Biden holds roundtable with workers; Trump draws rebukes for questioning election integrity

President-elect Joe Biden sought to keep a focus on the economy Wednesday by holding a virtual roundtable with workers and small-business owners affected by the downturn.

Biden promises ‘help is on the way’ as he names his economic team

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During the event, Biden called on members of Congress to “come together and pass a robust package of relief” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

President Trump taped a 46-minute address from inside the White House in which he repeated debunked and misleading claims that his election loss was the result of widespread voting fraud and corruption.

In Georgia, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, chided Trump for questioning the integrity of the state’s election, comments he said are responsible for a volley of threats against election workers. Christopher Krebs, the government’s ousted top election security official, also denounced such threats, calling them “un-American” and “undemocratic” in a Washington Post Live event Wednesday.

Here’s what to know:

  • During a White House holiday party Tuesday night, President Trump hinted at a 2024 presidential bid if his ongoing efforts to reverse the 2020 election results are unsuccessful.
  • Mark Kelly, a Democrat, was sworn in to the Senate after winning a special election in Arizona. The state certified its results this week.
  • Attorney General William P. Barr said he has “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” undercutting claims that Trump has made — without evidence — of widespread voting irregularities.
  • Representatives of leading U.S. civil rights groups are pressing to meet with Biden, escalating pressure to appoint Black nominees to remaining high-profile Cabinet posts.

6:14 PM: Sen. Grassley suggests candidates for agriculture secretary ‘if Biden becomes’ president



a man wearing a suit and tie: Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) arrives for a meeting at the Capitol in October.


© J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) arrives for a meeting at the Capitol in October.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) suggested two Democrats on Wednesday who he believes would make a good agriculture secretary — “if” Biden becomes president.

Biden won the 2020 race for the White House with 306 electoral votes, and Attorney General William P. Barr said Tuesday that he has “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

“I realize this might hurt their chances but if Biden becomes pres he should select an Iowan or Heidi Heitkamp or Collin Peterson to be Ag Secretary,” Grassley tweeted Wednesday afternoon. “They’d be able to get things done for IA/Midwest farmers even w Democratic House & Republican Senate.”

Heitkamp, a Democrat, served as North Dakota senator from 2013 to 2019, losing her reelection bid to Republican Kevin Cramer. Peterson, one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, is chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. He lost his 2020 reelection bid to Republican Michelle Fischbach.

Among the potential candidates for the agriculture spot are Heitkamp and Democratic Reps. Cheri Bustos (Ill.), Marcia L. Fudge (Ohio) and Chellie Pingree (Maine).

A handful of Republican senators have congratulated Biden, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has urged Trump to concede. But most Senate Republicans have refused to refer to Biden as the president-elect. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) acknowledged “the incoming administration” at a news conference Tuesday but has stopped short of congratulating Biden, saying “the future will take care of itself.”

Grassley’s tweet about Biden stood in contrast to a message he sent two days after the 2016 election, when he acknowledged Trump’s win over Democrat Hillary Clinton. Trump, like Biden, won 306 electoral votes.

“Just observed first meeting of Pres/Elect T &PresObama,” Grassley tweeted then. “Looks like things went well Both said so TRANSITION IS ON/ Read Ist Tim 2:1-2&pray.”

JM Rieger contributed to this report.

By: Felicia Sonmez

5:48 PM: Trump releases 46-minute video repeating baseless accusations of voter fraud

Standing behind a lectern with the presidential seal and flanked by the American flag, Trump taped a 46-minute address from inside the White House in which he repeated debunked and misleading claims that his election loss was the result of widespread voting fraud and corruption.

The president tweeted a two-minute teaser, calling the speech possibly the most important of his presidency, and then quickly posted the speech in its entirety.

In his most extensive comments since the election, Trump repeated and expanded upon many of his false claims that the election was rigged. He suggested overturning the results, invoked the special counsel Russia investigation as evidence that he has been a target of a coordinated effort to end his presidency and called on the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate the results.

Repeating his baseless allegation that millions of votes in swing states were cast illegally, Trump said that the “results of the individual swing states must be overturned and overturned immediately” and that, “hopefully, the courts, in particular the Supreme Court of the United States, will see it, and, respectfully, hopefully, they will do what’s right for our country.”

