Evening summary

That’s all from me for the night. Here’s where the news stands as we head into the weekend.

  • Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, will certify the election results, solidifying Biden’s win there.
  • Donald Trump Jr has tested positive for coronavirus, despite downplaying its severity for months.
  • Trump has lost the presidential election. We already knew this, of course, but his last-ditch attempts to demand recounts have failed as of today.

Updated

Trump’s futile last stands to cling to claims of winning are getting even more futile

After Georgia officials certified the state’s recount on Friday, confirming Joe Biden as the winner of the state, Michigan also stuck to its election results, making it impossible for Donald Trump to win the presidency.

Michigan’s Republican state legislative leaders said after meeting with President Donald Trump on Friday that they had no information that would change the outcome of the presidential election in the state, and would follow the “normal” electoral process.

Michigan is one of several states where the campaign of the Republican Trump is seeking to challenge Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the 3 November election, based on unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

“We have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan and as legislative leaders, we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors,” the Michigan senate majority leader, Mike Shirkey, and the House speaker, Lee Chatfield, said in a joint statement.

Shirkey and Chatfield said any allegation of election fraud should be thoroughly investigated. “Michigan’s certification process should be a deliberate process free from threats and intimidation,” they said.

Having been stung by a series of court defeats, the Trump team is resting its hopes on getting Republican-controlled legislatures in battleground states to set aside the results and declare Trump the winner, according to three people familiar with the plan.

Before Friday’s meeting, the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said: “This is not an advocacy meeting. There will be no one from the campaign there. He routinely meets with lawmakers from all across the country.”

The two lawmakers said they also pressed for more funds for Michigan to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

“We used our time in the White House to deliver a letter to President Trump making clear our support for additional federal funds to help Michigan in the fight against Covid-19,” they said.

Reuters contributed to this report

Updated

Donald Trump Jr, who now has Covid-19, previously downplayed the virus

The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, repeatedly dismissed the risks of coronavirus as the pandemic spiraled out of control this year, before contracting it himself this week.

Trump Jr said in an interview with Fox News on 20 October that deaths from Covid-19 in America at the time were “almost nothing”. Days later the number of deaths from coronavirus in the US surpassed 225,000, increasing by at least a thousand each day.

In the Fox News innterview, he said: “If you look at, I put it on my Instagram, I went through the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] data because I kept hearing about the new infections, [but] why aren’t they talking about deaths? Oh, oh, because the number is almost nothing, because we have gotten control of this thing.”

The elder Trump has repeatedly claimed that coronavirus deaths in the US are declining despite clear evidence that the opposite is the case. The president himself was able to recover from Covid-19 after being treated with a cocktail of experimental medications, most of which were unavailable to the public. Trump Jr. is reportedly not yet experiencing symptoms.

Public health experts predict a surge in deaths to occur throughout the holiday season and in the weeks after.

Updated

A bit of astrology trivia about Joe Biden, whose birthday is today

Today is the 78th birthday of president-elect and future Scorpio-in-chief Joe Biden – giving us an excuse to revisit his astrological chart, because why not?

As Biden continues to push back against recount demands from Donald Trump, birthday wishes poured in from political allies on social media throughout the day, including from Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, James Clyburn, Nancy Pelosi and Bill Clinton.

But let’s get to the real news: what are Biden’s signs?

Joe Biden was born on 20 November 1942 at 8.30am in Scranton, Pennsylvania. That makes him a Scorpio sun, Taurus moon and Sagittarius rising. Here is an analysis of his sun and moon published in Oprah magazine by astrologer Lisa Stardust:

His Scorpio Sun acts as the ‘claws of justice’, making Joe Biden a purveyor of transformation. Based on all of his astrological characteristics, it’s likely Joe Biden is a person who believes change is possible – mostly because he’s lived through it and seen it with his own eyes. His Taurus Moon, meanwhile, denotes a kind and practical person, one who is both a hard worker and also stable, and slow to anger. Simply put: He doesn’t do drama.

Meanwhile, people like Biden who are Sagittarius risings “are warriors who will fight for the greater good”.

His Scorpio leanings do not stop with his sun! Biden also has Mercury, Venus and Mars in Scorpio, meaning the water sign shapes how he communicates, behaves in relationships, and takes action in life. That is a lot of Scorpio, Joe.

In case you were wondering, future vice-president Kamala Harris is a Libra. Exiting president Donald Trump is a Gemini.

Updated

Donald Trump Jr has tested positive for coronavirus.

The president’s eldest son managed to evade infection after the White House super-spreader event earlier this year led to positive tests for many around him, including his father and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle.

He tested positive for Covid-19 early this week, according to a statement from his spokesman. This marks the fourth member of the Trump family to contract Covid after Donald Trump Sr, Melania Trump, and Barron Trump – all of whom have since recovered.

“Don has been quarantining out at his cabin since the result,” the spokesman said. “He’s been completely asymptomatic so far and is following all medically recommended guidelines”

Updated

Georgia governor says he will follow the law and formalize certification of votes after recount

Georgia’s governor announced Friday that he will certify the presidential election results following a recount, solidifying Joe Biden’s win there.

The announcement came after a recount demanded by Donald Trump in the wake of the November election, which showed a narrow loss to Biden in an upset of the traditionally-Republican state.

Despite pressure from Trump to push back against the results, Republican governor Brian Kemp said in a press conference on Friday he will be certifying the election results as is required by law.

“As governor, I have a solemn responsibility to follow the law and that is what I will do,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Trump tweeted a series of false accusations regarding “illegal ballots” in Georgia, all of which were flagged by Twitter as misinformation.

Despite Trump’s “throwing a fit about it”, as critics said Friday, Biden is officially the winner of Georgia and its 16 electoral college votes.

Updated

Hello readers, Kari Paul here in Oakland, California taking over the blog for the next few hours. Stay tuned for updates.

Early evening summary

  • Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has officially certified Biden as the winner of Georgia’s election, after his office mistakenly announced that the process had been completed earlier on Friday. Biden becomes the first Democratic presidential nominee to win the state’s 16 electoral college votes in nearly three decades.
  • Joe Biden met with Democratic congressional leaders in Delaware this afternoon.
  • Mike Pence campaigned in Georgia today, making the case for the state’s Republican senators who are locked in hotly contested runoff elections. In his remarks, he tiptoed around the fact that Trump lost the election. “We’re going to keep fighting until every illegal vote is thrown out. And whatever the outcome, we will never stop fighting to make America great again”, he told a crowd in Canto, Georgia.
  • Speaking at an event about lowering the cost of prescription drugs, Trump again falsely claimed that he won the election. He took no questions from reporters.

Updated

A new report in the Washington Post delves into the increasingly confounding inaction by a Trump official who continues to block the transition to a new administration.

As head of the General Services Administration, Emily Murphy’s central responsibility is to officially acknowledge the next president of the United States thereby allowing the transition to begin, a process that releases millions of dollars and access to government resources and information critical to an orderly transfer of power.

Yet nearly two weeks after Biden became the president-elect, and despite intensifying pressure from Democrats and some Republicans, Murphy has yet to “ascertain” an “apparent winner” – an unprecedented step that has pushed what is typically an apolitical and routine formality into uncharted territory.

Murphy has declined to explain her rationale for the delay.

“She wants to see what happens with all of the states, and she is looking for cues from the White House,” a senior Trump administration official told the Post. “She doesn’t want to be disloyal to the administration that hired her.”

This person added that Murphy is “not a bonafide Trump person” and is upset that she has become a public figure accused of aiding Trump’s efforts to delegitimize the results of an election he lost.

Read the full story here.

Biden certified as winner of Georgia presidential race

The Georgia secretary of Sstate’s office officially certified the election results, affirming Biden’s victory in the traditionally Republican battleground after a mandatory statewide audit.

