January 26, 2021

Politics and Commentary News Aggregator

The Daily 202: Conservatives fear Trump’s plot to overturn loss will ‘imperil the electoral college’

22 min read
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Roy, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, persuaded six of the most committed conservatives in the House to sign onto a statement he drafted Sunday that makes a blunt case for counting all the electors submitted by the states. The centerpiece of his argument is that failing to do so will create dangerous precedents and open a Pandora’s box that would eventually doom the electoral college.

“From a purely partisan perspective, Republican presidential candidates have won the national popular vote only once in the last 32 years,” Roy wrote in his statement. “They have therefore depended on the electoral college for nearly all presidential victories in the last generation. If we perpetuate the notion that Congress may disregard certified electoral votes — based solely on its own assessment that one or more states mishandled the presidential election — we will be delegitimizing the very system that led Donald Trump to victory in 2016, and that could provide the only path to victory in 2024.”

The other signatories are Reps. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Tom McClintock (R-Calif.). 

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has also emphasized the imperative for Republicans to safeguard the sanctity of the electoral college in opposing Cruz and Co. “Congress would imperil the Electoral College, which gives small states like Arkansas a voice in presidential elections,” he said in a statement. “Democrats could achieve their long-standing goal of eliminating the Electoral College in effect by refusing to count electoral votes in the future for a Republican president-elect.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) forwarded Roy’s statement to the Senate Republican Conference. “With respect to presidential elections, there is no authority for Congress to make value judgments in the abstract regarding any state’s election laws or the manner in which they have been implemented,” Lee emailed his colleagues on Monday. 

This message was seen as giving cover to other Republicans because Lee, whose father was President Ronald Reagan’s solicitor general, helped devise President Trump’s impeachment defense strategy in the Senate last year. Lee even appeared at Trump’s rally in Georgia on Monday night, where he was chastised by the president for not trying to overturn the election results.

Speaking at Trump’s Georgia rally, Kelly Loeffler – whose name appears on the ballot in today’s runoff – became the 13th GOP senator to publicly announce that she will oppose certifying Biden’s victory. She declared that she is going to try to get the legally certified electoral votes from her own state thrown out, as opposed to letting them be counted for Biden. The effort will fail. But it is notable that Loeffler is willing to effectively disenfranchise the 10.62 million people she is supposed to represent – since she has tied her political fortunes entirely to the lame-duck Trump.

In this vein, Roy did something else clever on Sunday evening as the new Congress was sworn in. To make a point, he objected to the swearing-in of all members from the six states where Trump falsely claims the vote was rigged. This forced the House to vote on whether the lawmakers who were on the same ballot with the president – and won their races – should be allowed to take the oath. Naturally, Republicans wanted to seat their members from Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The vote was 371 to 2 to say that all of their elections were legitimate. 

“It would confound reason if the presidential results of these states were to face objection while the congressional results of the same process escaped public scrutiny,” Roy said. “Those representatives were elected through the very same systems – with the same ballot procedures, with the same signature validations, with the same broadly applied decisions of executive and judicial branch officials – as were the electors chosen for the president of the United States under the laws of those states.”

“On a conference call last Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told his caucus that, in his 36 Senate years, he has twice cast votes to take the nation to war and once to remove a president, but that the vote he will cast this Wednesday to certify [Biden’s victory] will be the most important of his career,” legendary conservative columnist George Will reports. “The day before McConnell’s somber statement, Missouri’s freshman Republican senator, Josh Hawley, announced that on Wednesday, 14 days before Biden will be inaugurated, he will challenge the validity of Biden’s election. Hawley’s conscience regarding electoral proprieties compels him to stroke this erogenous zone of the GOP’s 2024 presidential nominating electorate. …

“Hawley — has there ever been such a high ratio of ambition to accomplishment? — and Cruz have already nimbly begun to monetize their high-mindedness through fundraising appeals,” Will continues. “On Wednesday, the members of the Hawley-Cruz cohort will violate the oath of office in which they swore to defend the Constitution from enemies ‘foreign and domestic.’ They are its most dangerous domestic enemies.”

Tune in for our live special report on the Georgia runoffs.

I will join Libby Casey in The Post’s newsroom tonight from 7 p.m. Eastern until midnight to analyze and assess returns as they come in from the Peach State. Senate control for the next two years is on the line. Watch our livestream free on YouTube.

The Washington Post names Olivier Knox as my replacement.

