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Post Politics Now: Obama headed back to Georgia to campaign with Warnock

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 11/21/2022 John Wagner, Mariana Alfaro
Former president Barack Obama, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams appear during a rally in College Park, Ga., on Oct. 28. © Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post Former president Barack Obama, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams appear during a rally in College Park, Ga., on Oct. 28.

Today, former president Barack Obama’s office announced that he will return to Georgia to campaign alongside Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.), who faces a Dec. 6 runoff against Republican Herschel Walker, the former football star. Obama, the most popular Democratic surrogate, plans to appear in Atlanta on Dec. 1 to encourage early voting. The race was forced to a runoff because neither Warnock nor Walker received 50 percent of the vote this month.

In Washington, President Biden participated Monday in the time-honored tradition of issuing a presidential pardon to turkeys at the White House ahead of Thanksgiving. Later, he and first lady Jill Biden headed to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina for a “Friendsgiving” dinner with service members and military families.

8:01 PM: On our radar: Bidens leave Washington for Thanksgiving

President Biden and Jill Biden head out from the White House Monday for a Thanksgiving event with military members. © Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post President Biden and Jill Biden head out from the White House Monday for a Thanksgiving event with military members.

Monday was full of Thanksgiving festivities for President Biden, who pardoned the annual Thanksgiving turkey at the White House before having a celebratory dinner with military families in North Carolina. Here’s what we’ll be watching on Tuesday:

  • Biden and the first lady travel for Thanksgiving. The first family will spend the holiday in Nantucket, Mass., with family.
  • Fauci to brief reporters at the White House. Anthony S. Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser and the face of the nation’s response to the pandemic, will be in the White House briefing room, just weeks before his retirement. He will be joined at the briefing by Ashish Jha, the White House coronavirus response coordinator.
  • Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) is scheduled to testify before the Fulton County, Ga., grand jury investigating possible interference in the 2020 election. While Graham has made multiple attempts to block a subpoena for his testimony, he will now face investigators on Tuesday.

7:31 PM: The latest: Defendants allege U.S. ‘manipulation’ of evidence in Oath Keepers trial

Wrapping up closing arguments Monday, lawyers for three of five Oath Keepers associates charged with seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot accused federal prosecutors of manipulating evidence by omitting key messages and overstating their involvement in the attack.

Per Tom Jackman and Spencer S. Hsu:

Prosecutors countered by urging jurors to convict Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four co-defendants, citing “overwhelming” evidence “right in front of your eyes.”
“Make no mistake, he [Rhodes] wanted to start a civil war,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey S. Nestler said. “They wanted to attack what they saw as an illegitimate government. Their own statements prove the government’s case.”
U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta submitted the case to the jury after eight weeks of trial, 46 witnesses and hundreds of exhibits. The jury is set to begin deliberations at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, take off the rest of Thanksgiving week if no verdict is reached, and resume deliberations next week.
Defense attorney Bradford Geyer cast client Kenneth Harrelson as a follower, not a leader, on Jan. 6. The jury did not see Harrelson’s communications — not because he deleted them, as prosecutors alleged, but because he didn’t participate in planning, Geyer argued.
... Geyer and Jonathan Crisp, the attorney for defendant Jessica Watkins, criticized how prosecutors presented videos and evidence, calling it “government manipulation or deception.” He noted that prosecutors showed group chat discussions on the Signal app, used by Rhodes and many other members before and during Jan. 6, but omitted certain posts and wrongly implied Watkins responded to messages she did not answer.

Read more on these cases here.

6:50 PM: Take a look: Biden, first lady celebrate Thanksgiving with military families

The president and first lady celebrated Thanksgiving with military families in North Carolina on Monday.

“You are literally, not figuratively, the greatest fighting force, the best fighting force in the history of the world,” Biden said. “You really are incredible group of women and men. And again, I want to thank the spouses as well, because they put up with an awful lot of years because of your service. And a lot of those empty chairs. … There’s been an empty chair back at your home with your parents looking at that chair, wondering, ‘Are you all right?’, especially if you’re deployed.”

“Thank you for all you’ve done,” the president added. “By the way, I’m serving mashed potatoes, so come to my place.”

Biden serves food to military families during a "Friendsgiving" celebration. © Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images Biden serves food to military families during a "Friendsgiving" celebration. Biden speaks to members of the military and their families during a “Friendsgiving” celebration. © Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images Biden speaks to members of the military and their families during a “Friendsgiving” celebration.

6:16 PM: The latest: Officer’s suicide after Jan. 6 riot is a line-of-duty death, Justice Dept. says

a group of people sitting at a table © Provided by The Washington Post

A Justice Department office ruled that Capitol Police officer Howard Liebengood — who killed himself days after encountering rioters during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection — died in the line of duty, according to his family and authorities.

As Peter Hermann reports, the designation from the Justice Department’s Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program means Liebengood’s family will receive a lump-sum payment. The precise amount was not immediately clear, but it will be in line with what relatives of other federal law enforcement officers killed while performing their duties have received.

“The determination is significant, healing, relieving, and we are grateful for it,” Liebengood’s family said in a statement, which was sent on behalf of Liebengood’s wife, Serena, his sister Anne Winters and brother John Liebengood.
The designation does not affect whether relatives can access the officer’s pension benefits, which are overseen by an agency within the Labor Department. The request for those benefits is pending, a family spokeswoman said.
Liebengood patrolled the grounds outside Senate office buildings the day of the assault, and worked nearly around-the-clock in the days that followed, his family has said. He encountered rioters but did not battle them physically. He died by suicide three days later.

Read more on this decision here.

6:03 PM: The latest: Biden appears to be winning over high-profile Democrats for another run

Representative-elect Maxwell A. Frost (D-Fla.) and Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) each said in separate interviews that published Monday that they’ll support President Biden’s potential 2024 bid even though he wasn’t their first choice for a candidate in 2020.

