Here’s what you need to know:
Top Democrats in Congress on Wednesday approved a $ 908 billion compromise plan proposed by a bipartisan group of moderate senators, calling on Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and majority leader, to base the negotiations on the framework to resume.
The move represented a significant concession from the Democratic leaders, who had pushed for a federal aid package more than double the size but offered no guarantee of a swift deal with Mr McConnell, who had previously ruled out a measure near its size.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. offered some kind of boon to the effort in a virtual event featuring laid-off workers and a small business owner struggling in the pandemic. Mr Biden said the bipartisan package “wouldn’t be the answer, but it would be a quick fix for a lot of things, quick.”
He later said he had “urged our Congressional Republicans to work on a bipartisan emergency package now,” although he stressed that such a package “will be a down payment at best.”
In a statement, California spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi and New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, said that while they made their own private offer to Republicans on Monday night, they believed the $ 908 billion Dollar framework “should serve as a basis for immediate bicameral bipartisan negotiations. “
“Of course we and others will offer improvements, but the need to act is immediate and we believe that by negotiating in good faith we can come to an agreement,” the two leaders said.
The couple has long provided at least $ 2 trillion in new funding to fight coronavirus, even amid mounting pressure from ordinary lawmakers eager for a deal. In their statement on Wednesday, they cited the need for additional funds to support the distribution of a vaccine in the coming weeks as one reason they were willing to drop these demands and use the compromise plan as a basis for resuming talks.
The framework was put together by a non-partisan group that included Senators Susan Collins from Maine, Joe Manchin III from West Virginia, Mitt Romney from Utah, and Mark Warner from Virginia in a series of Thanksgiving holiday talks. It would revive expired federal unemployment benefits to $ 300 a week, provide $ 288 billion for small businesses and $ 160 billion for state and local governments, and provide liability protection for businesses operating during the pandemic.
Mr McConnell quickly tossed cold water on Tuesday, instead handing out a scaled-down proposal that would recycle unspent funds from the $ 2.2 trillion stimulus bill passed in March. It doesn’t include federal unemployment payments and would include approximately $ 300 billion for small businesses, restaurants, and theaters, and billions of dollars for vaccines, schools, and the United States Postal Service. This plan also includes corporate liability protection.
Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, said Wednesday that President Trump would sign Mr McConnell’s plan, telling reporters: “We look forward to making progress.”
The proposal is unlikely to get this far, however, as it is no novice for Democrats and ignores many of their top priorities, including unemployment benefits and funding for state and local governments and transit agencies.
Democratic approval of the Senate moderators’ plan was a marked departure from September, when Ms. Pelosi and top House Democrats were quick to reject a similar attempt at a bipartisan compromise. With the pandemic continuing to ravage the United States and urgent funding to prop up the American economy, their statement on Wednesday meant confirmation that they would have to reduce their demands by something by December 11th when Congress takes place to do planned to leave for the year.
Party leaders are stepping up efforts to pass a stimulus bill before Mr Biden takes office in January. Mr Biden said Wednesday his transition team was already working on laws to strengthen the economy, which he would submit to Congress for approval when he takes office.
President Trump released a 46-minute falsehood video on Wednesday railing against a “rigged” election despite his own attorney general alleging it was No evidence of widespread fraud that could reverse the outcome.
Mr Trump posted a short, two-minute version of the speech on Twitter, recorded in the White House diplomatic room and delivered behind a lectern with the President’s seal with a link to the full version on his Facebook page.
When the president wrote that what he said could be “the most important speech I have ever made,” he again refused to admit defeat and instead repeated a long line of false claims about electoral fraud, accusing the Democrats of conspiracy, the presidency to steal.
Twitter quickly described the post as “controversial”. Facebook added that President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is the proposed election winner.
The video, which a White House official said was taped last week, was the personal embodiment of Mr. Trump’s staccato tweets over the past three weeks: one lie after lie about voting irregularities in swing states, democratic conspiracies , Attacks on government officials and signature checks.
At the end of the video, he described himself as an unlikely defender of the American electoral system and said he was told that the most important achievement of his presidency would be to protect the integrity of the country’s electoral system.