He claimed in the speech that the surge in mail-in voting, which was expanded because of the coronavirus pandemic, was “a scam” to tamper with the results. The U.S. Justice Department has said — as have several states and courts — that it has found no evidence of widespread fraud or security breaches in the election that would have changed the results.

By: Colby Itkowitz

4:46 PM: Biden calls on Congress to ‘come together and pass a robust package of relief’ amid pandemic



Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie: President-elect Joe Biden speaks Nov. 25 in Wilmington, Del. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)


President-elect Joe Biden speaks Nov. 25 in Wilmington, Del. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

During a virtual roundtable with Americans who shared their stories of how the coronavirus pandemic has affected them financially, Biden called on Congress to immediately pass a relief package — even as he acknowledged that any bill passed during the lame-duck session would only be a “down payment” on a larger effort to come once he takes office.

“The point is, the full Congress should come together and pass a robust package of relief to address your urgent needs now,” Biden told the participants in Wednesday’s roundtable.

After listening to several participants talking of the economic hardship they have faced during the pandemic, the president-elect prefaced his remarks by noting that there’s very little he can do at the moment.

“To state the obvious, my ability to get you help immediately does not exist. I’m not even in office for another 50 days. And then I have to get legislation passed through the United States Congress to get things done,” he said.

Biden then outlined his priorities for helping Americans get back on their feet, including extending unemployment insurance; ensuring businesses have the resources they need to open safely; providing states and cities with funding so workers can go back to work; and preventing Americans from getting evicted during the pandemic.

Ultimately, Biden said, he thinks Congress is “trying like the devil” to come to an agreement. But he added that “what happened was the president said he wouldn’t support it, and, apparently, Republicans in the Congress said — the House, the Senate — said they wouldn’t support it.”

“So it’s now back to square one again,” he said.

At one point in his remarks, Biden held up the face mask that he usually wears while in public, directly challenging those who have opposed face coverings on the grounds that they violate their freedom.

“When I have this mask on, it’s less about me being safe. It’s about me making sure that you’re safe,” he said. “It’s a patriotic thing to do. It really is. You know, I hear all this about, ‘Well, it’s a great sacrifice of my freedom.’ Well, tell that to all the people who went to World War I and gave their lives, and World War II, and the Korean War, and talk to me — I mean, come on.”

Biden added: “You’re helping other people. It’s not you. It’s other people. Other people. And, so, I think we have to change the mind-set here a little bit. It’s got to be about giving.”

By: Felicia Sonmez

3:52 PM: Trump allies Sidney Powell and Lin Wood urge Georgians to boycott Senate runoffs

Sidney Powell, a former lawyer for the Trump campaign, led a rally in a northern Atlanta suburb in which she exhorted hundreds of the president’s supporters not to participate in the Senate runoffs in part because she said the state’s voting machines are not trustworthy.

“I would encourage all Georgians to make it known that you will not vote at all unless your vote is secure,” Powell said. “There should not be a runoff. Certainly not on Dominion machines.”

Powell claimed falsely that the machines, manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems, were rigged to weight Biden’s votes more heavily than Trump’s, that a hand recount was a sham, and that state and local election officials have been destroying ballots and other evidence of fraud. She has presented no proof of her claims.

Lin Wood, another Trump ally who helped lead Wednesday’s event, made similar claims, stating, “We’re not going to vote on your damn machines made in China. We’re going to vote on machines made in the USA!”

Wood took aim at just about every state Republican leader in Georgia, including Sen. Kelly Loeffler, Sen. David Perdue, Gov. Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and the state party chair, David Shafer, even though some of them have stood by Trump and echoed his false claims of fraud.

“If they don’t fight for Donald Trump, including Loeffler and Perdue, send them all home!” Wood exclaimed to the crowd. “You are criminals!”

Powell insisted that the results in Georgia and other states had been altered, affecting races up and down the ballot, though the hand audit of all ballots completed last month showed that to be impossible. She suggested an election conducted entirely with paper ballots “that are signed and have a thumb print on them,” which would violate Georgia’s constitutional requirement of a secret ballot.