Frost, who will be a member of the CPC when he joins Congress in January, told NBC News that he’s been pleasantly surprised by Biden’s performance. The first member of Gen Z in Congress was asked whether he feels as though Biden, who turned 80 on Sunday, is the right person to represent America’s youngest generations.

“In the primary, the president wasn’t my first choice, but what he’s shown is that he’s working for all Americans, he’s not afraid to put forward bold transformational policies,” he said. “These years we’ve seen of record-breaking youth turnout has been people going to vote for President Biden and people going to vote for Democrats under his leadership.”

“If the president decides to run in 2024, I’ll definitely support him,” he added.

Jayapal similarly said that, while Biden was not her first choice in 2020, she is now a “convert” and will be supporting him in 2024.

“I never thought I would say this, but I believe he should run for another term and finish this agenda we laid out,” she told Politico.

5:56 PM: Noted: Woman convicted in Jan. 6 attack but not in theft of Pelosi laptop

A federal jury in Washington said Monday that it could not unanimously agree on whether a Pennsylvania woman aided in the theft of a laptop computer from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, but the panel convicted her of six other offenses related to the riot, including two felonies.

As Paul Duggan reports, jurors, deliberating for the equivalent of three full days in the case of Riley J. Williams, said they also could not reach a unanimous verdict on whether Williams committed the felony of obstructing an official government proceeding, the charge she faced that carried the most potential jail time. The charge of aiding and abetting the laptop theft was a misdemeanor.

But in a trial that began Nov. 8 in U.S. District Court in Washington, the panel convicted Williams, 23, of civil disorder and interfering with police officers, both felonies, and four misdemeanors involving disorderly conduct, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, and illegally demonstrating in the Capitol.

Read more on her case here.

5:17 PM: This just in: Two Arizona counties delay canvassing election results

Two Arizona counties have delayed canvassing of the November election results, postponements that earned praise from state Republican Party leader Kelli Ward and allies of Kari Lake, the Republican nominee for governor who last week was projected to lose her race to Democrat Katie Hobbs.

The counties are required to formally accept the results no later than Nov. 28. Hobbs, the state’s secretary of state, told The Washington Post last week her office is prepared to go to court if jurisdictions do not fulfill their legal obligations.

Leaders in Cochise County, southeast of Phoenix, were expected to accept the results last Friday but delayed the canvass, saying they wanted assurances that voting equipment was properly certified, the Arizona Republic reported.

In Mohave County, which is northwest of Phoenix, county leaders on Monday delayed their canvass of the results. They described the decision as a “political stunt” intended to show solidarity with voters in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, who are frustrated with problems caused by malfunctioning printers on Election Day.

“The rural counties will not accept being screwed by Maricopa County,” a post from a Twitter account associated with Lake’s campaign said.

Leaders from both counties are expected to meet again on Nov. 28 to canvass the results.

By: Yvonne Wingett Sanchez

4:56 PM: Analysis: Despite the midterms and a mass shooting, trans people remain a target

Georgia GOP Senate candidate Herschel Walker debuted a new ad Monday, targeting voters before the state’s Dec. 6 runoff election. In it, former college athlete Riley Gaines complains about having to compete against swimmer Lia Thomas in the NCAA national championship, where the two tied for fifth place. Gaines describes Thomas, a trans woman, as “a biological male” and criticizes Walker’s opponent, Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.), as having “voted to let” Thomas’s participation “happen.”

This is not a new message from the GOP’s Walker, nor is Gaines’s endorsement. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution covered Walker’s anti-trans message in September, something that the paper explained was seen by Walker’s campaign as “a way to energize socially conservative voters — particularly women — who are uniquely motivated by the issue.”

But, as Philip Bump writes, it’s the timing of the Walker ad that’s remarkable. On Saturday night, a shooter killed five people — including a trans man — and injured 18 others in an attack at an LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs.

The accused shooter has been charged with five hate-crime counts. But here’s Walker apparently again seeing anti-trans rhetoric as an issue that will energize voters, despite his deployment of anti-trans rhetoric having left him in second place in the first round of voting earlier this month.
For months, some in the right-wing media have focused on trans issues as a way to cast the political left as holding views that sit somewhere between out-of-touch and unholy ... That rhetoric overlaps with an undercurrent to right-wing rhetoric that attempts to label gay people and the left more broadly as “groomers” — people who intentionally try to acclimate children to sexual behavior ... Few have been as enthusiastic about this effort as Fox News host Tucker Carlson ...
The most mentions of “transgender” over the past year? Carlson’s show, according to GDELT. “Groomers” or “grooming”? Same. ...
The idea that acceptance of trans people is a net negative is common on the right in particular. Washington Post polling conducted with the University of Maryland earlier this year found that Americans are more likely to say that increased acceptance of trans people is good for society than to say that it is bad. ... The point of the rhetoric all along has been to cast Democrats as deviant threats to traditional values and traditional America.

Read more on the use of this hateful rhetoric here.

4:22 PM: Take a look: First lady receives White House Christmas tree

First lady Jill Biden received this year’s White House tree on Monday afternoon, accompanied by her grandson Beau.

The tree, a concolor fir, is 18½ feet tall and was grown at Evergreen Acres Christmas Tree Farm in Auburn, Pa.

“I love the tree,” Biden told reporters. She was joined at the White House by members of the Shealer family, who grew the tree in Pennsylvania. Paul Shealer said the tree was planted 20 years ago.

Grandson Beau wanted to feel the fur of the horses, so the first lady walked him up to Ben and Winston to say hello.