Its sweeping claims, however, were drastically undercut on Tuesday when Attorney General William P. Barr told The Associated Press that, despite inquiries from the Justice Department and the FBI, “we have not yet seen any fraud on a scale that could have another effect on the election result. “
Mr Biden received nearly 81 million votes, compared to Mr Trump’s 74 million. Mr Biden also won 306 votes, the same number Mr Trump won in 2016, calling a landslide.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. met with workers and small business owners on Wednesday to discuss the economic hardship caused by the pandemic as lawmakers continue to seek to break a virus relief stalemate.
In a virtual roundtable discussion that became emotional at times, the participants – whose backgrounds included a school guard and a restaurant owner – told Mr Biden about their struggles with health, finances and the amazing insecurities of the moment. Karen Coffey, who worked at Comerica Park in Detroit according to the transition, sounded weepy when she described herself as “hopeless”.
“I believe that with the right policies we can fundamentally change things,” said Biden when he opened the event. “And I hope that we can help in a short time, but that depends a lot on our friends in Congress and on the other side.”
Mr Biden is generally a deeply empathetic politician who is known to spend considerable time at campaign events to connect with struggling Americans. But on Wednesdays he often seemed more matter-of-fact, asking questions and detailing his agenda.
“To put it bluntly, my ability to give you immediate help does not exist,” he said. “I’m not even in office for 50 more days. And then I have to have laws passed by the United States Congress.”
Although Mr Biden has said his top priority is to receive a generous stimulus package from Congress before January 20, despite the many Americans in need of immediate help, the likelihood remains slim, even with a host of new proposals this week circulating on Capitol Hill.
Congressional leaders continue to agree that further increases in funding are needed to sustain the economy – at least until a vaccine is distributed – but there remain a number of strong political disagreements over restoring lapsed federal unemployment benefits, the Funding for state and local governments and a Republican push for a liability shield. More than 10 million Americans remain unemployed and employment growth has slowed.
Legislators also provide a more specific deadline to prevent the government from closing by December 11th. However, lawmakers and advisers say they anticipate avoiding a closure and reaching an agreement on an omnibus package in a timely manner, and that the legislation might extend some coronavirus relief.
“Wait a minute, we’ll get through this,” Mr. Biden encouraged the participants. “You will get through this.”
“It’s going to be tough as hell in the next 50 to 70 days if the House doesn’t act in some way, the Senate acts and shares some of this material,” he added.
Mr Biden described every package that was passed before he took office as “a down payment for what will happen early next year”.
In an interview with Thomas L. Friedman, an opinion columnist for the New York Times, Mr. Biden discussed the depths of the economic crisis. The longer people are unemployed, the more difficult it is for them to get back into the world of work. And if children miss significant school hours, they will suffer too and could fall behind years.
One of the biggest obstacles to the new president’s ability to achieve these goals is his former colleague across the aisle, Mr McConnell, who could work to block much of Mr Biden’s agenda if Republicans are in control keep over the upper chamber.
However, Mr Biden said he had compromised with Mr McConnell in the past.
“I think there are compromises that not every compromise deviates from the principle,” said Biden. “He knows me. I know him. I’m not asking him to embarrass himself about getting a deal.”
But he added that if Republicans clearly “let all of this go down the drain” just to prevent a Biden government from winning, it “could affect the prospect of Republicans running for re-election in 2022”.
As a second recount, which was completed in Georgia on Wednesday, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the results so far show “no significant changes” to the record showing President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory over President Trump in the state .
At a press conference, Raffensperger said that about 110 of Georgia’s 159 counties had completed their machine counts. “It doesn’t look like our man won the election,” said Raffensperger, a lifelong Republican. “And it looks like Vice President Biden is wearing Georgia and he’s our President-elect.”
Counties must complete the new recount by midnight. A minor change in the final balance sheet is expected, meaning the state will need to recertify the number.
Mr Trump has argued repeatedly, with no substantive evidence, that the Georgia elections were rigged against him, and two of his most ardent supporters there, Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, have called for Mr Raffensperger’s resignation, arguing that he did the Elections poorly managed have choice.
