By Giovanni Russonello
- Nov. 19, 2020, 7:01 a.m. ET
The Trump administration presses for a recount in Wisconsin, while Nancy Pelosi braces for a thinner majority. It’s Thursday, and this is your politics tip sheet. Sign up here to get On Politics in your inbox every weekday.
Where things stand
Joe Biden turned up the pressure on the General Services Administration yesterday, saying it should acknowledge the results of the election so his staff can move ahead with transition planning.
“The law says that the General Services Administration has a person who recognizes who the winner is,” Biden said. “And then they have to have access to all the data and information that the government possesses.”
Speaking on a Zoom call with workers about their experiences during the coronavirus pandemic, Biden said that while his staff was seeking to coordinate a national response to the outbreak, its hands were tied until the G.S.A.’s administrator, Emily Murphy, issued an official ascertainment that he had won.
“We’re all ready to go and do an awful lot of work right now,” Biden said, later adding that fighting the virus crisis was “like going to war” and that “you need a commander in chief.”
During a separate call to supporters yesterday, Biden acknowledged that he would face enormous difficulties achieving his agenda — on the coronavirus or otherwise — if Democrats failed to win a majority in the Senate.
The chamber’s fate for the coming two years will be decided in early January, when Georgia holds two Senate runoff elections.
“We’re going to run into some real brick walls initially in the Senate unless we’re able to turn around Georgia and pick up those two seats, but even then it’s going to be hard,” Biden said during the private video call. “But I believe, I believe I know the place. I believe we can ultimately bring it together.”
As Republicans faced a sustained backlash in Michigan yesterday over their quickly abandoned attempt the day before to prevent the election results in Detroit from being certified, the Trump campaign announced that it would request a targeted recount in Wisconsin of the two largest and most Democratic counties.
The campaign plans to ask the Wisconsin Elections Commission to recount results in Milwaukee County and Dane County, which includes Madison.
The elections office has estimated that a statewide recount would cost close to $8 million. It said yesterday that it had received a wire transfer from the Trump campaign for $3 million — closer to its estimated cost to recount ballots only in Dane and Milwaukee Counties — but no petition yet.
A recount of the entire state in 2016 changed the margin of victory by just 131 votes, slightly adding to Donald J. Trump’s edge over Hillary Clinton.
“In courtrooms, statehouses and elections board meetings across the country,” our reporters Nick Corasaniti, Jim Rutenberg and Kathleen Gray write in a new article, “the president is increasingly seeking to force the voting system to bend to his false vision of the election, while also using the weight of the executive office to deliver his message to lower-level election workers, hoping they buckle.”
In 2018, the Trump White House asked the Justice Department to open an investigation into Omarosa Manigault Newman one day after the news emerged that she had written a tell-all memoir of her time in the White House, according to interviews and documents obtained by our reporter Charlie Savage.
The investigation pertained to a dispute over paperwork that appeared to have nothing to do with the topics covered in her book. The Justice Department ended up suing Manigault Newman for a fine of “up to $50,000,” without making a settlement offer.
This is only the latest in a string of reports of Trump’s Justice Department pursuing legal action against former aides who wrote harsh memoirs.
Photo of the day
Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
Biden exited his car to receive a briefing on national security in Wilmington, Del., yesterday.
Democrats re-elect Pelosi, putting her in charge of a slimmed-down House majority.
House Democrats re-elected Speaker Nancy Pelosi as their leader yesterday, setting her up for what she has said is likely to be her last term as the party’s leading legislator.
Ahead of the vote, Pelosi had faced the perennial stirrings from the left, but she had no meaningful opposition. Her top deputies, Steny Hoyer, the majority leader, and James Clyburn, the Democratic whip, were re-elected to their positions.
Along with them, Hakeem Jeffries of New York was re-elected as the chairman of the Democratic caucus, and Katherine Clark, a progressive member from Massachusetts, was elevated to the position of assistant speaker — signs that the party is laying a foundation for its future leadership.
In remarks after the vote, Pelosi indicated she was still committed to a pledge she made in 2018 to step down from the speakership in 2022. “If my husband is listening, don’t let me have to be more specific than that,” she said jokingly. “We never expected to have another term now. I consider this a gift. And I can’t wait to be working with Joe Biden and preparing us for our transition into the future.”
Pelosi — who in 2007 became the first female speaker of the House — still needs to be confirmed as speaker by the full House, which will convene in January, but she’s almost guaranteed to win that vote. She will preside over what is likely to be the slimmest Democratic majority in the House since World War II, after Democrats lost at least eight seats in this month’s election.
This week, the Republican caucus also re-elected Kevin McCarthy as its minority leader. Read our Q. and A. with him about where the G.O.P. goes next.
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