White House News
December 17, 2020
Electoral College Formalizes Biden Victory
Members of the Electoral College met in each of the 50 state capitals on Monday to cast their votes for Donald Trump or Joe Biden based on the popular vote winner of their respective states. The process went off without a hitch, despite some credible threats of violence that prompted officials to take measures to keep electors safe while carrying out their Constitutional duties.
After electors from every state cast their votes, the result was as expected: Joe Biden received 306 electoral votes, and President Trump got 232, guaranteeing that former Vice President Biden will become the 46th President of the United States. In an ordinary election year, the Electoral College vote is by and large ceremonial, a formality that nobody pays much attention to. But this year, after six weeks of an unprecedented effort by President Trump to overturn an election he lost by seven million votes, the Electoral College vote was an event that everyone watched with bated breath.
In an attempt to offset the vote, alternate electors appointed by President Trump in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan—the swing states in which the president filed legal challenges to the election—cast mock electoral votes for President Trump. The actions by the Trump-appointed electors have no legal significance and was no more than a stunt performed as an act of loyalty to the president, who continues to assert that the election was stolen from him.
Trump’s Legal Challenges Losing Steam
The Electoral College vote came as President Trump’s numerous legal challenges continue fizzling in court. The US Supreme Court last week rejected a lawsuit from the Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, who sued four swing states over their pandemic-related changes to election protocols, arguing that the changes were illegal and cast their election results into question. A stunning number of high-ranking Republicans—17 state attorneys general and 126 Republican Congressmen—joined the lawsuit, urging the Supreme Court to invalidate the election. Lakewood’s representative in the House, Republican Chris Smith, did not join the lawsuit, although he has yet to publicly acknowledge that Joe Biden won the election.
A unanimous Supreme Court ruled that Texas did not have legal standing to sue other states over how they choose to conduct their elections, making the issues brought up in the lawsuit moot points. The Electoral College vote also came just hours after a dismissal by the Wisconsin Supreme Court of a Trump legal team lawsuit that sought to invalidate 220,000 ballots on the basis that they were cast illegally. The court tossed the lawsuit in a 4-3 decision, saying that the campaign’s claims were either without merit or should have been addressed a long time ago. “The campaign’s delay in raising these issues was unreasonable in the extreme, and the resulting prejudice to the election officials, other candidates, voters of the affected counties, and to voters statewide, is obvious and immense,” Justice Brian Hagedorn wrote for the majority opinion. “Our laws allow the challenge flag to be thrown regarding various aspects of election administration,” Hagedorn added. “The challenges raised by the campaign in this case, however, come long after the last play or even the last game; the campaign is challenging the rulebook adopted before the season began.”
Following his victory in the Electoral College, Joe Biden addressed the nation, in which he slammed President Trump and his allies for casting doubts on the integrity of the election. “The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago,” Biden said. “And we now know that nothing—not even a pandemic or an abuse of power—can extinguish that flame.” The president-elect called the aforementioned lawsuit filed by the Texas attorney general an “unprecedented assault on democracy,” and said the efforts to undo the results of the election were a “position so extreme we’ve never seen it before.” Biden thanked the election workers who did their jobs despite some being faced with enormous political pressure, verbal abuse, and, in some cases, even threats of physical violence. “They know this election was overseen. It was overseen by them,” Biden said. “It was honest, it was free, it was fair. They saw it with their own eyes, and they wouldn’t be bullied into saying anything different.” The president-elect said Republicans should acknowledge that he won the election fair and square, and that “it is time to turn the page” on the election. “[I got] the same number of electoral votes that Donald Trump and Vice President Pence received when they won in 2016. At the time, President Trump called his electoral college tally a landslide. By his own standards, these numbers represented a clear victory then, and I respectfully suggest they do so now.”
Trump, Allies Not Done Fighting
Even with the election results all but set in stone, President Trump has vowed to keep on fighting until the very end. In an interview with Fox News, the president said that his legal challenges were not over, despite the dozens of crushing setbacks he has suffered. “No, it’s not over. We keep going,” Trump said. “And we’re going to continue to go forward.” How the president will attempt to go forward is difficult to know. President Trump never really had any plausible chance at getting Joe Biden’s win overturned to begin with. And with the electoral college giving Biden 306 votes—far more than the 270 needed to be elected president, coupled with the Supreme Court’s outright rejection of Texas’ lawsuit—the one President Trump called “the big one”—the odds of Trump achieving his goal of securing a second term in the White House are now effectively zero. Even the Wall Street Journal’s opinion editors, who have been overtly kind to the president during his time in office, are calling the election a wrap. “Trump’s challenge is over,” the editorial board wrote, opining that the president and the GOP would help the country by “acknowledging the result and moving on,” pointing to Trump’s loss in the US Supreme Court as the final nail in Trump’s presidential coffin. The “last legal gasp came Friday evening when the Supreme Court declined to hear the Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn the election results in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania,” the editors wrote, and said the high court “made the right call” in refusing to have the lawsuit heard before them.
Despite the grim reality the president faces, allies of President Trump in Congress are planning one last-ditch attempt to block Joe Biden from becoming president, although the effort is unquestionably bound to fail. On January 6th, Congress will convene to officially tally the Electoral College votes and certify Joe Biden as the winner of the election. Led by Rep. Mo Brooks, Republicans plan to attempt to challenge the electors of Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Georgia, and Wisconsin. If they do challenge them, the proceedings might be delayed for several hours, but it will not be enough to change the results of the election. Still, Rep. Brooks defended his plan, saying that Congress gets the final say in the election. “We have a superior role under the Constitution than the Supreme Court does, [more] than any federal court judge, [more] than any state court judge does,” Brooks told the New York Times. “What we say, goes. That’s the final verdict.”