On Wednesday, Mr. Raffensperger noted that Mr. Trump’s attorney general William P. Barr said Tuesday that the Justice Department had not found a widespread fraud affecting the president’s race.
“Our investigators did not see any widespread fraud either,” Raffensperger said.
At the request of the Trump campaign, Georgia has already counted around five million ballots by hand. Several thousand countless ballot papers were found, which slightly reduced Mr Biden’s lead to around 12,300 votes. The second recount, also requested by the Trump campaign, is done by high-speed scanners.
Mr Raffensperger opened his press conference with words of support for Gabriel Sterling, a first lieutenant in his office who yesterday spoke out emotionally and condemned Mr Trump for not recalling conspiratorial rhetoric that Mr Sterling, who is also a Republican, said fueled an atmosphere which led to violent threats against Mr. Raffensperger’s wife and the simple election workers.
“I didn’t know what Gabriel Sterling was going to say yesterday, and that had our full support. He spoke with passion and he spoke the truth,” said Raffensperger. He added that it was “not the exact wording I would have used, but you understood the essentials and he has my full support. “
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has no plans to take Christopher Wray to the F.B.I. According to a senior adviser to Mr Biden who is well aware of the process, he will be installed by President Trump if he is still in office at the time the new administration is received.
The officer, who was not empowered to speak publicly, said Mr. Biden’s team would “direct the FBI unless Trump fired him” – a sign of a return to continuity norms before Trump at a central law enforcement agency, which should work without political interference.
Another key position on the national security team led by Mr. Biden, the director of the C.I.A., is expected to soon join David S. Cohen, a former deputy C.I.A. Director who turns out to be the first choice, according to people familiar with the process.
Mr. Biden has not made a final decision on Mr. Cohen, and his selection will depend in part on the mix of people he wishes to run the Pentagon and other agencies.
There will be no formal announcement at the C.I.A. until at least next week.
Mr Biden’s advisors did not comment publicly on either position.
Mr Biden’s decision to leave Mr Wray in place would be a return to F.B.I. Senate-approved directors who are expected to serve ten years and are rarely fired. In order to reject it, it must be explained why such an extraordinary measure is being taken.
But Mr Trump fired James B. Comey, who was appointed by President Barack Obama in May 2017, whirled around Washington and sparked the appointment of Special Envoy Robert S. Mueller III to investigate a possible conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian officials Year 2016.
Mr. Trump named Mr. Wray, a Republican who served in the administration of President George W. Bush, to succeed Mr. Comey. But the President pissed off Mr. Wray shortly after he took office, complaining that he wasn’t moving fast enough to rid the office of the officers Mr. Comey had appointed.
The President’s anger at Mr Wray has since increased, reaching new heights this summer when he tried to fire Mr Wray once documents related to the case of former National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, were released by other officials. Mr Trump believed Mr Wray delayed the release of documents related to the Russia investigation.
At the time Mr. Trump was railing about Mr. Wray’s dismissal, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows intervened by reaching out to Attorney General William P. Barr, who came to the White House for Mr. Trump dissuade from taking such action.
But Mr. Trump’s view of Mr. Wray has never improved and he told the counselors before the election that Mr. Wray would be fired soon after, but he has yet to fire him.
There is little such drama surrounding Mr. Biden’s search for a C.I.A. Director.
Mr Biden has always valued Mr Cohen and Avril D. Haines supports Mr Biden’s decision to serve as director of the National Intelligence Service in the possible appointment, Top Biden advisors said.
Mr. Cohen, who will succeed Ms. Haines as Deputy C.I.A. Chief, worked closely with her on the National Security Council’s “Committee of Representatives”, which was made up of senior representatives from national security departments and agencies during the Obama administration. Ensuring a simple partnership between Ms. Haines and the C.I.A. Director is a priority of the new administration, according to people who have spoken with transitional officers
Senate Republicans said Wednesday they would push the annual military policy bill without adding a lifting of a social media company shield requested by President Trump, and oppose his threat to veto legislation on that Insert unrelated topic.
