HAPPY SATURDAY MORNING. ICYMI … THE HOUSE overhauled its schedule for the month of December. It will come into session Wednesday evening, and the last votes of the week will come Friday. Lawmakers are being asked to stay in D.C. over the weekend, as the chamber tries to finish its work for the year by as early as Dec. 7.
— REMEMBER: Government funding runs out Dec. 11. Covid-19 is raging, and that plays a part in the House trying to do its biz quickly and get out of town early this month. That makes any major Covid relief seem very far off — although a tailored measure extending some programs could ride alongside government funding.
TRUMP LOSES AGAIN … WAPO: “Federal appeals court panel rejects Trump request to block certification of Pennsylvania’s election results,” by Jon Swaine, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Robert Barnes: “In a scathing 21-page opinion, the 3rd Circuit said that the Trump campaign’s challenge of the district court’s decision had ‘no merit.’ The opinion was written by Judge Stephanos Bibas, who was appointed to the court by Trump. Bibas was joined by two other Republican-appointed judges in a unanimous vote by the three-member panel.
“‘Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here,’ Bibas wrote. ‘Voters, not lawyers, choose the President. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections.’”
— WAPO FRONT: “Trump looks to Supreme Court after rebuff in Pa.”
AP/TEHRAN: “Iran’s supreme leader vows revenge over slain scientist,” by Amir Vahdat and Jon Gambrell: “Iran’s supreme leader on Saturday called for the ‘definitive punishment’ of those behind the killing of a scientist linked to Tehran’s disbanded military nuclear program, a slaying the Islamic Republic has blamed on Israel.
“Israel, long suspected of killing Iranian scientists a decade ago amid tensions over Tehran’s nuclear program, has yet to comment on the killing Friday of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. However, the attack bore the hallmarks of a carefully planned, military-style ambush.”
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, VP MIKE PENCE, President-elect JOE BIDEN and VP-elect KAMALA HARRIS are down today, with nothing on their schedules.
COVID COAST TO COAST … THE NATION’S FRONTS: Arizona Republic: “Fauci fearful surge may worsen” … L.A. Times: “COVID surge is inundating California” … San Diego Union-Tribune: “COUNTY SETS RECORD WITH 1,802 NEW CASES” … S.F. Chronicle: “Test sites strained by surge in virus” …
… Connecticut Post: “Hospitalizations top 1,000 in CT” … Hartford Courant: “Virus hits nursing homes again” … Miami Herald: “Carlos Gimenez, Miami-Dade congressman elect, tests positive for COVID-19” …
… Boston Globe: “Testing our patience — and preparedness” … Star Tribune: “101 deaths reported in 1 day” … St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “PUSHED TO THE LIMITS … AREA HOSPITALS CITE RECORD NUMBERS; ILLINOIS SURPASSES 700,000 CASES … US TOPS 13 MILLION CORONAVIRUS CASES AS COLD-WEATHER SURGE KICKS IN” …
… Dallas Morning News: “North Texas crosses 15% red line” … Houston Chronicle: “Virus fears prompt surgeries as beds fill” … Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Pandemic adds to mental health crisis in county”
NEW … NATASHA BERTRAND interviews JAKE SULLVAN: “The inexorable rise of Jake Sullivan”: “Reflecting on his time in the Obama White House, Sullivan said he felt more could have been done there, too, to put the average American on the agenda in the Situation Room on a regular basis. And he paused for a long moment when asked how the rise of Trump and Trumpism had affected his worldview, attuning him more, for example, to the populist tide at home that he may have missed while focusing on international nuclear negotiations, peace deals and trade treaties.
“‘When you spend years in government working on the Iran deal, or working on the Asia-Pacific rebalance, or working on issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, it’s not that you completely lose sight of what’s happening on the home front — but your focus is more on other things,’ Sullivan said. ‘I do think that the 2016 campaign had an impact on my thinking, but it wasn’t all about Trump. It was about the vigorous debate the Democrats had in the primary. It was about a recognition, as I left national security and entered a domestic political conversation, about how profoundly such a large segment of our country felt their government wasn’t working for them.’ …
“So what will a Sullivan-led National Security Council look like? It won’t be too big or micromanaging, Sullivan insists — criticisms that dogged the Obama NSC, which stood accused of stepping on the prerogatives of Cabinet agencies, be it by setting troop levels or insisting on signing off on individual drone strikes. ‘I see my job as fundamentally about supporting and lifting up the work of the broader national security team in service of the president-elect’s mission and strategy,’ he said. ‘My goal is to have a process that is able to give sufficient direction, but then empower the departments and agencies to be the tip of the spear to carry that out.’”
