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How the Question of Trump’s Behavior During the Capitol Assault Shook Up the Impeachment Trial

The New Yorker
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By Amy Davidson Sorkin – February 13, 2021

Former President Donald Trump standing on stage in front of a line of American flags waving in the wind.
The former President’s tweets and reports of his calls to Republican congressmen during the riot became a key part of the case against him. Photograph by Brendan Smialowski / Getty

On Friday afternoon, when senators got their chance to ask questions in Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, one of the first came from Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, and Susan Collins, Republican of Maine. Like all of the senators’ questions, this one had been written on a yellow notecard, passed from the gallery to Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, who was presiding and then read aloud by a clerk. “Exactly when did President Trump learn of the breach of the Capitol, and what specific actions did he take to bring the rioting to an end? And when did he take them?” Murkowski and Collins wanted to know. “Please be as detailed as possible.” The two senators are among the handful of Republicans who are seen as possible votes to convict the former President for inciting an insurrection, and, for that reason alone, their question, which was directed at Trump’s lawyers, was worth taking seriously. But it also got at a central inquiry in the trial: How many people were Trump willing to see get hurt in his effort to hold on to the Presidency?

Michael van der Veen, one of Trump’s lawyers, didn’t really answer. “The House managers have given us absolutely no evidence one way or the other on to that question,” van der Veen, whose professional specialty is personal injury cases, said. This was an odd complaint, given that the question concerned his client’s knowledge and actions. Flipping through some papers, van der Veen offered that there had been “a tweet at 2:38 P.M.” on January 6th—which would have been almost half an hour after a mob seeking to disrupt the Electoral College vote tally had breached the Capitol—and so “it was certainly some time before then” that Trump had learned of the riot. (In the tweet, Trump advised the mob to be peaceful, but failed to tell them to leave the Capitol—perhaps because that was where he wanted them to be.) Van der Veen added, “That’s the problem with this entire proceeding. The House managers did zero investigation! The American people deserve a lot better than coming in here with no evidence. Hearsay on top of hearsay on top of reports that are of hearsay.” Van der Veen muttered something about due process and then, without any further attempt to answer the question, he sat down.

In one respect, his reply is an example of the dismissive, blame-shifting, reality-defying manner in which Trump’s defense has been conducted. Trump’s lawyers may have also recognized that the question of his response on January 6th has become a particularly hazardous area for him—and, indeed, for a few hours on Saturday morning, it seemed to have changed the timeline for the trial, opening the door for witnesses. The question is powerful for more than one reason. First, his reaction spoke of his intent: if he had truly been misunderstood by his supporters, who certainly seemed to believe that they were fulfilling his wishes, he might have quickly expressed shock and condemnation, told them in no uncertain terms to leave the Capitol, and rushed to send reinforcements. He, of course, did none of these things. Despite van der Veen’s claims, and even though much about how, exactly, Trump spent his time is not known, the House managers did document the former President’s inaction. It wasn’t until after 4 P.M. that he told the rioters to go home, but, in the same message, he said, “We love you,” and took the time to complain, again, about the election. As Stacey Plaskett, a House manager and a delegate representing the Virgin Islands, noted, when she got a chance to respond to the Murkowski-Collins query, the reason that the question of what Trump did to help “keeps coming up is because the answer is ‘nothing.’ ”

As Plaskett took her seat, Collins and Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, sent a question to the chair about the second aspect of Trump’s response: his attitude regarding the danger to Vice-President Mike Pence. In the days leading up to the January 6th assault, Trump had pounded home the message that he expected Pence, who was set to preside over the joint session of Congress that day, to sabotage and disrupt the electoral-vote certification. Under the Constitution, Pence did not have the power to do that, as he and many others explained to Trump. No matter: Trump drew his supporters into his effort to pressure Pence to act lawlessly. At the rally before the assault, Trump built up the expectation that Pence might still come through. “All Vice-President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify, and we become President, and you are the happiest people,” he said, and added, “Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us.” When people in the mob realized that Pence had not done so, they shouted that he was a traitor and chanted, “Hang Mike Pence!” They began searching for him inside the Capitol; at about 2:13 P.M., Secret Service agents took him out of the Senate chamber, to a room where he took shelter with his family, before being moved again.

As Pence hid, the mob heard from Trump. The 2:38 P.M. tweet was not his first since the breach of the Capitol. At 2:24 P.M., Trump posted this: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution . . . the USA demands the truth!” Romney and Collins asked whether, when Trump sent that “disparaging tweet,” he was “aware that the Vice-President had been removed from the Senate by the Secret Service for his safety.” Joaquin Castro, one of the House managers, replied that the assault itself was being reported live. People, he said, “couldn’t consume any media or probably take any phone calls or anything else without hearing about this, and also hearing about the Vice-President.” Castro also noted that Senator Tommy Tuberville, Republican of Alabama, had confirmed that he had been on a phone call with Trump, which ended when he told him, “Mr. President, they just took the Vice-President out. I’ve got to go.”

Video From The New Yorker

A Reporter’s Video from Inside the Capitol Siege
In a Taped Call, Trump Pressures a Georgia Official to Overturn the State’s Election Results

It would be good to know more about that call to Tuberville—on Saturday, Mike Lee, whose phone Tuberville had used, said his call log indicated that the call had begun at 2:26 P.M., right after the tweet—but the focus soon shifted to another one, between Trump and Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader. On Friday evening, after the trial had adjourned for the day, CNN reported new details of the “expletive-laced” call between Trump and McCarthy, citing several Republicans who had heard the Minority Leader’s account of it. Trump did not seem interested in ending the violence. According to some who spoke with McCarthy, Trump told him, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” suggesting that McCarthy could learn from their devotion. (Three weeks later, McCarthy made a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago, to reconcile with Trump.) Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, of Washington—one of only ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump—had spoken publicly in January about McCarthy’s account of the call. On Friday, she put out a statement in which she told any “patriots” who had heard Trump’s side of his conversations that day that “if you have something to add here, now would be the time.” In other words, witnesses are welcome. When the trial convened on Saturday morning, Jamie Raskin, the lead House manager, said that he wanted to subpoena Herrera Beutler, offering to depose her via Zoom. Van der Veen responded with an angry tirade, in which he said that any witnesses—he mentioned Vice-President Kamala Harris—would have to come to his Philadelphia office. (That is a fantasy.) The Senate voted 55–45 to allow witnesses—and then, after closed-door negotiations, the lawyers and House managers agreed to enter Herrera Beutler’s statement into the record instead.

Herrera Beutler had also suggested that Mike Pence might have something to say. For example, he might add something to van der Veen’s reply to Romney and Collins’s question. “The answer is no,” van der Veen said. “At no point was the President informed the Vice-President was in any danger.” This is an absurd answer. Even putting aside the particularities of Pence’s situation—that it was the Secret Service, for example, that led him out of the chamber—Trump certainly knew that his Vice-President was in a dangerous setting. If, before sending the tweet, he had bothered to find out whether Pence was safe, he would certainly have been given an even more troubling report. Pence was not safe: the managers’ presentation made clear that the mob had come even closer to him and his family than had previously been understood. At that moment, Trump not only abandoned Pence—he targeted him. To put it another way, the incitement did not end when the first window was broken.

Van der Veen, however, argued that the Pence question wasn’t even “really relevant to the charges for the impeachment in this case.” The House managers had focussed on how Trump’s actions ahead of January 6th had laid the groundwork for the violence; these included his threats to election officials and his summoning of his supporters for a “wild” rally to coincide with the vote certification. Trump’s lawyers seemed to believe that he had to answer only for his precise words at the rally, for which they offered improbable explanations. (Because Trump, early in his speech, had observed that the crowd planned to “peacefully and patriotically” protest, the lawyers brushed aside his subsequent repeated calls for them to act quite differently.) In their telling, it was as if Trump were just someone who had happened to wander onto the stage, with no context, history, or—perhaps most of all—power. But when the President of the United States tells people that they must go to the building he’s pointing at, the Capitol, and fight, or else “you’re not going to have a country anymore”—and when he says that “when you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules”—he is doing something distinct. Trump’s lawyers, throughout their defense, ignored all the ways that Trump used and abused the office of the Presidency to make January 6th unfold as it did. As Raskin had noted, the impeachment process, with its reference to “high crimes and misdemeanors,” has a political character that makes it distinct from the ordinary criminal justice process.

