House chairs direct Trump administration to preserve records related to investigations
Democratic House committee chairs sent letters Tuesday to the White House and federal agencies directing them to preserve documents related to congressional subpoenas and investigations.
“Over the last four years, the administration obstructed numerous congressional investigations by refusing to provide responsive information,” the House chairs wrote in letters to agencies and White House counsel Pat Cipollone.
“You are obligated to ensure that any information previously requested by Congress — and any other information that is required by law to be preserved — is saved and appropriately archived in a manner that is easily retrievable,” they said.
The request covers documents and electronic messages and metadata “involving official business that were sent using both official and personal accounts or devices, including communications through text messaging, phone-based message applications, or encryption software,” a press release about the letters said.
Ossoff warns health care protections are on the line in expected Georgia runoffs
Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff, whose race against GOP Sen. David Perdue is likely headed toward a Jan. 5 runoff election, on Tuesday slammed Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., for supporting the lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act.
Ossoff said that both Perdue and Loeffler, who will face Democrat Raphael Warnock in the Jan. 5 runoff, support the lawsuit being heard Tuesday by the Supreme Court. Ossoff warned that health care protections are on the line in these races, which will determine control of the Senate.
“This is why these Senate runoffs are so vital,” Ossoff said at a press conference in Atlanta, “Because if the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act, then it will be up to Congress to decide how to legislate such that pre-existing conditions remain covered. And if Mitch McConnell and David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are determining the course of policy, then they will allow the Supreme Court’s ruling to stand and to undermine those protections for pre-existing conditions.”
“So if we do not win the Senate races, and if the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act, then Georgia families and Georgians with asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer will be at risk of having their health coverage denied by insurance companies,” he added.
Asked what he would do as senator if Obamacare is dismantled next year, Ossoff said he would work to “not only reinstate those protections for pre-existing conditions, but we strengthen them. And we crack down on price-gouging for prescriptions by drug companies, and we ensure that we are expanding access to health care for Georgians instead of destroying it.”
NBC News says the race between Ossoff and Perdue is still too close to call.
Watchdog group finds no evidence to support Trump’s election fraud claims
An international group invited by the Trump administration to observe the presidential election found no evidence to support the president’s claims of fraud, it said in a report.
The Organization of American States sent 28 observers from 13 countries to watch elections in several states, including Georgia and Michigan, at all stages including early voting and on Election Day, as well as vote tabulation, at the invitation of the U.S. Department of State.
But noting that Trump had claimed he has only lost in those states because of “fraud,” the organization wrote: “The OAS observers deployed in the battleground states of Michigan and Georgia did not witness any of the aforementioned irregularities.”
FIRST READ: In appeasing Trump, the GOP toys with a constitutional crisis
In 2016, Donald Trump won Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by a combined 77,000 votes; he got 306 electoral votes; and he received a concession speech by Hillary Clinton and a White House meeting with Barack Obama 48 hours after the election.
In 2020, Joe Biden won those same three states by a combined 214,000 votes (and counting); he’s on track for an identical 306 electoral votes; and Trump, his administration and GOP leaders are still refusing to recognize the outcome.
While it’s easy to dismiss this refusal as the last gasp of Trumpism — Republicans trying to appease the president one last time before he exits the White House — it also feels close to a country stumbling into a constitutional crisis.
Trump expected to launch leadership PAC
President Trump is expected to launch a leadership PAC as soon as this month, according to Trump campaign officials, who argue its creation was always in the works, “win or lose.”
This would allow Trump to raise money once he leaves office as an intermediary vehicle and as he contemplates a potential 2024 run. Funds raised could pay for his travel and political consultants over the next few years, for example.
“The president always planned to do this, win or lose, so he can support candidates and issues he cares about, such as combating voter fraud,” campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh told NBC News in a statement.
Allies have been discussing this possibility with the president for some time, NBC News has reported. Even before the election, Trump had doubts that he would win. The president told advisers in the weeks before Nov. 3 that he would consider a presidential run in 2024 if he lost, according to a person familiar with the conversations. Trump has mentioned the idea again over the past week, and his allies have discussed the possibility of him setting up a super PAC.
Rep. Doug Collins calls on Georgia officials to conduct vote recount by hand
Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., who was chosen by the Trump campaign to oversee the recount in Georgia, said Tuesday that his state should conduct it by hand instead of simply rescanning ballots.
In a statement released by the Trump campaign, Collins said, “the Secretary of State should announce a full hand-count of every ballot cast in each and every county due to widespread allegations of voter irregularities, issues with voting machines, and poll watcher access.”
“We can — and we will — petition for this in court after statewide certification is completed if the secretary of state fails to act,” he added.
This comes after Georgia’s Republican senators called on Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to resign, something he said he has no intention of doing. Georgia’s election officials have said that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud and that any instances of fraud or irregularities are unlikely to change the outcome of the election.
HHS Secretary: Coronavirus ‘general vaccination’ programs by spring
Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar predicted Tuesday that there would be enough Covid-19 vaccine for general public vaccination campaigns by spring 2021.
In an appearance on the TODAY show, Azar outlined what he said would be the distribution schedule for Pfizer’s and other companies’ experimental vaccines, none of which are approved, but Pfizer said Monday its vaccine is over 90 percent effective at preventing coronavirus infection.
Azar said the pharmaceutical giant is ramping up to deliver 20 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine monthly by the end of November.
Azar forecasted that there would be enough of the vaccine to inoculate at-risk nursing home residents, health care workers and first responders by the end of January and that there should be “enough for all Americans by the end of March to early April to have general vaccination programs.”
Some publishers cool to post-White House book by Trump
One of publishing’s most thriving genres of the past four years, books about President Donald Trump, is not going to end when he leaves office.
In 2021 and beyond, look for waves of releases about the Trump administration and about the president’s loss to Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Works already planned include the anti-Trump “Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response,” by former Obamacare head Andy Slavitt. There’s a campaign book from New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns. And former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale is reportedly working on a memoir.
Expect detailed condemnations of the 45th president’s actions and rhetoric, from journalists and former associates, and also flattering accounts from White House allies and pro-Trump pundits. And there might well be a book from Trump himself, who received more than 70 million votes even as he became the first president in nearly 30 years to be defeated after one term.
“It was a very controversial presidency and the New York publishing world isn’t exactly packed with Trump fans,” says Matt Latimer of the Javelin literary agency, where clients have included former FBI Director James Comey, former National Security Adviser John Bolton and Fox host Tucker Carlson. “But there are tens of millions of Americans who look to the Trump presidency as an important time and are fans of his administration. At least some publishers will recognize that.”
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