HAPPY SUNDAY. BREAKING: Incoming W.H. COS RON KLAIN on ABC’s “THIS WEEK”: JOE BIDEN will announce his first Cabinet picks — plural — Tuesday. BIDEN transition officials tell us Treasury could be one — Bloomberg’s JEN EPSTEIN said the same. KLAIN notes the picks beat the pace of the OBAMA and TRUMP transition.
FAVORITES/CW, per BIDEN Kremlinologists: ANTONY BLINKEN for State, MICHÈLE FLOURNOY for Defense and … who knows for Treasury? A lot of people seem to think JANET YELLEN — because BIDEN said it will be someone who the left and middle of the party would like. But maybe we’re all overthinking it, and it’ll be LAEL BRAINARD.
INTERESTING POINT made by BIDEN allies in recent days: The FBI isn’t background checking any Cabinet noms, because the GSA hasn’t started cooperating in the transition.
ALSO: KLAIN said to expect a BIDEN visit to Georgia on behalf of Democrats JON OSSOFF and RAPHAEL WARNOCK.
THE WALLS are beginning to close in a bit on President DONALD TRUMP. A FEW HILL REPUBLICANS are inching closer to reality in acknowledging that TRUMP’s presidency is coming to a close.
HOUSE REPUBLICAN CONFERENCE CHAIR LIZ CHENEY of Wyoming set herself apart from her leadership colleagues in telling TRUMP to put up or shut up. It’s a noticeable divergence from KEVIN MCCARTHY, the top House Republican who is one of the president’s staunchest allies. Whether she means it or not, CHENEY has periodically put space between herself and the top of the House GOP leadership. (In our experience, few people distance themselves from their colleagues by mistake.)
— CHENEY’S STATEMENT: “America is governed by the rule of law. The President and his lawyers have made claims of criminality and widespread fraud, which they allege could impact election results. If they have genuine evidence of this, they are obligated to present it immediately in court and to the American people. I understand that the President has filed more than thirty separate lawsuits. If he is unsatisfied with the results in those lawsuits, then the appropriate avenue is to appeal. If the President cannot prove these claims or demonstrate that they would change the election result, he should fulfill his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States by respecting the sanctity of our electoral process.”
SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R-Pa.) — who is not running for re-election — took it a step further, saying that TRUMP has “exhausted all plausible legal options to challenge the result of the presidential race in Pennsylvania.” TOOMEY congratulated BIDEN and KAMALA HARRIS for being elected. Toomey’s full statement … AP/Harrisburg, Pa.: “In blistering ruling, judge throws out Trump suit in Pa.”
LONGTIME MICHIGAN GOP REP. FRED UPTON to DANA BASH on CNN’s “INSIDE POLITICS”: “You know what? The voters have spoken. No one has come up with any evidence of fraud or abuse. All 83 counties have certified their own election results. Those will be officially tabulated or should be tomorrow. We expect that that process move forward and let the voters, not the politicians speak.”
BASH: “You are in a swing state. When you hear the president’s attorney saying she wants to overturn those results, what’s your reaction?” UPTON: “You know, the voters spoke. And here again in Michigan it’s not a razor thin margin, it’s 154,000 votes. You have to let those votes stand. People know the process. They knew our absentee — I voted absentee. So did my wife. So did my parents. So did my brother and his wife. The process has been in place for a long time. It works. And there’s no issues of fraud anywhere. So 154,000 votes, I mean, we had county commission race, my own county commission race was a dead even tie. Then having a draw to see who won because it was exactly the same. 154,000 votes is too many to overcome.”
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-Texas) said this morning on Twitter — he loves Twitter! — that BIDEN should be getting intel briefings. SEN. KEVIN CRAMER (R-N.D.) — the only Senate Republican on the Sunday shows — told CHUCK TODD it’s fine for the transition to begin.
CHRIS CHRISTIE said on ABC that TRUMP’S legal team is a “national embarrassment.” CHRISTIE: “Listen. I’ve been a supporter of the president’s. I voted for him twice, but elections have consequences, and we cannot continue to act as if something happened here that didn’t happen. You have an obligation to present the evidence. The evidence has not been presented, and you must conclude, as Tucker Carlson even concluded the other night, that if you are unwilling to come forward and present the evidence, it must mean the evidence doesn’t exist.”
