Presidential Transition Live Updates: Barr Says Justice Dept. Has Not Seen Evidence...

Presidential Transition Live Updates: Barr Says Justice Dept. Has Not Seen Evidence of Fraud That Would Undo Biden’s Win

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Attorney General William P. Barr’s statements undercut President Trump’s claim of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.
Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

Attorney General William P. Barr said Tuesday that the Justice Department has not uncovered voting fraud at a scale that could have affected the results of the presidential election, reaffirming Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s win despite President Trump’s groundless claims that he was defrauded.

Mr. Barr’s comments, in an interview with The Associated Press, were a prominent repudiation of Mr. Trump’s baseless assertions and came days after the president implied that the Justice Department and the F.B.I. may have played a role in an election fraud.

“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” Mr. Barr said.

Mr. Barr’s comments came as another Trump ally signaled he was ready to move on after a surreal month of lawsuits, conspiracy theories and denials by the president of a loss that has proved durable and decisive.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, who has refused to recognize Mr. Trump’s election loss, on Tuesday moved closer to overtly accepting the reality that Mr. Biden would be in the White House next year, while discussing the prospects for more pandemic stimulus in 2021.

“After the first of the year, there is likely to be a discussion about some additional package of some size next year, depending upon what the new administration wants to pursue,” Mr. McConnell said at a news conference.

Taken together, Mr. Barr’s direct declaration and Mr. McConnell’s indirect reference to Mr. Biden’s new administration represent a major, if not unexpected, blow to the president’s postelection effort to change the results from two men whom he has often relied on for political cover.

Moments after Mr. Barr’s comments were made public, Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s lawyer, emailed a statement on campaign letterhead, claiming — again without evidence — that he had found “ample” proof of national voter fraud sufficient to swing the election to Mr. Biden.

“With the greatest respect to the Attorney General, his opinion appears to be without any knowledge or investigation of the substantial irregularities and evidence of systemic fraud,” wrote Mr. Giuliani late Tuesday.

Mr. Barr was seen entering the White House grounds Tuesday afternoon. A department spokesman said he was there for previously scheduled appointments that did not include a meeting with the president.

Amid the fallout from Mr. Barr’s statements about the election, the Justice Department also announced that he had given extra protection to the federal prosecutor examining the origins of the investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Mr. Barr appointed the prosecutor, John H. Durham, as a special counsel, a move that makes it more difficult for the Biden administration to fire him.

Mr. Durham has been conducting the investigation for a year and a half, and Mr. Trump and his allies had been banking on him uncovering wrongdoing by Obama-era F.B.I. officials to help the president’s political fortunes in the lead up to last month’s election. But Mr. Durham has charged only one person, an F.B.I. lawyer who pleaded guilty to doctoring an email.

Gabriel Sterling, the voting system implementation manager for the Georgia secretary of state’s office, urged President Trump to condemn the violent threats and harassment directed at people working on election issues.
Credit…Megan Varner/Getty Images

Gabriel Sterling, a high-ranking Georgia elections official, walked to a lectern in the State Capitol in Atlanta on Tuesday and angrily denounced the violent threats and harassment directed at people working on elections issues, urging President Trump to condemn it.

“It has to stop,” said Mr. Sterling, a Republican. “Mr. President, you have not condemned this language or these actions. This has to stop. We need you to step up, and if you’re going to take a position of leadership, show some.”

Mr. Sterling, a wonkish former city councilman in the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs, has taken on a starring role as Georgia’s voting system implementation manager while the president continues to call the election “rigged” and urge for the results to be nullified.

“Mr. President, it looks like you likely lost the state of Georgia,” Mr. Sterling said on Tuesday. “We’re investigating. There’s always a possibility, I get it, you have the right to go to the courts. What you don’t have is the ability to — and you need to step up and say this — is stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence. Someone’s going to get hurt. Someone’s going to get shot. Someone’s going to get killed.”

Mr. Sterling’s boss, the Republican secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, has come under fire from Trump allies, particularly Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue of Georgia, Republicans who criticized Mr. Raffensperger’s handling of the election and called for him to step down.

A number of lawsuits have been filed seeking to halt the certification of the results in Georgia. A second of two recounts, requested by the Trump campaign, is being conducted. The internet and right-wing news media have flooded the state with baseless conspiracy theories.

Mr. Sterling, who seems to know the ins and outs of the election and recount process in more detail than Mr. Raffensperger, has had the shared duty of explaining and defending these processes, which the secretary of state’s office oversees. The two officials have said that their office is investigating reports of irregularities in the state. But both have maintained that the election results are trustworthy, and that President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. narrowly defeated Mr. Trump.

