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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Federal Judges to Trump: What Part of "No" Do You Fail to Understand?
      •  State Republicans See the Writing on the Wall
      •  The Grift Continues
      •  Sources: Gen. Lloyd Austin To Be Secretary of Defense
      •  Report: Tom Vilsack Will be Secretary of Agriculture
      •  Barr May Quit the Cabinet before Jan. 20

Federal Judges to Trump: What Part of "No" Do You Fail to Understand?

Donald Trump and his allies are suing like there is no tomorrow. Actually, there is no tomorrow. Dec. 7 is Pearl Harbor Day but Dec. 8 (today) is Safe Harbor Day. According to the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which arose from the disputed 1876 election between Samuel Tilden (D) and Rutherford B. Hayes (R), Congress must count the electoral votes of states that have certified their presidential electors six days before the electors do their thing. As of today, more than 270 Biden electors have been certified so the fat lady is on stage belting out another chorus.

This hasn't stopped Trump and his allies from continuing to sue in every court they can find. It also hasn't stopped federal judges from saying: "No, no, no, and while we are at it, no." In particular, yesterday a pair of federal judges, one in Michigan and one in Georgia delivered blistering opinions to lawsuits filed by Trump ally Sidney Powell, a Texas lawyer. Judge Linda Parker, a U.S. District judge in Michigan wrote: "With nothing but speculation and conjecture that votes for President Trump were destroyed, discarded or switched to votes for Vice President Biden, plaintiffs' equal protection claim fails." Then she added: "Even if their claims had merit, the alleged injury does not entitle them to seek their requested remedy because the harm of having one's vote invalidated or diluted is not remedied by denying millions of others their right to vote." That's legalspeak for: "Buzz off."

Georgia wasn't any better for Team Trump. There U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten (a George W. Bush appointee) wrote: "They want this court to substitute its judgment for two-and-a-half million voters who voted for Joe Biden. And this I am unwilling to do." Batten rejected the suit on multiple grounds, including the timing, the plaintiffs' standing, and the relief requested. In short, none of these cases are getting past the courthouse doormat, let alone getting a serious hearing on the merits. With the safe harbor deadline passing today, none of these lawsuits are going anywhere but the circular file. (V)

State Republicans See the Writing on the Wall

Republicans in Congress are still hiding under their desks to avoid the media. It's kind of an inverted filibuster. Instead of talking as long as you can, the goal is to avoid talking as long as you can. As long as aides keep bringing them sandwiches and barring the door to reporters, they will continue to... say nothing about who the president-elect might be.

On the other hand, Republicans holding state offices see that the jig is up and are starting to recognize the reality that Joe Biden and Chief Justice John Roberts are going to have a friendly little get together for a couple of minutes at noon on Jan. 20. The rift between federal and state Republicans is getting wider by the day, which certainly is not good for Party unity. Three Georgia Republicans, Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, and SoS Brad Raffensperger, have made it abundantly clear that Joe Biden won Georgia and is the president-elect. Gov. Doug Ducey (R-AZ) has defended his state's election. Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH) has said that Trump needs to concede. Govs. Larry Hogan (R-MD) and Phil Bryant (R-VT) also are on record saying that Biden won the election. There are still a few holdouts, such as Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), but their ranks keep dwindling. By Dec. 14, when the electors have voted, no doubt many Republican governors and other state officials will come out and state the obvious, namely, that Joe Biden is the president-elect.

The rift between the Trumpy and non-Trumpy Republicans is starting to tear the Party apart. State party chairs are going after governors. Failed candidates are seizing on Trump's "fraud story" to claim they are victims. In general, the gap between Republican activists (who largely support Trump) and elected officials (few of whom do, even if they are scared to say so) has never been wider. The former deputy chair of the Minnesota Republican Party, Michael Brodkorb, said: "To see activists across the country really just with pitchforks and torches at the's just bonkers." The infighting could reduce turnout in the crucial Georgia Senate runoffs, but could also reshape the Party long term. Activists used to accept elected Republican politicians as their leaders. That isn't true any more. For example, Kelli Ward, the chair of the Arizona Republican Party just told her (Republican) governor to "shut up."