NYT’S MIKE SHEAR and JONATHAN MARTIN anchored a report with 14 contributors, laying out all of the candidates for the Cabinet. NYT
— A.G.: “Sally Q. Yates … had long been considered the front-runner. Mr. Biden is close to her and has told friends that he could imagine her as the nation’s top law enforcement official. But some advisers fear that Republicans would block her nomination because of her refusal to defend Mr. Trump’s first travel ban and her role in the early stages of the investigations into his campaign and associates.
“Mr. Biden could instead pick Lisa Monaco, the former homeland security adviser for President Barack Obama who was a finalist in 2013 to be F.B.I. director. … But both women are up against Deval Patrick, the former Massachusetts governor … Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California, is also under consideration for attorney general.”
— SECDEF: “One candidate for the job, according to people familiar with Mr. Biden’s deliberations, is Michèle A. Flournoy, a senior defense official for President Bill Clinton and Mr. Obama. But her lock on the job may have slipped in recent days as some progressive groups have attacked her work at consulting firms that have represented military contractors and foreign governments. …
“If Mr. Biden does not choose Ms. Flournoy, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, a former deputy energy secretary and National Security Council member, and Lloyd J. Austin III, a retired Army general and head of the U.S. Central Command, are possibilities, people close [to the] process said. The Biden team could also tap Jeh C. Johnson, who served as … the Pentagon’s top lawyer before becoming secretary of homeland security under Mr. Obama.”
— CIA: “Michael J. Morell, a former acting C.I.A. director and one of the two leading candidates to be nominated to that position, has drawn the ire of liberals for his outspoken defense of the C.I.A.’s interrogation program. … Thomas E. Donilon, a former national security adviser in the Obama administration, is also a leading possibility to take over the C.I.A. … Others under consideration are Sue Gordon, a former principal deputy director of national intelligence who was pushed out by Mr. Trump; Vincent R. Stewart, a retired lieutenant general who led the Defense Intelligence Agency; and Representative Elissa Slotkin, Democrat of Michigan, a former C.I.A. analyst and White House national security aide.”
— NEC: “Mr. Biden could pick Roger W. Ferguson Jr., an economist who was vice chair of the Federal Reserve and was under serious consideration for the Treasury job, to lead the National Economic Council or a new board overseeing the recovery from the recession. Picking Mr. Ferguson, who is Black, to lead the council would help Mr. Biden keep a promise to make his administration look like the rest of America. Other names under consideration for the position are white men, including Bruce Reed, a former chief of staff to Mr. Biden, and Austan Goolsbee, an economist who was chairman of Mr. Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. Gene Sperling, a veteran economic adviser dating to the Clinton administration, is another possibility, as is Brian Deese, who was deputy director of the National Economic Council under Mr. Obama.”
— AGRICULTURE: “To lead the Agriculture Department, Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest-ranking Black member of Congress, is pushing for Representative Marcia L. Fudge, an African-American Democrat from Ohio. Mr. Clyburn, an early and important backer of Mr. Biden, has said the department should be focused more on hunger. But traditionalists eager to keep a voice from rural America in the post are advocating Heidi Heitkamp, a former senator from North Dakota, or Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor who served as agriculture secretary for Mr. Obama.”
— COVID CZAR: “To coordinate the response to the pandemic, Jeffrey D. Zients, who was director of the National Economic Council under Mr. Obama, could become Mr. Biden’s ‘Covid czar.’ That job could also go to Vivek H. Murthy, the former surgeon general who helps lead Mr. Biden’s transition panel on the virus.”
— EPA: “Mary D. Nichols, California’s climate and clean air regulator, is seen as the top candidate to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.”
— INTERIOR: “[T]here is a growing campaign to persuade Mr. Biden to name a Native American as interior secretary. Among the names he is considering: Representative Deb Haaland, Democrat of New Mexico and a rising star in Democratic politics; and Michael Connor, the former deputy interior secretary in the Obama administration. Steve Bullock, the governor of Montana, is also a candidate.”
— ENERGY: “The possibility that Ernest J. Moniz, Mr. Obama’s energy secretary, could reprise his role troubles environmental groups who believe Mr. Moniz did not do enough to steer the country away from fossil fuels. Mr. Biden could also turn to Arun Majumdar, who runs the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford.”
— TRANSPORTATION: “Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama’s former chief of staff and the former mayor of Chicago, is a candidate to run the Transportation Department, but is disliked by some liberals for how he handled police issues as mayor. Eric M. Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, is another top candidate.”