The office mistakenly sent an email earlier on Friday declaring the process complete, only to immediately correct the statement to acknowledge that the process was ongoing.

In a new statement sent around 4pm EST, the office said the results had been certified and directed the public to visit the secretary of state’s website to view the tally, which shows that Biden won by 12,670 votes.

Because of the narrow margin of victory, either candidate may request a full recount. Such a request must be made within two business days.

Trump’s campaign, seeking to overturn the results, has vowed to pursue all legal options.

Updated

President elect Joe Biden is meeting with Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

Biden, known for both quoting Irish poetry and garbling basic English, told the leaders that they had an open invitation to the Oval Office.

“Me casa, you casa,” he told them, misquoting the expression “mi casa es su casa” and drawing a few chuckles.

“I hope we’re going to spend a lot of time together,” he added.

Updated

Trump is speaking now about lowering the cost of drug prices during which he falsely claimed he won the election and accused the pharmaceutical company Pfizer of intentionally delaying the release the results of its preliminary coronavirus vaccine until after the election. He took no questions.

Before taking the podium, he sent this evidence-free missive on Twitter, again amplifying a fabricated conspiracy about “illegal ballots”.

In the tweet, Trump falsely claimed insisted that would have won Georgia and the state’s Republican senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler would not have been forced into runoff races in January if it weren’t for widespread corruption.

Twitter flagged the tweet as problematic.

Loeffler, who was appointed to the seat, was running in a jungle election, in which she came in second behind the Democrat, Raphael Warnock, in a race that saw the Republican electorate split between Loeffler and Trump ally Doug Collins. Collins earned 20% of the vote compared with Loeffler’s nearly 26%. Perdue fell roughly .03% below the 50% threshold to avoid a runoff.

Updated

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been known to make blunt assessments of the president. On a private call Friday, she again did not mince words, reportedly calling the president a “psychopathic nut”.

Updated

Members of Trump’s outside legal team will not attend the president’s meeting with Michigan state lawmakers due to their exposure to the coronavirus pandemic, Axios reported.

Earlier Friday, Andrew Giuliani, the son of Rudy Giuliani, announced on Twitter that he tested positive for the virus. The younger Giuliani attended an indoor press conference with his father, several members of Trump’s legal team and a contingent of reporters.

According to Axios, trump campaign officials held a conference call this morning with a lawyer on the White House staff to “candidly discussed their legal conundrum.” A decision was ultimately reached that a member of Giuliani’s legal team needed to attend the meeting with the Michigan lawmakers this afternoon. After it was raised that the lawyer’s son had tested positive for the virus, someone suggested that Giuliani shouldn’t attend as he was in close contact with his son. At that point, Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis chimed in to say that the entire team had likely been exposed.

Read more here.

Georgia has not certified the results, SoS says in correction

The Georgia Secretary of State said the office is still completing the certification process, correcting a previous statement that declared the certification process complete.

In a corrected statement, the secretary of state’s office said it was on track to certify the vote today.

Updated

Afternoon summary

It’s been a lively morning in US politics, from Georgia to Michigan via Washington, DC, and on around the country. And there’s more to come this afternoon. Joe Biden is meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in Delaware and Donald Trump is venturing before the cameras for the first time in days, so do stay tuned.

So far today:

  • Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, officially certified Joe Biden’s historic election victory in the state.
  • In confirming Biden’s win in the state, after a vote recount by hand and more than two weeks after polls closed for in-person voting, Raffensperger said: “I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie.”
  • Pharmaceutical partnership Pfizer/BioNTech said it is asking US regulators today to allow emergency use of its Covid-19 vaccine, the first to do so.
  • The meeting at the White House today between Donald Trump and Republican leaders from Michigan, as the president tries to overturn Biden’s victory in that state, too, was described as “an embarrassment to the state” by Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer.
  • New York’s attorney general has sent a subpoena to the Trump Organization for records related to consulting fees paid to Ivanka Trump as part of a broad civil investigation into the president’s business dealings, per a report.

A top legal adviser to the Biden campaign said it was “not possible” and “not legal” for the Republican-controlled Michigan legislature to overturn the result in the decisive battleground.

“No state legislature in our country’s history ever has done what Donald Trump is apparently agitating for the Michigan state legislature to do, which is to ignore the results of a popular vote,” Biden campaign legal adviser Bob Bauer told reporters during a press call on Friday. “It cannot be done.”

On the call, Bauer assailed Republican lawmakers for meeting with the president. “It’s an open attempt to intimidate election officials,” he said. “It’s absolutely appalling.”

Trump’s campaign has baselessly claimed that elections officials counted enough “illegitimate ballots” to swing the election results against him, and that he would win if they were thrown out. The campaign has yet to provide evidence to support the suggestion of wide-scale fraud and a court has found the claims to be “not credible”.

Georgia secretary of state certifies Biden win

Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, officially certified Joe Biden’s victory in the state on Friday.

The move is another setback for the president, whose legal team is working to overturn the results of the election in Georgia and a number of other battlegrounds in a desperate attempt to ultimately overturn the results of the US presidential election. Raffensperger certified the results on Friday after a statewide audit of millions of ballots.

In a statement, the office of the secretary of state said that under Georgia law the candidates had two business days to request a recount.

“I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie,” Raffensperger told reporters at a press conference on Friday. “I believe that the numbers that we have presented today are correct.”

He added that, as a Republican, he was disappointed Trump didn’t win Georgia’s 16 electoral votes but said the results reflected the will of the states voters.

The recount found that Biden beat Trump by nearly 12,000 votes.

Updated

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany just wrapped up a briefing with reporters where she batted away questions about Trump’s refusal to concede the election and his campaign’s increasingly desperate attempts to overturn the results. Instead, she touted the White House’s “unprecedented response” to the coronavirus pandemic, claiming their action “saved many lives,” one day after the US recorded a record 2,015 deaths from the disease.

Taking a handful of questions, several of which came from friendly outlets, including an OAN reporter who is not permitted to be in the briefing room, McEnany amplified the presidents false and baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and again asserted without evidence that mail in balloting was rife for corruption.

Among the questions McEnany refused to answer was one from a reporter in the back of the room, who shouted: “When you gonna admit you lost?”

Asked about Trump’s meeting this afternoon with the Republican leaders of the Michigan state legislature, McEnany claimed, somewhat incredulously, that it was hardly out of the ordinary and unrelated to the president’s ongoing efforts to overturn Biden’s victory in the state.

She also said that the Trump White House had not applied any pressure on the General Services Administration official who is blocking Biden’s transition team from accessing government resources and important internal documents. McEnany also stated, baselessly, that Democrats never accepted Trump’s victory in 2016. Hillary Clinton conceded the morning after the election and President Barack Obama welcomed Trump to the White House for a meeting days later.

As McEnany walked away, CNN’s indefatigable Kaitlin Collins chided her for not taking her question. “I don’t call on activists,” McEnany replied.

“I’m not an activist,” Collins said, adding: “That’s not doing your job, your tax payer-funded job.”

Andrew Giuliani, the son of Trump’s elderly lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, announced that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Members of the press who covered Rudy Giuliani’s wild and conspiracy-fueled indoor press conference on Thursday confirmed that Andrew Giuliani was also in attendance.

Updated

While we wait for the Georgia Secretary of State to certify the results of a statewide audit, Patricia Murphy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution explained on CNN why this might only be the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end of the vote count in Georgia.

Murphy said the state had completed a post-election audit of the statewide election results and that the president’s campaign maintained the right to request another recount of the results.

According to the Associated Press in its handy explainer of the difference between the two:

A recount is typically tied to a close margin in an election, whereas post-election audits are routine and used by states to ensure that equipment and procedures counting the vote all worked properly.

