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‘Small fire’ prompts brief shutdown of Capitol, evacuation of inauguration rehearsal participants

NBC NEWS
– Reprint (Adapted)

A law enforcement official said the evacuation was prompted by what turned out to be a fire at a homeless encampment.

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National Guard members take a staircase toward the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 18, 2021. Patrick Semansky / AP

By Rebecca Shabad

WASHINGTON — A “small fire” under a nearby bridge prompted the temporary shutdown of the U.S. Capitol complex and the evacuation of the west front of the building, where a rehearsal for Wednesday’s inaugural ceremony was underway Monday.

“Public safety and law enforcement responded to a small fire in the area of 1st and F streets SE, Washington, D.C. that has been extinguished,” the Secret Service tweeted. “Out of an abundance of caution the U.S. Capitol complex was temporarily shutdown. There is no threat to the public.”

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris were not at the Capitol when the incident occurred. Both are participating in Monday in-service events to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Biden and his wife are helping to distribute goods at Philabundance, Philadelphia’s largest hunger-relief organization, while Harris and her husband are volunteering in D.C.

Yogananda Pittman, acting chief of Capitol Police, acted out of “an abundance of caution following an external security threat under the bridge on I-295 at First and F Streets,” and ordered a shutdown of the Capitol complex, according to a statement from Capitol Police.

West front of Capitol evacuated after ‘external security threat’

Jan. 18, 2021, 02:46

“Members and staff were advised to shelter in place while the incident is being investigated.”

Capitol Police later gave the all-clear, lifting the shelter-in-place advisory.

A law enforcement official told NBC News that the evacuation was prompted by what turned out to be a fire at a homeless encampment.

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Washington, D.C.’s fire department tweeted about an incident that appeared to match that description.

https://twitter.com/dcfireems/status/1351189982912901124?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1351189982912901124%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nbcnews.com%2Fpolitics%2Fcongress%2Fsmall-fire-prompts-temporary-shutdown-capitol-evacuation-inaguration-rehearsal-participants-n1254585

Details of the incident came after an announcement was made across the Capitol that said that there was an external security threat and that people should stay where they are, and to stay away from doors and windows.

A notice sent to House and Senate offices said, “All buildings within the Capitol Complex: Due to an external security threat located under the bridge on I-295 at First and F Streets SE, no entry or exit is permitted at this time. You may move throughout the buildings but stay away from exterior windows and doors. If you are outside, seek cover.”

Washington is on a high state of alert as Biden’s swearing-in approaches after the Jan. 6 events that led to the violent storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

Image: Rebecca Shabad

Rebecca Shabad

Rebecca Shabad is a congressional reporter for NBC News, based in Washington.

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Insurrection marks moment of reckoning for Republicans

Reprint (Adapted)

By STEVE PEOPLES

1 of 4Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., left, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, right, speak after Republicans objected to certifying the Electoral College votes from Arizona, during a joint session of the House and Senate to confirm the electoral votes cast in November’s election, at the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was both stunning and predictable, the result of a Republican Party that has repeatedly enabled President Donald Trump’s destructive behavior.

When Trump was a presidential candidate in 2016, Republican officials ignored his call to supporters to “knock the crap out” of protesters. Less than a year after he took office, GOP leaders argued he was taken out of context when he said there were “very fine people” on both sides of a deadly white supremacist rally.

And last summer, most party leaders looked the other way when Trump had hundreds of peaceful protesters forcibly removed from a demonstration near the White House so he could pose with a Bible in front of a church.

But the violent siege on Capitol Hill offers a new, and perhaps final, moment of reckoning for the GOP. The party’s usual excuses for Trump — he’s not a typical politician and is uninterested in hewing to Washington’s niceties — fell short against images of mobs occupying some of American democracy’s most sacred spaces.

The party, which has been defined over the past four years by its loyalty to Trump, began recalibrating in the aftermath of Wednesday’s chaos.

One of his closest allies in Congress, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said “enough is enough.”

Another South Carolina Republican, Rep. Nancy Mace, said Trump’s accomplishments in office “were wiped out today.”

At least one senior White House staffer resigned, and more resignations were possible as the weight of the day’s events settled in.

But for the party to move forward, it will need to grapple with the reality that Trump in fact lost to President-elect Joe Biden by more than 7 million votes and a 306-232 margin in the Electoral College, a result Congress certified early Thursday when it finished accepting all the electoral votes.

Trump himself acknowledged his term was coming to a close but not that he had actually lost. “Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” he said in a statement minutes after Congress certified the vote. “I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!”

Former Republican President George W. Bush described the violent mob as “a sickening and heartbreaking sight.” He declined to call out Trump or his allies, but the implication was clear when Bush said the siege “was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes.”

Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a top House Republican and the daughter of Bush’s vice president, was much more direct in an interview on Fox News.

“There’s no question the president formed the mob. The president incited the mob,” Cheney said. “He lit the flame.”

While their criticism was searing, Bush and Cheney were already among a smaller group of Republican officials willing to condemn Trump’s most outrageous behavior at times. The overwhelming majority of the GOP has been far more reserved, eager to keep Trump’s fiery base on their side.ADVERTISEMENT

Still, Trump’s grip on his party appeared somewhat weakened when members of Congress returned to the Capitol Wednesday night, having spent several hours hiding in secure locations after being evacuated. Before they left, a handful of Republican senators and more than 100 Republican House members were set to oppose the vote to certify Joe Biden’s presidential victory.

It was a move led by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, each with his own 2024 presidential ambitions, over the objection of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who warned that that U.S. democracy “would enter a death spiral” if Congress rejected state election results.

When they resumed debate, however, much of the energy behind the extraordinary push had fizzled. Several Republicans dropped their objections altogether. Hawley and Cruz did not, but they offered scaled-back arguments.

Hawley condemned the day’s violence but also called for an investigation into “irregularities and fraud.” Earlier in the day, his hometown newspaper, The Kansas City Star, released an editorial charging that Hawley “has blood on his hands” for enabling Trump’s false claims.

Other Republicans were clearly more concerned about the day’s violence and the events that preceded them.

“Dear MAGA- I am one of you,” former White House aide Alyssa Farah tweeted. “But I need you to hear me: the Election was NOT stolen. We lost.”

Jefferson Thomas, who led Trump’s campaign in Colorado, expressed some regret about joining Trump’s team in the first place, calling Wednesday’s events “an embarrassment to our country.”

“This isn’t what I ever imagined when I signed up to #MAGA. Had I known then that this is how it would end, I never would’ve joined,” he wrote on Twitter.

And while there were obvious cracks in Trump’s grip on the Republican Party, his fiercest detractors came from a familiar pool of frequent critics.

Trump’s former secretary of defense, James Mattis, who denounced the president as a threat to the Constitution last year, described the violent assault on the Capitol as “an effort to subjugate American democracy by mob rule, was fomented by Mr. Trump.”

“His use of the presidency to destroy trust in our election and to poison our fellow citizens has been enabled by pseudo-political leaders whose names will live in infamy as profiles in cowardice,” Mattis charged.

Anthony Scaramucci, a former Trump, often has harsh words for Trump but offered his harshest on Wednesday for Trump’s Republican enablers.

“Republican elected officials still supporting Trump need to be tried alongside of him for treason,” he tweeted.

___

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Associated Press writer Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina contributed to this report.

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Biden win confirmed after pro-Trump mob storms US Capitol

Reprint – (Adapted)

By LISA MASCARO, ERIC TUCKER, MARY CLARE JALONICK, and ANDREW TAYLOR

Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., read the final certification of Electoral College votes cast in November’s presidential election during a joint session of Congress after working through the night, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. Violent protesters loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol Wednesday, disrupting the process. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress confirmed Democrat Joe Biden as the presidential election winner early Thursday after a violent mob loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in a stunning attempt to overturn America’s presidential election, undercut the nation’s democracy and keep Trump in the White House.

Lawmakers were resolved to complete the Electoral College tally in a display to the country, and the world, of the nation’s enduring commitment to uphold the will of the voters and the peaceful transfer of power. They pushed through the night with tensions high and the nation’s capital on alert.

Before dawn Thursday, lawmakers finished their work, confirming Biden won the election.

Vice President Mike Pence, presiding over the joint session, announced the tally, 306-232.MORE ON THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE

Trump, who had repeatedly refused to concede the election, said in a statement immediately after the vote that there will be a smooth transition of power on Inauguration Day.

“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” Trump said in a statement posted to Twitter by an aide.

The Capitol was under siege Wednesday, as the nation’s elected representatives scrambled to crouch under desks and don gas masks while police futilely tried to barricade the building, one of the most jarring scenes ever to unfold in a seat of American political power. A woman was shot and killed inside the Capitol, and Washington’s mayor instituted an evening curfew in an attempt to contain the violence.

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The rioters were egged on by Trump, who has spent weeks falsely attacking the integrity of the election and had urged his supporters to descend on Washington to protest Congress’ formal approval of Biden’s victory. Some Republican lawmakers were in the midst of raising objections to the results on his behalf when the proceedings were abruptly halted by the mob.

Together, the protests and the GOP election objections amounted to an almost unthinkable challenge to American democracy and exposed the depths of the divisions that have coursed through the country during Trump’s four years in office. Though the efforts to block Biden from being sworn in on Jan. 20 were sure to fail, the support Trump has received for his efforts to overturn the election results have badly strained the nation’s democratic guardrails.

Congress reconvened in the evening, with lawmakers decrying the protests that defaced the Capitol and vowing to finish confirming the Electoral College vote for Biden’s election, even if it took all night.

Pence reopened the Senate and directly addressed the demonstrators: “You did not win.”

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the “failed insurrection” underscored lawmakers’ duty to finish the count. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress would show the world “what America is made of” with the outcome.

The president gave his supporters a boost into action Wednesday morning at a rally outside the White House, where he urged them to march to the Capitol. He spent much of the afternoon in his private dining room off the Oval Office watching scenes of the violence on television. At the urging of his staff, he reluctantly issued a pair of tweets and a taped video telling his supporters it was time to “go home in peace” — yet he still said he backed their cause.

Hours later, Twitter for the first time time-locked Trump’s account, demanded that he remove tweets excusing violence, and threatened “permanent suspension.”

A somber President-elect Biden, two weeks away from being inaugurated, said American democracy was “under unprecedented assault, ” a sentiment echoed by many in Congress, including some Republicans. Former President George W. Bush said he watched the events in “disbelief and dismay.”

