pool.
Late afternoon summary
Another lively few hours in US politics. Joe Biden’s interview with NBC’s Lester Holt is coming up a little later and my California colleague Maanvi Singh will bring you some of that and any other developments.
Here are the main events of the day so far:
- President-elect Joe Biden is reportedly now to receive the president’s daily brief, after Donald Trump has spent almost three weeks withholding permission for the classified intelligence briefing he receives daily to be shared henceforth with his successor.
- Incoming vice president Kamala Harris hailed the beginnings of a Biden-Harris cabinet that “looks like America” with much greater diversity and representation than the one it will replace.
- John Kerry, former Democratic presidential nominee (who lost to George W Bush in 2004) and former secretary of state (2013 to 2017 for Barack Obama), declared upon accepting his nomination to a new cabinet position as climate envoy that the international Paris climate accord that the US will re-enter under Biden was not by itself enough to avert climate catastrophe.
- Joe Biden introduced his new foreign policy and intelligence cabinet choices at an event in Wilmington, Delaware, including his picks for secretary of state and ambassador to the United Nations.
Pennsylvania officials asked the US third circuit court of appeals to reject an appeal made by representatives of Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, according to a court filing this afternoon.
Lawyers for Donald Trump’s re-election campaign have asked the court to halt the “effect” of the battleground state’s results, in another hail-Mary pass from a legal team described by former New Jersey governor and Trump adviser Chris Christie on Sunday as a “national embarrassment”.
That was before the team pressed the ejector seat under Sidney Powell on Sunday, in a James Bond-stylemove, though less stylish. But that still leaves the Rudy Giuliani traveling circus sideshow. He had a hair dye malfunction at a presser last week at RNC HQ, and, after appearing in court for the Trump campaign last week in Pennsylvania, his first such live performance before a judge for almost three decades, the judge in question later excoriated the case as no better formed that a “Frankenstein monster”.
In Pennsylvania, the election results confirming Joe Biden’s victory in the state (which on November 7 pushed him over the top in the electoral college to clinch the White House) were certified earlier on today, further dimming Trump’s already long-shot quest to change the outcome of the election, Reuters notes.
The appeal was filed on Sunday, as pressure grew on Trump to concede the election officially.
A quick reminder before handing the blog over to my colleague on the US west coast that local, state and federal election officials have declared the election the most secure in American history.
Minnesota has certified Joe Biden’s win in the state in the presidential election, following Pennsylvania and Nevada earlier today.
Minnesota was part of the smashed up so-called Blue Wall that fell to Donald Trump in 2016, as he won Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Apart from Ohio, those other bricks in the Blue Wall were replaced by the Biden and Kamala Harris team in 2020.
Looks like the dwindling Trump campaign legal shrapnel is still raining down on Wisconsin for a bit longer. Hang in there.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may soon shorten the length of self-quarantine period after potential exposure to the coronavirus, a top official said this afternoon.
Health authorities currently recommend a 14-day quarantine in order to curb transmission of the virus but an official said today that there is evidence that the period could be shortened if patients are tested for the virus during their quarantine, Reuters reports.
“Let me confirm that we are constantly reviewing the evidence and we are starting to have evidence that a shorter quarantine complemented by tests might be able to shorten that quarantine period from 14 days to shorter days,” a top US health official said on a press call.
He added that the decision to change the guidance is not final and experts are still reviewing data to make sure such a change would not put people at risk.
The US government has been criticized by experts and public health officials for being slow to ramp up Covid-19 testing.
It has also distributed nearly 40 million out of 150 million rapid tests it agreed to acquire from Abbott Laboratories earlier this year, the officials said.
New coronavirus cases in the United States are averaging nearly 172,000 a day and have exceeded 100,000 since early November, according to a Reuters tally.
US total deaths due to coronavirus reached nearly 259,000 today with over 12.5 million cases. US death and case numbers are the highest in the world and the pandemic has been out of control in the US since January.
Biden to receive president's daily brief - report
Word at the White House is that approval has been given, three weeks after the election, won by Joe Biden, for the president’s daily brief to be shared with the president-elect.
Citing an unnamed administration official, at this point, news agency Reuters has issued a line saying Joe Biden can now receive the same briefing that Donald Trump is given every day (word is he often doesn’t read it, even when it’s slimmed down and led with simple bullet points, though he has withheld it from the incoming president, which breaks protocol).
The classified president’s daily brief, known as the PDB, is a collection of intelligence reports gathered and prepared for the president from the intelligence community, and general deals with the current nature and level of threats to the security of the United States.
Here’s a tweet, also, from CNN’s Kaitlan Collins:
Health secretary Alex Azar said the Operation Warp Speed team is coordinating with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team in preparation to distribute a Covid-19 vaccine, in a press call earlier today.
A vaccine has not yet been approved, but manufacturing has taken place throughout the pandemic, so in the event one or more is approved a vaccine could be immediately distributed.
The national Covid-19 vaccination campaign is expected to be a historically complex effort, initially involving a vaccine from Pfizer that requires ultra-cold storage at -70C (-94F). In addition, officials will need to win back the trust of the public battered by four years of political, anti-science rhetoric.
Pfizer’s research was not funded by Operation Warp Speed but has become the first company to request emergency authorization for its coronavirus vaccine in the US, developed with pharmaceutical partner BioNTech.
“Our top career official Rear Admiral [Erica] Schwartz was last night communicating with the Biden transition team,” Azar said, referring to the deputy surgeon general. “We are immediately getting them all the pre-prepared transition materials.”
Azar said the effort would take place “in the best spirit of looking out for the health and well-being of the American people.”
The transition has been delayed for weeks because of Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the election to Biden, who has been called as the winner. The administration was the target of increasing criticism, as Covid-19 infection and hospitalization rates have soared.
The move to allow the transition comes immediately before the Thanksgiving holiday, which many health experts expect to be a super-spreader event.
In addition, General Gustave Perna, the head of the Operation Warp Speed vaccine distribution program, said the first vaccine delivery to states would be of 6.4 million vaccine doses if the US Food and Drug Administration grants emergency approval. After that, shipments would go out weekly to states on a per capita basis.
Perna also said the administration still expects to deliver 40 million doses before the end of the year. Perna said he expects the vaccine will be administered “within 24 hours” of emergency use authorization, a faster process than full approval.
Contrary to Perna’s comments, some experts have said it could take longer than one day to begin administering the vaccine, because the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must finalize its prioritization system before distribution.
Americans should expect a “steady drumbeat of sending allocations to the jurisdictions every week,” said Perna. Nevertheless, vaccine demand is expected to far exceed vaccine supply in the early months.
“Biden’s nominees have pushed policies that Trump used to fuel his rise”
That’s the rather alarming headline in the Washington Post today, just as the Biden-Harris incoming administration begins to name its top team.
Here’s what the august outlet has to say in its analysis piece:
President-elect Joe Biden’s initial slate of nominees demonstrates that he aims to reverse much of President Trump’s agenda with figures who have promoted the policies that Trump rebuffed, denigrated and used to help fuel his rise to power.
Biden’s top picks, announced Monday, in the past helped push for trade deals, aimed to sign international treaties and advocated for foreign wars, positions that after Trump’s victory in 2016 triggered widespread soul-searching among Democrats over how they had misread the sentiments of voters on whose support they had long counted.
What they learned from that defeat and how they try to govern this time will be a major test of whether Biden feels a need to respond to the anxieties among supporters of Trump — who in November received the second-most votes in American history, behind only Biden; whether he views his election as a sweeping mandate to shift in an entirely different direction; or whether he settles somewhere in the middle....
Some of Biden’s picks believe that Trump benefited from highlighting problems that the Obama administration underplayed or failed to address, particularly the economic populism that was more widespread than they believed, both domestically and internationally....
Biden’s campaign was also defined by calling the Trump era, if it were held to a single term, “an aberrant moment in time.” So his victory is being read by Biden and his allies as something akin to the revenge of the Washington establishment.
There’s been so much going on this morning that it’s at a rather late hour that we bring you the first summary of the day. There is a lot more ahead, so do stay tuned.
Meanwhile, here are some of the main events of the day so far:
- The lame duck president pardoned a turkey. “Corn”, from Iowa, who gobbled heartily on cue for Donald Trump. The event was at the White House, near where stands are being erected for the inauguration in January of Democrat Joe Biden.