In the course of the defense presentation—which lasted a little more than three hours, less than a quarter of the time that Trump’s lawyers were allotted—they played so many clips of Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, delivering fiery speeches, that one might have thought that she was on trial. There were also videos of other Democratic politicians, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Karen Bass, Al Green, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Hillary Clinton—and even ones featuring Madonna, Chris Cuomo, and Johnny Depp. One video, played multiple times, consisted of clips of Democratic senators and House managers using the word “fight” in different contexts. (Judging from the placard set up next to him in one clip, Representative Joe Neguse, one of the impeachment managers, was captured saying, during his first term in Congress, that he’d fight for the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, which, among other things, helps preserve areas for mountain biking and protects the habitat of the greater sage grouse.) Speaking of the people shown in the videos, Plaskett noted, “It is not lost on me that so many of them were people of color. And women—Black women.” As Trump surely knows, that message won’t be lost on his supporters, either.

The underlying message in Trump’s defense, however, was that it was outrageous that his actions were being questioned at all. Bruce Castor, another of his lawyers, told the senators that, by any measure, Trump was “the most pro-police, anti-mob-rule President this country has ever seen.” The senators had already heard from the managers how, for months before the assault, Trump had reveled in acts of political violence, such as when COVID-lockdown protesters attacked state buildings in Lansing, Michigan, or when vehicles driven by his supporters dangerously surrounded a bus of Biden campaign workers on a Texas highway. The senators had also seen evidence of the injuries that his supporters had inflicted on officers with the Capitol Police and Metropolitan D.C. Police. But Castor showed them one of the videos. There was Trump, standing in front of an American flag, saying, “I am your President of law and order.” The scenes changed—to people holding Black Lives Matter signs, to street violence, to Maxine Waters, again—but always returned to Trump with the words “LAW AND ORDER” superimposed on the screen. “We know that the President would never have wanted such a riot to occur, because his long-standing hatred for violent protesters and his love for law and order is on display, worn on his sleeve every single day that he served in the White House,” Castor said. He sounded like he was offering a declaration of faith—against all the evidence of reality—not a legal argument. On Saturday morning, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, reportedly told colleagues that he planned to vote to acquit. The Trumpist credo, it seems, is one that the Republican Party intends to live by.

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Read More About the Attack on the Capitol

Amy Davidson Sorkin

has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2014. She has been at the magazine since 1995, and, as a senior editor for many years, focusing on national security, international reporting, and features.

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COVID chart Jan 20 2021

Ministry of Health, Montserrat investigages suspected COVID-19 cases

COVID, Ministry of Health & Social Services, News / 6th February 2021

The following is a release which says that Montserrat’s Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) is currently investigating possible cases of COVID-19 on the island.

The Ministry has started the contact tracing process while they await the results from tests conducted.

A further update on this will be issued tomorrow, Saturday February 6, 2021, following the results of the tests.  

In the meantime, the Ministry of Health is encouraging persons to practice the recommended social distancing and safety protocols:

  1. Wear a face-covering or mask in business places and on transportation services;
  2. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizing gel;
  3. When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your flexed elbow dispose of the tissue immediately and wash your hands;
  4. Avoid close contact with anyone who has coughing and fever;
  5. Practice social distancing.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services will continue to update the public as new information is received.

Unconfirmed response to inquiries as to whether to suspicions are of a person or persons already living on the island, or recent visitors, is that its the latter.

There has not been a positive case since July 2020. It is still puzzling why some of these protocols have been criminalised with heavy fines of $1,000.00 and there is no official advice as to what the public should do to immunise their bodies or how to immediately deal with early symptoms.

It would not be surprising should we see a panic reaction from the ‘authorities’ who have not demonstrated that they in fact have acted with reasonable understanding and hands-on practice with the pandemic.

Visit the Facebook page for information in that regard at: https://www.facebook.com/themontserratreporter/

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The world is ‘on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure’ by failing to get vaccines to poorer countries, the WHO warns

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INSIDER

Dr. Catherine Schuster-Bruce

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Bidemi Aye receives a pre-paid debit card for cash and food provided by World Food Programme (WFP) in a makeshift home in the Makoko riverine slum settlement in Lagos, Nigeria on November 27, 2020. Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP via Getty Images
  • The world was “on the brink of catastrophic moral failure,’ over vaccine distribution, the head of the World Health Organization said Monday.
  • Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was not right that younger, healthier adults in rich countries are vaccinated before health workers and older people in poorer countries.
  • “A me-first approach leaves the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people at risk, it’s also self-defeating,” Ghebreyesus said.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The world is “on the brink of catastrophic moral failure” by failing to give vaccines to poorer countries, the head of the World Health Organization said Monday.

“It is not right that younger, healthier adults in rich countries are vaccinated before health workers and older people in poorer countries,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general at the WHO, said during an executive board session.

Governments naturally want to prioritize their own health workers and older people — but they need to come together to prioritize those most at risk of severe diseases and death around the world, he said. 

“More than 39 million doses of vaccine have now been administered in at least 49 higher-income countries, but just 25 doses have been given in one lowest-income country,” Tedros said. 

A “me-first approach” was “self-defeating”, ultimately prolonging the pandemic, as well as the restrictions needed to contain it and both the human and economic suffering, he said.

Research from Duke University’s Global Health Innovation Center predicted that it could take years to roll out vaccines in poorer countries due to vaccine cost and availability, as well as a lack of infrastructure to transport, store, and distribute the shots.

Tedros said that countries and companies had promised equitable access by signing up to COVAX, a voluntary scheme to ensure vaccine distribution worldwide launched. COVAX was launched by the WHO, Gavi vaccine alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

But certain countries and companies have gone around COVAX, he said, putting themselves first and in doing so driving up prices.

Manufacturers had also prioritized regulatory approval in rich countries where profits are highest, he added. 

He did not name any specific countries or companies.

He urged countries that had circumnavigated COVAX – and that have control of supply – to be transparent about their contracts, and share any excess vaccines.

“My challenge to all member states is to ensure that by […] April 7, COVID-19 vaccines are being administered in every country, as a symbol of hope for overcoming both the pandemic and the inequalities that lie at the root of so many global health challenges,” he said.

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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.

RIGHT NOW

Here’s what you need to know:

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

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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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MailOnline - news, sport, celebrity, science and health stories

Brexit deal is DONE: Boris Johnson SEALS historic Brexit deal with EU as UK claims to have won TWICE as many concessions as Brussels and von der Leyen laments ‘parting is such sweet sorrow’

MailOnline - news, sport, celebrity, science and health stories

Thursday, Dec 24, 2020 3 P.M.

  • Boris Johnson has finally confirmed that a post-Brexit trade deal has been agreed with the European Union
  • Downing Street insists the pact will ‘take back control of our money, borders, laws, trade and fishing waters’ 
  • The PM and Ursula von der Leyen are understood to have held regular secret phone calls in the last 48 hours
  • Briefing wars about who has won are already ramping up as sides prepare to sell the agreement to their voters

By James Tapsfield, Political Editor For Mailonline and David Wilcock, Whitehall Correspondent

Boris Johnson today declared that a Brexit deal has been done after four years of desperate wrangling – with a furious propaganda war already underway.

The PM has made history by sealing future trade terms to avert a chaotic split when the transition period ends on January 1, after Lord Frost and Michel Barnier thrashed out a 2,000-page text.

Downing Street said the agreement was ‘fantastic news’ – with Mr. Johnson now set to hold a press conference. 


What happens next? 

After a Brexit deal text was finalised, the next step is ratification by both sides – and there is not much time before the end of the transition period on January 1. 

Next week 

MPs will need to pass legislation putting the deal on the statute book 

With Christmas Day tomorrow, this is likely to happen next week. The Commons will be recalled from its festive break and potentially consider all the stages of a Bill in one day.

The package is virtually guaranteed to be approved, as Boris Johnson has an 80-strong majority and Labour has indicated it will at least abstain – if not support the deal. 

Monday? 

Meanwhile, Brussels will short-cut its own processes, with the EU Council of member states expected to grant ‘provisional’ implementation before the deadline, rather than the European Parliament approving it in advance.

This has angered many MEPs, as they will be under massive pressure to sign off the deal if it has already come into effect.

January 1

The new trade terms – or WTO terms if something has gone wrong with the deal – come into effect.  