Take a look:

The 2022 White House Christmas Tree has arrived. © Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post The 2022 White House Christmas Tree has arrived. First lady Jill Biden with her grandson Beau Biden as the tree arrives. © Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post First lady Jill Biden with her grandson Beau Biden as the tree arrives. “I love the tree,” first lady Jill Biden said. © Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post “I love the tree,” first lady Jill Biden said.

3:38 PM: Analysis from Mariana Alfaro, Reporter on the breaking political news team

Biden called Colorado’s governor following the deadly shooting in his state. Per the White House, the president spoke to Gov. Jared Polis (D) Monday about the shooting that left five dead at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs. He also spoke to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) about the winter storm that dumped record snowfall on western New York.

3:23 PM: The latest: After Biden call, Oregon governor grants pardons for marijuana offenses

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) on Monday announced that the state will pardon prior offenses of simple possession of marijuana, weeks after President Biden urged governors nationwide to use their authority to do so.

In a statement, Brown’s office estimated that the pardon will impact about 45,000 individuals across Oregon and forgive more than $14 million in associated fines and fees. Brown’s action also will expunge 47,144 convictions for possession of a small amount of marijuana from individual records.

“No one deserves to be forever saddled with the impacts of a conviction for simple possession of marijuana — a crime that is no longer on the books in Oregon,” Brown said. “Oregonians should never face housing insecurity, employment barriers, and educational obstacles as a result of doing something that is now completely legal, and has been for years. My pardon will remove these hardships.”

Brown is serving the final weeks of her term-limited tenure at Oregon’s helm and will be replaced by fellow Democrat Tina Kotek.

In October, Biden offered pardons to anyone convicted of a federal crime for simply possessing the drug, urging governors to do the same. But this order didn’t directly affect the vast majority of marijuana-related convictions, which are pursued under state law.

Nearly 40 states and D.C. allow medical marijuana use, while 19 states allow the drug for recreational purposes, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. In Oregon, adults 21 and older can possess and use cannabis within specified limits.

3:02 PM: This just in: Marjorie Taylor Greene’s personal Twitter account is reinstated

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the controversial Georgia Republican, got her personal Twitter account back.

The supporter of former president Donald Trump who has peddled conspiracy theories on Twitter had her personal account permanently suspended in January, with Twitter saying the congresswoman had violated the company’s covid-19 misinformation policy.

But things at Twitter have changed since. The company was bought by billionaire Elon Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist” who has said permanent bans undermine Twitter’s role as a haven for free expression.

Greene’s January suspension came hours after she published a tweet falsely suggesting “extremely high amounts of Covid vaccine deaths.” While her personal account was shut down, she maintained her congressional account, in which she continued peddling conspiracy theories.

Before her suspension, Greene tweeted false messages about the pandemic. In July 2021, she lost access for 12 hours after falsely claiming that the coronavirus was “not dangerous for non-obese people and those under 65.” A month later, she faced a week-long suspension after falsely tweeting that the coronavirus vaccines were “failing.”

The coronavirus has claimed the lives of 1.1 million in the United States, and deaths have fallen since the vaccines were first introduced.

On Monday, Greene celebrated the return of her page with a tweet accusing former Twitter management of violating her “freedom of speech and ability to campaign & fundraise.”

Greene is not the only controversial Republican who’s gotten their account back.

Donald Trump’s account was reactivated Saturday after Musk ran an unscientific Twitter poll asking users whether they wanted the former president back on the platform.

2:26 PM: Noted: Rail union rejects contract deal brokered by White House, threatening economy before holidays

A rail strike could happen Dec. 5 if an agreement is not reached. © Bing Guan/Reuters A rail strike could happen Dec. 5 if an agreement is not reached.

One of the largest railroad unions narrowly voted to reject a contract deal brokered by the White House, bringing the country once again closer to a rail strike that could paralyze much of the economy ahead of the holidays, union officials announced Monday.

As Lauren Kaori Gurley, Jacob Bogage and Toluse Olorunnipa report, a national rail strike, which could happen Dec. 5, could threaten the nation’s coal shipments and its supply of drinking water, while shutting down passenger rail and shipment of goods as the holiday season revs up. The U.S. economy could lose $2 billion a day if railroad workers strike, according to the Association of American Railroads.

A shutdown of the nation’s transportation infrastructure next month could spell political disaster. As our colleagues write:

The rejection of the contract adds new pressure to the White House, which had been closely involved in negotiating the contract between the unions and rail companies. …
“As the President has said from the beginning, a shutdown is unacceptable because of the harm it would inflict on jobs, families, farms, businesses and communities across the country,” according to a White House official. “A majority of unions have voted to ratify the tentative agreement, and the best option is still for the parties to resolve this themselves.” ...
Under the Railway Labor Act of 1926, Congress can intervene in the case of a railway strike to impose a contract on the railroads to block or stop a rail strike.
If that happens, there would be a short period after Thanksgiving for lawmakers to step in to impose a contract. Some Republican lawmakers have said they are ready to impose a contract negotiated earlier this year by the White House. Congress can also extend strike deadlines or force both parties into arbitration.

Jordan Boone, 41, a union rail conductor with SMART Transportation Division in Galesburg, Ill., told reporters that members he knows rejected the contract because it did not fully address their quality-of-life concerns.

Read more on what could come next for these negotiations here.

2:10 PM: Analysis: Trump’s win-loss record is worse than he pretends

Former president Donald Trump speaks remotely during the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting on Saturday. © David Becker/For The Washington Post Former president Donald Trump speaks remotely during the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting on Saturday.

As president and head of the Republican Party, Donald Trump regularly boasted about his record of endorsement wins.

But, as Philip Bump writes, that reputation — advanced through force of will more than the available evidence — has been badly damaged since 2016, particularly in the wake of this month’s midterm elections.

