Welcome to today’s US election briefing for Australia – our final briefing for now! We will be putting this project on pause, but may be back with any major developments in the future. Please check out how you can stay in touch with our US coverage at the end of the briefing.
Today a number of Republicans said publicly that Joe Biden should receive the classified briefings that are customary for a president-elect in the transition period. It was the first, tacit acknowledgment of his victory from many of them since the election was called almost a week ago, and came as the president continued to spread disinformation about electoral fraud.
But these were not profiles in courage. Few senior figures in the party will yet challenge Donald Trump’s lies directly.
Senator Marco Rubio, one of the many 2016 hopefuls who was belittled by Trump publicly on the campaign trail only to back him wholeheartedly, qualified his comments about Biden thusly: “Giving them access to additional information doesn’t prejudice the president’s electoral claims.”
Even today, when the Department of Homeland Security distributed a statement from a group of federal, state and local election officials declaring the election was “the most secure in American history”, the president and many of his backers held the line. They are showing loyalty to a person who retains a vice-like grip on the party and the devotion of their voters.
But today’s events also served as a reminder at how febrile alliances with Trump are, and how loyalty is not a two-way street.
Trump spent the day angrily tweeting about Fox News, the major cable network that has most vociferously supported the president and his agenda over the last four years.
It drew his ire though when it became the first to call Arizona for Joe Biden. He retweeted comments suggesting the News Corp station was “pandering to the left” (lol) and that viewers should switch to the smaller, but even more rightwing channels Newsmax (whose viewership has exploded in recent weeks) and OAN. It follows a report in Axios that Trump wants to start his own subscriber-based digital media company to “clobber” Fox. You can read more on this here.
Meanwhile, it was another shocking day for the pandemic, with new daily cases rising above 150,000 for the first time and more states scrambling to introduce restrictions to try to mitigate the public health crisis. In North Dakota, a state that strongly backed Trump, the healthcare system is so overwhelmed the governor announced health workers who have tested positive for Covid but are not symptomatic can continue to work in hospitals.
It is not just nurses in North Dakota facing invidious choices right now. Americans are facing a difficult winter, with many isolated from loved ones. They will need to steel themselves for the period ahead, before a vaccine can reintroduce some normalcy to life. We will continue to see Americans displaying great courage on the frontlines of this crisis, if not in Washington.
The big stories
November is on track to be the worst month of the pandemic so far in the US as new cases and hospitalisations continue to surge to record highs. Wednesday marked the ninth consecutive day of cases topping 100,000.
The longest-serving Republican in the Senate has joined the call for Biden to receive daily intelligence briefings, which are currently withheld from the president-elect because the Trump administration refuses to acknowledge the result.
Top US cybersecurity official Christopher Krebs has told associates he expects to be fired by the White House, according to three sources familiar with the matter. His agency has also been aggressively pushing back on rumours that something went wrong with the 2020 election.
The leaders of America’s closest allies have eagerly welcomed the incoming presidency of Biden as a crucial opportunity to face down the unfolding climate crisis, following four years of dislocation under Trump.
Two of Donald Trump’s billionaire donors have contracted Covid-19 months after downplaying the risk of the disease to their employees. Richard and Liz Uihlein, conservative megadonors who own the Uline packaging company based in Wisconsin, confirmed they tested positive for the virus.
Flipping Georgia blue has drawn attention to the organisational power of Black women, whose large-scale mobilisation efforts appear to have resulted in massive turnout among people of colour in those cities, experts say.
What next for Mike Pence? Said to have nurtured ambitions for the presidency since he was 16, Pence may return to his roots in conservative talk radio as a way to remain relevant in his party – and consider a 2024 tilt.
Quote of the day
I’m more troubled by the fact that other Republican officials who clearly know better are going along with this, are humouring him … it is one more step in delegitimising not just the incoming Biden administration, but democracy generally. And that’s a dangerous path.”
Former president Barack Obama in a 60 Minutes interview.
“This is a full-scale emergency – and yet the Democratic strategy seems to be to try to pretend it isn’t happening, in hopes that norms win out, even though nothing at all is normal,” writes David Sirota, in this forceful piece about why Democrats and others must push back harder on Trump’s attempt to overturn the election result.
“Biden’s job of uniting the country starts on the Great Plains and Appalachia,” writes Art Cullen, in this terrific, unsentimental piece looking at why rural areas in states like Iowa have turned so vehemently Republican.
Video of the day
Most world leaders rushed to congratulate Joe Biden on his election, and spoke of ‘hope’ and ‘expectation’ in later statements. Here’s what world leaders, including Scott Morrison, had to say about their first contact with the president-elect
Around the web
What the numbers say: 241,844
The number of people who have died of Covid in the US since the pandemic began.
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