MAGA vs. MAGA smackdown in Georgia

The Georgia special election is one month from tomorrow. The Republicans may sabotage themselves.

Good evening. Voting in the 2020 presidential election ended precisely one month ago. The inauguration happens in 47 days.

The Topline

The Georgia special election that will determine control of the United States Senate is one month from tomorrow. Of all of the storylines in this interregnum, what is happening there is perhaps the most compelling.

With such an important prize on the line, it’s natural that the environment in Georgia would be fraught. But when you add in internecine conflict amongst Republicans —some of whom are still waging war on the legitimacy of elections on behalf of President Donald Trump, others of whom are trying to win two Senate seats and see (evidence-free) attacks on elections as dangerous to that cause — expect the unexpected. “At the center of it all is an embittered, lame-duck president who is furious with some Republican leaders in Georgia for not helping him overturn the election — and has often been less interested in GOP efforts when they do not benefit him,” reports The Washington Post.

The conflict explodes into full conflagration tomorrow when Donald Trump visits Valdosta for his first rally since losing the 2020 election. Officially, his intent is to rally support for the two Republican Senate candidates, incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. But observers expect it may all go off the rails if Trump uses the rally to rail against the legitimacy of the election he lost. “The question is will that alienate some people who would just be tired of all of that and say, ‘It’s just not worth it to me,’ and not vote, which is the worst thing that could happen to the two Republicans running,” political scientist Susan MacManus told NPR, “adding it’s possible that Trump, by highlighting his own agenda, could do as much harm as he does good.”

All of this is taking place in a polluted information environment. “The Senate’s January runoffs in Georgia have become the nation's latest battleground for election misinformation as false and misleading posts swarm Facebook and Twitter,” reports USA Today in reference to a new report from Avaaz that chronicles the sewage in timelines across the commonwealth. A good example is a video published by OANN and popularized amongst MAGA bitter enders of purported voter fraud that has been dismissed by Republican officials in the Georgia Secretary of State’s office as well as independent media.

All of these dynamics could indeed play a big role in the result. If you give any credence to polling commissioned by Atlanta-based NBC affiliate 11 Alive, Democratic challengers Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff hold very narrow leads against Loeffler and Perdue. Ossoff leads Perdue by 2 percent, 50-48 — which is inside the 5.2 point margin of error. Warnock holds a 52-45 lead over Loeffler, which is outside the margin of error.

Indeed, it’s a tightrope for the Republican candidates themselves. In a video call with donors on Thursday, Perdue appeared to tells donors that Biden is a better negotiator than Trump, and to blame GOP setbacks in Georgia on Trump’s poor performance there. His campaign dismissed the notion that these comments put any distance between him and the President, according to the Washington Post.

Biden will also visit Georgia in the coming days, according to a report. A third count of the vote there has again confirmed his victory. It was a thin margin — only 11,779 votes secured the electors there, but the victory was despite GOP efforts at voter suppression. Now it is rather possible that MAGA on MAGA warfare may contribute to another razor-thin victory for Democrats — which would change the nation’s politics profoundly, and recast the Biden victory from a historical perspective as one that secured a new (if tenuous) governing majority. Fingers crossed!

Driving the Conversation

How Dozens of Trump’s Political Appointees Will Stay in Government After Biden Takes Over. Lydia DePillis, ProPublica.

Burrowing has a history that traces back to civil service reforms of the late 1880s, when Congress passed a law to try to ensure that jobs were awarded on merit rather than patronage. The number of hires sought under Trump is so far roughly similar to the tally of other recent administrations.

Trump mulls preemptive pardons for up to 20 allies, even as Republicans balk. Anita Kumar and Andrew Desiderio, Politico.

Roughly 20 top aides and associates are on tap for a potential pardon, though the list is evolving, according to one of the people. The list includes Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, who run the family’s namesake business, and Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, a husband-and-wife duo who are both senior aides at the White House. All four were involved in Trump’s reelection campaign. Trump has even mused on Twitter that he has “the absolute right to PARDON” myself — a legally contested (but untested) claim.

Trump, RNC raise over $200M on vote fraud claims. Brian Schwartz, CNBC.

The Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee, his two joint fundraising committees and the president’s leadership committee, Save America, raised over $200 million since Election Day. Save America will likely be used to fund any political initiatives Trump is planning after he leaves the White House, including possibly running for president again in 2024. Trump’s fraud pitch, while apparently not moving many business leaders, appears to be resonating with small-dollar donors, who may be convinced that their money is going expressly to the fraud fight, and likely provided much of the money raised in the period.

Biden warns the economy is stalling after ‘dire’ jobs report, calls for ‘urgent action’ on Covid stimulus. Kevin Breuninger, CNBC.

President-elect Joe Biden said Friday’s underwhelming jobs report foreshadows a “dark winter” as Americans face potential benefit cuts. Biden said the latest report on the U.S. labor market “confirms we remain in the midst of one of the worst economic and jobs crises in modern history.”

Biden Asks Fauci to Stay, and Plans a Mask Plea. Giovanni Russanello, The New York Times.

Joe Biden has asked Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, to maintain his central role in fighting the coronavirus pandemic once Biden assumes the presidency, he said yesterday during an interview on CNN. “I asked him to stay on in the exact same role he’s had for the past several presidents, and I asked him to be a chief medical adviser for me as well, and be part of the Covid team,” Biden told Jake Tapper. Upon taking office, Biden plans to ask all Americans to wear masks for 100 days, he said.

Call to Action

Want to get involved in the Georgia Senate races? New Georgia Project has daily phone banking from 5-8 pm ET and is looking for canvassers. Join here.

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Your Moment of Relief

American Interregnum is a pop-up newsletter covering the issues and ideas that will define the Presidential transition period from Nov. 3, 2020, through — we’re all but sure now — Jan. 21, 2021. It is written and edited by Justin HendrixGreg Greene, and Melissa Ryan. Have questions or comments? We love your feedback. Reply directly to this email. We read all responses and respond to most.