By: Amy Gardner and David Weigel

3:13 PM: Iowa Democrat wants U.S. House to review results of race she lost by six votes

A Democratic House candidate in Iowa is challenging the results of a race she lost by six votes, appealing directly to the U.S. House for its review.

Rita Hart, a former Iowa state senator, says a recount that narrowed Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks’s lead from 47 votes to just six left many legally cast ballots uncounted, including from active-duty military members overseas.

“We all watched #IA02 close from 47 votes to 6, but there are still ballots that haven’t been counted,” Hart tweeted. “The only way to ensure all Iowans’ votes are counted is a full examination of this election by the U.S. House that will consider every ballot cast.”

The district is currently represented by Democrat Rep. David Loebsack, who chose not to run for reelection.

Iowa certified Miller-Meeks the winner Monday, but under the Federal Contested Elections Act, Hart intends to file a petition to the House Administration Committee asking that it review all the votes cast, including those left out in the state’s recount.

The request from Hart, whose razor-thin loss marks the closest congressional election since 1984, will at minimum allow her to present her case to the House committee. The panel can then decide whether to conduct its own investigation and, after its conclusion, make a recommendation to the full House about who should fill the seat.

Democrats hold a slim majority in the House, which is all it would take to override the state’s certification of Miller-Meeks as the winner and award Hart the seat.

By: Colby Itkowitz

2:59 PM: White House declines to say whether Trump will attend Biden’s inauguration



a person smiling for the camera: White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany holds a briefing at the White House on Dec. 2.


© Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany holds a briefing at the White House on Dec. 2.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday declined to say whether President Trump will attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration in January, telling reporters that the announcement is up to Trump to make.

Outgoing presidents traditionally attend the inauguration of their successor. Biden’s inauguration is scheduled to take place Jan. 20 on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol.

“Is the president seriously considering skipping the inauguration?” a reporter asked McEnany during a news briefing Wednesday.

“I’ll leave that to the president to make his announcement,” McEnany replied. “He tweeted something to the effect of he knows what his decision is, and he’ll make his decision at the right time.”

Asked what rationale Trump could possibly have for skipping the event, McEnany declined to say.

“I’m not going to speculate on the president’s decision. I’ll leave that to him to announce it,” she said.

Trump has repeatedly made false claims that Biden won the election as a result of widespread election fraud. Pushing back against Trump’s baseless assertions, Attorney General William P. Barr said Tuesday that he has “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

On Thanksgiving, when a reporter asked Trump whether he plans to attend the inauguration, the president said he had made a decision but was not ready to announce it.

“I don’t want to say that yet,” Trump said. “I mean, I know the answer. I’ll be honest, I know the answer, but I just don’t want to say it yet.”

He then went on to make more false claims of election fraud.

By: Felicia Sonmez

2:30 PM: Court upholds North Carolina’s voter identification law



a person holding a stop sign: Voters wait to cast ballots Nov. 3 in Raleigh, N.C. (Juli Leonard/News & Observer/AP)


Voters wait to cast ballots Nov. 3 in Raleigh, N.C. (Juli Leonard/News & Observer/AP)

A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld North Carolina’s law requiring voters to present photo identification before casting ballots, even as it acknowledged the state’s “long and shameful history of race-based voter suppression.”

A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit said North Carolina’s past practice does not indefinitely prevent the state from enacting new voting restrictions.

The panel said a lower-court judge had improperly considered the state’s “past conduct to bear so heavily on its later acts that it was virtually impossible for it to pass a voter-ID law that meets constitutional muster,” according to the opinion from Judge Julius N. Richardson, a Trump nominee.

Richardson was joined by Judges A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr., also a Trump nominee, and Pamela A. Harris, a nominee of President Barack Obama.

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By: Ann E. Marimow

2:09 PM: Mark Kelly sworn in, giving Arizona two Democratic senators for first time in more than six decades

Mark Kelly sworn in as Arizona senator

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Democrat Mark Kelly was sworn in to the Senate on Wednesday, marking the first time in more than 67 years that Arizona has two Democratic senators.

