The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump, Biden clash over transition holdup, pandemic plans

             Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC



Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Thursday! 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, 246,217; Tuesday, 247,220; Wednesday, 248,687; Thursday, 250,537.

Federal officials on Wednesday expressed confidence that every state will have access to at least some doses of a potentially effective COVID-19 vaccine for distribution within 24 hours after federal authorization of new drugs (The Hill), even as President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenFauci says school should be open 'full blast' five days a week in the fall Overnight Defense: Military sexual assault reform bill has votes to pass in Senate l First active duty service member arrested over Jan. 6 riot l Israeli troops attack Gaza Strip Immigration experts say GOP senators questioned DHS secretary with misleading chart MORE said the General Services Administration (GSA) should unlock his own pandemic transition planning capabilities by naming him the “apparent” election winner over President TrumpDonald TrumpProject Veritas surveilled government officials to expose anti-Trump sentiments: report Cheney: Fox News has 'a particular obligation' to refute election fraud claims The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? MORE.  


"Every jurisdiction will have access immediately upon the initial push of the vaccine," said Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of the Trump administration's Operation Warp Speed. After the initial distribution, there will be weekly replenishments to cities, counties and states as more doses become available, Perna said.


On a video call with nurses and first responders to discuss COVID-19, Biden complained on Wednesday that he is hampered in his ability to fully plan a national pandemic response, even as he confers as a fallback with public health and research experts outside the administration. “We’re all ready to go and do an awful lot of the work right now,” he added.


As Perna and Biden spoke, the coronavirus continued to swamp healthcare systems and kill more than 1,100 Americans daily. But the surge in infections speeds up testing of vaccines that could eventually end the pandemic. Drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna are accelerating testing of their vaccines, which appear to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19. Both companies say their trial drugs are around 95 percent effective, according to research data (The New York Times). Both companies expect to soon seek emergency vaccine approval from the government (STAT News).


A study published today in the medical journal Lancet details encouraging news from AstraZeneca and Oxford University. A new potential COVID-19 vaccine triggered a strong immune response in adults older than 70. That age category is considered high risk for serious illness and death when infected. Researchers expect to release late-stage trial results by Christmas (Reuters).


State & City Watch: Michigan Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerCompany continues operating pipeline through Michigan despite governor's order Michigan Republican offers bill to fine fact-checkers for errors Michigan to end remote work after reaching 55 percent vaccination rate MORE (D) is under attack from state and national Republicans who say new restrictions are a draconian overreach, even as her efforts are praised by leading public health experts as a smart, targeted approach that should be a model for the rest of the country (The Hill). … Wisconsin’s mask mandate will remain in place until next year, Gov. Tony EversTony EversWisconsin Gov. rips Sidney Powell's lawsuit filled with factual errors in court filing Wisconsin passes law requiring schools teach students about Holocaust and other genocides First lady announces virtual guests for Biden's address to Congress MORE (D) said on Wednesday (The Hill). … Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) issued a new mask mandate that’s set to take effect before Thanksgiving (The Hill). … Minnesota Gov. Tim WalzTim WalzThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting Minnesota governor jokes that residents should 'go get vaccinated so you're alive to vote against me' Biden vows to get 'more aggressive' on lifestyle benefits of vaccines MORE (D) today will announce new restrictions to close bars, restaurants, gyms and museums for a month, with no social gatherings permitted beyond household members because of rising confirmed cases of the coronavirus (Twin Cities Pioneer Press). … Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisClub for Growth endorses DeSantis reelection bid De Santis's cruise line battle shows contempt for public health federalism DeSantis signs bill making to-go alcohol sales permanent in Florida MORE (R), a Trump ally, vows there will be no more lockdowns in the Sunshine State. He believes restrictions are excessive because COVID-19 is survivable for most who contract it. He said residents of assisted living facilities need special protection (The Hill). … Pennsylvania tells residents to wear masks in their homes when hosting guests (The Hill). … New York City schools, the largest school system in the country, will close Nov. 19 because of a surge in virus cases (The Associated Press). … Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserBipartisan Senate bill introduced to give gyms B in relief Maryland to lift remaining COVID capacity restrictions Transgender inmate sues DC over incarceration in men's unit MORE announced that Nationals Park will serve as a COVID-19 testing center for the city starting on Monday. Firehouses in the city are extending hours for free testing, also beginning on Monday (Fox 5). 