A senior No10 source said: ‘Everything that the British public was promised during the 2016 referendum and in the general election last year is delivered by this deal.

‘We have taken back control of our money, borders, laws, trade, and our fishing waters.

‘The deal is fantastic news for families and businesses in every part of the UK. We have signed the first free trade agreement based on zero tariffs and zero quotas that have ever been achieved with the EU.’

Ursula von der Leyen told her own briefing in Brussels that the terms were ‘balanced’. ‘We have finally found an agreement. It was a long and winding road but we’ve got a good deal to show for it,’ she said.

She said the EU had protected its single market and achieved ‘five-and-a-half years of predictability for our fishing communities and strong tools to incentivise’ for access to continue afterward. 

Ms von der Leyen said her overriding feeling was relief. ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow,’ she added.

Referencing one of his mantras from the talks, Mr. Barnier said: ‘The clock is no longer ticking.’ 

No10 said the terms meant the UK will not be in the ‘lunar pull of the EU’. ‘We are not bound by EU rules, there is no role for the European Court of Justice and all of our key red lines about returning sovereignty have been achieved,’ the source said. 

‘It means that we will have full political and economic independence on 1st January, 2021.’ 

The confirmation had been repeatedly put back as the sides argue ‘fish by fish’ over the rules, with Ireland warning of a ‘hitch’, even though UK sources insisted there are ‘no major issues’.  

But the battle to sell the package to voters and Tory MPs is in full swing, as Mr. Johnson rings round restive backbenchers.

An internal government assessment insisted that the UK ‘won’ on 43 percent of the major issues in the £660billion package, compared to 17 percent where the EU came out on top. 

There will be zero-tariff, zero-quota access to the EU single market – and Mr. Johnson has maintained the ability to diverge from Brussels standards, with no role for the European Court of Justice. 

The document boasts that concessions were secured on rules of origin for goods, customs streamlining, and ‘trusted trader’ schemes, while the financial services sector has been ‘insulated’.  

A deal will also avoid huge disruption on top of the coronavirus crisis. 

However, the UK looks to have given ground on fishing rights, and secured little succour for the services sector.

For its part, France has started boasting that Mr. Johnson made ‘huge concessions’ on fishing in the last stages as the mutant coronavirus variant underlined the vulnerability of UK borders.     

The challenge the PM faces was underlined as Tory Brexiteers vowed to put together a ‘Star Chamber’ of experts to scrutinize the documents over Christmas.

MailOnline understands that Mr. Johnson was ‘very straightforward’ and did not try to give a ‘hard sell’ in his call with senior MPs.

One MP said subject to seeing the full text the outline was ‘what we hoped’. ‘Maybe it will be a happier Christmas after all,’ they suggested.  

Nigel Farage accused Mr. Johnson of ‘dropping the ball’, although he also stressed that it was ‘progress’ and the Brexit ‘war is over’. There are fears that political ‘landmines’ in the text will inevitably be uncovered. 

The FTSE 100 rose 20 points to 6,516 – 0.3 percent – on opening amid optimism about a deal. The pound had already gained around 0.6 percent against the dollar, and 0.4 percent against the euro overnight.   

Boris Johnson (pictured speaking to Ursula von der Leyen by video link today) said the UK could now take advantages of the benefits of Brexit

Boris Johnson (pictured speaking to Ursula von der Leyen by video link today) said the UK could now take advantages of the benefits of Brexit

Ursula von der Leyen told her own briefing in Brussels (right) that the terms were ‘fair and balanced’

In more evidence that Mr Johnson is bracing to sell a deal to voters, a leaked internal government document claims that the UK 'won' on 43 per cent of the major issues - compared to 17 per cent where the EU came out on top

In more evidence that Mr. Johnson is bracing to sell a deal to voters, a leaked internal government document claims that the UK ‘won’ on 43 percent of the major issues – compared to 17 percent where the EU came out on top

Some experts cast doubt on the assessments in the UK document, pointing out that many of the 'wins' for the EU were in the crucial services sector of the economy. There is no deep provision for financial services from January 1

Some experts cast doubt on the assessments in the UK document, pointing out that many of the ‘wins’ for the EU were in the crucial services sector of the economy. There is no deep provision for financial services from January 1

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The UK government assessment said it had 'insulated financial services from cross-retaliation' in disputes about other areas of the agreement

The UK government assessment said it had ‘insulated financial services from cross-retaliation’ in disputes about other areas of the agreement

Nigel Farage was condemning the post-Brexit trade deal before it had even been announced this evening

Nigel Farage was condemning the post-Brexit trade deal before it had even been announced this evening 

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What were the sticking points in Brexit talks? 

FISHING

The UK insisted throughout that it would take back control of its coastal waters from the end of the transition period.

But the EU was demanding its fleets maintain previous levels of access – with Emmanuel Macron under particular pressure from the French fishing industry.   

Initially, the UK said it wanted to reclaim 80 percent of the EU quotas from January 1.

However, Brussels suggested that only 18 percent should be restored.

The two sides are thought to have found a ‘landing zone’ that includes a figure between those and a transition period.

If reports are right that the UK is reclaiming just 25 percent of the EU’s fishing quota, phased in over five and a half years, that would look to be closer to the EU position.

However, Downing Street will insist that means the UK can be catching two-thirds of fish in our waters by the year 2026.

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD 

The EU insisted the UK should commit to ‘level playing field’ provisions, guaranteeing that it will not undercut businesses with lower environmental standards and regulations.

State aid has emerged as a particular issue, especially as coronavirus makes swathes of the economy unviable. 

But the UK said it must regain sovereign powers to decide on rules, even though it has no plans to lower standards or warp competition by subsidising the private sector. 

It appeared this area was close to resolution before France reportedly laid down a series of extra conditions including huge punishments for breaking the rules.

Although the UK is happy with ‘non-regression’ – meaning current standards are accepted as a baseline – it took issue with swingeing unilateral penalties and complained the proposals were ‘asymmetrical’ as the EU would be freer to prop up industries. 

GOVERNANCE

The enforcement of any deal, and who decides whether rules are broken, has been one of the flashpoints from the start.

Breaking free of the European Court of Justice was among the biggest demands of Brexiteers from the referendum. 

But the EU was pushing to keep control of the governance, as well as insisting on tough fines and punitive tariffs for breaches.

The situation was inflamed by the row over the UK’s Internal Market Bill, which gave ministers the power to override the previous Brexit divorce terms to prevent blockages between Britain and Northern Ireland.

The resolution of that spat is thought to have been critical in hammering out a wider trade deal. 

Hopes had been growing all yesterday after it was claimed the difference between Lord Frost and Mr. Barnier had come down to fish worth the equivalent of a Premier League footballer’s transfer fee.

But the final touches required more input from the political leadership of Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen. 

As the propaganda war gets underway, an internal UK government document laid out 65 key issues during the talks – and claimed that Lord Frost had won on 28 of them.

By contrast, the EU was said to have come out on top in just 11. 

The remaining 26 were classified as ‘mutual compromises’ – including the critical area of fishing rights. 

Notably, the assessment states that the package delivers ‘on all the objectives set out by Vote Leave’. 

A senior Tory source told MailOnline the document, leaked to the Guido Fawkes blog, was authentic. However, it is understood Cabinet ministers have not been shown it yet.

However, some experts cast doubt on the assessments, pointing out that many of the ‘wins’ for the EU were in the crucial services sector of the economy. There is no deep provision for financial services from January 1.   

JPMorgan said it looked like the EU had secured a deal retaining nearly all of its advantages from trade with the UK, but with the ability to use regulations to ‘cherry-pick’ among sectors where Britain previously had advantages – such as services. 

Irish foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney said there appeared to be ‘some sort of last-minute hitch’ in the talks – although he said he expected it to be overcome.

Mr. Coveney told RTE Radio the delay related to a section of a fisheries agreement.

‘I had hoped to be talking to you this morning in parallel with big announcements happening in both London and Brussels, but we still expect those later on today,’ he said. 

Brexiteers have already been voicing caution about the terms before they are announced.

Although Labour has already indicated it will not block any agreement – meaning it is effectively guaranteed to pass through Parliament – having to rely on Keir Starmer would be hugely damaging for Mr. Johnson. 

The Tory Eurosceptic ERG group chairman Mark Francois and vice-chair David Jones said: ‘Assuming a deal between the UK and the EU is officially confirmed tonight, the ERG will tomorrow reconvene the panel of legal experts, chaired by Sir Bill Cash, to examine the details and legal text.’ 