It also depends heavily on Trump’s offering up endorsements in elections that his party was almost certain to win anyway.

Here’s Trump’s win-loss record, assessed by year:

2018 elections. Trump made more than 130 endorsements in 2018, including both primary and general election endorsements for some candidates. Most of his endorsed primary candidates won (35 of 37) but his candidates won a bit over half of their general-election fights (56 of 95).
2020 elections. He made more than 300 endorsements in primary and general-election contests, with his primary candidates winning in 117 of the 121 identified by Ballotpedia. In general elections, his candidates won 142 of 182. Those wins were again driven higher by endorsing numerous incumbents; more than half of his wins were incumbents winning primaries and then retaining their positions.
2022 elections. With an eye on announcing his candidacy for the 2024 presidential nomination, Trump made nearly 500 endorsements in the most recent cycle. Most were successful, thanks to his making a number of endorsements aimed at boosting his total. (His endorsement of Doug Mastriano’s gubernatorial primary bid in Pennsylvania, for example, came only after it was clear Mastriano would win — and as it seemed possible that his endorsed Senate candidate, Mehmet Oz, might not make the general.) In total, Trump’s candidates won 224 of 241 primary races and 208 of 254 general-election ones.

So, even with the inflationary effects of gimme races (like endorsing incumbent red-state candidates), Trump’s endorsed candidates (including Trump himself) have won about three-quarters of their races. In close races in 2022, he came in well below that level — and in fact, he may have hurt some of those he endorsed.

Trump’s position with the Republican Party, then, might be the worst one possible: very effective at getting his candidates to win primaries by speaking to his base — but ineffective at getting those candidates to win in November.

Read more of Philip’s assessment here.

1:45 PM: Take a look: Walker maintains focus on transgender athletes

In a new ad in the Senate runoff in Georgia, Republican Herschel Walker is keeping a focus on transgender athletes competing in women’s sports. The ad features Riley Gaines, a former University of Kentucky swimmer who gained fame for her opposition to the NCAA’s transgender policies. She has previously joined Walker on the campaign trail.

“I worked so hard — 4 a.m. practices to be the best — but my senior year I was forced to compete against a biological male,” Gaines says in the 30-second ad.

“That’s unfair and wrong,” Walker says as the pair speaks straight to camera.

Walker’s campaign sought ahead of this month’s general election to use the issue to energize socially conservative voters motivated by the issue. The campaign appears to banking on it resonating in a runoff in which turnout will be lower.

1:15 PM: The latest: Rep. Neguse sets sights on a different leadership position

Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) questions Attorney General William Barr during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 28, 2020. © Matt McClain/The Washington Post/POOL Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) questions Attorney General William Barr during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 28, 2020.

Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), who had been eyeing a bid for Democratic caucus chairman in the next Congress, said in a letter to colleagues Monday that he would instead pursue a lower-ranking leadership position: the newly created role of chairman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, a messaging arm of the party.

Neguse, 38, whose stock rose after serving as a manager in former president Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, had been angling to join the upper ranks of leadership.

But his name was noticeably absent last week as Democrats appeared to coalesce around a team that includes Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.) as minority leader, Rep. Katherine M. Clark (Mass.) as minority whip and Rep. Pete Aguilar (Calif.) as the Democratic caucus chair.

Rep. James E. Clyburn, currently the House majority whip, is expected to remain in leadership in the new Congress as assistant leader, the No. 4 slot.

In his letter Monday, Neguse said he had concluded “the best way for me to serve” would be in the newly created position leading the DPCC, an organization in which he is already heavily involved.

12:53 PM: Analysis: Why Arizona Republicans are once again targeting Maricopa County

At first glance, the brouhaha in Arizona’s Maricopa County seems to be very specifically focused on problems that emerged in polling places during the midterm elections earlier this month. The office of outgoing Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) wrote a letter to county officials asking a number of largely mechanical questions about printer settings and procedures for handling voters, the sorts of things that might generally be items somewhere near the bottom of a committee meeting in some municipal government office.

But, as Philip Bump writes, that letter and the broader effort to undercut confidence in the results in this one particular county are neither fundamentally procedural nor constrained in scope. Instead, the county is once again a target of widespread Republican backlash primarily because the county, once again, is the reason a particularly aggressive state Republican Party suffered unexpected electoral losses.

Let Philip explain:

It’s important to recognize how Maricopa County specifically has driven the GOP’s failures in recent years. For decades, Arizona voted Republican in presidential contests, generally because both the state’s largest county voted Republican (Maricopa has provided a majority of the state’s votes in every presidential contest over the past 60 years) and because the rest of the state did, too. When there was a break between Maricopa and the state’s other counties before 2020, it was generally that Maricopa was more Republican than the rest of Arizona.
Then came 2020. ...
Take Maricopa out of the mix and Donald Trump wins Arizona in 2020. Take Maricopa out of the mix and Kari Lake wins the governor’s race. So: Why not try to take Maricopa County out of the mix? Why not push legal resources and executive power, where applicable, into the breach?

But Maricopa was not hostile to Republicans: State treasurer candidate Kimberly Yee won easily.

There wasn’t even much drop-off in Yee’s race. In other words, this wasn’t simply Yee prevailing in Maricopa County because Democrats who turned out to reject Lake and Finchem didn’t bother to vote in the treasurer’s race. This was people voting Democratic and then Republican when they came to a Republican who, as it happens, wasn’t dedicated to rejecting the results of the 2020 election.

Read more on the Maricopa calculus here.

12:43 PM: Analysis: Midterms are mostly in the rear-view mirror, but a tough road lies ahead

It’s true that a large number of what we’ve opted to call “election deniers” lost this month, including arguably the most prominent among them, many of them costing the GOP a shot in competitive races. A bipartisan sigh of relief is understandable under those conditions.

