6.46pm GMT
18:46

Donald Trump’s reelection campaign is making clear that it will continue to fight to overturn Joe Biden’s victory past today, which is the “safe harbor deadline” for states to certify their results.

“Justice Ginsburg recognized in Bush v. Gore that the date of ‘ultimate significance’ is January 6, when Congress counts and certifies the votes of the Electoral College. The only fixed day in the U.S. Constitution is the inauguration of the President on January 20 at noon,” Rudy Giulaini said in a new statement.

“Despite the media trying desperately to proclaim that the fight is over, we will continue to champion election integrity until legal vote is counted fairly and accurately.”

Giuliani was hospitalized with coronavirus on Sunday, and Jenna Ellis, a legal adviser for the campaign, has reportedly also tested positive for the virus.

Updated
at 6.46pm GMT

6.23pm GMT
18:23

As we await the first collective public appearance of the Biden-Harris health leadership team, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf has warned that the coronavirus is running rampant throughout his state and could soon force overwhelmed hospitals to begin turning away patients.

Wolf calls it a “dangerous, disturbing scenario” that will become reality if people don’t take steps to slow the spread.

He said additional pandemic restrictions might be on the way but did not elaborate on what his administration might be considering while also acknowledging the ones already in place have not worked, The Associated Press reports.

Wolf said the unchecked spread of the virus in all regions of the state means that resource-sharing agreements among hospitals could soon begin to break down and force them to begin rationing care.

Still, the governor all but ruled out a return to the kinds of statewide restrictions he imposed in the spring, when schools were closed, thousands of businesses deemed non-essential were shut down, and all 12.8 million Pennsylvanians were under a stay-at-home order.

A Covid-19 testing site, in Easton, Pennsylvania, earlier this month. Photograph: Matt Smith/REX/Shutterstock

6.00pm GMT
18:00

Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis has tested positive for coronavirus, according to multiple reports. The news comes days after Ellis attended a White House Christmas party without wearing a mask, raising concerns about another outbreak among senior staffers.
An FDA analysis of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine raised no safety concerns, lifting hopes that the vaccine could soon become available to American adults.
The attorney general of Texas is suing four battleground states in the US supreme court over their presidential election results. Attorney general Ken Paxton, a Republican, accused Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin of exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to pass last-minute changes to voting laws. Legal experts said there was little to no chance of the supreme court taking up the case.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

5.53pm GMT
17:53

A former Trump administration official described it as “absolute insanity” that the White House was still hosting Christmas parties with maskless attendees as coronavirus infections surge across the nation.

Jake Tapper
(@jaketapper)

Former senior admin official texts me: “it’s absolute insanity the White House continues to host holiday parties, with maskless attendees. No one should be surprised Jenna Ellis tested positive after attending a Christmas party…. https://t.co/PYkMAOP6Pj

December 8, 2020

The former official also predicted that there would be additional outbreaks among White House staffers, after Jenna Ellis reportedly tested positive for the virus days after attending a staff party.

5.13pm GMT
17:13

Senator Doug Jones is the leading contender to become Joe Biden’s attorney general, according to NBC News.

Former deputy attorney general Sally Yates and federal judge Merrick Garland, whose supreme court nomination was blocked by Senate Republicans in 2016, are also still being considered for the job.

Geoff Bennett
(@GeoffRBennett)

Biden has also been considering Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland, who was denied a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 by a Republican-led Senate, and Sally Yates, a former deputy Attorney General, sources say.

December 8, 2020

Jones joined the Senate in 2017, after winning a special election in Alabama, but he lost his bid to serve a full term last month.

Biden said yesterday that he intended to announce his pick for attorney general later this week.

5.01pm GMT
17:01

White House staffers were reportedly very angry when they learned of Jenna Ellis’ coronavirus diagnosis days after she attended a staff party.

Axios reports:

‘She had the nerve to show up at the senior staff Christmas party knowing everyone was furious with her for constantly stirring Trump up with nonsense,’ said a senior administration official.

Ellis and [Rudy] Giuliani have fanned conspiracy theories about Trump’s loss to Joe Biden as they have sought to keep alive legal challenges or avenues to overturn the election’s results.

The official said the news of her diagnosis after attending the party compounded this anger.

