The Note: Damage from Trump's defiance grows

Legal challenges appear to be about something Trumpier than hanging on to the WH

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Instead, they appear to be about something even Trumpier than hanging on to the presidency. If the goal is to delay, sow confusion, raise doubts and thus keep questions lingering over the election in perpetuity -- to maintain the fight for its own sake -- the strategy begins to make sense.

A cascading series of deadlines will almost certainly lead to Biden becoming president Jan. 20, whether Trump admits it or not.

In the meantime, threats aimed at election officials have become nearly commonplace -- and bipartisan, as the secretaries of state in Arizona and Georgia attest. Polls are showing widespread Republican mistrust for the fairness of the election, while most Republican senators still hesitate before labeling Biden the president-elect.

In the view of a growing number of Democrats, Trump and his campaign are feeding misinformation that both delays the Biden transition and positions the president to lead the GOP going forward -- regardless of the facts of this election.

"This is malicious speech, designed to damage and disenfranchise," Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman said Wednesday on ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast.

The impact would be real even in times of relative health and prosperity. These are not those times.

Election latest: Joe Biden leads the popular vote total with 79,377,327 votes and is projected to have 306 electoral votes. President Donald Trump follows with 73,522,395 popular votes and is projected to have 232 electoral votes.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Biden did something Wednesday that Trump has not done publicly in months. He met with frontline health care workers during this pandemic.

It wasn't flashy, controversial or even good TV over Zoom, but it was evidence of how Biden will likely govern.

When the president of the Minnesota Nurses Association apologized for getting emotional as she talked about her work caring for dying patients, Biden said, "No, you got me emotional."

His signature ability to empathize came through. He asked questions about their personal protective equipment supplies and listened when one woman expressed anxieties about whether front-line workers could afford time off if they get sick.

The scene was a sharp contrast in tone, style and priorities compared to Trump. Back in May the president notoriously argued with a nurse who told him about mask shortages in her hospital. In August, he took heat for meeting with frontline workers at the White House, but without anyone wearing masks.

Though the president-elect said again Wednesday that the delay in a formal transition could impair the roll out of a new vaccine, Biden's team continues to demonstrate their intense focus on the pandemic and desire to hit the ground running in January.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema and Alex Hosenball

Nearly two weeks after Pennsylvania cinched the presidency for Biden, the Trump campaign continues to be laser-focused on the Keystone State as the cornerstone for invalidating the results of the presidential election.

Following Rudy Giuliani's tumultuous court debut earlier this week at the U.S. District Court in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the judge presiding over the case gave Giuliani's team more time to file a motion for a preliminary injunction on Wednesday. The move pushes the next steps in the case back a day, from Thursday to Friday. The canceled Thursday hearing would have involved both sides presenting evidence to the judge, including a further examination into the Trump campaign's alleged claims of voting misconduct in counties that tend to favor Democrats.

Meanwhile, the Trump campaign made several last-ditch filings Wednesday evening that are centered on allegations of representatives being unable to “meaningfully observe” the vote count. Among them is a call for federal Judge Matthew Brann to issue a ruling that renders the election results "defective" while providing for the Pennsylvania General Assembly to choose the state's electors. Such a move would be against the state's constitution. In order to prove that point, the Trump campaign also intends to seek to obtain "access to the outside and inside envelopes for the approximately 1.5 million mail-in ballots at issue" so they can “examine these envelopes to determine the percentage of mail ballots which were illegally counted.”

As for what comes next? Longtime Democratic Party attorney Mark A. Aronchick, who is representing Allegheny, Chester, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties in the case, told ABC News in an email, "Time to just wait for the Judge to rule."


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Thursday morning's special edition of "Start Here" features ABC News Chief National Correspondent Matt Gutman, who takes us inside an Oklahoma hospital as America nears 250,000 COVID-19 deaths. We hear from nursing home worker Katy Tenner, who explains the dangers the elderly continue to face. And ABC News Chief Medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton brings us a vaccine update and tells us about the first FDA-authorized at-home COVID-19 test.

ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein that he believes President Donald Trump is aware of his favorable positioning to run for another term in 2024 and will maintain an active presence in the public sphere after leaving office. "I guarantee he will be that president that doesn't fade away," Fetterman said on the podcast. "He is going to use his 90 million followers and he is going to continue to lob chaos into the process after Joe Biden takes over because why not, at this point? And I'm not taking any of this seriously as an American -- not as a Democrat -- as an American."


  • Vice President Mike Pence leads a White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting at 2:30 p.m.
  • Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., will speak at a campaign rally for Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in Perry, Georgia, at 3 p.m.
  • Democratic U.S. Senate nominees, the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, host a campaign rally in Jonesboro, Georgia, at 4:30 p.m.
  • President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speak virtually with the National Governors Association about COVID-19 in Wilmington, Delaware. Later, Biden and Harris will deliver remarks.
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