Under Georgia law, candidates may request a recount if the margin is less than 0.5%. The candidates must make the request within two business days after Raffensperger certifies the election, which state law requires him to do by Friday.

The Trump campaign has vowed to pursue every legal option available to challenge the results in Georgia after the audit confirmed Biden’s victory in the state.

A second recount, like the audit, is highly unlikely to change the outcome.

Mike Shirkey, the Republican majority leader of Michigan’s state senate, arrived in Washington on Friday ahead of a visit with the president, as Trump and his campaign continue to pressure local officials to overturn Biden’s victory in the state based on baseless claims of voter fraud and irregularities.

Arriving at Washington’s Regan airport, Shirkey was met by protesters and reporters who asked repeatedly: “Will you honor the will of Michigan voters?”

Despite concerns about the appropriateness of the meeting at this moment, Shirkey accepted the invitation to the White House on Friday, along with Republican speaker of the Michigan House, Lee Chatfield.

In a statement on Thursday, senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, said it was “difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting president.”

The meeting comes after an extraordinary showdown earlier this week, when Republican members of an elections board in the state refused to certify Detroit’s election results – only to reverse themselves amid furious backlash from residents and elected officials.

Updated

Two Republican senators, Utah’s Mitt Romney and Nebraska’s Ben Sasse, have added their voices to the growing chorus of disapproval – admittedly mainly coming from Democrats, as many Trump loyalists keep their counsel – toward the White House’s continued efforts to question or overturn the election results that will leave Donald Trump as a one-term, impeached president who is under criminal investigation, Edward Helmore and Joanna Walters write from New York.

“It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American president,” Romney tweeted, accusing the president of resorting to “overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election.”

Mitt Romney taking questions on Capitol Hill earlier this month.
Mitt Romney taking questions on Capitol Hill earlier this month. Photograph: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Sasse focused his attention on Rudy Giuliani, the Trump loyalist-lawyer who held a bizarre press conference on Thursday during which he presented a list of far-fetched claims about voter fraud in the 2020 election.

“Rudy and his buddies should not pressure electors to ignore their certification obligations under the statute. We are a nation of laws, not tweets,” Sasse said, again via Twitter.

Trump’s last stand so exhausting. Ben Sasse in the US Senate.
Trump’s last stand so exhausting. Ben Sasse in the US Senate. Photograph: Hannah McKay/EPA

Joe Biden also slammed Trump’s efforts on Thursday, describing them as “totally irresponsible”, underscoring his position that they will not prevent him from taking office on January 20.

And Fox TV host and normally fanatical Trump apologist Tucker Carlson, said on his show, about Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, who played wild sidekick at Giuliani’s nonsense-fest on Thursday, per Politico:

We invited [Trump lawyer] Sidney Powell on the show, we would have given her the whole hour, we would have given her the entire week actually and listened quietly the whole time at rapt attention. That’s a big story.

“But she never sent us any evidence despite a lot of requests...polite requests, [but] not a page. When we kept pressing she got angry and told us to stop contacting her. When we checked with others around the Trump campaign, people in positions of authority, they told us, Powell has never given them any evidence either. Nor did she provide any today at the press conference. Powell did say that electronic voting is dangerous. And she’s right. We’re with her there. But she never demonstrated that a single actual vote was moved illegitimately by software from one candidate to another -- not one.”

And as Politico pertinently then adds in its morning Politico Playbook news letter: “But where is the rest of the Republican party?”

Tucker Carlson.
Tucker Carlson. Photograph: Richard Drew/AP

Read news analysis on Fox News in the age of Trump defeat here.

Updated

Democratic leaders, including president-elect Biden, are marking Transgender Remembrance Day, after one of the deadliest years on record for members of the trans community.

“To transgender and gender-nonconforming people across America and around the world: from the moment I am sworn in as president of the United States, know that my administration will see you, listen to you, and fight for not only your safety but also the dignity and justice you have been denied,” Biden said in a statement.

At least 37 transgender people have been killed this year, according to Human Rights Watch.

In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pointed to Democratic efforts to protect the rights of transgender Americans and applauded the barrier-breaking trans leaders elected to public office in recent years.

“This year, as we mark this solemn day of remembrance, the record number of transgender elected officials who have made history across the country stands as an inspiration,” she said. “These individuals are taking their rightful seat at the table, as they serve our communities and strengthen our democracy.”

Senator Rick Scott, a Republican from Florida and a former governor of the state, announced that he has tested positive for the coronavirus. He said he is “feeling good & experiencing very mild symptoms.”

In a second tweet, he implored Americans to “wear a mask” and “socially distance.”

Scott’s diagnosis comes after Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who at 87 is the oldest and longest-serving Senate Republican the chamber, tested positive for Covid-19. A handful of House members have also recently tested positive for the virus.

Updated

Georgia is expected to certify Biden’s victory in the state later this morning, after a hand recount of millions of ballots.

The Associated Press called the race on Thursday evening following the recount, which election officials said reaffirmed Biden’s victory more than two weeks after election day.

It’s the first time a Democratic presidential nominee has carried the state in nearly three decades.

In a statement, a Trump campaign lawyer refused to accept the results, vowing to “pursue all legal options”.

The Guardian’s Sam Levine spoke to Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, about the pressure he is facing from members of his own party to amplify the president’s false narrative of widespread voter fraud and why he is refusing to do so.

Updated

Rather unexpectedly this morning there has been a call to name the upcoming Coronavirus vaccines after the current president of the United States. Geraldo Rivera on Fox thinks it would be nice to honor Donald Trump that way.

There have been other ideas.

In that column I just linked to, Rubin touches on one of the eternal dilemmas of covering lies and conspiracy theories. Reporting on them inevitably amplifies them. Not mentioning them doesn’t make them go away, and in fact raises the question “Why aren’t the mainstream media reporting this? They must have something to hide.”

In the spirit of trying to present a spread of reaction to what is going on with Republican attempts to overthrow the election, CNN have this report, which maybe gives a good indicator of the motivation of the senior Republican leaders who currently appear happy to go along with Donald Trump’s unprecedented challenge to the results.

Thirteen days have passed since Joe Biden was declared the president-elect, securing the same number of electoral votes — 306 — that Trump once described as a “landslide.”

But instead of softening or coming to terms with his defeat, a reclusive Trump has been escalating his dark and corrosive efforts to undercut American democracy. As his legal options fizzle and some aides seek to convince him to come to grips with reality, Trump has only entrenched deeper into debunked conspiracy theories.

Some Republicans are growing restless over the delay in moving forward with the transition, aides said, even though few of them have spoken out publicly. Although Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska – two of the lone Republicans known to speak out against Trump – strongly criticized him Thursday night, questions about Trump’s behavior from other GOP members to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other leaders are still answered with the same blunt message from a week ago: Speaking out is not worth running the risk of angering Trump, whose supporters hold the cards in upcoming twin runoff elections in Georgia.

Read more here: CNN – Trump digs deeper into debunked conspiracy theories instead of embracing reality

Jennifer Rubin has been very forthright in her Washington Post column to day about how various groups of people should be handlings Trump’s onslaught on democratic norms and his attempt to overturn the 2020 US election result.

First, respectable networks should not cover live any of the Trump lawyers’ events. (They do not cover insane people ranting on a street corner, do they?)

Second, news outlets must hound every Republican lawmaker, official and candidate either to denounce or condone the abuse of the courts to disenfranchise voters. The two Senate Republican candidates in Georgia, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, have joined in the spurious claims of fraud with baseless attacks on the state’s Republican secretary of state; their opponents should tie them to Trump and Giuliani’s antics.

Third, state and federal officials and the Biden transition team should vow to investigate any efforts by Trump, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham or any other Republican politician who attempts to sway election officials or otherwise undermine free and fair elections.

