Republicans Stall in Challenging the Election

What does Rudy Giuliani consider a fair daily rate for pressing unfounded legal claims about the validity of an election? Spoiler alert: It annualizes to about $5 million. It’s Wednesday, and this is your politics tip sheet. Sign up here to get On Politics in your inbox every weekday.

Where things stand

In a signal of how President Trump’s challenges to the election’s integrity could complicate the transition process in key states — but also of how much resistance he’s running into — a Republican effort to reject the official vote count in the Detroit area failed amid cries of voter disenfranchisement.

Two Republican members of the elections board in Wayne County initially refused to approve the results yesterday afternoon, leaving the board deadlocked 2 to 2 after they cited small counting discrepancies in certain precincts.

“I do not have good faith that the poll books are accurate,” said Monica Palmer, one of the Republicans.

But Jonathan Kinloch, a Democratic board member, said there was “no reason under the sun for us to not certify this election.” Democrats denounced the move as both partisan and racist, as Joe Biden had clearly won by over 300,000 votes in Wayne County, which includes the heavily Black city of Detroit.

At one point during the board meeting yesterday, Palmer had moved to “certify the results in the communities other than the city of Detroit.”

The Trump campaign suffered a new legal setback yesterday as the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled 5 to 2 against the campaign’s argument that ballots should be thrown out in the state because poll watchers had not had sufficient access to officials counting ballots.

In a separate case in federal court in Pennsylvania, Rudolph Giuliani is leading an all-hands-on-deck effort to have the state’s entire election tally tossed out. It’s part of the administration’s increasingly desperate push to challenge the results as states move toward officially validating their results.

In a video court hearing yesterday that was eventually cut short by technical difficulties, Giuliani claimed that 1.5 million votes in Pennsylvania had been tainted either because Republican observers had not been able to watch the counting process or because the ballots had been allowed to be “cured” when they shouldn’t have been.

People briefed on the matter confirmed yesterday that Giuliani had asked the president’s campaign to pay him $20,000 a day for his legal assistance — a request that drew opposition from other advisers to the president. It is not clear how much Giuliani will ultimately be compensated, and he denied requesting as much as $20,000 a day. His original request would have made him one of the highest-paid lawyers in the country.

Trump fired the senior administration official in charge of election cybersecurity just days after his agency released a strongly worded statement contradicting Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud and calling the Nov. 3 election “the most secure in American history.”

The official, Christopher Krebs, the head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the Department of Homeland Security, made it clear last week that he expected to be sent packing after an agency committee released the statement.

“There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” the committee had said. “While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too.”

Biden announced a number of senior staff appointments for his administration, with his transition team saying in a statement that he was building a White House team “that looks like America.”

Many of the appointees are stalwart Biden aides, including Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, his campaign manager, who will become a deputy chief of staff, and Mike Donilon, the campaign’s chief strategist, who will serve as a White House senior adviser.

Some of the hires announced yesterday drew fire from critics on the left. Steve Ricchetti, a close Biden adviser and former pharmaceutical industry lobbyist, was tapped to be a White House counselor. Representative Cedric Richmond, who has accepted a large number of donations from oil and gas companies, will oversee public outreach.

Democrats on the left are broadly imploring Biden to avoid hiring aides with ties to corporate interests.

Biden also received a briefing yesterday — of sorts — from a range of former national security officials. But without access to classified information, there was a limit to how much information could be shared.

The move drew attention to Trump’s refusal to authorize a transfer of power, which is preventing Biden from receiving classified briefings. The 13 officials who delivered the briefing via video had all served alongside Biden in the Obama administration, but they have been out of government for years and no longer have access to classified information.

“I am unable to get the briefings that ordinarily would come by now,” Biden said, “and so I just wanted to get your input on what you see ahead.”

Mitch McConnell is running into trouble in his attempt to confirm Judy Shelton, a Trump nominee to the Federal Reserve’s board of governors, whose unorthodox views on monetary policy and criticisms of the Fed itself have elicited concern from both sides of the aisle.

A vote to confirm her failed yesterday after the Republican senators Susan Collins and Mitt Romney joined with a united Democratic caucus in opposing her nomination. Kamala Harris, the vice president-elect, traveled from Delaware, where she was working with the Biden transition team, to Washington to cast her vote.

Two Republican senators were in quarantine for the coronavirus yesterday, preventing them from participating in the vote. One of them, Charles Grassley, who at 87 is one of the oldest members of Congress, disclosed in the afternoon that he had tested positive.

McConnell used a maneuver that preserves his ability to bring Shelton’s candidacy up for a vote again, though there is no guarantee it will succeed even if all Republicans are present.

Shelton would become the fifth of six sitting board members to have been appointed by Trump.

Photo of the day

A reporter recorded a TV interview near the White House yesterday.

A detailed analysis of the election in Georgia offers clues ahead of two Senate runoffs.

Our friends at The Upshot took a close look at the election results in Georgia and came away with a detailed picture of how Biden flipped the state blue for the first time since 1992.

The analysis shows where Democrats would need to retain newfound supporters — and where they could stand to rally their base more effectively — as they look to flip two Senate seats in runoff elections scheduled for January.

Biden made big gains among affluent, college-educated and older voters in the suburbs around Atlanta, according to an analysis of the precinct-level results. And while he won overwhelmingly among Black voters, turnout was low relative to other racial and ethnic groups, based on an analysis of turnout data from the Georgia secretary of state.

The Black share of the electorate dropped to its lowest level since 2006, down to 27 percent after falling to 27.7 percent in 2016.

As Nate Cohn, Matthew Conlen and Charlie Smart report, the results suggest that Democrats haven’t necessarily built a new progressive majority between white liberals and nonwhite voters, as some had hoped. Biden’s victory depended on a surging anti-Trump vote in traditionally moderate and conservative suburbs.

If Democrats can increase the Black share of the electorate in the Senate runoffs while holding onto those suburban Biden converts, they could potentially improve on his 49.5 percent support in the presidential election.

Georgia is one of only a few states that ask voters to state their race when registering to vote, providing an unusually precise account of the racial composition of the electorate.

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