But “things could have been much worse” isn’t the same as “we’re out of the woods.” America looks to be in for tough sledding in the next two years, Olivier Knox writes in Monday’s Daily 202.

For one thing, the midterm elections aren’t quite over. There’s the Georgia runoff, of course, but take a look at the intraparty explosion of the GOP in Arizona, where Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake has refused to concede.

Things got bad enough that Maricopa County police had to move Bill Gates, the Republican chairman of the county’s governing board, to an undisclosed location because of threats, my colleagues Isaac Stanley-Becker and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez reported over the weekend.
Meanwhile, the country’s leading election denier — Donald Trump — has announced he’ll seek the Republican nomination for president in 2024. That all but ensures his discredited and debunked claims about the 2020 election will stay in the national political bloodstream.

Also, Trump’s account has been reactivated on Twitter. We still don’t know if he’ll use it, but it’s fair to say that whatever relief the midterms brought from electoral chaos and threats to democracy may be fleeting.

Read more here.

12:20 PM: The latest: Trump knocks two GOP Senate hopefuls who lost

Former president Donald Trump speaks remotely during a Republican Jewish Coalition meeting in Las Vegas on Saturday. © David Becker for The Washington Post Former president Donald Trump speaks remotely during a Republican Jewish Coalition meeting in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Less than a week after announcing his bid for the Republican nomination, former president Donald Trump continued to take shots at members of his own party, suggesting Monday that two GOP Senate candidates lost their races because they didn’t embrace him tightly enough.

In a statement, Trump targeted Joe O’Dea, who distanced himself from the former president during his campaign in Colorado, and Don Bolduc, who waited until after winning the GOP primary to back off his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

“Joe O’Dea lost his race in CO by over 12 points because he campaigned against MAGA,” Trump said, referencing his “Make America Great Again” slogan. “Likewise, candidates who shifted their ‘messaging’ after winning big in the Primaries (Bolduc!) saw big losses in General. Will they ever learn their lesson? You can’t win without MAGA!”

(O’Dea actually lost to Sen. Michael F. Bennet in Colorado by nearly 15 percentage points. Bolduc prevailed in his Senate primary in New Hampshire by just more than one percentage point.)

Fellow Republicans have become increasingly vocal about blaming Trump for the party’s failure to pick up seats in the Senate this year, as several of the candidates he endorsed were defeated.

Since his White House announcement last week, Trump has aired grievances with others in his party, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who will retain his position next year after a vote by his colleagues.

11:56 AM: The latest: Biden works in a pitch for covid shots as he pardons a pair of turkeys

WASHINGTON, DC ‐ November 21, 2022: President Joe Biden pardons Chocolate, the national Thanksgiving turkey on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on Monday, November 21, 2022. (Photo by Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post) © Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post WASHINGTON, DC ‐ November 21, 2022: President Joe Biden pardons Chocolate, the national Thanksgiving turkey on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on Monday, November 21, 2022. (Photo by Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)

President Biden on Monday worked in a pitch for Americans to get the latest coronavirus vaccines as he participated in the time-honored tradition of issuing a presidential pardon to turkeys ahead of Thanksgiving.

“Two years ago, we couldn’t even safely have Thanksgiving with large family gatherings. Now we can,” Biden said during the event at the White House. “That’s progress. And let’s keep it going.”

He urged people to get coronavirus boosters as well as the flu vaccine.

During an otherwise jovial event, Biden pardoned a pair of turkeys from Monroe, N.C. — named Chocolate and Chip — and shared that they would be headed to North Carolina State University in Raleigh rather than the dinner table.

Now, when we told them they were joining the Wolfpack, they got a little scared. But then we explained it was just a mascot,” Biden said, referring to the name of the university’s sports teams.

At the outset of the event on the South Lawn, Biden noted the frigid weather and promised to keep the event short.

Nobody likes it when their turkey gets cold,” he said.

11:30 AM: On our radar: Harris’s visit to Philippine island could raise tensions with China

Vice President Harris participates in a roundtable discussing women’s issues, rights and empowerment on Monday in Manila. © Haiyun Jiang/AP Vice President Harris participates in a roundtable discussing women’s issues, rights and empowerment on Monday in Manila.

Vice President Harris will visit the Philippine island chain of Palawan on Tuesday at the end of a week-long trip to Asia, an excursion to the edge of the disputed South China Sea that could raise tensions with Beijing.

The Post’s Meryl Kornfield and Jhesset Thrina Enano write that Harris, the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the Philippine archipelago, known as a scenic tropical getaway, will meet with local fishing workers to discuss the impact of the climate crisis and illegal fishing on coastal communities, according to a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the White House. Per Meryl and Jhesset:

China has staked a claim on a majority of the South China Sea, and the Philippines has lodged diplomatic protests against China’s maritime activities in the region, as local fishing communities have reported dwindling fish availability and displacement from their traditional fishing grounds amid hostilities from the Chinese coast guard.
In 2016, Manila scored a victory when an international tribunal ruled that China has no legal basis for its claims, but Beijing has disregarded the ruling.
Harris, signaling U.S. support for the Philippines in the dispute, is undertaking the delicate diplomatic mission at a time when U.S. tensions are rising over trade, Taiwan, human rights and other matters. President Biden met recently with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but the two superpowers continue to eye each other warily.

You can read the full story here.

11:09 AM: The latest: Rep. Omar fires back at McCarthy for threat to remove her from committee

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) appears at a bill enrollment ceremony in Washington on June 17. © Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) appears at a bill enrollment ceremony in Washington on June 17.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) fired back at House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Monday after he renewed a threat to remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee for what he characterized as “repeated antisemitic and anti-American remarks.”

McCarthy, who is angling to become House speaker in January, repeated the vow multiple times over the weekend, including during a television interview and during an appearance before a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas.