The domed Capitol building has for centuries been the scene of protests and occasional violence. But Wednesday’s events were particularly astounding both because they unfolded at least initially with the implicit blessing of the president and because of the underlying goal of overturning the results of a free and fair presidential election.

Tensions were already running high when lawmakers gathered early Wednesday afternoon for the constitutionally mandated counting of the Electoral College results, in which Biden defeated Trump, 306-232. Despite pleas from McConnell, more than 150 GOP lawmakers planned to support objections to some of the results, though lacking evidence of fraud or wrongdoing in the election.

Trump spent the lead-up to the proceedings publicly hectoring Pence, who had a largely ceremonial role, to aid the effort to throw out the results. He tweeted, “Do it, Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!”

But Pence, in a statement shortly before presiding, defied Trump, saying he could not claim “unilateral authority” to reject the electoral votes that make Biden president.

In the aftermath of the siege, several Republicans announced they would drop their objections to the election, including Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., who lost her bid for reelection Tuesday.

Earlier, protesters had fought past police and breached the building, shouting and waving Trump and American flags as they marched through the halls, many without masks during the COVID-19 crisis. Lawmakers were told to duck under their seats for cover and put on gas masks after tear gas was used in the Capitol Rotunda. Some House lawmakers tweeted they were sheltering in place in their offices.

Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., told reporters he was in the House chamber when rioters began storming it. Security officers “made us all get down, you could see that they were fending off some sort of assault.”

He said they had a piece of furniture up against the door. “And they had guns pulled,” Peters said. Glass panes to a House door were shattered.

The woman who was killed was part of a crowd that was breaking down the doors to a barricaded room where armed officers stood on the other side, police said. She was shot in the chest by Capitol Police and taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead. City police said three other people died from medical emergencies during the long protest on and around the Capitol grounds.

Staff members grabbed boxes of Electoral College votes as the evacuation took place. Otherwise, said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., the ballots likely would have been destroyed by the protesters.

The mob’s storming of Congress prompted outrage, mostly from Democrats but from Republicans as well, as lawmakers accused Trump of fomenting the violence with his relentless falsehoods about election fraud.

“Count me out,” said Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “Enough is enough.”

Several suggested that Trump be prosecuted for a crime or even removed under the Constitution’s 25th Amendment, which seemed unlikely two weeks from when his term expires.

“I think Donald Trump probably should be brought up on treason for something like this,” Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., told reporters. “This is how a coup is started. And this is how democracy dies.”

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., who has at times clashed with Trump, issued a statement saying: “Lies have consequences. This violence was the inevitable and ugly outcome of the President’s addiction to constantly stoking division.”

Despite Trump’s repeated claims of voter fraud, election officials and his own former attorney general have said there were no problems on a scale that would change the outcome. All the states have certified their results as fair and accurate, by Republican and Democratic officials alike.

Punctuating their resolve, both the House and Senate soundly rejected an objection to election results from Arizona, which had been raised by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and another from Pennsylvania brought by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa. Still, most House Republicans supported the objections. Other objections to results from Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin fizzled.

The Pentagon said about 1,100 District of Columbia National Guard members were being mobilized to help support law enforcement at the Capitol. Dozens of people were arrested.

___

Associated Press writers Jill Colvin, Zeke Miller, Kevin Freking, Alan Fram, Matthew Daly, Ben Fox, and Ashraf Khalil in Washington and Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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Live Updates: Trump’s Allies Will Make Last Stand in Congress

Reprint – (Adapted)

Jan. 6, 2021, 1:31 p.m.

The Presidential Transition

Vice President Mike Pence told President Trump that he did not believe he had the power to block certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Congress today.

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Watch live: The House and Senate have broken into separate sessions to debate the first objection to Biden’s victory.Video Congress holds a joint session to record the votes of the Electoral College and confirm the victory of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Get email alerts with live updates about the U.S. presidential transition.

Republicans objected to Arizona’s electors, forcing the first challenge to Biden’s victory.

Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, led the objection to the Electoral College’s results in Arizona.
Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, led the objection to the Electoral College’s results in Arizona. Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

A group of congressional Republicans led by Senator Ted Cruz of Texas objected early Wednesday afternoon to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s Electoral College win in Arizona, lodging the first of several extraordinary challenges to its outcome and forcing a two-hour debate in the House and Senate over President Trump’s reckless election fraud claims.

“I rise for myself and 60 of my colleges to object to the count of the electoral ballots from Arizona,” said Representative Paul Gosar, Republican of Arizona. His objection was met with widespread applause by Republicans gathered on the floor of the House of Representatives for the joint session.

Bipartisan majorities in each chamber were prepared to turn back that challenge and others and formalize Mr. Biden’s victory. But the marathon session promised to be a volatile final act of the Trump presidency, with Mr. Trump — unwilling to cede the limelight or his fantasy of victory — transforming a moment of Democratic triumph into a day of defiance by summoning supporters to his backyard for an airing of grievances.

By using the proceeding as a forum for trying to subvert a democratic election, Mr. Trump and his allies are going where no party has since the Reconstruction era of the 19th century when Congress bargained over the presidency. The effort had already badly divided the Republican Party, forcing lawmakers to go on the record either siding with the president or upholding the results of a democratic election.

The objection to Arizona was the first of at least three expected during Wednesday’s session. Republicans were also eyeing Georgia and Pennsylvania, battleground states Mr. Biden won, for likely objections.

Lawmakers anticipated possible objections for up to three additional states — Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin — although it was not clear whether they would draw the requisite backing from a member of both the House and the Senate to be considered.

Mr. Cruz, a possible 2024 presidential contender, and his allies in the Senate have said he is merely trying to draw attention to the need for an electoral commission to audit the results. But by objecting, he joined ranks with a group of dozens of House Republicans backing Mr. Trump’s attempt to toss out the will of the voters to deliver him a second term in office.

Even before it began, the session was already driving sharp wedges into the Republican Party that threatened to do lasting damage to its cohesion, as lawmakers decided to cast their lot with Mr. Trump or the Constitution. Top party leaders in the House and Senate appeared to be headed for a high-profile split. And while only a dozen or so senators were expected to vote to reject the outcome in key states, as many as 70 percent of House Republicans could join the effort, stoking the dangerous belief of tens of millions of voters that Mr. Biden was elected illegitimately.

Despite a remarkable pressure campaign by Mr. Trump to unilaterally throw out states that supported Mr. Biden, Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding as the president of the Senate, said just before the session began that he did not believe doing so was constitutional and would exercise his duties as his predecessors had. The outcome, after for years of loyal support for the president, risked his political standing in a party Mr. Trump still dominates.

“It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not,” he wrote in a letter.

Congress’s counting process began at 1 p.m. and the session had already accepted results from Alabama and Alaska before the objection to Arizona was lodged. A member of the House and Senate must agree for any objection to having force.

Nicholas Fandos

Watch live: The House and Senate have broken into separate sessions to debate the first objection to Biden’s victory.

Video After a joint session of Congress is suspended, the House will return to its chamber to vote on an objection to certifying President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. Electoral College victor. Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

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Pence rejects Trump’s pressure to block certification saying he ‘loves the Constitution.’

Vice President Mike Pence does not have the unilateral power to alter the results sent by the states to Congress.
Vice President Mike Pence does not have the unilateral power to alter the results sent by the states to Congress. Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday afternoon rejected President Trump’s pressure to block congressional certification of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the presidential election, claiming that he lacked the “unilateral authority” to decide the outcome of the presidential election.

“As a student of history who loves the Constitution and reverse its Framers,” Mr. Pence wrote in a two-page letter, “I do not believe that the Founders of our country intended to invest the vice president with unilateral authority to decide which electoral votes should be counted during the Joint Session of Congress, and no vice president in American history has ever asserted such authority.”

The letter was released by the White House as Mr. Trump was speaking to a group of supporters at the Ellipse, where over and over he implored Mr. Pence to have “the courage to do what he has to do.”

Mr. Pence does not have the unilateral power to alter the results sent by the states to Congress.

But Mr. Trump, listening to the advice of allies like Rudolph W. Giuliani, his personal lawyer, has been convinced that the vice president could do his bidding. “If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election,” Mr. Trump said Wednesday, claiming inaccurately that the vice president has the “the absolute right to” throw out the election results.

Mr. Pence’s defiance — the first in his four years as a differential no. 2 — created a remarkable and uncomfortable split-screen, as the president continued the public pressure campaign even as Mr. Pence arrived at the Capitol to preside over a joint session of Congress where the Electoral College vote will be certified.

On Tuesday night, after The New York Times reported that the vice president in a private meeting had informed Mr. Trump he did not have the authority to change the results of the election, Mr. Trump released a statement disputing the story. “He never said that,” the statement said. “The Vice President and I are in total agreement that the vice president has the power to act.”

The vice president’s advisers have been eager to find some middle ground where Mr. Pence could appease Mr. Trump.

On Wednesday, Kelli Ward, who chairs the Arizona Republican Party, also joined a group of far-right Republicans that petitioned the Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito to grant Mr. Pence the authority to reject some state electors, after lower courts rejected the request. One of the attorneys who write the petition is Sidney Powell, a longtime member of Mr. Trump’s legal team.

Annie Karni

Trump, speaking to protesters, declares ‘we will never concede.’

“We will never concede,” President Trump said at a rally in front of the White House on Wednesday.
“We will never concede,” President Trump said at a rally in front of the White House on Wednesday. Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

President Trump pressured Vice President Mike Pence to illegally throw the 2020 election his way, excoriated Republicans, the news media, Democrats, and the U.S. electoral process in a speech before a crowd of supporters on the National Mall on Wednesday.

“We will never concede,” said Mr. Trump at a rally aimed at protesting the results of the election, in which President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. got more than seven million votes more than Mr. Trump did and received 306 electoral votes.

The rally began on an off-note when Mr. Trump started talking but his microphone wasn’t working. People in the crowd shouted that they couldn’t hear him until the microphone suddenly came to life as Mr. Trump was midway through his first of many complaints about the news media.

From there, he went on to describe nearly everything and anyone he sees as critical of him as “corrupt” in one way or another.

Mr. Trump began speaking almost exactly an hour before the start of a joint session of Congress, during which the Electoral College votes are to be certified. Mr. Pence’s Constitutionally-mandated obligation is to oversee the proceedings in a ministerial role.

