Chaos, division, shakeups and shakedowns: Two months that sum up Trump's presidency

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WASHINGTON — The last two months since the election — Nov. 3 to Jan. 3 — have been arguably the two most turbulent months of the Trump Era.

They also perfectly encapsulate the entire Trump presidency.

False claims and conspiracy theories. Chaos. Firings and staff shakeups. Controversial pardons. Defeats in Congress and the courts. A divided Republican Party – split between those willing to do the president’s bidding and those thinking he’s gone too far. And to top it all off, a leaked phone call asking Georgia’s secretary of state to overturn the election results on a day when U.S. coronavirus deaths surpass 350,000.

Here’s a rundown of what’s happened in the two months since Election Day:

Nov. 7: News organizations, including NBC News, project Biden the winner of Pennsylvania and thus the presidential race; Trump tweets — falsely — “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!”

Nov. 9: Trump fires Defense Secretary Mark Esper, replacing him with Christopher Miller.

Nov. 12: NBC News projects Biden as the winner of Arizona.

Nov. 13: NBC News calls Biden the apparent winner in Georgia.

Nov. 17: Trump fires cybersecurity chief Christopher Krebs, who contradicted Trump's allegations of election fraud; Trump also praises the GOP members of the Wayne County (Detroit) Canvassing Board who refused to certify the county's election results (they later reversed course).

Nov. 18: U.S. coronavirus fatalities surpass 250,000.

Nov. 19: Hand count in Georgia confirms Biden won the state — by more than 12,000 votes.

Nov. 23: After weeks of delay, GSA Administrator Emily Murphy acknowledges Biden's victory, formally authorizing the White House transition.

Nov. 25: Trump pardons Michael Flynn.

Dec. 2: Trump releases factually incorrect 46-minute video alleging voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Dec. 7: Recount confirms Biden won Georgia — again.

Dec. 10: More than 100 House Republicans sign on to amicus brief of Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn Biden’s victory.

Dec. 11: U.S. Supreme Court rejects Texas lawsuit.

Dec. 14: Electoral College makes Biden's win official: Biden 306 electoral votes, Trump 232; Attorney General Bill Barr announces his resignation; U.S. coronavirus death toll crosses 300,000.

Dec. 23: Trump vetoes Defense authorization bill; he threatens to derail the coronavirus relief package Congress passed; and he pardons Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Charles Kushner.

Dec. 27: Trump capitulates and signs Covid relief bill into law.

Jan. 1: Congress overrides Trump’s veto of the Defense authorization bill, the first veto override of Trump’s presidency.

Jan. 2: Eleven GOP senators announce they will join Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., in officially challenging the results of the 2020 election; Trump begs Georgia’s secretary of state to overturn the election results in his state; U.S. coronavirus deaths top 350,000.

A stunning Saturday

Re-read those events from Jan. 2. On the same day that GOP senators say they will challenge the election results on Wednesday — asking for an audit of the election as their stated goal — the president of the United States picked up the phone, called Georgia’s secretary of state and asked him to overturn the election in that state.

"All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state," Trump said.

And on that same day, we learned that more than 350,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus.

By the way, just think about the leaked audio/video from the Trump Era — the Access Hollywood tape, the Ukraine call and now this.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

20,711,482: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 544,324 more than the number of cases on New Year’s Day and 3,419,939 more than on the day of our final 2020 First Read newsletter on December 18.

352,340: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 4,317 more than the number of deaths on New Years’ Day and 40,656 more than on the day of our final 2020 First Read newsletter on December 18.)

255.24 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

125,544: The number of people currently hospitalized with coronavirus.

At least 4.2 million: The number of people in the United States who have received Covid-19 vaccination shots.

216: The number of Democrats who voted for Nancy Pelosi in her close but successful reelection to be House Speaker.

5: The number of Democrats who voted “present” or for some other candidate rather than Pelosi.

11,779 votes: Joe Biden’s margin of victory in Georgia, according to the final results certified after a third count.

“11,780 votes”: What President Trump said he wanted Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” during a contentious hour-long call with Raffensperger and other elections officials in the state.

More than 3 million: The number of early votes cast in the Georgia runoff elections before the December 31 deadline

1: The number of days until the Jan. 5 Senate runoffs.

23: The number of political appointees that Joe Biden has named, out of 756 being tracked by the Partnership for Public Service.

