The Hill's Morning Report - Fearing defeat, Trump claims 'illegal' ballots

The Hill's Morning Report - Fearing defeat, Trump claims 'illegal' ballots

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. You made it to Friday! We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the co-creators, and readers can find us on Twitter @asimendinger and @alweaver22. Please recommend the Morning Report to friends and let us know what you think. CLICK HERE to subscribe!

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 230,996; Tuesday, 231,562; Wednesday, 232,626; Thursday, 233,729; Friday, 234,937.

President TrumpDonald TrumpWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Poll: 30 percent of GOP voters believe Trump will 'likely' be reinstated this year Black Secret Service agent told Trump it was offensive to hold rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth: report MORE accused his opponents without evidence of trying to “steal the election from us,” speaking on Thursday just hours after former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenObama: Ensuring democracy 'continues to work effectively' keeps me 'up at night' New Jersey landlords prohibited from asking potential tenants about criminal records Overnight Defense: Pentagon pulling some air defense assets from Middle East | Dems introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for discrimination | White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine MORE called for patience and “calm” amid data-focused anticipation that ballot tallies in key states will put the Democratic nominee over the 270 electoral-vote threshold.

The president has a shrinking lead in Pennsylvania this morning, and in Georgia where absentee ballots continued to be counted overnight, Biden is now ahead.

Speaking publicly for the first time since election night, Trump claimed he had vanquished his opponent, if “legal” ballots were counted. He mentioned states called in his favor, including Florida, Iowa, Indiana and Ohio, but he asserted that Democratic officials in states that appear to be lining up for Biden are accomplices in a “corrupt system.”  

The president, who took no questions and spoke from a prepared text for 17 minutes in the White House briefing room, had not appeared publicly since the early hours of Wednesday, when he claimed falsely that he had won key battleground states that were, in fact, too close to call. Trump’s insistence 36 hours later that his campaign wants “legal votes counted” in a democratic system he said is rigged and illegitimate is unprecedented and foreshadows a bitter brawl before Jan. 20.

“In Georgia, I won by a lot,” Trump falsely asserted in an hour when his lead over Biden in the Peach State was 49.4 percent to 49.3 percent. Georgia’s ballots continue to be counted and as of this morning, Biden has a 917-vote advantage (The Associated Press). Trump complained with a logic that ignored how ballots are tallied that his early lead over Biden, which he saw on television on Tuesday night, “got whittled down” as ballots were counted after the polls closed.

The New York Times: Biden cuts into Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania and Georgia.

The Hill: Trump challenges the electoral process.  

The Hill: The White House race comes down to five states: Pennsylvania, Nevada, Georgia, North Carolina and Arizona. (Arizona was called early by The Associated Press and Fox News as a win for Biden, but his lead has narrowed as votes continue to be reported). 

The New York Times: Some Republicans rebuke Trump’s false claims of election fraud while many endorse state work to count all ballots. 



Anticipating Trump’s protests and maneuvers, Biden is prepared to defend the election results. He opened his remarks on Thursday by referencing his executive-style meetings with outside experts about the COVID-19 crisis. He said for the second time that he has “no doubt” that he will be the president-elect and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris signals a potential breakthrough in US-Mexico cooperation Watch live: Harris delivers remarks on vaccination efforts Biden signs Juneteenth bill: 'Great nations don't ignore their most painful moments' MORE (D-Calif.) will be the vice president-elect when the ballot counts are complete (The Hill).

“Democracy is sometimes messy. Sometimes it requires a little patience as well,” Biden said in Wilmington, Del. “But that patience has been rewarded now for more than 240 years with a system of governance that has been the envy of the world. We continue to feel very good about where things stand. And we have no doubt that when the count is finished, Senator Harris and I will be declared the winners.” 

“The process is working,” he assured Americans. “The count is being completed. And we will know very soon.” 



Behind the scenes, Trump is described as deeply unhappy about the idea of losing while railing at Republicans to defend him, according to reporting by The New York Times and The Washington Post.

The Washington Post: Judges in two states reject Trump campaign lawsuits.

The Associated Press: Updates on progress in Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania as ballots continue to be tallied. 

The Washington Post: Secret Service plans to ramp up protection of Biden in anticipation of his possible win. 

Perspectives and analysis: 

PBS’s Frontline: Trump said he wanted a recount in Wisconsin. Here’s a refresher on how recounts work.