“I hope Mike is going to do the right thing,” Mr. Trump said. “I hope so, I hope so, because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.” He added, “one of the top constitutional lawyers in our country,” told him Mr. Pence has “the absolute right to” throw out the election results

But he does not have the power to toss the results or alter them, despite Mr. Trump’s repeated insistence that he does. The president maintained he would be following the Constitution if he sent the results back to the states to be recertified.

In fact, there is no precedent for what Mr. Trump is demanding and Mr. Pence has made clear to the president he does not have the ability to do so, according to people briefed on their conversations.

“Mike Pence has to agree to send it back,” Mr. Trump told the crowd, prompting chants. Later, he conceded he would be “very disappointed” in Mr. Pence if he does not do so.

He insisted the country’s elections are worse than third-world nations, a statement that would be welcomed by authoritarians in countries around the globe.

He addressed the widely-criticized call with Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, which took place on Saturday and a recording of which was made public, in which the president urged Mr. Raffensperger to “find” additional votes to allow Mr. Trump to win the state. “People loved that conversation,” he said.

The Republican governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp? Mr. Trump said he should be voted “out of office, please.”

At one point during the rally, Mr. Trump conceded that the two Republican candidates in the Georgia runoffs on Tuesday, Senator Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, whose Senate term ended Sunday, had lost their races, saying they “didn’t have a shot” as he continued with baseless allegations of electoral fraud and theft.

At other points, he complained that he has no control over the three U.S. Supreme Court justices he appointed. And he complained about the former attorney general, William P. Barr, saying he had liked him, “but he changed, because he didn’t want to be considered my personal attorney.”

He also attacked Representative Liz Cheney, Republican from Wyoming and the party’s third-ranking House leader, who has criticized his efforts to undermine the election, saying she wants to keep U.S. soldiers in foreign countries. “The Liz Cheneys of the world” need to be voted out, he said.

Time and again he returned to the theme that the news media is “the biggest problem we have in this country.” He complained about polls conducted for the Washington Post several months ago, speaking with specifics about the poll he was referring to.

Talking about his inability to get his unvarnished statements into news circulation, Mr. Trump falsely declared, “That’s what happens in a communist country.”

Maggie Haberman

Trump supporters gather in Washington to protest against the certification of Biden’s victory.

Supporters of President Trump demonstrating near the Capitol on Wednesday.
Supporters of President Trump demonstrating near the Capitol on Wednesday. Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Under a dreary winter sky, defiant but downbeat Trump supporters began gathering in downtown Washington on Wednesday morning to celebrate a defeated Republican president who suffered a final humiliation in the Georgia Senate runoffs with one declared Democratic victory and the second race with the Democratic candidate maintaining his lead.

Crowds of supporters holding Trump flags marched down the streets of Washington to the elliptical park just behind the White House, where President Trump was set to speak in the late morning from a large grandstand that had been erected. As Congress prepared to conduct the final count of Electoral College votes, the scene outside the walls of Capitol Hill this week reflected the desperation within a White House resisting the transition of power.

“Some of the people here, maybe they’re willing to say Trump lost if things don’t go the way we want them to today,” said Kevin Malone, 43, who drove from Rome, Ga., through the night with two friends, arriving in D.C. looking like they had not slept. “That’s not us. We can’t lose this country. If the Democrats win, there’s not going to be another fair, legal election in this country. We won’t have a democracy.”

He said he and his friends from Northwest Georgia, now represented by Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon-supporter, were on the fence about coming but decided to leave shortly before 11 p.m. Tuesday when it “started looking like the Democrats were going to steal another election.”

Some of the more than 300 National Guard troops called up for the week stood in camouflage by white vans on Wednesday morning. Rows of local police were stationed on Black Lives Matter Plaza, in front of Lafayette Square after scuffles broke out Tuesday night between pro-Trump demonstrators and local police who deployed pepper spray to quell the unrest.

Tensions briefly rose at the plaza Wednesday around 10:45 a.m. Eastern as a counter-protester standing near police barricades waved for Trump supporters to move along while shouting, “Goodbye, thanks for visiting!” One man in a group of about a half dozen Trump supporters shouted back “Oh, don’t worry. We’ll be back.”

By Tuesday night, the Metropolitan Police Department recorded arrests of five people on charges of assault and weapons possession, including one person who was charged with assaulting a police officer.

Mr. Trump’s false claims of election fraud and promotion of the rallies on Wednesday have encouraged some of his more staunch allies and supporters to travel the country for Wednesday’s rally. The White House had hoped for 30,000 people but aides feared the turnout may be far smaller.

The Trump faithful tried to stay upbeat.

“We are considering this a day that will change history,” said Kevin Haag, 67, who drove about nine hours from his home in Lake Santeetlah, N.C. on Tuesday to participate in the rally. “We are excited.”

He said the road from North Carolina to Washington was dotted with cars and trucks flying Trump flags and American flags, a sign, he said, that the rally would be well-attended. The lobby of his hotel was filled with rally-goers, including Proud Boys, with “their Kevlar and boots have a whole belt full of tasers and you name it,” he said.

But he was not necessarily optimistic that Mr. Trump or his Republican allies would prevail in their efforts to overturn the election. Instead, Mr. Haag said he was hopeful that he and his friends would get some kind of closure on Wednesday. He had planned to come with a number of people, but some had to work, and others said they were worried about what might happen in Washington. His wife stayed home with a migraine. In the end, there were only three of them that made the trip.

“I think the truth will be made known,” he said. “Even if the truth is, the election went the other way,” he said, meaning if Mr. Trump had lost, “we have to hear that. If it’s over, it’s over.”

Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Sabrina Tavernise and Matthew Rosenberg

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Democrats are ebullient as they appear headed for a Senate takeover.

“For the first time in six years, Democrats will operate a majority in the United States Senate — and that will be very good for the American people.” said Senator Chuck Schumer, who would become majority leader if Jon Ossoff wins.
“For the first time in six years, Democrats will operate a majority in the United States Senate — and that will be very good for the American people.” said Senator Chuck Schumer, who would become majority leader if Jon Ossoff wins. Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Democrats exulted on Wednesday morning as they appeared poised to wrest control of the Senate, a feat that would hand them unified control of Congress — albeit by razor-thin margins — as well as the White House.

With the Rev. Raphael Warnock victorious and fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff leading in a pair of runoff elections in Georgia, the top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer of New York, proclaimed on Twitter: “Buckle up!”

“We sure did not take the most direct path to get here, but here we are,” Mr. Schumer said at a celebratory news conference in the Capitol. “For the first time in six years, Democrats will operate a majority in the United States Senate — and that will be very good for the American people.”

Should Mr. Ossoff’s lead over David Perdue hold, twin victories in Georgia would give Democrats 50 seats in the Senate and leave Republicans with the same number, handing Democrats a working majority because Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be empowered to break ties?

Mr. Schumer told reporters that he had already spoken to Mr. Biden and Congress’s first order of business would be to approve $2,000 direct payments to sent to Americans struggling in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. But he declined to clarify whether Democrats would approve just the checks or seek a large package including other priorities like state and local aid or increased unemployment insurance.

On a conference call with Democrats, Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, played the Ray Charles hit “Georgia on My Mind” for ebullient colleagues as they contemplated what their newfound power on the other side of the Capitol would mean as Joseph R. Biden Jr. assumes the presidency.

“We will pursue a science and values-based plan to crush the virus and deliver relief to struggling families, safeguard the right to quality affordable health care and launch a plan to build back better powered by fair economic growth,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

The Georgia victories would be a strong rebuke of President Trump, under whose leadership Republicans lost control of the House, the White House, and now the Senate.

“It turns out that telling the voters that the election is rigged is not a great way to turn out your voters,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah and his party’s former nominee for president, told reporters in the Capitol. “President Trump has disrespected the American voters, has dishonored the election system, and has disgraced the office of the presidency.”

Some of the Democrats’ most ambitious priorities could be blocked, however, by the legislative filibuster, which sets a 60-vote threshold for any major initiative. Mr. Schumer batted away questions about a push from the party’s left flank to change the rules to essentially kill the filibuster by lowering the threshold to a simple majority.

“We are united in wanting big, bold change, and we are going to sit down as a caucus and discuss the best ways to get that done,” he said.

Luke Broadwater and Nicholas Fandos

Biden plans to nominate Merrick Garland for attorney general.

Judge Merrick Garland was nominated by Barack Obama in 2016 to fill the position left on the Supreme Court by the death of Antonin Scalia.
Judge Merrick Garland was nominated by Barack Obama in 2016 to fill the position left on the Supreme Court by the death of Antonin Scalia. Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. plans to nominate Judge Merrick Garland, whose Supreme Court nomination Republicans blocked in 2016, to be attorney general, placing the task of repairing a beleaguered Justice Department in the hands of a centrist judge, according to a person familiar with the matter.

If confirmed, Judge Garland, who has sometimes disappointed liberals with his rulings, would inherit a department that grew more politicized under President Trump than at any point since Watergate. Judge Garland will face vexing decisions about civil rights issues that roiled the country this year, whether to investigate Mr. Trump and his administration and how to proceed with a tax investigation into Mr. Biden’s son.

The nomination ended weeks of deliberation by Mr. Biden, who had struggled to make a decision as he considered who to fill for a position that he became convinced would play an outsized role in his presidency. Mr. Biden’s nominations are expected to broadly win confirmation as Democrats appear poised to take control of the Senate.

Mr. Biden, who served as the longtime top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee and chaired it from 1987 to 1995, was said by aides to have long weighed what makes a successful attorney general and put pressure on himself to make the right pick. Outside groups also pressed him during the transition to appoint someone who is a minority and would take a far more confrontational position with law enforcement.

Mr. Biden also intends to nominate Lisa Monaco, a former homeland security adviser to President Barack Obama, as deputy attorney general; Vanita Gupta, the head of the department’s civil rights division under Mr. Obama, as the No. 3; and Kristen Clarke, a civil rights lawyer, as assistant attorney general for civil rights, which is expected to be a major focus of the department under Mr. Biden.

Judge Garland was initially considered a long shot for attorney general, in part because he is seen as politically moderate. In close cases involving criminal law, he has been significantly more likely to side with the police and prosecutors over people accused of crimes than other Democratic appointees. He also leaned toward deferring to the government in Guantánamo detainee cases that pit state security powers against individual rights.