Fourth, private actors (TV advertisers, business leaders, social media) need to stop enabling anti-democratic activities and slanderous accusations designed to deprive millions of Americans of their right to have their votes counted.

Read more here: Washington Post – Trump and Giuliani are the Republican Party

Just a quick update on the new that Pfizer are seeking emergency approval of their Covid-19 vaccine. Associated Press report that Gen. Gustave Perna of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine program says about 40 million doses could be ready for distribution in the US quickly if the Food and Drug Administration authorizes the emergency use.

He told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that states would decide, with guidance from the FDA and the CDC, who will first get the vaccine.

Perna said the “states are going to tell us exactly where they want it to be...and as soon as they figure out their distribution plan across their states, we will ensure that the vaccine gets there in a timely manner.”

Health care workers and those in nursing homes and other vulnerable people are expected to get the first vaccines. Health experts say it likely will be spring or later before there’s enough vaccine for early distribution to the general public.

The Philadelphia Inquirer this morning reports on new moves to curb the spread of Covid in the city. The new rules come into effect at 5pm today and are slated to last until at least 1 January.

The guidance closes indoor restaurant dining, gyms, and museums starting on Friday, in addition to banning indoor gatherings. It also requires high schools and colleges to hold classes virtually, bans fans at sporting events, and requires office workers to operate remotely except when impossible. Outdoor restaurant dining can continue, but diners can only eat with members of their own households.

Health Commissioner Thomas Farley urged surrounding counties in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey to join Philadelphia in enacting similar measures, saying earlier this week, “We all use the same hospitals. We all interact with each other.”

2,952 Pennsylvania residents were hospitalized for Covid as of Thursday, according to state data. That’s an increase of more than 750 patients compared to the previous week. The previous record high was 2,800 in April.

Not everybody agrees with the measures though, and a group of Philadelphia restaurant owners have already filed a federal lawsuit against Mayor Jim Kenney over the new rules.

The 11-page complaint argues that Kenney’s restrictions, which were announced this week and take effect at restaurants on Friday, are arbitrary and not supported by evidence that they will help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

“The edicts of the ‘Safer at Home’ policies have no relation to nor bearing upon the conduct of business, liberty, and other constitutional rights,” the lawsuit says.

'Numbers don’t lie' – Georgia's secretary of state one of very few Republicans to accept Biden victory

Mitt Romney is one Republican who has stood up to criticise the president’s actions since he lost the 2020 election. His reward this morning is a barrage of abuse from Trump on Twitter.

Another Republican who has stood up to the pressure from the party and the Trump administration to overturn Joe Biden’s victory is Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger.

One of very few Republican figures to emerge with any credit from the last few days, Raffensperger, who called himself a proud Trump supporter, has again stated today that Joe Biden has won Georgia.

“Like other Republicans. I’m disappointed, our candidate didn’t win Georgia’s electoral votes,” he said. “I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie. As secretary of state, I believe that the numbers that we have presented today are correct.”

While it looks like Donald Trump and the Republican party’s attempted coup to subvert the outcome of the 2020 has little chance of succeeding, it does appear to be working for them in one way – firing up the base.

In Reuters interviews over the last couple of days with 50 Trump voters in Texas, all said they believed the election was rigged or in some way illegitimate. Of those, 20 said they would consider accepting Biden as their president, but only in light of proof that the election was conducted fairly. Most repeated debunked conspiracy theories espoused by Trump, Republican officials and conservative media claiming that millions of votes were dishonestly switched to Biden in key states by biased poll workers and hacked voting machines.

Many voters interviewed by Reuters said they formed their opinions by watching emergent right-wing media outlets such as Newsmax and One American News Network that have amplified Trump*s fraud claims. Some have boycotted Fox News out of anger that the network called Biden the election winner and that some of its news anchors - in contrast to its opinion show stars - have been skeptical of Trump’s fraud allegations.

The widespread rejection of the election result among Republicans reflects a new and dangerous dynamic in American politics: the normalization of false and increasingly extreme conspiracy theories among tens of millions of mainstream voters, according to government scholars, analysts and some lawmakers on both sides of the political divide. The trend has deeply troubling long-term implications for American political and civic institutions, said Paul Light, a veteran political scientist at New York University (NYU). “This is dystopian,” Light said. “America could fracture.*

Adam Kinzinger, a Republican member of the US House of Representatives, is among the few party members to publicly recognize Biden’s victory. He called his Republican colleagues reluctance to reject Trump*s conspiracies a failure of political courage that threatens to undermine American democracy for years. If citizens lose faith in election integrity, that could lead to “really bad things,” including violence and social unrest, he said in an interview.

David Gergen - an adviser to four previous US presidents, two Democrats and two Republicans - said Trump is trying to “kneecap” the Biden administration before it takes power, noting this is the first time a sitting American president has tried to overthrow an election result.

It may not be the last time. Many Republicans see attacks on election integrity as a winning issue for future campaigns - including the next presidential race, according to one Republican operative close to the Trump campaign. The party, the person said, is setting up a push for “far more stringent oversight on voting procedures in 2024,” when the party*s nominee will likely be Trump or his anointed successor.

Brett Fryar, a 50-year-old chiropractor, owns a small business in Texas. He has two undergraduate degrees and a master*s degree, in organic chemistry. He told Reuters “If President Trump comes out and says: ‘Guys, I have irrefutable proof of fraud, the courts won’t listen, and I’m now calling on Americans to take up arms,’ we would go.”

Nothing will convince Fryar that Biden won. And as CNN’s Jake Tapper notes, this isn’t the fringes of the internet enabling it, this isn’t just Trump and his outriders, this is the Republican party itself.

Here’s the Washington Post today on the strategy that Joe Biden is pursuing while he waits for the transition period to the new Biden-Harris administration to become official.

President-elect Joe Biden tried Thursday to minimize as an irresponsible distraction the ever-escalating attempts by President Trump and his allies to undermine or overturn the presidential election results.

The decision reflected confidence among Biden’s advisers that Trump’s maneuverings — from pushing Michigan Republicans to block certification of the results to unfounded claims that US voting machine software had been tampered with by allies of the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez — were little more than public spectacle aimed at satisfying Trump’s sense of grievance with no chance of overturning the vote.

Biden said he did not plan any new legal moves in response to Trump’s latest efforts, but also did not rule out taking action against the General Services Administration at a future date to force a belated recognition of his presidential transition. The GSA, following Trump’s dictate, has refused to allow the traditional exchange of information with the incoming administration, even blocking intelligence and pandemic briefings.

Democratic strategists and elected officials have largely closed ranks behind Biden’s strategy to avoid engaging directly with Trump’s efforts to spread false conspiracy theories about voter fraud.

“The president-elect has taken the right tack, frankly, to stay above it, to keep focused on preparing himself for the work ahead, to be meeting with people who can help prepare him, even if the president continues to stonewall the transition — and let other actors push back,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff said.

Read more here: Washington Post – Biden brushes aside Trump attempts to overturn the election, confident his victory will stand

The New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was among members of the ‘Squad’, a group of progressive Democrats, who spoke at a Sunrise Movement rally in Washington yesterday to push Joe Biden on tackling the climate emergency.

AOC said they would urge Biden to ‘keep his promises’ to working families, women, minorities and climate activists as he fills his cabinet.

In July, Biden outlined an ambitious climate plan that would spend $2tn over four years investing in clean-energy infrastructure while vowing to cut carbon emissions from electrical power to zero in 15 years.

Chris McGreal has been in Howard county, Iowa for us, looking at how Donald Trump managed to boost his support among rural Americans in the election, despite his overall defeat.

Just a few months ago, Neil Shaffer thought Iowa was lost to Donald Trump.

“I was worried. We were in the midst of Covid and the economy wasn’t doing so good and Trump wasn’t handling the Covid interviews very well, and I was thinking this is gonna be a bloodbath,” said the farmer and chair of a county Republican party in the north-east of the state.

