President Trump’s administration has refused to cooperate with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team, withholding federal resources that normally flow freely after a campaign ends.
Trump Slows the Biden Transition
In his first address to the nation since declaring victory, President-elect Joe Biden warned that widespread distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine was still months away, and he implored Americans to wear masks to contain the spread of the virus as the nation heads into a “dark winter” that could see hundreds of thousands more deaths.
Biden announced he had appointed an advisory board of top public health experts, including a former Trump administration official who clashed with the White House, to guide his transition team’s COVID-19 planning. It came as Pfizer said early data on its COVID-19 vaccine candidate suggest the shots may be 90% effective at preventing the disease — and as the United States confirmed its 10 millionth coronavirus infection.
But Biden does not have the tools of the federal government available to him until Jan. 20, and President Trump‘s refusal to acknowledge Biden’s victory in the election is slowing the usual transition process.
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Trump continued to tweet baseless allegations of fraud in some states, suggested he didn’t really lose in others and made further unsubstantiated claims that his own FDA and Democrats had conspired to delay Monday’s vaccine announcement.
Few Republicans have broken ranks with Trump in his denial of the election results. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he supports Trump’s attempts to challenge the results. And Atty. Gen. William Barr sent a letter to federal prosecutors saying that the Justice Department has not concluded “that voting irregularities have impacted the outcome of any election,” but “clear and apparently credible allegations” should be swiftly investigated if there’s a possibility they played a decisive role.
The president appears focused on a multistate legal assault against the election results. But it’s unlikely that any of the lawsuits will call into question enough votes to swing the results. Biden leads Trump by roughly 45,000 votes in Pennsylvania, 15,000 in Arizona, 36,000 in Nevada and 146,000 in Michigan.
Bedeviled Down in Georgia
Georgia’s too-close-to-call presidential contest has devolved into a fight among Republicans, as the state’s top election official rejected calls from its two U.S. senators that he resign for challenging Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.
Gabriel Sterling, a lifelong Republican who manages Georgia’s voting system, took to a lectern at the Capitol to plainly and matter-of-factly dismiss criticism of election illegalities in the Southern battleground state as “fake news” and “disinformation.”
Hours later, GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler — who are each in a Jan. 5 runoff that will determine whether Republicans or Democrats control the U.S. Senate — called on Sterling’s boss, the Republican Secretary of State, to resign for allegedly mismanaging the state’s elections. “That is not going to happen,” he said.
Georgia’s 16 electoral votes are no longer key to deciding the election, as Biden has already secured 20 more than needed to win the White House. But the upheaval shows how Trump’s persistent and unfounded claims of fraud and refusal to concede the election to Biden are dividing not just the country but also his own party.
— Trump announced via tweet that he had fired Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in the first in an expected purge of security officials. It raised concerns that Trump may be planning far-reaching military moves in his final weeks in office.
— Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has become the first member of Trump’s Cabinet to test positive for the coronavirus. His diagnosis follows that of White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and several aides and renews scrutiny of a White House party held on election night.
— Orange County has announced that it will conduct a voluntary audit of its 2020 presidential election ballots to ensure the integrity of results. Nearly 54% of its ballots were cast for Biden and 44% for Trump, according to data compiled by The Times.
— Trump expanded his support in Beverly Hills, a rare spot of red in blue L.A. County.
‘This Isn’t a Blip Any Longer’
After weeks of rising coronavirus numbers, officials said Los Angeles County is seeing a new surge in infections that could get worse as Thanksgiving approaches.
Health authorities have been saying for weeks that social gatherings — including celebrations tied to the Lakers and Dodgers championship victories — were helping spread COVID-19 and dashing hopes of further reopening the economy before the holidays. But on Monday, officials said that conditions were deteriorating further.
The new surge has been less extreme than the disastrous summer spike that led to rises in hospitalizations and deaths. But officials fear fatigue after months of restrictions is causing people to let down their guard at a critical moment.
Activists Face a Scary Backlash
Large protests filled streets in Los Angeles and other cities after a Minneapolis policeman killed George Floyd in May, but in California’s rural communities, activists often confront challenges their urban counterparts never encounter.
In a number of Northern California towns, small groups of protesters have staged events in places where public dissent is uncommon and sometimes unwelcome — resulting in attacks, online doxxing and harassment.
