Tuning Out the Trump Show

Good evening. There are just 44 days left until Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in as the next President and Vice President of the United States.

The Topline

In a normal transition period coverage of the outgoing president would be winding down. Stories would focus on Trump’s final days in office and his post-presidential plans. But of course, nothing about the Trump Administration is normal. The outgoing President is obsessed with keeping the spotlight on himself as long as possible, and his pleas for attention get more desperate every day. Because as much as Trump protests, deep down he knows he’s lost and in 44 days he’ll no longer have the White House as a vehicle to keep America’s attention squarely on himself.

I was thinking about this a lot this weekend as Trump held a rally in Georgia. Ostensibly the rally was intended to get out the vote for Georgia’s Republican Senate candidates. I followed Trump’s remarks via Vox reporter Aaron Rupar’s Twitter feed, telling myself that Trump’s rhetoric on Georgia was worth keeping an eye on. But of course, Trump behaved exactly as I predicted, barely mentioning the Senate races or the candidates and instead focusing on his greatest hits and many grievances. 

One reason voters elected Joe Biden is they wanted a president they didn’t have to think about 20 times a day. I keep waiting for that moment where I no longer care what Donald Trump says or does, and I think on Saturday night it finally came. But I also realized that after four years, following Trump’s rallies and tweets is a habit I need to break. As much as I resent that I need to train myself to tune out the Trump show, I recognize it’s something I, and perhaps all of us, have to do.

A lovely side benefit of working on this newsletter with Justin and Greg is that I’m also developing the habit of paying more attention to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and the administration they’re building. It’s far less stressful debating the merits of this or that cabinet secretary than it is doomscrolling in fear of the apocalypse. 

Plus Joe Biden’s remarks, even when I disagree with them, sound like a President rather than a YouTube commenter. Just listen to his speech on 2020’s final jobs report. I might disagree with some of the content, Biden’s economic policies aren’t as progressive as I’d like, but Joe Biden sounds like an adult. An adult far more worthy of my time and attention.


Driving the Conversation 

States that haven't yet certified their votes for president or that face legal challenges are rushing to resolve any remaining disputes by Tuesday, known as safe harbor day.

Under federal law, Congress must count the electoral votes from states that act by Dec. 8 to choose their presidential electors — the people who meet next week in each state to cast the actual votes for president — and to resolve any remaining legal disputes over the choice.

Warning labels and fact checks have not stopped President Trump from continuing to spread conspiracy theories and use violent rhetoric on Twitter, but after Inauguration Day, those kinds of tweets could land the outgoing president in hot water, and eventually cause him to be banned by the platform, a Twitter spokesperson told Forbes Thursday.

Chris Coons was in the final two when it came to Joe Biden’s search for a secretary of State. But the president-elect had a simple message when he broke the news that the job would instead go to Tony Blinken.

“I need you in the Senate,” Biden told his Delaware ally during a long conversation on Nov. 16.

One key question about Barr is whether he hopes to rehabilitate his reputation. He came into the job hailed as a guy who was going to be sober, respectable, and serious, a counterweight to Trump. He’s been anything but—a brazenly dishonest figure abusing power in lockstep with Trump. At 70 years old, it’s unlikely he thinks he’s going to hang on to become attorney general in a third administration, but he could still be a prominent figure in the conservative legal world, the Republican Party, and the media.

Biden Hires and Appointments 

Key Members of Health Team:

  • Xavier Becerra, the Attorney General of California and a long-time champion of expanding access to health care, is nominated to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services. A former member of Congress who helped drive passage of the Affordable Care Act, Becerra led the defense of the law in the Supreme Court last month. If confirmed, Becerra will be the first Latino to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Dr. Vivek Murthy, a distinguished physician, research scientist, and former Vice Admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, is nominated to serve as Surgeon General of the United States. He was previously confirmed by the Senate to serve in the same capacity, holding the post as ‘America’s Doctor’ between 2014 and 2017. A trusted national voice on health issues and a long-time advisor to President-elect Biden, he currently serves as co-chair of the President-elect’s COVID-19 transition Advisory Board.

  • Dr. Rochelle Walensky, a leading expert on virus testing, prevention, and treatment, is appointed to serve as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She has been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic response in Massachusetts, serving as Chief of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

  • Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, one of the country’s foremost experts on health care disparities, will serve as the COVID-19 Equity Task Force Chair. An Associate Professor of Medicine, Public Health, and Management at the Yale School of Medicine, she is the founding director of Yale’s Equity Research and Innovation Center and co-chair of the President-elect’s COVID-19 Transition Advisory Board. Dr. Nunez-Smith will advise the President-elect on a whole-of-government effort to reduce COVID-19 disparities in response, care, and treatment, including racial and ethnic disparities.

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s preeminent expert on infectious diseases and an adviser to six U.S. presidents, will serve as Chief Medical Adviser on COVID-19 to the President and continue in his role as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Among the most trusted figures in the country throughout the pandemic and for decades prior, Dr. Fauci will remain an essential voice both in informing the public about health risks and safety measures and in helping the scientific community, the Biden-Harris administration, and local officials overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Jeff Zients, an accomplished public servant widely known for his extraordinary track record successfully managing large and complex initiatives, will serve as Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response and Counselor to the President. Zients previously earned broad acclaim for his leadership of the 2013 HealthCare.gov tech surge and his oversight of the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ fuel-efficiency program. Zients will advise the president-elect on the implementation of the federal government’s COVID response, including managing safe and equitable vaccine distribution, the pandemic supply chain, and coordination across federal agencies and state and local governments.

  • Natalie Quillian will serve as Deputy Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response. Quillian, a national security expert and former White House and Pentagon senior advisor, played an instrumental role in coordinating the Obama-Biden administration’s interagency response to the opioid epidemic.

Your Moment of Cute

Thanks for reading all the way to the end. You deserve a treat, and today’s moment of cute absolutely delivers. What happens when a second-grade teacher drops off of Zoom class due to technical difficulties? Adorable hilarity. 

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.