- Connecticut-based OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty in federal court to charges stemming from its fueling and perpetuation of the US opioids crisis.
- Vice president-elect Kamala Harris hailed the beginnings of a Biden-Harris cabinet that “looks like America” as leading figures nominated for the incoming administration were introduced in their new roles.
- Joe Biden, the president-elect, headlined an event in Wilmington, Delaware, where he introduced the cabinet choices for incoming secretary of state, director of national intelligence, homeland security secretary, national security adviser, ambassador to the United Nations and an entirely new cabinet post, climate envoy. The new people gave short speeches.
Donald Trump pardons......Corn
The metaphors are coming non-stop in the White House rose garden.
It’s not confirmed to what the president is referring when he mentioned the presidential flock of 30 turkeys. The leaders in his administration? A bunch of birds? The number of those in his orbit who’ve caught coronavirus?
Trump said Corn, the turkey he is pardoning, and Cob, it’s Iowa fellow, were chosen as contenders to be pardoned from “the presidential flock” of turkeys.
Then Donald Trump mentioned Abraham Lincoln who, don’t forget, only just edged Trump as the president who, in his opinion, has done more for Black Americans than any other.
That favor was returned at the ballot box in a resounding defeat for Donald Trump by Black voters in the 2020 election.
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are there, and their children, of whom Trump said: “They like turkey.”
Trump just granted the giant white turkey, Corn, “a full pardon”. He has so far managed to resist pardoning himself for crimes he may or may not have committed, or any of his folks.
Corn just gave a hearty gobble precisely as Trump and his wife Melania Trump headed back into the White House to figure out the decorations for their last Christmas at the presidential mansion.
Trump also wished everyone “a healthy and happy Thanksgiving”. Biden voters are happy, the families of the almost 1,000 Americans who’ve died of coronavirus in the last 24 hours are facing to a very grim Thanksgiving.
Purdue Pharma pleads guilty over its leading role in America's opioids crisis
Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to criminal charges over the handling of its addictive prescription painkiller OxyContin, capping a deal with federal prosecutors to resolve an investigation into the drugmaker’s role in the US opioid crisis.
During a court hearing conducted remotely today before US district judge Madeline Cox Arleo in New Jersey, Purdue pleaded guilty to three felonies covering widespread misconduct, Reuters reports.
The criminal violations included conspiring to defraud U.S. officials and pay illegal kickbacks to both doctors and an electronic healthcare records vendor, all to help keep medically dubious opioid prescriptions flowing.
Members of the billionaire Sackler family who own Purdue were not part of today’s court proceedings and have not been criminally charged.
They agreed in October to pay a separate $225 million civil penalty for allegedly causing false claims for OxyContin to be made to government healthcare programs such as Medicare. They have denied the allegations.
Purdue chairman Steve Miller entered the guilty plea on the company’s behalf and admitted to its criminal conduct under questioning from assistant US attorney J. Stephen Ferketic.
Of the three criminal counts against Purdue, two were for violations of a federal anti-kickback law while another charged the Stamford, Connecticut-based company with defrauding the US and violating the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
Purdue’s plea deal carries more than $5.5 billion in penalties, most of which will go unpaid. A $3.54 billion criminal fine is set to be considered alongside trillions of dollars in unsecured claims as part of Purdue’s bankruptcy proceedings.
Purdue agreed to pay $225 million toward a $2 billion criminal forfeiture, meanwhile, with the Justice Department foregoing the rest if the company completes a bankruptcy reorganization dissolving itself and shifting assets to a “public benefit company” or similar entity that steers the $1.775 billion unpaid portion to thousands of U.S. communities suing it over the opioid crisis.
A sentencing imposing those penalties is set to come down the line, near the time Purdue receives court approval for a bankruptcy reorganization.
Purdue has filed for bankruptcy and the case is still being dealt with in bankruptcy court in New York.
Many want the Sacklers who own Purdue to face criminal charges personally, not to escape trial in thousands of lawsuits filed from coast to coast. Since this article was written, Beverly Sackler and Jonathan Sackler have died, but the issues facing the other Sackler members have not gone away.
Corn seed. Concede. Corny deeds.
In a whiplash move we hurtle from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s first cabinet choices and short but vivid speeches from the chosen individuals at an event in Delaware to the rose garden at the White House.
We are awaiting the appearance of Donald Trump for the traditional, humorous event where the president chooses one of two turkeys to pardon, ensuring the bird is left to gobble out its days in a sanctuary rather than being beheaded and gobbled by Americans for Thanksgiving dinner.
Will Trump mention anything about conceding? Will the bird peck at his privates, as one famously did to George W Bush?
What we should let you know is that, just over the wall, in Lafayette Square - now the infamous site of a brutal clearing of peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters in the summer so the president could pose for a photo op with a bible outside the so-called Church of the Presidents nearby - there is other activity taking place.
While Trump is announcing whether Corn or Cob, two turkeys from Iowa, will officially be pardoned today, construction continues on stands for the witnessing of the inauguration of the next president in January.
The incoming 46th president of the United States - Democrat Joe Biden.
A reminder of that awful evening in June:
'A cabinet that looks like America'
The presentation of the new cabinet members chosen for the incoming Joe Biden presidency, in Wilmington, Delaware, has wrapped up, with the team taking no questions from the assembled press.
Vice president-elect Kamala Harris was the last speaker and praised the choices and the team just presented to the public: Antony Blinken for secretary of state, John Kerry as climate envoy (a brand new cabinet post), Linda Thomas-Greenfield as ambassador to the United Nations, Avril Haines to be director of national intelligence, Alejandro Mayorkas as incoming secretary of homeland security and Jake Sullivan as national security adviser.
“They are, to a person, the right women and men for these crucial positions,” Harris said, adding they are expected “to be focused on one thing, and one thing alone, doing what is best for the people of the United States of America.”
There are a number of firsts among the group, with Mayorkas being the first American who came to the country as a migrant to head up the Department of Homeland Security, and Haines as the first female director of national intelligence.
Thomas-Greenfield’s extraordinary global experience in diplomacy and background as a Black woman from the south who experienced segregation in earlier years will cut a striking figure representing the US at the UN.
And Kerry’s elevated post emphasizes what Harris called the existential threat of the climate crisis.
Harris said Biden told her it was one of his top priorities to “select a cabinet that looks like America and reflects the best of our nation. And that is what we have done,” she said.
And crucially, she noted that they all shared an unshakable commitment “to democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”
The whole event was short but could not have been more stark in its contrast to Donald Trump, his cabinet and the isolationist strategy of Trumpism and the president’s disregard for the rule of law in so many of his actions.
'Paris alone is not enough'
John Kerry, picked for a new cabinet post of climate csar, said that the world must come together “using every tool we have” to take action on the climate crisis.
“Paris alone is not enough,” Kerry said, referring to the international climate accord that Donald Trump pulled the US out of, as he announced soon after he took the White House in 2016.
The accord is meant to avert climate disaster in the next decade.
Kerry said the Biden-Harris administration is “determined to seize the future now and leave a healing planet to future generations.”
'America is back'
Joe Biden’s choice to become ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, declared some simple messages about the US’s approach to its place on the world stage in a Biden-Harris administration.
“America is back, multilateralism is back, diplomacy is back,” she said.
Thomas-Greenfield has served as a diplomat around the world for 35 years.
She said that one of the keys to her strategy was “putting a cajun spin” on her approach - Thomas-Greenfield is from Louisiana.
“I call it ‘gumbo diplomacy’,” she said, referencing the famous, official state soup of Louisiana.
She said that meant bringing people from all different backgrounds together to debate and cooperate.
Avril Haines, who is set to be the new director of national intelligence, has taken the podium.
‘I will never shy away from speaking truth to power,” she said.
She promised to tell the president whatever is “inconvenient and difficult”. She said the intelligence community is indispensable to America to address threats that come not just from terrorism, cyber hacking or other traditional directions.
“Also the challenges that will define the next generation - climate change, pandemics and corruption,” she said.
Antony Blinken has come to the podium to speak, just after Joe Biden said of his new team: “They will tell me what I need to know, not what I want to know” and added “they will make us proud to be American”.