Moreover, judges are only occasionally elevated directly to the position. The last was Judge Michael Mukasey of Federal District Court, whom George W. Bush appointed to run the Justice Department in 2007.

Mr. Biden was also said to have considered Sally Yates, the former deputy attorney general in the final years of the Obama administration; Doug Jones, the former Alabama senator; and Deval Patrick, the former governor of Massachusetts who briefly ran for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

Michael S. Schmidt, Adam Liptak, and Michael D. Shear

A Democratic takeover of the Senate would redefine Biden’s presidency in dramatic ways.

During the primaries and general election, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. made much of his willingness to cross the aisle to revive the lost art of bipartisan deal-making.
During the primaries and general election, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. made much of his willingness to cross the aisle to revive the lost art of bipartisan deal-making. Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Tuesday promoted the Senate runoffs in Georgia as an opportunity “to break the gridlock that has gripped Washington,” and his team was cautiously optimistic about the outcome.

In recent days many on his team had downplayed the idea that they would command a legislative majority in the Senate — out of superstition, several jittery Democratic aides suggested in the days leading up to the election.

But the growing possibility of one-party control has now been hurled on their doorstep.

In the most basic sense, the addition of two Democrats — the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who has won his race, and Jon Ossoff, who is maintaining a lead in his — to the Senate would redefine Mr. Biden’s approach to lawmaking, giving him more power but possibly challenging his preferred approach of broad bipartisan deal-making.

“Biden will say all the public things about how he needs to get Republican support, but the truth is that this fundamentally changes the dynamic,” said David Krone, former chief of staff to former Senator Harry Reid, the last Democratic majority leader. “Democrats now control the floor. So he can bring up all kinds of bills that would have been blocked by the Republicans, and force votes on big bills — like a major infrastructure package — that never would have seen the light of day.”

During the primaries and general election, Mr. Biden and his aides pointed out that he had developed a sturdy, if not overly warm, working partnership with the Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell. But a Senate takeover might require a shift in Mr. Biden’s compromising approach in favor of the hard-edge tactics demanded by his party’s ascendant left wing.

Embedded in the Democrats’ jubilation Wednesday was a gnawing sense of urgency.

Many in the party fear a Republican takeover of the House in 2022, and a similar possibility looms in the deadlocked upper chamber. But many in Mr. Biden’s circle believe he has two years to jam through Democratic priorities, starting with his pledge to pass a $2,000 payout to ease the economic hardship of the pandemic.

Controlling the majority offers many new opportunities. The central role of Black voters in Georgia and elsewhere virtually ensures that Mr. Biden will push civil and voting rights reform, one Democratic leadership aide said on condition of anonymity. But it also means he will have to referee fierce disagreements among Democratic factions that have already begun feuding in the House over the Green New Deal and expansion of health care.

Then there’s Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

While all eyes were on the twilight machinations of Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday, his replacement will have significantly more power.

She will play a decisive role in the 50-50 Senate on party-line votes, exercising real legislative power and positioning her as Mr. Biden’s visible partner and natural successor, especially if he chooses not to run for re-election in 2024.

Glenn Thrush

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And then there was one: Georgia Senate race between Ossoff and Perdue remains too close to call.

Jon Ossoff on Wednesday declared himself the winner of his Senate runoff election in Georgia. The Associated Press has not yet called the race.
Jon Ossoff on Wednesday declared himself the winner of his Senate runoff election in Georgia. The Associated Press has not yet called the race. Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

While Democrats celebrated the election of the Rev. Raphael Warnock to the Senate, Georgia’s second Senate runoff race — which will determine which party will control the Senate — remained too close to call on Wednesday. The Democratic candidate, Jon Ossoff, was leading his Republican challenger, David Perdue, by thousands of votes with thousands more that still need to be counted, many of them from Democratic-leaning areas.

After trading leads earlier in the evening, Mr. Ossoff pulled ahead of Mr. Perdue overnight, but by just 0.4 percent — within the range that could trigger a recount. By 4 a.m. Wednesday, an estimated 98 percent of votes had been counted. Georgia elections officials said they expected to complete the count by noon on Wednesday.

Even so, Mr. Ossoff, a 33-year-old documentary film executive, declared himself the winner Wednesday morning in a video posted on Twitter. The Associated Press has not yet called the race. The news organisation called Mr. Warnock’s victory over the Republican incumbent, Kelly Loeffler, early Wednesday.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday congratulated Mr. Warnock and said he was hopeful that Mr. Ossoff would prevail when the vote count is complete.

“Georgia’s voters delivered a resounding message yesterday: They want action on the crises we face and they want it right now,” Mr. Biden said in a statement released Wednesday morning. “I congratulate the people of Georgia, who turned out in record numbers once again, just as they did in November.”

By Wednesday morning, the largest bloc of uncounted ballots in the state was the in-person vote in DeKalb County, a heavily Democratic area that includes part of Atlanta.

Mr. Ossoff’s campaign manager Ellen Foster said in a statement on Wednesday that she expected Mr. Ossoff to win. “The outstanding vote is squarely in parts of the state where Jon’s performance has been dominant,” she said.

Mr. Perdue’s campaign officials said in an early Wednesday statement that the race was “exceptionally close,” but said they believed Mr. Perdue would win and would use“every available resource and exhaust every recourse to ensure all legally cast ballots are properly counted.”

It could be some time before there is a call in the race, with thousands of late absentee and provisional ballots still to be counted. Under Georgia law, a candidate can request a recount if the margin of victory is less than half a percentage point.

Democrats benefited from a strong turnout among Black voters. According to data compiled by georgiavotes.com, Black voters made up a larger share of early voters for the runoff — nearly 31 percent — than they did in the general election when it was closer to 28 percent.

Mr. Warnock, who is the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the spiritual home of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was the first Black Democrat elected to the Senate from the South. He and Mr. Ossoff ran in tandem throughout the runoffs.

Mr. Perdue, the former chief executive of Dollar General, and Ms. Loeffler, who was appointed to the Senate a year ago and was seeking a full term, had cast the race as a necessary check on Democratic power in Washington in 2021, though these efforts have been complicated by President Trump’s continued insistence, without evidence, that he won re-election.

Eileen Sullivan

You think this is chaos? The 1876 election was worse.

The inauguration of President Rutherford B. Hayes at the Capitol in Washington in 1877.
The inauguration of President Rutherford B. Hayes at the Capitol in Washington in 1877. Credit…Associated Press

A few days before the inauguration, no one knew who would actually take the oath of office as president of the United States. There were cries of fraud and chicanery as a divided, surly nation continued to debate the winner of the election many weeks after the ballots had been cast.

The election of 1876 was the most disputed in American history and in some ways among the most consequential. As Congress convenes on Wednesday to formalize President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory and dispense with Republican objections, many on Capitol Hill and beyond have been looking to the showdown nearly a century and a half ago for clues on how to resolve the latest clash for power.

The players in that drama have faded into obscurity. Few today remember the story of Rutherford B. Hayes, the Republican who ultimately prevailed and served four years as a tainted President. Fewer still can name his Democratic opponent, Samuel Tilden, who lost the White House despite garnering more votes. But the system that will govern the debate on Wednesday was fashioned from that episode, and the standards that were set then are now cited as arguments in the effort to overturn President Trump’s defeat.

Allies of Mr. Trump, led by Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, have latched onto the resolution of the 1876 dispute as a model, proposing that Congress once again create a 15-member commission to decide the validity of various states’ electors. “We should follow that precedent,” Mr. Cruz and 10 other new or returning Republican senators wrote in a joint statement over the weekend.

But there are also profound differences between that battle and this one. For one, the candidate claiming to be aggrieved this time, Mr. Trump, is the incumbent president with the power of the federal government at his disposal. For another, Mr. Trump’s claims of fraud have proved baseless, universally rejected by Republican and Democratic state election authorities, judges across the ideological spectrum, and even by his own attorney general.

Still, Hayes, who was called “His Fraudulency” and “Rutherfraud B. Hayes,” never shed the stigma and did not seek another term. Congress, for its part, resolved never to go through that ordeal again. In 1887, it passed a law setting out the procedures for counting electors, rules that have proved durable ever since. On Wednesday, they will be tested as never before.

Peter Baker

Biden will outline his economic priorities as Congress moves to certify his win.

President-elect Biden speaking in November. He is expected to discuss several of his economic priorities on Wednesday.
President-elect Biden speaking in November. He is expected to discuss several of his economic priorities on Wednesday. Credit…Joshua Roberts/Reuters

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is set to deliver a speech on the economy on Wednesday afternoon, remarks that could take on greater significance given the chance that the Senate will soon be controlled by Democrats.

Mr. Biden’s speech is expected to emphasize several of his economic priorities, including reiterating his call for another round of financial aid to help people, businesses and state and local governments weather ongoing economic pain from the virus. Mr. Biden is also expected to touch on his “Build Back Better” agenda, including new government spending on clean energy, infrastructure, health care, and education.

His remarks will focus in particular on small businesses, particularly those run by Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native Americans, “who need additional resources to reopen and rebuild,” a transition spokesman said.

Mr. Biden’s speech will take place at a critical moment, as Congress moves ahead to certify the results of the 2020 vote and as a pair of Senate elections in Georgia appear headed for a Democratic win.

The president-elect’s ability to push through many of the programs and policies he campaigned on appeared more likely on Wednesday, as Democrats edged closer to gaining two Senate seats after Tuesday’s runoff election in Georgia. The Rev. Raphael Warnock was declared the winner of one seat, defeating Republican Kelly Loeffler, and Jon Ossoff, another Democrat, was leading the race against David Perdue.

If Democrats win both seats, it would give Mr. Biden’s party control of an evenly divided chamber, greatly affecting his ability to fulfill his agenda.

“Georgia’s voters delivered a resounding message yesterday: they want action on the crises we face and they want it right now,” Mr. Biden said in a written statement on Wednesday morning. “On Covid-19, on economic relief, on climate, on racial justice, on voting rights and so much more. They want us to move, but move together.”

“I have long said that the bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill passed in December was just a down payment. We need urgent action on what comes next, because the COVID-19 crisis hits red states and blue states alike,” he said.

Jim Tankersley

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Watch out for this misinformation when Congress meets to certify the election.

An audit of election ballots in Atlanta in mid-November.
An audit of election ballots in Atlanta in mid-November.Credit…Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

Leer en español

As Congress meets on Wednesday to certify Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the November election, President Trump and his supporters continue to spread rumors, conspiracy theories and misinformation about the vote.