AS WE GET INTO DECEMBER, it’s going to become more and more difficult for free-thinking humans to deny that JOE BIDEN is the next president.
WHY WONT BIDEN CALL MCCONNELL? … KATE BEDINGFIELD on “FOX NEWS SUNDAY” with CHRIS WALLACE: “When is he going to meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell?”
BEDINGFIELD: “Well, he’s looking forward to doing that when the time is right. Obviously, you know, he and Sen. McConnell have had productive working relationship in the past and he looks forward to — to meeting with Sen. McConnell when that moment — when that moment arrives.
“But you’re absolutely right, he believes that we need to get a relief bill done in the lame duck. … So that is a priority for him. That is something that he’s going to continue to push in the lame duck.”
WALLACE: “But — but, Kate — but, but, Kate, you — you can’t pass COVID relief without the Senate majority leader. He is the majority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell. Is the president-elect ready to meet with him now? In other — I’m trying to get a sense, is it President-elect Biden whose holding up the meeting or is it Mitch McConnell?”
BEDINGFIELD: “We strongly hope that Senator McConnell will come to the table. I think if you look at where the Democrats have been across the entire course of this year. You know, Democrats passed a bill back in May and we’ve seen — we’ve seen obstruction from Republicans. So, obviously, we are very hopeful that Mitch McConnell will come to the table. It is important. People are expecting it. You know, they voted for — in this — in this election, they voted for action, they voted for progress … ”
WALLACE: “But just to — just to — just to press this, would — would Biden meet — would — would Biden meet with McConnell right now?” BEDINGFIELD: “Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. Yes. Yes. It is important that Sen. McConnell come to the table.”
— JOE KNOWS CONGRESS says his priority is passing a Covid relief bill in the lame duck. He’s the president-elect. If he feels MCCONNELL isn’t coming to the table, BIDEN calling him would create a new table at which they’d both be sitting.
SPOTTED: Miles Taylor at Mission Navy Yard with a private security guard. Pic
THE BIGGEST POLITICAL STORY IN AMERICA RIGHT NOW … FRONT PAGE OF THE ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION: “Georgia GOP factions battle: Putting Trump first stymies party unity … Infighting could hurt Senate runoff chances.”
DEPT. OF DEAF EARS … WAPO: “Trump’s quest to overturn election runs into quiet resistance from local and state Republicans,” by Toluse Olorunnipa, Amy Wang and Chelsea Janes: “President Trump’s effort to persuade state and local Republicans to help him in overturning the election has so far run into a quiet resistance that could mark a coming end to his attempt at an unprecedented power grab.
“The Republican-led Board of Supervisors in Maricopa County, Ariz., voted unanimously Friday to certify the county’s election results, with the board chairman declaring there was no evidence of fraud or misconduct “and that is with a big zero.”
“The top GOP lawmakers in Pennsylvania, where counties must submit their official results by Monday, have said they have no role in deciding the winner of the state’s electoral college votes, writing in an op-ed last month that the law “plainly says that the state’s electors are chosen only by the popular vote of the commonwealth’s voters.”
“And Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, moved to certify his state’s results Friday, confirming Biden’s win there and refusing to endorse Trump’s claim that the vote was tainted by fraud. On Saturday, a federal judge threw out the Trump campaign’s lawsuit that sought to block certification of Pennsylvania’s election results. ‘In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state,’ U.S. District Judge Matthew W. Brann wrote.”
