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Biden to receive coronavirus vaccine Monday, spokeswoman says

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 12/18/2020 John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz
Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie: President-elect Joe Biden, shown Monday in Wilmington, Del., has been expected to name his entire Cabinet before Christmas. © Joshua Lott/The Washington Post President-elect Joe Biden, shown Monday in Wilmington, Del., has been expected to name his entire Cabinet before Christmas.

President-elect Joe Biden will receive the coronavirus vaccine Monday and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris will get her first shot the following week, a transition spokeswoman said Friday, as the incoming administration continued to mull more picks for senior posts.

The announcement came on a day that other senior government officials received shots: Vice President Pence, who was vaccinated on live television, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.).

President Trump, who continues to contest the election results, has advertised no public appearances Friday and has not announced plans to be vaccinated.

Here’s what to know:

5:27 PM: Republican and Democratic members of Congress begin getting vaccine

After party leaders in the House and Senate received coronavirus vaccine shots on Friday, other Democrat and Republican members lined up to be vaccinated.

Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), a doctor, volunteered to get the shot and afterward encouraged his constituents to do the same when it becomes more widely available.

“After the incredibly challenging year we’ve had, I feel very blessed to receive this vaccine,” he said. “I hope that my decision to get it gives my constituents confidence in the safety and efficacy that have been demonstrated in the extensive trials.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) released a statement that he’d be receiving it at the recommendation of the Capitol Hill attending physician. Shortly after, he posted a photo of himself on Twitter getting the shot.

“Grateful for the hard work from the medical community, gov. partners, and others who are working around the clock to deliver a safe & effective #COVID19 vaccine,” Romney wrote. “It’s time for Congress to do its job and finish what our bipartisan group started by passing emergency COVID relief.”

There was some backlash to members of Congress being first in line for the vaccine as they continue to not pass a relief package for Americans struggling economically due to the pandemic.

Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) blasted lawmakers for receiving the vaccine before ordinary Americans, saying in a statement that, “Congress needs to stop treating itself as a special political class, and the mere suggestion that members of Congress are in any way more important than the very people who gave us the privilege of serving in Congress is appalling."

Fellow Floridian Rep. Charlie Crist (D) got the vaccine and said he wants to do his part to slow the spread of the virus.

“This vaccine is a true medical miracle that signals the light at the end of the tunnel we have all been desperately praying for since March," Crist said in a statement.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who also got the shot on Friday, acknowledged that he had received the vaccine before most Americans, but said he hoped doing so would encourage others to do the same.

“I am mindful that millions of Americans are still waiting for shots they will get after me, many of whom are workers on the front lines of this pandemic. I do not believe that I am more important than they are, but as national leaders it is important to lead by example," Beyer said. "Anyone who is given the opportunity to receive this vaccine is given an opportunity to protect people around them, and to fight the spread of this awful virus. Everyone should take this opportunity as soon as they can.“

By: Colby Itkowitz

4:50 PM: Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene says she’ll formally object to electoral results when Congress counts the votes

Donald Trump, Mike Pence are posing for a picture: Marjorie Taylor Greene spoke to her supporters during a rally held for Greene at the Coosa Valley fairgrounds in Rome, Ga., on Aug. 29.  (Photo by Jessica Tezak for The Washington Post) © Jessica Tezak/For the Washington Post Marjorie Taylor Greene spoke to her supporters during a rally held for Greene at the Coosa Valley fairgrounds in Rome, Ga., on Aug. 29. (Photo by Jessica Tezak for The Washington Post)

Marjorie Taylor Greene, a newly elected GOP congresswoman from Georgia, said she will be among those who object to some Biden-won states’ electoral votes for president when they come before a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6.

In Washington, when asked whether he would join other Republicans in challenging a slate of electors, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) laughed and told reporters, “we’ll watch and see.” More than a month after the election, McCarthy has not acknowledged that Biden won.

Greene, a Trump ally who ascended to Congress after beating a more mainstream Republican in the Georgia primary, has been among the most vocal defenders of Trump’s baseless claims that voter fraud cost him the election.

“On January 6th, I will hold the line and OBJECT to fraudulent electoral votes from several states, including Georgia. President @realDonaldTrump has always fought for us. Now is the time to FIGHT for him!” Greene tweeted.