But on election day, rural Iowa turned out in force for Trump. He not only beat Joe Biden decisively in a state that opinion polls consistently predicted would be close, but the president significantly increased his vote in counties that put Barack Obama into the White House and which then flipped to Trump.

“Out here, I think 2016 was less a vote for Trump than a vote against Hillary,” said Shaffer. “A lot of people were not sold on her and so they were willing to roll the dice on Trump. Now they are Trump people. They believe in him. They came out in force.”

Shaffer said Trump commands a loyalty among a core of rural voters that he has not seen for a president before, and that it isn’t going away even when he leaves office.

Read more of Chris McGreal’s report here: ‘He made a connection’: how did Trump manage to boost his support among rural Americans?

Donald Trump is currently spreading more paranoid conspiracy theories about the election on social media, by retweeting charts that show that mail-in ballots were counted after election day. This is an extremely normal part of the election process, and has been for many years.

Indeed, it is worth reminding ourselves that in several of the crucial battleground states, Republican legislators took action to ensure that – unlike, in say, Texas or Florida – mail-in ballots were not allowed to be processed before election day. That is the simple reason that counts in Texas and Florida were much faster than those in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

I mentioned earlier that today Donald Trump is planning to meet Michigan’s state legislative leaders, Senate majority leader Mike Shirkey and House speaker Lee Chatfield, where he is expected to pressure them to find a way to award the state’s 16 electoral college votes to him, rather than Joe Biden who won the vote.

Also in the president’s diary today, early morning he is taking part in a virtual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting at, and later will be delivering remarks on lower prescription drug prices at 2.30pm.

He’s also up and tweeting and plugging Congressman Matt Gaetz’s book “Firebrand: Dispatches from the front lines of the MAGA revolution”, which I’m sure is a cracking read.

Vice president Mike Pence is in Georgia, and will be speaking at campaign rallies for Republican Senate candidates David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in Canton at 1.05pm and Gainesville at 4.10pm.

President-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris meet House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic minority leader Chuck Schumer in Wilmington. Pelosi is also expected to give her own press conference this morning.

And there’s a couple of hearings worth keeping an eye on: House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the US military mission in Afghanistan at 9am, and Internal Revenue Service commissioner Charles Rettig testifies before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight at 10am.

What happens next after that Pfizer move for emergency permission to start deploying its Covid-19 vaccine? Here’s what Associated Press say:

The public’s first chance to see how strong the evidence really is will come in early December at a public meeting of the FDA’s scientific advisers.

So far, what’s known is based only on statements from Pfizer and BioNTech. Of 170 infections detected to date, only eight were among people who’d received the actual vaccine and the rest had the placebo shot.

On the safety side, the companies cites results from 38,000 study participants who’ve been tracked for two months after their second dose. That’s a milestone FDA set because historically, vaccine side effects don’t crop up later than that.

A few days before the meeting, the FDA will release its own internal analysis. That sets the stage for the advisers’ daylong debate about any signs of safety concerns and how the new vaccine technology works before rendering a verdict.

They’ll recommend not just whether FDA should allow broader use of the vaccine generally but if so, for whom. For example, is there enough proof the vaccine works as well for older, sicker adults as for younger, healthier people?

There’s still no guarantee. “We don’t know what that vote’s going to be,” said former FDA vaccine chief Norman Baylor.

If there’s an emergency green light, “that vaccine is still deemed investigational. It’s not approved yet,” Dr. Marion Gruber, chief of FDA’s vaccine office, told the National Academy of Medicine this week.

There will be a lot of unknowns. For example, the 95% protection rate is based on people who developed symptoms and then were tested for the virus. Can the vaccinated get infected but have no symptoms, able to spread the virus? How long does protection last?

And at least for now, pregnant women won’t qualify because they weren’t studied. Pfizer only recently began testing the vaccine in children as young as 12. A decision on Pfizer’s vaccine won’t affect other Covid-19 vaccine candidates in the pipeline, which will be judged separately.

It is another government group - advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - who decides who is first in line for the initially scarce doses. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said he hopes that decision can be made at the same time as FDA’s.

Pfizer says it is asking US regulators to allow emergency use of its Covid-19 vaccine

A quick snap from Associated Press here – Pfizer has said it is asking US regulators to allow emergency use of its Covid-19 vaccine, starting the clock on a process that could bring limited first shots as early as next month. and eventually an end to the pandemic - but not until after a long, hard winter.

The action comes days after Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced that its vaccine appears 95% effective at preventing mild to severe Covid-19 disease in a large, ongoing study.

The companies said that protection plus a good safety record means the vaccine should qualify for emergency use authorization, something the Food and Drug Administration can grant before the final testing is fully complete.

In addition to today’s FDA submission, they have already started “rolling” applications in Europe and the UK.

Michigan Gov. Whitmer describes Republican leaders' visit to White House over election 'an embarrassment to the state'

Today’s meeting between Donald Trump and Republican leaders from Michigan has been described as “an embarrassment to the state” by Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Whitmer, who was subject to a right-wing kidnap plot earlier this year over her attempts to curb coronavirus in Michigan, added “It’s incredibly dangerous that they are even entertaining the conversation.”

Sidney Powell, one of Trump’s lawyers, told Fox Business television on Thursday “The entire election, frankly, in all the swing states should be overturned, and the legislatures should make sure that the electors are selected for Trump,”

Trump’s focus on Michigan and Pennsylvania for now, but even if both those states ignored the popular vote and their electors pledged for Trump, he would need another state to overturn its vote to surpass Biden

Michigan’s state legislative leaders, Senate majority leader Mike Shirkey and House speaker Lee Chatfield, both Republicans, will visit the White House at Trump’s request, according to a source in Michigan.

The two lawmakers will listen to what the president has to say, the source told Reuters. Shirkey had told a Michigan news outlet earlier this week that the legislature would not appoint a second slate of electors.

Is there any route for Donald Trump to retain the White House? Yesterday he was claiming his lawyers would outline a viable path to victory.

Tom Hals at Reuters writes that Trump’s latest strategy for attacking the legitimacy of the US election appears to be focusing on persuading Republican state lawmakers to overturn the vote in states won by his Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

To succeed, Trump would have to surmount considerable legal hurdles, overcome public condemnation and sway lawmakers in at least three states to break with democratic norms.

Most election scholars said the odds of Trump ultimately being named president are exceedingly slim. But the laws have never been tested like this before.

Biden won by a comfortable 306-232 margin in Electoral College votes. The process for formalizing his win, however, will take place in the coming weeks. Electors are party loyalists who pledge to back the candidate who won the popular vote in their state and are allotted among the states based roughly on population.

Typically, a state certifies a Republican or Democratic slate of electors based on which candidate won the popular vote. Electors convene on 14 December to formally select the president, and the results are sent to Congress to tally on 6 January. On 20 January, one presidential term ends and the next begins.

Delaying or blocking the state certification process could potentially clear the way for legislators to appoint electors pledged to Trump, even in states where Biden won the popular vote.

Usually, the secretary of state or governor certifies the vote. State legislators generally have no role in the process. But Trump supporters have seized on language in the US Constitution that says each state shall appoint electors “in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.”

“Everyone should remember the central role of state legislatures in picking a president,” Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the US House of Representatives, said on Twitter on Saturday. “The Legislature, not the Secretary of State, Governor or court.”

The Trump campaign took this argument a step further on Wednesday, claiming in a lawsuit that the administration of Pennsylvania’s election was so flawed that state officials had usurped the power of the legislature to set election rules.

The campaign’s proposed fix: let the state’s Republican-controlled legislature appoint electors and declare Trump the victor of the state, even though Biden won the popular vote.

This is a difficult legal argument since the campaign is asking a court to override the vote of millions of Americans because of relatively minor alleged voting irregularities.