After 5 1/2 years, I will hand over the reins of The Daily 202 later this month to Olivier Knox, a veteran political reporter and broadcast journalist, to start my next job as a columnist for the Opinions section. Knox has covered every presidential campaign and administration in the last 20 years. He joins The Post from SiriusXM, where he was chief Washington correspondent and hosted a live, three-hour show each weeknight focused on politics, foreign policy, and the federal government. Before that, he reported for Yahoo News and hosted a weekly Yahoo-branded radio show. Knox got his start as a reporter at Agence France-Presse, for which he covered eight years of the George W. Bush administration. He served as president of the White House Correspondents’ Association from July 2018 to July 2019. 

Olivier received his B.A. in political science from Columbia University and a master’s in Latin American studies and International Economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He split his time between Vermont and Paris during his childhood and is a native French speaker and fluent in Spanish. He lives in Bethesda with his wife and son.

More on the voting wars

President Trump on Jan. 4 said he hopes Vice President Pence, who oversees the certification of the Electoral College vote, will “come through for us.” (The Washington Post)

More Republicans criticize Trump’s attempt to pressure Georgia election officials.

“Trump is effectively sabotaging the Republican Party on his way out of office, obsessed with overturning his election loss and nursing pangs of betrayal from allies whom he had expected to bend the instruments of democracy to his will,” Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Seung Min Kim report. “Trump has created a divide in his party as fundamental and impassioned as any during his four years as president … Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), the No. 3 House Republican, said the call was ‘deeply troubling’ and urged all Americans to listen to the hour-long conversation, while Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) condemned it as ‘a new low in this whole futile and sorry episode.’ Even one of Trump’s most loyal defenders, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), said it was ‘not a helpful call.’ … 

The president is trying to mobilize a show of strength that could intimidate lawmakers who certify the result, exhorting his supporters to travel to Washington for mass protests Wednesday. He is planning to speak to the crowd on the Ellipse around midday Wednesday … Trump is befuddled as to why many more Republicans are not falling in line with him, advisers said. … Still, Trump is not entirely blind to reality. He has asked several advisers in recent weeks for advice on what he should do instead of attending [Biden’s] inauguration on Jan. 20.”

At a rally for the Senate candidates last night in Dalton, Ga., Trump opened by declaring that there’s no way he lost the state: “The president also falsely said he had won reelection ‘in a landslide’ and suggested that he expects Vice President Pence to make it so when he fulfills his constitutional duty to preside over Wednesday’s joint session … Trump has complained that he does not think he will get credit if [David] Perdue and Loeffler win but will be blamed if they lose … Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate to lose Georgia in three decades. … ‘Honestly, I think that he cannot handle being the sitting Republican president that lost Georgia,’ said a GOP official in frequent touch with the White House. … Georgia’s voting systems manager, Gabriel Sterling, refuted Trump’s voter fraud claims point by point at a news conference Monday in Atlanta. ‘This is all easily, provably false, yet the president persists,’ Sterling said.”

Trump tried to reach Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) at least 18 times before Saturday’s call, but the calls were patched to interns in the press office who thought it was a prank and didn’t realize it was actually the president on the line, according to Raffensperger’s deputy. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows arranged Saturday’s conversation after collecting all the participants’ cellphone numbers and connecting them directly.

Quote of the day

“The divide in the party is whether it’s appropriate to pull the pin on an electoral college grenade, hoping that there are enough responsible people standing around who can shove it back in before they detonate American democracy,” said Republican operative Josh Holmes, an outside adviser to McConnell and his former chief of staff.

Throughout the call, Trump displayed an extraordinary degree of reliance on lawyer Cleta Mitchell.

Mitchell has stayed out of the spotlight, even as her behind-the-scenes role escalated. Her role as a Trump legal adviser has surprised some colleagues, particularly because she is a partner at a major law firm, Foley & Lardner, that immediately faced questions about whether it endorsed such work. “In a statement Monday, the firm said it was ‘aware of, and are concerned by, Ms. Mitchell’s participation in the January 2 conference call and are working to understand her involvement more thoroughly.’ The firm noted as a matter of policy, its attorneys do not represent ‘any parties seeking to contest the results of the presidential election,’ although it did allow attorneys to observe recounts voluntarily as private citizens,” Michael Kranish and Tom Hamburger report.

