Trump news live: Latest updates as president banks on Texas lawsuit as last election hope

Donald Trump says a legal challenge filed by Texas’s attorney general – and described by one law professor as the “craziest lawsuit filed to purportedly challenge the election” – is “the big one” that will hand him victory in his quest to overthrow the US election result.

It comes after the US Supreme Court slapped down an attempt by the president’s allies to upend the vote in Pennsylvania. The nine justices rejected the bid out of hand and refused even to hear it.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden has promised to deliver 100 million vaccinations within 100 days of taking office. But the president-elect warned that for this to succeed, the Trump administration would need to buy the stocks it had negotiated for from Pfizer and Moderna and to ramp up manufacturing.

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Trump rewards loyalists with prestigious government jobs while preparing to leave White House

The president has offered some of his close allies and key advisers distinguished government roles in the final days of his White House tenure, appointing his former aide and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway to the board of visitors of the US Air Force Academy.

Several other prominent names were featured in the more than two dozen appointments the White House announced this week, including Elaine Chao, the Trump administration’s transportation secretary and wife to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been appointed to the board of trustees of the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The president also appointed Pamella DeVos, sister-in-law to his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, to the Kennedy Center board of trustees. 

Good thing he cleaned out that swamp.

Chris Riotta has this report.

Joe Sommerlad9 December 2020 15:55

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‘Golf still trumps the environment’: Dunes at Trump’s Aberdeenshire golf course lose protected status

Scotland’s nature agency has said that following construction of the Trump International Golf Links course at Menie, the sand dunes – which had been a “high quality example” of a geological system characteristic of the region – no longer “merit being retained as part of the Site of Special Scientific Interest”.

Despite conservation work by the Trump Organisation to protect the rare habitats and plants remaining on the site, “there is now no longer a reason to protect the dunes at Menie as they do not include enough of the special, natural features for which they were designated”, NatureScot said.

“This is a bitterly disappointing decision which shows that golf still trumps the environment when it comes to Scotland’s natural heritage,” said Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the London School of Economics’ climate change research institute.

Mr Ward warned that the news “opened the door to further harm to the remaining dunes from the construction of a second Trump golf course at the site”.

Andy Gregory9 December 2020 15:36

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Biden seeks to downplay concerns over defence secretary pick

Joe Biden has made his case for retired Army General Lloyd Austin to be secretary of defence, in his first public confirmation of his choice, urging Congress to waive a legal prohibition against a recently serving military officer running the Pentagon.

With concern rising in Congress about eroding civilian control of the military, Mr Biden suggested he felt a need to counter an emerging narrative that Gen Austin’s nomination blurs the lines between civil and military roles.

“Given the immense and urgent threats and challenges our nation faces, he should be confirmed swiftly,” Biden wrote in The Atlantic

Sceptics of the wisdom of granting a waiver include Kori Schake, director of foreign and defence policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute think tank, who tweeted:

Andy Gregory9 December 2020 15:24

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Three-quarters of Republicans anticipating Trump 2024 run

Three-quarters of Republicans anticipate that Donald Trump will run again for president in 2024, according to a poll.

Seventy-six per cent of Republicans told Politico/Morning Consult pollsters they expected Mr Trump to make a second bid for the White House. That dropped to 60 per cent for independents and 47 per cent for Democrats.

The figures suggest that most Republicans recognise that Mr Trump lost the recent presidential election to Joe Biden.

For more on how a second run might work, read on:

Jon Sharman9 December 2020 15:08

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‘This is the big one’: Trump pledges to intervene in Texas election challenge branded ‘insane’

Donald Trump has tweeted that he will be “intervening” in a legal bid in Texas to stop the result of the presidential election, as the move is branded as “insane”, writes James Crump.

On Tuesday, the state of Texas asked the US Supreme Court to throw out the results of the presidential election in four states, in a long-shot attempt to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Jon Sharman9 December 2020 14:49

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Trump crows as German Covid death toll grows

Donald Trump has mocked the plight of Germans affected by coronavirus as he attacked critics of his own response to the pandemic.

Quoting reports that daily deaths in Germany are now approaching 600 – and following an emotional public address on the matter by Angela Merkel – Mr Trump tweeted: “Germany has consistently been used by my obnoxious critics as the country that we should follow on the way to handle the China Virus. So much for that argument. I love Germany – Vaccines on the way!!!”

The US, of which Mr Trump is president, reported an average of 2,259 deaths and 205,661 new cases each day over the past week.

Jon Sharman9 December 2020 14:33

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‘Powerful vaccine in itself’: Trump says it’s ‘terrific’ that nearly 15 per cent of Americans got Covid

Donald Trump has said it is “terrific” that nearly 15 per cent of Americans have contracted the coronavirus since the outbreak began in the US, citing the “powerful vaccine” of herd immunity, writes Louise Hall.

During an Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit on Tuesday, Mr Trump was asked how Americans in areas with surging cases should protect themselves over Christmas ahead of the likely distribution of a vaccine.

Jon Sharman9 December 2020 14:09

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Texas election lawsuit ‘the big one’, Trump says

Remember this when it falls apart.

Donald Trump has described a lawsuit brought by the state of Texas as “the big one” that will boost his attempts to overthrow the result of the presidential election.

Texas’ attorney general has sued four battleground states that Joe Biden carried – Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – in the US Supreme Court over what he claims were illegal changes to voting methods.

Ken Paxton wants the court to delay the Electoral College’s confirmation of Mr Biden’s election victory, and for the states to be made to disregard the electorate’s votes and choose new electors.

Steve Vladeck, a University of Texas School of Law professor, called it the “craziest lawsuit filed to purportedly challenge the election”.

Mr Paxton’s lawsuit is the latest in a series of attempts made by Mr Trump and his backers to overturn the election result, even though there is no evidence of the widespread voter fraud and malpractice they claim took place.

Mr Trump pledged to intervene in the Texas case, but did not say whether it would be his campaign or the Justice Department doing so.

Yesterday the US Supreme Court rejected out of hand an attempt by Trump supporters to discount millions of votes in Pennsylvania, refusing even to hear the case.

Read our story on the Texas lawsuit below:

Jon Sharman9 December 2020 13:58

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Source of money behind GOP’s new Georgia super PAC a mystery

A new Republican super political action committee, Peachtree PAC, is starting a $43m (£32m) TV ad campaign in Georgia on Wednesday, adding to the surge of money being poured into two Senate runoff elections that will determine control of the chamber and the trajectory of Joe Biden s agenda.

But the funding behind the group will likely remain a mystery until well after ballots are cast in the 5 January election.

Jon Sharman9 December 2020 13:37

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Who’s who in Biden’s Cabinet?

Joe Biden has started to formally nominate members of his cabinet, as he officially begins the transition to the White House.

Mr Biden’s team has been vetting potential candidates for cabinet positions since he was announced the winner of 3 November’s election, despite Donald Trump repeatedly refusing to concede and initially blocking the transition process.

Jon Sharman9 December 2020 13:09

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