In the nation’s capital, Congress is experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases among lawmakers while doing exactly what Americans are being warned not to do for Thanksgiving this year: congregating together after traveling from around the country. In the last week, seven members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19 and three are quarantining after exposure to people with confirmed infections. 


The cases come as the Capitol physician began offering expanded testing this week to help locate asymptomatic cases as lawmakers travel back and forth from their districts. Lawmakers continue to struggle with masks and social distancing. Extroverted members have trouble resisting group gatherings, and some still are not wearing masks correctly eight months into the pandemic, reports The Hill’s Cristina Marcos. … Rep. Dan NewhouseDaniel (Dan) Milton NewhouseRepublicans who backed Trump impeachment see fundraising boost Overnight Energy: Progressives fear infrastructure's climate plans won't survive Senate | EPA to propose vehicle emissions standards by July's end | Poll shows growing partisan divide on climate change House Republicans who backed Trump impeachment warn Democrats on Iowa election challenge MORE (R-Wash.), 65, announced on Wednesday that he tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday and is quarantining at home (The Seattle Times). 


  Holiday shopping: Black Friday will have a different look and feel this year as businesses impose new safety measures for shoppers and employees amid a surge in coronavirus cases. Major retailers are moving ahead with in-store events that are still likely to draw large crowds a day after Thanksgiving, when public health experts are urging Americans to avoid travel and remain at home. The annual shopping event carries more anxiety this year and the potential for standoffs over mask requirements as national chains such as Costco take a tough stand on facial coverings for customers (The Hill).


The New York Times: To mitigate infection with COVID-19, scrubbing and disinfecting surfaces is passé. Improving ventilation and air filtration is in, according to the latest research.


The New York Times: Democratic officials in California, including Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomNewsom proposes transitional kindergarten for all 4-year-olds in California Grenell still interested in California recall bid Records show Jenner voted in 2020, even though she says she didn't: report MORE, the House Speaker and the state’s senior senator, have all been photographed flouting coronavirus restrictions and guidance they impose and/or encourage for others. Outrage has followed. “The spirit of what I’m preaching all the time was contradicted and I’ve got to own that,” Newsom said during a lengthy mea culpa on Monday. “I need to preach and practice. Not just preach.”





POLITICS & PRESIDENT: Trump continues his long-shot quest to overturn the results of the 2020 election. His campaign is filing for recounts in two Wisconsin counties and a second recount is possible in Georgia.  


The president’s campaign met the deadline for recounts in Milwaukee and Dane counties, transferring $3 million for the targeted recount effort, which is significantly cheaper than the $8 million it would cost for a statewide recanvassing. Biden leads in Wisconsin by more than 20,000 votes, and recounts seldom change the outcome enough to make up for that large of a deficit (The Hill’s Campaign Report).


Julie Pace: For Trump, sowing post-election chaos is the goal.


As the president’s team targets Wisconsin, they also have their eyes on Georgia, with the president firing off multiple missives in the direction of the Peach State on Wednesday. This has not swayed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who raged on Wednesday at what he described as politicians giving false hope and ginning up anger over unsubstantiated allegations of systemic voter fraud, calling it “emotional abuse.”


In an exclusive interview with The Hill’s Jonathan Easley, Raffensperger declined to directly blame Trump for spreading baseless claims about voting machines altering ballots or “illegal” votes being counted. Instead, he slammed Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsPoll shows tight GOP primary for Georgia governor The Hill's Morning Report - Census winners and losers; House GOP huddles Former Rep. Doug Collins won't enter Georgia Senate race MORE (R-Ga.) and other GOP politicians for creating a dangerous environment — including threats of violence aimed at him and his wife — as he’s disputed that systemic fraud was behind the president-elect’s win in Georgia. 


“There’s just people who are really angry and they’re being spun up,” Raffensperger said. “It’s really the spinners that should be ashamed for playing with people’s emotions. Politicians of both sides should never play with people’s emotions. It’s one thing to motivate people, I get that. But to spin people up and play with their emotions, it’s emotional abuse and they ought to grow up and start acting with integrity.”


Politico: Sens. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerGeorgia Republican secretary of state hits Loeffler as 'weak,' 'fake Trumper' Loeffler asks Georgia attorney general to investigate Raffensperger over 2020 election Former Rep. Doug Collins won't enter Georgia Senate race MORE (R-Ga.), David PerdueDavid PerdueGeorgia Republican secretary of state hits Loeffler as 'weak,' 'fake Trumper' Warnock raises nearly M since January victory Georgia's top election official looks to shake political drama MORE (R-Ga.) turn to Fox viewers to fund pricey runoffs.