Although it is unclear whether Ellis posed a risk when she attended the White House party, there is concern that her attendance could cause another coronavirus outbreak among Trump’s staff.

A number of Trump’s senior aides, including Hope Hicks and Mark Meadows, have already contracted the virus during past White House outbreaks.

4.50pm GMT
16:50

Another Trump campaign official tests positive for coronavirus – report

Jenna Ellis, a legal adviser for Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, has reportedly tested positive for coronavirus, days after attending a senior staff Christmas party.

Axios reports:

There are concerns about the potential for another White House superspreader event, though it was unclear whether Ellis posed a risk when she attended. Ellis declined to confirm the diagnosis to Axios.

‘People brought their families,’ said one senior White House official who attended the party and has since been informed of Ellis’ diagnosis. …

Ellis showed up to the White House senior staff party in the East Wing on Friday as the guest of Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro and was not seen wearing a mask, according to sources who attended the indoor event.

The news comes two days after Rudy Giuliani, who has worked with Ellis on the Trump campaign’s unsuccessful efforts to overturn the results of the election, was hospitalized with coronavirus.

4.44pm GMT
16:44

Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican of Pennsylvania, criticized Donald Trump for trying to reverse Joe Biden’s win in the state.

“It’s completely unacceptable and it’s not going to work and the president should give up trying to get legislatures to overturn the results of the elections in their respective states,” Toomey told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Toomey’s comments come a day after the Washington Post reported that Trump contacted the Republican speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to ask for his help in overturning the results.

Toomey also noted that he spoke with Biden last week to congratulate the president-elect on his victory and discuss possible areas of agreement for future legislation.

“We had a very pleasant conversation,” Toomey said.

4.24pm GMT
16:24

Texas attorney general sues battleground states over election results

The attorney general of Texas is suing four battleground states — Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — in the US supreme court to challenge their presidential election results.

Texas Attorney General
(@TXAG)

Trust in the integrity of our election processes is sacrosanct & binds our citizenry & the States in this Union together.

Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania & Wisconsin destroyed that trust and compromised the security and integrity of the 2020 election.https://t.co/xRB13FMIdU

December 8, 2020

Attorney general Ken Paxton, a Republican, said in a statement announcing the lawsuit, “Trust in the integrity of our election processes is sacrosanct and binds our citizenry and the States in this Union together. Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin destroyed that trust and compromised the security and integrity of the 2020 election.”

Paxton accuses the states of exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to make last-minute changes to voting laws that tainted the legitimacy of their elections.

Donald Trump and his allies have consistently alleged widespread fraud to explain Joe Biden’s victory in the election, but they have presented no evidence to substantiate those claims.

It is also highly unusual for a state official to sue another state over its election laws, given that each state is entrusted with the responsibility of carrying out elections and setting the appropriate laws for them.

The lawsuit was quickly met with mockery from legal experts, who said there was little to no chance of the supreme court taking up the case.

Steve Vladeck
(@steve_vladeck)

It looks like we have a new leader in the “craziest lawsuit filed to purportedly challenge the election” category:

The State of Texas is suing Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin *directly* in #SCOTUS.

(Spoiler alert: The Court is *never* going to hear this one.) pic.twitter.com/2L4GmdCB6I

December 8, 2020

4.12pm GMT
16:12

Some Democrats are voicing concerns about Joe Biden’s decision to nominate Lloyd Austin to lead the defense department.

Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, a former CIA analyst and acting assistant defense secretary, said she was concerned about a retired general running the Pentagon.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin
(@RepSlotkin)

I have deep respect for Gen. Lloyd Austin. We worked together when he commanded U.S. forces in Iraq, when he was vice chief of the Army, and when he was the CENTCOM commander. But choosing another recently retired general to serve in a role designed for a civilian just feels off.

December 8, 2020

“I have deep respect for Gen. Lloyd Austin. We worked together when he commanded U.S. forces in Iraq, when he was vice chief of the Army, and when he was the CENTCOM commander. But choosing another recently retired general to serve in a role designed for a civilian just feels off,” the Michigan Democrat said in a tweet thread.

As a retired general, Austin would have to receive a waiver from Congress to be confirmed. Such waivers have only been issued twice before, most recently in 2017, when Donald Trump nominated James Mattis as defense secretary.