“McCarthy’s effort to repeatedly single me out for scorn and hatred — including threatening to strip me from my committee — does nothing to address the issues our constituents deal with,” Omar said in a statement.

“What it does is gin up fear and hate against Somali-Americans and anyone who shares my identity, and further divide us along racial and ethnic lines,” she continued. “It is a continuation of a sustained campaign against Muslim and African voices, people his party have been trying to ban since Donald Trump first ran for office.”

If McCarthy is elected speaker, he would not have unilateral power to remove Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee. It would require a vote of the full House.

McCarthy tweeted out a clip of his appearance in Las Vegas on Saturday night, in which he said he was “keeping that promise” to remove Omar.

Omar has been accused of antisemitic comments on a number of occasions.

In early 2019, as a freshman, she apologized for suggesting that Israel’s allies in U.S. politics were motivated by money rather than principle.

A tweet in which she said “it’s all about the Benjamins baby” — a reference to $100 bills — drew immediate denunciations from Republicans and fellow Democrats, especially Jewish members of Congress.

10:54 AM: Analysis: Biden has appointed many judges, but hasn’t recast the bench like Trump

© Provided by The Washington Post

For the second election in a row, Democrats closed strong to win a tight contest for the Senate majority. Though Republicans won a narrow victory for the House, the Senate win is particularly important for Democrats for one reason: judges.

The Post’s Aaron Blake writes that crucially, this means Democrats could still confirm a Supreme Court justice if a vacancy arises. And even short of that, they should be able to claw back more of the ground they lost when the GOP, under Donald Trump, overhauled the composition of the nation’s courts. Per Aaron:

Today there is increasing emphasis on which party appointed which judges, especially when they author significant, headline-making decisions. Recently, that’s included controversial decisions from a Trump nominee in the Mar-a-Lago documents case and the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, which Trump had (correctly) assured his nominees would do.
And as our politics have become increasingly partisan, judges have become an increasingly important metric of an administration’s success. President Trump and then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made a show of touting their work to revamp the federal judiciary (even as judges are supposed to be apolitical), and the Biden administration too has played up its own record-setting pace in confirming judges.

You can read the full analysis here.

10:21 AM: The latest: Obama headed back to Georgia to campaign for Warnock

Former president Barack Obama greets supporters during a rally with Georgia Democrats in College Park, Ga., on Friday. © Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post Former president Barack Obama greets supporters during a rally with Georgia Democrats in College Park, Ga., on Friday.

Former president Barack Obama is headed back to Georgia to campaign for Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.) ahead of Warnock’s Dec. 6 runoff against Republican Herschel Walker, Obama’s office announced Monday.

Obama will be back in Atlanta on Dec. 1 to encourage Georgians to vote in the final days of early voting, The Post’s Michael Scherer notes.

Warnock and Walker were forced into the runoff because neither candidate reached 50 percent on Election Day this month. Libertarian Chase Oliver, who garnered about 2 percent of the vote, won’t be an option in the runoff, clearing the way for either Warnock or Walker to hit the threshold.

Obama was last in Georgia on Oct. 28 for an event for Warnock, gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams and other statewide Democrats.

Obama was also heavily involved in seeking to boost Democrats elsewhere during the midterms, taping more than 30 ads and robocalls for committees and candidates across the country.

State Democratic parties reported an uptick in get-out-the-vote activities and other campaign efforts following Obama rallies in Arizona, Nevada, Michigan and Wisconsin.

9:59 AM: Take a look: The bizarre history behind the turkey pardon


President Biden on Monday is continuing the tradition of issuing a presidential pardon to turkeys ahead of Thanksgiving. The ritual has a bizarre history. The Post’s Hannah Jewell explains above.

9:44 AM: Analysis: Musk’s use of poll to reinstate Trump sparks backlash

Twitter headquarters in San Francisco seen on Oct. 4. © David Paul Morris/Bloomberg Twitter headquarters in San Francisco seen on Oct. 4.

Democratic lawmakers and civil rights leaders hammered Elon Musk over the weekend for relying on a Twitter poll to reinstate former president Donald Trump, saying it set a dangerous enforcement precedent and undermined Musk’s stated commitment to fairness.

Writing in The Technology 202, The Post’s Cristiano Lima relays that in October, Musk said the company would be “forming a content moderation council” and that “no major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before” it convenes. Per Cristiano:

After meeting with Musk soon after, civil rights leaders voiced cautious optimism about the plans.
But Musk ripped up that playbook on Saturday, restoring Trump’s account after a 52 percent majority of users in a Twitter poll he ran voted in favor of the move.
Any decision Musk made regarding Trump’s ban was sure to spark backlash, either from Republicans who bashed Twitter for “censoring” the former president or from Democrats who for years said the company failed to fully enforce its rules against him.

You can read the full analysis here.

9:27 AM: Take a look: Warnock focuses on ‘character’ in a new Georgia Senate ad

Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.) focuses on “character” in a new ad in his runoff for a Georgia Senate seat that makes no mention of his opponent, Republican Herschel Walker.

“Character is what you do when nobody is watching. It’s about doing the right thing simply because it’s the right thing, and doing it over and over again,” Warnock says in the 30-second spot, which you can watch above.

Several controversies over Walker’s character have arisen during the race, including allegations — which Walker, a former football star, denies — that he pressured two women he impregnated to get abortions.

The runoff date in Georgia is Dec. 6. The runoff is being held because neither candidate reached 50 percent on Election Day this month.

9:13 AM: The latest: Democrats renew push for ethics standards for Supreme Court

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) delivers a statement at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 21. © Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) delivers a statement at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 21.