Senior Tory MP Bernard Jenkin added: ‘Amid the expectation of an EU-UK agreement, ERG MPs will want to wait until we have seen a legal text and we understand what it means if our opinion is to have any credibility.’ 

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage did not wait for the terms to emerge, accusing the UK side of ‘dropping the ball’.

‘It sounds like the British team has dropped the ball before the line. No wonder they want a Christmas Eve announcement to hide the fisheries sell-out,’ he tweeted. 

But one No10 aide told Politico that the UK had secured a good deal on fishing. ‘Even before the end of the transition period we will take back control of 130,000 tonnes a year, enough to stretch to the South Pole and back,’ they said. 

‘After that, we can fish and eat every damn fish in our waters.’ 

Climate minister Lord Goldsmith – a close ally of Mr. Johnson and strong Eurosceptic – warned that there is a ‘very large constituency of people who are absolutely longing to trash the deal – and will do so irrespective of its merits’. 

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds warned that the expected deal would still result in a ‘major negative impact’ on GDP.

She said: ‘Indications a deal is imminent mean many businesses are breathing a sigh of relief.

‘Yet early indications suggest this thin deal will have a major negative impact on GDP.

‘With key industries subject to substantial barriers, these are not the promised ‘exact same benefits’.’

Posting a photo of pizza boxes on Twitter last night, Mr. Mamer said: ‘Pizza has arrived… Is it Frutti di mare? Or Bismarck? Or good old 4 stagione? Suspense…’ 

Downing Street released images of Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen giving their final approval for the trade agreement

Downing Street released images of Mr. Johnson and Ms von der Leyen giving their final approval for the trade agreement

The Treasury’s OBR watchdog had warned that No Deal would inflict a further two percent hit on the already struggling economy.  

And Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey suggested the long-term harm to the economy would have been greater than from Covid-19. 

Mr. Johnson conceded that the initial phase of No Deal would be ‘difficult’ – but had insisted the UK would ‘prosper mightily’ whatever happened. 

Chairman of Barclays UK Sir Ian Cheshire said a trade deal with the EU would bring clarity to business.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘This was pure politics. It was always the last minute sort of rabbit from the hat.

‘And I’m very glad that it appears we can carry on with… our most important trading relationship.

‘And business can plan. I think that’s been the overriding issue for businesses over the last two years. They are occasionally accused of not being ready, and the question is – ready for what?

‘At least now we have got clarity and we can get on.’ 

Mr. Johnson’s decision to take personal charge of the negotiations at the weekend is believed to have been critical in breaking the deadlock.

‘He knew where his red lines were because he set them – he was completely across the detail,’ one source told the Mail. ‘When it was all over, von der Leyen asked ‘Do we have a deal?’ He replied simply ‘Yes’.’

A last-minute protest by French president Emmanuel Macron – long seen as the biggest obstacle to an agreement, with his demands on fishing rights – is regarded as the one remaining threat. 

The government assessment listed a series of UK wins - although some experts suggested they were rose-tinted

The government assessment listed a series of UK wins – although some experts suggested they were rose-tinted

Downing Street was bustling today as the world awaited confirmation of a post-Brexit trade agreement

Downing Street was bustling today as the world awaited confirmation of a post-Brexit trade agreement

Boris Johnson joined a virtual call with British Military personnel from around the globe last night to thank them for their services and to wish them a Merry Christmas

Boris Johnson joined a virtual call with British Military personnel from around the globe last night to thank them for their services and to wish them a Merry Christmas

Ms von der Leyen's spokesman posted a picture of his pizza dinner on Twitter, joking about the 'suspense' over whether it might be topped with seafood

Ms von der Leyen’s spokesman posted a picture of his pizza dinner on Twitter, joking about the ‘suspense’ over whether it might be topped with seafood

He then followed up his tweet by recommending Brexit-waters 'grab some sleep', with work continuing throughout the night

He then followed up his tweet by recommending Brexit-waters ‘grab some sleep’, with work continuing throughout the night

Below: A member of the British delegation loads a soup cauldron into a van outside the UK Mission to the EU in Brussels last night – while pizza was delivered to the EU commission building

A member of the British delegation loads a soup cauldron into a van outside the UK Mission to the EU in Brussels tonight
Pizza was delivered to the EU commission building
The Daily Mail
The Times
The Sun
The Mirror

News of the breakthrough was carried on all the front pages today – even though the final haggling is still going on

Shares and pound edge up amid Brexit deal hopes

The London stock market crept up today as investors were buoyed by the UK and European Union being on the threshold of striking a post-Brexit trade deal. 

The FTSE 100 index rose by 0.48 percent or 31 points to 6,527 in early trading this morning, while the pound was up 0.57 percent against the dollar at $1.3584. 

But gains on the markets were tempered by concerns over another new strain of Covid-19, with the UK implementing a travel ban on South Africa and millions more people set to be under the toughest coronavirus restrictions from Boxing Day.   

The pound has strengthened 1.4 percent versus the dollar since 1.30 pm yesterday when Reuters first quoted sources saying that a Brexit deal appeared imminent.

The currency is now heading back towards the two-and-a-half-year high of $1.3625 which was hit last week. Against the euro, the pound was up 0.54 percent at €1.1137. 

Mr. Macron, who faces elections in 2022, has been desperate to keep his powerful fishing industry onside.

His possible challenger in the polls, Marine Le Pen, of the far-Right National Rally, picked up large numbers of votes in 2017.

Tensions rose between London and Paris at the weekend when the French government decided to shut its borders for 48 hours after the emergence of a newer, more infectious strain of coronavirus.

Tory MPs and Downing Street aides speculated that Mr. Macron’s decision was, in part, a means of punishing Britain over its decision to leave the European Union.

But sources close to the French president, a sworn Europhile, angrily denied those suggestions in conversations with the Mail this week.

They said Mr. Johnson’s own dramatic messaging had triggered panic among European governments who simply wanted to stop the spread of the virus.

Diplomats in Brussels said Germany was most concerned about Britain trying to undercut and outcompete European firms after Brexit.

The EU will short-cut its own processes, with the Council of member states granting ‘provisional’ implementation before the deadline, rather than the European Parliament approving it in advance.

But EU leaders have to agree the deal unanimously. 

And the curtailed process has angered many MEPs, as they will be under massive pressure to rubber-stamp the deal if it has already come into effect.  

The agreement covers vast areas of the UK’s relationship with the EU, including trade, security, and travel. 

Despite hopes of confirmation coming last night, the EU and UK teams dug in for a lengthy shift, with pizzas being delivered to the Berlaymont HQ in Brussels. 

Ms von der Leyen’s spokesman Eric Mamer posted a picture of the takeaway on Twitter, joking about the ‘suspense’ over whether it was topped with seafood.   

Ministers hope the news will boost morale in what looks set to be the toughest of winters. The pound rose sharply yesterday on the back of mounting speculation that agreement was near.

The breakthrough came as Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that a surge of Covid cases would put much of the country under heavy restrictions, probably for months. 

In an emergency statement, he announced that another eight million people would be placed under Tier Four restrictions on Boxing Day. 

That will put the entire South East and much of East Anglia under virtual lockdown.

Mr. Hancock also revealed mounting concern about a new ‘super-strain’ of the virus which has reached the UK from South Africa. 

Government sources said the EU deal would see British fishermen able to land roughly two-thirds of fish in UK waters by the middle of the decade. 

UK gets ‘listed status’ to export animal products to EU – but seed potatoes are out 

Exports of meat, fish, and dairy products to the European Union will be able to continue beyond January 1 after the United Kingdom was granted ‘national listed status’.

The measure means live animals and products of animal origin can be supplied to the EU after Brussels confirmed the UK met health and biosecurity standards.

The EU has also agreed to the exports of many plants and plant products can continue being exported to the bloc and Northern Ireland.

But seed potatoes – an important Scottish export – will be banned, leading Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to condemn the ‘disastrous’ outcome.

UK chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: ‘Third country listed status demonstrates our very high standards of biosecurity and animal health which we will continue to maintain after the end of the transition period.’

Businesses in the £5 billion animal export market will face some red tape in order to continue exporting, including the need for a health certificate.