It should be noted that if Rep. Brooks goes through with his plan, it would not be the first time Congressmen challenged an election. In 2001, 2005, and 2017, House Democrats put up challenges to Republican victories in the Electoral College. The difference is that those challenges were done as a protest over the incoming administration, not as a challenge to the integrity of the election. Additionally, in those cases, the losing Democrats had already conceded to their Republican rivals, and the challenges were not meant to change anything. In this instance, however, the objection is meant as a serious and legitimate effort to change the results of the election and has the full-throated support of the losing candidate.
Even with the Trump team still speaking about their claims of fraud and cheating, no serious legal or election analyst believes that anything will change between now and Inauguration Day. At this point, it seems, the election is over.
Hunter Biden under Investigation
Joe Biden’s troubled son, Hunter, is back in the news after confirming that his taxes are under federal investigation. President Trump and his campaign attempted to shine a spotlight on Hunter Biden’s business dealings during the presidential campaign but were unsuccessful mostly due to the mainstream media ignoring credible allegations that have now been shown to be legit.
In the most shocking instance of journalistic malpractice this election cycle, media companies completely shut down any discussion of a New York Post story regarding sketchy business dealings the younger Biden was involved with in several foreign countries, most specifically Ukraine. Big tech companies also censored the story across their platforms, with Twitter going so far as to block users from sharing the story with others, a decision that CEO Jack Dorsey eventually called a “mistake.”
Several outlets now report that a subpoena seeking documents from Hunter Biden is asking for information regarding more than two dozen entities he was involved with, including Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company, and several business dealing in China. The probe into Biden’s finances reportedly began in 2018, before Joe Biden announced his run for the presidency. While the president-elect is not believed to be a focus of the investigation, some reports have suggested that he was aware of what his son was doing, and others appear to suggest that he was intimately involved in them himself. Joe Biden has not weighed in on the matter, simply saying in a statement that he is “proud” of his son.
Attorney General Barr Resigns
US Attorney General William Barr resigned from leading the Justice Department, ending a tenure in which he implemented President Trump’s “law and order” message via his position atop the Justice Department, but ultimately dealt the president a crushing blow when he told the Associated Press that he had not found any evidence of widespread fraud in the presidential election. His departure was announced by President Trump on Twitter, who said that Barr would be leaving his position next week. Trump said that current Deputy Attorney general Jeff Rosen will become the Acting Attorney General, and Richard Donoghue will become Deputy Attorney General.
There had been reports that President Trump was considering firing Barr after he disputed Trump’s claim that the election was littered with fraud, but was eventually dissuaded from doing so by advisors who said it would reflect badly on his legacy.
Buttigieg Top Contender for Multiple Positions
Pete Buttigieg, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate who is informally referred to as Mayor Pete, is a top contender for several high-level positions in the incoming Biden administration. According to a CNN report, Buttigieg is the leading frontrunner to become Biden’s Secretary of Transportation, which would catapult the 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, into the upper echelons of government, in charge of an agency with over 50,000 employees.
Buttigieg is also reportedly being considered for several other positions, including Secretary of Commerce and Ambassador to China. His name was also previously floated for Ambassador to the United Nations and Secretary of Veteran Affairs, but Biden has since named others for those positions.
Trump Mum on Inauguration Plans
President Trump declined to say whether he would attend Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration on January 20, as is traditionally done to demonstrate the peaceful transfer of power in the United States. Asked whether he would attend the inauguration by Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade, Trump said, “I don’t want to talk about that. I want to talk about this. We’ve done a great job. I got more votes than any president in the history of our country. In the history of our country, right? Not even close—75 million, far more than Obama, far more than anybody. And they say we lost an election. We didn’t lose. If I got 10 million fewer votes, they say I couldn’t have lost.” Trump added that if Biden is sworn in as president, as is expected, he would consider him an “illegitimate” president.
There have been reports that President Trump is planning to upstage Biden’s inauguration by kicking off a 2024 presidential campaign at the same time that Biden is taking the presidential oath of office.
Biden Narrows Search for Attorney General
President-elect Joe Biden has reportedly narrowed his choices for US Attorney General down to three people: Senator Doug Jones of Alabama, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and appeals court judge and former Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. Jones, who lost his Senate reelection bid in the November election, is said to be the frontrunner for the position, but Biden and his inner circle are debating the decision, according to Biden insiders.
A factor that could play a big role in whom Biden chooses is the result of the runoff elections in Georgia, which will decide control of the Senate. If Republicans retain control, it is unlikely Biden will select Yates, who is widely despised by Republicans and will have a difficult time getting confirmed. Jones is well-respected among Republicans and would probably be easily confirmed, and Garland, a relatively moderate judge who had his nomination by Barack Obama to the Supreme Court blocked by Senate Republicans in 2016, would likely also have no trouble passing through a Republican-led Senate to lead the Justice Department.
Early Voting Begins in Georgia Runoffs
Early voting began on Monday in Georgia, where Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are locked in tight runoff races against Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock that will determine control of the US Senate. The runoffs, whose official election date is January 5th, have seen millions of dollars poured into the races, with each party doing all they can to get every one of their supporters to turn out and vote. According to election officials, over 1 million mail-in ballots have been requested in the runoff races. Although turnout is not expected to be quite as high as during the general election, some estimate that over 4 million votes could be cast, a staggering number for a runoff election, especially considering that it is taking place in the height of a pandemic.