Republicans’ determination to move ahead with Mr Trump’s objections resulted in a rare refusal by his allies in Congress to address the president’s tough stance that threatened to jeopardize the bill to approve pay increases for American troops. And it raised the prospect of a possible veto showdown in the final weeks of Mr. Trump’s presidency.
“I don’t want it on this bill because we can’t have a bill if that language is on it,” said Senator Jim Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma and Chairman of the Armed Forces Committee, describing what he told the president about the legal liability provision. “We just had an honest disagreement, very kind.”
Mr Trump threatened to veto the legislation in July over a provision requiring the names of Confederate leaders to be removed from military bases. This measure found broad support from both parties and was included in both the House and Senate versions. However, as his tenure ended, the president has become increasingly fixated on the idea of using the popular law to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, and the White House had the idea that he did it tacitly circulated could drop its objection to the renaming of military bases if lawmakers agreed. The idea met with rapid resistance from members of both parties.
On Tuesday night, Mr Trump took to Twitter to warn that he would veto the bill if it did not include the repeal.
It is not yet clear whether Mr Trump will make good on his threat, and it is even less clear whether lawmakers could muster the two-thirds majority required in both houses to get the first veto suspension of his presidency.
In an interview on Wednesday, Representative Adam Smith, Democrat of Washington and chairman of the Armed Forces Committee, indicated that such an outcome was possible.
“Lane number one, at this point, is the president’s sensation,” said Mr Smith. “Track number two is, we get as strong a voice as possible and we overwrite. In my opinion, this is a strong calculation. “
President Obama recently embarked on a difficult political path on an online book tour promoting his new memoir, The Promised Land, as an enduring darling of the youth on the left, who also functions as a critic with gray templates.
Case in point: while appearing on Snapchat’s “Good Luck America” show, the former president urged progressives to drop buzzwords like “Defund the Police” – and moments later to blame party leaders for seeing young stars like them Hadn’t put Representative Alexandria Ocasio in the spotlight. Cortez of New York.
“If, like me, you believe that we should be able to reform the criminal justice system so that it is non-biased and treats everyone fairly, you can use a snappy slogan like” Defund the Police, “” Obama said, the moderator said of the show, Peter Hamby, in the episode that was released on Monday.
“But you’ve lost a huge audience the moment you say it, which makes it much less likely that you’ll actually make the changes you want,” he added.
Many Democrats, including Obama, have suggested that Republicans were able to arm the “Defund” slogan during the elections by falsely accusing the Democrats of abolishing entire departments when most of the party’s candidates are restructuring existing agencies Advocated reduction of police violence.
But the “biting” joke was immediately criticized – politely but pointedly – by several prominent progressives, including representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, who tweeted: “We are losing people in the hands of the police. It’s not a slogan, it’s a political demand. “
Mr Obama took a markedly different note as the discussion passed over to the Democratic National Convention that summer, at which Mrs Ocasio-Cortez made a brief appearance.
The new legislature backed President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., often in less enthusiastic terms, after backing Senator Bernie Sanders in the primary. (Democrats close to Mr Biden said at the time that the brevity of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s appearance was not small, but acknowledged that Mr Biden’s more enthusiastic supporters had been given more airtime.)
“In my opinion, the Democratic National Convention was really successful in the face of the pandemic and used technology wisely,” Obama said in an interview.
“But you know that an A.O.C. just got what? Three minutes or five minutes? When she speaks to a broad group of young people who are interested in what she has to say, even if they disagree with everything she says, “he added.
“They give her a platform, just like there may be some other young Democrats who come from more conservative areas and have a different point of view. But new blood is always good, ”said Obama.
After nearly 18 years in office, Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee had one final message to his colleagues during his farewell address on Wednesday: The Senate must change.
In a moving scene in the normally hip Senate, 80-year-old Alexander, a former governor and secretary of education, reflected on nearly two decades of work on Capitol Hill, including legislation to revise the law to ban children who have been left behind. brought Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader and his close friend, to tears; and received standing ovations from Republicans and Democrats.
But his resigning message was sobering: he told other lawmakers that the Senate had lost its way.
