Find out what kind of weather we're expecting this weekend.
Find out what kind of weather we're expecting this weekend.
President-elect Joe Biden's pick for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, "was known for his unimpeachable ethics," according to The American Prospect's prior report. That may be true, but how he's spent his time since the end of the Obama administration has left some critics bristling at his selection.In a July report, TAP put a spotlight on the strategic consultancy firm WestExec Advisers, of which Blinken and Michele Fourney, the favorite to lead the Pentagon in the Biden administration, were founding partners. The firm has ties to an array of industries, including: tech, financial services, aerospace, defense, and pharmaceuticals. But it's not exactly clear who the individual clients are since the firm, which is not registered to lobby, doesn't have to disclose them. The lack of transparency is a cause for concern among some observers, who are worried about people in the Biden, or any, administration getting too wrapped up in the interests of global corporations, TAP reported.Danielle Brian, the executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit watchdog group, told The New York Times that "those kinds of consulting shops," like WestExec, "take advantage of current laws, so there is no transparency in their clients and how they are trying to influence public policy for them. That's exactly the kind of people who should not be in an administration."There likely will be some clarity, however, since Blinken, as a political appointee, will have to disclose clients who paid $5,000 or more for his services in the past year. Read more about WestExec Advisers at The American Prospect. > Federal political appointees are required to disclose clients who paid $5k or more for their services in the past year. So Blinken's financial disclosure will be a rare glimpse into this sort of consultancy's clientele https://t.co/QqfICsYpx4> > -- Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) November 23, 2020More stories from theweek.com Biden is stealing the spotlight. Trump can't stand it. The Secret Service is reportedly preparing for Trump's 'post-presidency life' I was wrong about Mitt Romney
A group of Pennsylvania Republicans filed a lawsuit over the weekend to block certification of the state's election results in an eleventh-hour attempt to overturn Joe Biden's victory in the key battleground state.The emergency petition, filed in state court, takes issue with a voting reform bill that passed Pennsylvania's Republican-held legislature in October last year. The lawsuit claims that the law's allowance of no excuse mail-in voting is "unconstitutional" and seeks to block Pennsylvania counties from certifying their vote results ahead of the deadline on Monday to do so and invalidate millions of mail-in ballots cast in the 2020 election.The group is led by Pennsylvania Representative Mike Kelly and GOP congressional candidate Sean Parnell, who has not conceded since his defeat this month by his Democratic rival, Representative Conor Lamb. Their suit names Democratic Governor Tom Wolf, the GOP-led legislature, and Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar as defendants.Meanwhile, a federal judge on Saturday dismissed a lawsuit from the Trump campaign that sought to invalidate millions of votes in Pennsylvania and block the certification of the state’s election results. Trump wrote in a tweet Saturday night that he plans to appeal the decision.About 2.6 million voters in Pennsylvania cast mail ballots in the general election this month. Biden won three out of every four mail ballots cast in the state, according to an analysis of data from Pennsylvania's state department.Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes over President Trump and is expected to be awarded the Keystone State's coveted 20 electoral votes. States have until December 8 to resolve election disputes, and electors will meet on December 14 to formally vote for the next president.Over the past several weeks, Trump has made allegations that voter fraud occurred on a massive scale through mail-in ballots. The president has claimed he won the election and has refused to concede even though his lawyers have not produced evidence of fraud widespread enough to alter the election outcome.
President Trump has yet to concede the election, and New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman thinks his Monday evening tweet about what is in "the best interest of our country" is "the closest to a concession Trump is going to get."Trump wrote that he spoke to Emily Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration, and recommended that she "do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols," adding that he has "told my team to do the same." Murphy needed to ascertain the election in order to formally start the transition process, and after weeks of delays, she sent President-elect Joe Biden a letter on Monday telling him the transition can officially start.Haberman tweeted that she's been told some of Trump's advisers "had been urging him" to let the transition begin before Thanksgiving, "even if he never said the word 'concede.'" Between the Trump campaign and other Republicans, more than 30 lawsuits have been filed in six swing states, in an attempt to contest the election results, NBC News reports. Despite Trump and members of his legal team claiming there has been widespread voter fraud, no court has found a single piece of evidence.Trump's election legal team is being led by his longtime friend and personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City. Giuliani has been "key in stoking Trump's conspiracy theories," Haberman said, but people with knowledge of the matter told her that a recent court loss in Pennsylvania made Trump realize "Giuliani was not painting an honest picture" of his chances of actually changing the election results. Giuliani, she added, took control of Trump's legal team after the campaign dropped a lawsuit in Maricopa County, Arizona, and he warned Trump that "other advisers were lying to him."More stories from theweek.com Biden is stealing the spotlight. Trump can't stand it. The Secret Service is reportedly preparing for Trump's 'post-presidency life' I was wrong about Mitt Romney
Decorating mansion will be her final official act as first lady
Parishioners of St. Andrews Catholic Church in Fort Worth, Texas, know that the Rev. Jim Gigliotti does not water down Catholic teaching for the sake of his flock’s comfort. He doesn’t mince words when explaining it, either.