Mitchell, 70, began her political career as a Democrat, helping win passage of Oklahoma’s Equal Rights Amendment for women … Mitchell, then known by her maiden name of Deatherage, married Duane Draper, a fellow Oklahoman, and divorced in 1982. He later came out as a gay man, became director of the Massachusetts AIDS policy office and died in 1991; he had the disease when he died. Mitchell married her second husband, Dale Mitchell, chairman of the board of Fidelity National Bank, in 1984, taking his last name. … Two years later, she ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary. In 1992, Dale Mitchell was convicted of bank fraud, an experience that Cleta Mitchell later said was the result of ‘overreaching government regulation.’ She became increasingly disenchanted with the social liberal policies she had supported and moved to Washington to become director of the Term Limits Institute.” Then she started doing legal work for the Republican Party and the National Rifle Association. 

A Trump-appointed U.S. attorney in Georgia abruptly resigns, raising suspicions of untoward pressure.

The top federal prosecutor in Atlanta left his position on Monday without warning. In the call with Raffensperger, Trump referred to him angrily as the “Never Trumper U.S. attorney” in Atlanta as he complained that criminal charges were not being pursued over what the president claims, without evidence, is voter fraud. “Byung J. ‘BJay’ Pak, who was appointed by Trump, announced his resignation as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia in a news release. The statement did not say why Pak was leaving or what he plans to do next,” the AP reports. “Pak was a Republican state lawmaker from 2011 to 2017, had previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney from 2002 to 2008 and was working in private practice at the time of his appointment. … A Justice Department spokesman did not immediately respond Monday to questions about what sparked Pak’s sudden resignation or whether acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen had sought the departure. Pak’s resignation comes nearly a month after the departure of Charlie Peeler, who was appointed by Trump in 2017 to serve as U.S. attorney for the Macon-based Middle District of Georgia. Peeler resigned on Dec. 11.”

  • Dominion Voting System plans to sue Sidney Powell, another lawyer giving advice to Trump, for defamation. The company, which made the voting machine used in Georgia and elsewhere, is also pushing a similar suit against Trump himself, CEO John Poulos told Axios.
  • Pence and Trump were expected to hear a last-minute pitch from John Eastman, a Trump lawyer, after they returned from Georgia last night. The president has directly pressed his running mate to find alternatives to certifying Biden’s win, including preventing him from receiving 270 electoral votes and trying to force the election be thrown to the House, the Times reports. Pence actually has no unilateral power to affect the election’s outcome. Trump and his staff have also floated the idea of delaying Biden’s inauguration, even though it is set in stone by the Constitution, per the NYT.
  • Almost 200 of the nation’s top business leaders urged Congress to certify Biden’s win in a letter, arguing “attempts to thwart or delay this process run counter to the essential tenets of our democracy.” Signers included leaders of Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, Pfizer, the NBA, Mastercard, Blackstone Group, Condé Nast, Price Waterhouse Cooper and Deutsche Bank. (Dawsey)
  • Trump made at least 29,508 verifiably false or misleading claims between taking office and Nov. 5. Glenn Kessler, our chief fact checker, said it’s been difficult for his staff to keep up because Trump is peddling more falsehoods than ever. 

Biden and Pence also campaigned in Georgia on Monday. 

Pence’s event “was interrupted by someone who shouted a demand that Pence overturn the presidential election results,” Cleve Wootson, Michael Scherer, David Weigel and Reis Thebault report. Biden “turned Trump’s efforts to overturn the November election results into a rallying cry to drive Democrats to the polls on Tuesday … At the final public rallies for Loeffler, her loudest applause came not when discussing her background in business, or the ‘radical liberal’ agendas of the Democrats, but when discussing Republican challenges to the Nov. 3 vote. … The Democratic candidates spent the closing days of the race trying to refocus the campaign on more local concerns such as health care and jobs, even as they brought in star power to help seal the deal and continued to jab at Trump. A closing ad for [Jon] Ossoff featured narration by former president Barack Obama and a musical appearance by John Legend. … Democrats, who have long considered themselves underdogs in the runoff contests, have been cheered by early vote numbers and clear signs in the state that many core Democratic constituencies, including suburban and urban voters, remained engaged.”

The Georgia runoff has an explicitly racist history. In an hour-long special episode of the excellent Post Reports podcasts, our colleagues Martine Powers and Ted Muldoon report the runoff system was conceived in the 1960s by a staunch segregationist who proclaimed that runoffs would “prevent the Negro bloc vote from controlling the elections.” You can find a full transcript of their report here, but the part about the Jim Crow origins of the runoff system starts at about the 26-minute mark. Essentially, the Georgia system was invented to subvert the mandates of the Voting Rights Act and ensure White candidates for statewide offices would always have an edge. Even now, the runoff system essentially serves to ensure many votes from Black, Brown, rural, and low-income people don’t ultimately get counted. It’s a fascinating, albeit depressing, story.

