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As Trump rages over election results, coronavirus rages across the country

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: U.S. President Trump speaks to reporters about the 2020 presidential election at the White House in Washington
President Donald Trump arrives to speak about election results in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on Nov. 5, 2020.Carlos Barria / Reuters

WASHINGTON — As President Trump refuses to recognize an election he clearly lost, and as he shakes up his national security team once again, guess which issue he’s not paying attention to with 10 weeks remaining in his presidency.

The coronavirus.

For an eighth straight day, U.S. coronavirus cases Tuesday soared above 100,000. Hospitalizations hit a record high yesterday. And another 1,000-plus Americans died from the virus just yesterday alone.

Since Election Day, in fact, the United States has seen 878,000 new Covid-19 cases, 20,000 hospitalizations and nearly 8,000 deaths.

But the president hasn’t made public remarks since Thursday, when he claimed — without any evidence — that Democrats were trying to steal the election from him. (Today, the lone event on his schedule is departing the White House to observe Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery.)

In addition, with millions of Americans still out of work, the president and Congress have made no progress in providing additional relief to businesses and workers.

“Covid, Covid, Covid. By the way, on November 4th, you won't hear about it anymore,” Trump said on the campaign trail in the final days of the election.

That prediction didn’t turn out to be correct.

And there’s no urgency coming from the White House.

The verdict’s in and there was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election

“Election officials in dozens of states representing both political parties said that there was no evidence that fraud or other irregularities played a role in the outcome of the presidential race, amounting to a forceful rebuke of President Trump’s portrait of a fraudulent election,” the New York Times reports.

And the Washington Post adds that a Pennsylvania postal service worker Republicans had cited claiming fraud has told investigators that he fabricated the allegations.

White House officials admit — privately, of course — that the handwriting is on the wall.

“This is unsustainable,” a senior White House official tells NBC’s Peter Alexander, explaining that there’s no path to victory for Trump.

“It’s not wrong for Biden’s team to call it ‘theater.’”

The uncalled presidential states as of publication time

  • Arizona: Biden is ahead by 12,813 votes, 49.4 percent to 49.0 percent (98% in).
  • Georgia: Biden is ahead by 14,149 votes, 49.5 percent to 49.2 percent (99% in).
  • North Carolina: Trump is ahead by 74,870 votes, 50.0 percent to 48.7 percent (98% in).
  • Alaska: Trump is ahead by 47,767 votes, 58.0 percent to 38.1 percent (75% in).

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

4,924,464: Joe Biden’s lead in the popular vote at the time of publication

10,334,475: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 137,765 more than yesterday morning.)

241,627: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 1,465 more than yesterday morning.)

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

61,964: The number of people currently hospitalized with coronavirus

55: The number of days until the January 5 Senate runoffs.

70: The number of days until Inauguration Day.

Georgia runoff watch by Ben Kamisar

Republicans have both eyes on the Georgia runoffs, with the GOP’s control of the Senate the last bulwark against a Democratic House and White House. And it appears that the focus on Georgia is influencing a lot of the party’s behavior right now.

Yesterday’s Runoff Watch focused on the calls from the two GOP candidates there, Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue (Perdue is expected to face a runoff although NBC has not yet called his race), who are bashing the secretary of state and calling for him to resign. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported Tuesday that the two senators made that statement amid pressure from the president and top allies “lest he tweet a negative word about them and risk divorcing them from his base ahead of the consequential runoff.”

NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reported Tuesday that Vice President Mike Pence will campaign in Georgia later this month. But as most Republican senators refuse to acknowledge President-elect Joe Biden, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the GOP Senate Majority Whip, connected the party’s fate in the runoff with keeping Trump engaged enough to help.

“We need his voters. And he has a tremendous following out there,” he told Politico, before adding that Trump is “trying to get through the final stages of his election and determine the outcome there. But when that’s all said and done, however it comes out, we want him helping in Georgia.”

“Political theatrics”

The Trump administration dug into their claims on Tuesday that Joe Biden isn’t the president-elect yet — with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo going as far to say that there will be a “smooth transition to our second Trump administration”. But President-elect Biden said that the Trump administration’s refusal to accept the election results won’t interfere in his team’s planning.

“The ability for the administration in any way by failure to recognize us — our win — does not change the dynamic at all of what we are able to do,” Biden said. He added, “I am confident that the fact that they are not willing to acknowledge we won at this point is not of much consequence in our planning and what we are able to do between now and January 20.”

Biden’s senior legal counsel Bob Bauer called the ongoing lawsuits by the Trump campaign “noise, not really law, theatrics, not really lawsuits.” The Trump campaign is currently pursuing lawsuits in key battleground states to overturn certain vote counts or stop the inclusion of mail in ballots. Here’s Bauer on the possible effects of any recount: “Since 2000, in 31 statewide recounts, the average change in votes was 430, and the median change was 267. End of story. These margins cannot be overcome in recounts. So the recounts are yet another piece of the political theatrics.”

Bottom line: Team Biden is downplaying Trump’s refusal to recognize the election results.

For now.

Tweet of the day

The Lid: How it happened

This week on The Lid, we’re looking inside the electorate at how Joe Biden got to 270. Don’t miss the first two pods, which look at Black voters and suburban voters.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

It looks like the Supreme Court is poised to uphold Obamacare.

Biden isn’t yet getting top-level intelligence reports because the White House hasn’t acknowledged his victory.

The president-elect is calling Trump’s failure to concede “an embarrassment.”

Behind the scenes, White House advisors aren’t optimistic about their legal challenges.

An alleged USPS postal worker in Pennsylvania whose claims were elevated by top Republicans is now recanting his claims of fraud.

Stacey Abrams is looking ahead to the January runoffs.