“Lately, the Senate has been like joining the Grand Ole Opry and unable to sing,” said Alexander, who is retiring. “It’s a real waste of talent.”
Mr Alexander, a former presidential candidate and chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said he was against the removal of the Senate’s filibuster rules, which allow a minority to stop major laws – he said it would ” the tyranny of unleashing the majority in order to dampen the rights of the minority. “But he said senators should rediscover the lost art of allowing debate on a wide variety of legislative changes, rather than blocking them outright, so the chamber can revert to a more bipartisan process.
“Our country needs a United States Senate that works bipartisan to enforce comprehensive agreements on tough issues and create laws that most of us voted for and that a diverse country will accept,” he said before a largely full one Chamber rare sight. “Der Senat braucht keine Änderung der Regeln. Es bedarf einer Verhaltensänderung, und das Verhalten, das zuerst geändert werden muss, besteht darin, die gegenseitigen Änderungen nicht mehr zu blockieren. “
Als er über Mr. Alexander sprach, wurde Mr. McConnell, der Republikaner aus Kentucky, der die zunehmende Parteilichkeit in Washington präsidierte, emotionaler.
“Seit 18 Jahren gibt es Lamar Alexander und den Rest von uns”, sagte McConnell und machte eine Pause, um die Tränen zurückzuhalten und sich die Nase abzuwischen. “Es tut mir leid, dass in ein paar Wochen nur noch der Rest von uns übrig sein wird.”
Als sich die Ehrungen zwei Stunden lang erstreckten und die geplanten Abstimmungen verzögerten, erhielt Herr Alexander auch herzliche Worte von Demokraten.
“Ich habe die Fairness von Senator Alexander, das Interesse an der Lösung von Problemen und seine Überparteilichkeit wirklich zu schätzen gelernt”, sagte Senatorin Dianne Feinstein, Demokratin von Kalifornien.
Senator Michael Bennet, Demokrat von Colorado, sagte, der beste Weg, das Erbe von Herrn Alexander zu ehren, sei, den Senat zu reparieren.
“Er hat uns vor eine Herausforderung gestellt und ich hoffe, wir werden ihn annehmen, denn es gibt keine Entschuldigung für die Funktionsweise dieses Ortes”, sagte er. “Ich kann mir kein größeres Erbe für Lamar vorstellen als einen Senat, der tatsächlich arbeitet.”
Herr Alexander sagte abschließend seinen Kollegen, es sei ein “großes Privileg” gewesen, zu dienen, bevor er vielleicht zum letzten Mal sagte: “Ich gebe das Wort.”
Senator Mark Kelly ist kein Fremder für einsame Missionen.
Als ehemaliger Astronaut reiste er mit vier verschiedenen Missionen Millionen von Kilometern im Weltraum zur internationalen Raumstation, eine davon nur wenige Monate, nachdem ein Attentat fast das Leben seiner Frau, der ehemaligen Repräsentantin Gabrielle Giffords, gefordert hatte.
Am Mittwoch begann er eine andere Art von einsamer Reise und wurde der erste einer neuen Klasse, der offiziell in den Senat vereidigt wurde, und einer von nur zwei Demokraten, die in diesem Jahr einen amtierenden Republikaner abgesetzt hatten. Im vergangenen Monat gewann Herr Kelly eine Sonderwahl für den Rest der Amtszeit des verstorbenen Senators John McCain.
Seine Ankunft verkürzte die knappe Mehrheit der Republikaner im Senat auf 52-48, eine Auszeichnung für Herrn Kelly, die zu dem übergroßen Profil beiträgt, das er als Neuling-Senator führen wird. Es verurteilt auch die bereits schwierige Nominierung von Judy Shelton, Präsident Trumps Kandidatin für den Gouverneursrat der Federal Reserve, die das Weiße Haus vor dem Ende der Lame-Duck-Sitzung bestätigen wollte.
Der Sieg von Herrn Kelly über die republikanische Senatorin Martha McSally bedeutete, dass zum ersten Mal seit den 1950er Jahren beide Senatoren in Arizona Demokraten sind, was die sich wandelnde Demografie und Politik einer ehemaligen konservativen Hochburg unterstreicht. Er tritt Senator Kyrsten Sinema bei, der 2018 gewählt wurde.