Speaking loudly, emotionally and deliberately, Mr. Sterling said that Mr. Raffensperger had intruders on his personal property. He said that Mr. Raffensperger’s wife was “getting sexualized threats through her cellphone.” Mr. Sterling said he had police protection outside his own house.

He mentioned reports that Joe diGenova, a lawyer for the Trump campaign, said that Christopher Krebs — a federal cybersecurity official who was fired shortly after saying that the election was fair — should be shot.

But Mr. Sterling said that “the straw that broke the camel’s back” had to do with a contractor for a voting system company in Gwinnett County who was targeted by someone who hung a noose and said he should be “hung for treason” simply for doing a routine element of his job.

“This is elections,” Mr. Sterling said. “This is the backbone of democracy, and all of you who have not said a damn word are complicit in this. It’s too much. Yes, fight for every legal vote. Go through your due process. We encourage you, use your First Amendment, that’s fine. Death threats, physical threats, intimidation — it’s too much, it’s not right. They’ve lost the moral high ground to claim that it is.”

He continued: “I can’t begin to explain the level of anger I have right now over this. And every American, every Georgian, Republican and Democrat alike, should have that same level of anger.”

A pardon for Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s lawyer, is certain to prompt accusations that Mr. Trump has used his power to obstruct investigations and insulate himself and his allies.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s lawyer who has led the most extensive efforts to damage his client’s political rivals and undermine the election results, discussed with the president as recently as last week the possibility of receiving a pre-emptive pardon before Mr. Trump leaves office, according to two people told of the discussion.

It was not clear who raised the topic. The men have also talked previously about a pardon for Mr. Giuliani, according to the people. Mr. Trump has not indicated what he will do, one of the people said.

Mr. Giuliani’s potential criminal exposure is unclear. He was under investigation as recently as last summer by federal prosecutors in Manhattan for his business dealings in Ukraine and his role in ousting the American ambassador there, a plot that was at the heart of the impeachment of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Giuliani did not respond to a message seeking comment. Christianne Allen, his spokeswoman, said, “Mayor Giuliani cannot comment on any discussions that he has with his client.”

Mr. Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello, said, “He’s not concerned about this investigation, because he didn’t do anything wrong and that’s been our position from Day 1.”

A spokeswoman for Mr. Trump did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Such a broad pardon pre-empting any charge or conviction is highly unusual but does have precedent. George Washington pardoned plotters of the Whiskey Rebellion, shielding them from treason prosecutions. In the most famous example, Gerald R. Ford pardoned Richard M. Nixon for all of his actions as president. Jimmy Carter pardoned thousands of American men who illegally avoided the draft for the Vietnam War.

Mr. Trump has wielded his clemency powers liberally in cases that resonate with him personally or for people who have a direct line to him through friends or family, while thousands of other cases await his review.

Last week he pardoned his former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn broadly for potential legal troubles beyond the charge he had faced of lying to federal investigators. The move raised expectations that Mr. Trump will bestow clemency on other associates in his final weeks in office.

Neera Tanden, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s nominee for the Office of Management and Budget, faces an uphill battle for Senate confirmation.
Credit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Tuesday announced an expansive panel of economic advisers, setting the tone for his recovery strategy as his administration prepares to inherit a shaky economy rocked by the worst days of a nearly yearlong public health crisis.

At an event in Delaware on Tuesday, Mr. Biden said he was building “a first-rate team that’s going to get us through this ongoing economic crisis.”

Those expected to join Mr. Biden’s inner circle of advisers bring a range of experience as leading economists and former White House advisers.

Here are his top picks:

  • Cecilia Rouse cut her teeth as a White House economic adviser in the Clinton administration. She returned for a second post under President Barack Obama, who brought her on in his Council of Economic Advisers. If confirmed, Ms. Rouse will return yet again, becoming the council’s first Black chair and Mr. Biden’s top economist, a position that the president-elect has pledged to return to cabinet-level status after the role was demoted under President Trump.

  • Neera Tanden became a divisive figure in progressive politics and a dogged aide serving several top Democratic candidates. She became the president of the Center for American Progress and came into repeated conflict with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont during his presidential primary campaign while in that role. Ms. Tanden is slated to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget if she prevails in an uphill battle for Senate confirmation, given her strained relationships across the political spectrum.

  • Adewale Adeyemo brings a similarly establishment perspective to Mr. Biden’s slate of advisers as a familiar face in Washington and in elite financial circles. Mr. Adeyemo, who goes by Wally, has served on campaigns for notable Democratic presidential candidates like John Kerry, John Edwards and Mr. Obama. He has also worked in the Treasury Department as deputy executive secretary to Secretary Timothy F. Geithner. Outside of government, Mr. Adeyemo, a Nigerian immigrant, served as a former senior adviser and interim chief of staff to Larry Fink, the chief executive of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager.