  • A new Facebook ad from Loeffler’s campaign artificially darkens the skin of her Black opponent, Raphael Warnock. In fact, the campaign issued two different ads — one in which Warnock’s skin didn’t appear digitally altered — and spent 10 times as much money pushing the one where he appeared darker. (Salon)
  • Thousands of Atlanta ballots are at risk of not getting counted because of Atlanta-area USPS delays, which Postmaster Louis DeJoy had promised would improve following last summer’s national slowdown. A court filing shows the agency is processing only 3 in 4 ballots on time in the metro area. (NBC LX) 

D.C. is calling in the National Guard to prepare for pro-Trump protests.

“The District has mobilized the National Guard and will have every city police officer on duty Tuesday and Wednesday to handle protests of the November presidential election, which Mayor Muriel E. Bowser said may include people looking to instigate violence,” Julie Zauzmer, Marissa Lang and Dan Lamothe report. “Bowser (D) has asked D.C. residents to stay away from downtown Washington on both days while members of far-right groups, including the Proud Boys, amass to falsely claim Trump was reelected. … The National Park Service on Monday night updated the crowd estimate on the permit for [the event on the Ellipse that Trump plans to address] to 30,000 people, up from 5,000. … Members of right-wing groups have taken to social media sites such as Parler and Telegram to discuss how to bring guns into the District despite laws banning open carry throughout the city and prohibiting guns on federal lands such as the Mall and Freedom Plaza or anywhere within 1,000 feet of a protest.”

The leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, was arrested by D.C. police for burning a Black Lives Matter banner taken from a historic Black church during a demonstration last month. Police stopped a vehicle Tarrio had been in shortly after it entered the District. It is believed Tarrio, who lives in Miami, was coming into D.C. from the airport. A D.C. police spokesman said Tarrio is charged with one misdemeanor count of destruction of property and two felony counts of possession of high-capacity ammunition feeding devices, which were found during the arrest. Tarrio told The Post last month he was among those who burned the banner. (Peter Hermann and Martin Weil)

In a viral web video, a new lawmaker vows to carry her Glock around D.C. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) is seen strapping the Glock to her hip before appearing to embark on a walk around Capitol Hill. “A spokesman for Boebert said she was not carrying the gun throughout the video shoot, despite the opening scene. D.C. gun laws do not recognize concealed-carry licenses from other states, and nonresidents must register firearms with D.C. police,” Meagan Flynn reports. “Asked about the ad on Monday, acting D.C. police chief Robert J. Contee III said Boebert would have to follow applicable laws if she wanted to carry a firearm on city streets, and would be subjected to the same penalties as anyone else if she does not.”

The coronavirus rages on

The U.S. is shattering hospitalization records.

“The United States again set a record for coronavirus-hospitalizations on Monday, with over 128,000 people receiving inpatient treatment nationwide, according to data tracked by The Washington Post. That figure represents an increase of more than 2,800 patients from the previous day,” Antonia Farzan reports. “The largest jump was reported in California, where more than 22,000 patients were hospitalized with covid-19 as of Monday, more than any other state. Highlighting the dire toll that the surge is taking, ambulance crews in hard-hit Los Angeles County were told Monday to ration their use of oxygen due to widespread shortages at hospitals. Ambulances have also been directed not to bring patients to the hospital if they have effectively no chance of survival. … Adjusted for population, Arizona, Nevada and Alabama saw the most patients hospitalized with covid-19 on Monday, followed by California.”

U.S. health officials plan on sticking to a two-dose vaccine regimen. 

“The U.S. government’s top infectious-disease doctor, a leading drug regulator and the Health and Human Services secretary are dismissing suggestions that the second shot of authorized coronavirus vaccines could be delayed to make more doses available faster to more people,” Carolyn Johnson reports. “In recent days, some public health experts have debated whether it is worth taking a scientific gamble by altering the two-dose regimen that proved highly effective in trials to maximize the number of people partially protected with at least one shot as the pandemic surges. The debate is playing out as the United States struggles with administering the doses it already has. More than 15 million doses of vaccine have been distributed, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data updated Monday morning, but only about 4.5 million have been administered. … Last week, the United Kingdom made the controversial decision to prioritize giving a first dose of its authorized vaccines — even if it meant there wasn’t enough to give people a booster shot within the recommended three to four weeks. U.K. authorities have said people could wait as long as 12 weeks. Limited data suggests a single shot affords some protection against disease, but it is not known how complete or long the protection lasts.” 

