Transition Roundup: Senate Runoff Outcomes Will Shape Biden’s Presidency; National Guard Prepares for Pro-Trump Election Protests
Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.
The two Senate runoff elections in Georgia on Tuesday will determine what party controls the Senate and thus indicate how President-elect Biden will fare with his policy goals, appointee confirmations and undoing of last-minute Trump regulations subject to the “Congressional Review Act.” Both President Trump and Biden went to Georgia on Monday to campaign. Trump reiterated, “No, no, I don’t concede,” the presidential election. Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed.
Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller approved D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s request for National Guard deployments for the Trump-supporter protests expected in the city on Tuesday and Wednesday ahead of Congress certifying Biden as the winner of the election. Three hundred forty members will be activated and 114 will be deployed at any one time, CNN reported on Monday. Congress will meet on Wednesday and the certification process has led to vast infighting within the Republican Party.
A group of Democratic lawmakers is encouraging Biden to diversify who serves in technology roles in his administration. “Failing to do so, lawmakers and civil rights experts say, could hinder the administration’s efforts to address critical tech issues such as rooting out biases in artificial intelligence and expanding Internet connectivity for communities of color,” Politico reported on Monday.
The transition team announced additional members of the White House staff on Tuesday, many of whom are Obama administration and campaign alums. The positions are: deputy Cabinet secretary, Cabinet secretary, director of political strategy and outreach, deputy director of political strategy and outreach, deputy director of the Office of Public Engagement, director of technology and deputy director of technology.
The U.S. attorney in Atlanta stepped down from his post on Monday after previously saying he would stay until Inauguration Day. The reason for the change in plans was unclear, Talking Points Memo reported. “It is not uncommon for U.S. attorneys to step down in the weeks leading up to the inauguration of a new administration as a courtesy to clear the way for the incoming president to choose his or her own appointees. Other Trump-appointed U.S. attorneys have also left their posts in recent days,” said the report. “But the news that Attorney [Byung 'BJay' Pak] is out effective Monday, rather than Jan. 20, as he had previously indicated, comes as Georgia is the focus of intense political attention.”
Reps. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., and Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., asked the FBI on Monday to open a criminal investigation into Trump’s phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger––reported by The Washington Post on Sunday––during which he asked him to “find 11,780 votes” to overturn the results of the presidential election.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urged lawmakers in a letter sent on Monday to reject Biden’s education policies and protect those of Trump, the Associated Press reported. She didn’t “explicitly acknowledge” Trump’s election loss or use Biden’s name, but rather offered “lawmakers ‘some encouragement and closing thoughts.’”
The Environmental Protection Agency finalized its “secret science” rule on Monday, which is one of the Trump administration’s most controversial “midnight regulations.” The rule “will prioritize transparency and increase opportunities for the public to access the ‘dose-response’ data that underlie significant regulations and influential scientific information,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler wrote in a Wall Street Journal Op-ed. “Transparency is a defense of, not an attack on, the important work done by career scientists at the EPA, along with their colleagues at research institutions around the country...By shining light on the science we use in decisions, we are helping to restore trust in government.”
The Environmental Protection Network, made up of over 500 former career and political EPA employees, is one of the groups opposed to the rule change, arguing it does not ensure transparency. It “would essentially bar the agency from using the most relevant medical studies when creating rules about air pollution, toxic chemicals, water contaminants, and more,” said Chris Zarba, EPN member and former staff director of the EPA’s science advisory board, in a statement to the press. “I hope and expect under President Biden, the next EPA administrator will have the support of the scientific community and the ability to ensure independent science will have the appropriate place at the table.”
During an interview with Bloomberg News on Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicated that the Trump administration is ending. “I think we are leaving – after four years, I think we’re leaving the world safer than when we came in,” he said. “I hope that the policies that we put in place will have the capacity to continue and whoever the next secretary of State is will begin to follow down this path in a way that recognizes the threat from the Chinese Communist Party, that honors the work that we have done to push back against the Islamic Republic of Iran, the two states with the capacity to inflict real harm on the United States of America.”
In a recent filing in a lawsuit brought on by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the Justice Department acknowledged that Trump lost the presidential election, the group flagged in a press release on Tuesday. Justice Department lawyers said PEER’s case challenging the status and actions by the acting officials leading the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management “will become moot on January 20, 2021 when a new administration is sworn into office... Mr. [William] Pendley and Ms. [Margaret] Everson will, presumably, leave office, requiring that the prospective claims against them must be dismissed.”
The House approved its rules package for the 117th Congress on Monday, which includes increased protections for whistleblowers. It also “expressly authorizes the issuance of subpoenas to any current or former president and vice president, either in their personal or official capacity, as well as the White House, the Office of the President, the Executive Office of the President, and any individual currently or formerly employed by those entities,” said a summary. “This is not a change to, but rather a clearer affirmation of, existing authorities.”
Upcoming: Polls close in Georgia at 7 p.m. and results are expected to come in shortly thereafter, but there might not be clear winners on Tuesday night.
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