Headlines: November 20, 2020
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President Donald Trump continued his assault on American democracy by relentlessly seeking to overturn the results of the November 3rd election. Trump’s current focus on Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania comes after dozens of his legal challenges have failed at the courts after claims of voter fraud were found to be baseless. The New York Times called his on-going coup attempt, “unprecedented in American history and an even more audacious use of brute political force to gain the White House than when Congress gave Rutherford B. Hayes the presidency during Reconstruction.” In Michigan Trump is appealing to the Republican-dominated state legislature to overturn president elect Joe Biden’s lead of more than 150,000 votes and has even invited Michigan’s GOP officials to the White House in a brazen attempt to talk them into doing his bidding. Upon landing at Reagan airport for his meeting with Trump, State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey was met by a throng of reporters and protesters asking him why he has refused to certify his state’s election results. Michigan Democrats held a news conference on the same day with House Representative Debbie Dingell saying, “This goes beyond partisan politics, and it’s an attempt to subvert our democracy and undermine the will of Michigan voters.”
Republican Senator Mitt Romney who has been a vocal critic of Trump while continuing to support Trump’s agenda, admitted that, “It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American president.” On Thursday Trump’s legal team held a bizarre indoor press conference where the President’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani sweated profusely through his hair dye and laid out a far-fetched litany of conspiracy theories involving foreign countries. The Washington Post summarized it like this: “China is in on it. Cuba is in on it. Antifa and George Soros are in on it. At least two presidents of Venezuela, one dead and one living, are in on it. Big Tech is in on it; a Web server from Germany is involved (there’s always a server involved). Multiple major U.S. cities are in on it, as are decent American citizens who volunteer at polling precincts. Argentina is in on it, too, sort of.”
Even Fox News deemed the content of the presser to be “light on facts.” Speaking alongside Giuliani was Sidney Powell, a woman who media outlets have identified as part of the QAnon conspiracy cult. Fox host Tucker Carlsen also denounced her saying he had repeatedly requested information from her about Trump’s voter fraud claims but she would not do so. But Trump continues to enjoy the support of some mainstream Republicans including Senator Lindsey Graham who was revealed to have been pressuring Georgia’s Secretary of State to invalidate Democratic votes. Graham is now facing an ethics complaint. After prominent women of color in Congress called for him to resign, Graham slammed back on Twitter, “I can understand why the Squad doesn’t want me in the Senate – because I’m going to bury your agenda. You’re a bunch of Socialists.”
Meanwhile Georgia expects to certify its election results on Friday after Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger refused to play along with Trump loyalists. After a hand-recount in the state all-but-confirmed Biden’s win, Raffensperger said, “I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie.” In Wisconsin a Trump-funded recount has begun but only in the Democratic-heavy counties of Milwaukee and Dane.
President elect Joe Biden met with Democratic and Republican governors on Friday after which he spoke to reporters and said that Trump, “will go down in history as being one of the most irresponsible presidents.” Biden also said he would not shut down the economy even though the pandemic has skyrocketed. On Friday Biden met with Democratic Party leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the same day that he turned 78. Biden will be the oldest President to take office when he is inaugurated in January.
Healthcare systems around the country are struggling to keep up with hospitalizations linked to the coronavirus as cases of infection jump to nearly 200,000 a day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance asking people to not travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. At the same time the White House Coronavirus task force met this week for the first time in months and Vice President Mike Pence who leads the task force held the usual press conference refusing to echo the CDC’s request and also refusing to take questions from the press who wanted to ask about the election. Reporters shouted as he walked away in an unusual show of anger. In utter defiance of the CDC’s guidelines the White House is planning an in-person holiday party, which could turn into yet another government-hosted super-spreader event. More government officials tested positive for the virus including Florida Gov. Rick Scott, and Trump’s new undersecretary of Defense, Anthony Tata.
Trump faces a slew of potential criminal charges after he leaves the White House. According to Associated Press, “Trump faces two New York state inquiries into whether he misled tax authorities, banks or business partners. Two women alleging he sexually assaulted them are suing him. Some Democrats are calling for the revival of a federal campaign finance investigation that appeared to end under U.S. Attorney General William Barr.” Trump’s attempted coup might be in part due to the legal immunity he is afforded as President from such charges.
In economic news, Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin has decided to cut off several federal emergency aid programs that are administered through the Federal Reserve. Fed chair Jerome Powell rebuked Mnuchin over the move. Mnuchin has asked for the return of several billion dollars of unspent CARES Act funds. The Washington Post explained that, “The Treasury Department’s move would end most of the Fed’s emergency lending facilities, as well as two highly-scrutinized programs — the Main Street lending program and the municipal liquidity facility — which issue loans to struggling businesses and local governments.”