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Trump rages over the election, ignoring a rampaging virus

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks with reporters after participating in a video teleconference call with members of the military on Thanksgiving, on Nov. 26, 2020, at the White House.Patrick Semansky / AP

WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, the president of the United States released a 46-minute — and factually incorrect — video disputing the results of the 2020 election. Yet again.

On the same day, the nation set daily records in new coronavirus cases (more than 200,000) and deaths (nearly 2,800), as well as total current hospitalizations from the virus (100,000-plus).

That split screen — a president protesting an election he clearly lost a month ago, versus a virus that’s getting deadlier by the day — might represent the most jarring disconnect in White House leadership we can remember.

And then throw in the indoor Christmas and holiday parties that Trump is hosting as the virus rages across the country.

Bottom line: Just as vaccines are on the way, the coronavirus is getting worse and worse. And the president isn’t doing anything about that spread.

History could very well remember Trump’s presidency for two events — the coronavirus and being the first president not to recognize the results of an election he lost.

But just one of those events has resulted in deaths, hospitalizations and what might be the greatest challenge to this country’s health system.

“The reality is December and January and February are going to be rough times,” Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Wednesday.

“I actually believe they’re going to be the most difficult in the public health history of this nation, largely because of the stress that’s going to be put on our health care system.”

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

14,007,908: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 201,884 more than yesterday morning.)

274,311: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 2,768 more than yesterday morning.)

195.60 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

100,226: The number of people currently hospitalized with the coronavirus.

10: The number of days the CDC now says individuals should quarantine if they have coronavirus exposure but no symptoms, down from 14 days.

6,856,906: Joe Biden’s lead in the popular vote at the time of publication

46: The number of minutes of a video the president filmed in the White House baselessly alleging widespread election fraud.

33: The number of days until the Jan. 5 Senate runoffs.

48: The number of days until Inauguration Day.

Tweet of the day

Comparing and contrasting Trump’s and Obama’s Medal of Freedom recipients

President Trump has just two events on his schedule today, and one of them is awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former college football coach Lou Holtz at 11:30 a.m. ET. (Both of Trump’s events are closed to the press.)

Holtz becomes the 18th individual to receive this distinction from Trump, and his list of recipients couldn’t be more different than Barack Obama’s 115 during his presidency (45 in his first term, 70 in the second).

Trump’s 18 are mostly conservative luminaries or sports stars (past and present), and just one is a woman (Miriam Adelson):

Alan C. Page

Antonin Scalia

Art Laffer

Bob Cousy

Edwin Meese III

Elvis Aaron Presley

General Jack Keane

George Herman "Babe" Ruth, Jr.

Jerry West

Jim Ryun

Lou Holtz

Mariano Rivera

Miriam Adelson

Orrin G. Hatch

Roger S. Penske

Roger Staubach

Rush Limbaugh

Tiger Woods

Contrast that to the more than 100 individuals who received the honor from Obama, who included some Democratic politicians/liberal activists (John Dingell, Dolores Huerta), some sports stars (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Billie Jean King) – but also those from the arts (Maya Angelou, Bob Dylan, Meryl Streep), science (Stephen Hawking), as well as 42 women (Sandra Day O’Connor, Sally Ride), and one current president-elect (Joe Biden).

Biden’s health picks are coming soon

NBC’s Geoff Bennett reports that President-elect Biden could name his health team as early as next week — and that announcement will include his nominations for Health and Human Services Secretary, CDC Director and Covid czar.

Biden Cabinet/Transition Watch

State: Tony Blinken (announced)

Treasury: Janet Yellen (announced)

Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas (announced)

UN Ambassador: Linda Thomas-Greenfield (announced)

Director of National Intelligence: Avril Haines (announced)

Defense: Michèle Flournoy, Jeh Johnson, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Rt. Gen. Lloyd Austin

Attorney General: Doug Jones, Xavier Becerra, Sally Yates

HHS: Vivek Murthy, Gina Raimondo

Interior: Deb Haaland

Agriculture: Heidi Heitkamp

Labor: Andy Levin, Bernie Sanders, Marty Walsh

Education: Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Randi Weingarten. Sonja Santelises, Linda Darling Hammond

OMB Director: Neera Tanden (announced)

CIA: Michael Morell

Small Business Administration: Keisha Lance Bottoms

Covid-19 Czar: Jeff Zients

Chief of Staff: Ron Klain (announced)

National Security Adviser: Jake Sullivan (announced)

Climate Envoy: John Kerry (announced)

White House Communications Director: Kate Bedingfield (announced)

White House Press Secretary: Jen Psaki (announced)

VP Communications Director: Ashley Etienne (announced)

VP Chief Spokesperson: Symone Sanders (announced)

Georgia Runoff Watch by Ben Kamisar

In Today’s Runoff Watch, Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue is weathering another news story highlighting his stock trades while in office.

The latest reporting from the New York Times show that since he took office “he has been the Senate’s most prolific stock trader by far, sometimes reporting 20 or more transactions in a single day.” And he made trades “in companies that stood to benefit from policy and spending matters that came not just before the Senate as a whole, but before the committees and subcommittees on which he served.”

Perdue’s team said in a statement that Perdue has been cleared of any wrongdoing and that the senator doesn’t handle the “day to day decisions of his portfolio.” But Perdue has battled a steady drip of stories on his trading for months, and Democrat Jon Ossoff has used it all to try to paint Perdue as corrupt.

The Lid: Count ’em up

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at how Joe Biden’s popular vote lead continues to grow.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

President Trump is not happy with Bill Barr.

Elections officials say they’re paying a personal price for their work amid baseless claims of fraud.

Pelosi and Schumer say the $908 billion bipartisan Covid relief proposal should be a starting point for negotiations.

Ivanka Trump was deposed as part of a lawsuit about inauguration spending.

DOJ is pushing to carry out federal executions in the final days of the Trump presidency.

Could Trump pardon family members if they haven’t been charged with crimes? Pete Williams explains.