‘Something very historical’: Push for diverse Biden Cabinet
WASHINGTON (AP) — Native Americans are urging President-elect Joe Biden to make history by selecting one of their own to lead the powerful agency that oversees the nation’s tribes, setting up one of several looming tests of Biden’s pledge to have a Cabinet representative of Americans.
O.J. Semans is one of dozens of tribal officials and voting activists around the country pushing selection of Rep. Deb Haaland, a New Mexico Democrat and member of the Pueblo of Laguna, to become the first Native American secretary of interior. Tell Semans, a member of the Rosebud Sioux, that a well-regarded white lawmaker is considered a front-runner for the job, and Semans chuckles.
“Not if I trip him,” Semans says.
African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans and other people of color played a crucial role in helping Biden defeat President Donald Trump. In return, they say they want attention on problems affecting their communities — and want to see more people who look like them in positions of power.
“It’s nice to know that a Native American is under consideration,” said Haaland, who says she is concentrating on her congressional work. “Sometimes we are invisible.”
Analysis: With silence, GOP enables Trump’s risky endgame
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans in Congress are engaged in a risky but calculated bet that once President Donald Trump has exhausted his legal challenges to the election, he will come to grips with his loss to President-elect Joe Biden.
But the opposite is happening.
As one Trump court case after another falls by the wayside, Trump is doubling down on efforts to disrupt the election outcome. Rather than accept the reality of the vote, the president is using the weight of his office to try to squash it. He summoned Michigan state lawmakers to the White House on Friday after personally reaching out to GOP officials ahead of next week’s deadline to certify election results. Others from Pennsylvania may similarly be invited in.
Republicans are standing by as it all unfolds. What started as a GOP strategy to give the president the time and space he needed to process his defeat is now spiraling into an unprecedented challenge to the election outcome like nothing since the Civil War.
“It’s hit the point where the Republican Party’s letting Trump’s pout go on too long,” said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, a professor at Rice University in Texas.
Trump tries to leverage power of office to subvert Biden win
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump sought to leverage the power of the Oval Office on Friday in an extraordinary attempt to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, but his pleas to Michigan lawmakers to overturn the will of their constituents appeared to have left them unswayed.
Trump summoned a delegation of the battleground state’s Republican leadership, including the Senate majority leader and House speaker, in an apparent extension of his efforts to persuade judges and election officials to set aside Biden’s 154,000-vote margin of victory and grant Trump the state’s electors. It came amid mounting criticism that Trump’s futile efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 election could do long-lasting damage to democratic traditions.
Trump’s efforts extended to other states that Biden carried as well, amounting to an unprecedented attempt by a sitting president to maintain his grasp on power, or in failure, to delegitimize his opponent’s victory in the eyes of his army of supporters.
Rick Hasen, an election law expert and professor who has been meticulously chronicling the 2020 race, wrote that there would be “rioting” in the streets if an effort was made to set aside the vote in Michigan, calling it tantamount to an attempted coup.
“We should worry because this is profoundly antidemocratic and is delegitimizing the victory of Joe Biden in a free and fair election,” Hasen wrote on his blog. “It is profoundly depressing we still have to discuss this. But it is extremely unlikely to lead to any different result for president.”
Who needs Russia? Loudest attacks on US vote are from Trump
WASHINGTON (AP) — Russia didn’t have to lift a finger.
In the weeks before the U.S. presidential election, federal authorities warned that Russia or other foreign countries might spread false information about the results to discredit the legitimacy of the outcome.
Turns out, the loudest megaphone for that message belonged not to Russia but to President Donald Trump, who has trumpeted a blizzard of thoroughly debunked claims to proclaim that he, not President-elect Joe Biden, was the rightful winner.
The resulting chaos is consistent with longstanding Russian interests to sow discord in the United States and to chip away at the country’s democratic foundations and standing on the world stage. If the 2016 election raised concerns about foreign interference in U.S. politics, the 2020 contest shows how Americans themselves, and their leaders, can be a powerful source of disinformation without other governments even needing to do the work.
“For quite a while at this point, the Kremlin has been able to essentially just use and amplify the content, the false and misleading and sensational, politically divisive content generated by political officials and American themselves” rather than create their own narratives and content, said former CIA officer Cindy Otis, vice president for analysis at the Alethea Group, which tracks disinformation.
EXPLAINER: What’s with all the election audits?
As they seek to overturn — or at least cast doubts on — the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election, President Donald Trump and his Republican allies have zeroed in on a routine and common process: post-election audits.
Until now, the Trump campaign’s flurry of legal challenges hasn’t unearthed any evidence of widespread voter fraud, and election experts as well as state and federal officials have said there was none.
Still, Trump and Republicans are calling for audits in states where the president lost, even as they dismiss the results of audits that were already completed.