Vaccinations are off to a sluggish start across the D.C. region. In Maryland, less than one-quarter of the state’s initial batch of 273,875 vaccines has been used. In Virginia, it’s only one-fifth of the state’s allotment of 451,075 doses. In D.C., the number stands at about 17,000 of 40,075 delivered doses. In one D.C. case, two men who are not in priority to receive the vaccine were given their shots after first responders missed their appointments for a vaccination at a Giant Foods supermarket. A pharmacist approached the two men and asked if they wanted to get the Moderna shots since the product would go bad if it wasn’t used immediately. (Greg Schneider, Michael Brice-Saddler and Erin Cox)

  • After a freezer broke, a Northern California hospital gave out 600 shots of the Moderna vaccine in the two hours before they would no longer be viable. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Police said Steven Brandenburg, the Wisconsin pharmacist who tried to ruin hundreds of vaccine doses, was convinced the shots would mutate people’s DNA. Brandenburg is waiting for charges after he let spoil 57 vials of the Moderna vaccine, which officials said contained enough doses to inoculate more than 500 people. (AP)
  • There is compelling evidence that covid will have long-term effects on the brains and nervous systems of survivors as they age, and researchers announced a large international study to investigate the correlation between the coronavirus and cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia in later life. (Tara Bahrampour)
  • Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant will quarantine for a week after coming into contact with someone who tested positive. (Ben Golliver)
  • The pulse oximeters that clip onto a fingertip and pass red and infrared light through the skin to gauge blood oxygen levels are far less reliable in Black than White patients. Because the tools were mostly tested on Whites when they were first developed, they are calibrated for people with light skin. (Reuters)

Britain is going into a third lockdown. 

“Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday ordered a third national lockdown for England amid a surging coronavirus outbreak driven by a U.K. variant that appears to be more contagious and may have greater implications for children,” Karla Adam, Jennifer Hassan and Guarino report. “In a televised address to the nation Monday evening, Johnson said the new variant was 50 to 70 percent more transmissible, spreading at a rate he called ‘frustrating and alarming.’ … The number of patients in London hospitals has more than doubled over the past two weeks. … Under the new lockdown, everyone in England will be asked to stay at home except in special circumstances. Schools and universities will close for in-class learning with immediate effect.”

  • Community spread of the highly contagious strain has now been documented in New York. State officials detected the case in a man who had not traveled. He is associated with a jewelry shop in Saratoga Springs. (WSJ)
  • The TSA screened more than 1.3 million people Sunday, the most since the pandemic began. (Lori Aratani)
  • The Chinese government placed Xiaoguozhuang, a village in the Hebei province that neighbors Beijing, under lockdown after detecting a new cluster of cases connected to recently held weddings. (Lily Kuo)
  • Authorities in Egypt are investigating the deaths of four covid patients at a public hospital, following a social media furor over unverified claims that all patients in the ICU died when oxygen supplies ran out. (Farzan)
  • France is expanding the number of people who are eligible to get vaccinated following criticism for its slow rollout. Only 500 people in France have received the vaccine, compared to 200,000 in Germany during the same period. (Farzan)
  • Police in Scotland arrested a member of Parliament who traveled from London to her home in Glasgow by train after testing positive – a journey that typically takes about five hours. She has ignored calls to resign. (Farzan)

The shift to online learning has widened achievement gaps in U.S. education.

The pandemic has driven “drops in attendance, college applications and academic performance among the nation’s most vulnerable students: children who are low-income, Black or Hispanic, as well as those with learning disabilities and those whose first language is not English. All too often, homeless children — of whom there are 2.5 million every year in America — combine these factors,” Hannah Natanson reports. “Trying to learn inside shelters for the past nine months, students have faced spotty WiFi, crowded rooms, high noise levels and harassment from some peers who deduce, over Zoom, that they lack a home. … School officials in Northern Virginia, and nationwide, have gone to great lengths to reach vulnerable, struggling and low-income children. They have expanded Internet into school parking lots, provided families with WiFi hotspots and hand-delivered needed devices to households, including Chromebooks and iPads. … But homeless children pose a unique challenge. Their parents are sometimes unwilling or unable to communicate their circumstances. Some shelters, for example those catering to victims of abuse, take pains to hide their location. So, if a homeless child drops off the screen, it can prove impossible to track them.”