Auf dem Feldzug lehnte sich Herr Kelly als ehemaliger Marinekapitän und Astronaut an seine Biografie an und übernahm das Mantra „Vollgas voraus. ” Er hatte eine überzeugende Leihmutter in Frau Giffords, die persönlich über sein Engagement für sein Land und für sie sprach und in einer Werbung darauf zeigte, wie er „mir durch meine dunkelsten Momente geholfen hat“.
“Everyone continues to be inspired by Gabby’s recovery, by Mark’s devotion, and the courage it took for their family to re-enter public life and public service,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, said on Wednesday.
Mr. Kelly will work out of Mr. McCain’s old office, and on Tuesday, Mr. Kelly and his family visited Mr. McCain’s grave at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis.
“It’s not often that we get to meet our heroes, and even less often that we get to call them a friend,” Mr. Kelly said in his victory speech. “I got to do that with Senator McCain.”
Before Stacey Abrams was a prominent figure on the national political stage, she was known to romance readers under another name — Selena Montgomery. Under her pen name, Ms. Abrams, the voting rights activist and former candidate for governor in Georgia, has published eight romance novels, with titles like “Reckless” and “Deception.”
Now her two worlds are colliding, as romance fans and fellow writers have joined her movement to turn out Democratic voters in Georgia’s Jan. 5 runoff, which will determine which party controls the Senate. Last month, a group of romance novelists launched “Romancing the Runoff” to mobilize Democratic voters in Georgia.
The fund-raising effort was started by four romance novelists — Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole, and Donna Herren and Bree Bridges, who write together under the pen name Kit Rocha. Their initial goal was to raise $20,000 for the New Georgia Project and Fair Fight, two voting rights organizations founded by Ms. Abrams, and for Black Voters Matter, a fund created to boost Black voter turnout. They blew past their goal and have raised more than $460,000.
Ms. Milan said the project grew out of a text exchange between her and Ms. Bridge after it became clear that there would be a Senate runoff in Georgia. They were inspired by Ms. Abram’s efforts to flip Georgia for Democrats even after she lost her own campaign for governor, a show of optimism that Ms. Milan said typified romance readers’ belief in “happily ever after” endings.
“A big part of it is because Stacey Abrams was so instrumental in establishing Fair Fight,” Ms. Milan said. “Someone who sees that possibility for hope, and works to make it come to pass, is a quintessentially romance thing. You could just drown in pessimism, but she didn’t.”
To rally romance readers, the organizers auctioned off more than 3,000 items, including a yearlong writing mentorship with the author Ann Aguirre (sold for $5,700); autographed and annotated copies of novels by the romance writer Tessa Dare; and a TV writing consultation with Sheryl J. Anderson, the showrunner for the Netflix series “Sweet Magnolias. ”
One of the prized items: a signed hardback edition of Ms. Abrams’ debut novel, “Rules of Engagement,” which she wrote while attending Yale Law School. “Both Selena & Stacey will sign,” Ms. Abrams wrote in a tweet endorsing the fund-raising effort, adding a winking emoji. The book sold for $3,200.
President Trump has discussed with advisers whether to grant pre-emptive pardons to his children, to his son-in-law and to his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and talked with Mr. Giuliani about pardoning him as recently as last week, according to two people briefed on the matter.
Mr. Trump has told others that he is concerned that a Biden Justice Department might seek retribution against the president by targeting the oldest three of his five children — Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump — as well as Ms. Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner, a White House senior adviser.
Donald Trump Jr. had been under investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, for contacts he had with Russians offering damaging information on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign but was not charged. Mr. Kushner provided false information to federal authorities about his contacts with foreigners for his security clearance, but was given one anyway by the president.
The nature of Mr. Trump’s concern about any potential criminal exposure of Eric Trump or Ivanka Trump is unclear, although an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney into the Trump Organization includes tax write-offs on millions of dollars in consulting fees by the company, some of which appear to have gone to Ms. Trump.
