The attorney general, William Barr, has said the Department of Justice has not uncovered any evidence of voter fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Barr has been a loyal ally of Donald Trump, last encouraging US attorneys to break with tradition to pursue “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities, but said any fraud uncovered was not on a large enough scale to impact the election result.
It came as one of Georgia’s top officials made an impassioned plea to the president to end his election contestation, saying that it was “inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence”. Gabriel Sterling, a Republican responsible for implementing the state’s new voting system, said that if Trump did not control his supporters, “someone is going to get killed”.
Trump on Tuesday floated the idea of running for president in 2024 publicly for the first time. “We’re trying to do another four years. Otherwise, I’ll see you in four years,” he told a crowd at a White House reception, at which dozens of people were close together without masks. The comments also seemed to suggest he was slowly accepting that he had lost the election.
The Department of Justice is investigating ‘bribery for pardons’ at the White House
The Department of Justice is investigating allegations that a “bribery for pardon” scheme is under way at the White House, after a court filing included claims that one individual offered a political contribution “in exchange for a pardon or reprieve of sentence”. The filing, which is heavily redacted, does not name Trump or other individuals. Reports suggest that Trump is poised to introduce sweeping pardons in his final weeks in office, beginning with Michael Flynn, who was pardoned last month.
The president also reportedly discussed introducing pre-emptive pardons for his personal attorney and members of his family, according to the New York Times. The president is reportedly concerned that under Joe Biden, the justice department may prosecute his children and son-in-law.
Mary Trump is to release a new book on America’s national trauma after her uncle’s presidency comes to an end. The Trump family unsuccessfully attempted to block publication of her first book, an exposé on her family, which went on to become a bestseller. She is a prominent critic of Donald Trump.
Biden promised that ‘help is on the way’ for the US economy
Biden’s top economic advisers were formally introduced on Tuesday, pledging that “we’re going to create a recovery for everybody”. The nominees, including several women in top roles, expressed their support for government spending to boost employment, reduce inequality, and backing for those hardest hit by the pandemic.
But the appointment of one nominee is already shrouded in controversy. Neera Tanden, Biden’s pick for the Office of Management and Budget, has deleted more than 1,000 of her tweets, some of which were critical of the very senators she may need to win over to get confirmed.
The US holds its breath over a suspected coronavirus surge
The US is bracing for a sharp uptick in coronavirus cases after millions defied restrictions over Thanksgiving to spend time with their families. More than 150,000 people are testing positive for coronavirus in the country every day, a slight reduction from 172,000 the day before Thanksgiving. The Transportation Security Administration reported that 1.17 million people traveled on Sunday.
In Los Angeles, officials have reversed a decision to close a coronavirus testing site for a film shoot. There was a backlash after news broke that the centre would shut because of a remake of the teen comedy She’s All That. More than 500 people who had tests booked initially were told they were cancelled.
The UK has become the first western country to approve a vaccine, with officials expecting to roll out the first doses in coming days. The Pfizer/BioNTech has been authorised for emergency use, and has shown 95% efficacy in final trials. The UK has bought 40m doses.
How coronavirus hits rural hospitals: In Memphis, Missouri, a 25-bed hospital in a town of less than 2,000 people is grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. One doctor treated his own father for the virus, and knows most of his patients by name – some being his former teachers.
In other news …
Lab-grown meat will go on sale for the first time, in a landmark moment for the food industry. Cultured meat, produced in bioreactors without the slaughter of an animal, has been approved by the Singapore Food Agency, and could mark the start of a future when meat is produced without the killing of livestock.
Rapper Lil Yase has been shot dead in a train station in the California Bay region, adding another life to the death toll of gun violence in the region this year. Los Angeles had 300 murders for the first time in a decade this year.
The US and UK have backed Australia in its deepening rift with China. The latest escalation of tensions between Canberra and Beijing came after a Chinese official tweeted a digitally-created image showing an Australian soldier cutting the throat of a child in Afghanistan. The US state department’s deputy spokesperson described it as a “new low”.
Stat of the day: Long-term care residents are 1% of the population, but 40% of Covid deaths
A government panel has recommended that early doses of the coronavirus vaccine should be given to healthcare workers and long-term care residents first, meaning those who live in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. This would amount to around 23 million Americans. According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention data, who made the recommendation, long-term care residents constitute just 1% of the US population, but account for more than 40% of Covid-19 deaths.
Don’t miss this: Disney goes from dream world to nightmare with mass layoffs
Walt Disney recently announced a further 4,000 job losses by the end of March, on top of the 28,000 employees who began losing their jobs in October. Disney’s theme parks offer an idealised dream world, but for employees, the pandemic has turned them into a nightmare. Michael Sainato meets employees grappling with what to do next.
Last thing: The restaurant where California politicians go to break their own guidelines
San Francisco’s mayor, London Breed, is facing a backlash after it was revealed that she attended a birthday party at The French Laundry, a Michelin three-star restaurant that Anthony Bourdain called “the best restaurant in the world, period”. Breed met seven others despite statewide guidelines discouraging gatherings with members of more than three households. Most remarkably, the move came just a day after the California governor, Gavin Newsom, did the same, attending a birthday party of 12 people at the restaurant in early November.
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