WHAT COVID LOOKS LIKE FROM COAST TO COAST … Anchorage Daily News: “Virus toll continues to grow, with 676 new cases … Battered by pandemic, downtown Anchorage hibernates” … Arkansas Democrat Gazette: “Active cases hit 17,745, setting a new state high” … L.A. Times: “Bracing for the surge of COVID patients” …
… The Desert Sun (Palm Springs): “When will vaccine reach California” … San Francisco Chronicle: “Bracing for worst as virus spreads” … Wichita Eagle: “Local restaurant owners say they fear another shutdown” …
… Boston Globe: “Virus upends career gains, goals for working mothers” … Star Tribune: “‘No beds anywhere: HOSPITALS STRAINED TO THE LIMIT BY VIRUS … Liquor, lotto are COVID escapes” … Star Ledger (Newark, N.J.): “Three ‘painful’ months: What’s next in virus fight” …
… News and Observer (N.C.): “NC passes 5,000 COVID-19 deaths as pandemic worsens: ‘PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW IT IS REAL’” … Plain Dealer (Cleveland): “UP 1,259% IN JUST 7 WEEKS: A closer look at the astonishing spike in Greater Cleveland’s coronavirus cases” … Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin passes 3,000 deaths to virus”
LOTS OF VACCINE NEWS HERE … IMMUNIZATIONS COMING WITHIN WEEKS … MONCEF SLAOUI on CNN’s “STATE OF THE UNION” with JAKE TAPPER: “Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunization sites within 24 hours from the approval. So, I would expect maybe on day two after approval, on the 11th or on the 12th of December, hopefully, the first people will be immunized across the United States, across all states, in all the areas where the state departments of health will have told us where to deliver the vaccine.” …
TAPPER: “And you have said you plan to vaccinate 20 million people in the month of December in the United States and up to another 30 million per month after that. How many Americans need to be vaccinated for life to be able to return to normal? And when might that happen?
SLAOUI: “So, normally, with the level of efficacy we have, 95 percent, 70 percent or so of the population being immunized would allow for true herd immunity to take place. That is likely to happen somewhere in the month of May or something like that, based on our plans.”
DAN GOLDBERG, RACHEL ROUBEIN and DAVID LIM: “How thousands of scarce Covid shots could go to waste”: “The Trump administration hopes to start delivering millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines in December. But the short shelf life of Pfizer’s shots and uncertainty over how to get them to enough health care workers, frail seniors and other priority patients once vials with vaccines are taken out of cold storage and cracked open could mean thousands of doses go to waste.
“It’s one of many worries hanging over the vaccine rollout in the coming months, which could be complicated by looming decisions about who should be prioritized for shots, funding shortages and public vaccine hesitancy. Pharmacies set to administer many of the shots are worried about waste, and cash-strapped state and local health departments say they need more money and direction from the federal government. The federal health department says states have what they need and that the government will backstop any shortages that occur.”
ANTHONY FAUCI on NBC’S “MEET THE PRESS” to CHUCK TODD: “Traditionally and historically, highly efficacious and effective vaccines have crushed epidemics like smallpox and polio and measles. We can do that with the vaccines that are going to be coming online. So we should make them be, one, an incentive to have us double down even more with public health measures until we get the full component of the help that’s on its way”
POST PRESIDENCY …
— WAPO’S PHIL RUCKER, ASHLEY PARKER and JOSH DAWSEY: “Trump privately plots his next act — including a potential 2024 run”: In a nod to the reality that he is destined to leave office in January, the president is seriously contemplating life beyond the White House, telling advisers that he wants to remain an omnipresent force in politics and the media — perhaps by running for the White House again.
“Trump has told confidants he could announce a 2024 campaign before the end of this year, which would immediately set up a potential rematch with President-elect Joe Biden. Trump also has been exploring ways to make money for relatively little work, such as giving paid speeches to corporate groups or selling tickets to rallies. In addition, he may try to write a score-settling memoir of his time as president and appear on television, in a paid or unpaid capacity.
“Though there has also been considerable chatter among Trump’s associates about his starting a media company of his own, many close to the president said they believe that option is less likely, in part because it would be an arduous undertaking without guaranteed success. These advisers, like some others interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss sensitive topics.”
— ALEX ISENSTADT: “Trump threatens to wreak havoc on GOP from beyond the White House”
— NYT’S JONATHAN MARTIN and MAGGIE HABERMAN: “How Trump Hopes to Use Party Machinery to Retain Control of the G.O.P.”: “Ronna McDaniel, Mr. Trump’s handpicked chairwoman, has secured the president’s support for her re-election to another term in January, when the party is expected to gather for its winter meeting. But her intention to run with Mr. Trump’s blessing has incited a behind-the-scenes proxy battle, dividing Republicans between those who believe the national party should not be a political subsidiary of the outgoing president and others happy for Mr. Trump to remain in control of it. …
“Mr. Trump will have no political infrastructure once he leaves office except for a political action committee he recently formed, and absent a formal campaign, he is hoping to lean on the R.N.C. to effectively give him one, people familiar with his thinking said.