  • Jeffrey D. Zients, the former head of the National Economic Council under the Obama administration, has emerged as an important power center as a co-chairman of the Biden transition team. He is currently a top candidate to be the coronavirus czar, a role in which he would steer the government’s response to a pandemic that has caused financial hardship across the country. Progressives are concerned about his leadership roles at the investment fund Cranemere and the board of Facebook, which they say would make him sympathetic to corporate America, the latest indication of how the Democratic Party has shifted since former Mr. Obama took office during a financial crisis.

Reporting was contributed by Jim Tankersley, Jeanna Smialek, Carl Hulse, Emily Cochrane and Alan Rappeport.

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‘Help Is on the Way’: Biden Introduces Economic Team

On Tuesday, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. formally introduced his economic team, calling on them to lead America to a future of shared economic prosperity.

“Let me be clear, with this team and others we’ll add in the weeks ahead, that — we’re going to create a recovery for everybody, for all. We’re going to get this economy moving again. We’re going to create jobs, raise incomes, reduce drug prices, advance racial equity across the economy and restore the backbone of this country — the middle class. Our message to everybody struggling right now is this: Help is on the way.” “To the American people, we will be an institution that wakes up every morning thinking about you, your jobs, your paychecks, your struggles, your hopes, your dignity and your limitless potential.” “I’m especially proud to work alongside leaders who understand that budgets are not abstractions. They are a reflection of our values. They touch our lives in profound ways. And sometimes they make all the difference.” “I know firsthand the president-elect’s capacity to lift our country out of hard times because I had the privilege of working with him to help Americans recover from the Great Recession. In California’s Inland Empire, where I’d grown up in a working-class neighborhood, the Great Recession hit us hard.” “I look forward to working with the president-elect and vice president-elect, and this amazing entire economic team to address that urgency and seize that opportunity, and make our economic system work better for every American.” “We must build back an economy that’s far more resilient, far more fair and far more inclusive. It is precisely the vision this nation needs.” “I am honored and very grateful for the chance to be a part of this absolutely exceptional team, and excited to get to work helping build an economy rooted in the values that we share — equality, opportunity and the dignity of work.” “This is the right team for this moment, and to our nominees and appointees, thank you for your continued service to our nation. This is the team we need to deliver immediate economic relief to the American people to get our economy back on track, and to make sure it works for working people.”

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On Tuesday, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. formally introduced his economic team, calling on them to lead America to a future of shared economic prosperity.CreditCredit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

The country’s economy, like the nation’s politics, is queasily suspended between the Trump and Biden administrations — at a moment when the rampaging pandemic has prompted deep concerns over the strength, timing and even likelihood of a possible recovery next year.

On Tuesday, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. tried to inject a sense of urgency — and stability — into a chaotic postelection environment by formally introducing his economic team, whose governing philosophy marks a stark departure from President Trump’s low-tax, low-regulation approach.

“Let’s begin the work to heal, to unite, to rebuild an economy for all Americans,” Mr. Biden said at an event in Wilmington, Del.

The new team, led by Mr. Biden’s pick for Treasury Secretary, Janet L. Yellen, the former Fed chair, will emphasize the need to immediately help households and businesses stay afloat amid the pandemic through the use of emergency appropriations and other forms of federal assistance, Biden aides have said.

During his remarks, Mr. Biden directly appealed to senators who will vote on the confirmations of his cabinet members and who are likely to oppose some of his picks.

“To the United States Senate, I hope those outstanding, these outstanding nominees receive a prompt hearing and that we will be able to work across the aisle in good faith and move forward as one country,” said Mr. Biden as he introduced his nominees including Neera Tanden, the combative head of a liberal think tank who is one choice likely to face some opposition.

Earlier in the day, current Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell backed that approach, warning Congress that “the outlook for the economy is extraordinarily uncertain” without an effort to bridge the dangerous transition by limiting the spread of the virus and supporting the economy.

Mr. Trump’s departing Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, offered a much less dire assessment of the economy in his prepared remarks before the Senate Banking Committee.

But there were signs that the two sides were attempting to bridge the gap. Mr. Mnuchin told reporters he was planning to reach out to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to discuss negotiations over another virus relief package.

A bipartisan group of senators, led by Susan Collins, a Republican of Maine, and Joe Manchin III, a Democrat from West Virginia, unveiled the blueprint for a $900 billion stopgap stimulus package later in the day.

The plan would provide $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits for 18 weeks, half of what Democrats have sought, and it includes $160 billion in funding for state and local governments, much less than the $500 billion Democrats had previously proposed, which congressional Republicans and the White House had firmly rejected.