Joshua Green, Bloomberg Businessweek: Trumpism is here to stay, no matter who is in the White House. Trump could even run again in 2024

David Brooks, The New York Times: What the voters are trying to tell us. 

The Associated Press analysis: Trump’s vote diatribe on Thursday night was both shocking and unsurprising.

The Washington Post editorial board: Losing an election, Trump chooses to slander American democracy.

Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal: America chooses divided government. The voters appear to have narrowly rejected Trump, but that doesn’t mean they want progressive policies.

Tiana Lowe, The Washington Examiner: Incoherent Trump rant follows pathetic pattern of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Monica Lewinsky responds to viral HBO intern's mistake: 'It gets better' Virginia governor's race poses crucial test for GOP MORE and Stacey Abrams claiming rigged elections.


CONGRESS: In a year Democrats expected to see the House majority grow, Republicans successfully flipped eight seats — with six of those seats being filled by GOP women, giving the party’s total of congresswomen a major boost. 

As Julia Manchester notes, former Minnesota Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach (R) dealt one of the biggest upsets of the week, defeating longtime Rep. Collin PetersonCollin Clark Peterson Progressives fight for leverage amid ever-slimming majority Six ways to visualize a divided America On The Trail: The political losers of 2020 MORE (D-Minn.). Meanwhile, in Florida, Republican Maria Salazar ousted Rep. Donna ShalalaDonna Edna ShalalaPelosi, Schumer must appoint new commissioners to the CARES Act oversight panel Stephanie Murphy won't run for Senate seat in Florida next year Crist launches bid for Florida governor, seeking to recapture his old job MORE (D), while Republican Stephanie Bice defeated first-term Rep. Kendra HornKendra Suzanne HornWhy does Rep. Johnson oppose NASA's commercial human landing system? The US's investment in AI is lagging, we have a chance to double it What should Biden do with NASA and the Artemis Program? MORE (D) in Oklahoma’s 5th District. And in South Carolina, Republican Nancy Mace ousted first-term Rep. Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamJoe Cunningham to enter race for South Carolina governor Republicans race for distance from 'America First Caucus' Lobbying world MORE (D). 

The pivotal role women played in helping the GOP reverse some of its 2018 losses in the House came as the party made a concerted effort to recruit women back into the fold and left Democrats blindsided. 

The GOP wins have also caused tumult in Democratic ranks, with moderate House Democrats taking out their frustrations on their liberal colleagues Thursday in a marathon caucus-wide conference call to bash progressives for advancing an agenda that, the centrists said, cost the party a number of seats in Tuesday’s elections.  

Rep. Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerThe Memo: Democratic tensions will only get worse as left loses patience Five takeaways on the House's return to budget earmarks Lawmakers say companies need to play key role in sustainability MORE (D) who squeaked to victory in central Virginia, panned liberals in the caucus for promoting the policy of redirecting funds away from police departments, an idea that took off following George Floyd’s death in May. The issue was a major one for Republicans throughout the fall and was used in repeated attack ads in the closing weeks. Spanberger called the Democrats’ campaign strategy “a failure.”

“We need to not ever use the word ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ ever again. . . . We lost good members because of that,” Spanberger said. “If we are classifying Tuesday as a success ... we will get f---ing torn apart in 2022” (The Washington Post). 

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Energy: Lake Mead's decline points to scary water future in West | White House leads opposition to raising gas tax | Biden taps ex-New Mexico lawmaker for USDA post Trump against boycotting Beijing Olympics in 2022 House Democrats' campaign arm raises almost million in May MORE (D-Calif.) pushed back on that idea, noting that the party was successful in retaining control of the House (The Hill).  

The Hill: Democrats try to draft Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) to run campaign arm after a disappointing night. 

The Hill: Peterson loss prompts scramble for House Agriculture chair.

The Hill: Rep. Scott PerryScott Gordon Perry21 Republicans vote against awarding medals to police who defended Capitol The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Republicans seek to sink Jan. 6 commission DCCC targets Republicans for touting stimulus bill they voted against MORE (R-Pa.) member of House Freedom Caucus, wins fifth term.



> Georgia on my mind: After Democrats lost — or are on the verge of losing — a number of key Senate contests, a pair of runoffs in Georgia in exactly two months is likely to determine control of the upper chamber, with Democrats facing an uphill battle to retake the majority.

