Editors’ Blog

Where Things Stand: Whispers Of Moving On Prime Badge
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At least three members of the Trump family inner orbit are looking to a future that might not necessarily involve the chief patriarch being president of the United States.

While the family publicly continues to hype Trump’s dangerous and ridiculous election delegitimization crusade, privately a few have their sights set on their own political futures.

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Worth Your Time

Two weeks ago, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow announced that she had been exposed to COVID-19 and would be stepping away from the network’s post-election coverage to quarantine. Last night, Maddow revealed that her partner of more than two decades, Susan Mikula, has been battling a severe case of the coronavirus.

“At one point, we really thought there was a possibility that it might kill her,” Maddow said, adding that Mikula is thankfully now on the road to recovery.

It was a powerful and authentic moment, and a reminder of the human toll of the virus. Give it a watch after the jump.

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That Today Is Why We Have Trump Prime Badge

Through this corrupt era one of the common refrains has been, “that’s why or how we got Trump.” Usually it is whatever it is the person didn’t like before Trump rebranded as the bad thing that got us Trump. But on display today is one of the real reasons ‘we got Trump.’ It’s not the deepest reason but it is a critical, critical part of the equation. It’s also why Donald Trump was able to careen through the leading candidates of the Republican party so easily in 2016.

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The Corruption is Upon Us Prime Badge

We’re watching the press conference of the President’s legal team. It’s an all star team of rejects and degenerates from the Fox Cinematic Universe: Jenna Ellis, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Joe DiGenova. It’s both comical in its slapdash level of nonsense but also deeply corrupt and an attack on the very foundations of the American republic. In the course of this event Giuliani has claimed that most of the votes in Wayne County (Detroit) are invalid and should be discarded. Needless to say, this disenfranchises most of the African-American population in Michigan. As Giuliani succinctly put it, “It changes the results of the election in Michigan if you take out Wayne County.”

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Where Things Stand: Major Roadblock For Trump’s Census Scheme Prime Badge

We have a new, exclusive story up right now.

TPM’s Tierney Sneed has learned that the Census Bureau identified routine issues in data from the 2020 decennial census, and will need time to fix them. This seemingly small wrinkle could have significant implications for how political power is distributed through apportionment.

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Where Things Stand: Austerity For America’s Cities? Prime Badge
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In a narrow sense, this is a very New York City-centric issue. But if it comes to fruition, life as we know it in this city will not only collapse further into the unlivable realm than it already has in the wake of COVID-19, but we might see another outbreak spike in the city.

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Lunchtime Reading Alert

Now’s your chance to sit back and absorb Josh Kovensky’s deeply reported piece on the Falwells and Giancarlo Granda. Caught with only a short break between Zoom calls? Here’s a condensed version of the main takeaways.

Be Thankful Prime Badge

We should take a moment this morning to give a big thanks to the Biden campaign team and all the tens of millions of Biden voters. Because under extremely difficult circumstances they made sure it wasn’t close. Biden will win by at least 4 percentage points and likely more like 5. He will win by a 74 vote margin in the electoral college. Under normal, legitimate circumstances a win is a win is a win. Margins are just about bragging and feeling good. But this year it was critical and you can see that from the events of the last 24 hours.

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A Scandal for the Ages

I seldom or maybe never just reprint a tweet in a post. But this one is worth your reading all the way through.

Shocking Story out of Michigan Prime Badge

Stunning turn of events tonight in Michigan. The Wayne County Board of Canvassers deadlocked and was unable to certify the county’s vote. Wayne County includes Detroit. The Board has two Republicans and two Democrats. The Republicans refused to certify. But tellingly the GOP Chair said they’d agree as long as Detroit was left out. Basically, they were trying to pull a power play in which they used their power to toss out the votes of the city of Detroit.

The state GOP jumped in and lauded the decision. Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis excitedly predicted it was the first step toward the GOP state legislature tossing out the results of the election and appointing Trump electors to the electoral college. Finally President Trump himself tweeted excitedly that it was a turning point.