While potatoes destined for European dinner plates can continue to be exported, those used as seed crops cannot be.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it will not be possible to export seed potatoes to the EU or Northern Ireland from January 1 but officials were working with the European Commission on the issue.

Ms Sturgeon said it was a ‘disastrous Brexit outcome for Scottish farmers’ and ‘like all other aspects of Brexit, foisted on Scotland against our will’.

But a senior Tory predicted the agreement would ‘land badly’ with Eurosceptic MPs. It is understood to involve the EU handing back only 25 percent of its share of quota from UK waters, with the cuts phased in over five and a half years.

MPs are set to be recalled to Parliament to vote the deal through in time for the end of the transition on December 31. The agreement came after days of frantic negotiation. 

Sources claim it was almost derailed when the EU proposed measures they say would have crippled Britain’s drive to become a world leader in electric cars.

‘We have got it to a place we are happy with,’ a source said. ‘It upholds all the principles we said we would not compromise on. Yes, we have made compromises in some areas, but we have not compromised on the fundamentals of taking back control.’

Another senior Tory said the deal would ensure ‘zero tariff, zero quota access to European markets’ alongside security co-operation. ‘There will be no European Court of Justice messing us around,’ the source said.

However, the Prime Minister is braced for accusations of betrayal from Eurosceptic Tories, some of whom had urged the PM to walk away rather than compromise.

The last push for a deal revolved around a compromise over the sensitive issue of fishing in UK waters, with reports suggesting that they could be down to catches worth £60million. 

To put that figure into context, it is considerably less than the £89million that took midfielder Paul Pogba from Juventus to Manchester United in 2016, which remains the record transfer for a player moving to the top flight in England. 

Fishing rights were the most intractable part of the negotiations. Boris Johnson made clear that Britain would be an independent coastal state in charge of access to its own waters – with UK fishermen able to catch a far greater proportion of the available fish than their EU competitors.

Brussels had demanded unfettered access to Britain’s waters for a decade. The UK had offered a three-year transition period.

According to reports, the UK has ended up reclaiming 25 percent of the EU’s fishing quota – with changes phased in over five-and-a-half years.

Downing Street insists this will mean UK fleets catching two-thirds of the fish in domestic waters by 2026, but the compromise appears nearer the EU’s starting position.

Tory MP Robert Halfon joked that he would support a Brexit deal if it forced people to eat Christmas pudding every day

Tory MP Robert Halfon joked that he would support a Brexit deal if it forced people to eat Christmas pudding every day 

Angela Merkel is a key powerplayer in the EU
Emmanuel Macron (pictured taking a Cabinet meeting from coronavirus self-isolation) was seen as the biggest obstacle to a deal

Angela Merkel (pictured left) is a key powerplayer in the EU. Emmanuel Macron (pictured right taking a Cabinet meeting from coronavirus self-isolation) was seen as the biggest obstacle to a Brexit trade deal

Who is Ursula von der Leyen, the EU chief who was once tipped as Angela Merkel’s successor?

Ursula von der Leyen took over as President of the European Commission from Jean-Claude Juncker in December 2019. 

Since then, the start of her five-year term in office has been dominated by two issues: Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic. 

The 62-year-old is a staunch defender of the EU project and has previously called for a ‘United States of Europe’ with its own army. 

She previously served as defence secretary in Germany and was once viewed as a potential successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The mother-of-seven has experienced a rapid political rise, only entering politics in her 40s. 

She has a medical degree and studied at the London School of Economics as well as Stanford in the US.

The qualified gynaecologist regularly emerged in opinion polls as one of Germany’s most popular politicians before she made the switch to Brussels. 

She is the daughter of Brussels-born Eurocrat Ernst Albrecht, a senior German politician who worked in the EU Commission in the 1950s. 

She revealed last year that she spent a year in London in the 1970s hiding from notorious German communist terrorists.

She spent 12 months in the ‘seething, international, colourful city’ to avoid the baader-Meinhof Gang, a hard-Left group that carried out a string of bomb attacks and assassinations. 

She came to London after attending university in the German city of Gottingen, with police advising her father, who was PM of Lower Saxony, to move her away. 

Exports of meat, fish, and dairy products to the EU will be able to continue beyond January 1 after the UK was granted ‘national listed status’.

The measure means live animals and products of animal origin can be supplied to the EU after Brussels confirmed the UK met health and biosecurity standards.

The EU has also agreed to the exports of many plants and plant products can continue being exported to the bloc and Northern Ireland.

But seed potatoes – an important Scottish export – will be banned, leading Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to condemn the ‘disastrous’ outcome.

UK chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: ‘Third country listed status demonstrates our very high standards of biosecurity and animal health which we will continue to maintain after the end of the transition period.’

Businesses in the £5billion animal export market will face some red tape in order to continue exporting, including the need for a health certificate.

While potatoes destined for European dinner plates can continue to be exported, those used as seed crops cannot be.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it will not be possible to export seed potatoes to the EU or Northern Ireland from January 1 but officials were working with the European Commission on the issue.

Ms. Sturgeon said it was a ‘disastrous Brexit outcome for Scottish farmers’ and ‘like all other aspects of Brexit, foisted on Scotland against our will’.

Crucially for the breakthrough, Ms von der Leyen is said to have established back channels to German Chancellor Angela Merkel – the EU’s powerbroker – and Mr. Macron

Diplomatic sources said Mr. Barnier had not even been aware of the content of secret talks between the Prime Minister and Mrs von der Leyen on Monday night – suggesting he had become increasingly sidelined in the final days of negotiations.

However, Mr. Barnier has insisted it is ‘normal’ that high-level politicians must make the final moves in such a negotiation. 

The Labour chair of the Commons Brexit Committee Hilary Benn said he has ‘no doubt’ Parliament will approve legislation for a deal if one is brokered before January 31.

The Remain-backing MP told BBC Breakfast: ‘The alternative is no-deal and that really doesn’t bear contemplation at all because of the damage it would do to the economy.

‘What any deal is going to do is to make the consequences of Brexit for business less bad than they would otherwise be.

‘Remember this is the first trade deal in history where one party has gone in knowing it will come out with worse arrangements than it went in with.’

He added: ‘I think not just over the next week but over the next few months, as Brexit actually happens… there are going to be big changes anyway from January 1 whether there is an agreement or not and regardless of what’s in the agreement…

‘Over time we will become more aware of what we can’t now do because we’ve taken it for granted.’

As the crunch point neared, French Europe minister Clement Beaune said a no-deal situation would be ‘catastrophic’ for the UK and suggested the EU should hold out.

‘We should not put ourselves, Europeans, under time pressure to finish by this hour or that day. Otherwise, we would be put ourselves in a situation to make bad concessions.’

But Mrs. von der Leyen is said to have leaned on Mr. Macron and the leaders of other coastal states to accept the deal.

Mr. Barnier told MEPs at a briefing earlier this week that a compromise on fishing would have to be decided by political leaders.

‘We haven’t reached an agreement on fisheries, despite the talks,’ he said. ‘There are subjects that I can’t resolve – only a few which are very political and very sensitive matters – but I can’t resolve them at my level.

‘It is normal at this stage that there are subjects that need to be dealt with by President von der Leyen at her level with Boris Johnson.’

The Prime Minister has admitted to allies that he has made significant compromises in recent days, including on fishing. 

But he warned that he would not go further without movement from the EU. 

Differences also needed to be bridged over state subsidies, where the EU was pushing demands which British negotiators describe as ‘unbalanced’. 

Brussels wanted the right to penalise the UK if it uses subsidies to enable British firms to undercut EU rivals. 

Reports claimed that the latest British offer on fishing would involve the EU sacrificing around 25 percent of its share of quota in UK waters over a five-year period.

It is a big compromise on Lord Frost’s original demand that the EU hand back 60 percent over three years. But it is much more than Mr. Barnier’s offer to hand back just 15 percent over ten years.

It would mean the UK keeping two-thirds of fish in its waters, and quotas are expected to be negotiated annually rather than over a longer period as Brussels had wanted. 

So what’s in Boris’s Brexit deal? PM gives ground to Brussels over UK fish but claims victory over competition rules and EU laws, with an agreement to maintain counter-terror and crime-fighting partnerships 

It’s the document the (political) world has been waiting for – and it’s feared to be no fewer than 2,000 pages long.

This morning EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his British counterpart Lord Frost were still combing through the Brexit trade deal, line by line.  