“The job of secretary of defense is purpose-built to ensure civilian oversight of the military. That is why it requires a waiver from the House and Senate to put a recently retired military officer in the job,” Slotkin said.

“And after the last 4 years, civil-military relations at the Pentagon definitely need to be rebalanced. Gen. Austin has had an incredible career––but I’ll need to understand what he and the Biden Administration plan to do to address these concerns before I can vote for his waiver.”

3.51pm GMT
15:51

The House freedom caucus intends to vote against the annual defense authorization act this afternoon, according to CNN.

Kristin Wilson
(@kristin__wilson)

House Freedom Caucus says they will vote against the NDAA in support of POTUS. They have ~37 members…their no vote could drop total below veto-proof margin.

December 8, 2020

The news comes after Donald Trump said again this morning that he intends to veto the legislation unless it includes an overhaul of Section 230, which provides liability protections to tech companies in connection to content generated by users.

If all of the House freedom caucus votes against the bill, support for the legislation could drop below the level of a veto-proof majority, raising concerns that Congress would not be able to override Trump’s veto.

3.23pm GMT
15:23

Joe Biden attended mass in Wilmington, Delaware, this morning to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Marianna Sotomayor
(@MariannaNBCNews)

President-elect @JoeBiden, who will be the second Catholic U.S. president when sworn in, attends mass celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception Tuesday morning. He appears to still have a slight limp after fracturing his foot over a week ago. pic.twitter.com/AXrxrzrMJ5

December 8, 2020

The Biden transition pool spotted the president-elect entering St Joseph’s on the Brandywine Church while slightly limping, after he fractured his foot last Sunday.

Biden’s presence at the Catholic church is noteworthy, given he will be just the second Catholic to serve as US president, after John F Kennedy.

Later today, Biden is scheduled to formally introduce his team of health care advisers and virtually meet with civil rights leaders.

3.10pm GMT
15:10

Donald Trump once again threatened to veto the annual defense authorization act, over lawmakers’ refusal to include an overhaul of Section 230 in the bill.

“I hope House Republicans will vote against the very weak National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which I will VETO,” Trump said in a tweet. “Must include a termination of Section 230 (for National Security purposes), preserve our National Monuments, & allow for 5G & troop reductions in foreign lands!”

Donald J. Trump
(@realDonaldTrump)

I hope House Republicans will vote against the very weak National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which I will VETO. Must include a termination of Section 230 (for National Security purposes), preserve our National Monuments, & allow for 5G & troop reductions in foreign lands!

December 8, 2020

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides tech companies with legal protection in connection to content generated by users, has been a frequent source of ire for Trump, who has repeatedly clashed with executives at social media companies like Twitter.

Even if Trump were to veto the defense bill, it seems likely to pass anyway, given that both chambers of Congress passed the legislation with veto-proof majorities back in July.

2.55pm GMT
14:55

The Guardian’s Sam Levine reports:

While Donald Trump continues to falsely insist he won the 2020 race, Tuesday marks an important deadline further cementing that Joe Biden will be inaugurated as America’s 46th president on 20 January.

This year, 8 December is the so-called “safe harbor” deadline, which federal law says must fall six days before electors meet across the country to cast their votes for president.

The statute says that as long as states use existing state law to resolve disputes about electors by the deadline, the votes cast by those electors will be “conclusive”. It is meant to act as a safeguard so that Congress, which will count the electoral votes on 6 January, can’t second-guess or overturn the election results.

At least one Republican member of Congress, Mo Brooks of Alabama, has said he will object to electors and Republicans in Pennsylvania have urged lawmakers to do the same. Those challenges are unlikely to be successful because a majority of both houses would have to agree to the challenge. Democrats control a majority of the US House of Representatives.

The Guardian spoke to Edward Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University, about the importance of the safe harbor deadline and what it could mean:

2.29pm GMT
14:29

This is Joan Greve in Washington, taking over for Martin Belam.

Here’s what the blog is keeping an eye on today: Joe Biden is formally introducing his healthcare team in Wilmington, Delaware, this afternoon.

Donald Trump is expected to speak at a White House event on Operation Warp Speed this afternoon, where he will likely tout the development of coronavirus vaccines.

That’s still coming up, so stay tuned.

Updated
at 2.51pm GMT





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