In his testimony, Mr. Mnuchin proposed spending an additional $300 billion on relief — a move that was instantly attacked as insufficient by Democratic members of the panel.

“I continue to believe that a targeted fiscal package is the most appropriate federal response,” Mr. Mnuchin said on Tuesday. “The administration is standing ready to support Congress in this effort to help American workers and small businesses.”

Yet even as most congressional Republicans refuse to publicly acknowledge Mr. Biden’s victory, many in the party are starting to privately adjust to negotiating with a Biden team whose coordinated activity represents a sharp break from Mr. Mnuchin’s approach that had often involved back-room diplomacy with Democrats beyond the reach of his volatile boss.

The White House Christmas decorations are themed “America the beautiful.” The holiday season is one area where the norm-breaking president appears intent on savoring tradition.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The red and gold party invitations make no mention of the coronavirus, nor do they acknowledge the holiday message that public health officials have been trying to emphasize to Americans: Stay home.

Instead, the invitations are the latest example of how President Trump is spending his final weeks in office operating in an alternative universe, denying the realities of life during the pandemic.

“The president and Mrs. Trump request the pleasure of your company at a holiday reception to be held at the White House,” reads the cursive text, displayed under a presidential seal.

Invitations to at least 20 White House parties, the first one on Monday at 7 p.m., have been sent out so far, according to administration officials. The guest lists include current and former officials and allies, some from out of state; Republican National Committee officials; campaign staff members; and some Republicans on Capitol Hill.

But in more than half a dozen interviews on Tuesday, many invitees said they did not plan to attend because of the personal risk that attendance would require. Others joked that since so many people in the president’s orbit had already tested positive for the virus, the White House had achieved herd immunity and was now a safe space for a quick stop to view the Christmas decorations.

The holiday party season, canceled across most of Washington, will be a rare time when the White House will feel busy. Inside the West Wing in recent weeks, there has been noticeably less foot traffic in and out of the Oval Office, as staff members pondering their career moves give a president who refuses to concede some space. Mr. Trump has made few public appearances since the election was called for Joseph R. Biden Jr.

But the holiday season at the White House — complete with a gingerbread house made with 25 pounds of chocolate and 25 pounds of royal icing by the in-house pastry team — is one area where the norm-breaking president appears intent on savoring tradition.

On the afternoon of Dec. 11, Mr. Trump is hosting a party for the West Wing staff and their families. There are also receptions planned for the evenings of Dec. 14 and Dec. 16, according to guests and copies of invitations. Officials said there were at least 20 holiday events on the calendar through December.

Stephanie Grisham, the chief of staff to Melania Trump, the first lady, said guests would be strongly encouraged to wear masks when they were not eating and the guest lists were smaller than usual. She did not say how many people were invited to each event.

Other restrictions were being put in place that were not instituted when the president hosted a large crowd for an indoor party on election night.

“Guests will enjoy food individually plated by chefs at plexiglass-protected food stations,” Ms. Grisham said in a statement. “All passed beverages will be covered. All service staff will wear masks and gloves to comply with food safety guidelines. Attending the parties will be a very personal choice. It is a longstanding tradition for people to visit and enjoy the cheer and iconic décor of the annual White House Christmas celebrations.”

The latest guidance from Mayor Muriel E. Bowser of Washington, a Democrat, limits indoor gatherings in the city to no more than 10 people. Beginning Dec. 14, restaurants in Washington are allowed to operate indoors only at 25 percent capacity.

The White House is exempt from the city’s restrictions because it is on federal property.

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Bipartisan Group of Senators Unveil Stimulus Proposal

A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday unveiled a $900 billion compromise stimulus measure to last until March. It would restore federal unemployment benefits that lapsed over the summer, delivering additional economic relief to Americans as coronavirus cases surge.

“As we deal with the second wave or third wave of this pandemic, it is absolutely essential that we pass emergency relief.” “In this package we have allocated $11 billion for investments in C.D.F.I.s, M.D.I.s and other institutions that will lend to these underserved communities, and that will have a good short-term and long term effect. So while this perhaps will offend some folks on both sides, we think it is a good framework, and we are all committed to doing what it takes to get it done.” “Covid has created a crisis, and in a crisis the people expect Congress to act. And this group has come together to propose action that could respond to this crisis. We’ve got people unemployed. We’ve got businesses shutting down. We’ve got states and localities getting ready for layoffs of large numbers of people. It’s simply unacceptable for us not to respond to help in this circumstance.” “We’re not putting blame anywhere. Basically, we know that they all have — there’s much need out there and needs been identified by so many different organizations, from all economists to every organizations, put something out there. We’ve hit a spot where we know that can give us emergency relief. That’s all this is about — emergency relief going through the first quarter, which ends on April 1. President-elect Biden will be coming in. He’ll be able to determine if there’s more that needs to be done. This is an emergency that gets us through from this holiday season. People that are losing in December. And we just can’t leave without that being addressed.”