Greene, who has espoused extreme conspiracy theories, including those held by QAnon followers, will be joining Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), who first raised the idea of objecting to Congress officially counting the electoral votes and certifying the winner of the presidency.

But they need to convince a Republican on the Senate side to also object to the results to trigger a formal vote. If a member from both chambers challenges the results, each chamber breaks for two hours to debate and then separately vote.

The move is mostly political theater, but it would force every Republican lawmaker to go on the record either defending Trump or the election results.

By: Colby Itkowitz

3:28 PM: House Republicans hail cybersecurity provisions in defense bill that Trump threatens to veto

Six Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee said Friday that the defense bill that Trump is threatening to veto would boost the nation’s cybersecurity defenses as the government assesses a massive and growing cybersecurity breach that many experts blame on Russia.

“Our nation must respond to the reported cyber espionage operation targeting America’s nuclear infrastructure and federal government and hold the perpetrator accountable. This attack serves as a stark warning that our nation must bolster its cybersecurity posture and capabilities, and it must do so without delay,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. “This year’s national defense bill contains over two dozen provisions that would make critical progress in cybersecurity, including provisions that would help ensure the resiliency of our nation’s nuclear command and control systems.”

The statement does not mention Trump’s repeated threats to veto the $741 billion bipartisan measure that authorizes funds for ships, aircraft and troop pay. On Friday, the president tweeted a fresh vow to veto the bill.

His reasons for vetoing the bill have shifted over the past few months, but he opposes renaming military bases that commemorate Confederate leaders, and he has demanded it include a repeal of an unrelated liability protection for technology companies.

Issuing the statement were Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the third-ranking Republican in the House; Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.); Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.), who is the ranking Republican on the committee and is retiring; Mike D. Rogers (R-Ala.), the incoming ranking Republican; Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio); and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), one of Trump’s strongest defenders through impeachment.

By: Donna Cassata

3:22 PM: GOP congressman expresses fear of covid vaccine safety, says he won’t take it

Ken Buck et al. sitting at a table: Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) during a House Judiciary Committee last year. © Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) during a House Judiciary Committee last year.

As members of Congress begin receiving their first round of the coronavirus vaccine, one Republican lawmaker went on television and announced he would not be getting it.

Declaring it his “freedom” as an American to refuse the vaccine, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said he was more fearful of the vaccine than contracting the coronavirus, which has killed more than 310,000 Americans in less than a year.

“I’m an American and I have the freedom to decide if I’m going to take a vaccine or not, and in this case I am not going to take the vaccine,” Buck said during an interview on Fox Business with Neil Cavuto.

When Cavuto pressed him on why he would not get the vaccine, Buck advanced the unsubstantiated claim that the vaccine posed a greater risk than covid-19.

“I’m more concerned about the safety of the vaccine than I am the side effects of the disease,” Buck said. “I’m a healthy person. I think most Americans are healthy. I think what we should do is focus on the at-risk populations … but I am not going to take a vaccine.”

Public health advocates fear that if many Americans share Buck’s attitude about the vaccine it will make it more challenging to eradicate the disease. There are side effects to the vaccine, such as a sore arm, redness around the injection site or even flu-like symptoms, but those are normal reactions and not reason to not get the vaccine, experts say.

By: Colby Itkowitz

2:01 PM: Pelosi, McConnell receive coronavirus vaccine at the Capitol

a man wearing a costume: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) receives a Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine shot by Brian Monahan, attending physician of Congress, at her office in Washington. © Ken Cedeno/AP Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) receives a Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine shot by Brian Monahan, attending physician of Congress, at her office in Washington.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) both received a coronavirus vaccination Friday afternoon, administered by the Capitol’s leading doctor.

Pelosi received the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine from Brian Monahan, the attending physician of the U.S. Congress and Supreme Court. McConnell’s shot came shortly afterward. Both shared news of their vaccinations on Twitter.

The vaccinations of the top two congressional leaders came just hours after Pence received a dose at the White House complex on live television in a bid to build public confidence in the safety of coronavirus vaccines.

Earlier this week, Monahan said he would soon receive doses of the vaccine to administer to Supreme Court justices and senior members of Congress under a continuity-of-government plan crafted by intelligence experts.