Blinken, who if confirmed by the Senate will be Biden’s new secretary of state, is telling the public of the story of his family. He has relatives who variously escaped communism in Hungary and survived the Holocaust.
He just told of his late stepfather who survived the camps and fled a death march, hiding in the woods in Bavaria until he stumbled on an American tank and, when a Black GI popped out of the top, the man sank to his knees and said the only three words he knew in English, Blinken said: “God bless America”.
The president-elect has just introduced another first - Avril Haines to be director of national intelligence, the first woman to hold that post.
“We are safer with Avril on watch,” Joe Biden said.
The New York-born lawyer was previously deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the first woman to hold that position, too.
She worked closely with Biden from 2007-08 in her role as deputy chief counsel for the Senate Democrats.
He also just introduced Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be US ambassador to the United Nations. She has served in the diplomatic corps in nations as contrasting as Liberia and Switzerland. Biden said she was known as “the people’s ambassador” for her warm diplomatic skills.
She grew up in Louisiana during segregation. Biden said the team will return the US to global leadership.
Biden also introduced John Kerry to be climate tsar and tackle “one of the most pressing threats of our time” - the climate crisis.
Joe Biden has just confirmed in person that Anthony Blinken will become his secretary of state.
Blinken is there with other new picks. They are standing some distance from each other and are wearing face masks.
Biden said Blinken will be ready “from day one” and is a man who looks for opportunities.
The former deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration is a committed internationalist, who spent some of his childhood in Paris and is fluent in French. He views US engagement with the world, and particularly Europe, as vital.
He’s also just named Alejandro Mayorkas for what Biden called the vital role of secretary of homeland security, the first person in that position who arrived in the US as a migrant.
Described by the former Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro as “a historic and experienced choice to lead an agency in desperate need of reform”, the Cuban-American lawyer served as the deputy secretary of homeland security for nearly three years under Obama.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris present the first cabinet choices of the incoming administration
President-elect Joe Biden has taken the podium in Wilmington, Delaware, to announce some of the leading figures of his incoming administration.
“It’s a team that will keep our country and our people safe and secure,” he said.
In a prompt and clear rejection of Donald Trump’s retreat from cooperation on the world stage, with his nationalist “America first” approach, Biden said that the US wants to “sit at the head of the table” in international affairs and will “stand up to adversaries” and “not reject our allies”.
Hot on the heels of Pennsylvania this morning, the less contentious business of certifying Joe Biden’s victory in Nevada just occurred.
The Nevada supreme court this morning certified the Democrat’s win in Nevada, making his win in the battleground state, which was called by leading decision desks a few days after the November 3 election, official.
The state supreme court accepting the state’s election canvass results now paves the way for the governor to sign the formal election certification.
This morning’s unanimous action by the seven nonpartisan justices sends to Democratic governor Steve Sisolak results that will deliver six electoral votes from the western US battleground state to Biden.
The court action drew extra scrutiny amid legal efforts by the state Republican Party and the Trump re-election campaign to prevent sending vote-by-mail ballots to all 1.82 million active registered voters and then to stop the counting of the 1.4 million votes that were cast.
Nevada’s six Democratic presidential electors are scheduled to meet December 14 in the state capital of Carson City, The Associated Press notes.
Biden won by Nevada 33,596 votes, according to results approved by elected officials in Nevada’s 17 counties including Clark County, which encompasses Las Vegas, and Washoe County, which includes Reno. Biden got 50.06% of the vote and Trump 47.67%.
Nevada secretary of state Barbara Cegavske, a Republican who has avoided the public eye in recent weeks, presented the results to the court.
She noted the first-ever use of all-mail balloting statewide in a general election, same-day voter registration and early voting.
“The result was more of a hybrid model where voters had a choice of how to participate,” she said, adding that a record number of voters participated.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded above 30,000 points today, for the first time, as investors were encouraged by the latest progress on developing coronavirus vaccines and news that the transition of power in the US to President-elect Joe Biden will finally, formally begin.
Traders were also encouraged, The Associated Press writes, by news that Biden had selected Janet Yellen, a widely respected former Federal Reserve chair, as treasury secretary.
The Dow rose more than 400 points, or 1.4%, to trade just over 30,000 at midday today, eastern standard time.
The S&P 500 index, which has a far greater impact on 401(k) pension accounts than the Dow, rose 1.3%.
Donald Trump just popped up at the White House to sound a little “hooray” in an unscheduled press conference that lasted about a minute or less.
For all the developments and details, do follow our business blog, here.
Well that was strange. Donald Trump and Mike Pence just popped up in the White House briefing room for about a minute so the president could trumpet the fact of the stock market having a good day.
Pence said not a word and neither defeated leader took any questions from the press.
There was almost no notice of the briefing. CNN’s Jim Acosta said White House staff were suddenly shouting at journalists there to get into their seats because Trump wanted to walk into the briefing room.
Acosta just described it on the air as the weirdest thing he had ever seen at the White House. Steady on, Jim, there was that time when the president suggested that perhaps people should inject bleach to cure coronavirus and that other time when he was shipped off to hospital in a helicopter because he’d actually caught coronavirus and was having trouble breathing.
But these are heady days. In a few minutes, we expect to see a line-up of some of Joe Biden’s first cabinet choices as the president-elect and vice president-elect Kamala Harris hold an event in Wilmington, Delaware.
Joe Biden’s senior adviser Bob Bauer has put out a new statement on the certification of the Democrat’s vital win in Pennsylvania, which catapulted him to the victor’s podium in the US presidential election earlier this month.
Bauer says, in part: “Trump did everything he could to disenfranchise voters and stop the results from being certified in Pennsylvania, including filing over 15 lawsuits - most recently producing one of the more embarrassing courtroom performances of all time [our bolding], with the judge in the case ruling that their arguments were ‘without merit’ and unsupported by evidence.’
“Trump did not succeed in Pennsylvania and he will not succeed anywhere else...and Joe Biden will be sworn in as president on January 20, 2021.”
Turns out that sometimes in politics you have to state the obvious, especially when those actually in charge are snowstorming the public with conspiracy theories, lies and wild rubbish.
When CNN and then the Associated Press and other leading decision desks called the presidential race for Joe Biden on Saturday November 7, four days after the polls closed for in-person voting and most ballots had been counted (but Trump’s chaotic legal battle against the result was still escalating), it was the projection that morning that Biden had won Pennsylvania that proved to be the definitive moment.
Here’s an assessment of what happened in a crucial county in the vital swing state of Pennsylvania that helped clinch the win in that battleground and cement Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.
Lackawanna county is the home of Scranton, Joe Biden’s home town, and is a longtime working-class Democratic stronghold. Lackawanna tells two stories in 2020: one of Biden doing just enough for victory and another of a permanent realignment of historic Democratic working-class areas away from the party. Lackawanna voted for Biden by eight points, a five-point swing towards native son Biden that helped push him just over the top in Pennsylvania. Biden was able to recapture enough support in north-east Pennsylvania and places like it in the midwest and north-east, combined with his increased support in the suburbs, meant that he was able to recapture the states Trump so surprisingly captured in 2016. But under the surface, the result in Lackawanna shows a long-term realignment brought about by decades of neoliberalism and declining union density and accelerated by Donald Trump. Obama was able to win Lackawanna twice by over 25 points. The 2020 result is a swing of nearly 20 points since the Obama era, despite Biden’s local connections. It is clear that many working-class regions have permanently moved away from solid Democratic status.
The piece looks at other crucial swing counties, too.
Pennsylvania certifies Joe Biden victory
Democrat Joe Biden has been certified as the winner of the presidential election in Pennsylvania, culminating three weeks of vote counting and a string of failed legal challenges by Donald Trump, state officials said moments ago.
The Pennsylvania State Department “certified the results of the November 3 election in Pennsylvania for president and vice president of the United States,” governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, tweeted.
“As required by federal law, I’ve signed the Certificate of Ascertainment for the slate of electors for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris,” Wolf wrote.
The state department said Wolf’s “certificate of ascertainment” has been sent to the national archivist in Washington, DC.
Pennsylvania’s electors, a mix of elected Democrats, party activists and other Biden backers, will meet in the state Capitol on December 14.
