The Note: Last throes of Trump legal efforts flirt with dangerous forces

They appear increasingly likely to undermine the Biden presidency.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

They are riddled with half-truths and worse. They will not keep President-elect Joe Biden from assuming the presidency Jan. 20.

But Trump's post-election legal and political efforts are ending not with a whimper but with wild-eyed accusations and last-ditch political maneuverings. Both are testing the foundations of democracy, while flirting with dangerous forces that appear increasingly likely to undermine the Biden presidency at a time where the nation could use some unity.

"It's hard to fathom how this man thinks," Biden said Thursday.

Biden expressed confidence that he would be certified the winner in Michigan -- where his lead is upwards of 150,000 votes -- and of the presidency. But handicapping the likelihood of Trump's success -- which is next to nil -- isn't sufficient at the moment.

The president has lost the election, and Biden and his team are losing time in coordinating on COVID-19 and much more.

There's still more that Trump's backers and the nation as a whole could lose before the president leaves office.

Election latest: Joe Biden leads the popular vote total with 79,641,365 votes and is projected to have 306 electoral votes. President Donald Trump follows with 73,661,779 popular votes and is projected to have 232 electoral votes.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

The most shocking part of Rudy Giuliani's press conference Thursday was the location. Yes, his message was full of the kind of outlandish and nonsensical conspiracy theories usually found in dark corners of the internet, but he was given the green light to hold the event at the Republican National Party headquarters. He may have sounded delusional, but he had the implicit backing of the entire Republican Party.

Plenty of Republicans serving in local office this week have stood by the election results and talked openly about the dangers of one party or one candidate questioning a fair election. But plenty of Republicans in Washington have not.

Asked if he supports the president's new political strategy to delay the formal certification of votes and talk to Republican legislators about using the electoral college to disregard popular vote totals, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy deflected.

"I think I'm clear on all of that. I think every legal vote should be counted," he said, which of course was not clear and not to the point.

So far, Biden has answered the president's political waves with calm.

He was asked Thursday what his message would be to immigrants who came to America for its political stability and democracy.

"'Hang on. I'm on my way.' That's what I say to them," Biden said in response.

Biden stuck to his trademark philosophy this week: that a sick nation is best healed with slow and bipartisan work and that undemocratic moves are best countered with actions that look presidential.

The TIP with Kendall Karson

It's an extraordinary gambit, but one that Trump is now actively pursuing. With Michigan's certification process thrown into turmoil by repeated reversals from two Republican members of the Wayne County board of canvassers, Trump is capitalizing on the chaos and sowing serious doubt along the way.

On Friday, the president is expected to meet with Michigan's top state lawmakers, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield, at the White House after requesting the visit, sources tell ABC News.

It's a stunning move that comes just days after members of his legal team have been openly suggesting that their last recourse might be the GOP-controlled legislature intervening by overriding the will of the people and choosing their own slate of pro-Trump electors to vote for the president at the Electoral College's December meeting. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson called it "improper" for any candidate, of either party, to "attempt to interfere with or obstruct" in the ongoing process to certify.

As Trump tests the bounds of his grip on the GOP, his latest maneuver is in arguably the hardest swing state to win back: Biden leads in Michigan by more than 150,000 votes. The state board of canvassers is set to certify the election statewide on Monday. The prospect of the Michigan Legislature intervening in a process that by state law they are not involved in is not one that has been publicly embraced in Lansing. Shirkey told Bridge Michigan, a local news outlet, "that's not going to happen," and a spokesperson for Chatfield has told ABC News that the speaker has been clear about his position that the person who receives the most votes in Michigan will receive Michigan's electoral votes.

If the state legislature were to appoint pro-Trump electors, under pressure from the president, Samuel Bagenstos, a professor of law at the University of Michigan, who specializes in constitutional law, said it would be an "outrageous subversion of democracy."


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Friday morning's episode features ABC News Chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl, who brings us the latest in President Donald Trump's quest to subvert election results in Michigan. Then, FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub explains why the campaign's rhetoric is damaging to America's voting system. And ABC News Chief Business and Economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis discusses the economic fallout behind the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Thanksgiving travel guidance.

FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, Galen Druke speaks with FiveThirtyEight senior writer Perry Bacon Jr. and Greg Bluestein of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to understand the trends that turned Georgia blue and just how durable they are.


  • President Donald Trump participates in a virtual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economic leaders’ meeting at 6:50 a.m. and delivers remarks on delivering lower prescription drug prices for all Americans at 2:30 p.m.
  • Vice President Mike Pence participates in a campaign tour for Sens. David Purdue and Kelly Loeffler starting in Canton, Georgia, on Friday at 1:05 p.m. Later, he travels to Gainesville, Georgia, to speak at another campaign event at 4:10 p.m.
  • President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris meet with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer in Wilmington, Delaware, on Friday.
  • Sunday on ABC's "This Week": ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos goes one-on-one exclusively with President-elect Joe Biden's Chief of Staff Ronald Klain. Plus, the Powerhouse Roundtable discusses all the week's politics with former New Jersey Governor and ABC News Contributor Chris Christie, former Chicago Mayor and ABC News Contributor Rahm Emanuel, Democratic Strategist and CNN Political Commentator Karen Finney and Dispatch Staff Writer and CNN Political Analyst Sarah Isgur.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. The Note will be back after Thanksgiving on Monday, Nov. 30.