All 10: The number of living Defense Secretaries who signed on to an op-ed underscoring that the military has no role in changing election results and that the time for questioning the election’s outcome has passed.

16: The number of days until Inauguration Day.

Still waiting on Biden’s AG pick

With President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration 16 days away, and with Election Day 62 days in the rearview mirror, Biden is making a bit of modern history with how late he’s naming one key Cabinet pick — for attorney general.

According to Senate confirmation records dating back to former President Jimmy Carter’s Cabinet picks, Biden’s impending AG announcement will be the latest of the last seven presidents. Here’s what it looks like by the numbers:

President Trump announced his AG pick 11 days after Election Day.

Barack Obama announced his first pick (just including first terms) 28 days after Election Day.

George W. Bush waited 46 days.

Bill Clinton’s first 1992 pick was announced 52 days after Nov. 3 1992.

George H. W. Bush waited just 21 days.

Ronald Reagan named William French Smith 38 days after Election Day 1980.

Jimmy Carter waited 48 days.

Biden has also not announced his picks to lead the Commerce and Labor Departments, as well as the Small Business Administration.

Filled Cabinet positions

State: Tony Blinken

Treasury: Janet Yellen

Defense: Ret. Gen. Lloyd Austin

Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas

HHS: Xavier Becerra

Agriculture: Tom Vilsack

Transportation: Pete Buttigieg

Energy: Jennifer Granholm

Interior: Deb Haaland

Education: Miguel Cardona

HUD: Marcia Fudge

Veterans Affairs: Denis McDonough

UN Ambassador: Linda Thomas-Greenfield

Director of National Intelligence: Avril Haines

EPA: Michael Regan

OMB Director: Neera Tanden

U.S. Trade Representative: Katherine Tai

Unfilled Cabinet positions

Attorney General: Doug Jones, Sally Yates, Merrick Garland

Commerce: TBD

Labor: Andy Levin, Bernie Sanders, Marty Walsh

CIA: Michael Morell

SBA: Diana Taylor

Other top Biden staffers

Chief of Staff: Ron Klain

National Security Adviser: Jake Sullivan

Climate Envoy: John Kerry

Domestic Policy Council Director: Susan Rice

National Economic Council Director: Brian Deese

Surgeon General: Dr. Vivek Murthy

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Dr. Rochelle Walensky

Covid-19 Czar: Jeff Zients

White House Communications Director: Kate Bedingfield

White House Press Secretary: Jen Psaki

VP Communications Director: Ashley Etienne

VP Chief Spokesperson: Symone Sanders

Georgia Runoff Watch by Ben Kamisar

Today’s Runoff Watch takes a look at the record-breaking ad spending in both Senate runoffs, spending enough to make both races the two most expensive Senate contests (by TV and radio ad spending) in U.S. election history.

Combining runoff spending with what was spent up through Election Day, both contests (GOP Sen. David Perdue v. Democrat Jon Ossoff, and GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler v. Democrat Raphael Warnock) easily clear the record of $251 million spent on the airwaves in North Carolina’s 2020 Senate race.

The Perdue-vs.-Ossoff race is set to have about $382 million spent on TV and radio, and the Loeffler-vs.-Warnock race is set to have about $284.3 million in TV and radio spending (this total includes money booked to be spent on Monday and Tuesday), per AdImpact.

While both Democratic campaigns outspent their GOP rivals on the airwaves, GOP outside groups more than filled the void, giving Republicans a final spending edge in both races.

Meanwhile, President Trump campaigns tonight in Dalton, Ga., on the eve of tomorrow’s runoff, and President-elect Biden campaigns in Atlanta.

The Lid: 50 percent plus one

Ever wonder where Georgia’s “50 percent plus one” rule came from? Check out our deep dive on the segregationist lawmaker who fought to implement it.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Here’s how Georgia’s diversifying suburbs could make a big difference in tomorrow’s runoffs.

Trump has made Tuesday’s elections more complicated for Republicans with every new accusation and tweet.

Did Trump’s call to Raffensperger violate the law?

Politico previews the likely Kemp-Abrams rematch in 2022.

One Trump ally who’s not signing on to the Senate effort to challenge the results: Tom Cotton.

And the New York Times looks at Ted Cruz’s journey from Trump rival to top ally.

A U.K. court has ruled that Julian Assange cannot be extradited to the United States to face espionage charges.

Max Rose won’t run for New York City mayor after all.