DAN BALZ SPEAKS: “A vindictive Trump seeks to undermine Biden’s presidency”
SEN. KELLY LOEFFLER (R-Ga.) has tested positive for Covid. Story from Andrew Desidero
— LOEFFLER has been campaigning with Sen. DAVID PERDUE (R-Ga.) and has also appeared recently with VP MIKE PENCE and Ag Secretary SONNY PERDUE.
TODAY: PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP is participating in the virtual G-20 summit. PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN and VP-elect KAMALA HARRIS are meeting with transition advisers today.
FRONT PAGE of the TAMPA BAY TIMES: “Florida’s restless GOP bench: Even out of office, Trump will steer the fate of the state’s presidential hopefuls” TBT front page
EYE ON THE SKIES … WSJ: “Trump Exits Open Skies Treaty, Moves to Discard Observation Planes,” by Michael Gordon
D.C. ABOUT TO GET SMACKED BY COVID … WAPO: “Coronavirus cases are soaring in the D.C. region. Experts say the worst is yet to come,” by Erin Cox and Julie Zausmer: “A spike in coronavirus cases has brought the Washington region to the brink of the toughest season of the pandemic so far, experts say, with the coming winter poised to eclipse the virus’s impact in the spring. … Already, the past two weeks brought record caseloads and a test positivity rate that climbed well past 5 percent and into territory that experts consider widespread community transmission of the virus.”
NYT’S MICHAEL GRYNBAUM and JOHN KOBLIN: “Newsmax, Once a Right-Wing Also-Ran, Is Rising, and Trump Approves
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IN MEMORIAM — “William C. Pryor, longtime judge in D.C. courts, dies at 88,” by WaPo’s Matt Schudel: “William C. Pryor, who served on the D.C. bench for half a century, including a four-year stint in the 1980s as chief judge of the D.C. Court of Appeals, died Nov. 19 at an assisted-living facility in Silver Spring, Md. He was 88. The cause was renal failure, said his son Stephen Pryor. Judge Pryor, who grew up amid segregation in Washington, was appointed to the old D.C. Court of General Sessions — now called the D.C. Superior Court — in 1968 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.” WaPo
BIRTHDAYS: Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.) is 42 … Bettina Inclán-Agen … The Hill’s Scott Wong … CNN’s Cassie Spodak … Pat Cunnane … Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (h/t Sintia Radu) … Josh Alcorn … ABC’s Matthew Mosk … Shefali Razdan Duggal (h/t Jon Haber) … Matt Strawn … Jacob Wood, strategic comms adviser at the Millennium Challenge Corporation … Hannah August … Jeff Tiller … Barney Keller, partner at Jamestown Associates, is 36 … Martin Burns … Marshall Schoenthal … Ned Price (h/t Richard Hudock and Ben Chang) … Robert Christie, partner at Brunswick Group (h/t George Little) … Annie Shoup … Sarah O’Neill … Alessandra Grabowski of the White House, celebrating her golden birthday … Abbie Fickes … Tim Cameron of FlexPoint Media …
… Meghan Dugan, press secretary for Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) … Sally Katzen … Welles Orr … Craig Gilbert, Washington bureau chief for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (h/t Teresa Vilmain) … Yarden Golan, COS at the Israeli Embassy … James Williams, VP of criminal justice advocacy at Arnold Ventures … Natasha Lennard … Lauren Reamy, legislative director for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) … The Daily Beast’s Harry Siegel … Meena Ganesan … Mike Waring, outgoing executive director of federal relations for the University of Michigan … Andy Stern is 7-0 … POLITICO’s Elizabeth Powell … Jonathan Kubakundimana … Missy DeCamp … IBM’s Sammy Jordan … Alexa Lucas … TheSkimm’s Jessica Turtletaub … Donny Deutsch is 63 … BBC’s George Alagiah … Tim R. Cohen … Josh Goldstein