This kind of behavior is putting the Party at a crossroads somewhat similar to that of 2010, when tea party activists took over. If that happens again, with Trumpists vs. traditional Republicans, it could get messy and lead to a protracted intraparty battle. It's anyone's guess how that will play out, but such battles are rarely good for a party. (V)

The Grift Continues

Given that all the key swing states have certified their election results and the courts have no interest in overturning them, why is Trump refusing to at least stop fighting, even if he won't actually (ever) concede? The answer is: $$$$$$$$$$. And more $$$$$$$$$$$. In November, Donald Trump formed a new leadership super PAC and has been bombarding his supporters with emails asking for donations to fight Joe Biden's victory in the courts. But in a small footnote, the emails point out that some of the money may also go to Trump's new super PAC. In particular, some has now totaled $208 million. Nice money if you can get it. As long as Trump's supporters want to keep funding his giant slush fund, he is going to keep asking them to do it. And remember, this money isn't to run television ads telling the voters how Joe Biden is going to appoint the late Fidel Castro to be secretary of state or the late Che Guevarra to be secretary of homeland security. It's nominally just about lawsuits trying to overturn the election. Even Rudy Giuliani is billing only $20,000 a day (and maybe less now that he is sidelined with COVID-19), so $208 million and counting will pay for a lot of lawsuits, none of which have a snowball's chance in Hell of succeeding.

But the giant slush fund has all kinds of possible uses. First, Trump can pay himself and his kids fat salaries for running the PAC and doing work for it. Second, if he doesn't run in 2024, he could buy independent ads to support the Trumpiest candidate and thus continue to be a player. Third, as people continue to throw money at Trump, he is collecting email addresses of supporters. That list, which can be stored on a $5 USB stick, is worth millions. Candidates running for the Senate and House in 2022 are going to be begging Trump to rent it to them, which obviously gives him massive leverage over them (not to mention equally massive rental fees). Finally, since Trump measures everything in dollars (and possibly rubles), having so much money coming in makes him feel good.

Speaking of money, Joe Biden has only $1.6 million left in the bank. Poor Joe. On the other hand, the reason there is so little left is that he raised and spent over a billion dollars on his campaign. Only one presidential campaign in history has spent (marginally) more: Michael Bloomberg spent $1.1 billion on his rather pointless primary run this spring. (V)

Sources: Gen. Lloyd Austin To Be Secretary of Defense

The armed forces are disproportionally Black, with 17% of enlisted men and 29% of enlisted women being Black. Most likely this is due not only to Black people being exceptionally patriotic, but also because the military is regarded as a true meritocracy, where performance in battle is what counts. In his quest to make his cabinet look more like America, Joe Biden has acknowledged this by choosing Gen. Lloyd Austin (ret.) to be secretary of defense. He will be the first Black person to hold that job. Biden is expected to make his pick official today.

As usual, Biden prefers people he knows well personally and he knows Austin well. From 2013 to 2016, Austin was commander of CENTCOM and he and Biden had many discussions about the Middle East as well as Central and South Asia.

The pick is not without some controversy. Many people, including congressional Democrats, were hoping Biden would pick Michèle Flournoy, thus breaking a different barrier. Austin is still expected to be confirmed easily since Senate Republicans don't want to go on record voting against a four-star general. One minor problem is that Austin needs a waiver to be confirmed because federal law requires that defense secretaries who served in the military have to be retired for 7 years before being eligible unless Congress issues a waiver. Waivers have been granted before, however, most recently to Jim Mattis. (V)

Report: Tom Vilsack Will be Secretary of Agriculture

Another old Biden friend, former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, is reported to be the leading candidate for secretary of agriculture. Not only does Biden know Vilsack well, but Vilsack comes from a farm state. Oh, in addition, he has already held the job for 8 years under Barack Obama, so he knows the ropes and fences better than any other Democrat.