The results show Biden and Harris with 3.46 million votes, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence with 3.38 million, and Libertarian Jo Jorgensen with 79,000.
Pennsylvania secretary of state Kathy Boockvar, in a news release, called the state’s election officials and poll workers “the true heroes of our democracy.”
“We are tremendously grateful to all 67 counties who have been working extremely long hours to ensure that every qualified voter’s vote is counted safely and securely,” Boockvar said.
Wolf added: “I want to thank the election officials who have administered a fair and free election during an incredibly challenging time in our commonwealth and country’s history. Our election workers have been under constant attack and they have performed admirably and honorably.”
Trump, who lost the state’s 20 electoral votes to Biden, has made Pennsylvania a centerpiece of his unsuccessful legal attempts to invalidate the election results.
A federal judge on Saturday dealt a serious blow to the Trump campaign’s legal efforts by dismissing a lawsuit he said lacked evidence and offered “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations.”
The judge compared Trump’s legal case there to “Frankenstein’s monster”.
Joe Biden will soon announce more cabinet picks and present some of the leading figures in his incoming administration
It looks as though we can expect the event where Joe Biden and vice-president elect Kamala Harris unveil some more names for their administration and present some of their cabinet picks so far to take place around 1pm ET today, or in about 90 minutes’ time.
The president-elect and Harris will appear in Wilmington, Delaware.
The Biden team put out a video yesterday with some of the senior characters selected and made public so far.
That line-up didn’t include former chair of the Fed Janet Yellen, who’s slated to be named as Biden’s treasury secretary, who would be the first woman in that role, as she has not yet been confirmed as his choice.
She looks like a pretty safe bet, though.
My London colleague Martin Belam compiled some thumbnail sketches this morning on the big names so far.
Milwaukee recount close to completion
In election news out of Wisconsin, Milwaukee County could complete the recounting of its presidential election results as soon as tomorrow and no later than Friday, a county spokesman said this morning.
The recount got off to a slow start last week as elections officials addressed a myriad of complaints from Donald Trump’s attorneys and observers as part of their increasingly hapless and hopeless long-shot attempt to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the state and in the election, which has amounted to no more than legal heckling in a side show starring characters such as Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell.
But as of today, in Wisconsin, the work of confirming the election result was “very close to being back on schedule,” said Brian Rothgery, spokesman for the Milwaukee county board of supervisors.
The recount is about 36% complete in Dane County and only “slightly behind schedule,” said Dane county clerk Scott McDonell.
Neither county planned to work on Thanksgiving. They must complete the recount by December 1, the deadline for certifying the vote.
Trump lost to Democrat Joe Biden by about 20,600 votes in Wisconsin but paid for a recount in Milwaukee and Dane counties, where the majority of Democratic votes were made, The Associated Press notes.
Despite the process marching on, Donald Trump has refused to concede the election and is widely expected to file a lawsuit in Wisconsin challenging tens of thousands of absentee ballots once the recount is complete.
Trump’s campaign has raised objections to broad categories of ballots, including all absentee ballots cast in-person.
But as of earlier this morning, recounted ballots showed a net gain of only 41 votes for Trump.
My Guardian colleague Kenya Evelyn has done some crucial reporting on how Black voters lifted Biden’s bid for the White House.
And a Guardian podcast asking are Democrats taking black voters for granted in Wisconsin?
Before we leave the topic of coronavirus and Thanksgiving for a bit it’s worth noting what is going on in the nation’s largest county, Los Angeles.
Officials there will discuss a possible stay-home order just days before Thanksgiving after a spike of coronavirus cases surpassed a threshold set by Los Angeles public health officials to trigger one.
An “impressive and alarming surge” of more than 6,000 new cases put Los Angeles County over a five-day average of 4,500 cases per day, public health director Barbara Ferrer has said. Impressive is an interesting choice of words - though for epidemiologists, the coronavirus’s tenacity is just that.
However glib it sounds, experts have warned the public that just because they are tired of the pandemic and feeling frightened or trapped by restrictions, the virus is not at all tired of infecting as many folks as it can - and obviously does not recognize traditional holidays as a time to take a break itself.
Ferrer declined to take action until county supervisors meet today.
If the county orders residents to stay home, it would be the first such action since mid-March when Democratic governor Gavin Newsom followed the lead of several counties and issued a statewide order that closed schools and severely restricted movement.
Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have been rapidly rising across California in November, The Associated Press reports.
The state recorded its highest day of positive test results on Saturday with more than 15,000. It had more than 14,000 cases Sunday. Hospitalizations have increased 77% over the past two weeks.
“At this rate, our hospitals won’t have any spare beds by Christmas time,” said Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti about the situation in his city.
Newsom has issued a 10pm to 5am curfew for almost all state residents and urged residents to avoid nonessential travel during what is typically the busiest travel period of the year. Anyone entering California is advised to quarantine for two weeks.
Yesterday, Newsom said gathering at Thanksgiving is risky and Ferrer went a step further by urging people to only gather with members of their households.
In recent days it’s been a bit harder to listen patiently to Newsom after he attended a birthday party that broke the very rules that he has been preaching to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
With Thanksgiving preparations well underway for the Thursday holiday, the warning this week is that gatherings could very easily become super-spreader events for coronavirus and Americans need to rein in their traditional celebrations this year, the US surgeon general, Jerome Adams, said.
Adams has done the early morning rounds of some of the breakfast TV shows this week. He was on Fox today and told viewers of ABC’s Good Morning America yesterday that they needed to “keep Thanksgiving and the celebration small and smart this year.”
By smart he basically means outdoors or online and not involving travel or indoor visits with those who don’t already live with you.
“I want the American people to know that we are at a dire point in our fight with this virus by any measure,” Adams said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose public notices on coronavirus have become less muffled since Joe Biden won the election and effectively loosened the knot in the gag Donald Trump has been trying to keep on the federal agency for months, starkly warned against travel over Thanksgiving, which is this Thursday.
Healthcare workers, who are stressing out, striving and even dying in alarming numbers on the Covid front line talked to the Guardian’s Jessica Glenza about the dangers.
And health experts had more information today about how they plan to spend Thanksgiving.
Maryland’s Republican governor Larry Hogan said on Sunday: “Family gathering is the number one transmission event.” He said people let their guard down at such events, failing to wear masks properly and breaking social distancing rules.
Surgeon general warns about pandemic out of control
Jerome Adams, surgeon general, further warned this morning : “A quarter of all of our coronavirus cases this year have occurred in the last month.”
The US is approaching 12.5 million coronavirus cases and has witnessed almost 258,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus resource center in Baltimore. These are by a significant margin the highest totals in the world.
Appearing on Fox News this morning, Adams said of the surge in infections in the last month that: “Those cases are turning into hospitalizations and deaths.”
On a national level, the United States has not brought the coronavirus under control during the entire time the country has been directly affected by the disease, since January. Experts acknowledge that it is spreading like wildfire across much of the US in the autumn surge. And Adams further warned that hospitals under strain will be forced to turn away heart patients, pregnant women and others.
“That’s the reality,” he said.
Hospitals need immediate relief, Reuters reports.
The United States was on pace to surpass 85,000 hospitalizations for Covid-19 on Wednesday, a record.
That has taxed already exhausted healthcare providers as more than 1,500 coronavirus deaths and 171,000 new cases pile up daily.
Many Midwestern hospitals, in particular, severely lack beds, equipment and clinical staff, providers say.
Some are repurposing areas to accommodate Covid-19 patients or cramming multiple patients in a single room, and are asking staffers to work longer hours and more frequent shifts.
“There’s a disconnect in the community, where we’re seeing people at bars and restaurants, or planning Thanksgiving dinners,” said Dr. Kelly Cawcutt, an infectious disease physician at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. As health workers, she said, “we feel kind of dejected.”
US surgeon general Jerome Adams a little earlir this morning pleaded with Americans to grasp “the severity of the moment” and remain vigilant against the coronavirus pandemic, as record hospitalizations pushed healthcare professionals to the brink.
“We are almost to a vaccine. ... We’ve got new remedies out there. We just need you, the American people, to hold on a little bit longer,” Adams, a member of the White House coronavirus task force member, told Fox News in an interview, Reuters reports.