The New York Times: With Senate control hanging in balance, “crazytown” cash floods Georgia.





As for Trump, he remains intently focused on the legal challenges and settling scores in his final weeks as president in an attempt to cement the work of his administration. As The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant and Brett Samuels write, Trump’s recent firings of Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Former Navy secretary reportedly spent .4M on travel | Ex-Pentagon chief Miller to testify on Jan. 6 Capitol attack | Austin to deliver West Point commencement speech Trump's Navy secretary spent over M on travel during pandemic: report Court declines to dismiss Amazon challenge against JEDI decision MORE and Christopher Krebs, a top cybersecurity official, could just be the start of things, with the president potentially letting loose CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Biden announces veteran diplomat William Burns as nominee for CIA director Meet Biden's pick to lead the US intelligence community MORE and FBI Director Christopher Wray in the coming weeks over their perceived disloyalty. 


Politico: “Traitors to the president”: Conservatives fear public preparation for Biden term.


The Hill: Trump's cyber firing stirs outrage.


Jonathan Rauch, Persuasion opinion: Trump’s firehose of falsehood.





> Elections, 2022 edition: The 2020 election is largely in the rearview mirror, and eyes are turning to 2022 and whether Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyBiden officials testify that white supremacists are greatest domestic security threat Republicans embrace Trump in effort to reclaim Senate Top Senate Democrat announces return of earmarks MORE (R-Ala.), a six-term senator, will retire or run again.


As Olivia Beavers reports, talk in Alabama political circles is focused on who might succeed Shelby, 86, who has expressed to various people his intent to retire and his desire to have Katie Britt, his former chief of staff, succeed him. 


“Shelby has indicated to a number of people and … he has even indicated to myself that he would not be seeking election to another term,” said one Alabama Republican source familiar with the matter.


The Hill: House Republicans hopeful for fundraising boost. 


The New York Times: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyRoy to challenge Stefanik for Cheney's old position Stefanik shake-up jump-starts early jockeying for committee posts Why Cheney was toppled, and what it says about the GOP and Trump's claims MORE (R-Calif.) doesn’t think Trump is going away.


Niall Stanage: The Memo: Democrats see warning signs beyond 2020.


The Hill: Brent Budowsky wins The Hill's 2020 election prediction contest.


CONGRESS: Lawmakers in both parties are wondering if they can trust the president to sign a government funding package to avoid a shutdown as focus intensifies on that issue rather than a COVID-19 relief bill, 


As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton writes, it remains unknown whether Trump will sign either a year-long government spending bill or a continuing resolution. Nevertheless, Senate Republicans are talking about adding a targeted relief package to the year-end omnibus, which Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Defense: Military sexual assault reform bill has votes to pass in Senate l First active duty service member arrested over Jan. 6 riot l Israeli troops attack Gaza Strip Hillicon Valley: Colonial pipeline is back online, but concerns remain | Uber, Lyft struggle with driver supply | Apple cuts controversial hire Ocasio-Cortez on Taylor Greene: 'These are the kinds of people that I threw out of bars all the time' MORE (D-Calif.) has signaled openness to in private conversations.


However, Trump’s lack of action on the topic makes him a complete wildcard as he continues to keep his focus on a series of legal challenges in a number of states and refuses to concede the election.


“It’s in nobody’s interest. It’s not in the president’s interest, it’s not in the House’s interest, it’s not in our interest,” said Shelby, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, of a shutdown. He then added: “You never know around here.”


Elsewhere, a number of Senate Republicans broke with the president’s decision to fire Krebs, a top cybersecurity official, on Wednesday. As Jordain Carney reports, reactions from the Senate GOP conference, which largely sticks with Trump’s moves, ranged from those offering support for Krebs to those openly breaking with Trump's decision to fire him. 


“It’s the president’s prerogative but I think it just adds to the confusion and chaos, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that would like some return to a little bit more of a — I don’t even know what’s normal anymore. We’ll call it the next normal,” said Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP split on counteroffer to Biden's spending Police reform talks hit familiar stumbling block CNN asks Carol Baskin to comment on loose Texas tiger MORE (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and an adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Biden, Senate GOP take step toward infrastructure deal as other plans hit speed bumps Senate GOP to give Biden infrastructure counteroffer next week Masks shed at White House; McConnell: 'Free at last' MORE (R-Ky.).