Talks in Brussels were focused on the details of fishing rights but both sides have indicated a Christmas Eve deal will be announced, bringing an end to months of wrangling just a week before current trading arrangements expire.

Some feared it would never materialise. But the world could soon finally see the agreement – which will shape every aspect of Britain’s future relationship with the EU.

Analysis of the deal-in waiting by the UK Government suggests it ‘won’ in talks on 43 percent of the ‘key issues’ in the talks. It labels a further 40 percent at compromises for both sides, with just 17 percent down as ‘EU wins’.

Almost a year in the making, the deal has involved hundreds of officials working round the clock to agree its terms. So, what are the key areas – and what will we be signing up to?

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier (third from left) and his British counterpart Lord Frost were still combing through the Brexit trade deal
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier (third from left) and his British counterpart Lord Frost were still combing through the Brexit trade deal

FISHING

Last night it appeared that Britain had given ground on this major sticking point to get a deal done.

Fishing rights have been the most intractable part of the negotiations. Boris Johnson made clear that Britain would be an independent coastal state in charge of access to its own waters – with UK fishermen able to catch a far greater proportion of the available fish than their EU competitors.

Brussels had demanded unfettered access to Britain’s waters for a decade. The UK had offered a three-year transition period.

According to early reports, what we have ended up taking back is 25 percent of the EU’s fishing quota – with changes phased in over five-and-a-half years.

Downing Street says this will mean we are catching two-thirds of the fish in our waters by 2026 – but there is no doubt that this compromise appears nearer the EU’s starting position than ours, at least in the short term.

The Government document, seen by the Guido Fawkes website, insists that the situation is a mutual compromise – the UK gave ground on the size of the quotas, the EU gave ground on how long they have access for.

However, perhaps in a bid to save face, French sources suggested the situation was a win for the EU. A French government source said UK negotiators had made ‘huge concessions’ on fisheries.  

But the sides were still said to be arguing ‘fish by fish’ over the rules this morning, with Ireland warning of a ‘hitch’, even though UK sources insisted there are ‘no major issues’. 

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD

Another bone of contention has been Brussels’ fear that Britain could take advantage of leaving the bloc by lowering standards to make its firms more competitive. 

The EU was also worried that the UK could give more financial help to its own firms. 

As a result, it demanded a ‘level playing field’ to avoid a race to the bottom on issues such as workers’ rights and environmental regulation. 

It also wanted Britain to continue to accept a slew of EU rules.

The UK said this would pose an ‘existential threat’ to its sovereignty. Britain said it would settle for No Deal rather than face being tied to EU rules after Brexit.

Last night it appeared that Britain had given ground on this major sticking point to get a deal done. Pictured: Boris Johnson with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on the steps of No10 Downing Street earlier this year
Last night it appeared that Britain had given ground on this major sticking point to get a deal done. Pictured: Boris Johnson with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on the steps of No10 Downing Street earlier this year

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9085263/UK-EU-haggling-fish-despite-deal-DONE.html#v-3703796533080378766

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In the end, both parties appear to have agreed a common baseline of regulations on some issues, below which neither side will plunge.

However, the EU has also been insisting that if one side raised standards and the other did not, the latter should be penalised if failure to keep up resulted in unfair competition.

Instead, it is likely the two sides have agreed an independent mechanism to resolve matters if one side diverges too far from common standards. This would ultimately make rulings on retaliatory tariffs in the event of a dispute.

The Government claims it ‘won’ five of the eight key sticking points in this part of negotiations, including EU law, the ability of the UK to set its own subsidy rates, competition, and tax rules.

OVERSIGHT

A related– and thorny – issue is that of the European Court of Justice. British sources indicated that the ECJ will have no say in the resolution of any rows.

This had been a key demand from Westminster, to avoid the erosion of British sovereignty.

Brussels conceded that it could not have the unilateral right to impose penalties on Britain – although it did push hard for a strong and independent arbitration system.

The EU had hoped to punish Britain for ‘breaking rules’ in one area by hitting back in another – allowing them to impose tariffs or taxes in an unrelated sector to inflict the most damage possible. 

TARIFFS

In the end, Britain and the EU appear to have agreed on a zero-tariff and zero-quota regime – a significant victory for Mr. Johnson. Trade with the EU, accounts for 43 percent of the UK’s exports and 51 percent of its imports.

Another bone of contention has been Brussels’ fear that Britain could take advantage of leaving the bloc by lowering standards to make its firms more competitive. Pictured: European Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier

Another bone of contention has been Brussels’ fear that Britain could take advantage of leaving the bloc by lowering standards to make its firms more competitive.
Pictured: European Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier

The prospect of No Deal – and trading with Brussels on World Trade Organization terms, as Australia does – prompted fears of massive extra costs for businesses, which would have been passed on to the public.

As talks reached the sharp end, ministers accepted that No Deal would lead to many staple food items costing more at the supermarket. 

Farmers warned however that they would still face non-tariff costs on exports.

Farmers’ Union of Wales president Glyn Roberts welcomed the EU’s formal listing of the UK as a ‘third country’ – a move which is essential in terms of allowing Welsh food exports to the EU.

‘However, our access to the EU market, which is the destination for three-quarters of Welsh food and drink exports, will still face significant barriers after December 31, with non-tariff barrier costs expected to rise by 4 percent to 8 percent,’ he said.

Mr. Roberts said the full text of an agreement would have to be scrutinised in order to assess the full impacts and benefits, and a number of concerns existed including in terms of seed potato exports.

‘Nevertheless, the Welsh farming industry, like others the length and breadth of Great Britain, will be celebrating Christmas having breathed a huge sigh of relief that a deal seems close to being agreed,’ he added. 

POLICING AND SECURITY

Sources say there has been some level of agreement on the key issue of security co-operation. 

Britain had wanted to maintain the same access to shared databases that it has now – only for the EU to claim this was not an option for non-members.  

Ultimately, the UK appears to have secured greater access than it would have received in a No Deal Brexit.

The UK Government document says the agreement ‘provides for fast and effective exchange of criminal records data between UK and EUMS through shared technical infrastructure (European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS)).’

There will also be a ‘fast and effective exchange of national DNA, fingerprint, and vehicle registration data’.

The UK also appears to have been given greater access to Europol than other non-EU countries because of its past contribution to the crime agency. There is also a fast-track agreement on extradition. 

HOLIDAYS AND HEALTHCARE

striking a deal means Britons will find it easier to travel to the continent than they would have if talks had failed.

It is also hoped that tourists will have access to hospital treatment when traveling abroad. 

The UK has argued that the European Health Insurance Card, or EHIC, should also continue to be valid after the Brexit transition period ends on December 31 – sparing tourists the ordeal of arranging their own insurance.

DOWN TO THE WIRE: TIMELINE OF THE BREXIT SAGA 

Boris Johnson and the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen have agreed that a ‘firm decision’ about the future of Brexit negotiations should be made by Sunday.

As the clock ticks towards the deadline for agreement on a trade deal, here is a look at the key moments in the saga:

January 23, 2013 – Under intense pressure from many of his own MPs and with the rise of Ukip, prime minister David Cameron promises an in-out referendum on EU membership if the Conservatives win the 2015 general election.

May 7, 2015 – The Tories unexpectedly make sweeping gains over Ed Miliband’s Labour Party and secure a majority in the Commons. Mr. Cameron vows to deliver his manifesto pledge of an EU referendum.

June 23, 2016 – The UK votes to leave the EU in a shock result that sees 52% of the public support Brexit and Mr. Cameron quickly resigns as prime minister.

July 13, 2016 – Theresa May takes over as prime minister. Despite having backed Remain, she promises to ‘rise to the challenge’ of negotiating the UK’s exit.

November 10, 2016 – The High Court rules against the Government and says Parliament must hold a vote to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, the mechanism that begins the exit from the EU. Mrs. May says the ruling will not stop her from invoking the legislation by April 2017.

March 29, 2017 – Mrs. May triggers Article 50. European Council President Donald Tusk says it is not a happy occasion, telling a Brussels press conference his message to the UK is: ‘We already miss you. Thank you and goodbye.’

April 18, 2017 – Mrs May announces a snap general election to be held on June 8.

June 8, 2017 – There is humiliation for Mrs .as she loses her Commons majority after her election gamble backfires. She becomes head of a minority Conservative administration propped up by the Democratic Unionist Party.