An obscure federal law provides another opening for lawmakers to appoint Trump electors in states won by Biden. That law allows state legislators to appoint electors if voters “failed to make a choice” on election day. Legal experts said legislators could pass a resolution saying the election was so marred by irregularities that the outcome could not be determined and then proceed to appoint their own electors.

This is particularly true in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, where the legislature is controlled by Republicans while the governors and secretaries of state are Democrats. That would swing 46 electoral college votes away from Biden and to Trump, pushing the incumbent over the 270 vote victory threshold.

“There’s a lot of reasons to think that’s illegal and improper and politically infeasible,” said Paul Smith, a professor at Georgetown and a vice president for the Campaign Legal Center, a voter advocacy group. “But some people are talking about it for sure.”

“That’s what is so dangerous about this entire process which has been predicated on norms for so long that it has disguised just how rickety the system is if someone wanted to play this kind of hardball,” said David Daley of FairVote, which advocates for election reforms.

Rudy Giuliani’s stock as a lawyer has not exactly risen over the last couple of the weeks. First there was the Four Seasons Total Landscaping debacle, then a humiliating appearance this week in a Pennsylvania court, and yesterday his hair dye appeared to be running down his face as he made a series of further baseless claims and cited conspiracy theories about the election.

As several commentators have noted though, it may be an inept attempt to overturn the US election result and keep Donald Trump in the White House, but it is nevertheless an attempt to overturn the US election result – and one of the major parties plus a whole host of Senators and House representatives are going along with it. For whatever motive that may be, it is still a shocking moment in US politics.

Yesterday, for example, the official Republican Twitter account was putting out false statements that “President Trump won by a landslide”.

It is just not true. Joe Biden has 79,685,131 votes to Donald Trump’s 73,701,667. That’s a lead of just under 6 million votes. In terms of the electoral college, Biden currently looks set for 306 votes to 232.

Even, in the unlikely event that Trump can find some legal means to overturn that electoral college lead and bag another 38 votes, it would not by any stretch of the imagination be “a landslide”. The Republican party is simply putting out lies about the election on its social media channels.

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Wisconsin recount to begin amid Covid surge – unlikely to make any difference to Biden victory

Wisconsin has another battle on its hands as well as fighting coronavirus. Today the state has to begin recounting election votes at the insistence of defeated president Donald Trump. It will do so using face masks, protective equipment and perspex screens to protect workers.

Workers place protective plastic sheets on tables in preparation for a recount of ballots in Milwaukee.
Workers place protective plastic sheets on tables in preparation for a recount of ballots in Milwaukee. Photograph: Tannen Maury/EPA

It’s a ridiculously longshot bid by Trump who has paid a required $3 million fee to try and undo Joe Biden’s victory.

Trump, who lost by more than 20,600 votes in Wisconsin, has alleged “mistakes and fraud” in the two counties that will recount, though he has produced no evidence to back up his claims.

Biden’s victory over Trump was fueled by Democrat-heavy Milwaukee and Dane counties, making them targets for Trump to try and discount votes. The counties are home to Milwaukee, the state’s most racially diverse city, and Madison, the state capitol. Combined, Biden won the counties by a more than 2-to-1 margin, report the Associated Press.

The recount will bring together hundreds of people at a time when the coronavirus is ravaging Wisconsin. One in every 118 people in Wisconsin has tested positive in the past week. To help reduce the risk, both counties are renting convention centers so that workers and observers can be properly distanced.

A table chart sits before Milwaukee County Clerk George L. Christenson during preparations for the recount.
A table chart sits before Milwaukee County Clerk George L. Christenson during preparations for the recount. Photograph: Tannen Maury/EPA

Both counties plan to use machines to recount the ballots, although Dane County says it will do some hand-counting from randomly selected precincts for an audit, as required by law.

Will this change things? Not likely. Wisconsin’s 2016 recount, which was statewide and was requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein, barely moved the needle on any candidate’s totals, netting Trump an additional 131 votes.

More broadly, there’s no precedent of a recount changing the outcome of an election in which the margin between the top two candidates is as large as the one Biden holds over Trump.

Police stand guard over ballots from the election being stored in the Wisconsin Center before the start of the recount.
Police stand guard over ballots from the election being stored in the Wisconsin Center before the start of the recount. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The recounts must be finished by a 1 December deadline. Milwaukee County expects to be finished the day before Thanksgiving. Dane County is planning 16-hour days but hasn’t given expected completion date.

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Faced with hospitals running out of beds and staff to treat the rising number of COVID-19 patients, the leader of the Wisconsin Hospital Association pleaded Thursday with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and state legislative leaders to come together immediately to fight the virus before the current crisis becomes a catastrophe.

“Wisconsin faces a public health crisis the likes of which we have not experienced in three generations,” Hospital Association President Eric Borgerding wrote in the letter. “A crisis of this magnitude caused by a virus that is so clearly raging across all of Wisconsin demands a unified and substantial response. Your joint leadership is critical to improve this situation, allowing everyone to get back to our way of life sooner.”

According to Associated Press reports, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who has sued Evers over his orders to slow the virus and who has not put forth any specific alternative plan of his own, said in a statement that he agreed more needed to be done to fight the virus.

“I join the call for unity in Wisconsin and hope my Senate colleagues and the governor can join me in putting aside partisan differences to find bipartisan answers,” Vos said.

Republicans have fought Evers in court over his attempts to curb the virus spread, including his “safer at home” order that was struck down by the conservative-controlled Wisconsin supreme court in May and his current mask mandate that the court heard arguments over on Monday.

As of Thursday, there were 2,104 coronavirus patients hospitalized across the state, down slightly from an all-time high recorded Tuesday.

Yesterday’s US coronavirus figures set two bleak landmarks. The 187,833 new cases recorded by the Johns Hopkins University tracker mark the highest single daily rise since the pandemic started. And with 2,015 deaths recorded, it is the first time since mid-April that over 2,000 people have died in a single day.

CNN report that experts warn the coming weeks will likely be brutal and the pandemic’s death toll will keep climbing.

“We expect daily deaths to reach a peak of over 2,500 a day in mid-January,” the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation modeling team wrote on Thursday.

The group also hiked its Covid-19 death forecast considerably, now predicting a total of 471,000 American deaths by March 1 -- up more than 30,000 since their last projection about a week ago.

On Thursday, the US reported a new high of more than 80,600 hospitalized patients nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

“It’s sometimes very frustrating because we know what works,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Thursday night. “If we had everybody pulling together as a country, doing the fundamental things that we’ve been speaking out, the mask wearing, the keeping the distance, the avoiding congregate settings and crowds, doing things outdoors ... that’s not big stuff. It’s easy to do.”

The medium term prospects do not look good. As the New York Times reports:

Even if the current seven-day national average of about 166,000 daily cases were to hold until the end of the year, nearly seven million more people would contract Covid-19. That is roughly equivalent to about 2 percent of the population.

The eight states showing the steepest rises over the last 14 days are North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Montana.

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Women have long been front and center when it comes to making things happen on the Navajo Nation. But never has that role been so apparent – or so perilous – as during the pandemic. Ever since the coronavirus arrived on the 27,000-square-mile reservation, women in this matriarchal society have been putting themselves at risk, taking on ever more responsibilities, culturally and in everyday life reports Sunnie R Clahchischiligi for us today.

“The sacred side of women has changed with Covid,” said Charles-Newton, 43, one of three female delegates on the Navajo Nation Council. Girls used to learn traditions through celebrations, face-to-face talks with elders and communal gatherings. But the pandemic has squelched those opportunities. “It’s taking away a part of the culture.”