Lacking in numbers, these activists also lack anonymity. In Lodi, the blowback has been severe: death threats, calls to have them fired from jobs, and conspiracy theories about their motives and personal lives.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
From November 1955 to July 1956, The Times ran a daily game called “Know Your City.” The paper printed a photo with cryptic clues and readers were challenged to guess what and where the building, park, statue or other landmark was, made trickier by photos “from unusual angles.”
Among the highlighted locations were the Los Angeles Central Public Library and the Hompa Hongwanja Buddhist Temple in Little Tokyo. City Hall was featured at least twice from different angles. There were ultimately 250 photos in the series.
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— Cal State defied predictions with an enrollment surge, not decline, during the pandemic. Why? Officials credit the certainty it offered students by announcing early that it would keep classes online in the fall and its relative affordability.
— Nearly nine out of 10 Los Angeles Police Department officers did not feel supported by Chief Michel Moore and did not believe he or other commanders provided strong leadership during recent protests and unrest, according to a summer survey conducted by the officers’ union.
— FBI agents served warrants at the home of a Compton councilman, the downtown L.A. law offices of the Baldwin Park city attorney and the home of a San Bernardino planning commissioner, the latest probe targeting corruption in cannabis licensing.
— A cold snap settling over Los Angeles will stick around all week, forecasters said, marking the end of a significant streak of warm weather.
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— A shot every two months of the experimental medicine cabotegravir is more effective in preventing HIV in women than daily Truvada pills, a study finds. The regimen worked so well that researchers are stopping the study early.
— Armenia and Azerbaijan announced an agreement to halt fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region under a pact signed with Russia that calls for deployment of nearly 2,000 Russian peacekeepers and territorial concessions.
— Myanmar’s ruling National League for Democracy claimed to have won enough seats to secure a majority in parliament, guaranteeing the party of Aung San Suu Kyi another five years in power.
— Japanese Emperor Naruhito’s younger brother, Crown Prince Fumihito, was formally sworn in as first in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne. Naruhito skipped over his daughter in declaring his brother first in line for the throne.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
— CBS announced it was launching an effort to diversify its reality shows, including a commitment to 50% representation of Black, Indigenous and people of color on its slate of shows including “Survivor,” “Big Brother” and “The Amazing Race.”
— For “The Bachelorette” and “Big Brother,” two venerable reality TV series with fraught histories around race, meaningful treatment of race remains a challenge.
— Artist Glenn Kaino would like to give you three wishes. His end goal? Bring a little magic into your life and transform the world.
— Musician and activist Madame Gandhi is marching to her own beat — and fighting for your civil rights.
— Wondery has grown into one of the nation’s largest podcast publishers, but now an industry darling faces an uncertain future between a possible sale and its CEO’s legal troubles.
— The Pfizer vaccine news is exciting, but don’t throw away your mask yet, writes business columnist Michael Hiltzik.
— Neither his bout with the coronavirus nor his age has stifled the pitch dominance of AC Milan’s 39-year-old star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
— Former Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow has sued the team for breach of contract, saying its owner and the league negotiated penalties for its sign-stealing scandal that let them scapegoat and fire him to avoid paying him $22 million.
— UCLA basketball’s return to the national rankings is no joke, but it did prompt one.
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— Bad marriages usually lead to ugly divorces, and that’s where the GOP is heading, writes columnist Jonah Goldberg. But can the party survive a divorce from Trumpism?
— The L.A. County Board of Supervisors shouldn’t be afraid to ask if there is a better way to select a sheriff, in order to ensure accountability, The Times’ editorial board writes.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
— “Who’s going to come in behind me? It’s going to be a real ‘yes man.’ And then God help us.” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper gave this interview days before Trump fired him. (Military Times)
— Trump ascended to power with the backing of Fox News. But at the end of last week, Trump fans in Arizona were chanting, “Fox sucks.” Here’s how the relationship finally broke down. (Washington Post)
ONLY IN L.A.
Fall weather has finally hit L.A., but what if you’re not ready to give up that summer vibe? “I’ve learned to extend the sensation of summer by wearing shorts with socks pulled up to the calf,” writes Daniel Hernandez. “When fall officially rolls around each year, I break out my array of cotton crew socks.” And he’s far from alone in adopting this “end-of-summer refusal wear.”
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