“Today, with confidence in science & at the direction of the Office of the Attending Physician, I received the COVID-19 vaccine,” Pelosi tweeted. “As the vaccine is being distributed, we must all continue mask wearing, social distancing & other science-based steps to save lives & crush the virus.”

“Just received the safe, effective COVID vaccine following continuity-of-government protocols,” McConnell tweeted about 45 minutes later. “Vaccines are how we beat this virus.”

By: John Wagner and Mike DeBonis

1:47 PM: Pentagon cancels Biden transition meetings for Friday

a view of a city © Charles Dharapak/AP

All transition meetings scheduled at the Pentagon on Friday have been postponed, Pentagon officials said, a surprising step that indicates the late start to the presidential transition has put pressure on the people involved.

Acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller made the decision after senior legal officials at the Pentagon raised concerns that they cannot keep up with the volume of meetings lately, said a senior U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Miller, in a statement released Friday, denied that the Defense Department has “canceled or declined any interview” for the transition. But he acknowledged that “meetings from today” will be rescheduled after a “mutually-agreed upon holiday pause” that begins Saturday.

“Our key focus in the next two weeks is supporting essential requests for information on OWS and COVID-19 information to guarantee a flawless transition,” Miller said in his statement, using an abbreviation for Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. military’s effort to distribute coronavirus vaccines. “This is my major focus area.”

Miller added that he remains “committed to a full and transparent transition — this is what our nation expects and the DoD will deliver AS IT ALWAYS HAS.”

But the Biden transition team disputed Miller’s explanation, telling reporters that the break in meetings with Pentagon officials was not a mutual decision, instead calling it an “abrupt halt” in information-sharing from an agency crucial to national security.

Yohannes Abraham, the executive director of the transition, said that the Biden team was told Thursday that its Pentagon briefings were being put on hold. Biden spokeswoman Jen Psaki wouldn’t directly accuse Miller of lying, but said "it’s not in our interest to provide inaccurate information” about the transition.

The transition process has mostly gone well after getting a late start, but Abraham said the Biden team had “met isolated resistance in some corners, including from political appointees within the Department of Defense.”

The tension comes after the presidential transition did not begin until Nov. 23, more than two weeks after Biden was declared victorious over Trump in the 2020 election. As Trump launched repeated and unfounded allegations afterward of widespread voter fraud, his administration delayed completing a step known as ascertainment that acknowledges the apparent successful candidate in the election and allows the transition to begin.

The U.S. official familiar with the transition process said there have been up to 20 meetings per day, with a relatively small number of lawyers needed to staff them. The cancellation of the meetings Friday was first reported by Axios.

By: Dan Lamothe and Colby Itkowitz

1:22 PM: President-elect and Jill Biden to receive vaccines for the coronavirus Monday

Biden and Jill Biden will receive coronavirus vaccines Monday in Delaware, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a briefing with reporters Friday.

The announcement came hours after Vice President Pence and second lady Karen Pence received their vaccines for the coronavirus, a medical procedure shown on national television.

Psaki would not say where or when exactly the Bidens would be receiving their first dose.

The Biden transition team also said Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, will get their vaccine the week after the Bidens.

Psaki said it was the recommendation by medical and health experts that Biden and Harris stagger their vaccines, which is why the vice president-elect is getting hers after Christmas.

By: Annie Linskey and Colby Itkowitz

11:57 AM: More than 1.1 million voters have cast ballots through four days of early in-person voting in Georgia

After four days of early in-person voting in Georgia, more than 1.1 million voters have cast ballots in the two Senate runoff elections to be held on Jan. 5. This is only slightly below the 1.2 million people who had voted by Oct. 16 — 18 days before the general election.

The early-voting volume was the latest sign of heightened enthusiasm before the elections that will decide control of the Senate. Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler face Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively.

The last Senate runoff in Georgia in 2008 saw a 40 percent drop in turnout, and the last statewide runoff for any office, the secretary of state runoff in 2018, had 60 percent fewer people vote in the runoff than had voted in the general election.

So far, 30,000 people who did not cast a ballot in the November election have already voted. These voters are younger and disproportionately less White compared to all voters who have voted in the runoff. In a state that was decided by 11,000 votes in the presidential election, with Biden turning Georgia blue, mobilizing voters who sat out or were ineligible to vote in November may be the deciding factor.