He urged people to adjust their plans ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, which has led to the busiest US air travel since the early days of the pandemic in March, with millions of people flying despite the hazards of a crowded airport.
US health officials last week strongly recommended that Americans avoid travel for the holiday.
Global pharmaceutical companies have reported promising trial results in the development of vaccines, which could be administered to high-priority patients in December.
Meanwhile, the US government will begin distributing Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc’s newly authorized Covid-19 antibody combination therapy starting today.
Markets set for boost
Wall Street’s main indices are expected to rise this morning following the formal go-ahead last night for the president-elect, Joe Biden, to begin transition to the White House.
It ended weeks of political uncertainty and added to hopes of an economic recovery next year, Reuters writes.
Aircraft manufacturer and defense contractor Boeing climbed 3.2% in premarket trade after European regulators gave draft approval to the 737 MAX jets, paving the way for a formal flight clearance in January.
Futures linked to the blue-chip Dow jumped 1% in early trading, outperforming Nasdaq 100 futures as investors set up to again rotate out of the technology heavyweights that were seen as safe bets during the recession.
“Today, the market is going to largely focus on the new administration’s steps going forward,” said Robert Pavlik, senior portfolio manager at Dakota Wealth in New York.
After weeks of (wild and baseless) legal challenges by the Trump campaign to overturn the election result, the US federal agency that must sign off on the presidential transition told Biden yesterday that he can formally begin the hand-over process.
Sentiment was also boosted on reports that Biden planned to nominate former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen as Treasury Secretary, which could shift the focus heavily toward progressive efforts to tackle growing economic inequality.
Shares of Tesla Inc, the world’s most valuable automaker, rose 4.6% premarket, putting the company on track to hit $500 billion in market value at the opening bell.
Signs that a working Covid-19 vaccine could be available before the end of the year have put the benchmark S&P 500 on course for its best November since 1980 and rekindled demand for cyclical sectors such as industrials and financials after a virus-led crash earlier this year.
“There are still a lot (of) questions about how the coronavirus is going to affect the economy between now and the time that we get the vaccine distributed to people,” Pavlik said.
“(But) there is a lot of interest in industrials, basic materials, financials - that’s what you are supposed to buy for the text books when the economy is indicating that it’s going to enter into a rebound or an expansion cycle.”
This is Joanna Walters, taking the reins on the blog from my colleague in London, Martin Belam. As the US business day gets truly underway it’s likely to be a lively Tuesday, so stay tuned.
As soon as we know more about what time Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be holding public events in Wilmington, Delaware, today, when we expect them to present some of the incoming Biden administration cabinet choices, we’ll let you know.
There has been a lot of talk of Trump and pardoning. This afternoon at the White House there will be a turkey and a lame duck involved in a strange dance.
It’s hoped by sensible types who accepted the 2020 election result at the outset that today’s ritual (president saves turkey from slaughter and an American Thanksgiving table) will be the last time Donald Trump issues a pardon before he’s out of office....
Ben Davis brings us this today: The 10 swing state counties that tell the story of the 2020 election
Looking at the results of the 2020 election at the more granular level of counties and precincts, it can mostly be defined by one thing: stasis. But beneath that stasis the results of this election and the changes from previous elections say an enormous amount about where the country is and is going. The counties that swung the most mostly fall into two categories: Latino areas swinging strongly towards Trump, and white-majority suburban areas swinging towards Biden. These 10 swing state counties were crucial to the final results, and help tell the story of what happened in 2020.
Jennifer Rubin writes for the Washington Post this morning that by quietly going about assembling his team and ignoring Trump’s election meltdown, Joe Biden has made himself look the bigger man. But she has words of caution about the future of the US electoral system.
She cites Max Stier president and chief executive of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service calling for a change in the way that transition is triggered so that “a transition is never again upheld for arbitrary or political purposes.”
She goes on to say:
We can add that to the list of belt-and-suspender reforms needed in case — God forbid — another president comes along who’s willing to act in total disregard of applicable law and the national interest. In addition, one can imagine a slew of states will reexamine their own certification procedures. Every state should clarify that bureaucrats are not empowered to overturn the will of the people (and providing stiff criminal penalties if they try it). Now that one national party has demonstrated appalling bad faith and contempt for the will of the voters, we should all be a bit wiser about the need to eliminate loopholes that anti-democracy politicians might try to exploit.
We certainly have not seen the last of Trump’s efforts to delegitimize the election. I doubt that 2024 contenders and other Trump sycophants will concede that Biden won — let alone that the results were not very close. These Republicans will simply move on, thereby placating the man who will wreak havoc in their party for years while attempting to avoid the impression that they, too, are conspiracy-mongers.
Omaha’s police chief said on Monday two officers acted appropriately when a Black man was fatally shot during a traffic stop last week, because the man repeatedly failed to comply with their commands. Video of the confrontation will not be immediately released.
Police chief Todd Schmaderer said his officers followed department policy when Kenneth Jones was shot last Thursday, because Jones reached for a gun in his waistband and disregarded commands.
Schmaderer showed several photos from the traffic stop during a news conference but said the full video would not be released until after a grand jury has reviewed what happened.
“In this incident the officers faced a very difficult situation with a person with a gun who would not comply with their commands,” Schmaderer said. “My senior command staff and I are in agreement in this matter. The officer used deadly force in accordance with our policy.”
Some of the concerns over Covid at Thanksgiving appear to be getting through to a large proportion of the US population, at least according to the latest numbers in the weekly Axios-Ipsos coronavirus survey:
A majority of Americans report changing their Thanksgiving plans this year. The most common changes are spending the day with only the people in your immediate household or having a smaller dinner than originally planned.
On the vaccine front, the survey finds that:
Fifty-one percent say they are very or somewhat likely to get the first generation vaccine, as soon as it’s available. This reflects a 6-point increase from last week and 14 points from late September.
Read more here: Ipsos – Most Americans report changing Thanksgiving plans
Here’s a clue as to why senior Republicans have mostly stayed quiet while Donald Trump has trashed the norms of accepting defeat and transition in a US election – because he’s still by far their most popular figure.
Morning Consult have today published figures which they claim show that 68% of Republicans say Trump is more in touch with the party’s rank and file than congressional Republicans, and that 54% of Republicans say they’d vote for Donald Trump if the 2024 presidential primary were held today.
In that theoretical primary, 12% said they’d vote for Mike Pence, and 8% said they’d prefer Donald Trump Jr to run. The only other figures appearing to be in contention were Ted Cruz and Nikki Haley on 4%, Mitt Romney on 3% and Marco Rubio on 2%.
The president of the United States has on Twitter just appeared to back actor Randy Quaid’s assertion that the country needs an “in-person-only-paper ballot re-vote”. Quaid, most widely known for his role as Cousin Eddie in the National Lampoon’s Vacation franchise, has previously insisted on Twitter that there will be no transition and that a second Trump term will follow in due course.
In quote-tweeting him, Trump also appears to have laid down a gauntlet to his party, asking “Are you listening Republicans?”
It bears repeating that it truly is unprecedented for a US president to cast doubt on the results and conduct of a US election in this way. It is the kind of posturing and rhetoric you would expect to see from an autocrat or dictator if election results have not gone their way.
To be clear, Joe Biden is leading in the popular vote by over 6 million votes, and has amassed an overwhelming lead in the electoral college where he is expected to score 306 votes to Donald Trump’s 232 on 14 December when the electoral college meets. For Trump to retain the White House he would have to convince at least three states to overthrow the democratic result of their elections.
By the way, if you want a run-down on president-elect Joe Biden’s top picks for cabinet positions, we’ve put together a series of little pen pics of seven of the leading members of the team here.
Donald Trump is up and tweeting again, pushing a poll that claims that 79% of Trump voters believe that the ‘election was stolen’.
It’s a bit of a bootstrap paradox here really, because presumably they believe that because the president has been baselessly tweeting about it for three weeks without producing any evidence that will satisfy any court that fraud was happening.
Still, it gives us a chance to drag this out from the archives. Just like there always seems to be a relevant Trump tweet complaining in the past about something he’s doing in the present, now it seems that even the president’s past turkey pardons are coming back to haunt him.