— HUD: “Representative Karen Bass, Democrat of California, Alvin Brown, the former mayor of Jacksonville, Fla., and Keisha Lance Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta, are being discussed to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico is interested in becoming secretary of health and human services, and would be another Latino in the cabinet.”
NAHAL TOOSI: “Are you on the list? Biden’s democracy summit spurs anxieties — and skepticism”: “President-elect Joe Biden has promised to host a gathering of the world’s democracies next year, hoping to show that a post-Donald Trump America will be committed to democracy abroad and at home. Biden’s pledge, though, has left many foreign officials pondering a thorny question: Will their country be invited?
“It’s of special concern for nations such as Turkey, Hungary, Poland and the Philippines — all U.S. allies or partners with leaders who have taken notable steps away from democracy. Even a country like India, which boasts of being the world’s most populous democracy, may not make the cut given recent anti-democratic trends there. Then there’s the question of how weighted the event will be toward Western countries. Looming over it all will be the memory of Trump, who has yet to concede the Nov. 3 election and spent four years raising questions about the strength of America’s own democratic system.”
POLITICAL MARKET SHORTING DEMS …
— DAVID SIDERS in Los Angeles: “GOP finds silver lining in Trump’s landslide California loss”: “Republicans are poised to win as many as four of the seven House seats that Democrats flipped from GOP control in 2018. Voters sunk business tax and rent control measures, as well as a bid to reinstate affirmative action. And Republicans reclaimed their status as the second biggest party in terms of voter registration after falling embarrassingly behind ‘no party preference’ voters in 2018.”
— NYT’S TRIP GABRIEL in Wexford, Pa.: “How Democrats Suffered Crushing Down-Ballot Losses Across America”
THE DAILY BEAST’S ASAWIN SUEBSAENG: “Trump’s Already Gaming Out a 2024 Run—Including an Event During Biden’s Inauguration”
DAN GOLDBERG and BRIANNA EHLEY: “Biden’s other health crisis: A resurgent drug epidemic”
HOW WE’LL GET OVER COVID: “A shot. A wait. Another shot: Two-dose coronavirus vaccine regimens will make it harder to inoculate America,” by WaPo’s Frances Stead Sellers: “[F]or the current coronavirus vaccines, which require two injections spaced either three or four weeks apart, she anticipates clinicians having to make many more than two visits to facilities. Will health-care workers be considered a high-priority group and thus scheduled for vaccination sooner than at-risk residents? How should shift workers be accommodated? And what about the many people who move in or out of facilities in the window between shots?”
THEY HAVE RECEIPTS … NYT, A17: “McKinsey Proposed Paying Pharmacy Companies Rebates for OxyContin Overdoses,” by Walt Bogdanich and Michael Forsythe: “When Purdue Pharma agreed last month to plead guilty to criminal charges involving OxyContin, the Justice Department noted the role an unidentified consulting company had played in driving sales of the addictive painkiller even as public outrage grew over widespread overdoses.
“Documents released last week in a federal bankruptcy court in New York show that the adviser was McKinsey & Company, the world’s most prestigious consulting firm. The 160 pages include emails and slides revealing new details about McKinsey’s advice to the Sackler family, Purdue’s billionaire owners, and the firm’s now notorious plan to ‘turbocharge’ OxyContin sales at a time when opioid abuse had already killed hundreds of thousands of Americans.”
CHAOS REPORT … NYT, A12: “Trump Gave W.H.O. a List of Demands. Hours Later, He Walked Away,” by Matt Apuzzo in Geneva, Noah Weiland in D.C. and Selam Gebrekidan in Geneva: “In late May, the American ambassador in Geneva, Andrew Bremberg, went on a rescue mission to the World Health Organization headquarters. He told its director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, that despite weeks of threats that President Trump would quit the health organization, the relationship could still be salvaged.
“Mr. Bremberg hand-delivered a list of seven demands that American officials saw as the beginning of discreet discussions. Hours later, Mr. Trump took the lectern outside the White House and blew it all up, announcing that the United States would leave the W.H.O. The announcement blindsided his own diplomats and Dr. Tedros alike.”