Here are six false voter fraud claims that may be repeated during the proceedings on Wednesday.

Claim: Dominion Voting Systems, which makes software that local governments around the nation use to help run their elections, deleted votes for President Trump.

Fact: There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, including the machines with Dominion software, according to the federal agency that oversees election security.

Background: In the weeks after the election, President Trump and his supporters spread baseless claims about Dominion. The claims included theories that “software glitches” changed vote tallies in several states, including Michigan and Georgia. No such changes were ever found.

Mr. Trump and his supporters subsequently claimed that Dominion had hidden evidence of voter fraud, both by destroying machines or removing parts within the machines. Mr. Trump repeated those claims during a call with Georgia’s secretary of state last weekend. Gabriel Sterling, a top election official in Georgia, said Monday of the claims of election fraud in the state, “This is all easily, provably false.”

Claim: President Trump and his supporters have claimed that absentee ballots in Georgia were rife with fraud and that state officials have not fully investigated.

Fact: Election officials have audited absentee ballots and found “no fraudulent absentee ballots.”

Background: The Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, ordered law enforcement and election investigators to conduct an audit of more than 15,000 absentee ballot envelopes in Cobb County, based on a complaint that signatures were not adequately checked there. The audit found no fraud. Mr. Raffensperger has said that he also plans a statewide audit of each county’s signature-match policies and procedures.

Georgia has already conducted two recounts, both by hand and machine, of all five million ballots cast in the state. No voting fraud was found.

Claim: In an interview on the conservative cable channel Newsmax in December, the Arizona Republican chairwoman, Kelli Ward, said 200,000 ballots were digitally changed to give the victory to Mr. Biden, and Representative Paul Gosar amplified the falsehood on Twitter.

Fact: Audits in Arizona have found no evidence of voter fraud, or changed vote tallies.

Background: While early results in Arizona showed a close race, the final count revealed that Mr. Biden had won the state by more than 10,000 votes.

Audits in Arizona’s four largest counties, which make up 86 percent of all voters in the state, turned up no evidence of systematic voter fraud.

Claim: President Trump’s supporters have pointed to a video as proof that ballots were pulled from a “suitcase” at a vote-counting center in Atlanta.

Fact: Election officials have said the surveillance video shows a normal ballot processing. It is not unusual practice for poll workers to store ballots that still need to be counted on-site at the polling center.

Background: As reported by The New York Times, late on Nov. 3, election workers in Fulton County, Ga., heard that they would be allowed to stop the vote-counting and retire for the evening. So they packed uncounted ballots into suitcases and prepared to lock up. When word came that they couldn’t leave yet, they dragged the suitcases back out and began counting the ballots again.

But that scene of election workers taking out suitcases of ballots was selectively edited and pushed by allies of President Trump as one of the many false theories purportedly proving widespread election fraud. The conspiracists also named the election worker Ruby Freeman as a specific player in this false conspiracy event.

Claim: President Trump’s campaign has claimed that Pennsylvania election officials improperly handled tens of thousands of mail-in ballots in violation of state election law.

Fact: The Trump campaign’s legal efforts to disqualify votes in Pennsylvania have been unsupported by evidence.

Background: The Trump campaign filed several claims in court seeking to invalidate Pennsylvania’s election results, and one ally of Mr. Trump, Senator Josh Hawley, has said he would challenge the results because he believed “some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws.”

But the Trump campaign has included no evidence that any vote had been cast illegally.

In a hearing on Nov. 17, President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, acknowledged he had no proof to back up his claims of voter fraud in Pennsylvania. “This is not a fraud case,” Mr. Giuliani said.

Four days later, the judge overseeing the case dismissed the lawsuit. It was also shot down last month by Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, who said in a ruling, “Calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.”

Claim: Vice President Mike Pence can reject state electors in the Electoral College.

Fact: Federal law stipulates that the vice president’s role is to count Electoral College votes, not decide whether they are valid.

Background: President Trump on Tuesday falsely claimed on Twitter that Mr. Pence has the power to reject electors when the Electoral College vote is certified.

As president of the Senate, Mr. Pence is expected to preside over the pro forma certification of the Electoral College vote count in front of a joint session of Congress. The only electoral certifications available for Vice President Pence to preside over are the ones approved by each state.

Ben Decker and Jacob Silver contributed research.

Davey Alba and Sheera Frenkel

Senator Loeffler’s loss makes an awkward backdrop for her starring role in seeking to overturn Trump’s loss.
Senator Kelly Loeffler, Republican of Georgia, lost her Senate seat to the Rev. Raphael Warnock.
Senator Kelly Loeffler, Republican of Georgia, lost her Senate seat to the Rev. Raphael Warnock. Credit…Dustin Chambers for The New York Times

Senator Kelly Loeffler’s stinging loss in Georgia trained increased scrutiny on the prominent role she planned to play on Wednesday in seeking to overturn President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in her home state when Congress meets to formalize his Electoral College win.

Ms. Loeffler had announced on Monday, ahead of a pair of high-stakes Georgia runoffs that will determine Senate control, that she was planning to join the small group of senators lodging objections, and a person familiar with her thinking said Tuesday that she would “likely” focus on Georgia. But with the Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, declared the winner by The Associated Press, Ms. Loeffler found herself in an awkward position: a lame-duck senator contemplating a starring role in a politically fraught fight for a president who clearly lost.

Her promise to object may have helped gin up turnout among the president’s loyal supporters in Georgia, but it does little for Ms. Loeffler now that the election has passed. In a speech to supporters late Tuesday night, she did not concede and said she still planned to travel to Washington to contest Mr. Trump’s loss.

“In the morning, in fact, I’m going to be headed to Washington, D.C., to keep fighting,” she said. “We’re going to fight for this president, so I am asking for every single Georgian, every single American: Stay in the fight with us.”

A spokesman for the senator did not respond to questions on Wednesday morning seeking to clarify her position.

Other senators could still join House members to object to Georgia’s electors, but so far, few senators have been willing to raise their hands for a job their own Republican leaders have warned will dangerously divide the party and embarrass the Senate.

If Georgia’s results go unchallenged, it could speed up the counting process by three to four hours.

Nicholas Fandos

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Georgia's Raffensperger says Trump's defeat is the 'cold hard truth,' hints at probe

Georgia’s Raffensperger says Trump’s defeat is the ‘cold hard truth,’ hints at probe

Jan. 5, 2021, 2:41

The Republican secretary of state also said the call from Trump could warrant an investigation into possible conflicts of interest.01:29 /03:07

‘What he said was not factually correct’: Georgia secretary of state on Trump phone call
‘What he said was not factually correct’: Georgia secretary of state on Trump phone call

By Blayne Alexander, Rebecca Shabad, Julia Jester, and Shannon Pettypiece

WASHINGTON — Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Monday that he has never thought it was appropriate to speak to President Donald Trump about the 2020 election results and that the conversations Trump has had with him and other elections officials could pose a conflict of interest that warrants investigating.

When asked by NBC News about the phone call he and the president had on Saturday, Raffensperger said he was concerned about talking directly with the president because of a lawsuit Trump is pursuing against the governor and secretary of state.

“He’s coming up short on the election, he won’t be re-elected, and I know that he’s not pleased with how the results went in other states,” Raffensperger told NBC. “I’m very confident in the results we have here in Georgia. And that’s the cold hard truth.

today.com/video/trump-s-call-to-georgia-secretary-of-state-was-filled-with-false-claims-98745925819(opens in a new tab)

Trump’s call to Georgia secretary of state was filled with false claims

Jan. 4, 202103:13

Ultimately, the call happened after White House staff pushed for it, said Raffensperger. While he said he didn’t personally record the call and doesn’t know who released it, he said he is glad it was made public after Trump’s tweet mischaracterizing the conversation.

“You can’t keep on taking shots from people and people keep putting out stuff that’s not true,” he said. “And we’re gonna respond, we’re going to respond forcefully sometimes with the facts. If people can’t handle the facts, I’m sorry, but those are the facts.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is trumpcircle.focal-760x428.jpg
Full phone call: Trump pressures Georgia Secretary of State to recount election votes
Georgia's Raffensperger says Trump's defeat is the 'cold hard truth,' hints at probe Full phone call: Trump pressures Georgia Secretary of State to recount election votes

Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling, who manages the state’s voting systems, attempted once again to debunk the internet conspiracy theories that Trump raised in his phone call during a press conference Monday where he went through Trump’s claims one by one.

Contrary to claims by Trump and his allies that thousands of votes were cast by felons, dead people, teenagers, or unregistered voters, Sterling said they have found just two possible incidents of people who died before the election casting ballots and 74 potential felons voting. All 76 cases remain under investigation.

“We see nothing in our investigations of any of these data claims that show nearly enough ballots to change the outcome,” Sterling said.

He also debunked a range of other false claims based on misleading videos that have been promoted by Trump’s lawyers accusing Georgia election workers of doctoring the ballot count. He said no ballots were shredded and no Dominion voting machines had parts changed. He said he screamed at his computer when he heard some of Trump’s claims on the call with the secretary of state.

“Again, all of this is easily provably false and yet the president persists and by doing so undermines Georgians faith in the election system, especially Republican Georgians, in this case, which is important because we have a big election coming up tomorrow,” said Sterling, who describes himself as a Republican and voted for Trump in November.

Raffensperger received the call Saturday afternoon after the White House switchboard had made 18 attempts to have him speak with Trump over the two months since the general election, according to a Georgia Republican familiar with the call.

Officials in Raffensperger’s office recorded the call, and he made clear to his advisers that he did not want a transcript or an audio recording released unless Trump attacked Georgia officials or misrepresented the conversation, according to the Georgia Republican. Before the audio leaked, Trump attacked Raffensperger on Twitter, saying that they had a call and that the secretary of state was “unwilling, or unable” to answer his questions, to which Raffensperger responded, “The truth will come out.”

Asked Monday if he felt any pressure when Trump told him to find the votes to overturn Biden’s victory in Georgia, Raffensperger told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “No, I, we have to follow the process, follow the law. Everything we’ve done for the last 12 months follows the constitution of the state of Georgia, follows the United States Constitution, follows state law.”

In response to the phone call, whose audio surfaced Sunday, David Worley, a Democratic member of Georgia’s state election board, which Raffensperger chairs, asked him to open an investigation.