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A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday unveiled a $900 billion compromise stimulus measure to last until March. It would restore federal unemployment benefits that lapsed over the summer, delivering additional economic relief to Americans as coronavirus cases surge.CreditCredit…Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

A bipartisan group of moderate senators on Tuesday unveiled a $900 billion compromise proposal meant to break the stalemate in Congress over providing a new round of federal pandemic relief. But Senate Republican leaders quickly undercut the plan, offering up their own bare-bones proposal that stood little chance of enactment.

Senators Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, and Susan M. Collins, Republican of Maine outlined their proposal, which would pair a $300-a-week federal unemployment payment with more money for small businesses and state and local governments. Hours later, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, presented his own plan amounting to a fraction of the aid.

His framework would mostly repurpose unused money already approved as part of the $2.2 trillion stimulus law enacted in March and provide $300 billion for small businesses and $31 billion for the distribution of a vaccine. It would create a federal liability shield for businesses operating during the pandemic and provide an array of tax cuts, including one for business meals. It would not revive the federal jobless payments that lapsed over the summer and omits any aid for state and local governments, making it a nonstarter for Democrats, who have pressed to restore the unemployment benefits and send hundreds of billions to help cities and states weather fiscal crises.

“We don’t have time for messaging games, we don’t have time for lengthy negotiations. The issue is, we want to get a result,” Mr. McConnell said at his weekly news conference on Tuesday, adding that he had been in touch with top White House officials about the plan. “I like to remind everybody that the way you get results is, you have to have a president’s signature.”

But it was met with stiff resistance from some Republicans, including Ms. Collins and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who were part of the bipartisan group that offered the compromise proposal.

Designed as a stopgap measure to last until March, their plan would restore the lapsed federal unemployment benefits but at half the rate, providing $300 a week for 18 weeks. Like Mr. McConnell’s plan, it would not include another round of checks for every American. But the moderates’ measure would provide $160 billion to help state, local and tribal governments — a fraction of what Democrats had sought. It would also include $288 billion to help small businesses, as well as temporary federal liability protection.

In a private conference call with other Republicans, Ms. Murkowski criticized Mr. McConnell’s scaled-back proposal as a “messaging” bill that would be “offensive” to suffering Americans. Ms. Collins appealed to her colleagues to consider the bipartisan version, according to five people familiar with the remarks.

Mr. McConnell pushed back, saying his was a substantive proposal that could be signed by President Trump.

The divisions emerged as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had their first talks since October on the stimulus package during a phone call to discuss a year-end agreement to fund the government.

“Additional Covid relief is long overdue and must be passed in this lame-duck session,” Ms. Pelosi said in a statement after the call.

Any deal would need support from leaders in both chambers to become law, and aides and senators conceded that the first step toward a final deal would require that endorsement.

Lawmakers are facing a tight time frame: Government funding is set to lapse on Dec. 11. With coronavirus cases surging across the country, legislators are rushing to approve a spending bill to avert a shutdown and leave Washington for the remainder of the year.

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Mnuchin and Powell Go Head-to-Head on Economic Outlook

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and Jerome H. Powell, the Fed Chair, offered senators starkly different assessments of the state of the U.S. economy and the challenges that lie ahead.

“The unemployment rate decreased to 6.9 percent, a rate not expected to be achieved until the fourth quarter of 2021. The historic bipartisan CARES Act provided the economic relief critical to supporting our robust economy. Additional economic shutdowns, however, continue to impair this remarkable progress, and cause great harm to American business and workers. Based upon the recent economic data, I continue to believe that a targeted fiscal package is the most appropriate federal response. I strongly encourage Congress to use the $455 billion in unused funds from the CARES Act to pass an additional bill with bipartisan support.” “As we’ve emphasized throughout the pandemic, the outlook for the economy is extraordinarily uncertain and will depend in large part on the success of efforts to keep the virus in check. The rise in new Covid-19 cases, both here and abroad, is concerning and could prove challenging in the next few months. A full economic recovery is unlikely until people are confident that it’s safe to re-engage in a broad range of activities. Recent news on the vaccine front is very positive for the medium term. The Fed’s response has been guided by our mandate to promote maximum employment and stable prices for the American people along with our responsibilities to promote the stability of the financial system. We’ve been taking broad and forceful actions to more directly support the flow of credit in the economy. Our actions, taken together, have helped unlock almost $2 trillion of funding to support businesses, large and small, non-profits and state and local governments, since April.”