Mr. Giuliani’s potential criminal exposure is also unclear, although he was under investigation as recently as this summer by federal prosecutors in Manhattan for his business dealings in Ukraine and his role in ousting the American ambassador there. The plot was at the heart of the impeachment of Mr. Trump.
Presidential pardons do not provide protection against prosecution by state or local authorities, only federal ones.
The speculation about pardon activity at the White House is churning furiously, underscoring how much the Trump administration has been dominated by investigations and criminal prosecutions of people in the president’s orbit. Mr. Trump himself was singled out by federal prosecutors as “Individual 1” in a court filing in the case that sent Michael D. Cohen, his former lawyer and fixer, to prison.
President Trump is said to have consulted advisers about the possibility of granting pre-emptive pardons to his relatives and to allies like his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani.
Mr. Trump has also claimed that he has “the absolute right to pardon myself.”
What exactly are the scope and limits of the president’s clemency power? Here is what you need to know.
What is a pardon?
It is an executive power that acts as a check-and-balance on the federal criminal justice system, enabling a president to bestow mercy upon offenders.
The Constitution gives the president clemency powers “to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” This could either be a commutation, which reduces or eliminates a sentence imposed after a conviction for a crime, or a pardon — a broader nullification of all legal consequences for an offense.
May a president issue prospective pardons before any charges or conviction?
Ja. In Ex parte Garland, an 1866 case involving a former Confederate senator who had been pardoned by President Andrew Johnson, the Supreme Court said the pardon power “extends to every offense known to the law, and may be exercised at any time after its commission, either before legal proceedings are taken or during their pendency, or after conviction and judgment.”
It is unusual for a president to issue a prospective pardon before any charges are filed, but there are examples, perhaps most famously President Gerald R. Ford’s pardon in 1974 of Richard M. Nixon to prevent him from being prosecuted after the Watergate scandal. And in 1977, on his first day in office, President Jimmy Carter pardoned hundreds of thousands of men who had dodged the draft during the Vietnam War.
Does a pardon eliminate all risk?
No. For one thing, Mr. Trump only has clemency power over federal offenses. Some types of offense — like tax evasion and financial fraud — are offenses under both federal and state law. State prosecutors in New York are investigating various matters related to Mr. Trump’s financial dealings.
Moreover, a pardon could increase one type of risk: By eliminating the possibility that the recipient might be federally prosecuted for a matter, it also eliminates the ability of that person to invoke the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in order to avoid testifying about it. Thus, pardon recipients subpoenaed before Congress or a grand jury would be compelled to talk; if they lied or refused to testify, that would be a new crime.
May a president issue a general pardon?
This is unclear. Usually, pardons are written in a way that specifically describes which crimes or sets of activities they apply to.
Notably, Ford’s pardon of Nixon was extraordinarily broad. It covered all federal crimes Nixon “committed or may have committed” during his presidency. But because prosecutors did not try to charge Nixon, the validity of this rare, open-ended clemency was untested.
May a president pardon himself?
This is unclear. There is no definitive answer because no president has ever tried to pardon himself and then faced prosecution anyway. As a result, there has never been a case that gave the Supreme Court a chance to resolve the question. In the absence of any controlling precedent, legal thinkers are divided about the matter.
Voter advocacy groups in Georgia filed a lawsuit on Wednesday asking a federal court to compel the state to restore nearly 200,000 names to its voter registration list ahead of the January runoff races for the state’s two Senate seats that will determine the balance of power in Washington.
In the suit, filed in the northern district of Georgia, three voter advocacy groups said the state had improperly removed 198,000 people from its voter registration lists in 2019 on the grounds that they had changed their addresses.
The Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union released a report in September based on an investigation by a progressive independent journalist, Greg Palast, who found that of most of the approximately 300,000 people removed had not changed their addresses. Since the investigation was completed, several thousand voters have died or moved, but more than 195,000 remained wrongly affected, the suit says.
The Georgia A.C.L.U. said in a statement that those removed from the rolls were likely to be “young voters, voters of lower income, and citizens of racial groups that have been denied their sacred right to vote in the past.”
