Trump's effort to overturn the election results may be inept. But it's still a scandal.

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 delivers update on so-called Operation Warp Speed coronavirus treatment program in televised address from the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington
President Donald Trump pauses as he speaks about the "Operation Warp Speed" program in the Rose Garden of the White House on Nov. 13, 2020.Carlos Barria / Reuters

WASHINGTON — Forget Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Or Trump’s impeachment for asking Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden.

Arguably the biggest political scandal we’ve ever seen in this country is playing right before our eyes: President Trump and his allies are trying to reverse the election results of a contest he lost.

It doesn’t look like the scheme is going to work. The Wayne County (Detroit) Board of Canvassers last night certified its election results after its two Republican members initially withheld support. (Biden won Wayne County, 68 percent to 31 percent, and the state of Michigan by 148,000 votes.)

But being unsuccessful doesn’t erase the magnitude of the scandal — or the fact that the president of the United States has cheered it on every step of the way.

Consider the last 24 hours:

  • The two Republican members of Wayne County’s canvassing board voted against certifying its election results before reversing course, and Trump praised the action: “Wow! Michigan just refused to certify the election results! Having courage is a beautiful thing. The USA stands proud!”
  • In Nevada — a state Trump lost by 2.4 percentage points — the president’s campaign team filed a lawsuit asking a judge to either declare Trump the winner or to reject the state’s election results.
  • In Pennsylvania — which Biden won by more than 82,000 votes — Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani was in court asking a judge to overturn the state’s results. (“At bottom, you’re asking this court to invalidate some 6.8 million votes thereby disenfranchising every single voter in the commonwealth,” the judge said.)
  • And to top it off, the president on Tuesday fired the federal government’s head of cybersecurity, who had debunked many of the conspiracy theories that Trump’s team had been promoting.

Bottom line: Trump’s efforts to overturn the election have stumbled and gained no significant traction yet. But it’s still disturbing to watch, especially with so many elected Republicans staying silent.

And it provides a road map for someone else to do it better next time.

That said, we’re going to find out at 6:00 p.m. ET if Trump is going to put his money where his mouth is — that is, pay the required $7.9 million for Wisconsin’s recount by today’s state deadline.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

5,713,311: Joe Biden’s lead in the popular vote at the time of publication.

11,440,082: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 160,231 more than yesterday morning.)

249,820: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 1,627 more than yesterday morning.)

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

76,823: The number of people currently hospitalized with coronavirus 87: The age of Sen. Chuck Grassley, the second-oldest senator and one who tested positive for coronavirus yesterday.

12 million: The number of Americans who could lose unemployment aid by the end of the year if Congress doesn’t act.

95 percent: The effectiveness rate of Pfizer’s vaccine, which it hopes to get approval for “within days”.

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

63: The number of days until Inauguration Day.

Biden team: Transition delay could hurt vaccine distribution

The General Services Administration still hasn’t signed a letter of ascertainment to officially begin the transition process from a Trump to Biden administration. And now, President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisory committee is saying that lag in transition could force a delay in Americans’ ability to get a Covid-19 vaccine.

NBC’s Marianna Sotomayor reports: Dr. David Kessler, Dr. Vivek Murthy and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith all strongly stressed that without communication and full coordination with the Trump administration and national health organizations, the Biden administration will face significant challenges in distributing vaccines, ramping up rapid testing and shoring up necessary personal protective equipment. Kessler also noted that the lack of preparedness can cost the Biden administration public confidence if they don’t get the response right from the beginning.

Kessler said, “Dr. Fauci said this week that the GSA administrators withholding of ascertainment could delay vaccine distribution. Our team cannot communicate with them. We're setting up our own recommendations to the president elect for the same task. The sooner the Biden transition team can meet with officials working on these questions, the more seamlessly the transition will be the American people.”

Georgia Runoff Watch by Ben Kamisar

In today’s Runoff Watch, Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff is hugging President-elect Joe Biden tight.

Ossoff is up with a new spot this week, in which he defends Biden by arguing that helping him succeed is the “only way to beat this virus,” and echoing Biden’s expert-first approach to combating the coronavirus pandemic.

“But David Produce says he'll do everything in his power to make sure Joe Biden fails, just like he tried to do with President Obama,” Ossoff says in the direct-to-camera spot.

As Georgia Republicans fight among themselves day after day, week after week, the Democratic side seems far more unified.

The Lid: It’s complicated

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at the very unusual political environment in Georgia.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

So, wait, what exactly happened in Wayne County, Mich., last night?

ProPublica reports that the Trump campaign has been pressuring the GOP secretary of state in Georgia for a while now.

Biden will meet virtually with health care workers today; Trump has no public events.

Some GOP governors are backtracking and implementing mask mandates.

Congress doesn’t exactly sound optimistic about a new relief package.

POLITICO looks at the post-election identity crisis Democrats are having in Florida.