The Saddest Show on Earth

Good evening. There are just 58 days left until Joe Biden is sworn in as the next President of the United States.

The Topline

On Friday, my colleague Justin Hendrix wrote that all eyes were on Michigan and that the next 72 hours would be crucial. This evening the Michigan Board of State Canvassers has certified the election, bringing that drama officially to a close.

Most of us were focused on Michigan today but there’s action in other states as well. In Pennsylvania, counties are required to certify the election results to the state by the end of the day. Boards in Bucks, Lehigh, and Lackawanna Counties will meet on Monday to certify. Westmoreland County will not meet the deadline due to COVID and Delaware County may be delayed due to a request for a recount in a State House race. In Arizona, the county canvass deadline is today. Of the state's 15 counties, only Mohave canvassing results have not yet been received - its canvass is scheduled for Monday.

Trump and his crack legal team, minus QAnon believer Sidney Powell, continue to use the court system to promote the fiction that Trump actually won the election. NBC News reports that Trump fears his legal team are “fools that are making him look bad” but beyond distancing himself from Powell hasn’t made any changes to the team or instructed them to stop with the endless series of ridiculous challenges. And as of publication Trump and his allies are 1-35 in post-election litigation.

GSA Administrator Emily Murphy still hasn’t signed federal transition funds over to Biden. House Democrats asked for a briefing from Murphy, but while the General Services Administration has agreed to participate it won’t offer Murphy herself as a witness. Democrats are finally threatening to subpoena Murphy if she doesn’t come and testify by tomorrow.

A few Republican electeds and influentials have slowly begun to embrace reality and are passively encouraging Trump to accept his loss and move on. None of them are being particularly courageous in their assertions, but it’s good to finally see some movement on this front. I suspect that, like the rest of us, they’re exhausted and sick of Trump. But unlike us, they’re just still afraid of Trump and afraid of his base, hence the cowardice. 

Business leaders, including some who supported Trump, have no such fears and are collectively urging Trump to accept defeat and allow the Biden-Harris Transition access to the appropriate government resources. 

Meanwhile here, in reality, the Biden-Harris Transition moves on. The transition announced several staff appointments and cabinet nominations today. We’ve listed them all below and will list appointments and hires in every edition moving forward. Trump and his political apparatus continue to perform a circus, but the show no longer matters. Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States. 

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Driving the Conversation 

The good news is that there is no real prospect that Mr. Trump can avoid a reluctant handover of power on Jan. 20. The bad news is that Mr. Trump’s wildly unsubstantiated claims of a vast voter fraud conspiracy and the litigation he has brought against voting rights have done — and will increasingly do — serious damage to our democracy. Our problems will deepen, in particular, because Mr. Trump’s litigation strategy has led to the emergence of a voter-hostile jurisprudence in the federal courts. New judicial doctrines will put more power in the hands of Republican legislatures to suppress the vote and take voters, state courts and federal courts out of key backstop roles.

This is unduly chaotic, but we shouldn’t bet against democracy. A canvassing board may not legally refuse to certify an election where no legitimate evidence undermines valid ballots. Michigan courts have repeatedly rejected wild claims of election fraud or improprieties as “incorrect and not credible.” The votes, at this point, speak for themselves. Should a member of the state canvassing board seek to misuse their authority, that obstruction won’t actually deliver a different result. First, understand what state canvassers do: certification just involves adding county tallies and declaring a winner. Michigan law provides a separate space to review the election process — a post-election audit, which does not delay or stop certification. The canvassers have one job. State courts can step in to make sure it gets done. Canvassers failing to do their duty may delay the inevitable for a moment — but not much more than that. 

By now, it has become overwhelmingly obvious that President Trump will lose most or all his court battles over the phantom voter fraud he’s alleging. But there’s still a scenario for Trump that is rattling around the Internet, one that’s widely called a “Hail Mary."

President-elect Joe Biden intends to name his longtime adviser Antony Blinken as secretary of state, according to three people familiar with the matter, setting out to assemble his cabinet even before Donald Trump concedes defeat.

In addition, Jake Sullivan, formerly one of Hillary Clinton’s closest aides, is likely to be named Biden’s national security adviser, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield will be nominated to serve as Biden’s ambassador to the United Nations. An announcement of the president-elect’s top national security advisers is expected for Tuesday, the people said.

Biden Hires and Appointments

White House Senior Staff

  • Reema Dodin – Deputy Director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs 

  • Shuwanza Goff – Deputy Director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs

Treasury Secretary (expected)

  • Janet Yellen, former Federal Reserve Chairwoman

Key Members of Foreign Policy & National Security Team

  • Antony Blinken, a former Deputy Secretary of State, will be nominated to serve as Secretary of State having previously held top foreign affairs posts on Capitol Hill, in the White House, and in the State Department.

  • Alejandro Mayorkas, a former Deputy Secretary of DHS, who has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate three times throughout his career, will be the first Latino and immigrant nominated to serve as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. 

  • Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a 35-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service who has served on four continents, will be nominated to serve as United Nations Ambassador and elevated the role to his Cabinet. 

  • Former Secretary of State John Kerry will fight climate change full-time as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and will sit on the National Security Council. This marks the first time that the NSC will include an official dedicated to climate change, reflecting the president-elect’s commitment to addressing climate change as an urgent national security issue. 

  • Avril Haines, a former Deputy Director of the CIA and Deputy National Security Advisor, will be nominated to serve as Director of National Intelligence and will be the first woman to lead the intelligence community. 

  • Jake Sullivan has been appointed National Security Advisor and will be one of the youngest people to serve in that role in decades. 

Programming Note and Your Moment of Cute

Thanks for reading all the way to the end. We’re taking Friday off to spend time with our loved ones (at home, in quarantine, and only gathering with others virtually), but there will be one more newsletter this week, penned by Greg, on Wednesday evening. 

I loved this video of a cat bringing toys to her humans. One of my cats does the same thing. Enjoy, because you’ve earned it. 

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American Interregnum is a pop-up newsletter covering the Presidential transition period from November 3rd, 2020 to January 21st, 2021. It is written and edited by Justin Hendrix, Greg Greene, and Melissa Ryan. Got questions or comments? We love your feedback. Reply directly to this email. We read all responses and respond to most.