A federal court has thrown out the Trump campaign’s lawsuit in Pennsylvania, which challenged presumptive President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the commonwealth. In so doing, district judge Matthew Brann refused the campaign’s eleventh-hour attempt to file a new complaint that would have reinstated election fraud claims the Trump campaign had abandoned a few days earlier. (I outlined the lawsuit here, and explained the Trump campaign’s last-ditch effort to amend it here.)Judge Brann’s 37-page opinion sets forth a variety of reasons for dismissing the case. Most of them are directed toward the complaints of two individual plaintiffs — voters who claimed that their ballots had been improperly discounted. By contrast, the court found that the Trump campaign had no standing to sue, having posited no evidence that President Trump was harmed in any cognizable way by the manner in which the election was conducted in Pennsylvania.At bottom, though, the court found that the fatal flaw in the case is the one that we have repeatedly stressed: The mismatch between the harm alleged and the remedy sought.As the judge explained, even if one accepted the dubious premise that the two voters in question were improperly denied the right to vote while others similarly situated were not, the commensurate relief would be for their votes to be counted.That, however, was not the remedy they sought. Instead, supported by the Trump campaign, the two voters petitioned the court to stop Pennsylvania from certifying — on Monday as state law requires — the commonwealth’s election result, which had Biden winning by 83,000 votes. Brann countered:> Prohibiting certification of the election results would not reinstate the Individual Plaintiffs’ right to vote. It would simply deny more than 6.8 million [Pennsylvanians] their right to vote. “Standing is measured based on the theory of harm and the specific relief requested.” It is not “dispensed in gross: A plaintiff's remedy must be tailored to redress the plaintiff's particular injury.” Here, the answer to invalidated ballots is not to invalidate millions more. [Footnotes omitted.]As we detailed on Friday, the case was in a strange posture.In filing its original complaint on November 9, the Trump campaign claimed extensive vote fraud, relying mainly on the allegation that Republican poll-watchers had been denied a meaningful opportunity to observe the canvassing of ballots. But, as Brann notes (and we discussed here), on November 13, the federal appeals court for the Third Circuit (which has binding effect on Brann’s district court) issued its opinion in Bognet v. Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Though not directly connected to the campaign’s case, Bognet’s reasoning substantially undercut its claims.The campaign reacted by amending its complaint, reducing the case to the narrow claim that Trump voters’ equal-protection rights (and, derivatively, the campaign’s rights) had been violated by an allegedly skewed procedure: Mail-in voters in Biden-friendly counties had been permitted to cure defects in the ballots they’d submitted, while voters in Trump-friendly counties were not. Brann rejected this claim, accepting Pennsylvania’s argument that Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar had encouraged ballot curing all over the state. Thus the state government was not at fault if not all counties availed themselves of this opportunity.That is largely beside the point, though. Even if there had been a violation of the voters’ rights, the remedy would be to count their votes. Instead, as the court observed,> Plaintiffs seek to remedy the denial of their votes by invalidating the votes of millions of others. Rather than requesting that their votes be counted, they seek to discredit scores of other votes, but only for one race [i.e., the presidential race, not the other contests down-ballot]. This is simply not how the Constitution works. [Emphasis added.]Moreover:> Granting Paintiffs’ requested relief would necessarily require invalidating the ballots of every person who voted in Pennsylvania. Because this Court has no authority to take away the right to vote of even a single person, let along millions of citizens, it cannot grant Plaintiffs’ requested relief.Brann concluded that the Trump campaign had no standing to sue based, derivatively, on the harm alleged by the two voters, particularly after the Bognet ruling. He specifically rejected both of the campaign’s main equal-protection complaints: (1) that its poll-watchers were discriminatorily excluded from observing the canvass, and (2) that the opportunity for voters to cure defective ballots was deliberately done in counties the state knew to favor Biden.On the former, Brann held that this was not, as the Trump campaign maintained, an equal-protection issue. The campaign was not claiming that Trump observers were treated differently from Biden observers. On the latter, Brann concluded that the campaign was misinterpreting Bush v. Gore, and, in any event, was not claiming that Boockvar’s guidance on curing ballots differed from county to county.Most significantly, Brann denied the Trump campaign’s dilatory attempt to amend its complaint yet again late this past week, in order to reinstate claims from their original complaint, which they’d withdrawn last weekend. The court reasoned that this would “unduly delay resolution of the issues” in light of the fact that Monday, November 23, is the deadline for Pennsylvania counties to certify their election results to the state government — a necessary prelude to appointing the slate of electors who will cast the commonwealth’s Electoral College votes.In reaction to the ruling, the Trump campaign lawyers issued a statement asserting that, though they disagreed with the decision by “the Obama-appointed judge,” it was actually a boon to “our strategy to get expeditiously to the U.S. Supreme Court.”It is true that Brann was appointed