Across every sphere – from economics and education to health – the impacts of Covid-19 are exacerbated for women and girls “simply by virtue of their sex”, the United Nations has concluded. Women are more exposed to the virus because they’re more likely to be frontline workers, such as nurses and healthcare staff. They hold more than 77% of jobs in US hospitals, healthcare facilities and nursing homes, US labor statistics show. They hold essential jobs, albeit low-paying ones, in groceries and retail stores.

On the Navajo Nation, women are even more vulnerable to the virus, as a result of poor healthcare, poverty, trauma and high rates of illnesses like diabetes.

Navajo women not only hold high-exposure jobs but also are keepers of the cultural flame – and caretakers of the many people around them who have tested positive for the virus. When they become sick or die, the whole culture suffers.

Read more of Sunnie R Clahchischiligi’s report here: Women have long been the leaders in Navajo culture. Now they’re steering the fight against Covid

Dr Anthony Fauci spoke at the coronavirus task force press briefing yesterday, marking his first appearance at the White House podium in months. Fauci has repeatedly displeased the Trump administration by contradicting the president’s upbeat message on Covid with a more sober facts-driven assessment of the state of the pandemic in the US. Prior to his election defeat, Trump threatened to fire him.

Yesterday the infectious disease expert moved to allay concerns about the speed with which the coronavirus vaccine has been developed, and implored Americans to continue basic public health measures until it is rolled out.

'Wear those damn masks' says San Diego sheriff as California imposes nighttime Covid curfew

California is imposing a nighttime curfew as its coronavirus figures soar. However it will lean heavily on voluntary compliance – and sheriffs of some counties have already said they won’t enforce it.

What officials are calling a limited stay-at-home order requires people who are not on essential errands to stay home from 10pm to 5am starting Saturday. The order will last until 21 December but could be extended if disease trends don’t improve, report the Associated Press.

The curfew covers 94% of the state’s nearly 40 million residents. It’s in place in 41 of the state’s 58 counties that have the most significant increases in virus cases and face the most severe restrictions under California’s four-tier system for reopening the economy.

It is less strict than the near-total ban on nonessential business and travel that Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed in March and which he credited with flattening the rate of Covid-19 cases, despite a summer peak.

But California is now seeing surges in virus infections, hospitalizations and deaths that threaten to overwhelm its health care system.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s top health officer, said late at night is the time most likely to involve social activities that bring increased risk of infection, particularly if people drink and let down their guard on precautions such as wearing masks and staying a safe distance apart. Hospitalizations are up nearly 64% in two weeks.

“The virus is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic, and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge. We are sounding the alarm,” Newsom said in a statement Thursday.

The state recorded 11,478 cases Thursday, its highest total since mid-August. About 12% of positive cases end up requiring hospitalizations, Ghaly said, meaning that based on just the one-day total about 1,200 people will be in hospitals in the next two to three weeks.

“There is no single culprit”, Ghaly said, though he added that “This idea of Covid fatigue, Covid resentment is an important piece,” Ghaly said.

Sheriffs in counties including El Dorado, Orange and Sacramento were quick to say they would not enforce the curfew. However, in San Diego County, the state’s second-most populous with 3.3 million residents, Sheriff Bill Gore on Thursday announced a “full-time law enforcement presence” to get more businesses to comply with California’s tightening coronavirus restrictions, joining one of the most aggressive enforcement efforts in the state.

He also urged people to follow safety behaviors. “Bottom line is wear those damn masks out there, socially distance, and the sooner we do that, the sooner we’re going to get through this crisis,” Gore said.

When Tuajuanda Jordan first saw the newest addition to her college campus – a haunting memorial to enslaved people who lived, labored and died there – she stood and wept.

“So it’s a good thing that there weren’t many people around,” the president of St Mary’s College of Maryland says. “There was a photographer who has a photo of me and she’s behind me and my reflection is coming out of the steel and you can see the anguish on my face. It does its job.”

With the dedication of the Commemorative to Enslaved Peoples of Southern Maryland set for Saturday, one small public liberal arts college will be making a big statement about confronting its physical association with slavery. It will also be throwing down the gauntlet to other educational institutions to grapple with their own uncomfortable legacies.

Founded in 1840, St Mary’s has about 1,500 undergraduates, of whom an estimated 86% are white. The faculty is more than 90% white, though slowly diversifying. The college is located in a conservative and rural pocket of Maryland, a state that has voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1992.

“There are lots of people around here that have the Confederate flag and are very proud of that,” said Jordan, 60, who is African American. “St Mary’s county is a red dot in a blue state and our college is the blue dot within the red dot within the blue state. When things come up, there is tension sometimes between the folks in the area and our students.”

It was the summer of 2016 when the college began archaeological digging required before building a new sports stadium and uncovered artifacts associated with enslaved people’s quarters. Jordan immediately understood the significance. She asked focus groups of students, faculty, staff and community members to decide how best to honour the the enslaved people who lived in St Mary’s City between 1750 and 1815.

Last year the design firm RE:site was selected to build a memorial that would recast history from the perspective of those enslaved, instead of the land owners. The sculpture recreates an enslaved people’s cabin and incorporates “erasure poetry” culled from advertisements and other historical documents. At night, the lighting inside the memorial beams the poetry on to the surrounding landscape.

Read more of David Smith’s report here: Maryland college dedicates new memorial in effort to confront legacy of slavery

In that MSNBC interview last night, former president Barack Obama also had some words to say on the unique challenge facing vice president-elect Kamala Harris as she prepares for her new role.

I mean she’s gone through a twofer, right? I think the one thing we’ve learned over the last several years is that the challenges that women face as women are profound, just as race is a profound issue in our society, and women of color have to deal with both. The good news is, is that Kamala is accustomed to it. She’s been a first before. She’s been on the national stage. And my advice to her is actually really similar to my advice to Joe, which is, surround yourself with great people. Stay open to ideas wherever they come from. Reach out to the other side, but understand that you may not always get the cooperation you want, but you keep on trying just to make sure that you can – when you go to bed at night – be confident that you’re doing everything you can to try to unify the country. And then follow your instincts and follow your values.

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While on the subject of the Democratic party progressives, that’s the topic for our Politics Weekly Extra podcast this week. Jonathan Freedland and Maanvi Singh discuss how Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will need to think long and hard as they embark on a bid to unify the moderates of the Democratic party and those further left.

It’s a familiar conundrum for parties on the left and centre-left all over the world. If you delight young, educated voters in the cities, how can you avoid alienating your traditional supporters, including blue-collar workers in the towns?

You can listen to it here: Can Biden and Harris unite the Democrats?: Politics Weekly Extra podcast

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While Donald Trump continues to deny that he lost, Joe Biden is getting on with the task of putting together his teams. But Steve Peoples warns for the Associated Press that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are at risk of being excluded from the senior ranks of president-elect’s administration as the incoming president balances the demands of his party’s progressive base against the political realities of a narrowly divided Senate.

He writes that the senators remain interested in serving in Biden’s Cabinet, but even some of their allies recognize they face major political hurdles getting there. Sensing disappointment, progressive leaders have reluctantly begun to express support for less-controversial alternatives.

Warren, whose political career has been defined by efforts to diminish the power of big banks, is the progressive movement’s top choice for Treasury secretary. Sanders reiterated his desire to serve as Biden’s Labor secretary on Thursday, describing himself as particularly well-suited “to focus on the many crises facing working families in this country.”

Whether he is included in Biden’s cabinet or not, Sanders warned Biden not to freeze out progressives as he shapes his government.

“It seems to me pretty clear that progressive views need to be expressed within a Biden administration,” Sanders told the Associated Press. “It would be, for example, enormously insulting if Biden put together a ‘team of rivals’ and there’s some discussion that that’s what he intends to do which might include Republicans and conservative Democrats but which ignored the progressive community. I think that would be very, very unfortunate.”

