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Trump spends post-election week spreading misinformation and chaos as virus rages on

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: President Donald Trump returns to the White House after news media declared Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Joe Biden to be the winner of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, in Washington.
President Donald Trump returns to the White House after news media declared Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Joe Biden to be the winner of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, in Washington.Carlos Barria / Reuters

WASHINGTON — The past week after news organizations like NBC News projected Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential election has epitomized the last four years of the Trump presidency.

You have a president who’s been unable to admit he lost. (NBC News last night called Arizona for Biden, which brings his electoral vote total to 290. With Biden still ahead in Georgia, a win there would increase that to 306.)

You have his administration officials still carrying out his orders. (GSA Administrator Emily Murphy has yet to recognize Biden’s victory, preventing immediate funding for his transition.)

You have most of the Republican Party — though not all of it — either supporting Trump’s claims or trying to stay silent. (Yet more and more cracks within the GOP are beginning to emerge.)

You have plenty of chaos. (See the firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the staff shakeup at the Pentagon.)

You have lots of misinformation. (Just check out this dangerous and factually incorrect tweet from the president.)

You have little to no president-ing going on. (Trump has not delivered public remarks since Nov. 5, and there’s been no movement whatsoever in passing new coronavirus relief.)

And most important of all, it’s coming during the worst spike yet in new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations since the virus arrived in the country. (There have been nearly 1 million new coronavirus cases and 7,500 deaths in the U.S. since Trump’s last remarks on Nov. 5, per NBC’s Peter Alexander and Sally Bronston.)

The coronavirus — and the federal government’s response to it, or lack thereof — represents arguably the biggest American public policy failure since Vietnam.

And you have a president who’s been trying to convince the American people he wants to keep his job, despite the election results, but who hasn’t been doing the work of president.

History is going to look back on this past week … and it’s not going to be a pretty chapter.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

5,310,123: Joe Biden’s lead in the popular vote at the time of publication

11,434: Joe Biden’s lead in Arizona, where NBC News projected him as the winner overnight

10,629,682: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 165,615 more than yesterday morning.)

244,093: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 1,139 more than yesterday morning.)

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

67,096: The number of people currently hospitalized with coronavirus

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

68: The number of days until Inauguration Day.

The uncalled presidential states as of publication time

  • Arizona: NBC News projected it for Joe Biden on Thursday.
  • Georgia: Biden is ahead by 14,149 votes, 49.5 percent to 49.2 percent (99% in).
  • North Carolina: Trump is ahead by 71,399 votes, 50.0 percent to 48.7 percent (98% in).

Georgia runoff watch by Ben Kamisar

Today’s Runoff Watch looks at the money in the Georgia runoff races — while NBC still rates GOP Sen. David Perdue’s race as too close to call, the spending landscape certainly looks like the candidates are expecting to see two runoffs.

As of Thursday, there had been a combined $45 million spent on both runoffs, per our friends at Advertising Analytics. And there are tens of millions more booked on TV in the coming weeks.

Perdue has already booked $19.4 million on TV and radio from Friday through the election, with Democrat Jon Ossoff with just $1.2 million booked so far, per Advertising Analytics.

In the other Senate race, GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler has booked $21.2 million to Democratic Rev. Raphael Warnock’s $2.2 million.

Outside groups and party committees are already beginning to ready the cavalry as well, setting early expectations for an uber-expensive set of races.

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 yesterday’s pod on how young voters showed up for Joe Biden.

Shameless plug

NBC’s Lester Holt will anchor a second broadcast edition of “Nightly News Kids Edition” this Saturday, November 14 on NBC at 8:30 a.m. ET (or check your local listings). NBC News correspondents will walk viewers through what comes next in the political process with President-elect Joe Biden and what a vaccine is and how it works as Covid-19 cases continue to rise across the country.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

China is now congratulating Biden as the winner.

GOP senators are starting to push for Biden to get security briefings.

Corey Lewandowski is the latest Trump official to test positive for Covid.

Trump is floating improbable plans as he tries to figure out a way to stay in power.

Biden has been in conversations with GOP officials, his newly-named chief of staff says.

American businesses are going bankrupt — as Washington remains unable to pass more relief.

POLITICO profiles Elissa Slotkin.

Biden is signaling a crackdown on Wall Street.

Justice Alito is laying down some markers on Covid restrictions.

The Midwest is facing a severe lack of hospital beds.

Far-right protestors are planning to gather in DC Saturday.