But then it all changed.
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LindseyGate Grows Prime Badge

Just to keep you up to date, this Lindsey Graham story continues to grow. As we noted last night, Graham approached the Republican Secretary of State in Georgia with a plan to throw out what appears to have been a huge number of legally cast mail-in ballots. Since mail-in ballots overwhelmingly favored Joe Biden, there’s every reason to think that would have made Trump the winner and quite possibly avoided a run-off for David Purdue.

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Where Things Stand: A Fuller Story Prime Badge
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CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 21:  on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicked off on July 18. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The full story of the Falwells’ romantic entanglement with a one-time pool attendant-turned business associate appears to be far messier and more surprising than we knew.

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Turning the Page or Getting to the Truth? Prime Badge
on November 13, 2014 in Washington, DC.

NBC is out this morning with an article which seem to signal President-Elect Biden’s “wary” of having the Justice Department scrutinize and possibly indict his predecessor, Donald Trump. It’s a bit of a hard article to decipher. On its face, it simply says that Biden is going to leave prosecutorial decisions to the Justice Department, which is exactly what should happen. A President who makes the DOJ and its prosecutorial power a tool of his personal will is the problem we’re trying to solve not the solution it. But you can also read it as Biden doesn’t want his presidency consumed by the drama and pyrotechnics of investigations and prosecutions of Trump and his family, which sounds a lot like ‘turning the page’ and ‘looking forward not back.’

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Stunning Revelation Prime Badge

According to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Sen. Lindsey Graham approached him about throwing out all mail-in ballots in counties that had higher than average ballot signature mismatches. This is a request (almost certainly at President Trump’s behest) to violate the law by throwing out huge numbers of legally cast votes on an absurd premise. He might as well have asked Raffensperger to falsify the numbers. And in fact, I think that is what it amounts to. This comes out in a new interview with Raffensperger from The Washington Post.

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Where Things Stand: A Psychologically Difficult Place To Be Prime Badge
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UKRAINE - 2020/11/13: In this photo illustration a syringe and  ampules with fake COVID-19 vaccine seen with the U.S flag in the background. (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Conchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

That’s a headline that could encompass the societal feeling of just about any stage of 2020. But it feels particularly pointed right now.

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Grievance and Whining All the Way Down Prime Badge

You may have heard that the Trump campaign has now dropped most of its case against the results of the presidential election in Pennsylvania. But they’re expanding their case in other directions. Specifically, counsel for the President’s campaign is asking the court to sanction counsel for the State of Pennsylvania (technically, the Secretary of State) because an unnamed associate at Kirkland Ellis left a mean voicemail in her voicemail box.

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An Agenda of Democracy Prime Badge

Last night I was heartened to hear that The Washington Post had called for the abolition of the electoral college in an editorial. This is hardly a controversial view, certainly among Democrats. But I was glad to see it because I’ve been thinking in recent months of the critical importance of building in this country what for lack of a better phrase I’ll call a democracy agenda. This is critical first because what we’ve long considered the most basic assumptions of civic democracy are so clearly under threat but also because longstanding features of the apparatus of the American state, which had the potential to thwart the democratic will, have now begun actively to do so.

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Trump Shifts Gears

I don’t know if you watched the President’s comments yesterday at his vaccine event. But one of our number, TPM Reader EB, said after it ended that that was the concession. He was right. I didn’t quite get it as it was happening. But after EB said it I realized he was right.

Of course he didn’t literally concede anything. Trump was petulant, lashing out at perceived enemies. But he was low energy and notably did not take questions. There was one moment even when he had to catch himself because he almost inadvertently admitted that he lost and that his presidency is ending.

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Where Things Stand: The Stowaway Chief Prime Badge
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It’s been rumored for years that President Trump doesn’t actually enjoy being president. And that’s never been more clear than the last week.

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TPM at 20

So here we are: 20 years. I remember our 10 year anniversary. That feels not long ago at all. The beginning in many ways feels like a lifetime ago, a very different time in my life, a very different time in our politics and in the media and publishing world certainly.

Today I don’t want to say too much more than thank you. Thank you to all of our readers and especially our almost 35,000 subscribers who literally make it possible for us to do all of this and have made it possible for me to experiment and drive this forward since 2000. My ask for today is this. Share your TPM memories with us. Maybe it’s a special moment in your relationship with the site. Maybe it’s how you found TPM. Anything and everything. Our real history and existence is your experience of our collective work over these many years. So pop open your email and let us know what yours is. Use the subject line TPM20.