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Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and Jerome H. Powell, the Fed Chair, offered senators starkly different assessments of the state of the U.S. economy and the challenges that lie ahead.CreditCredit…Al Drago for The New York Times

The chair of the Federal Reserve and the secretary of the Treasury painted starkly different visions of the challenges facing the United States economy in the months ahead on Tuesday, further exposing a rift that began to show last month.

While Jerome H. Powell, the Fed Chair, pointed to ongoing uncertainty over vaccine speed and distribution, the economic dangers of a surge in virus cases and the grim reality that many remain out of work while testifying before the Senate Banking Committee, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin painted a sunnier image of the economic recovery, emphasizing state and local lockdowns as the main threat to growth.

The contrast underlines the divide between two economic policymakers who, earlier in the crisis, worked closely as partners to usher in a sweeping economic response.

That cooperation has cracked. Mr. Mnuchin announced in November that he would end several Fed emergency loan programs, which are meant to keep credit flowing to state and local governments and medium-sized businesses alike. Now, the pair are voicing starkly different economic diagnoses.

Mr. Mnuchin touted the strength of the economic recovery and blamed continuing economic shutdowns in some parts of the country for impairing progress, saying those are causing “great harm” to American businesses and workers.

The Treasury secretary pointed to fact that many jobs have come back and said the unemployment rate had dropped far faster than many had expected. While he agreed that some industries, like restaurants, need support, he reiterated that any additional fiscal spending should be “targeted.”

Mr. Powell warned that ”the outlook for the economy is extraordinarily uncertain” given the ongoing surge in virus cases. He said the winter could be a “tough few months” and small firms might go out of business, even though the economy might rebound strongly in the medium-term as a vaccine becomes available.

“We do have a long way to go,” Mr. Powell said, noting that 10 million people remain out of work and that it is possible to both acknowledge the progress and pay attention to the remaining gap. “We’ll use our tools until the danger is well and truly past, and it may require help from other parts of government as well, including Congress.”

The Fed Chair reiterated that positive clinical trial results for several vaccine candidates spell good news for the medium term, but warned that there are still big risks on the horizon, including related to the vaccine.

“For now, significant challenges and uncertainties remain, including timing, production and distribution, and efficacy across different groups,” Mr. Powell said.

Their testimony came as a bipartisan group of lawmakers unveiled a $900 billion rescue package that Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, called the “best effort” to reach a framework that both Democrats and Republicans can agree upon.

Asked by Mr. Warner if they believed this type of package was needed, both Mr. Powell and Mr. Mnuchin agreed some form of additional support was needed.

“It sounds like you’re hitting a lot of the areas that could definitely benefit,” Mr. Powell said.

“We all believe that there should be targeted, fiscal response,” Mr. Mnuchin said, adding that he would be speaking to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Tuesday afternoon.

Election workers counted absentee ballots in Milwaukee last month.
Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

President Trump’s campaign on Tuesday sued the Wisconsin Elections Commission and Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, aiming to throw out hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots cast in the Democratic bastions of Dane County and Milwaukee County.

The Trump campaign lawsuit does not claim specific cases of fraud, but rather aims to overturn Wisconsin’s entire system of early voting, and aims to undo Mr. Evers’s certification on Monday of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the state.

The suit claims that all in-person absentee ballots in Dane and Milwaukee counties be invalidated because it says, incorrectly, they were cast without voters submitting a written application requesting the ballot. Voters across Wisconsin who voted early at in-person locations cast ballots using the same application, but the Trump campaign has only contested ballots cast in Dane and Milwaukee counties, which cast the most number of votes for Mr. Biden in the state.

Mr. Trump’s lawsuit also seeks to throw out 17,000 ballots cast in Madison, which is in Dane County, at weekend events called “Democracy in the Park.” Before in-person absentee voting began Oct. 20, Madison municipal officials dispatched poll workers to collect absentee ballots in city parks. Though the event was cleared in advance by the Wisconsin Elections Commission, the Trump campaign has argued the votes were cast illegally.

And the Trump campaign wants the court to discard ballots in which municipal clerks aided voters by finishing absentee ballot applications that voters left incomplete — guidance provided to them by the elections commission that follows how elections in the state have been conducted in the past.

The Trump campaign filed the lawsuit in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, where conservatives hold a 4-to-3 majority. The court has given Mr. Evers and other defendants, which include Dane and Milwaukee Counties and the Wisconsin Elections Commission, until 9:30 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday to respond to the Trump campaign’s lawsuit.

During a meeting of the Wisconsin Elections Commission on Tuesday morning, Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee (not Madison, as an earlier version of this post said) said the Trump campaign was trying to undo the state’s established system of voting.