September 22, 2017 – In a crucial Brexit speech in Florence, Mrs. May sends a message to EU leaders by saying: ‘We want to be your strongest friend and partner as the EU and UK thrive side by side.’ She says she is proposing an ‘implementation period’ of ‘around two years’ after Brexit when existing market access arrangements will apply.

March 19, 2018 – The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, says he and Brexit secretary David Davis have taken a ‘decisive step’ towards agreeing a joint legal text on the UK’s EU withdrawal but warns there are still outstanding issues relating to the Irish border.

July 6, 2018 – A crunch Cabinet meeting at Chequers agrees with Mrs. May’s new Brexit plans, including the creation of a new UK-EU free trade area for goods. But not all who attend are happy with the compromises.

July 8 and July 9, 2018 – Mr. Davis resigns from the Government in protest while the following day Boris Johnson quits as foreign secretary, claiming the plans mean ‘we are truly headed for the status of colony’ of the EU.

November 14, 2018 – In a statement outside 10 Downing Street after a five-hour Cabinet meeting, Mrs. May says that Cabinet has agreed the draft Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

November 15, 2018 – Dominic Raab resigns as Brexit secretary, saying he ‘cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU’. Other resignations follow.

November 25, 2018 – The 27 EU leaders endorse the Brexit deal.

December 12, 2018 – Mrs May survives an attempt to oust her with a vote of no confidence as Tory MPs vote by 200 to 117 in the secret ballot in Westminster.

January 15, 2019 – MPs reject Mrs. May’s Brexit plans by an emphatic 432 to 202 in an historic vote which throws the future of her administration and the nature of the UK’s EU withdrawal into doubt.

March 20, 2019 – Mrs. May tells the House of Commons that she has written to Mr. Tusk to request an extension to Article 50 Brexit negotiations to June 30.

March 29, 2019 – MPs reject Mrs. May’s Withdrawal Agreement for a third time – by 286 votes to 344 – on the day the UK was due to leave the EU.

April 10, 2019 – The EU agrees a ‘flexible extension’ to Brexit until October 31. Mrs May says the ‘choices we now face are stark and the timetable is clear’.

May 23, 2019 – Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party comes out on top in the European elections, while the pro-EU Liberal Democrats also make gains.

May 24, 2019 – Mrs May announces she is standing down as Tory Party leader on June 7. She says: ‘It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit.’

July 23, 2019 – Mr Johnson is elected as leader of the Conservative Party and becomes the UK’s new Prime Minister after defeating Jeremy Hunt.

August 20, 2019 – The new Prime Minister is rebuffed by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker after demanding major changes to Irish border arrangements in a new Brexit deal.

August 28, 2019 – The Queen is dragged into the Brexit row as Mr. Johnson requests the prorogation of Parliament from early September to mid-October.

September 4, 2019 – MPs vote to approve legislation aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit. Mr. Johnson orders a purge of rebel Tories who opposed the Government including former chancellors Philip Hammond and Sir Kenneth Clarke.

The Prime Minister attempts to trigger an early general election but fails to get the required support of two-thirds of MPs.

September 24, 2019 – The Supreme Court rules that the PM’s advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament until October 14 was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating Parliament.

October 2, 2019 – Mr Johnson puts forward his formal Brexit plan to the EU, revealing his blueprint to solve the Irish border issue.

October 10, 2019 – Mr Johnson and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar say they can see a ‘pathway to a deal’, in a joint statement after key talks at a luxury hotel in Cheshire.

October 17, 2019 – After intense negotiations, the Prime Minister announces the UK has reached a ‘great deal’ with the EU which ‘takes back control’ and means that ‘the UK can come out of the EU as one United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, together’.

October 19, 2019 – In the first Saturday sitting of the Commons in 37 years, Mr. Johnson seeks the support of MPs in a ‘meaningful vote’ on his new deal but instead they back an amendment forcing him to seek a delay.

October 22, 2019 – The Prime Minister mounts an attempt to fast-track his Brexit deal through Parliament but puts the plans on ice after MPs vote against his foreshortened timetable.

October 28, 2019 – EU leaders agree to a second Brexit ‘flex tension’ until January 31 unless Parliament ratifies the deal sooner.

October 29, 2019 – Mr. Johnson finally succeeds at the fourth attempt in winning Commons support for a general election on December 12.

December 12, 2019 – Having campaigned on a promise to ‘get Brexit done’, Mr Johnson secures a landslide win at the election and with an 80-seat majority.

January 8, 2020 – New European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen visits No 10 to warn Mr. Johnson the timetable for a post-Brexit trade deal is ‘very, very tight’. The Prime Minister is clear however there will be no extension to the transition period, which expires at the end of 2020.

January 9, 2020 – Mr. Johnson gets his Brexit deal through the Commons as the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill is given a third reading with a majority of 99.

January 31, 2020 – A clock projected on the walls of Downing Street counts down the moments to the UK’s departure from the EU at 11 pm.

March 2, 2020 – Mr. Barnier and Mr. Johnson’s chief EU adviser David Frost open formal talks in Brussels on Britain’s future relationship with the bloc, including a free trade agreement.

March 12, 2020 – The two sides announce they are suspending face-to-face talks due to the coronavirus pandemic and will explore the options for continuing the negotiations by video conferencing.

June 12, 2020 – Cabinet office minister Michael Gove formally tells the EU the UK will not sign up to an extension to the transition period, but he backtracks on plans to immediately introduce full border checks with the bloc on January 1.

September 10, 2020 – The European Commission threatens the UK with legal action after ministers announce plans for legislation enabling them to override provisions in the Withdrawal Agreement relating to Northern Ireland in breach of international law.

October 16, 2020 – Mr. Johnson says he is halting talks on a trade deal accusing EU leaders meeting for a summit in Brussels of seeking to impose ‘unacceptable’ demands.

November 7, 2020 – Mr. Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen agree to ‘redouble’ their efforts to get a deal while acknowledging that significant differences remain over fisheries and the so-called ‘level playing field’ for state aid rules.

December 4, 2020 – Lord Frost and Mr. Barnier announce in a joint statement the conditions for an agreement had still not been met and negotiations will be put on ‘pause’ to allow political leaders to take stock, with Mr. Johnson and Mrs. Von der Leyen to engage in emergency talks.

December 7, 2020 – In a key move to ease tensions, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove and EU counterpart Maroš Šefčovič settle the row over the Withdrawal Agreement, meaning planned clauses that would have overridden the divorce terms are dropped.    

December 9, 2020 – Mr. Johnson and Mrs. Von der Leyen dine at the European Commission, with talks between the two leaders lasting around three hours.

They warned ‘very large gaps’ remain, but authorised further discussions between the negotiating teams, with a ‘firm decision’ due on Sunday.

December 10, 2020 – Ms von der Leyen pushes the button on the EU’s No Deal contingency plans. Mr. Johnson warns No Deal is now a strong possibility. 

December 11, 2020 – Mr. Johnson says No Deal is ‘very very likely’ and the most probable outcome from the standoff.

December 16, 2020 – At the last PMQs of the year, Mr Johnson insists the UK will ‘prosper mightily’ whatever the result of the talks.

December 17, 2020 – MPs are sent home for Christmas with a warning that they will be recalled if a Brexit deal needs to be passed into law before January 1. 

December 19, 2020 – Mr Johnson announces that a mutant version of coronavirus has been identified in the UK. A host of countries impose travel restrictions, with France saying no freight will be allowed in for 48 hours. It sparks fears over supermarket shortages, although Brexiteers complain it is partly strong arm tactics in the negotiations. 

11 p.m. December 31, 2020 – The Brexit transition period will end and the UK will be under new trade – or WTO – terms. 

Read more:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9086051/Boris-Johnson-hails-historic-Canada-style-trade-deal-EU.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ico=taboola_feed_desktop_news

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UK and EU ‘are haggling over every fish’ despite deal all-but DONE

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14-day quarantine period required for all travelers to Montserrat

As the Government of Montserrat (GoM) continues its vigilance in attempting to keep the island COVID-19 (and any variant thereof) free after its demonstrated ignorance or its lacking of alertness at the beginning and before the pandemic announcement.

According to the following release of a decision, “in light of concerns regarding a new variant of COVID-19 which was recently discovered in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe,” GoM has decreed that all persons “traveling to Montserrat will be required to quarantine for 14 days…”

The release dated Wednesday, December 23, 2020, follows:

 –  As of 12:01 a.m. on December 26, 2020, all persons traveling to Montserrat will be required to quarantine for 14 days.