Not everyone will be pleased if Biden goes with Vilsack. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) has been lobbying hard for Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), who is Black. Still, Biden can tell Clyburn that if you have to choose between butter and guns, there is more money and power in being secretary of guns rather than secretary of butter. Defense is one of the key cabinet positions and agriculture is not, so Clyburn will probably not be too upset with these choices. (V)

Barr May Quit the Cabinet before Jan. 20

Stories have been circulating that Donald Trump is planning to fire AG William Barr because he has said that there wasn't much fraud in the election, thus contradicting Trump. Consequently, Barr is considering quitting before he can be fired. Yes, if he quit today he'd lose 5 weeks' salary, but his legacy is already bad enough without adding "was fired" to it.

It is far from clear why Barr, who was AG in George H.W. Bush's administration, came out of semi-retirement to be Trump's toady. If he had said no to the offer, he would have gone down in history as a straight shooter who upheld the law and was consider a fine AG. Now he is universally going to be regarded as someone who trampled on the Constitution and the law for the benefit of a would-be authoritarian. What's the point of that? If he really needed the annual salary of $210,700, he could have joined a top law firm and made much more than that. One possibility though is that he really and truly believes that the president is an elected king (known as the "unitary executive theory") and in Trump saw a way to make it actually happen. In any event, he's probably now sorry he came back to the Justice Dept. and will leave with his once-fine reputation in tatters. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Dec07 Republican Lawmakers Are Still Fighting for Trump
Dec07 Trump Is Still Fighting for Trump
Dec07 Only 27 Congressional Republicans Admit That Biden Won
Dec07 Warnock and Loeffler Debate, as Do Ossoff and an Empty Podium
Dec07 Hell Week in Congress
Dec07 Biden Taps Becerra for HHS
Dec07 Giuliani Has the Coronavirus
Dec07 McDaniel Wants to Remain "Neutral"
Dec07 It Was a Bad Year for Iowa Democrats
Dec07 Ad Rates Soar in Georgia
Dec07 Luke Letlow Wins LA-05 House Seat
Dec06 Sunday Mailbag
Dec05 Saturday Q&A
Dec05 Today's Senate Polls
Dec04 Four Out of Five Presidents Believe in Setting an Example on COVID-19
Dec04 Pardon Power Is no Panacea
Dec04 Graham Could Be in Hot Water
Dec04 Georgia Republicans Brace for Trump's Arrival
Dec04 And Now We Know
Dec04 Projecting the Cabinet Is a Real Crapshoot
Dec04 The Biden Cabinet: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Dec04 Today's Senate Polls
Dec03 Biden Wins Georgia--Again
Dec03 Biden Is Focusing on Mid- and Lower-Level Appointees
Dec03 What Is Trump Up To?
Dec03 Trump 2024
Dec03 The Case of the Unredacted Apostrophe
Dec03 The Michigander vs. the Michigoose
Dec03 Earmarks Are Back
Dec03 Democrats Are Spending Millions to Hammer Perdue and Loeffler on Insider Trading
Dec03 Democrats Are Fighting over Feinstein's Replacement
Dec02 Pardon Me?
Dec02 Don Trixote Continues to Tilt at Electoral Windmills
Dec02 Trump Inches Closer to Making it Official
Dec02 Trump About to Suffer One Last Foreign Policy Loss on His Way Out the Door
Dec02 What Ails the Democrats, Part 647
Dec02 Biden Pressured to Make Cabinet More Diverse
Dec02 The Biden Cabinet: Secretary of Health and Human Services
Dec01 Certifiable Loser
Dec01 Cold Turkey
Dec01 940,000 Absentee Ballots Have Been Requested for Georgia Runoff So Far
Dec01 Can the Democrats Win Back the Cuban Vote?
Dec01 Voters Apparently Like What They Are Seeing from Biden
Dec01 Five Things That Saved Democracy
Dec01 The Biden Cabinet: Secretary of Labor
Nov30 Appeals Court Slaps Down Trump
Nov30 Biden's Lead in Wisconsin Grows by 87 Votes
Nov30 Biden Breaks a Record
Nov30 Biden's Top Five Challenges
Nov30 Supreme Court to Hear Census Case Today