Kelly, 56, a former astronaut and the husband of former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), defeated Sen. Martha McSally (R) in a special election last month. The seat was once held by longtime Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who died in 2018. McSally was later appointed to the seat but came up short this year in her race against Kelly, who will be up for a full six-year term in 2022.

Kelly joins Arizona’s senior senator, Kyrsten Sinema (D), a former congresswoman who won election to the Senate in 2018, also defeating McSally.

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By: Felicia Sonmez

2:00 PM: Raffensperger supports Ga. election official who blamed Trump for threats to election workers

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger expressed support Wednesday for a top Georgia election official’s comments blaming Trump for a flood of threats to election workers, and he chided the president for doubling down on his rhetoric despite the plea.

Gabriel Sterling, a top Republican official in the secretary of state’s office, gave an impassioned statement Tuesday urging Trump and other Republicans to condemn violent threats against election workers. Efforts by the president and his allies to falsely claim election fraud are “inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence,” Sterling said.

Raffensperger, also a Republican, said he gave the green light for Sterling to make those statements Tuesday. “He spoke with passion, and he spoke with truth. It’s about time that more people are out there speaking with truth,” Raffensperger said during a news conference Wednesday morning.

“Even after this office requested that President Trump try and quell the violent rhetoric, being born out of his continuing claims of winning states where he obviously lost, he tweeted out: ‘Expose the massive voter fraud in Georgia,’ ” Raffensperger said, referring to Trump’s tweet Tuesday night in response to Sterling. “This is exactly the kind of language that is at the base of growing threat environments of election workers who are simply doing their jobs.”

Raffensperger noted that Attorney General William P. Barr announced that he had seen no evidence of widespread fraud that could affect the outcome of the November election. The Justice Department has “had multiple investigations, like us,” Raffensperger said. “And our investigators have seen no widespread fraud, either.”

During a news briefing Wednesday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president condemns violence, including attacks against his lawyers who are challenging election results in key swing states.

“We condemn any threats against anyone. There’s no place for violence,” McEnany said. “What I will say, though, too, is that the president’s lawyers, they were doxxed by a left organization, their private information put out. So we’re seeing that happen to people on both sides of the argument. And there’s no place for that ever, anywhere.”

Biden won Georgia by 12,670 votes, a narrow margin that led to a manual hand recount, which reaffirmed his win. Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp (R) certified Biden’s victory, but Trump requested a machine rescan of the ballots. That second recount is scheduled to conclude Wednesday night. Georgia taxpayers are footing the bill for both recounts.

By: Michelle Ye Hee Lee

1:12 PM: Laws and customs guide presidential transitions — but some go off the rails anyway

Trump’s attacks on the election of Biden are unprecedented, but bitterness over losing is nearly as old as the presidency.

Since George Washington handed the keys to John Adams, the transfer of power between presidents has been complicated, sometimes spiteful and occasionally harrowing, but it has ultimately always been peaceful.

Sure, the country is best served if incoming and outgoing teams play nicely together, experts say. But some of the most successful U.S. presidents overcame rocky transitions and lousy relationships with their predecessors.

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By: Bonnie Berkowitz and Madison Walls

12:32 PM: Fired DHS cybersecurity chief Christopher Krebs denounces threats against election workers



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The government’s ousted top election security official, Christopher Krebs, denounced a volley of death threats targeting election officials, calling them “un-American” and “undemocratic” in a Washington Post Live event Wednesday.

The claims come two weeks after the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency was fired by presidential tweet for defending the integrity of the 2020 election. On Monday, Trump campaign lawyer Joseph diGenova, a former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said on television that Krebs should be “drawn and quartered” and “taken out and shot” for his statements.

The death threats have targeted election officials across the country as Trump and his allies continue to make unfounded charges that Biden’s victory was because of fraud and a vast conspiracy involving hacked voting machines.

“The actual individuals that are responsible for the process of this most sacred democratic institution of elections are the ones that are getting the blowback here,” Krebs said. He added: “We’re actively undermining democracy. We’re actively undermining confidence in the electoral process.”

Krebs also expressed concern that the attacks will dissuade people from working in election administration.