By: Lenny Bronner

11:56 AM: Trump appoints conservative activist Charlie Kirk to commission to promote ‘patriotic education’

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie holding his hand up: Trump shakes hands with Kirk during a panel discussion at the 2018 Generation Next Summit in Washington. © Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post Trump shakes hands with Kirk during a panel discussion at the 2018 Generation Next Summit in Washington.

Trump has named 17 people to his 1776 Commission, which he created by executive order the day before the election to promote what he describes as “patriotic education” in schools — intended to push back against curriculum that provides an unvarnished account of America’s history of racism.

Among those he appointed to the commission, which is asked to provide a report to the president within a year on how to teach about America’s founding, is Charlie Kirk, an ardent Trump supporter and right-wing activist who created a national youth organization that advocates for conservatism in schools.

Trump alleges ‘left-wing indoctrination’ in schools, says he will create national commission to push more ‘pro-American’ history

Trump’s executive order claimed that “many students are now taught in school to hate their own country, and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but rather villains.” That is in line with Kirk’s belief that there is a “war on men” in America.

The commission is also supposed to prepare for the 250th anniversary of the United States in 2026, even though Congress already created a commission to do this in 2016 called the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, which has been meeting for years.

Because Trump’s commission was created by executive order, Biden can dismantle it or simply choose to ignore its recommendations once he’s president.

Trump’s lame-duck activity has included a flurry of appointments to various boards and commissions, including Andrew Giuliani, son of Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, to the Holocaust Memorial Council and David Legates, a climate change skeptic, to a committee of scientists who award the National Medal of Science.

By: Colby Itkowitz

11:12 AM: Harris heading to Georgia on Monday to campaign for Democrats in Senate races; Ivanka Trump to stump for Republicans

Kamala Harris looking at the camera: Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris speaks during a news briefing at the Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., last week. © Joshua Lott/The Washington Post Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris speaks during a news briefing at the Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., last week.

Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris plans to travel to Georgia on Monday to campaign for the Democratic candidates in the pair of Senate runoff elections there that will effectively determine control of the chamber next year.

Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior White House adviser, plans to be in the state to tout the Republican candidates on the same day.

Harris is scheduled to make two stops, in Columbus and Gwinnett County, in a bid to drive up turnout for Democrats Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock in the Jan. 5 runoffs, according to the Biden campaign.

Underscoring the importance of the two races, both Trump and Biden have already appeared at rallies in the state. Vice President Pence made another trip to Georgia on Thursday to support the Republican candidates, Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.

Ivanka Trump’s trip is being billed as an opportunity to “highlight the historic accomplishments of the Trump Administration with the help of the Republican Senate Majority, along with the importance of voting in the Georgia runoff elections.”

If Democrats win both races, the parties will each control 50 seats in the Senate. Harris, as vice president, would be able to cast tie-breaking votes in the Democrats’ favor.

By: John Wagner and Chelsea Janes

10:54 AM: Supreme Court says challenge to Trump’s plan to not count undocumented in reapportionment must wait

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a challenge to Trump’s authority to exclude undocumented immigrants when deciding the size of each state’s congressional delegation, saying it was premature to decide the question at this point.

The court’s unsigned opinion said the constitutional and legal questions surrounding such action should wait until it is clear whether Trump would be able to make good on his plan. It is unclear whether the Census Bureau can come up with the population figures the president seeks before he leaves office.

Read the full story

By: Robert Barnes

9:30 AM: Trump airs array of grievances on Twitter but remains silent on cybersecurity breach blamed on Russia

a man wearing a suit and tie: President Trump stops to talk to members of the media as he walks to board Marine One and depart from the South Lawn at the White House in February. © Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post President Trump stops to talk to members of the media as he walks to board Marine One and depart from the South Lawn at the White House in February.

On Twitter, Trump aired grievances late Thursday and early Friday on an array of subjects, including the results of the 2020 election and the investigation into Russian election interference in 2016, but he continued to remain silent on a major cybersecurity breach that experts have blamed on Russia.