At the turkey pardon in 2018, Trump made remarks which suddenly sound decidedly familiar. “This was a fair election. Unfortunately, Carrots refused to concede and demanded a recount, and we’re still fighting with Carrots.”
To laughter, Trump said: “We’ve come to a conclusion. Carrots, I’m sorry to tell you, the result did not change. It’s too bad for Carrots.”
Another person looking to their political future is South Carolina’s Jaime Harrison. On the heels of his record-breaking but unsuccessful bid to oust Sen. Lindsey Graham, he is launching a political action committee, utilizing his newly minted status as a fundraising powerhouse to try to provide a sustained boost to other Democrats that he hopes can help flip more areas from red to blue.
Dirt Road PAC will focus on long term investments in state-level Democratic candidates and parties like intensive voter registration efforts in areas that have been seen by Democrats as harder to win, Harrison told Meg Kinnard at the Associated Press ahead of the official launch.
“The days of just swooping in every few years and putting up a candidate, having no grassroots infrastructure and thinking that we’re going to win - that’s just not working,” Harrison said. “I’m going to focus on investing and doing it in a much deeper manner, and going into areas where people have just been forgotten, or been given up on.”
First up, Harrison said, is fundraising for Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, Georgia Democrats running in the pair of US Senate runoffs that could shift the balance of the chamber, and for whom he has already directly raised nearly half a million dollars. After that, Harrison said he will focus on Virginia’s 2021 elections, before turning to the 2022 midterms.
“Rome wasn’t built overnight,” Harrison said. “You’ve got to have long term and sustainable investment for it to pay dividends.”
The committee derives its name from a viral campaign video in which Harrison described an encounter with a South Carolina voter living on a dirt road who told the candidate that he’d be staying out of politics entirely “until either a Democrat or a Republican paves my road,” something Harrison said was symbolic of “the hardship that so many of us are suffering with across this state.”
Harrison, 44, raised a staggering $130 million in his campaign against Graham, becoming the first US Senate hopeful in the country to cross the $100 million threshold. Throughout the race, Harrison repeatedly broke records in a year where several Senate races across the country reached into the hundreds of millions. In that effort, Harrison developed a national profile, amassing a stout list of cellphone numbers and email addresses he repeatedly tapped to compile small-dollar donations.
Despite his loss, theories abound over Harrison’s next steps, including a potential run for Democratic National Committee chairman, a post through which he would officially helm the party’s efforts through the 2022 midterm elections, as well as the 2024 presidential cycle.
Harrison an associate DNC chairman and former lobbyist who also once led South Carolina’s Democratic Party sought the top position before, ultimately backing out to support current chairman Tom Perez. Party leaders technically meet to select the next chairman, although that process could be expedited if [resident-elect Joe Biden weighs in with his pick.
Saying his immediate concern is boosting other Democrats through his political action committee, Harrison also made the argument that his resume uniquely qualifies him to lead the national party officially, noting state and national-level party experience, work on Capitol Hill and as a candidate, as well as existing relationships with both Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
“I don’t think there are very many folks that you could find who have probably done all of those things and can step up into the DNC wearing those many hats, and understand the route that we need to take to rebuild our party,” Harrison told AP. “If the president-elect asked me, I would be happy to serve, to build back, better.”
Is it too soon to start speculating which Republicans will run for president in 2024? Not, apparently, if you are national security adviser Robert O’Brien.
Described, perhaps a little harshly as “Donald Trump’s fourth — and least well-known — national security adviser” by Politico’s Daniel Lippman, he is apparently floating the possibility of a run. Lippman writes:
No national security adviser has ever run for president. Few people outside of Washington policy circles even know who the White House’s national security adviser is at any given moment. Yet Robert O’Brien is considering a presidential bid.
It’s a possibility that GOP strategists dismissed as an illogical long shot at best. But several of O’Brien’s friends insisted that maybe, just maybe, O’Brien could click with the American people.
O’Brien himself has remained publicly mum on the subject. But his travel as national security adviser has included a slate of early presidential primary slates, including Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada — an unusual combination for someone in his position. And one of O’Brien’s Republican friends said the trips have “amplified” his interest in running for president.
Trump himself has privately mulled a 2024 comeback, but numerous figures in his orbit — everyone from vice president Mike Pence to Donald Trump Jr. to Nikki Haley, the former US ambassador to the United Nations — have been regularly floated as the GOP’s next standard-bearer.
While Trump’s 2016 run showed political neophytes like O’Brien cannot be completely barred from this conversation, the reality TV star at least had his celebrity to lean on. It’s unclear what O’Brien’s angle would be.
Steve Benen wrote for MSNBC last night about the “radical normalcy” of Joe Biden’s cabinet picks as they emerge.
The diversity of the group is certainly notable and important. Mayorkas, for example, would be the first Latino and immigrant to lead Homeland Security. Thomas-Greenfield will be only the second Black woman to represent the United States at the UN. Avril Haines would be the first woman to lead the intelligence community.
But I’m also struck by how normal the choices are. After the last four years, we’ve grown accustomed to bizarre presidential choices for key roles – members of the president’s family, assorted figures Trump saw on Fox News, people with no substantive background in the areas in which they were expected to serve – and Biden’s new list is a reminder of how the executive branch is supposed to work in a functioning administration that values competence.
This is not to say that Biden’s choices are perfect or undeserving of scrutiny. Blinken’s corporate work, for example, will raise questions that deserve answers. But if we were drawing up an abstract list of the kinds of folks to fill these roles, we’d expect to see nominees and appointees just like these.
Is this clearing a low bar? Sure, but it’s a bar that the outgoing White House never really bothered to acknowledge the last four years.
Read more here: MSNBC – As Biden’s team takes shape, radical normalcy returns
Someone was always going to count it up. The New York Times this morning have published an analysis of what president Donald Trump has been up to in public since his 3 November election defeat, and the answer is a whole lot of not very much.
Between 4 November and 22 November, there were eleven days out of the 19 that Trump had no public or official engagements.
During that time all he has done officially is deliver a press conference about the election that was littered with falsehoods on 5 November, participated in the Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington, given an update on Operation Warp Speed in the White House rose garden, and delivered remarks on perscription drug prices.
He’s also participated in a virtual meeting with Asian leaders, briefly participated in the virtual G20 summit, and had lunch with Mike Pence twice.
He has golfed six times.
Karen Yourish and Larry Buchanan have also analysed the Trump tweets during this period. They found that in the last three weeks Donald Trump has tweeted some 550 times, about three-quarters of which attempted to undermine the 2020 election results.
In the UK, Harry Dunn’s parents have lost their high court battle against the British government over whether their son’s alleged American killer Anne Sacoolas had US diplomatic immunity at the time of his death.
Dunn, 19, was killed when his motorbike crashed into a car being driven on the wrong side of the road by Sacoolas outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on 27 August last year.
Sacoolas, whose husband Jonathan Sacoolas worked as a technical assistant at the base, left the country a few weeks later after the US said she was entitled to diplomatic immunity.
The 43-year-old was ultimately charged with causing death by dangerous driving last December, but an extradition request was rejected by the US State Department in January – a decision it later described as “final”.
Dunn’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, claimed the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office wrongly decided Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity and unlawfully obstructed the police’s investigation into their son’s death by keeping the force “in the dark”.
But, in a high court judgment delivered on Tuesday, judges said: “Our conclusion is that Mrs Sacoolas enjoyed immunity from UK criminal jurisdiction at the time of Harry’s death.”
In October last year, Dunn’s parents visited Donald Trump in the White House, who tried to spring a surprise on them by revealing that Sacoolas was in the next room and wanted to meet them. They turned down the rushed offer, describing it as “not appropriate” with no mediators or therapists present.
Read more here: Harry Dunn’s parents lose high court immunity case
Talking of the president’s legal team and their poll disputes, Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis was given an absolutely torrid time on MSNBC last night by host Ari Melber. She continued to push the baseless claim that the election was “stolen” and that “president Trump won by a landslide”, even as the interview took place just after the General Services Administration declared president-elect Joe Biden the apparent winner.
In particular, Melber put up a slide showing that the largest ever recount reversal recorded in the US amounted to a change of just 355 votes, while the Trump team are trying to overturn margins of around 12,000 in Georgia, 80,000 in Pennsylvania and 150,000 in Michigan.