Asked if he would do so, Raffenperger said: “I believe that because I had a conversation with the president, also he had a conversation with our chief investigator after we did the signature match audit of Cobb County last week, there may be a conflict of interest, I understand, that the Fulton County district attorney wants to look at. Maybe that’s the appropriate venue for it to go,” Raffensperger said.

Two House Democrats have sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting an investigation into Trump over the call.

As for whether he would vote for Trump again, Raffensperger said he has always supported Republicans and “probably always will,” but that Trump isn’t on the 2024 ballot, “so we’ll just have to wait and see what would happen.”

Blayne Alexander

Blayne Alexander is an NBC News correspondent.

Image: Rebecca Shabad
Rebecca Shabad is a congressional reporter for NBC News, based in Washington.Julia Jester

Rebecca Shabad

Julia Jester is a 2020 campaign embed for NBC News.

Image: Shannon Pettypiece
Shannon Pettypiece

Shannon Pettypiece is the senior White House reporter for NBCNews.com.

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image-7

From: THE HILL

Chinese COVID-19 vaccine test results delayed until January

TheHill.com

http://Chinese COVID-19 vaccine test results delayed until January Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac will reportedly delay releasing the results from its various COVID-19 vaccine trials until January.

Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac will reportedly delay releasing the results from its various COVID-19 vaccine trials until January. According to reports Sinovac’s vaccine, CoronaVac, had recently reached Phase 3 trials in Brazil, where it had been shown to be more than 50 percent effective at preventing the coronavirus. However, Sinovac asked the Butantan Institute, the Brazilian research center that has been testing the vaccine, to delay releasing results for another 15 days as it compiles data from other trials in Indonesia and Turkey.

Migrant family deportations in 2020 top combined total for Trump’s first three years: ICE

The Trump administration deported more migrant family members in 2020’s fiscal year than in the preceding three years combined, according to a new analysis.

Migrant family deportations in 2020 top combined total for Trump's first three years: ICE
thehill.comMigrant family deportations in 2020 top combined total for Trump’s first three years: ICEThe agency reported some 14,500 family members were deported in the fiscal year, compared to over 10,700 parents and children in the three fiscal years before
Migrant family deportations in 2020 top combined total for Trump's first three years: ICE
The federal government deported more migrant family members in fiscal 2020 than in the preceding three years combined, according to a Washington Post analysis of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data.

CNN’s John Berman on Trump pardons: ‘Good night to be a corrupt Republican congressman’

“It’s a good night to be a corrupt Republican congressman or a confessed liar from the Russia probe or a convicted murderer of Iraqi civilians,” CNN’s John Berman said, lashing out over a slate of pardons that President Trump issued this week for three former GOP lawmakers and several security contractors, among others.

Trump administration advances bomb sale to Saudis.

Trump administration advances bomb sale to Saudis

Trump administration advances bomb sale to Saudis
Trump has made arms sales to the Kingdom an integral part of his foreign policy, arguing they are necessary to counter Iran and to boost jobs at U.S. weapons makers.

The administration is moving ahead with approving the license for the sale of precision-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia in the waning days of President Trump’s tenure over the objection of Democratic lawmakers. The license would allow Raytheon to directly sell Saudi Arabia 7,500 of its Paveway air-to-ground “smart” bombs at an estimated value of $478 million.

Biden under pressure to revamp the judiciary

Biden under pressure to revamp the judiciary
Biden under pressure to revamp the judiciary
Progressives argue that appointing more jurists who have spent their careers as public interest or civil rights advocates would help level the playing field

Activists who watched President Trump fill the courts with conservative judges for four years are pushing President-elect Joe Biden to prioritize judicial confirmations and to bring more professional diversity to a judiciary dominated by former prosecutors and corporate lawyers. Progressives argue that appointing more jurists who have spent their careers as public interest or civil rights advocates would help level the playing field in a legal system that favors the wealthy and powerful, which has been heavily shaped by Trump and Republicans over the past four years.“President-elect Biden has an opportunity to begin to undo that damage by appointing diverse judges who understand the challenges real people face in our legal system because they have spent their careers representing them.”

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, Elections, Features, Health, International, Local, News, Regional, Youth0 Comments

Joe-and-Jill-Biden-1

The USA finally, new President Joe Biden

Heralding in first woman of colour Vice President Kamala Harris

By Bennette Roach from reports

President and Vice President electJoe Biden and Kamala Harris

Besides not having the resources to publish a print copy of the newspaper, publishing the news of the result of the US 2020 Presidential election online was difficult. This was particularly so because of the uncertainty created by the outgoing president’s ability to bring reality to his threats whereby he promised he will not accept his loss at the polls.

Before going further and pulling quotes from 2016 we invite readers to follow this link where we headlined Donald Trump – new USA president: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/donald-trump-new-usa-president/

Joe Biden was elected president of the United States, after his projected victory in Pennsylvania took him over the winning line.

With all states projected, President-elect Biden has 306 electoral college votes and Donald Trump has 232. A candidate needs 270 or more to win.
Mr. Biden will become the 46th president in January, following the outcome of all legal challenges.

Joe Biden and wife Dr. Jill Biden

Even requested recounts in some areas, such as Georgia, where Mr. Biden had a lead of almost 15,000 votes did not change the outcome for the winners.

Kamala Harris, Vice President elect

Mr. Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, will make history as the first woman vice-president, as well as the first black and the first Asian American vice-president.

Continuing, And, so it was! Although President Donald Trump and his wild lawyers, republicans, and supporters, seemingly exhausted every means of reversing what the majority of the voters (via the electoral college) had overwhelmingly decided, today the US Supreme Court once again in a ruling denied their efforts.

Quickly, so sure was the people living the reality that Joe Biden was indeed the president-elect, with Trump’s White House officials afraid of Trump’s, call it anything, from ire, selfishness to wickedness and stupidity, based on all the reports, debunked where necessary, the processes leading up to the inauguration of the new president Joe Biden, four years ago Obamas Vice President, will be sworn in.

US Election 2020: Results and exit poll in maps and charts – BBC News

It cannot be news to anyone by now, who must have heard, read or seen the news on TV or online, certainly at www.themontserratreporter.com and our social media platforms, Facebook, etc. that history was made at the end of the long counting of the votes, caused by pandemic, with Kamala Harris as America’s first Black, Indian and female vice president.

Writer Andrew Naughtie of the Independent records, “Despite Donald Writer Andrew Naughtie of the Independent records, “Despite Donald Trump’s furious insistence to the contrary, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have won the US election, far surpassing the 270 electoral votes needed to carry them to the White House.

Theirs is an unprecedented election victory in an unprecedented year. But Mrs. Harris, the California senator whose parents immigrated to America from Jamaica and India, will make a particular kind of history as the first woman, and the first person of color, to be elected as vice-president of the United States.”

Naughtie writes further about Harris: “The vice president-elect was born to an Indian mother, Shyamala Gopalan, and Jamaican father, Donald Harris, in 1964 and spent her early years in Berkeley, California.

After her early childhood in California, she moved to Canada when her mother took a job at McGill University in Montreal. She went on to attend Howard University in Washington, DC before returning to San Francisco for law school, passing the bar in 1990.

While her career as a prosecutor, district attorney, and state attorney general in California has drawn criticism from portions of the progressive left, her family background has thrilled many Black Americans and Indian-Americans – helping drive a massive fundraising haul for the ticket. 
She has also received a warm reception in her mother’s homeland. In the days before the election, residents of her ancestral village of Thulasendrapuram, in Tamil Nadu in India, prayed for her success.

Harris was the second black woman [not too long ago] to be elected to the senate after Illinois’s Carol Moseley Braun, who served one term in the 1990s.

Looking back, and on, everything about Trump’s presidency will be remembered, soon by all, was dishonest – wreaking Trumpism, cultism… Words now thrown around, but would not have if a little decency or willingness to do what he claims, upholding the American Constitution, all of which is only more evidence of those choice words.

James Wagstaffe wrote a week after the November 3 polling, “Bottom line: you must have specific and credible evidence before you can file a lawsuit. And no surprise that the judges hearing these cases almost uniformly have and will continue to say “show me” or you’re out of here.”

And, even then, when SCOTUS continued or expectedly ended the fraud and evidenceless claims, “The president further declared, in an all-caps tweet that “WE HAVE JUST BEGUN TO FIGHT!!!”

Early Follow-up: https://www.justsecurity.org/73367/trump-has-a-right-to-pursue-legal-challenges-to-election-but-not-without-the-facts/

Showing hope for ‘Democracy’, Americans by electing Joe Biden or removing Trump, Justice Security has presented this week articles mostly on issues (Constitutional some) affecting changes following ‘Trumpism’. https://www.justsecurity.org/73830/recap-of-recent-articles-on-just-security-dec-5-11/

US Election 2020: Results and exit poll in maps and charts – BBC News

Posted in Elections, Featured, International, Local, News, Politics0 Comments

Could this be the reason for abuse by offended parties?

Could this be the reason for abuse by offended parties?

December 6, 2019
Reprint – December 11, 2929

The electorate showed their expectations in the result

This Editorial is reprinted because of some strange comments directed at the Editor during following a press conference held in Seprember past. The comments were in response to an inquiry to which no direct response was given but a reference to an article/editorial in “November or just following the 2019 general elections.”
There is also reprinted a column article in an effort to discover if that might have been the offending article.
These are presented as as they were before and we contend that like almost always the opinions, analysis, and facts presented are intended as presented. We then challenge the offended party or parties to present to us after a second read exactly what they have found offensive, untrue or even disagreable.

There aren’t many who think of the seriousness, or of the importance of the election of men and women who will represent and lead them in the affairs of governing them and their land.

But when one reads the following from one of a series of articles which have appeared in TMR over the past several months, again it would take those interested in the seriousness and the reality of the men and women of whom this refers to understand that a general election is indeed a serious thing.

The few lines read: “…if our “permanent government” – the senior civil service – is “not fit for purpose” (as former Governor Carriere said in an unguarded, frank moment) then we are going to be hampered every step of the way by lack of capacity, foot-dragging, outright incompetence, and even corruption. And if many candidates for election are cut from the same roll of cloth,[1] that will only multiply the problem.