Months later, more than 1 million Americans are still waiting for unemployment aid. 

“The Post’s calculation reflects 703,000 pending appeals across the country and 529,000 people waiting on a benefits decision in the states that publicly share that information or that responded to a request for comment,” Alyssa Fowers and Heather Long report. “People’s claims have been held up for months at times for something as simple as a typo or uploading a scan of a driver’s license instead of a photo. Most delays are the result of three key factors: extensive fraud prevention checks, antiquated computer systems and applications being flagged for extra scrutiny. Claims set aside for manual review often take months to resolve. The holdup in sending out unemployment aid has caused families to fall severely behind on rent, cancel medical treatments and struggle to buy food, according to interviews with more than a dozen people who have yet to receive any money despite applying for unemployment in the spring or summer.”

The lame-duck agenda

USPS delays threaten small-town newspapers.

“The U.S. Postal Service has been under siege for months as record volumes of holiday packages and election mail ran up against a spike in coronavirus cases within its workforce, leaving the agency severely short-staffed. Nearly 19,000 workers were in quarantine at the end of 2020 after becoming infected or exposed to the virus,” Jacob Bogage reports. “That has left hundreds of small publishers struggling to deliver their products, according to the National Newspaper Association, undercutting their advertising revenues and subscriber bases, and depriving the largely rural communities they serve of crucial news coverage. Some news operations have even called on reporters and editors to deliver papers. They’re also staring down rate increases of as much as 9 percent in 2022 and for years thereafter. Mail service is already one of their biggest costs, industry insiders say, and such a scenario could force hundreds of small publications out of business given their already bite-size margins.”

The EPA finalizes a rule to limit the science behind public health safeguards. 

“The Environmental Protection Agency has finalized a rule to limit what research it can use to craft public health protections, a move opponents argue is aimed at crippling the agency’s ability to more aggressively regulate the nation’s air and water,” Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis report. “The ‘Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science’ rule, which the administration began pursuing early in Trump’s term, would require researchers to disclose the raw data involved in their public health studies before the agency could rely upon their conclusions. It will apply this new set of standards to ‘dose-response studies,’ which evaluate how much a person’s exposure to a substance increases the risk of harm. … Many of the nation’s leading researchers and academic organizations, however, argue that the criteria will actually restrict the EPA from using some of the most consequential research on human subjects because it often includes confidential medical records and other proprietary data that cannot be released due to privacy concerns.”

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler a former lobbyist for the coal, chemical and uranium industries will announce the final rule at a virtual session hosted today by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. That think tank disputes the idea that climate change poses a major threat. Although Biden will probably seek to overturn this, such an effort will take months, if not longer.

A lawyer for Paul Manafort says a bid to revive a fraud case against him is “unsupportable.”

“Manhattan’s district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., has signaled that his 16-count indictment is intended to ensure Manafort is held accountable for his crimes regardless of the presidential pardon he received late last month,” Shayna Jacobs reports. “Vance brought his case against Manafort in March 2019. New York Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley dismissed it later that year, saying the charges too closely overlapped with the federal conviction. The dismissal was upheld in October by a state appeals court, a decision Vance now hopes the New York Court of Appeals will agree to review. Manafort’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, wrote in Monday’s letter to New York’s top judge that the state court charges dismissed more than a year ago ‘allege the exact same fraud, causing the exact same harm.’”

A Florida state representative wants Mar-a-Lago shut down for violating coronavirus safety restrictions.

“Social media posts from the New Year’s Eve event show a crowd of maskless revelers, including Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani and Donald Trump Jr., dancing and listening to bands in the Donald J. Trump Grand Ballroom at the club,” Lori Rozsa reports. “Palm Beach County officials said Monday they were reviewing the complaint from state Rep. Omari Hardy, a Democrat from nearby Lake Worth Beach. … The county mask ordinance mandates facial coverings for anyone ‘visiting or working in any business or establishment, including entering, exiting, and otherwise moving around within the establishment.’”

Social media speed read

Passions run high in Georgia:

Army Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling (Ret.) criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for being a jerk to a journalist:

Videos of the day

Seth Meyers attacked the Republicans in Congress who are “actively trying to destroy democracy”:

And Stephen Colbert said 2020 is “dropping some bonus tracks”:

James Hohmann


2021-01-05 11:20:21


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