“.@senatemajldr and Republican Senators have to get tougher, or you won’t have a Republican Party anymore,” Trump said, referring Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s recognition this week of Biden as the president-elect.

“We won the Presidential Election, by a lot. FIGHT FOR IT. Don’t let them take it away!” Trump added.

In another tweet, he urged Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) to call a special session of the legislature to reverse the election results there.

Trump also voiced disappointment in the Supreme Court, which rejected a case he supported that sought to negate the results in four battleground states won by Biden. And Trump shared several tweets praising incoming senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), who is considering joining an effort to challenge the electoral college vote count in Congress next month.

Trump also took shots at Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and the late senator John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Trump highlighted an article on a conservative website that noted that some allies of Cheney’s father, former vice president Richard B. Cheney, have become frequent Trump critics. And Trump claimed that McCain was “one of the most overrated people in D.C.”

The latter tweet prompted a sharp rebuke from Meghan McCain, the senator’s daughter and television personality, who wrote: “It kills you that no one will ever love you or remember you like they loved and remember him.” She also chided Trump for losing Arizona to Biden.

In another tweet, Trump derided the “Russia Hoax,” a reference to the investigation into allegations of illegal coordination between his campaign and Russia during the 2016 election campaign.

While reliving that episode, Trump continued to say nothing about the massive and growing cybersecurity breach that many experts blame on Russia and that has impacted numerous federal agencies, as well as U.S. companies.

By: John Wagner

9:06 AM: Trump tweets incorrectly that the Moderna vaccine has been approved

Trump erroneously tweeted Friday morning that Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine had been “overwhelmingly approved” and that distribution would begin immediately, appearing to confuse an advisory panel’s endorsement with full authorization from health officials.

The Food and Drug Administration has not yet authorized the vaccine.

On Thursday night, the FDA pledged to move quickly to approve the Moderna injection, shortly after the agency’s vaccine advisory panel voted almost unanimously that the benefits of the highly effective vaccine outweighed its risks for adults.

The FDA intends to authorize the vaccine Friday, people familiar with the process told The Washington Post.

Pence also said during a vaccination event Friday morning that he expected the agency to approve it later in the day. He received an injection of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine during the event, aired on live television.

Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, said Friday he expected to see the first doses of the Moderna vaccine administered by next week.

“I would hope Monday or Tuesday, but you know, we just have to wait to see for the final decision. But very soon — literally within a few days,” Fauci said on NBC’s “Today” show.

Asked for comment on Trump’s tweet, an FDA spokesperson provided a statement from Thursday promising to “rapidly work toward finalization and issuance of an emergency use authorization.” A Moderna spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

By: Derek Hawkins

8:35 AM: Analysis: How did the GOP gain in the House while Trump lost? It’s actually pretty simple.

One of the increasingly prevalent arguments spun by Trump and his allies on supposed voter fraud in the 2020 election is this: Republicans had, by and large, a pretty good election below the presidential level. They gained significant ground in the House and probably held the Senate — as long as they don’t lose both Georgia runoffs. So how on earth did Trump lose?

The answer is actually pretty simple: Our elections increasingly look more like parliamentary ones, and given that, the results make a ton of sense.

Data from the election-reform group FairVote sheds some light on how the battle for the House played out. The big takeaway: Our politics are increasingly less about people and incumbents and more about party. We’ve been talking about increased polarization for many years, but the 2020 election really drove it home. The results for Congress affirm the fact that Republicans writ large lost the election, even though it might have been closer than many expected.

Read the full story

By: Aaron Blake

8:16 AM: Pence vaccinated on live television

Vice President Pence receives a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shot at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex on Friday. © Andrew Harnik/AP Vice President Pence receives a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shot at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex on Friday.

Pence, who heads the White House’s coronavirus task force, was vaccinated against the disease on live television Friday, along with his wife, Karen Pence, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams.

As reporters watched, the three received shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in their arms, administered by Walter Reed National Military Medical Center staff, in a room in the White House complex.

“Great job,” a masked Pence said after a small bandage was placed on his arm following the shot.

In remarks afterward, Pence said, “I didn’t feel a thing. Well done.”

“Karen and I were more than happy to step forward,” he said, adding that he wanted to build “confidence in the vaccine.”

