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Policy Is Always About the Next Election Prime Badge

It’s hard for me to think of a point in American history where an incoming President has faced a greater range of compounding crises with as little freedom of action as Joe Biden will have on January 20th of next year. There is COVID. There is economic calamity COVID created. There is the seemingly more distant but gravely important wrecked international system which portends a rising tide of foreign policy crises and disruptions in trade which has the potential to ramify out for decades into the future.

It is still just possible that Democrats will control the Senate, if they pick up both Senate seats in Georgia. But assuming Republicans hold on, basically no legislation of any significance will be possible and Mitch McConnell will have a stranglehold over staffing and presidential confirmations, not even to mention judges.
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The Slapdowns To Trump’s Bid To Reverse His Defeat Are Getting More Painful Prime Badge
This Week in Voting Rights: A weekly roundup of news on Americans' access to the ballot box.
Where Things Stand: Even The Bare Minimum Isn’t Enough Prime Badge
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ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 10: Georgia Governor Brian Kemp speaks during a press conference announcing statewide expanded COVID testing on August 10, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

Alas, even the bare minimum enforcement of basic elements of democracy is too much for President Trump.

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There It Is: Enemies of Democracy Prime Badge

On Wednesday I noted how critical it is that Democrats go on offense to protect democracy in this country. This is not only a critical policy imperative. It is also good politics. The critical point, as I argued, is that Democrats need to go on offense now – pushing a broad array of reforms to secure civic democracy in this country – because Republicans will certainly use this election as another excuse to impose further restrictions. And here we have one of the first of what will certainly be many examples.

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Where Things Stand: Even The Tiger King Prime Badge
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President Trump has been laying the groundwork for years at this point.

Even if he had won the election, he’d probably continue floating it — letting a potential Michael Flynn pardon swing in the breeze while he waits for the right moment to let it drop. Now we’ve reached an hour so ripe with presidential turmoil that he might as well fling a distraction at his base.

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Offense on Democracy Prime Badge

President Trump’s decision to allow the full, formal transition process to move forward signals the end of any real attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. It’s been clear for a while that this effort would fail; now you can be sure of it. The real impact of the blizzard of lies and frivolous lawsuits about voter fraud, however, will be as the premise and predicate for a new round of voter suppression laws Republican legislatures and GOP-appointed judges will try to put into effect starting next year.

We’ve seen this pattern before, as predictable as day follows night.

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Democracy and Accountability Prime Badge

We know that Joe Biden, President-Elect of the United States, has vast expectations for his presidency resting on his shoulders. That challenge grew only greater when it became clear Democrats would likely not control the Senate for the first two years of Biden’s presidency. But beyond specific legislation or executive actions there is something more basic we should focus on – something Democrats have often done poorly at, not least in the presidency of Barack Obama, in which Biden served as Vice President. It is never enough to govern well and trust that voters will reward good governance. It simply never works that way.

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Where Things Stand: Cooperate But Don’t Prime Badge
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The news out of the GSA last night was obviously newsworthy — the strongest indication yet that President Trump is running out of options to keep his claims of a stolen election afloat.

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Where Things Stand: Ex-GOP National Security Officials Have, Apparently, Had Enough Prime Badge
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Perhaps it’s easier to speak out against President Trump and the flailing, chaotic, dwindling days of his presidency when you’re no longer in an official position.

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Trump’s Faux Coup Gets Weirder As Campaign Vows SCOTUS Bid After PA Slapdown Prime Badge
This Week in Voting Rights: A weekly roundup of news on Americans' access to the ballot box.
The Short, Happy, Bizarre Defenestration of Sidney Powell Prime Badge

There’s an important and clarifying subtext to Team Trump’s decision to jettison Sidney Powell from the zombie campaign’s legal team. Yes, her theories and accusations are terrifyingly demented. But, c’mon … do we think that’s really supposed to be a problem? The issue is the Georgia senate races.

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So What the Hell Happened? Prime Badge

I’m not sure quite what to make of this. Those two Michigan House and Senate leaders who went to visit President Trump at the White House appear to have given Trump an unqualified ‘no’. Indeed, not only do they appear to have given him an unqualified ‘no’ in the joint statement they released after the meeting. But they coupled this with an ask for more COVID relief.

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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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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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As Trump Eyes The Door, Executive Branch Rushes Last-Minute Changes Prime Badge
This Week in the Swamp: A weekly dive into the muck of the Trump administration.
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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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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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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Trump’s Bid To Challenge His Loss In Court Is Going As Well As Everyone Expected (Not Well At All) Prime Badge
This Week in Voting Rights: A weekly roundup of news on Americans' access to the ballot box
Where Things Stand: A Psychologically Difficult Place To Be Prime Badge
This is your TPM afternoon briefing.
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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