> House politics: Pelosi on Wednesday confirmed that the 117th Congress will be her last term atop the House Democratic Caucus after a deal made in 2018, with the party dispensing any drama inside its ranks on Wednesday as it reelected the same party leaders for two more years. 


“I don’t want to undermine any leverage I may have,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “But I made the statement.”


Pelosi has led the House Democrats since 2003, marking the longest stretch since the legendary Rep. Sam Rayburn (Texas) died in office in 1961, as Mike Lillis and Scott Wong note


Wednesday’s elections took place following a number of key losses on the House map for Democrats. As of Wednesday night, Republicans picked off 10 incumbent seats and did not defeat any Republicans who sought reelection, with Democrats staring at their slimmest majority since World War II. 


The Hill: Biden congratulates Pelosi on Speaker nomination.


The Hill: Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyOvernight Defense: Military sexual assault reform bill has votes to pass in Senate l First active duty service member arrested over Jan. 6 riot l Israeli troops attack Gaza Strip Cheney: Fox News has 'a particular obligation' to refute election fraud claims The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? MORE (R-Wyo.) seeks to cool tensions with House conservatives.


The Hill: GOP sees path to House majority in 2022.







BIDEN TRANSITION: The president-elect on Wednesday called on the General Services Administration, an independent agency that supports government functions, to declare him the “apparent” winner of the presidential election, seemingly referring to statutory language (The Hill). He urged the agency to authorize the federal transition process so he and his administration-in-waiting can focus on what Biden called a “commander in chief” role to respond to the pandemic (The New York Times).


Earlier this month, Biden affirmed to reporters that his lawyers considered possible legal challenges to the GSA’s refusal to “ascertain” Trump’s defeat but said at the time that he didn’t think confrontation with the incumbent president would be necessary. 


Since then, ballot counts in key states and the popular vote expanded for Biden, the electoral math piled up more conclusively in his column and major news organizations, one after another, projected the former vice president will be sworn in on Jan. 20 as Trump’s successor.


In the more than two weeks since Election Day, the president has shown no inclination to assist Biden and his team as they prepare to govern. Trump has repeatedly tweeted that he won the election, filed state lawsuits (most of which have been tossed out of court) and pursued recounts that election experts predict will not overturn or uncover tens of thousands of ballots needed to make a difference in the outcome. The president’s new goal? Delay and cast doubt on the legitimacy of Biden’s victory (The Washington Post).


In his remarks, Biden appeared to refer to language in the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, which states, “The terms `President-elect’ and `Vice-President-elect’ as used in this Act shall mean such persons as are the apparent successful candidates for the office of the President and Vice President, respectively, as ascertained by the [GSA] Administrator following the general elections.”


The former vice president argued, “The law says that the General Services Administration has a person who recognizes who the winner is. And then they have to have access to all the data and information that the government possesses.”


“And it doesn’t require that there be an absolute winner. It says the ‘apparent’ winner. The ‘apparent’ winner,” Biden repeated. 


It has long been the practice during contemporary presidential transitions that the outgoing president more or less freezes new policy initiatives in a nod to the incoming president and administration. Trump is going in the other direction.


With eight weeks remaining in his presidency, Trump is levying more sanctions against Tehran and selling weapons to Iran’s enemies. He was dissuaded from ordering military action after international inspectors confirmed Iran’s supply of nuclear fuel has swelled since Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal signed in 2015 by the United States under former President Obama.


Political considerations in Tehran, too, could complicate Biden’s policy path as Iran prepares for its own elections and its president demands compensation to make up for Trump’s sanctions. While European allies are eager for a Biden administration to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal, Israel has continued its strong opposition to the U.S. providing sanctions relief in the hopes of moderating Iran’s behavior and is bolstered by its growing alliance with Gulf countries (The Hill).


The Hill: Biden has expressed interest in canceling at least some student loan debt to stimulate the economy and provide direct relief to struggling borrowers. Questions remain about how effective such an executive action could be for stimulating the economy and how much political backlash might follow.


The Hill: The Bureau of Land Management has been buffeted during the Trump years. With a Biden pick to head the public lands agency in 2021, the president-elect could appeal to a wide array of supporters, including perhaps some Republican conservationists.   




