The Note: Deadlines and dead ends pile up losses for Trump

What Trump is pleading for is as improbable as it is breathtaking.

November 30, 2020, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

President Donald Trump could not be more clear in what he's looking for -- what he now needs -- to hang on to power.

"It will take a brave judge or a brave legislature," the president said on Fox News Sunday morning.

What Trump is pleading for is as improbable as it is breathtaking. But there appears to be just enough political bravery of a different sort, coming from state and federal judges as well as state lawmakers, to put the presidency where the voters delivered it early in this long month.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Nov. 29, 2020, after stepping off Marine One.
President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Nov. 29, 2020, after stepping off Marine One.
Patrick Semansky/AP

The weekend brought an end to Wisconsin's partial recount -- as funded by the Trump campaign -- with President-elect Joe Biden actually netting 87 additional votes, in results scheduled to be finalized Monday. The Trump campaign also lost yet another court challenge in Pennsylvania, this time with the state Supreme Court tossing out a challenge to absentee ballots.

Much attention has rightly focused on the unwillingness of Republican members of Congress to state what's obvious -- that Biden won and Trump lost.

But something profound has been happening at other levels of government. Lawmakers and judges from both political parties have rejected the president's increasingly outlandish claims that he should be awarded a second term.

Those claims have expanded even as Trump's losses pile up in courthouses and state houses. It has not been pretty, but the system continues to hold.

Election latest: Joe Biden leads the popular vote total with 80,104,118 votes and is projected to have 306 electoral votes. President Donald Trump follows with 73,918,712 popular votes and is projected to have 232 electoral votes.

The RUNDOWN with John Verhovek

Now that Biden, who will likely be sporting a walking boot for the near future after fracturing his foot over the weekend, is formally able to begin transition work, the contours of his administration are beginning to come into clearer view.

This week Biden will name key members of his economic team who are expected to be led by incoming Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, a pick the president-elect himself has said holds appeal for both the progressive and moderate wings of the party.

But while he looks to build a team that balances the ideological rifts that still very much remain in his party, it is clear that Biden is keeping his pledge to have an administration that "looks like America" in mind as he moves forward.

Already Biden has nominated the first woman to lead the nation's intelligence community and Yellen, if confirmed, would be the first woman to head the Treasury Department in its over 230-year history.

And on Sunday, Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris named an all-female team that will lead the White House communications shop.

The TIP with Alex Hosenball and Benjamin Siegel

On Monday, the Pennsylvania legislature is set to end its annual session -- almost certainly without Republicans taking any action to replace the state's voter-awarded electors with their own, hand-picked slate.

Last week's extraordinary public meeting in Gettysburg -- with Trump campaign lawyers Rudolph Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, and featuring a phone call from the president himself – culminated with promises of a GOP resolution to "appoint delegates to the Electoral College."

PHOTO: Trump Campaign Senior Legal Adviser Jenna Ellis speaks about the 2020 U.S. presidential election results at Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, Nov. 19, 2020.
Trump Campaign Senior Legal Adviser Jenna Ellis speaks as Trump campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn whispers to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, personal attorney to President Donald Trump, during a news conference about the 2020 U.S. presidential election results at Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, Nov. 19, 2020.
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

But state Republican leaders have said for months they would not go rogue and appoint their own electors. In a statement on Saturday, Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler and House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff -- both Republicans -- issued a joint statement, saying they did not have enough time to consider the resolution before Monday.


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Monday morning's episode features Boston Children's hospital chief innovation officer and ABC News contributor Dr. John Brownstein, who tells us why school closings are being scrutinized as health officials fear a new surge of COVID-19 cases after holiday travel. ABC News Chief Global Affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz examines Iran's next moves after one of its nuclear scientists was killed in an apparent assassination. And, Jen Lada from our partners at ESPN explains how COVID-19 led to a number of football firsts in college and the NFL.

FiveThirtyEight's Politics Podcast. Three weeks after the election, President Donald Trump is still refusing to concede and making attempts to subvert the results of the election. His legal arguments have largely failed in court, but his campaign has encouraged local election officials to refuse to certify results and suggested state legislators should choose electors who would vote for Trump regardless of their state's vote. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the team discusses the extent to which these anti-democratic efforts have been successful and what precedent they set going forward. The crew also considers how the government is responding to the current surge in coronavirus cases and asks what pollsters should do about falling response rates.


  • President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will receive the Presidential Daily Briefing. After, Biden and Harris will meet with transition advisors.
  • President Donald Trump has lunch with Vice President Mike Pence at 12:30 p.m. at the White House.
  • Vice President Mike Pence leads a governor's video teleconference on COVID-19 response and recovery from the White House at 2 p.m.
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