WHAT IS A POST-ELECTION AUDIT?
Most states have laws requiring audits after elections, regardless of the margin of victory. That’s not because they think something is wrong. They just want to make sure voting equipment functioned properly and election procedures were followed.
Biden could announce Cabinet picks as soon as next week
WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden is moving quickly to fill out his administration and could name top leaders for his Cabinet as early as next week.
Biden told reporters on Thursday that he’s already decided on who will lead the Treasury Department. That pick, along with his nominee for secretary of state, may be announced before Thanksgiving, according to people close to the transition who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
The Cabinet announcements could be released in tranches, with groups of nominees focused on a specific top area, like the economy, national security or public health, being announced at once.
Such a move is intended to deliver the message that Biden is intent on preparing for the presidency even as President Donald Trump refuses to concede and attempts to subvert the election results in key states. Trump’s roadblocks have undermined core democratic principles such as the peaceful transfer of power and are especially problematic because Biden will take office in January amid the worst public health crisis in more than a century.
“It’s a huge impact. And each day it gets worse, meaning a week ago, it wasn’t that big of a deal. This week, it’s starting to get to be a bigger deal. Next week, it’ll be bigger,” said David Marchick, director of the Center for Presidential Transition at the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service. “Every new day that’s lost has a larger impact than the day before.”
Asia Today: South Korea mulls steps as new virus cases rise
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea has reported 386 new cases of the coronavirus in a resurgence that could force authorities to reimpose stronger social distancing restrictions after easing them in October to spur a faltering economy.
The figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Saturday raised the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 30,403, including 503 deaths.
More than 270 of the new cases have come from the Seoul metropolitan area, where health workers have struggled to track transmissions in schools, private tutoring academies and religious facilities.
Infections were also reported in other major cities, including Busan, Daejeon, Gwangju and Asan.
South Korea has so far managed to weather the pandemic without major lockdowns, relying instead on an aggressive test-and-quarantine campaign and mask-wearing.
Police: 8 injured in Wisconsin mall shooting; suspect sought
WAUWATOSA, Wis. (AP) — Police searched Friday evening for the suspect in a shooting at a suburban Milwaukee mall that left seven adults and a teenager injured.
Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber gave no motive for the attack at the Mayfair Mall in a brief update about three hours after the 2:50 p.m. incident near an entrance to the Macy’s store. He said the extent of the eight victims’ injuries was unknown, but all were alive. He added that the shooter was “no longer at the scene” when authorities arrived.
“Preliminary statements from witnesses indicate that the shooter is a white male in his 20s or 30s,” Weber told reporters. “Investigators are working on determining the identity of that suspect.”
As of 9:30 p.m., Wauwatosa police said in a tweet that authorities still had not identified or arrested the suspect. But in the latest update, the department offered its first explanation of what may have led to the shooting.
“Preliminary investigation has led us to believe that this shooting was not a random act, and was the result of an altercation,” said police, who added that the mall was now cleared and secure.
Mortar shells hit Kabul residential areas; at least 8 dead
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — About 23 mortar shells slammed into different parts of the Afghan capital on Saturday, killing at least eight people and wounding 31 others, an official said.
The shells were fired from two cars, Interior Ministry spokesperson Tariq Arian said. No one took immediate responsibility for the early morning attack that also targeted the posh Wazir Akbar Khan area of Kabul, which houses diplomatic missions.
At least one rocket landed in the Iranian Embassy compound. In a tweet, Iran’s embassy in Kabul in confirmed that a rocket came down in the courtyard of the embassy compound and “a number of shrapnel” hit the embassy’s main building, causing some damage to windows and equipment, without specifying the equipment.
“Fortunately the incident has no casualty and all the staff are in good health,” said the tweet.
The Taliban issued a quick statement denying any responsibility for the attack. The Islamic State group affiliate also operates in the area and has claimed responsibility for recent assaults in Kabul including two devastating attacks on educational institutions that killed more than 50 people, many of them students.
Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble postponed
HONG KONG (AP) — Singapore and Hong Kong on Saturday postponed the start of an air travel bubble meant to boost tourism for both cities, amid a spike in coronavirus infections in Hong Kong.
The travel bubble, originally slated to begin Sunday, will be delayed by at least two weeks, Hong Kong’s minister of commerce and economic development, Edward Yau, said at a news conference.
The arrangement is meant to allow travelers between the two cities to travel without having to serve a quarantine as long as they complete coronavirus tests before and after arriving at their destinations, and fly on designated flights.
Hong Kong reported 43 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, including 13 untraceable local infections.
“For any scheme to be successful, they must fulfill the condition of securing public health, and also make sure that both sides would be comfortable and feel safe about the scheme,” Yau said. “In light of the situation in Hong Kong, I think it’s the responsible way to put this back for a while, and then sort of relaunch it at a suitable juncture.”