Four contests remain uncalled on the Senate map: the two in Georgia, and races in North Carolina and Alaska, both of which are expected to be Republican holds. This means Democratic wins in the two Georgia races could bring the party to 50-votes even in the Senate, though it is a steep climb. 

In the one confirmed special election, Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Herschel Walker skips Georgia's GOP convention Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock MORE (R-Ga.) is pushing to fill the remainder of former Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Loeffler group targets Democrats with billboards around baseball stadium Warnock raises nearly M since January victory MORE’s (R-Ga.) term against Democrat Raphael Warnock. Meanwhile, Sen. David PerdueDavid PerdueLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock Georgia Republican secretary of state hits Loeffler as 'weak,' 'fake Trumper' MORE (R-Ga.) is also likely heading for a runoff against Democrat Jon Ossoff, with his vote total dropping to 49.9 percent on Thursday — just shy of the needed 50 percent to clinch another six-year term. 

“It’s about the maximum chaos,” said Miles Coleman, an associate editor at Sabato’s Crystal Ball. “We didn’t expect the stakes to be this high. ...There’s going to be enormous pressure on the Georgia Democratic Party to flip those seats.”

As The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes, the dual runoffs would set the stage for a nail-biting finish to an already chaotic, historic election year, with millions already set to pour into the state.

> Lawsuit silence: Fresh off the party’s big Election Day victories down ballot, Senate Republicans are largely sitting on the sidelines as the Trump campaign mounts legal challenges in myriad states that could fall into Biden’s electoral count. 

While GOP senators are supporting Trump’s legal challenges in states like Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, there’s a limit to how far they’ll go once it becomes clear all the votes have been tallied, as The Hill’s Alexander Bolton writes.

Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.) told CNN on Thursday that he is “not aware of any significant level of fraud” going on in the Keystone State, with a number of GOP senators either standing idly by or calling for all the votes to be counted. The comments, along with silence from possible 2024 contenders — with many in the Senate GOP ranks — have infuriated the president’s family, including Donald Trump Jr. 

“The total lack of action from virtually all of the ‘2024 GOP hopefuls’ is pretty amazing. They have a perfect platform to show that they’re willing & able to fight but they will cower to the media mob instead,” the president’s eldest son tweeted. “Don’t worry @realDonaldTrump will fight & they can watch as usual!”

Politico: America's new power couple: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham quips key to working with Trump: We both 'like him' The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay Democrats scramble to unify before election bill brawl MORE (R-Ky.) and Joe Biden

> Inauguration ceremony: Lawmakers are discussing possible changes because of the pandemic to plans approved in June by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies to hold a traditional event at the U.S. Capitol. The president-elect’s team will have a lot of say in final planning. The bipartisan committee is chaired by Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntOvernight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision GOP senator: I want to make Biden a 'one-half-term president' MORE (R-Mo.) and counts both McConnell and Pelosi as members (Washingtonian and The Associated Press).


MORE POLITICS: COVID-19 and national mood: Amid mounting coronavirus infections and hospitalizations and more than 230,000 U.S. deaths, Trump supporters said the economy was a more important issue to them than COVID-19, according to exit polls. Biden supporters, on the other hand, prioritized the federal and state pandemic responses. Some public health experts believe the election results indicate a worrisome level of pandemic fatigue among the public as winter approaches and confirmed new cases of infection set U.S. records (The Hill). … In state counties in which confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been highest, voters favored Trump, according to a data analysis conducted by The Associated Press. “Public health officials need to step back, listen to and understand the people who aren’t taking the same stance” on mask-wearing and other control measures, said Marcus Plescia, a physician with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

The Washington Post: U.S. tops 116,000 cases, another record, as health officials worry people are “giving up.”

The Associated Press: Presidential election exposes America’s divides. “Except for the Civil War, I don’t think we’ve lived through any time as perilous as this in terms of the divisions,” said historian Barbara Perry, the director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center. 

> Transition: The Biden campaign on Wednesday launched the Biden-Harris transition website. At BuildBackBetter.com, the site says, "The American people will determine who will serve as the next president of the United States. Votes are still being counted in several states around the country. The crises facing the country are severe — from a pandemic to an economic recession, climate change to racial injustice — and the transition team will continue preparing at full speed so that the Biden‑Harris Administration can hit the ground running on Day One.