He also listed a long series of legal reversals for the Trump campaign, which Ellis then denied, saying “You are accusing us of something that’s not true. You’re attributing lawsuit losses that were not on behalf of the Trump campaign.”
Ellis then falsely said:
The point of course is to get to fair and accurate results. The election was stolen and president Trump won by a landslide. And how you are mischaracterizing this, I think your viewers need to understand the truth.
If you don’t live in the US, or possibly even if you do, one of the questions you might be asking yourself today is why do US presidents pardon a turkey at Thanksgiving?
There’s some conflicting stories about the origins of the ritual, but suffice it to say that people started sending turkeys to the president as gifts for Thanksgiving, and it began to be seen as more of a marketing opportunity for the industry, especially after the 1940s when the Poultry and Egg National Board and the National Turkey Federation got involved with presenting the birds to Harry Truman.
It seems that it was President George H. W. Bush who first specifically said aloud in 1989, “Let me assure you this turkey will not end up on anyone’s dinner table, he’s granted a presidential pardon as of right now.”
However certainly by the Reagan administration it had become the norm for the turkeys sent to the president to then be moved on to live in mini-zoos or on children’s farms rather than heading to the White House kitchens.
Today’s 2pm ceremony, featuring outgoing president Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump will see two birds presented – “Corn” and “Cob”. Which one gets pardoned is being determined by a poll on Twitter on the official White House account. “Corn” is in the lead at the moment. You can insert your own punchline here about “Cob” hiring Rudy Giuliani to dispute the outcome of the poll.
James English has $74,000 to figure out how to distribute the world’s first ultra-cold storage drug to a staff of skeptical and worn-out healthcare workers, as the major sources of supports to contain Covid-19 so far come to an end.
English is the regional operations chief and health branch director for Covid-19 in Washoe county, Nevada, and is one of the hundreds of local public health directors across the US who will eventually help distribute Covid-19 vaccines. English faces difficulties likely to be encountered nationally, as the nation undertakes the most logistically challenging vaccination campaign in its history.
“The largest hurdle – we have as a small health department – is we do multiple roles,” said English. “Our funding is very minimal.”
Reno is the seat of Washoe county. It is sometimes called the “biggest little city” in America. It is large enough to be a metropolitan area and serve surrounding rural communities, but small enough to have extremely stretched resources.
“Vaccine planning,” said English, “is a huge list for us.”
Among the hurdles: millions of Americans are hesitant to take the vaccine, Pfizer’s drug needs to be stored at -94F (-70C), and public health resources are stretched thin after nearly a year of pandemic response.
“A vaccine is just a vaccine – a vaccination is everything,” said Dr Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota who has been tapped to be part of the Biden-Harris administration’s 13-member coronavirus advisory board.
Read more of Jessica Glenza’s report here: The ‘daunting’ hurdles of distributing Covid-19 vaccines in America
Christina Maxouris has this bleak outlook for CNN on the coronavirus pandemic heading into the holiday season:
The US could nearly double its current numbers – about 12.4 million reported infections – by 20 January, according to the Washington University in St. Louis forecasting model
Hospitalizations are at harrowing highs, with more than 85,800 hospitalized Covid-19 patients in the US, another record set for the 14th day in a row, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
In California, hospitalizations climbed by 77% over the past 2 weeks. Ohio hospitalizations increased at least 59% over two weeks, the governor said, adding the state currently has the most ICU patients since the pandemic’s start. Pennsylvania’s top health official warned Monday the state could run out of ICU beds within a week.
And as numbers continue to rise, hundreds more Americans will lose their lives to the virus each day. More than 10,000 people have died in just the past week – many of them alone and without the chance to say goodbye to their loved ones.
Yesterday there were 169,190 new coronavirus cases in the US, with 889 deaths recorded.
The New York Times has more grim reporting this morning about the current state of the coronavirus pandemic in the US. Mitch Smith reports:
When infections began rising sharply in the US in September, the growth was driven largely by outbreaks in the Upper Midwest. Now, though, with the whole country’s daily average of new cases is as high as it has ever been, the most rapid growth is happening elsewhere.
Nine states are reporting more than twice as many new cases a day as they did two weeks ago, and none of them are in the Midwest. The surges in those states — Arizona, California, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Vermont — reflect a still-escalating national crisis.
Forty-five states are seeing sustained increases, and 17 states added more cases in the seven-day period that ended Sunday than in any other week of the pandemic.
“Let me be very clear: A Thanksgiving gathering this year may very well lead to a funeral,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico. “Know the risks and respect them.”
Thanksgiving is always the final Thursday in November, but this year the timing could not be worse. As the holiday approaches, thousands of college students are going back home for the winter as schools close their campuses, end their semester, or move classes online. What they won’t be ending is the spread of Covid-19.
Cases in the US have risen exponentially over the last few weeks, with daily new cases close to 200,000 and current hospitalizations reaching 80,000. Unlike the previous two waves of cases in the spring and summer, the rise in cases is not concentrated in a single region. Cases are rising in most parts of the country.
Yet many college students are still packing up their suitcases and heading home. Some will be coming from campuses that have lower rates of infection than their home towns. Others will be coming from campuses that are seeing dozens of new cases a day.
“The timing of this holiday, combined with the rates of Covid that are occurring in so many places across the US, combined with the fact that many people haven’t seen their families in a long time … it’s a little bit of an added sting to what we’ve already been enduring,” said Amanda Simanek, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a state suffering one of the worst surges in cases in the country.
There is no official count of how many positive cases have been reported on college campuses during the fall. The New York Times has counted over 321,000 cases in over 1,700 colleges since the start of the pandemic, including faculty and staff who contracted the virus. Some schools, particularly large public universities, have seen thousands of cases while others have seen a few dozen at most.
If what’s past is prologue, the holiday student migration could be a major inflection point in the spread of coronavirus. Research has shown that students arriving in their college towns at the beginning of the fall led to increased rates of infection in those communities. But because many schools have only been testing students who choose to get tested, it is unclear how many students will be bringing the virus home with them for Thanksgiving break.
Read more of Lauren Aratani’s report here: Students going home for Thanksgiving could bring Covid with them
By the way, if you want to familiarise yourself with Antony Blinken, who Joe Biden has picked to be his secretary of state, then late last night Politico’s European site published this guide.
Blinken spent some of his childhood in Paris, and speaks fluent French. They write:
Blinken’s ties to Europe are lifelong, deep and personal — and he is a fierce believer in the transatlantic alliance.
“Put simply, the world is safer for the American people when we have friends, partners and allies,” Blinken said in 2016. He has described Europe as “a vital partner” and has dismissed the Trump administration’s plans to remove US troops from Germany as “foolish, it’s spiteful, and it’s a strategic loser. It weakens Nato, it helps Vladimir Putin, and it harms Germany, our most important ally in Europe.”
On every major foreign policy issue — terrorism, climate, pandemics, trade, China, the Iran nuclear deal — he has a recurring mantra: the US should work with its allies and within international treaties and organizations. Blinken also views US leadership in multilateral institutions as essential. “There is a premium still, and in some ways even more than before, on American engagement, on American leadership,” Blinken said earlier this year.
He’s got quite strong views on Brexit which might interest readers in the UK and Europe. In 2019 he said “This is not just the dog that caught the car, this is the dog that caught the car and the car goes into reverse and runs over the dog. It’s a total mess.”
Also, note to self, it is Antony, not Anthony.
“President-elect Joe Biden’s initial slate of nominees demonstrates that he aims to reverse much of president Trump’s agenda with figures who have promoted the policies that Trump rebuffed, denigrated and used to help fuel his rise to power.”
That’s according to the Washington Post this morning, anyway. They report that:
Biden’s top picks in the past helped push for trade deals, aimed to sign international treaties and advocated for foreign wars, positions that after Trump’s victory in 2016 triggered widespread soul-searching among Democrats over how they had misread the sentiments of voters on whose support they had long counted.
What they learned from that defeat and how they try to govern this time will be a major test of whether Biden feels a need to respond to the anxieties among supporters of Trump; whether he views his election as a sweeping mandate to shift in an entirely different direction; or whether he settles somewhere in the middle.