Democrats are renewing calls for Supreme Court justices to adopt an ethics code — or have one imposed on them by Congress — following an allegation that Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. disclosed to conservative donors the outcome of a pending 2014 case regarding contraceptives and religious rights.

Alito has strongly denied the allegation, first reported by the New York Times, but Democrats argue that, regardless, the episode highlights the need for more transparency from the court.

“The Court needs to get its house in order and adopt a binding code of ethics, just as the lower courts have, and bring its travel and gift disclosure rules in line with the other branches of government,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) said in a joint statement over the weekend.

Whitehouse and Johnson chair subcommittees in their respective chambers overseeing the judiciary system.

“When the American people get their day in court, they must be able to trust that the decision handed down is justly rooted in law and fact — not the wishes of right-wing political groups and megadonors who purchased access to wine and dine the justices,” their statement said.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said over the weekend that his panel is reviewing the allegations in the Times story.

His committee could have additional power for such investigations if Democrats prevail in the Dec. 6 Senate runoff in Georgia, giving the party a 51-49 majority in the chamber. Under that scenario, Democrats could use the power of subpoena without cooperation from Republicans, which is required with an evenly divided Senate.

Earlier this year, Whitehouse and Johnson introduced legislation that would require the Supreme Court to adopt a binding code of conduct, among other steps.

8:51 AM: On our radar: McCarthy heading to Southern border this week

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As he seeks to bolster support for his bid to be House speaker, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) plans this week to head to the U.S.-Mexico border to highlight an issue that Republicans hope to elevate once they gain control of the chamber in January.

“Headed to the Southern border this week, where I’ll share our gratitude for brave border patrol personnel and send a message to Joe Biden that a Republican majority will use every tool at our disposal — from the power of the purse to power of the subpoena — to secure the border,” McCarthy said in a Sunday night tweet.

McCarthy won the nomination last week of the House GOP caucus for speaker on a 188-to-31 vote over Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.). When the full House votes in January, McCarthy will need 218 votes, a majority of the full chamber, to get the job.

To do so, McCarthy will have to win over a good chunk of disaffected Republicans, and highlighting border security could help with that. It is, of course, also a major focus for former president Donald Trump, who has announced his 2024 bid for the White House.

Several House Republicans, however, have said they have no plans to back McCarthy in January and are seeking an alternative.

8:10 AM: Analysis: How judges blocking new, post-Roe abortion bans are reasoning

Activists wrapped green bandannas, the symbol of the abortion rights movement, around a fence in front of the White House last month. © Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post Activists wrapped green bandannas, the symbol of the abortion rights movement, around a fence in front of the White House last month.

Earlier this year, abortion rights groups were grasping for a strategy on how to keep abortions legal as the Supreme Court appeared poised to overturn Roe v. Wade’s decades-old federal protections.

Writing in The Early 202, The Post’s Rachel Roubein relays that their response is multipronged. But a big part of it is challenging new state abortion restrictions in court. Per Rachel:

A flurry of lawsuits against bans on the procedure were filed after the nation’s highest court ended the constitutional right to an abortion in June, moving the battle over access to state courthouses. In at least eight states, judges have recently blocked the bans from taking effect at least temporarily, though it will be a while before final decisions come down the pike.
The demise of Roe means courts and judges are ruling on abortion in a new legal and political environment. The tussle is just beginning, and it’s unclear how successful the new effort will be in the long run — and what legal arguments will ultimately stick.

You can read the full analysis here.

7:47 AM: Analysis: Unions raise alarm in House Democratic campaign chief race

Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) alongside Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) left, speaks in Washington, D.C. on May 18, 2022. (Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/For The Washington Post) © Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/For The Washington Post Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) alongside Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) left, speaks in Washington, D.C. on May 18, 2022. (Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/For The Washington Post)

While the top three rungs of Democratic leadership are probably set, with Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Katherine M. Clark (D-Mass.) and Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) expected to run unopposed, a number of other leadership races are being hotly contested.

Writing in The Early 202, The Post’s Leigh Ann Caldwell and Theodoric Meyer relay that one of those is the race to lead the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, between Reps. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) and Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.). Per our colleagues:

Some national labor unions, including several building trades, industrial and public sector unions, are quietly raising alarm bells about Bera, saying he would be the wrong leader for the Democrats’ campaign arm at a time when the party is struggling to maintain support among union households.
Bera’s run for the DCCC was discussed at an AFL-CIO political directors meeting last week, signifying the level of concern union leaders have, according to two union officials familiar with the discussion who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

You can read the full analysis here.

7:15 AM: On our radar: Biden to pardon turkeys, meet with troops in N.C.

President Biden on Monday plans to take part in the time-honored tradition of issuing a presidential pardon to turkeys ahead of Thanksgiving.

According to the White House, Biden will pardon a designated National Thanksgiving Turkey and an alternate that were raised near Monroe, N.C., during a ceremony on the South Lawn.

Biden and first lady Jill Biden are later heading to North Carolina, where they plan to hold a “Friendsgiving” at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point with service members and their families.

The visit is part of Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative, which seeks to support military and veteran families.

6:38 AM: On our radar: Durbin says Judiciary Committee reviewing alleged Alito leak

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) talks to reporters between votes on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 21. © Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) talks to reporters between votes on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 21.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said over the weekend that his panel is reviewing “serious allegations” that Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. may have leaked the outcome of a pending 2014 case regarding contraceptives and religious rights.

Durbin issued a statement Saturday following publication of a New York Times story that included an allegation from a former antiabortion activist that Alito or his wife disclosed to conservative donors the outcome of the Hobby Lobby v. Burwell case.