“For elections to work, we need to have a choice of credible, competent, good-character candidates with sound policy proposals, and if policies are to be implemented, our senior civil service will need drastic reforms led by Cabinet. We will have to fix the DfID-FCO side of the problem, too.“

This part of the problem is why, over the past several years, months and weeks, here at TMR we have looked at the needed Charter of Good Governance and Development Partnership MoU with the UK; which have actually been on the table for several years but were obviously road-blocked. Such agreements and such Resolutions of our Assembly would give us tools to drain the murky waters so beloved of swamp-dwelling chaos-dragons . . . that’s how they can lurk in ambush.

A capacity-building component would help us build a new generation of policy and political leadership. The creation of a priority transformational programme with agreed “catalytic” infrastructure-building projects supported by designated expediters and sound PRINCE2-style governance systems would then move us beyond the stop, study, start, stop, restudy pattern. For sure, without a protected seaport, without an improved airport, without fibre optic cable digital access and without developed geothermal energy, we are a poor investment and growth prospect.

We would like to offer that although towards the end of the PDM government’s term in office the Legislature was divided 5-4 just as the incoming MCAP government will experience, it is in many ways not the same as that experienced by the former MCAP government of 2009-2014. The Reuben T Meade’s government had three newcomers to his government to the six members at the beginning but ended up with two newbies as this government begins with. This government has four experienced parliamentarians in opposition.

The expectations for this new MCAP team can be reflected in the outcome of the election particularly that during this campaign there were some very key issues that were barely mentioned if at all. Good knowledge of all of which will be very vital to any future success or progress that this struggling island could enjoy.

We hope to take the lead in bringing these seriously to the fore in a brand new and hopefully challenging way as the early months of this new Legislature’s reign.

[1] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/we-need-a-new-politics-of-truth-soundness-and-national-consensus/

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9066069/Woke-folk-beware-Freedom-speech-includes-right-offend-say-judges-landmark-ruling.html

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, De Ole Dawg, Editorial, Elections, International, Local, News, Opinions, Politics, Regional0 Comments

brexit-fisheries

Brexit LIVE: Major part of deal COLLAPSES – EU says UK talks ‘like climbing Himalayas’

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BREXIT talks have been hit by a major blow after the two sides failed to agree to substantial elements of a deal this week, sparking anger in Brussels.

By Brian McGleenon PUBLISHED: Tue, Dec 15, 2020 | UPDATED: 15:57, Tue, Dec 15, 2020 1064

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Nigel Farage reveals his ‘fear’ over Brexit

As it stands, the issues of fair competition, fisheries, and governance still remain the main areas of divergence between Michel Barnier and Lord David Frost. However, other substantial elements within the deal, such as the Erasmus+ exchange programme have caused talks to stall. Such is the chaos over the matter, one MEP compared negotiating with the UK to “climbing the Himalayas”. 

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A member of the EU Parliament’s UK coordination group, Nathalie Loiseau, said: “We are far from an agreement.

“Nothing is impossible to a willing heart, but it’s like climbing the Himalaya from the northern side.”

Throughout talks, officials have expressed their concern over losing access to the valuable student exchange programme. 

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Education and business leaders had stated the loss of the programme would remove £243million a year in income and cause an estimated 17,000 students to miss out on studying abroad. 

In particular, students from less affluent backgrounds would be the worst hit as they would be unable to fund their travel and expenses without the programme. 

Brexit live: EU hits out at UK officials

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Overall, the project receives £420million from EU students who study in the UK – after subtracting membership costs it drops to £243million. 

Joe Fitzsimons, the head of education and skills policy at the Institute of Directors, said: “Many employers deeply value the kind of international experience the Erasmus scheme helps foster.

“Given the benefits it can bring students and businesses, maintaining access to Erasmus and wider EU research and education partnerships has been a priority for the IoD from the off.”

On Monday, Mr. Barnier held talks with EU ambassadors to brief them on the current state of affairs before negotiations with Lord Forst reconvened. 

Although gaps still remain, he indicated the UK had backtracked on its demands thus sparking hope a deal could be agreed. 

A UK source later denied that, saying: “The inaccurate briefings from the EU side in recent days have made a difficult discussion even more challenging in the short period of time we have left.”

FOLLOW BELOW FOR LIVE UPDATES:

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3.45 pm update: The UK has signed a £5bn trade deal with Mexico.

The deal is seen as a “stepping stone” to a huge 11-nation trading pact.

The deal will also be seen as a major boost to Boris Johnson’s plans for when the UK has fully cut ties with Brussels.

3.15 pm update: Member of House of Lords urges Boris Johnson to consider the devasting impact of a no-deal on the UK’s services industry.

The member of the House of Lords said the “EU is frankly irreplaceable” in terms of the sector’s trade. 

Nicholas Le Poer Trench said on Tuesday that “services are 80 percent of our GDP and our services trade with Europe makes up 51 percent of our services exports.

“As it stands, Europe is a hugely important market for services. The most important.”

2.26 pm update: ‘France throwing toys out the pram!’ Boris Johnson urged to STOP negotiating with Barnier

Boris Johnson has been urged to walk away from Brexit negotiations after Michel Barnier introduced a punishment clause which could see Britain slapped with trade sanctions if EU fishermen are banned from UK waters.

During a series of private Brussels briefings, the Frenchman accused Downing Street of ‘backtracking’ on its own proposals for a three-year transition period for fishing rights.

While addressing MEPs, Mr. Barnier said Britain would have to face a potential punishment clause with “consequences” for any future decisions to close its fishing grounds to EU vessels.

The Frenchman suggested economic sanctions – such as trade tariffs – could be introduced to counter any such moves by Downing Street.

But Britons have lashed out at Mr. Barnier’s proposed plans with many calling for the Prime Minister to end negotiations now. One reader said: “So Joker Barnier expects the UK to agree to be penalised by the EU unless we guarantee FREE access rights now and in the future.

“What does Barnier not understand about taking back full control and regaining our UK sovereignty?”

A second reader said: “So basically he wants to punish us for controlling our own waters under International law.

“This is not the EU negotiating, this is France throwing its toys out the pram.

“We should refuse to deal with Barnier.”

Hardest hit countries from a no deal Brexit

Hardest hit countries from a no-deal Brexit (Image: Express)

1.52 pm update: Negotiations making slow progress – Simon Coveney 

UK and EU officials have made slow progress this week during negotiations, Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said today.

He told RTE: “I think what we’re seeing this week, having had a number of stalls in this process, is slow, but at the same time some, progress.

“My understanding is we’re making some progress in that area the level playing field.

“I think you can take it that because negotiating teams have gone really quiet here, that’s an indication to me that there is a serious if difficult negotiation continuing. I’m still hopeful that can result in a successful outcome agreement.”

1.19 pm update: Leaving without a deal most likely 

During a Cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister stated leaving without a deal remains the most likely outcome from talks. 

Although he stated negotiations will continue, gaps still remain between the two sides. 

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “The Prime Minister opened Cabinet with an update on the ongoing negotiations with the EU.

“He re-emphasized the desire to reach a free trade agreement – but not at any cost – and reiterated that any agreement must respect the independence and sovereignty of the UK.

“The Prime Minister made clear that not being able to reach an agreement and ending the transition period on Australian-style terms remained the most likely outcome but committed to continuing to negotiate on the remaining areas of disagreement.”

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12.48 pm update: PM’s officials warn Brexit trade talks still ‘difficult’ despite claims deal is close

Boris Johnson’s officials yesterday warned that Brexit trade talks are still “difficult” despite claims from Brussels that a deal is close.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has told European ambassadors that an agreement on future ­relations between the UK and bloc could be reached this week after progress over the weekend.

But tensions were rising again ­yesterday after the EU demanded the power to punish the UK with restrictions on British firms, including car manufacturers, in retaliation for any move to block European fishing fleets from UK coastal waters.

A senior Government source accused the EU of briefing ­“inaccurate” accounts of the latest developments.

The source said: “Talks remain ­difficult and we have not made ­significant progress in recent days, despite efforts by the UK to bring energy and ideas to the process.

“Like any sovereign country, we must have the right to take our own decisions and to choose regulations that suit the UK.

“We can not sign up to dynamic alignment through the back door. The UK cannot be locked into the EU’s regulatory orbit.”

11.48 am update: Ben Habib hits out at EU

Commenting on a piece by former BBC man, Andrew Neil, the former Brexit Party insisted the EU is “not a liberal democracy”. 

He added: “The EU is not a liberal democracy; it does not practice market economics; and, it only applies its laws when it suits it.

“Worrying you would think as you do.”

EU losses from hard Brexit

EU losses from hard Brexit (Image: Express)

11.38 am update: Try your worst, Michel! Fishing chief says UK in control even if EU forces through no deal

A fishing chief has backed Boris Johnson’s Brexit approach, claiming the UK would thrive even in a no-deal Brexit.

Mike Park, chief executive of the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association, said the fishing industry was not concerned about a no-deal Brexit. I

Mr. Park admitted the Association would prefer an agreement on fisheries within a wider trade deal under a framework agreement but said the UK would remain in control even under no deal.

The fishing boss said: “In terms of the larger vessels that benefit from greater shares of regulated stocks, we would immediately move into coastal state negotiations where hopefully we could negotiate greater shares of those stocks on the basis that we give other people access to the water, so there’s no change in terms of what it means for the sector that fishes your cod, your haddock, and other stocks.

“In terms of these larger vessels, we have no concerns because we think we can seek a good deal through the avenue which is the international norm where you sit down and negotiate with your neighbours in terms of who gets access to where and what they can catch so we think.

“In that aspect, a no-deal is no worse than getting a deal through a fisheries framework agreement.”

Brexit news: Michel Barnier briefed ambassadors on Monday

Brexit news: Michel Barnier briefed ambassadors on Monday (Image: PA)

10.54 am update: Brexit deal could be struck within days 

A diplomat from the EU stated a deal could be struck although any deal could fall throw at the last minute. 

They said: “Patient still alive but keep the undertaker on speed dial.”

Both Michel Barnier and Ursula von der Leyen had stated talks have progressed to the final stages. 

A spokesman for the UK said: “The PM’s words that no-deal remains the most likely outcome stand.”

10.22 am update: Widdecombe rages at Boris’s no deal bluff and warns of “massive Brexit trade deal fudge”

Boris Johnson has been issued a stern warning by Brexiteer Ann Widdecombe who insisted the Prime Minister has “no excuse” to not see Brexit through.

The former Brexit Party MEP insisted that Britons are counting on Boris Johnson to deliver Brexit on December 31 after negotiations were extended on the weekend.