“The claims raised through the recount by the Trump campaign and by President Trump himself are not challenging the accuracy or legitimacy of the results, rather they challenge the entire election system in Wisconsin, claiming entire groups of absentee in-person and absentee by-mail votes were not legitimate,” Mr. Barrett said. “They are doing so only in select counties. These claims are obviously an egregious and floundering attempt to discredit this fair election.”

The new suit in Wisconsin is only the latest last ditch effort by the Trump campaign and its Republican supporters to overturn the certification of the voting process in several key swing states.

In the past week alone, Republican-led lawsuits challenging certification have also been filed in state courts in Michigan, Minnesota and Georgia. Two federal lawsuits — in Atlanta and Detroit — contesting the certification of election results are moving through the courts as well.

On Tuesday afternoon, Representative Mike Kelly, Republican of Pennsylvania, filed an emergency request to the Supreme Court asking it to freeze in place the certification of the state’s voting results pending an appeal of a lawsuit he had filed that the state Supreme Court dismissed over the weekend. Pennsylvania has already certified its results, but Mr. Kelly wanted no further steps taken until the Supreme Court heard his appeal.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Saturday tossed Mr. Kelly’s suit, which had sought to declare unconstitutional a 2019 state law authorizing mail-in ballots and to retroactively nullify their use in the election last month — a move that, if successful, would have tipped the state to Mr. Trump.

Alan Feuer contributed reporting.

Rep. Mark Walker greets supporters at a President Trump campaign event in Greensboro, N.C., in October. He had been mulling a Senate run for months.
Credit…Khadejeh Nikouyeh/News & Record, via Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Representative Mark Walker announced on Tuesday that he would run for North Carolina’s open Senate seat in 2022, kicking off what is likely to be a fierce Republican primary that could pit him against President Trump’s daughter-in-law in a key swing state.

In an interview, Mr. Walker, a former Baptist pastor from Greensboro, sought to frame himself as a “bridge builder” between Republicans and groups that the party had struggled to reach in recent years, particularly Black voters.

“I am trying to make the case you might want to select somebody who has the ability, or the history to work with people from all different communities,” he said. “I have a track record of going to places and accomplishing things that Republicans have not been able to do.”

Mr. Walker, 51, announced last year that he would not seek re-election after a court ordered North Carolina to redraw its congressional map, making his district much more Democratic.

He had been mulling a Senate run for months after Senator Richard M. Burr, a fellow Republican, decided to retire. By entering the race just days after North Carolina certified its November elections, Mr. Walker was aiming to potentially box out other Republicans contemplating getting into the race.

Other Republicans who are eyeing Mr. Burr’s seat include Lara Trump, the wife of the president’s son Eric Trump; Pat McCrory, the former governor; Representative George Holding, who is also retiring; and Dan Forest, the state’s lieutenant governor who ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor this year.

Ms. Trump has told associates that she is considering entering the contest, and her campaign could be a test of the family’s political staying power once Mr. Trump leaves the White House.

Despite stylistic differences, Mr. Walker has been a close ally of Mr. Trump in the House and would welcome his support in the Senate contest. Still, he offered a subtle dig on Tuesday at the president’s daughter-in-law, who resides in Westchester County but has North Carolina roots.

“If somebody wants to move to the state, legally they can do that, but it doesn’t deter me,” Mr. Walker said. “I have nothing to say but good things about their family.”

At least one potential contender has already passed on the race. Mark Meadows, another North Carolina conservative and Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, said last month he would not run for the seat as some expected.

Democrats see the seat as one of their best pickup opportunities in 2022. Erica D. Smith, a state senator has already indicated she will run again, after losing the Democratic primary this year to Cal Cunningham, who fell short in his bid to unseat Senator Thom Tillis. Other possible candidates include Josh Stein, the state’s attorney general, and Jeff Jackson, another state senator.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. walks to deliver an address in Wilmington, Del.
Credit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

WILMINGTON, Del. — The President-elect of the United States clomped across a flag-studded stage on Tuesday, intending to introduce the economic team that, he hopes, will steer the nation through turmoil.

In the process, he introduced the country to a less welcome new companion, too: his walking boot.

After a slip while playing with one of his dogs, a shelter German shepherd named Major, Joseph R. Biden Jr., 78, sustained hairline fractures in his foot, according to Mr. Biden’s office and his doctor. Brief signs of the injury were on display on Tuesday, as a black boot poked out over Mr. Biden’s navy blue suit.

“Good,” Mr. Biden replied to a shouted query about how he was feeling, as he arrived at The Queen theater to deliver remarks. He proceeded to show off the boot to the cameras, lifting his knee to display it. Later, as he walked offstage, he flashed the news media a thumbs-up in response to a question about his foot.