“How the heck are we going to recruit election workers and election administration officials going forward if they think they’re going to get death threats online and in person,” he said. “It’s well beyond time for everyone on both sides of the political spectrum to call for an end and to call for … our certification process to move on into the next administration.”

Krebs has described himself as a “lifelong Republican” and previously served in the George W. Bush administration. But he left the door open to serving Biden if asked.

“Anytime you get asked by the leader of the free world to come in and take on an important role, you have to give it all due consideration,” he said. “There are a series of other considerations I have to balance out, including a family.”

By: Joseph Marks

12:15 PM: Analysis: The Trump-fueled peril for the GOP in Georgia

Late last week, concern was building among Republicans that President Trump’s baseless attacks on the legitimacy of the 2020 election might lead their voters to sit out Georgia’s all-important Senate runoffs, which will determine control of the chamber. If elections are rigged, the logic goes, why bother? And why reward people who supposedly haven’t stood up enough for Trump’s specious claims?

So Trump weighed in with a brief message.

The election was indeed a “total scam,” he assured, “but we must get out and help David and Kelly, two GREAT people” — referring to Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.).

But then Trump promoted a markedly different message Monday night. He retweeted a user who suggested that it was pointless to elect Republicans such as Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who had just certified their states for Biden.

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By: Aaron Blake

11:50 AM: McDaniel announces bid for another two-year term as RNC chair



a person talking on a cell phone: Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel speaks during a news conference Nov. 9.


© Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel speaks during a news conference Nov. 9.

Ronna McDaniel is seeking a third term as chair of the Republican National Committee and has secured the backing of Trump and other key GOP leaders, according to an official close to McDaniel.

In a letter to RNC members Wednesday, McDaniel also announced that she has secured the support of a majority of the national party committee’s members.

“While I am proud to have the support of President Trump, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, and House Minority Leader McCarthy in my bid for re-election, it is the endorsement of the 168 members of this committee that matters most, and I am incredibly humbled to have the endorsements of over 120 members at this time,” McDaniel wrote, according to Fox News Channel, which first reported on the letter.

The official close to McDaniel, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, confirmed the letter’s authenticity.

McDaniel, the former chair of the Michigan Republican Party, has led the RNC since 2017. She has been a vocal ally of Trump and in recent weeks has supported the president’s baseless claims that widespread voter fraud took place during the 2020 election.

Members of the RNC are expected to elect the committee’s chair during their winter meeting next month.

By: Felicia Sonmez and Josh Dawsey

11:12 AM: Trump seeks to draw attention to Michigan hearing where Giuliani will make his latest appearance



a man wearing glasses: Rudolph W. Giuliani, an attorney for President Trump, speaks during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington on Nov. 19.


© Sarah Silbiger/For The Washington Post
Rudolph W. Giuliani, an attorney for President Trump, speaks during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington on Nov. 19.

Trump sought Wednesday to draw attention to a legislative hearing later in the day in Michigan at which his personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani is scheduled to appear in his latest attempt to perpetuate baseless claims about election fraud.

“Watch today!” Trump said in a tweet promoting the hearing, scheduled by the Michigan House Oversight Committee.

Giuliani has appeared at similar GOP-organized events in two other states, and Trump has called into both to continue his attacks on election integrity.

Before the hearing in Michigan, Giuliani plans to meet with state Republican activists in Lansing.

Neither Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey nor House Speaker Lee Chatfield, both of whom are Republicans, are expected to meet with Giuliani. They previously said in a joint statement that they had seen no evidence of fraud that “would change the outcome of the election” in Michigan, where Biden has been declared the winner.

By: John Wagner and Tom Hamburger

10:57 AM: Georgia voters elect Kwanza Hall as interim successor to the late John Lewis



Kwanza Hall wearing a suit and tie: Kwanza Hall answers a question during the Atlanta Police Foundation's Atlanta mayoral debate hosted by WSB-TV at its studios in Atlanta on Oct. 22, 2017. (Phil Skinner/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP)


Kwanza Hall answers a question during the Atlanta Police Foundation’s Atlanta mayoral debate hosted by WSB-TV at its studios in Atlanta on Oct. 22, 2017. (Phil Skinner/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP)

Voters in the Atlanta area elected Democrat Kwanza Hall to serve as interim successor to the late Rep. John Lewis (D), the civil rights leader who represented Georgia’s 5th Congressional District for more than three decades.