Speaking on Farage LIVE, Ann Widdecombe said: “People do forgive him. I think part of that is due to his opposition being so appalling weak.

“If people think that Boris is weak well, Keir Starmer is hardly there at all.

“Part of it is that but the other part is people desperately want to believe in Boris.

“They think he’s the real thing. He’s very different from previous Prime Ministers.

“They want to believe in Boris. I used to believe in Boris and I really hoped that he would see this through when he got his majority of 80 after all, he’s got no excuse not to see it through.”

Brexit: Ann Widdecombe criticizes Boris Johnson’s negotiations
ttps://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/1372608/Brexit-news-latest-brexit-deal-michel-barnier-david-frost-fisheries-no-deal-boris-johnson?utm_source=express_newsletter&utm_campaign=politics_newsletter2&utm_medium=email&jwsource=cl

9.38 am update: Brexit fisheries chaos as Dutch warn ‘many will go bankrupt’ without UK waters

Brexit has caused concern in the Netherlands as its fishermen warn many will go bankrupt if the country can no longer fish in UK waters.

A no-deal Brexit could cause disruption for fishermen on both sides of the English Channel, but Dutch fishermen have previously expressed concern over the long term impacts of the UK’s departure.

Dutch skipper Cor Vonk said in 2019 that “many will go bankrupt” in the Netherlands if access to UK waters is ended.

He said: “It’s really a disaster for the fishermen, as 50 percent of their turnover is caught in British waters. So for the Dutch fishermen, it’s really a tragedy if the British waters are closed.

“We’re talking about 500 to 600 families left in the drink. Many fishermen will go bankrupt, and perhaps us too.”

8.47 am update: Boris Johnson to launch post-Brexit trade drive 

The Prime Minister will travel to India in January 2021 in order to boost trade ties with the country. 

it will be his first bilateral visit since taking office and will mark a year where the UK will hold the G7 and UN climate change summits. 

Mr. Johnson said: “I am absolutely delighted to be visiting India next year at the start of an exciting year for Global Britain, and look forward to delivering the quantum leap in our bilateral relationship that Prime Minister Modi and I have pledged to achieve.

“As a key player in the Indo-Pacific region, India is an increasingly indispensable partner for the United Kingdom as we work to boost jobs and growth, confront shared threats to our security and protect our planet.”

Brexit endgame

Brexit endgame (Image: Express)

8.31 am update: EU must move!

Secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Barclay has claimed the EU must change its position if a deal is to be reached. 

He told Sky News: “The discussions are ongoing. The fundamentals remain the same.

“It is in both sides’ interest to have a deal. That is what the Prime Minister has committed to.

“The Prime Minister is battling for Britain. And whether there is a deal is not simply down to the actions of the Prime Minister, it needs the EU to move to respond.”

7.47 am update: French fishermen vow to blockade Channel as no-deal Brexit could spark “warlike” scenes

French fishermen have threatened to blockade Dover and Calais if there is a no-deal Brexit – warning it could spark “warlike” scenes in the English Channel.

Trawlermen warned they would disrupt the flow of ferries carrying vital goods in response to being shut out of Britain’s fishing grounds.

A union baron said Britain’s threat to send gunboats to police the UK’s coastal waters “would mean that we are negotiating things that relate to war”.

Downing Street is still claiming a no-deal Brexit is the “most likely” outcome for the trade talks.

Dimitri Rogoff, president of Normandy’s regional fisheries committee, claimed the move would see Dutch, Belgian and German ships flocking into French waters.

He said: “If we are deprived of our fishing grounds, we will not watch the British supply the French market.

“There will therefore be blockages to ferries, since this mainly happens by ferries. And on that, we are quite clear and determined.”

Brexit news: Fisheries

Brexit news: Fisheries (Image: Express)

7.19 am update: “Negotiating with the UK like trying to climb the Himalayas” 

The areas of divergence remain between the two sides but now talks have failed to reach an agreement on the valuable Erasmus+ programme. 

The project generates £243million a year for the UK and allows an estimated 17,000 students to continue their education abroad. 

On Monday, Mr. Barnier concluded the two sides were unable to come to an agreement on the programme. 

Following the news of the deadlock, MEP Nathalie Loiseau and member of European Parliament’s UK coordination group said: “We are far from an agreement.

“There are indeed other points than the level playing field, governance, and fisheries which remain to be solved.

“Nothing is impossible to a willing heart, but it’s like climbing the Himalaya from the northern side.”

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Bill Barr has resigned. But did he jump or was he pushed?

By Andrew Feinberg


Russia denies claims it was responsible for massive hacking campaign targeting US government and private companiesTony-winning choreographer, actress Ann Reinking dies at 71

Just moments after California’s 55 electoral votes officially made Joe Biden the President-elect of the United States, the man he will replace in 37 days reacted the same way he did after voters dealt him a severe rebuke at the ballot box two years ago: he forced out an Attorney General who’d refused to violate longstanding Department of Justice policies for his political benefit.

a man wearing a suit and tie
© Provided by The Independent – Bill Barr has resigned. But did he jump or was he pushed?
Will he be remembered for this act, or for his bending over for Trump

“Just had a very nice meeting with Attorney General Bill Barr at the White House. Our relationship has been a very good one, he has done an outstanding job!” Trump tweeted, adding that Barr would be leaving just before Christmas to “spend the holidays with his family” (a familiar Washington bromide long used to paper over the reason for many a resignation).

An accompanying resignation letter revealed that Barr had spent part of the meeting endeavouring “to update [Trump] on the Department’s review of voter fraud allegations in the 2020 election and how these allegations will continue to be pursued” (Barr recently told the Associated Press that no fraud has been found) and noted that he was “greatly honored” to have had an opportunity to serve once again as Attorney General, a position he previously held during the second half of the George HW Bush administration. After devoting several paragraphs to praising the president, Barr closed the missive by noting that his second stint as the nation’s top law enforcement officer will come to an end on December 23.

While multiple news outlets had in recent days reported that Barr had planned to stay on through the end of Trump’s term, in the same manner, he had done with the elder President Bush, he, like his predecessor Jeff Sessions, had lost Trump’s confidence because of a refusal to cross an ethical line.

Sessions had spent nearly all of his two-year tenure at the helm of the Justice Department as a hate object for the president and his supporters, thanks to his decision to follow the counsel of career ethics experts who advised him that as a former adviser to Trump’s 2016 effort, he was required to recuse himself from any matter which might involve the president’s campaign.

But what line was it that pushed Trump’s patience with one of his most trusted advisers and loyal soldiers beyond its breaking point?  

The same line that former FBI Director James Comey may have gotten Trump elected by crossing just over four years ago.

It was Comey who upended the 2016 race on October 28 of that year by revealing, in a letter to Congress, that the Bureau had reopened the long-running investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server after finding a cache of emails on a laptop belonging to the husband of a Clinton adviser in the course of an unrelated probe. A second letter, sent three days before the November 9 election, alerted Congress that FBI would not be changing its recommendation that Clinton not be charged with any crimes, but after nine days of non-stop media coverage of the first letter, the damage was done.

Six months later, in a memo to Sessions, then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein noted that numerous former Attorneys General and Deputy Attorneys General had strongly decried Comey’s pre-election actions broke with longstanding rules requiring the department to refrain from any announcements or overt actions which could impact an election within 60 to 90 days of Election Day. It was that breach of protocol (and others) that formed the backbone of Rosenstein’s (largely pretextual, as it turned out) recommendation that Trump fire Comey.

During his tenure, Barr has been a willing lightning rod for criticism by legal experts and former DOJ officials who’ve slammed what they say has been a willingness on his part to politicize the Justice Department to serve Trump’s goals, including issuing a statement about former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the investigation into ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign that largely downplayed its findings, overriding career prosecutors’ sentencing recommendations for Trump confidante Roger Stone, and pushing to drop charges against former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Yet in the end, there was one line Barr would not cross: he would not put his thumb on the scales by publicly revealing that his department has been investigating whether Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, has violated any federal tax laws.  

According to The Wall Street Journal, an investigation into the younger Biden’s taxes had been underway for some time, but Barr had laboured to keep it under wraps in compliance with that longstanding policy.

During a Saturday interview with Fox News, Trump said that he was “disappointed” in Barr’s decision, and lamented that the soon-to-be former AG “should have stepped up”.

But Trump, who has boasted of not needing to read, might have seen Barr’s adherence to tradition coming had he done a bit of research on him.

In 1992, as the elder President Bush was locked in a fierce re-election battle against then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, whose involvement in a failed Arkansas land deal was coming under FBI investigation.

When FBI officials appeared to pressure then-Arkansas US Attorney Charles Banks into taking steps (such as issuing subpoenas) that would have become public before Election Day, Banks pushed back, writing:  “Neither I personally nor this office will participate in any phase of such an investigation … prior to November 3, 1992.”

“For me personally to participate in an investigation that I know will or could easily lead to the above scenario and to the possible denial of rights due to the targets, subjects, witnesses, or defendants is inappropriate. I believe it amounts to prosecutorial misconduct and violates the most basic fundamental rule of Department of Justice policy,” he wrote.

The investigation did not become public knowledge until after Clinton had defeated Bush (who remained the most recent one-term president until Biden’s victory over Trump), but three years later when irate Republicans on a Senate committee looking into the deal asked Barr about Banks’ decision (which they implied may have cost Bush the election) Barr said he knew of “no basis for questioning” it.

“There are cases where the role of the sensitive figure is such that you wouldn’t think that they would really be ultimately tied up in a thing as subjects or targets, and you would want to assure that the case does not play a role in the election process by assuring that there are no public steps taken,” Barr said during a 1995 deposition under oath. “Based on what I knew … this would fall in that category.”

When the same situation presented itself a quarter-century later, Barr did the same thing.

In his resignation letter, Barr said “it is incumbent on all levels of government … to do all we can to assure the integrity of elections and promote public confidence in their outcome.”

It may have cost him 37 more days on the job, but by remaining consistent in following this one area of Justice Department policy, Barr may have done exactly that. Read More

William Barr has resigned, Trump announces

Criticism of Bill Barr pours in as he resigns

Who is Trump’s acting attorney general Jeff Rosen?

Bill Barr says that Trump is a ‘deposed king ranting’

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East Caribbean Central Bank – Vacancy

East Caribbean Asset Management Corporation – Vacancy

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FLOW - Back to School

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