In a Sunday statement, Mr. Biden’s doctor, Kevin O’Connor, said that Mr. Biden sustained the fractures in his “midfoot” and would“likely require a walking boot for several weeks.” On Tuesday, as Mr. Biden introduced choices for Cabinet positions and a number of appointments, he occasionally shifted his weight around, with the boot protruding from behind the lectern stand at times, while during other moments he appeared to stand evenly, with the boot out of sight.

A Biden spokesman did not respond to more detailed questions about how the injury occurred — was Mr. Biden playing catch with his dog? Were they on a walk?

Mr. Biden owns two German shepherds — the other is named Champ. Bob Markel, a friend since childhood, said that Mr. Biden had long been a dog owner. About 50 years ago, he recalled, Mr. Biden’s dogs were named “Governor” and “Senator.”

“These were sizable dogs,” he said. “Just like, apparently, the ones he’s got now.”

Former Representative Bob Brady of Pennsylvania, a longtime Biden ally, said that he “didn’t meet Major, but I met Champ,” describing the pet as “gorgeous.”

“He was probably throwing something around, it could be a toy,” he said, speculating on Mr. Biden’s injury. “I spoke with his guys. He’s fine, he’s fine.”

President Trump’s campaign has told supporters that it needs donations for an “Election Defense Fund,” but much of the money could be used to seed his next political steps.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

President Trump has raised about $170 million since Election Day as his campaign operation has continued to aggressively solicit donations with hyped-up appeals that have funded his fruitless attempts to overturn the election and that have seeded his post-presidential political ambitions, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The money, much of which was raised in the first week after the election, according to the person, has arrived as Mr. Trump has made false claims about fraud and sought to undermine public confidence in the legitimacy of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.

Instead of slowing down after the election, Mr. Trump’s campaign has ratcheted up its volume of email solicitations for cash, telling supporters that money was needed for an “Election Defense Fund.”

In reality, the fine print shows that the first 75 percent of every contribution currently goes to a new political action committee that Mr. Trump set up in mid-November, Save America, which can be used to fund his political activities going forward, including staff and travel. The other 25 percent of each donation is directed to the Republican National Committee.

A donor has to give $5,000 to Mr. Trump’s new PAC before any funds go to his recount account.

Still, the Trump campaign continues to urgently ask for cash. On Monday, Mr. Trump signed a campaign email that breathlessly told supporters that the end of November — nearly four weeks after Election Day — represented “our most IMPORTANT deadline EVER.”

Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for Mr. Trump’s campaign, declined to comment on the fund-raising.

The $170 million figure, raised in less than four weeks, is an enormous sum that rivals the amounts of money brought in at the peak of the campaign. While a breakdown of the money was not immediately available, the deluge of donations would appear to have paid off any remaining Trump campaign debt (in the first days after the election, the fine print showed that contributions were earmarked for that purpose). The money is also likely to provide Mr. Trump with a sizable financial head start in paying for his post-presidency political activities.

Despite the influx of cash, both the Trump campaign and the R.N.C. have reduced the size of their staffs since the election.

Dr. Scott W. Atlas during a press briefing at the White House in September. His support for allowing the virus to spread in order to achieve herd immunity was widely criticized.
Credit…Erin Scott for The New York Times

President Trump’s coronavirus czar, Dr. Scott W. Atlas, who has had a leading role in the White House’s efforts to play down the virus and politicize efforts to curb its spread, resigned on Monday from a position that was set to expire this week.

Dr. Atlas, a radiologist, was heavily criticized by many health experts as his guidance on key issues — including the wearing of masksconflicted with guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He has also been widely criticized for his support for allowing the virus to spread in order to achieve herd immunity — a point when transmission of the virus stalls because so many people have either previously had it or have been vaccinated for it.

Allowing the virus to spread unchecked in an effort to achieve herd immunity could lead to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of additional deaths.

Currently, more than 13 million Americans — 4 percent of the population — have been confirmed to have had the virus. Experts say 70 percent of the population would need to either have had the virus or have been vaccinated for it to achieve herd immunity status.

The relentless spread of the virus across the country is expected to worsen during the winter months.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has said he would work on urging governors to mandate masks in public once he is in the Oval Office, but there is little he can do to stem the spread of the virus before his inauguration on Jan. 20. Some epidemiologists predict the national death toll from the virus could surpass 470,000 by March 1.

“His actions have undermined and threatened public health, even as countless lives have been lost to Covid-19,” wrote a group of Stanford doctors in a joint statement on Monday, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. Dr. Atlas is a senior fellow at the university’s conservative Hoover Institution, and that same group of doctors in September denounced many of his statements regarding virus response.

Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota led the country with the most new virus cases per capita in the past week. And hospitals are filling up in some states, raising concerns that they could soon be overwhelmed. In California, state officials are bracing for intensive care units to become overloaded in a matter of weeks.



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