Pennsylvania’s supreme court has rejected one of Trump’s loudest post-election claims, as Biden appoints a diverse new cabinet. Plus, the cybersecurity chief is sacked after refuting voter fraud allegations

Good morning. Pennsylvania has become the latest state to dismiss Trump’s attempts to overturn the election result. Yesterday, the state’s supreme court ruled that Philadelphia election officials did not improperly block the Trump campaign from observing the counting of mail-in ballots – one of the president’s loudest post-election claims. Pennsylvania was a key swing state in the election, flipping its 20 electoral college seats to Biden by a narrow margin of 1.2%.

On the other side of the rust belt, Republican certifiers in Michigan have U-turned and confirmed a Joe Biden win. The state’s largest county had refused to officially call the state for Biden, despite a clear win, but changed course after Democrats, election experts and members of the public warned it was a dangerous overriding of public will.

Trump’s voter fraud lawyer said that the “litigation will not work” before being hired to represent the president’s campaign in Pennsylvania. Broadcasting on his own conservative talkshow days after the election, Marc Scaringi, who was retained by the Trump campaign on Monday to replace attorneys who had dropped out of the case, said there “really are no bombshells” that could overturn the results.

The president performed worse than other Republicans on the ballot in many counties, with many voters who typically support the Republicans turning their back on the outgoing president. This visual guide examines how Trump did in each county compared with the Republican House candidate on the same ballot.

Trump has fired the head of the US cybersecurity agency which rejected his accusations of electoral fraud. Christopher Krebs, a Trump appointee, said last week that he expected to be fired, after his agency released a statement refuting claims of voter fraud and insisting that the 2020 election had been “most secure” ever. In a tweet on Tuesday, Trump said that Krebs’ statement had been “highly inaccurate”, and that he was now “terminated”. The sacking was widely criticised by Democrats.

“By firing him for doing his job, President Trump is harming all Americans,” said Angus King, the Maine senator who is among the possible candidates for Director of National Intelligence in Biden’s administration.

The sacking of Krebs marks the latest in a last-hour overhaul of senior positions. Last week, the defence secretary, Mark Esper, was dismissed, and the Pentagon stacked with Trump loyalists.

The president is also rushing to drill the Arctic refuge before Biden takes office, in an attempt to fulfil his promises to the oil and gas industry. The coastal plain region, where land could be auctioned, is considered some of the country’s last pristine wilderness.

Trump’s shock decision to withdraw over half of US troops in Afghanistan could induce further violence in the country. Attacks are up 50% since negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban began in September, and targeted assassinations have been rife.

Despite the best efforts of the Trump campaign, president-elect Biden continued to move forward with the preparations for his presidency, announcing his White House Senior staff on Tuesday. Biden has made a concerted effort to introduce a staff body that “looks like America”, naming five women and four people of colour in his top team.

His picks include Jen O’Malley Dillon, the first woman to lead a winning Democratic presidential bid, as the White House deputy chief of staff, and Cedric Richmond, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, as senior advisor and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. Trump, by contrast, had the most white and male administration since Ronald Reagan.

Jill Biden will be the first first lady to continue her career while in the role. During her eight years in the Obama administration as second lady, she continued to teach at community college in Northern Virginia and tried to keep her political status under the radar, requesting that Secret Service agents who accompanied her to work disguised themselves as students. Miranda Bryant learns more about the incoming first lady.

As coronavirus cases and fatalities soar across the US, the Trump administration has “decided to completely check out” on managing the pandemic, according to experts. It follows a worrying reveal from Dr Anthony Fauci last weekend that Trump had not attended a taskforce meeting in five months. Biden’s transition team have expressed concerns that they are being prevented from working with the current administration to tackle the virus, fearing this will hinder efforts to distribute a vaccine.

The governor of North Dakota came under fire for asking covid-positive health workers to continue working. The instruction, which is in line with CDC recommendations for staff shortages, many fear it endangers the workers and their colleagues.

The longest-serving Republican senator has tested positive for coronavirus. Chuck Grassley, 87, of Iowa, said he was not experiencing any symptoms, and he would work online during his quarantine period.

Twitter and Facebook CEOs have testified over an alleged anti-conservative bias on their platform during the 2020 election. Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg were subpoenaed to the Senate to review their handling of the election, and in particular, a New York Post article about Biden.

Harvey Weinstein is unwell and under close monitoring in prison, although the disgraced Hollywood producer’s spokesperson would not confirm or deny whether he had contracted coronavirus. His health was a key focus during his trial, which his lawyers leveraged to reduce his trial, and his age, weight and medical conditions make him vulnerable to coronavirus.

Florida’s reefs have lost nearly 98% of their coral, and is the most severely degraded areas of coral reef in the US, according to a report from scientists. While the rest of the US coral reefs are in fair condition, the climate crisis poses a “dire outlook” for eco-systems such as these.

More than 25 million workers are suffering from the effects of coronavirus on the economy, including those who are on unemployment, have left the workforce because of the pandemic, and those who are losing cuts and hours due to coronavirus. The number of jobs remains at more than 10 million fewer than February, before the pandemic began.

Amazon’s profits have soared during the pandemic. In July, the company announced that it had doubled its quarterly profits from $2.6bn in 2019 to $5.2bn this year. Despite this, there are growing concerns about workers’ rights and its business model. John Harris explores how the firm profited from the pandemic, and what may be next.

Navigating family gatherings at Thanksgiving is hard enough, let alone during a global pandemic. From getting your folks to listen, to dealing with lockdown rule-breakers, an expert negotiator gives their two cents on how to handle the occasion.

First Thing is delivered to thousands of inboxes every weekday. If you’re not already signed up, subscribe now.


News – Pennsylvania pours cold water on Trump’s voter fraud claims | First Thing