The scrutiny on Biden’s staffing decisions reflects the tremendous pressure the president-elect faces. Biden’s transition team has hired Analilia Mejia, a Sanders’ adviser who served as his presidential campaign’s political director, to work on progressive outreach.

Biden told reporters Thursday that he had finalized his choice for Treasury secretary and said the pick would be “someone who will be accepted by all elements of the Democratic party, moderates and progressives.” He sidestepped a specific question about Sanders joining his Cabinet as he walked off stage.

Likely facing a divided Congress that could push back against the vast majority of his agenda, Biden is eyeing a series of executive actions to be implemented by his Cabinet that would force significant changes in health care, banking, environmental regulation, immigration and foreign policy, among other major issues.

And while progressives have not given up hope that one or both might still be nominated, they acknowledged the possibility even the likelihood that the high-profile liberal senators would remain in the Senate.

“It’s safe to say that Elizabeth Warren has definitely earned the trust and the ear of Joe Biden, and will surely have an influential role in agenda setting going forward whether it’s being a very powerful senator or a more formal role in his administration,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, among Warren’s most vocal supporters in Washington. “No matter what, she’ll be powerful when it comes to agenda setting for the Democratic Party.”

Here’s what the New York Times had to say in the early hours about Donald Trump’s renewed assault on the election results in Michigan. At present, Joe Biden leads the state by around 155,000 votes, and has 50.6% of the vote compared to Trump’s 47.8% – it has 16 electoral college votes at stake.

For Trump and his Republican allies, Michigan has become the prime target in their campaign to subvert the will of voters backing Biden. Trump called at least one GOP elections official in the Detroit area this week after she voted to certify Biden’s overwhelming victory there, and he is now set to meet with legislators ahead of Michigan’s deadline on Monday to certify the results.

The president has also asked aides what Republican officials he could call in other battleground states in his effort to prevent the certification of results that would formalize his loss to Biden. Trump allies appear to be pursuing a highly dubious legal theory that if the results are not certified, Republican legislatures could intervene and appoint pro-Trump electors in states Biden won who would support the president when the Electoral College meets on 14 December.

The Republican effort to undo the popular vote is all but certain to fail, as even many Trump allies concede, and it has already suffered near-total defeats in courts in multiple states, including losses on Thursday when judges in Georgia and Arizona ruled against the Trump campaign and its allies. The president suffered another electoral blow on Thursday when Georgia announced the completion of a full recount, reaffirming Biden’s victory there.

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Former president Barack Obama was continuing his media rounds to promote his new memoir last night, and he was on MSNBC. He had this to say about Trump’s attempt to defy his defeat:

Look, Joe Biden’s going to be the next president of the United States. Kamala Harris will be the next vice president. I have been troubled, like I think every American, whether you’re a Republican or Democrat or Independent, should be troubled, when you start having attempts to block, negate, overturn the people’s vote when there’s no actual evidence that there was anything illegal or fraudulent taking place. These are just bald assertions. They’ve been repeatedly rejected by the courts. And I think I’m less surprised by Donald Trump doing this. You know, he has shown only a flimsy relationship to the truth.

I’m more troubled that you’re seeing a lot of Republican officials go along with it, not because they actually believe it, but because they feel intimidated by it, and the degree to which you’ve seen some news outlets that cater to the right and the conservative viewpoint somehow try to prop up these bogus claims.

Obama’s A Promised Land sold almost 890,000 copies on its first day of release.

New York’s AG sends subpoena to Trump Organization related to fees paid to Ivanka – reports

New York’s attorney general has sent a subpoena to the Trump Organization for records related to consulting fees paid to Ivanka Trump as part of a broad civil investigation into the president’s business dealings, a law enforcement official said Thursday.

The New York Times, citing anonymous sources, reported that a similar subpoena was sent to President Donald Trump’s company by the Manhattan district attorney, which is conducting a parallel criminal probe.

The records requests followed recent reporting in The Times, based partly on two decades’ worth of Trump’s tax filings, that the president had reduced his company’s income tax liability over several years by deducting $26 million in consulting fees as a business expense.

Ivanka Trump waits for a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery in one of the few public appearances made by president Trump with his family since his election defeat.
Ivanka Trump waits for a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery in one of the few public appearances made by president Trump with his family since his election defeat. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Records strongly suggested, The Times reported, that $747,622 of those fees had been paid to Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, through a company she owned at a time when she was also a Trump Organization executive.

If true, that wouldn’t necessarily pose a problem for Ivanka Trump herself, as long as she paid income tax on the consulting payments, which she reported publicly.

It could, however, raise questions about whether the Trump Organization’s related tax deductions were allowable. The Internal Revenue Service has, in the past, pursued civil penalties over large consulting fee write-offs it found were made to dodge tax liability.

The Times wrote that there was no indication Ivanka Trump is a target of either the state’s or the city’s investigation.

“This is harassment pure and simple,” she said on Twitter late Thursday. “This ‘inquiry’ by NYC democrats is 100% motivated by politics, publicity and rage. They know very well that there’s nothing here and that there was no tax benefit whatsoever. These politicians are simply ruthless.”

James and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., both Democrats, are both conducting wide-ranging inquiries into Trump’s business affairs, according to the Associated Press.

Both investigations are at least partly related to allegations, made in news reports and by President Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, that Trump had a history of inflating the value of some assets to impress banks and business partners, but lowering that value when seeking tax benefits.

Vance has been involved in a long court battle seeking access to Trump’s tax filings as part of the investigation, which eventually ended up in the US supreme court.

Here’s a re-cap of president-elect Joe Biden saying Donald Trump will go down in history as one of the ‘most irresponsible presidents in American history’, labelling his challenges to the election results ‘incredibly damaging’.

Biden said he was not concerned that Trump’s refusal to concede the election would prevent a transfer of power, but added it ‘sends a horrible message about who we are as a country’.

Welcome to our live coverage of US politics for Friday. Donald Trump and his campaign continue to mount legal challenges to Joe Biden’s overwhelming election victory. The preisdent has taken the unprecedented step of inviting Republican state leaders in Michigan to the White House to pressure them not to certify the state’s election results. All this against a backdrop of the number of coronavirus cases in the US and the death rate continues to grimly rise.

  • Georgia has completed its hand recount and found that Joe Biden remains the winner. Biden defeated Donald Trump by about 0.2 percentage points in the state, and has an insurmountable lead of 306 to 232 in the electoral college. He will become president on 20 January 2021.
  • Biden offered his condolences to the loved ones of the 250,000 Americans who have now died of coronavirus. Speaking at a press conference in Wilmington, Delaware, the president-elect warned, “The country is still in crisis. And there’s a dark winter still ahead.”
  • Yesterday the US recorded its highest level of new daily cases of Covid – 187,833. There were 2,015 deaths, the first time the daily count has been over 2,000 since April.
  • The Trump campaign continued to push false claims of voter fraud, as states move toward certifying their election results. The president’s lawyers lashed out against the journalists, accusing them of “making light” of their false claims.
  • A Republican canvasser in Wayne county confirmed that Donald Trump called her on Tuesday night, after she and a colleague briefly tried to block the county from certifying its election results.
  • Wisconsin will begin a recount today in the state’s two biggest and most Democratic counties. It has cost the Trump campaign a $3m fee, and they are attempting to disqualify enough votes to claw back Biden’s 20,600 lead in the state.
  • Another 742,000 Americans filed claims for new unemployment benefits last week, marking a slight increase from a week earlier. The news comes a month before 12 million Americans are expected to lose their unemployment benefits unless Congress can pass another coronavirus relief bill.
  • Overnight the federal government carried out the latest execution since re-starting them earlier in the year. Orlando Hall, 49, was pronounced dead at 11:47pm after being given a lethal injection. He was the eighth federal inmate put to death this year after a nearly two-decade hiatus.