Biden’s campaign was also defined by calling the Trump era, if it were held to a single term, “an aberrant moment in time.” So his victory is being read by Biden and his allies as something akin to the revenge of the Washington establishment.
Biden’s early commitments are in many ways a symmetric reversal of Trump’s own outsider effort to undo the Obama administration’s legacy — using the same people who created those policies in the first place.
A dozen south-western Native American tribes have strong cultural ties to Oak Flat in south-eastern Arizona. But the Trump administration, in its waning days, has embarked on a rushed effort to transfer ownership of the area to a mining company with ties to the destruction of an Aboriginal site in Australia, the Guardian has learned.
“We were in the fourth quarter with two minutes left in the game. And then Trump cheated so now we only have one minute left,” San Carlos Apache tribal member Wendsler Nosie Sr told Annette McGivney. He was a football quarterback in high school. “Everybody has to mobilize now to fight this.”
Last month tribes discovered that the date for the completion of a crucial environmental review process has suddenly been moved forward by a full year, to December 2020, even as the tribes are struggling with a Covid outbreak that has stifled their ability to respond. If the environmental review is completed before Trump leaves office, the tribes may be unable to stop the mine.
In a meeting with environmental groups, local officials said that the push was occurring because “we are getting pressure from the highest level at the Department of Agriculture,” according to notes from the meeting seen by the Guardian. The department oversees the US Forest Service, which is in charge of Oak Flat.
As the curtain closes on the Trump era, officials are hurrying through a host of environmentally destructive projects that will benefit corporate interests. These include opening the Arctic national wildlife refuge to oil and gas drilling and rolling back protections on endangered gray wolves.
Read more of Annette McGivney’s report here: Revealed – Trump officials rush to mine desert haven native tribes consider holy
Gregory Krieg at CNN has his five key takeaways from Biden’s first wave of nominations and appointments this morning, and this point about the names so far stood out:
No Democratic governors are making flight plans for Washington, DC, and Democratic senators appear – whether they and their allies like it or not – to be locked in to their current positions for now.
As the first round of nominations come in, it’s clear that Biden is choosing people who are, indisputably, experts in their fields over bigger names in Democratic politics. Some of that is a practical matter.
Democrats didn’t do well down-ballot on election day and there is little appetite within the party to risk its hold on power, even in blue states or districts, on any powerful office. The special elections that followed the departure of some Republican lawmakers for the Trump administration turned into expensive political proxy wars that inflamed partisan passions -- something that Biden, in trying restore some kind of normalcy, is keen to avoid.
There will very little on-the-job-training needed for senior members of Biden’s White House. The same goes for his nominees to run massive bureaucracies like the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security.
President-elect Joe Biden is set to formally introduce his national security team to the nation later today, building out a team of Obama administration alumni that signals his shift away from the Trump administration’s “America First” policies and a return to US engagement on the global stage.
The picks for national security and foreign-policy posts include former secretary of state John Kerry to take the lead on combating climate change. Kerry and several other people set to join the upcoming administration will be discussed by Biden and vice President-elect Kamala Harris during a Tuesday afternoon event.
Outside the realm of national security and foreign policy, Biden is expected to choose Janet Yellen as the first woman to become treasury secretary. She was nominated by President Barack Obama to lead the Federal Reserve, the first woman in that position, and served from 2014 to 2018.
Biden’s emerging Cabinet marks a return to a more traditional approach to governing, relying on veteran policymakers with deep expertise and strong relationships in Washington and global capitals. And with a roster that includes multiple women and people of color — some of whom are breaking historic barriers in their posts — Biden is fulfilling his campaign promise to lead a team that reflects the diversity of America, reports Matthew Lee for the Associated Press.
So far we know that the incoming president will nominate longtime adviser Antony Blinken to be secretary of state; lawyer Alejandro Mayorkas to be homeland security secretary; Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be US ambassador to the United Nations; and Jake Sullivan as national security adviser. Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, will be nominated as director of national intelligence, the first woman to hold that post.
Those being introduced on Tuesday “are experienced, crisis-tested leaders who are ready to hit the ground running on day one,” the transition said in a statement. “These officials will start working immediately to rebuild our institutions, renew and reimagine American leadership to keep Americans safe at home and abroad, and address the defining challenges of our time — from infectious disease, to terrorism, nuclear proliferation, cyber threats, and climate change.”
Some news from Reuters here, that a Russian warship caught the US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain operating illegally in Russia’s territorial waters in the Sea of Japan, but chased it off, according to reports from Russia’s defence ministry.
Moscow said that the Admiral Vinogradov, a Russian destroyer, had verbally warned the US ship and threatened to ram it in order to force it to leave the area. The US ship had immediately returned to neutral waters after being warned off, the defence ministry said in a statement.
Such incidents are rare, but underscore poor diplomatic and military relations between Russia and the United States whose ties are languishing at a post-Cold war following four years of the Trump administration.
The Russian ship, from the Pacific Fleet, had been tracking the American destroyer, which Moscow said had violated Russia’s territorial waters by going two kilometres (1.2 miles) beyond the sea border.
Yesterday, Barack Obama said the Trump administration’s foreign relations had inflicted ‘damage’ upon America, and that it would take time for the country’s reputation to be restored. The former president expressed confidence in a new Joe Biden administration, but cautioned change would not happen immediately. As my colleague Julian Borger wrote yesterday, Biden’s proposed appointment of Antony Blinken as secretary of state will make a sharp break with Trump era.
Some sad news overnight that David Dinkins, who broke barriers as New York City’s first African-American mayor, has died at the age of 93.
Dinkins achieved much while at City Hall between 1990 and 1993. He raised taxes to hire thousands of police officers. He spent billions of dollars revitalising neglected housing. His administration got the Walt Disney Corp to invest in the cleanup of then-seedy Times Square.
In recent years, he was given more credit for those accomplishments, credit that Mayor Bill de Blasio said should always have been his due. De Blasio, who worked in Dinkins’ administration, named Manhattan’s Municipal Building after the former mayor in October 2015.
“The example Mayor David Dinkins set for all of us shines brighter than the most powerful lighthouse imaginable,” said the New York attorney general, Letitia James, who herself shattered barriers as the state’s first Black woman elected to statewide office.
“I was honored to have him hold the bible at my inaugurations because I, and others, stand on his shoulders,” she said.
Rudy Giuliani wrote on Twitter on Monday night that Dinks had given a “great deal of his life in service to our great city. That service is respected and honored by all.”
Welcome to today’s live coverage of US politics. You might have been expecting a slightly more normal and quieter day after the General Services Administration (GSA) recognized Joe Biden as the apparent election winner. However, Donald Trump’s late night Twitter rant about it suggests the president has still not accepted Biden’s overwhelming victory in both the popular vote and the electoral college. Here’s where we are at, and a little of what we might expect today…
- The GSA has allowed for the presidential transition to begin. After a long controversial delay, the agency’s head, Emily Murphy, has sent Joe Biden a letter recognizing him as the election winner - opening up access to funds, office space and classified briefings.
- Biden announced several key appointments and nominations for his national security and foreign policy team. Former secretary of state John Kerry will serve as the president-elect’s special envoy to address climate change, and former deputy secretary of state Antony Blinken will be nominated to lead the state department.
- Alejandro Mayorkas is the pick for homeland security, and would be the first Latino in the role.
- Former Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen will be nominated to lead the treasury department, according to multiple reports. If confirmed, Yellen would become the first woman in US history to serve as treasury secretary.
- Last night outgoing one-term president Donald Trump continued to defy the result, tweeting he ‘will never concede’ to ‘fake ballots’ and ‘the most corrupt election in American political history’. He has consistently failed to provide any evidence to back these false claims, and courts have continually rejected his team’s attempts to stage a coup and overthrow the outcome of the 2020 US election.
- Yesterday there were 169,190 new coronavirus cases in the US, with 889 deaths recorded.
- President-elect Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris will introduce their nominees for national security and foreign policy positions today. That will be livestreamed.
- At 6:30pm ET the president-elect will sit down with Lester Holt of NBC Nightly News for an interview, which will air later tonight.
- Before that, at 2pm, the president and first lady Melania Trump will pardon either “Corn” or “Cob”. They are the two Thanksgiving birds up for the honor today, in the annual turkey marketing ritual that began during the Reagan era.