The suit comes after a pair of hard-fought Senate races in which neither leading candidate received 50 percent of the vote, sending both contests to runoffs that will be held Jan. 5. One race pits the Republican senator David Perdue against the Democrat Jon Ossoff. In the other, Senator Kelly Loeffler, also a Republican, will face a Democratic challenge from the Rev. Raphael Warnock. If Democrats win both races, they will effectively control the Senate.
The office of the Georgia secretary of state, led by Brad Raffensperger, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But during a separate news conference on Wednesday, Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting system implementation manager, dismissed the allegations.
“I’m going to go with no,” he said, when asked whether his office had purged nearly 200,000 voters from registration lists. “Frankly, I’ve not seen or heard of this lawsuit yet.”
Since the election, Mr. Raffensperger’s office has been dogged by baseless allegations of voter fraud from the Trump campaign. Mr. Raffensperger has repeatedly said that the results of the Georgia election were trustworthy.
LaTosha Brown, the head of Black Voters Matter Fund, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, said the issue with the election was not voter fraud.
“It’s been a voter suppression,” she said during a news conference on Wednesday with members of the other advocacy groups. “Massive scale voter suppression.”
Ronna McDaniel, a faithful ally of President Trump, is running for a third term as Republican National Committee chair — on a platform of doggedly pursuing the agenda of a vanquished one-term president who nonetheless retains a tight grip on his party’s base.
Ms. McDaniel, 47, drafted a letter Wednesday to the 168 members of the R.N.C. touting the support of Mr. Trump, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and a majority of committee members, suggesting the upcoming vote on the chair was a fait accompli.
While saying the party would continue to “fight” for Mr. Trump, Ms. McDaniel, the niece of the 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said the committee intended to remain neutral in the 2024 primaries regardless of whether Mr. Trump decides to run again.
Yet while Ms. McDaniel is likely to remain the party’s pilot, her letter left little doubt that Mr. Trump, whose unpopularity helped propel President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. to a record-shattering 81 million votes nationwide, remains its navigator.
Her letter struck a markedly different approach from the soul-searching post-mortem conducted by the former R.N.C. chairman, Reince Priebus, after Mr. Romney’s decisive 2012 loss to President Barack Obama. Mr. Trump lost by a bigger margin in the popular vote than Mr. Romney did, though he garnered more electoral votes.
While Ms. McDaniel acknowledged unspecified “areas where we can improve,” she praised marginal gains among Democratic constituencies as proof that the party, which is heavily reliant on its overwhelmingly-white, majority-male base, was branching out.
“President Trump earned more minority votes than any Republican candidate in decades, and a record number of women, minorities and veterans were elected to office,” Ms. McDaniel wrote. “This is a legacy our party can be proud of, and we must continue to build on this historic momentum.”
Mr. Trump tapped Ms. McDaniel for her role after he won election in 2016, and publicly endorsed her for another term last month.
The letter was first reported by The Associated Press.
Kwanza Hall, a former Atlanta city councilman, won the runoff on Tuesday between two Georgia Democrats and will serve the final weeks of the term of Representative John Lewis, the civil rights leader who died in July.
Mr. Hall’s brief tenure ends on Jan. 3, when he will be replaced by Nikema Williams, a Democrat whom voters overwhelmingly elected to a full two-year term in November. Each will represent the state’s Fifth Congressional District, which encompasses parts of Atlanta and its suburbs.
Mr. Hall, a former Atlanta city councilman, defeated Robert M. Franklin Jr., the former president of Morehouse College in Atlanta, in the runoff after neither received 50 percent of the vote in a crowded special election in September. Ms. Williams did not run in that race, which featured five Democrats, a Libertarian and an independent.
About 22,000 ballots were cast on Tuesday, with Mr. Hall earning 54 percent of the vote.
“Thank you! I am humbled, truly humbled to earn this privilege,” Mr. Hall wrote on Twitter.
Despite the little time he will have in office, Mr. Hall, 49, has said he plans to work toward decriminalizing marijuana, expunging the records of formerly incarcerated people and improving economic opportunities.