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! 


Our COVID-19 polarization will only get worse. We need to find a balance, by Gary Abernathy, contributing columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/36MSNf7 


Trump’s Afghan troop withdrawal puts Biden in a jam, by Eli Lake, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/38QjAtI 


The House meets at 10 a.m.


The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. and will resume consideration of the nomination of Stephen Vaden to the United States Court of International Trade.


The president has no public events scheduled.


The vice president will lead a meeting of the White House coronavirus task force at 2:30 p.m. in the White House Situation Room.


Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisImmigration experts say GOP senators questioned DHS secretary with misleading chart Carper urges Biden to nominate ambassadors amid influx at border Priest who presided over Biden's inaugural mass resigns from university post after investigation MORE, who are in Wilmington, Del., plan to meet virtually with the National Governors Association’s executive committee and make remarks today. 


Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoUS Olympic Committee urges Congress not to boycott Games in China Pompeo on CIA recruitment: We can't risk national security to appease 'liberal, woke agenda' DNC gathers opposition research on over 20 potential GOP presidential candidates MORE is in Israel and meets with Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE.


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosts a 3 p.m. event to get a pandemic update from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield. Information and registration HERE.


Economic indicators: The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. reports on jobless claims during the week that ended Nov. 14. The National Association of Realtors at 10 a.m. reports on a bright spot in the U.S. economy, which analysts believe continued through October: sales of existing homes. 


The Hill’s Diversity and Inclusion Summit TODAY at 11 a.m. ET:

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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


Starbucks and pay raises: The world’s largest coffee chain will hike pay for baristas, shift supervisors and cafe attendants at its U.S. outlets by at least 10 percent, effective Dec. 14. Starbucks will also boost starting pay by 5 percent to help attract and retain employees. Some workers demand more, anticipating a $15 minimum wage in some locations. Hourly pay at Starbucks ranges from a little more than $9 an hour to $17.03 an hour (Reuters and Business Insider).


Stimulus check deadline: The IRS, lawmakers and nonprofits are working to ensure as many people as possible register to receive their coronavirus stimulus payment by Saturday’s deadline. People have until Nov. 21 at 3 p.m. EST to use the online IRS web tool for non filers to submit information to get their federal payment this year. The web tool is designed for people who are not typically required to file a tax return, generally because they have low incomes (The Hill).


TV tradition: On Wednesday, Apple bowed to public backlash, announcing it has teamed up with PBS for ad-free broadcasts of “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” (on Nov. 22) and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (on Dec. 13). Some traditions are so embedded that tech is just a turnoff. Last month, Apple TV+ became the new home to Peanuts holiday specials. But that sparked an outcry from viewers who still love annual network appointment television. The Apple wizards in California, perhaps unaware that Charlie Brown occasionally used Snoopy’s ears to get better TV reception, listened and acted (Deadline and CNN). 


And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by Conan O’Brien’s announced pivot from late night to a new variety format on HBO Max, we’re eager for some smart guesses about his career.


Email your responses to asimendinger@thehill.com and/or aweaver@thehill.com, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.


When O'Brien ended his short-lived run as host of “The Tonight Show,” who was his final guest?


  1. Amy Poehler
  2. Julia Louis-Dreyfus
  3. Robin Williams
  4. Will Ferrell


During O'Brien's career, he has twice served as the main performer/comedian at the White House correspondents’ dinner. Which comedian has made the most appearances as entertainer at the dinner?


  1. Jimmy KimmelJames (Jimmy) Christian KimmelJeff Bezos roasted for buying yacht so big it comes with smaller support yacht Biden to record video message for 'Vax Live' concert Fox Corp CEO Lachlan Murdoch: Fox won back ratings after second impeachment trial MORE
  2. Jay Leno
  3. Tina Fey
  4. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenMaher chides Democrats: We 'suck the fun out of everything' Why Caitlyn Jenner should not be dismissed #MeWho? The hypocritical silence of Kamala Harris MORE


Which comedian has not served as a host of the "Late Night" franchise?


  1. David Letterman
  2. Craig Ferguson
  3. Jimmy Fallon
  4. Seth Meyers


At the end of his run at "Late Night," O'Brien said he "owed his career to ____.”


  1. His wife
  2. Lorne Michaels
  3. The Simpsons
  4. David Letterman