Hall, a former Atlanta City Council member, defeated onetime Morehouse College president Robert Franklin in Tuesday’s runoff for the House seat. Hall had 54 percent to Franklin’s 46 percent when the Associated Press called the race.

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By: Donna Cassata and Vanessa Williams

9:36 AM: Analysis: Democratic economists call for big spending, total rethink of deficits as GOP seeks austerity

Congressional Republicans are resuming their hand-wringing over the debt after a four-year break. But Democratic economic heavyweights have reached a very different consensus: The federal government isn’t spending nearly enough.

The shift in thinking goes beyond prioritizing emergency relief to help businesses and workers survive the pandemic’s winter spike and new shutdowns.

Two allies of Biden, Lawrence Summers and Jason Furman, are calling for a “revolution” in assessing how the government taxes, borrows and spends — a wholesale reevaluation of how much red ink the government can safely pile up. They advocate for massive new investments in infrastructure and more, as long as real interest rates remain low.

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By: Tory Newmyer

9:05 AM: Fact Checker: Trump’s dwindling prospects to overturn the election



a large building with a cloudy sky: The sun sets Monday at the White House.


© Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post
The sun sets Monday at the White House.

Trump lost the 2020 presidential election decisively. But as he had signaled repeatedly in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 3 vote, he has refused to accept the election outcome and instead has falsely claimed that his loss to Biden was the result of massive fraud in six key states.

He claims, without evidence, that he actually won those states, even though the election results have now been certified in all six.

So far, in virtually every court case, judges have rejected the Trump campaign’s claims, which in effect have called for nullifying the results of the popular vote and awarding electors to Trump instead.

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By: Glenn Kessler

8:30 AM: Denying Trump four more years was ‘something good for the country,’ Biden says

Biden said in an interview published Wednesday that he feels he served the country well by denying Trump another term and suggested he could have more leverage than people suspect with a Senate led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

“I feel like I’ve done something good for the country by making sure that Donald Trump is not going to be president for four more years,” Biden told New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman.

Control of the Senate remains up for grabs. Republicans will remain in charge unless Democrats win both runoffs in Georgia on Jan. 5.

In his interview with Friedman, Biden, a former senator from Delaware, cited his time as vice president as evidence that he could work with McConnell.

“Let me put it this way,” he said. “There are a number of things that when McConnell controlled the Senate that people said couldn’t get done, and I was able to get them done with [him]. I was able to get them to, you know, raise taxes on the wealthy.”

“I think there are trade-offs, that not all compromise is walking away from principle,” Biden added. “He knows me. I know him. I don’t ask him to embarrass himself to make a deal.”

By: John Wagner

8:16 AM: Trump hints at 2024 bid at White House holiday party



a store front at day: The National Christmas Tree is lit up outside the Ellipse park south of the White House on Tuesday.


© Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
The National Christmas Tree is lit up outside the Ellipse park south of the White House on Tuesday.

Trump fueled speculation about a 2024 presidential bid with comments at a White House holiday reception on Tuesday night, suggesting he might “see you in four years.”

“It’s been an amazing four years,” Trump said in a scene captured on video. “We’re trying to do another four years. Otherwise, I’ll see you in four years.”

Trump has continued to press baseless claims of widespread fraud in an attempt to reverse the election results. But the number of Republicans embracing a scenario in which he remains president is dwindling.

In the video, he hints more publicly at what he has told allies privately: that if he leaves office, he is likely to announce a 2024 run against Biden.

According to the Associated Press, the video of Trump’s appearance was streamed live on Facebook by one attendee, Pam Pollard, who is national committeewoman for the Oklahoma Republican Party.

In the video, a large number of people, many of them not wearing masks, can be seen standing closely together.

The gathering is among at least 25 indoor holiday parties scheduled at the White House this month despite the ongoing surge in coronavirus cases. Trump has ignored warnings from his administration’s own public health professionals to limit travel and avoid congregating in large group settings.

