OnPolitics: The call heard around the world

Mabinty Quarshie, USA TODAY
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden debate in September at Case Western University in Cleveland.
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden debate in September at Case Western University in Cleveland.

New year, same old chaotic political scene.

Buckle up because this week looks like it's going to be ... a lot. We've got a new Congress up and running. Tuesday's runoff elections in Georgia will determine control of the Senate. President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory will be certified by Congress Wednesday.

And speaking of a new year, OnPolitics has a new writer. I'm Mabinty Quarshie, a politics audience editor for USA TODAY and diehard Beyhive member. I'll try my best not to throw in too many Beyonce references but no promises.

Now let's get to today's news.

What everyone is talking about

An hourlong recorded phone call obtained by The Washington Post of President Donald Trump pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" enough votes to reverse his loss to Biden in Georgia.

"There's no way I lost Georgia," Trump insisted Saturday during the call, audio excerpts of which were published by the Post Sunday. "There's no way. We won hundreds of thousands of votes."

During the call, the president insulted, complimented and pleaded with Raffensperger to cooperate with him in altering the election results.

Let's be clear: Biden won Georgia. Georgia officials tallied votes for the presidential election three times, including in an audit required by state law and a recount requested by the president. Each count determined that Biden won the state, the first Democrat to do so since 1992.

The explosive audio led Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., to announce he would lead an effort to censure Trump. The Georgia Democrat passed around a three-page censure resolution Monday to fellow House members to gather signatures and support in the effort, though it’s unclear whether the resolution would get a vote in the House.

Democratic House Reps. Ted Lieu of California and Kathleen Rice of New York wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking for the FBI to open a criminal investigation into the call.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., a top House Republican, said Monday President Trump's call was "deeply troubling," making her the highest-level Republican to publicly criticize Trump's conduct.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., a stalwart defender of the president, said on "Fox & Friends" Monday morning the call was “not a helpful call.”

What else is going on with Georgia?

Trump and Biden are scheduled to travel to Georgia Monday to support their parties' respective candidates in Georgia's two runoff elections.

Trump is scheduled to appear with Davide Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, the two Republican Senate incumbents who failed to win a majority of the vote on Nov. 3, while Biden will stump for their Democratic opponents, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

Because the 116th Congress ended Sunday, Loeffler and Perdue are not sitting senators and whether they return for the new session hinges on the outcome of Tuesday's races. Polling indicates a tight race for both Senate seats and while Democrats appear to have an edge in early voting returns, Republicans are counting on a massive in-person turnout on Tuesday.

What's going on with the inauguration?

Biden won’t get a traditional inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue after he takes the oath of office, but he will get a presidential escort to the White House.

Biden and incoming first lady Jill Biden will forgo the traditional inaugural parade on Jan. 20, the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Sunday.

Instead, the Bidens will receive a presidential escort from 15th Street to the White House after his swearing-in on the West Front of the Capitol.

The inaugural parade isn’t going away completely. A “virtual parade” will be televised and will feature performances in communities across the country.

More news to know

  • From Georgia's runoffs to Congress's certification of Biden's victory, there's lots of political news to follow this week. Don't miss a thing with USA TODAY's texts: Sign up and we'll text you the latest political news the moment it goes down.

  • A newly elected state lawmaker from South Florida wants Palm Beach County to take on Trump's Mar-a-Lago club for its New Year's Eve bash, at which many patrons and performers were seen without masks.

  • A British judge ruled Monday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should not be extradited to the United States on espionage charges because he is a suicide risk.

  • Vice President Mike Pence vocalized his support for some Republicans’ efforts to keep Trump in the White House by overturning the Electoral College results.

Thanks for reading OnPolitics. Stay safe out there. – Mabinty Quarshie

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: President Trump intervenes in the election, Georgia Senate runoff