If you’d also like to share some part or version of it publicly on social media please use the hashtag #TPM20. Our existence as an organization has always been about leveraging and sharing your individual and collective insights. So send those in. It will mean the world to me and the whole team. We will of course be sharing many of them as part of our celebration of the team’s milestone.

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Where Things Stand: Trump Supporters Have Grown To Expect A Show. That’s All This Is Prime Badge
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At least, that’s all according to a growing list of anonymous White House and campaign aides.

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Miscellany Prime Badge

1) According to this article by Ron Kampeas from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were asked to withdraw their children from the Jewish day school they attend in Washington, DC because parents became concerned the couple was flouting basic COVID mitigation protocols the school requires of parents. The Kusher/Trumps deny it but the reporting speaks for itself. It sounds like the school raised their behavior with the couple. They refused to change it. And then they were asked to leave.

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What’s Going On? Prime Badge

Over the last 48 hours I’ve had a number of people ask me, ‘What’s going on here? Is this a fundraising stunt? A coup? A protracted effort to protect Trump’s feelings? Just an effort to delegitimize Biden’s presidency?’ I think it mistakes Trump to think that he’s even decided or ever will, that it’s one and not another as opposed to all of the above. Donald Trump doesn’t do strategy. He does impulse. The most defining pattern of his life is to respond to reverses by seeking to throw his adversaries off balance with an audaciously aggressive play and then work it for all its worth.

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Don’t Be So Sure This is the Future Prime Badge
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Capital Region International Airport, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

As we look out onto the terrain of the future everyone is trying to make sense of the post-Trump landscape. This is particularly so since the race was not a blow out and Democrats actually had reverses in the House and down ballot. But I think everyone is giving too little place to the uncertainty and instability of the electoral future.

The story of the Trump presidency is that the suburbs and the college educated trended hard to the Democrats while non-college educated, more rural voters went toward the President. Notably, in 2020 these patterns began to bleed outside of white America. The President made gains with some Hispanic Americans and to a degree with black men.

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Where Things Stand: Very Few Want To Be Doing This Prime Badge
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WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 09: Attorney General Bill Barr leaves the US Capitol after meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in his office on November 9, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Bill Barr

And that, apparently, includes employees of the law firms representing the Trump campaign.

Around the same time that news broke that a Justice Department official — who oversaw the DOJ’s election crimes unit — resigned on Monday evening, the New York Times published a story detailing the angst within the law firms the Trump campaign has tapped to handle its various legal challenges to the election.

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The Rot Is Deep

In case you missed last evening’s developments, a DOJ official has resigned over Bill Barr’s new memo authorizing prosecutors to investigate so-called election irregularities before the results are certified. More soon on this.

For All The Marbles

The newly constituted 6-3 conservative-majority Supreme Court hears oral arguments this morning in the case that Republicans are using to try to dismantle Obamacare once and for all. Tierney Sneed will be covering it for TPM. Here’s her latest on the exquisite bind the case has put Republicans in, even though it’s all their own doing. Come back for more from Tierney late this morning after the oral arguments.

The Brittle Grip, No. Infinity Prime Badge
Armed homeowners standing in front of their house along Portland Place confront protesters as they march to Mayor Lyda Krewson's house on Sunday, June 28, 2020, in the Central West End in St. Louis. (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

As this election blurred forward I was taking notes for more editions of our “Brittle Grip” Series, the phenomenon of the super powerful and super rich feeling increasingly insecure in their power and wealth even as both wax. One of the key features of this new Gilded Age is the ultra-wealthy and ultra-powerful arguing that their ultra-wealth and ultra-power opens them up to criticism and animosity which entitles them to unique and greater rights and powers to protect themselves. I was forced ahead of schedule this morning by news out of St. Louis from the McCloskeys, the husband and wife sixty-something lawyers who entered the campaign drama when they came out of their house brandishing firearms and threatening to murder protestors who happened to be walking by their house. The couple has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the photographer who took those iconic pictures of them with their guns.

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