Good morning, NBC News readers.
A critical week in American politics has started with a bang with the release of an hourlong phone call in which President Donald Trump can be heard pressuring a Georgia official to "find" votes to change the outcome of the election.
Here is what's happening this Monday morning.
‘I just want to find 11,780 votes’: Trump presses Georgia official in stunning phone call
President Trump pressured Georgia's secretary of state to overturn the election results in an astounding hourlong phone call obtained Sunday by NBC News in which the president offered a litany of false claims about voter fraud and repeatedly berated state officials.
"So look, " Trump told Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. "All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state."
Raffensperger and his office's general counsel, Ryan Germany, pushed back against Trump's claims during the call which took place Saturday. Excerpts from it were first published Sunday by the Washington Post.
During the conversation, the president suggested that Raffensperger, who is a Republican, could face criminal consequences if he refused to intervene in accordance with his wishes.
"There's nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you've recalculated," Trump said.
Raffensperger responded, "Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong."
Listen to the complete hourlong phone call.
The explosive exchange is the latest example of Trump's unprecedented efforts to overturn the results of the presidential election with little more than two weeks left in office.
The conversation also came days before Tuesday's runoff elections in Georgia that could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate, and a joint session of Congress on Wednesday to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College win.
NBC News obtains audio of Trump phone call with Georgia officialsJan. 3, 202102:50
'The numbers are real': U.S. Covid death toll passes 350,000
Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday pushed back on Trump's false claims that the U.S. coronavirus death toll is "exaggerated."
"The numbers are real," Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said during an interview with Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"All you need to do, Chuck, is to go into the trenches, go into the hospitals, go into the intensive care units and see what is happening. Those are real numbers, real people and real deaths."
Fauci's comments came in response to a tweet from Trump on Sunday in which he claimed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention count of Covid-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. was "far exaggerated."
December was the most deadly and infectious month of the pandemic in the United States: More than 77,000 people died and 6.4 million contracted the virus over the month, according to an NBC News analysis. Overall, more than 350,000 people have died from the virus in the U.S. and almost 20.5 million people have been infected.
Health officials fear that the level of infections and deaths could get worse over the next few weeks as the U.S. feels the full effects of travel during the holiday season.
As the Covid-19 death toll mounts, a group of widows have found each other on Facebook and are coping with their grief together.
Follow our live blog for all the latest Covid-19 developments.
CDC data: More than 4.2 million people vaccinatedJan. 3, 202102:45
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- WikiLeaks' Julian Assange cannot be extradited to the U.S. to face espionage charges, a British court ruled Monday.
- Nancy Pelosi was re-elected Speaker of the House on Sunday by a slim majority.
- Famed broadcaster Larry King has been hospitalized with Covid-19.
- Washington clinched the NFC East with a win over Philly on Sunday Night Football.
THINK about it
Trump's bizarre, desperate Georgia call mimics history's cornered autocrats, history professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat writes in an opinion piece.
Ok, let's just admit that the holidays were a wash in terms of exercise. Here's how to ease back into fitness with this simple 31-day walking plan.
One hopeful thing
When the pandemic hit and schools closed, Stanford University seniors Margot Bellon and Isabel Wang recognized that disadvantaged students may not have the technology to keep up with virtual schooling.
They created the nonprofit Bridging Tech, which provides donated computers to young students like 11-year-old Mariah Anthony.
College seniors bridging the tech gap for young studentsJan. 3, 202102:02
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