In periods in which an election outcome is unclear, the law provides that an eligible candidate has the right to federal facilities and services for a transition. Biden as the Democratic nominee said in July that he had begun receiving intelligence briefings.

By law, the Trump administration has been preparing for a transition since the spring and the Biden campaign in September signed a memorandum of understanding with the General Services Administration, which plays a significant role in supporting transitions through Inauguration Day. (Find detailed background at the White House Transition Project website HERE, and the Partnership for Public Service Center for Presidential Transition HERE.)


The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE! 



A Biden win would leave the GOP poised for a 2024 comeback, by Liz Peek, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/367ZJmL

Here's why Trump made gains with Florida's Hispanic voters, by the Miller Center’s Cristina Lopez-Gottardi, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/36aYVNN


The House is not in session. Pelosi will hold a news conference at 10:45 a.m. 

The Senate will return to work on Nov. 9.  

The president and Vice President Pence have no public events on their schedules.

Economic indicator: The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. will report on U.S. employment in October. 

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. EST at Rising on YouTube


CORONAVIRUS: Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserDC to offer gift cards to those getting first COVID-19 shot White House to host large outdoor gathering for July 4 DC board votes to lift last COVID-19 restrictions on bars, restaurants MORE rolled out new guidelines for those traveling in or out of the District in the coming weeks, especially with Thanksgiving around the corner. Bowser said that those returning home to Washington after being in a high risk state must either monitor symptoms and limit day-to-day activities for 14 days, or limit daily activities and get tested after three days (Washingtonian). 



In Connecticut, new restrictions take effect on gatherings, limiting the size to 10 people. The state is recommending overnight curfews between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. to try to limit the spread of COVID-19 (The Hill).

The United Nations will hold a special summit Dec. 3-4 to discuss the pandemic and urge collective action against the virus. The United States abstained in the unanimous 150-0 vote for the event (The Associated Press). 

BUSINESS & ECONOMY: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told reporters on Thursday that surging coronavirus cases are an obstacle to economic recovery in the United States and Europe. “As we have emphasized throughout the pandemic, the outlook for the economy is extraordinarily uncertain and will depend in large part on the success of efforts to keep the virus in check,” he said after the central bank announced it would keep interest rates near zero (The Hill). … The New York Times warned on Thursday its robust digital growth in 2020 may not be sustainable. Its forecast followed a strong quarter that benefited from a news coverage storm around the COVID-19 pandemic and the election. The company warned of a 30 percent decline in fourth-quarter advertising revenue, offset by an estimated 35 percent increase in digital-only subscription revenue (Reuters). 

➔ IMBIBERS: On election night in the nation’s capital, alcohol delivery services GoPuff, Minibar, and Drizly reported big spikes in sales. Drizly’s local sales, for example, were 133 percent higher than the average of the previous four Tuesdays. Washington (apparently full of bubbly drinkers) was responsible for a bigger percentage bump in sales than seen in Boston, New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago (Washingtonian).


And finally …   Bravo to the winners of this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Relying on savvy guesses (along with some top-notch Googling), readers knew their election recount trivia. 

Here are all the quiz masters out there who got 4/4 on this week’s quiz: J. Patrick White and Patrick Kavanagh.  

They knew that the 2016 recount in Wisconsin boosted Trump’s tally by 131 votes. 

In 2000, the networks called the Florida primary for then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush twice before former Vice President Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreOn The Money: Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle | White House rules out gas tax hike Democrats have turned solidly against gas tax Overnight Energy: Biden seeks to reassert US climate leadership | President to 'repeal or replace' Trump decision removing protections for Tongass | Administration proposes its first offshore wind lease sale MORE retracted his concession and the Florida recount commenced. 

In 2018, then-Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) margin of victory over then-Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonDemings raises million after announcing Senate bid against Rubio Russia threatens to leave International Space Station program over US sanctions Nikki Fried, only statewide elected Democrat in Florida, launches challenge to DeSantis MORE (D-Fla.) was 10,033 votes.

Finally, Minnesota needed time to determine that Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenDemocrats, GOP face crowded primaries as party leaders lose control Gillibrand: 'I definitely want to run for president again' Maher chides Democrats: We 'suck the fun out of everything' MORE was the Senate winner in the 2008 contest. He was sworn into office on July 7, 2009, handing Democrats a 60th vote and a supermajority in the upper chamber following a lengthy state recount.