The president and first lady are determined to have a final holiday season in the White House, officials said, despite a pandemic that has killed more than 268,000 Americans and infected 13 million across the country.

Josh Dawsey contributed to this report.

By: John Wagner

7:10 AM: Obama says Democratic Party sticks ‘so long with the same old folks,’ needs to promote new voices



Barack Obama holding a phone: Former president Barack Obama speaks at a pre-election rally in Miami on Nov. 2.


© Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post
Former president Barack Obama speaks at a pre-election rally in Miami on Nov. 2.

Former president Barack Obama, in an interview released Wednesday, advocated promoting young voices in the Democratic Party, including that of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), saying the party has a tendency to “stick so long with the same old folks.”

His comments to Snapchat’s “Good Luck America” come as Biden, 78, is set to become the oldest president to enter the White House.

“If you want to move people, they are moved by stories that connect with their own lives,” Obama told host Peter Hamby. “They are not moved by ideology. Now one thing I will say about the Democratic Party, promoting young people is really important. We stick so long with the same old folks and don’t make room for new voices.”

Obama was also critical of the limited speaking time Ocasio-Cortez was given at the Democratic National Convention this year.

“The Democratic National Convention I thought was really successful considering the pandemic,” Obama said. “But, the fact that an AOC only got — what — three minutes or five minutes? When she speaks to a broad section of young people who are interested in what she has to say, even if they don’t agree with everything she says. New blood is always good. And I say that as somebody who used to be the young, shiny cool guy. But now is the gray-haired old grizzled vet.”

By: John Wagner

6:56 AM: Biden to hold virtual roundtable with workers and small-business owners



WILMINGTON, DE ‐ December 1, 2020:  President-elect Joe Biden leaves the Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday after announcing his economic team.


© Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post
WILMINGTON, DE ‐ December 1, 2020: President-elect Joe Biden leaves the Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday after announcing his economic team.

A day after pledging “a recovery for everybody,” Biden plans to hold a virtual roundtable Wednesday with workers and small-business owners impacted by the economic downturn, according to his transition team.

The event will be staged from Wilmington, Del., where Biden has been hunkered down as he conducts his transition to the White House.

During remarks Tuesday as he formally introduced members of his economic team, Biden sought to assure Americans that “help is on the way” and called on Congress to provide “immediate relief” amid a worsening coronavirus pandemic.

By: John Wagner

6:54 AM: Ivanka Trump’s political ambitions seek new home after the White House.



Jared Kushner wearing a suit and tie walking on a field: President Trump's White House senior advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump walk on the South Lawn as they arrive at the White House from Camp David on Sunday.


© Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post
President Trump’s White House senior advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump walk on the South Lawn as they arrive at the White House from Camp David on Sunday.

As a business executive, Ivanka Trump has always had a keen eye for marketing — whether in real estate, moderately priced shoes or handbags. After she leaves the White House with her father, those who know the family say she could soon embark on a new venture: selling herself to American voters.

It’s unclear where exactly Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, who like Ivanka is now a senior White House adviser, will physically land after they are expected to leave Washington in January. Some anticipate the couple will return to their old home of New York, while others speculate they may relocate to a “cottage” at the president’s Bedminster golf course in New Jersey.

But former friends, colleagues and associates of the couple believe wherever they live, the first daughter will be contemplating how to maximize her political capital — whether that means an actual run for office or a gauzier influence in Republican circles in a world where President Trump still holds enormous political sway.

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By: Jacqueline Alemany

6:50 AM: Trump would have won if he had shown more empathy on coronavirus, Parscale says



a man wearing a suit and tie: Brad Parscale, then-campaign manager for President Trump, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., in February.


© Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
Brad Parscale, then-campaign manager for President Trump, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., in February.

Brad Parscale, Trump’s former campaign manager, said in a television interview Tuesday, that Trump would have handily won reelection if he had shown more empathy about the coronavirus pandemic.

“A young family with a young child who are scared to take them back to school wanted to see an empathetic president and an empathetic Republican Party,” Parscale said during an appearance on Fox News. “And I said this multiple times, and he chose a different path. I don’t think he was wrong, I love him, but we had a difference on this. I thought we should have public empathy.”