This decision was made in Cabinet this morning, in light of concerns regarding a new variant of COVID-19 which was recently discovered in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, and which Health Experts say can spread more quickly than prior strains of the virus. 

As a result, Cabinet has decided that, except for those classes of people who are specifically exempted under S.R.O 80 of 2020, all other individuals arriving in Montserrat must quarantine for the full 14 days, including those staying in Government approved quarantine facilities.

Those exempted from the quarantine requirement are: Non-Resident Technicians granted permission to travel to Montserrat; a member of the crew of an aircraft or ship; and a person who has been granted permission by the Minister of Health to enter Montserrat for the purpose of aiding with preparations for a disaster or after a disaster.

Individuals traveling to Montserrat are reminded that a negative PCR COVID-19 Test and pre-travel registration are still required prior to entering Montserrat.  The PCR COVID-19 Test must be undertaken no earlier than seven days prior to entering Montserrat.

Members of the public are also urged to continue practicing the recommended health and safety precautionary measures, to include wearing a face covering, social distancing, and sanitisation.

As the Government of Montserrat (GoM) continues its vigilance in attempting to keep the island COVID-19 (and any variant thereof) free after its demonstrated ignorance or its lacking of alertness at the beginning and before the pandemic announcement.

According to the following release of a decision, “in light of concerns regarding a new variant of COVID-19 which was recently discovered in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe,” GoM has decreed that all persons “traveling to Montserrat will be required to quarantine for 14 days,”

The release dated Wednesday, December 23, 2020, follows:

 –  As of 12:01 a.m. on December 26, 2020, all persons traveling to Montserrat will be required to quarantine for 14 days.

This decision was made in Cabinet this morning, in light of concerns regarding a new variant of COVID-19 which was recently discovered in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, and which Health Experts say can spread more quickly than prior strains of the virus. 

As a result, Cabinet has decided that, except for those classes of people who are specifically exempted under S.R.O 80 of 2020, all other individuals arriving in Montserrat must quarantine for the full 14 days, including those staying in Government approved quarantine facilities.

Those exempted from the quarantine requirement are: Non-Resident Technicians granted permission to travel to Montserrat; a member of the crew of an aircraft or ship; and a person who has been granted permission by the Minister of Health to enter Montserrat for the purpose of aiding with preparations for a disaster or after a disaster.

Individuals traveling to Montserrat are reminded that a negative PCR COVID-19 Test and pre-travel registration are still required prior to entering Montserrat.  The PCR COVID-19 Test must be undertaken no earlier than seven days prior to entering Montserrat.

Members of the public are also urged to continue practicing the recommended health and safety precautionary measures, to include wearing a face covering, social distancing, and sanitisation.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, Environment, Featured, Government Notices, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional, TOURISM, Travel0 Comments

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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

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Ministers mull ‘Tier 4’ crackdown after Christmas with commuting banned, non-essential shops shut and schools closed an extra week – after Boris Johnson plunged 38 million into Tier 3 AND warned No Deal is ‘very likely’

MailOnline - news, sport, celebrity, science and health stories

Friday, Dec 18 2020

6 AM 11°C 9 AM 11°C 5-Day Forecast

  • Tier Three restrictions extended yesterday, plunging 38 million people into the new year under the toughest curbs
  • Swathes of the Home Counties will join London in Tier 3 tomorrow along with Manchester and the North East
  • Experts fear decisions will not be enough to avert more draconian measures due to Covid surging in England
  • It comes as Boris Johnson warned a No Deal Brexit is ‘very likely’ if the EU does not budge overfishing rules 

By James Robinson for MailOnline and Jason Groves And Claire Ellicott For The Daily Mail and James Tapsfield Political Editor For Mailonline and Jack Maidment, Deputy Political Editor For Mailonline

Ministers are mulling over a ‘Tier 4’ crackdown after Christmas, with commuting banned, non-essential shops shut and schools closed an extra week, as officials search for new plans to keep Covid case numbers under control.

Tier Three restrictions were extended yesterday so that two thirds of homes in England ¿ and 38million people ¿ can now expect to go into the new year under the toughest curbs. Pictured: Boris Johnson yesterday speaking with Ursula von der Leyen
Pictured: Boris Johnson yesterday speaking with Ursula von der Leyen. Tier Three restrictions were extended yesterday so that two-thirds of homes in England – and 38 million people – can now expect to go into the new year under the toughest curbs.

As Boris Johnson last night gave the green light to plunge large swathes of England’s Home Counties into Tier 3 – bringing the number of people living under the toughest restrictions to 38 million – Government officials revealed even tougher measures could be on the way. 

The areas of southern England will join London in the highest tier tomorrow, while Manchester and the North East were told they could not move down a grade despite recording fewer cases. 

Tory MP Rob Butler said yesterday’s tier moves heralded ‘the bleakest of midwinters, especially for hospitality businesses’.

His comments came as Prime Minister last night warned a No Deal Brexit is ‘very likely’ unless the EU gives ground on trade talks. 

Despite yesterday’s announcement of increasing restrictions on large parts of the country, experts fear the decisions will not be enough to avert more draconian measures because Covid is surging nationally.   

A Whitehall official told the Times: ‘There is a case for going further than Tier 3 and it is getting stronger.

‘[That could mean] closure of non-essential retail, stay-at-home orders. That would have to be actively considered in conversation with the local authority.’

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has previously endorsed a ‘Tier 4’ as a way of tightening restrictions in order to control the virus.

Wales meanwhile is going into another lockdown on December 28 and Northern Ireland last night backed plans for a six-week shutdown starting on Boxing Day.

Scottish leaders said that tougher virus restrictions after Christmas – including a lockdown – were a ‘possibility’. 

Teachers were last night told that they will have to help mass test millions of secondary school pupils – while in other developments:

Pictured: A map of England’s tiers: Swathes of the Home Counties will join London in the highest tier tomorrow while Manchester and the North East were told they could not move down a grade despite recording fewer cases.
  • Rishi Sunak extended until May the £5billion-a-month furlough scheme amid fears that tough virus restrictions could extend beyond Easter;
  • Fears of a third wave mounted as daily Covid cases jumped again to 35,383, although this included 11,000 from Wales which were not recorded earlier this month because of a computer glitch;
  • London emerged as the new Covid hotspot with 319.3 cases per 100,000 people in the week to December 13, up more than 50 percent from 199.9 in the previous week;
  • Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warned that the combined impact of Covid and lockdowns would have a ‘substantial’ impact on health, education, and poverty for years;
  • Mr. Johnson warned that Brexit talks were now in a ‘serious situation’ following a phone call with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen – although fishing rights now seem to be the only major sticking point;
  • Priti Patel urged families to cancel Christmas plans that involve traveling long distances, as Labour called for the five-day festive amnesty to be axed altogether;
  • Matt Hancock said the situation in Kent had become so dire that everyone in the county should now ‘behave as if they have the virus and are trying not to pass it on to somebody else’;
  • Former minister Tobias Ellwood apologised after Downing Street criticised him for breaching Covid restrictions by speaking at a Christmas dinner attended by 27 people.

Read full click here: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9065485/Boris-Johnson-warns-No-Deal-likely-plunging-38-million-Tier-3-lockdown-misery.html?ito=push-notification&ci=61134&si=21848963

And, BREXIT update: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9064869/Boris-Johnson-Ursula-von-der-Leyen-set-Brexit-call-tonight.html?ito=push-notification&ci=61071&si=21848963

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, Featured, Health, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional, UK - Brexit0 Comments

Electoral College elector Robin Smith, left, and others clap after casting their votes for President of the United States at the state Capitol, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020 in Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, Pool)

A historic moment, like many others – electors cast their votes…

TMR: The day regarded in several states as historic, culminating a historical election, though not yet quite complete and still among threats of ‘civil war’.

Electoral College elector Robin Smith, left, and others clap after casting their votes for President of the United States at the state Capitol, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020 in Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, Pool)
© Provided by Associated Press Electoral College elector Robin Smith, left, and others clap after casting their votes for President of the United States at the state Capitol, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020 in Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, Pool)

See more of the process…

Joe Biden (left) – Donald Trump (right)

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Columns, Elections, Featured, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

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