The Post’s Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow reported Saturday that Alito strongly denied the allegations. Per Bob and Ann:

The Times reported that Rob Schenck, who on his website identifies himself as a “once-right-wing religious leader but now dissenting evangelical voice,” said he was told the outcome of the case several weeks before it was announced. Schenck said a conservative donor to his organization relayed the information after a dinner with Alito, who wrote the majority opinion in the case, and the justice’s wife.
But the donor, Gayle Wright, told the Times and affirmed in an interview Saturday that the account given by Schenck was not true, and Alito issued a statement denying it as well.
“The allegation that the Wrights were told the outcome of the decision in the Hobby Lobby case, or the authorship of the opinion of the Court, by me or my wife is completely false,” Alito said.

You can read the full story from Bob and Ann here.

6:26 AM: Take a look: On Sunday shows, lawmakers split on Biden immunity stance for Saudi crown prince


The Biden administration said in a court submission last week that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom the CIA has held responsible for the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi, is immune from a lawsuit filed in the United States by Khashoggi’s fiancee and a human rights organization.

The determination has divided U.S. lawmakers, evident Sunday as the issue was aired on morning talk shows. The Post’s JM Rieger has pulled together the highlights of the arguments. You can watch above.

6:24 AM: On our radar: Political leaders prepare for gridlock and inquiries in next Congress

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) walks into the House Chamber on Capitol Hill on Sept. 22. (Shuran Huang/The Washington Post) © Shuran Huang/For The Washington Post Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) walks into the House Chamber on Capitol Hill on Sept. 22. (Shuran Huang/The Washington Post)

Would-be leaders of both major parties are already gearing up for messy fights in the next session of Congress, with critical funding issues and investigations looming.

The Post’s Steven Mufson reports that Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who is so far running unopposed to be the senior House Democrat, said Sunday that he favors raising the debt ceiling before the GOP takes over the House on Jan. 3 to prevent giving current Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) the opportunity to use the debt ceiling as leverage on a range of other issues. Per Steven:

“Kevin McCarthy has said that he is willing to detonate the American economy, default on our nation’s debt in order to try to strip away Social Security and Medicare for tens of millions of Americans,” Jeffries said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “That’s incredibly reckless.”
Jeffries said he has not spoken to McCarthy since the election but added that he has “a much warmer relationship” with Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the No. 2 Republican in the House.
On Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” however, McCarthy, who is seeking the gavel as House speaker, seemed determined to avoid any cooperation with Democrats.
“We set a goal,” he said. “To stop the Biden agenda, to win the majority and to fire Nancy Pelosi. We have just achieved all three of those.”

You can read Steven’s full story here.

6:21 AM: Noted: Privacy prevailed at the White House wedding. Here’s what we found out anyway.

Naomi Biden married Peter Neal at the White House on Saturday. (Corbin Gurkin) © Corbin Gurkin/THE WHITE HOUSE Naomi Biden married Peter Neal at the White House on Saturday. (Corbin Gurkin)

How do you tell the story of a wedding you weren’t invited to attend — one hosted in what may be the most public-yet-exclusive place in America to say “I do?”

You get creative, report The Post’s Maura Judkis, Tyler Pager and Jada Yuan. Per our colleagues:

You stand outside the White House on a crispy cold Saturday morning with the rest of the excluded media, using binoculars to get a glimpse of Naomi Biden’s wedding dress. (Long sleeves, high neckline, lace! Which, when the close-up photos materialized, turned out to be Ralph Lauren.)
You comb through social media looking for details slipped by friends, wedding guests, the hired help. You wait for guests to leave the secure perimeter, and politely accost them for all the details. You follow the bride’s aesthetician on Instagram.
On Saturday, President Biden’s granddaughter Naomi Biden, 28, wed Peter Neal, 25 — the 19th White House wedding, and the first for a presidential family member held on the grounds since the Clinton era.

You can read the full story here.

6:18 AM: Noted: Elon Musk restores Trump’s Twitter account

Elon Musk and former president Donald Trump. © Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images Elon Musk and former president Donald Trump.

Elon Musk restored the Twitter account of former president Donald Trump over the weekend, a pivotal move that could help the platform’s once loudest, bluntest force regain online attention just as a new presidential election begins.

“The people have spoken,” Musk wrote in a Saturday tweet, nodding to the results of a Twitter poll that had just concluded on whether to reinstate the former president.

The Post’s Faiz Siddiqui, Drew Harwell and Isaac Arnsdorf report that Trump’s account was repopulated with old tweets and followers, though the former president had not tweeted anything new as of Monday morning. He said Saturday he remained focused on his Twitter clone, Truth Social, signaling he would not return to the site right away. Per our colleagues:

Twitter users who participated in Musk’s poll voted roughly 52 percent to 48 percent to restore Trump’s account, according to the unscientific and nonrepresentative Twitter poll. Musk has put multiple pivotal decisions up to a vote from his Twitter feed, including, last year, on whether to sell 10 percent of his Tesla stock.

You can read the full story here.

6:16 AM: Noted: Arizona attorney general demands answers on Election Day printer issues

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) during a June 2 visit to the Yuma Sun newspaper. © Randy Hoeft/Yuma Sun/AP Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) during a June 2 visit to the Yuma Sun newspaper.

Arizona’s Republican attorney general has demanded answers from Maricopa County about widespread issues with printers that plagued voting on Election Day, injecting new uncertainty into a fraught post-election dynamic just days before the county is required to certify the results.

The Post’s Isaac Stanley-Becker and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez report that the inquiry heightens tensions between Maricopa County and the outgoing Republican attorney general, Mark Brnovich, who placed county officials under investigation after the 2020 election. Per our colleagues:

Brnovich’s office wants answers from county officials before they submit their final election results later this month. His office did not respond to a request for comment.
A four-page document, issued Saturday on letterhead from Brnovich’s office, includes criticism of the county’s administration of the election but no findings that would call the outcome into question. Republican candidates lost the state’s most critical contests, including those for senator and governor.

You can read the full story here.


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