“We lost suburban families,” Parscale added. “I think that goes to one thing: The decision on covid to go for opening the economy versus public empathy … I think if he had been publicly empathetic, he would have won.”

Parscale served as Trump’s campaign manager until July, when he was replaced by Bill Stepien and named as a senior campaign adviser. Parscale had maintained a low public profile since September, when he was hospitalized after his wife called police, saying he was threatening to harm himself.

By: John Wagner

6:44 AM: Civil rights groups want a meeting with Biden. The agenda: Appointing Black officials in top roles.



a man wearing a suit and tie: The NAACP's president and chief executive, Derrick Johnson, addresses an NAACP convention in Detroit in 2019.


© Carlos Osorio/AP
The NAACP’s president and chief executive, Derrick Johnson, addresses an NAACP convention in Detroit in 2019.

Representatives of seven leading U.S. civil rights organizations are pressing to meet with Biden in the coming days, escalating pressure on him to appoint Black nominees to the remaining high-profile Cabinet posts amid concern that White nominees have dominated so far.

Biden has rolled out a diverse set of appointments but reserved the initial marquee slots in the Cabinet and White House for White candidates, prompting worry that Biden is failing to make good on his promises to promote Black leaders to prominent jobs.

Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, said Tuesday that he was baffled that Biden has failed to confirm a meeting with the civil rights groups nearly a month after Election Day.

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By: Annie Linskey and Matt Viser

6:40 AM: To boost voter-fraud claims, Trump advocate turns to unusual source: The longtime operator of QAnon’s Internet home



Sidney Powell wearing a neck tie: Attorney Sidney Powell speaks during a news conference with Rudolph W. Giuliani, a lawyer for President Trump, on Nov. 19 in Washington.


© Sarah Silbiger for The Washington Post
Attorney Sidney Powell speaks during a news conference with Rudolph W. Giuliani, a lawyer for President Trump, on Nov. 19 in Washington.

In her legal quest to reverse the reality of last month’s election, Trump’s recently disavowed attorney Sidney Powell has gained a strange new ally: the longtime administrator of the message board 8kun, the QAnon conspiracy theory’s Internet home.

Powell on Tuesday filed an affidavit from Ron Watkins, the son of 8kun’s owner Jim Watkins, in a Georgia lawsuit alleging that Dominion Voting Systems machines used in the election had been corrupted as part of a sprawling voter-fraud conspiracy.

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By: Drew Harwell

6:38 AM: Trump threatens to veto major defense bill unless Congress repeals a legal shield for tech giants

Trump on Tuesday threatened to veto an annual defense bill authorizing nearly $1 trillion in military spending unless Congress opens the door for Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to be held legally liable for the way they police their platforms.

Trump delivered his ultimatum — calling for the repeal of a federal law known as Section 230 — in a pair of late-night tweets that transformed a critical national security debate into a political war over his unproved allegations that Silicon Valley’s technology giants exhibit systemic bias against conservatives.

“Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to ‘Big Tech’ (the only companies in America that have it — corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity,” Trump tweeted.

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By: Tony Romm

6:37 AM: Black Lives Matter movement at a crossroads as Biden prepares to take office



a group of people jumping in the air: A protester holds a Black Lives Matter flag in front of the White House last August.


© Salwan Georges/The Washington Post
A protester holds a Black Lives Matter flag in front of the White House last August.

Activist John Sloan III saw the swell of White faces in Black Lives Matter protests after the killing of George Floyd in June and girded for the worst.

He acknowledged it was a sign of progress, proof that the Democratic establishment was coming around to his cause. But the 37-year-old lead organizer for the Black Lives Matter chapter in Detroit was worried that the increased support would turn a cause anchored in a grass-roots uprising into a commercialized, mainstream political movement. He voted for Joe Biden anyway.

“Joe Biden was not my first choice. Not my second choice. He was not my third choice,” Sloan said. “But I’m also a pragmatic individual, and I think Biden is going to be better than the Trump administration for me.”

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By: Tim Craig and Robert Klemko

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