Pence touted the Trump administration’s efforts to speed production of coronavirus vaccines, which he touted as a “medical miracle.”

Distribution of vaccines, he said, is “the beginning of the end of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Others on hand for the event included Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease official, and Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Several screens were set up in the room where the vaccinations took place. They showed messages including: “SAFE and EFFECTIVE” and “PROMISES MADE — OPERATION WARP SPEED — PROMISES KEPT.”

Trump, meanwhile, has no public appearances scheduled Friday. He touted vaccine distribution in several tweets.

The only event on Trump’s schedule advertised by the White House is a closed-door meeting with Christopher C. Miller, the acting defense secretary.

By: John Wagner and Katie Shepherd

7:29 AM: Biden attends church on anniversary of death of his first wife, infant daughter

Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, headed to Mass early Friday at St. Joseph on the Brandywine, a Roman Catholic church near his home in Wilmington, Del.

Friday is the 48th anniversary of the death of Biden’s first wife, Neilia, and their infant daughter, Naomi, in a car crash.

By: John Wagner

7:04 AM: Biden advertises no public events Friday, plans to introduce environmental officials on Saturday

Biden has advertised no public events on Friday but plans to introduce members of his “climate and energy team” at an event on Saturday in Wilmington, Del.

In a statement, the Biden transition team touted the group as a “tested team of bold thinkers who know how to pull every lever of government to take on the urgent, existential threat of climate change.”

Those expected to appear alongside Biden on Saturday include Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), his nominee for interior secretary; former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, his nominee for energy secretary; North Carolina environmental official Michael Regan, his nominee for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; environmental law expert Brenda Mallory, his nominee for chair of the Council on Environmental Quality; former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, his appointee for national climate adviser; and Ali Zaidi, New York’s deputy secretary for energy and environment, as McCarthy’s deputy.

By: John Wagner

7:00 AM: Michael Flynn muses about Trump using the military to rerun elections in battleground states

a man wearing sunglasses taking a selfie: Michael Flynn, former national security adviser to President Trump, gestures as Trump supporters rally to protest the election results in front of the Supreme Court earlier this month. © Jonathan Ernst/Reuters Michael Flynn, former national security adviser to President Trump, gestures as Trump supporters rally to protest the election results in front of the Supreme Court earlier this month.

Michael Flynn, a retired lieutenant general and Trump’s first national security adviser, suggested Thursday that Trump could use the military to rerun the election in swing states that he lost.

Flynn raised the idea during an appearance on Newsmax TV, musing about several ways the military could be used to address the “integrity of our election.”

Trump “could immediately on his order seize every single one of these machines around the country,” Flynn said. “He could also order, within the swing states, if he wanted to — he could take military capabilities and he could place them in those states and basically rerun an election in each of those states.”

“These people out there talking about martial law like it’s something we’ve never done,” Flynn added. “Martial law has been instituted 64 times. I’m not calling for that. We have a constitutional process. … That has to be followed. But I will tell you I’m a little concerned about Chief Justice John Roberts at the Supreme Court. We can’t fool around with the fabric of the Constitution of the United States.”

The Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit supported by Trump that would have negated the results in four battleground states won by Biden.

Last month, Trump issued a pardon to Flynn, who pleaded guilty to a federal charge in December 2017, admitting that he had misled investigators about details of his conversations with the Russian ambassador during Trump’s presidential transition.

By: John Wagner

6:55 AM: Biden calls Lindsey Graham, once a friend, ‘a personal disappointment’ for not recognizing election win

a group of people that are standing in the rain: President-elect Joe Biden arrives at the Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., for a virtual appearance on the “Late Show With Stephen Colbert” on Thursday. © Joshua Roberts/Getty Images President-elect Joe Biden arrives at the Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., for a virtual appearance on the “Late Show With Stephen Colbert” on Thursday.

When Stephen Colbert asked Biden on Thursday whether he could patch up his once-close friendship with Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), the president-elect’s expression turned somber.

Graham, a close ally of Trump, has declined to acknowledge Biden’s election victory and was accused of pressuring Georgia to discard mail-in ballots in a state that went for the Democrat.

Biden, who has made his willingness to work with Republicans a key campaign promise, declined to say whether their relationship was salvageable.

