Trump is trying to overturn an election he didn't win. We didn't get here by accident

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 stops to speak to reporters as he prepared to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House.
President Donald Trump stops to speak to reporters as he prepared to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House.Pete Marovich / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — On Thursday, Georgia officials confirmed through a hand count that Joe Biden had won the state in the presidential election.

Today, on Friday, President Trump meets with top GOP lawmakers from Michigan in a bid to overturn that state’s election results after Biden carried it by more than 150,000 votes.

That jarring juxtaposition — a clear, decisive presidential win by Biden followed by an attempt by Trump to erase it — not only represents the biggest political scandal we can remember.

It also marks the lowest point of Trump’s presidency.

But we didn’t get here by accident.

Over the last four years, we’ve seen Republican leaders in Congress — a separate and equally powerful branch of government — assist Trump, appease him or stay silent. ("The president has every right to look into allegations and to request recounts under the law," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said after news organizations declared Biden the 2020 winner.)

We’ve seen how conservative media paints a radically different view of American politics than other news outlets do. (Fox News Republicans have different views on race, Confederate symbols, immigration and the coronavirus than the rest of the public, according to a new PRRI study.)

We’ve seen how many Trump administration officials put service to the president ahead of service to the public. (“Your oath is not to the president of the United States but to the Constitution and the American people,” former Bush 43 administration official Matt Becker wrote, urging GSA Administrator Emily Murphy to acknowledge Biden’s win and begin the presidential transition.)

And we’ve seen a president who has consistently demonstrated that he puts his own political interests first. (He was impeached, after all, for asking Ukraine’s president to dig up dirt on Joe Biden.)

This is how you do it

Of course, it didn’t have to be this way.

On Thursday — as Trump and his allies were trying to overturn the election results — Republican congressional candidate Tom Kean Jr., who narrowly lost the N.J.-7 race to Democratic incumbent Tom Malinowski, released this statement:

“Congressman Malinowski has my congratulations and my commitment for a bipartisan partnership in my capacity in the New Jersey Senate as we both continue to represent New Jersey in difficult times.

“The one percent margin between Rep. Malinowski and myself demonstrates the desire for strong leadership, but also for the need to find bipartisan solutions to the challenges facing our country right now. Our nation and the people of this Congressional district need to look forward.”

That’s how you do it.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

5,979,586: Joe Biden’s lead in the popular vote at the time of publication

12,284: Biden’s vote lead in Georgia, after a hand tally of the resultsreaffirmed his lead there.

78: How old Joe Biden is today, on his birthday.

11,802,019: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 191,011 more than yesterday morning.)

253,633: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 1,955 more than yesterday morning.)

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

80,698: The number of people currently hospitalized with coronavirus

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

61: The number of days until Inauguration Day.

Tweet of the day

Georgia Runoff Watch by Ben Kamisar

Today’s Runoff Watch looks at the boatload of money that’s already allocated for Georgia’s Senate runoffs.

It’s an unreal amount of money over such a short time — $86.6 million has been spent and booked in the special election, with $72 million booked and spent for the regular runoff, for a total of $158.6 in TV and radio spending in both races combined, according to Advertising Analytics.

And there’s bound to be a whole lot more money booked between now and January, as the New York Times points out.

Biden says he’s already decided on his Treasury pick

President-elect Joe Biden announced on Thursday that he has decided on who he will nominate to lead the Treasury Department, and that he’d announce that choice sometime “just before or just after Thanksgiving”.

If Biden makes that decision anytime between today and next Friday, it will be announced 17 to 24 days after Election Day. Here’s how that compares to some recent past presidents’ announcements for the Treasury post.

According to Senate data:

  • Donald Trump announced his pick (Steven Mnuchin) 23 days after Election Day.
  • Barack Obama announced his first term pick (Timothy Geithner) 21 days after Election Day.
  • George W. Bush announced his first term pick (Paul O’Neill) 44 days after Election Day — however, it took far longer for Bush to be projected as president-elect compared to Biden, Trump and Obama.

The Lid: Fox and hound

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at new numbers about the views of Republicans who watch Fox News — versus those who don’t.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Biden and Harris will meet in person with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

Mitt Romney says he can’t imagine “a more undemocratic action” than what Trump has done.

Here’s how Trump is putting pressure on the vote certification process.

Trump may not show up to the (virtual) G-20.

Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock campaigned together yesterday.

WHO is now advising against the use of Remdesivir for patients hospitalized with Covid.