by former President Barack Obama, but he is a Republican and Federalist Society member who was sponsored by the state’s Republican senator Pat Toomey — a common situation when a state’s two senators are from different parties, and an administration has to horse-trade on appointments.Trump lawyers added that the ruling denied them “the opportunity to present our evidence at a hearing.” They described that as “censorship” of “50 witnesses” who would have testified that state election officials denied the “independent review” required by Pennsylvania law. This is an apparent reference to the campaign’s claim that its poll-watchers were not given a meaningful opportunity to observe the canvass, which the lawyers say, “resulted in 682,777 ballots being cast illegally.” The campaign did not mention that it had dropped this charge from its original complaint. Nor did it allude to Brann’s conclusion that the allegation was not a cognizable equal-protection claim under federal law.The campaign says it will seek an expedited appeal to the Third Circuit — the tribunal that just decided the Bognet case, the precedent that appears to have induced the campaign to withdraw the claims it is now seeking to revive. In any event, it is anything but clear that the Supreme Court, which has thus far declined to act on Pennsylvania election-law claims relevant to the 2020 election, would agree to hear the campaign’s case — even assuming that the Third Circuit grants expedited appeal and, as even the campaign plainly expects, rules against the campaign.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and his family will quarantine for 14 days following an exposure to COVID-19. Newsom on Twitter said that three of his children were recently "exposed to an officer from the California Highway Patrol who had tested positive for COVID-19." The California Highway Patrol provides the governor and his family with security, according to the Los Angeles Times.Newsom said he and his wife had "no direct interaction with the officer" who tested positive for COVID-19, and his "entire family tested negative" for the coronavirus on Sunday. "However, consistent with local guidance, we will be quarantining for 14 days," Newsom said.The governor's office previously announced on Friday that one of Newsom's children would be quarantining after a classmate tested positive for COVID-19, the Los Angeles Times reports.News of Newsom's COVID-19 quarantine comes after the governor recently received criticism for attending a birthday party amid the pandemic. He apologized and called his decision to attend the party a "bad mistake," admitting, "The spirit of what I'm preaching all the time was contradicted. I need to preach and practice, not just preach." More stories from theweek.com Biden is stealing the spotlight. Trump can't stand it. The Secret Service is reportedly preparing for Trump's 'post-presidency life' I was wrong about Mitt Romney
Israel’s defense minister on Sunday appointed a committee to investigate the government's controversial purchase of German submarines several years ago — a step that further strained his already poor relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The $2 billion purchase of the submarines and warships made by Thyssenkrupp is the focus of a sweeping corruption scandal in which seven businessmen, including confidants of Netanyahu, have been named as suspects. Netanyahu, who is on trial for his involvement in three other corruption scandals, is not a suspect in the submarine case.
Outgoing Republican Steve King has long history of offensive remarks
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is no longer sure Trump will "do the right thing" and acknowledge his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, but he's certain Biden will be sworn in Jan. 20, 2021, he told CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday's State of the Union. Hogan, who has been critical of Trump, said he voted for the late President Ronald Reagan this year.Pressuring state legislators in Michigan and other states to "somehow change the outcome with electors was completely outrageous," Hogan said. "We used to go supervise elections around the world, and we were the most respected country with respect to elections. And now we're beginning to look like we're a banana republic. It's time for them to stop the nonsense. It gets more bizarre every single day, and frankly, I'm embarrassed that more people in the party aren't speaking up."> Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan says he is "embarrassed that more people in the party aren't speaking up" regarding President Trumps' refusal to concede https://t.co/2wEl0kWIoX CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/ht8v9oi0O5> > -- CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) November 22, 2020John Bolton, Trump's former national security adviser, was also critical of both Trump and his Republican Party, but he did offer some advice to those Republican officials scared of Trump. "Look, for those who are worried about Trump's reaction, there's strength in numbers," he said. "The more who come out and say, 'He doesn't represent us, he is not following a Republican game plan here,' the safer they will be." > "The Republican Party is not going to be saved by hiding in a spider hole. We need all of our leaders to come out and say, 'the election is over.' We're not talking about an abstract right for Trump to use his legal remedies. We've past that," John Bolton says. CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/pUFsiFj7PC> > -- State of the Union (@CNNSotu) November 22, 2020More stories from theweek.com Biden is stealing the spotlight. Trump can't stand it. The Secret Service is reportedly preparing for Trump's 'post-presidency life' I was wrong about Mitt Romney
People uneasy over Donald Trump’s obstinance should hope he isn’t inspired by North Carolina sheriff’s shocking example of political defiance.