“Lindsey’s been a personal disappointment because I was a personal friend of his,” Biden told the CBS host.

Read the full story

By: Timothy Bella

6:53 AM: Relying on his gut, Biden shrugs off criticism to form a ‘Cabinet of firsts’

Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie: Tickets will be limited for Joe Biden’s inauguration because of the coronavirus pandemic. © Joshua Lott/The Washington Post Tickets will be limited for Joe Biden’s inauguration because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Thick packets have been delivered regularly to Biden’s Wilmington, Del., home, providing meticulous details on each potential Cabinet member’s strengths, weaknesses and possible areas of conflict. Biden has been conducting virtual interviews with final candidates, focusing on their values and life stories nearly as much as their approach to the departments they would lead.

He has made Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris perhaps his closest partner in the Cabinet-selection effort; she has interviewed each candidate separately and traded notes with Biden afterward in what people close to the transition say has been an important step in deepening their working relationship.

Biden’s transition — which began months before the election results were known — is providing the first portrait, if one largely conducted behind the scenes, of his style as a manager and decision-maker in chief.

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By: Matt Viser

6:40 AM: White House aides talked Trump out of last-minute demand for stimulus checks as big as $2,000

a person standing in front of a building: President Trump talks with Vice President Pence and others in the Oval Office of the White House on Friday. © Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post President Trump talks with Vice President Pence and others in the Oval Office of the White House on Friday.

White House aides intervened Thursday to prevent Trump from issuing a statement calling for substantially larger stimulus payments for millions of Americans, according to two people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of the private exchange.

On a phone call Thursday afternoon, Trump told allies that he believes stimulus payments in the next relief package should be “at least” $1,200 per person and possibly as big as $2,000 per person, the officials said. Congressional leadership is preparing a stimulus package that would provide checks of $600 per person.

Trump was in the middle of formally drafting his demand for the larger payments when White House officials told him that doing so could imperil delicate negotiations over the economic relief package, the officials said. Congressional Republicans have insisted that the relief bill remain less than $1 trillion, and it is currently designed to cost around $900 billion. Larger stimulus checks could push the package’s total over $1 trillion.

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By: Jeff Stein

6:39 AM: Biden and lawmakers raise alarms over cybersecurity breach amid Trump’s silence

a group of people standing in front of a building: A Marine stands guard outside the West Wing, signifying that President Trump is in the Oval Office on Wednesday, Dec. 16. © Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post A Marine stands guard outside the West Wing, signifying that President Trump is in the Oval Office on Wednesday, Dec. 16.

Democrats and some Republicans raised alarms Thursday about a massive and growing cybersecurity breach that many experts blame on Russia, with Biden implicitly criticizing the Trump administration for allowing the hacking attack to occur.

“We need to disrupt and deter our adversaries from undertaking significant cyber attacks in the first place,” Biden said in a statement. “Our adversaries should know that, as president, I will not stand idly by in the face of cyber assaults on our nation.”

Trump, by contrast, has said nothing about the hack affecting numerous federal agencies as well as U.S. companies. U.S. national security agencies are still assessing the scope and severity of the breach, which was discovered by a commercial firm.

Read the full story

By: Anne Gearan, Karoun Demirjian, Mike DeBonis and Annie Linskey

6:37 AM: Top Republicans offer conflicting messages about Trump’s loss while campaigning in Georgia

Mike Pence, Vernon Jones standing in front of a crowd: Vice President Pence speaks a “Defend The Majority” campaign event on Thursday in Columbus, Ga. © Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images Vice President Pence speaks a “Defend The Majority” campaign event on Thursday in Columbus, Ga.

COLUMBUS, Ga. — When Vice President Pence took the stage here Thursday for a lunchtime rally with Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, he said Trump was still fighting to win reelection, even though the electoral college formalized Joe Biden’s victory Monday.

But in television ads airing across the state, allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are making a different argument: that Trump has lost the election, and Democrats could control Washington if they win these two seats on Jan. 5.

These very different messages highlight the conflict within the Republican Party about the best way to win an election that will determine control of the Senate. While Trump and his supporters continue to push baseless claims of voter fraud, McConnell’s allies have warned that Democrats would run rampant if they gain control of both houses of Congress and the presidency.

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By: Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Paul Kane

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