CLICKER — “The nation’s cartoonists on the week in politics,” edited by Matt Wuerker — 15 keepers
GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Margy Slattery and the staff of POLITICO Magazine:
— “Happiness Won’t Save You,” by NYT’s Jennifer Senior: “Philip Brickman was an expert in the psychology of happiness, but he couldn’t make his own pain go away.” NYT
— “Children of Quarantine,” by Lisa Miller in New York magazine’s The Cut: “What does a year of isolation and anxiety do to a developing brain?” New York
— “Covid’s Cassandra: The Swift, Complicated Rise of Eric Feigl-Ding,” by Jane C. Hu in Undark: “The scientist has gained popularity as Covid’s excitable play-by-play announcer. But some experts want to pull his plug.” Undark
— “Matt Drudge Logs Off,” by Armin Rosen in Tablet Magazine: “The Drudge Report has become a conformist shadow of its formerly bratty, oppositional self. Why?” Tablet
— “Avril Haines, The Least Likely Spy,” by Daniel Klaidman in Newsweek, from June 2013: “Haines’s unusual, even exotic, path to the pinnacle of the U.S. spy world … is a twisting journey that reflects a flair for adventure, an appetite for risk taking, and an ability to overcome adversity.” Newsweek
— “The Art of Building the Impossible,” by Burkhard Bilger in The New Yorker: “The carpenter behind some of New York’s most elaborate—and expensive—homes.” New Yorker
— “What My Dad Gave His Shop,” by Francesca Mari in The Atlantic’s December issue: “‘I’m more than just my store,’ my father told me. And yet, for nearly his entire adult life, all of his decisions had argued the opposite.” Atlantic
— “The Promise That Tested My Parents Until the End,” by Christopher Solomon in GQ: “Couples pledge many things to one another. When my father grew ill, one promise tested everything about my parents’ long and happy life together, and forced my mother to wonder how she would keep her word—and also whether she should.” GQ
Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at [email protected].
BIRTHDAYS: Incoming national security adviser Jake Sullivan is 44 … Jonathan Lemire, White House reporter for the AP and political analyst at MSNBC and NBC News, is 41 (h/ts Ben Chang) … Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) is 56 … Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.) is 34 … Rep. Chris Jacobs (R-N.Y.) is 54 … Judd Deere, deputy assistant to the president and deputy press secretary, is 33 … Sean Rankin, executive director of the Democratic Attorneys General Association (h/t Jon Haber) … Jon Stewart is 58 … former Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colo.) is 84 … former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, co-founder and executive chair of the Chertoff Group, is 67 … former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is 78 … Stephen Jordan … CBS’ Susan Spencer … POLITICO’s Cally Baute … CNN’s Tim Skoczek … WaPo’s Matea Gold … Trent Edwards is 44 … Michael Sargeant … Jason Reed … Andrew Mangino is 34 … Tom Crosson … David Halperin … Steve Gardner is 67 … Amanda Fagerblom …
… Ryan Hedgepeth of the DCCC … Glen Johnson … Lexie (Hosier) Rock, digital media director for Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) (h/t Judd Deere) … Patrick M. Callahan … Carmen Covelli-Ingwell … Richard Norman … Anna Weinstein … NNSA’s Harris Walker … Ashley Phelps … Steve Adamske … Chris Tucker of FTI Consulting … Ashley Baker of the Committee for Justice … Tom Barker … Mickeala Carter … Lindsay Biscardi … Mandy Gunasekara … Joe Dennison … Paul Ambrosino … Brady Williamson … Stacie Spector … Todd Ambs (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) … Erik Noble … Edward Chapman … Suzi Emmerling, CCO of the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation … NYT’s Elaine Sciolino … Kimberly Spell … Maryland state Del. Lesley Lopez … Taylor Keeney, director of strategic comms and advocacy at Hunton Andrews Kurth … Stephanie Berger … Courtney Loper … Bret Hovell … Sarah Adams … Bridget Winstead … Courtney DeBower
THE SHOWS (Full Sunday show listings here):
“This Week”: Anthony Fauci … William McRaven. Panel: Matthew Dowd, Rebecca Jarvis, Evan Osnos and Michele Norris.
“Meet the Press”: Anthony Fauci … Michael Mullen. Panel: Michael Eric Dyson, O. Kay Henderson, Hugh Hewitt and Kasie Hunt.
“Face the Nation”: Deborah Birx … El Paso Mayor Dee Margo … Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan … David Beasley … Claire Babineaux-Fontenot … Scott Gottlieb.
“Fox News Sunday”: Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson … New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy … Surgeon General Jerome Adams. Panel: Jason Riley, Susan Page and Juan Williams. Power Player: Sandy Lerner.
“State of the Union” (Dana Bash guest-hosts): Adm. Brett Giroir … Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) … Reps.-elect Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) and Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) … Jon Ossoff.
“America This Week with Eric Bolling”: Brett Favre.
“Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren”: Rep.-elect Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) … Rep.-elect Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.) … Kevin Cirilli.