HAPPY MONDAY MORNING. TODAY marks the beginning of the post-TRUMP era in American politics. To the extent that he still has political currency, it dwindles every day as Jan. 20, 2021 draws closer. Members of his own party are already suggesting his time is up. His staff is looking for new jobs. Markets are looking up, and analysts say it’s because of the expected calm in U.S. politics. In the U.K., government officials are now saying the TRUMP era was not good for them, and they vow to forge a good relationship with JOE BIDEN. FT on Boris Johnson and Biden
AROUND THE WORLD and at home, TRUMP has been written off.
NOW WE MUST ALL SHIFT OUR THINKING to what the future looks like. Let’s focus this morning on Senate Republicans, who have the largest number of moving pieces.
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL just won reelection by nearly 20 points, and, depending on what happens in Georgia, he could return to lead a Senate Republican Conference that’s larger than most everyone expected in January. His goal in Washington is twofold: exercising power, and protecting his GOP colleagues. In the next few months, those two goals are one and the same. MCCONNELL’S first charge over the next couple of months will be to pump enough money into Georgia to protect Sens. KELLY LOEFFLER and DAVID PERDUE, both staunch TRUMP supporters who are trying to win in a state BIDEN likely just won. Winning in Georgia means his power increases, losing means it decreases — it’s as simple as that.
HE HAS A TOUGH 2022 SENATE MAP. He will have potentially competitive races with Sens. MARCO RUBIO in Florida, LISA MURKOWSKI in Alaska, ROY BLUNT in Missouri, an open seat in North Carolina, ROB PORTMAN in Ohio, an open seat in Pennsylvania, and RON JOHNSON in Wisconsin. The LOEFFLER seat comes up again in 2022, as does MARK KELLY’S Arizona seat, which he will undoubtedly try to win. He has potential retirees in 86-year-old RICHARD SHELBY in Alabama, 87-year-old CHUCK GRASSLEY in Iowa and JERRY MORAN in Kansas.
IN THIS LAME DUCK, McConnell has to deal with Covid relief. Does he try to cut a deal with Speaker NANCY PELOSI and foist it upon TRUMP? Probably best, considering all sides are bone tired with Washignton’s Most Eager Man, Treasury Secretary STEVEN MNUCHIN, now. Government funding runs out Dec. 11. The debt limit comes up next summer. Is it in everyone’s interest to do a big deal that addresses the debt limit?
MUCH IS BEING MADE OF MCCONNELL’S relationship with BIDEN, and fair enough, because the two do have a legislative history. But their history together is more avoiding disaster than reshaping America. NYT’s Carl Hulse on McConnell and Biden
SO WHAT WILL MCCONNELL DO with TRUMP and his unsubstantiated claims that the election has been stolen from him? MCCONNELL and the Senate GOP will give TRUMP room to make his case, but don’t expect that will last long. MCCONNELL is loyal to TRUMP, but he’s a realist.
ON COVID RELIEF … WAPO’S ERICA WERNER, PAUL KANE and YASMEEN ABUTALEB: “Members of Biden’s transition team … are expected to begin conversations with congressional Democrats and aides this coming week to map out a strategy for the lame-duck session, with the aim of getting money for their priorities in spending legislation before the end of the year, two people familiar with the developments said Sunday.”
NEW — WEST WING WATCH: ANITA DUNN, who served as a senior adviser and strategist for BIDEN, is returning to SKDK as a partner. She is expected to rejoin the firm in the next few weeks. In addition to Dunn, the firm’s managing director GREG MINOFF led the Biden campaign’s direct mail and vote-by-mail program in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona. The firm also worked with the NAACP and AFL-CIO and the #WeHaveHerBack and #VoteForHer campaigns.
DRIVING THE DAY … BIDEN and KAMALA HARRIS will receive a briefing from his transition Covid-19 advisory board in Wilmington, Del. He will deliver remarks on his plans to beat Covid-19 and rebuild the economy. The two will also hold briefings with transition advisers.
— WHO’S ADVISING BIDEN ON COVID-19: David Kessler, Vivek Murthy and Marcella Nunez-Smith are serving as co-chairs of Biden’s transition Covid-19 advisory board. OTHER MEMBERS: Luciana Borio, Rick Bright, Ezekiel Emanuel, Atul Gawande, Celine Gounder, Julie Morita, Michael Osterholm, Loyce Pace, Robert Rodriguez, Eric Goosby. More from Dan Diamond on the advisory board
THE BACKDROP — “Pandemic on course to overwhelm U.S. health system before Biden takes office,” by Dan Goldberg and Alice Miranda Ollstein: “The United States’ surging coronavirus outbreak is on pace to hit nearly 1 million new cases a week by the end of the year — a scenario that could overwhelm health systems across much of the country and further complicate President-elect Joe Biden’s attempts to coordinate a response.
“Biden, who is naming his own coronavirus task force Monday, has pledged to confront new shortages of protective gear for health workers and oversee distribution of masks, test kits and vaccines while beefing up contact tracing and reengaging with the World Health Organization. He will also push Congress to pass a massive Covid-19 relief package and pressure the governors who’ve refused to implement mask mandates for new public health measures as cases rise.
“But all of those actions — a sharp departure from the Trump administration’s patchwork response that put the burden on states— will have to wait until Biden takes office. Congress, still feeling reverberations from the election, may opt to simply run out the clock on its legislative year. Meanwhile, the virus is smashing records for new cases and hospitalizations as cold weather drives gatherings indoors and people make travel plans for the approaching holidays.”
THE PRESIDENT has no public events scheduled. VP MIKE PENCE will lead a White House coronavirus task force meeting at 3 p.m. in the White House Situation Room. Gabby Orr on the split between Trump’s family and allies about conceding … Alex Isenstadt on GOPers rushing to fill Trump’s power vacuum
WSJ ED BOARD: “Mr. Trump hasn’t conceded and claims to have won the election if only legal votes are counted. But he’ll have to overturn Mr. Biden’s leads in some combination of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada, and that’s a very long shot. The deadlines for vote counting and official validation are fixed in law and inexorable. Mr. Trump isn’t obliged to concede or congratulate his opponent if he loses, though it would be better for the country and his own legacy if he did.”
ALEX THOMPSON: “Pressure mounts on federal agency to affirm Biden victory”: “Former Republican White House officials and veterans of past presidential transition are calling for the government to begin the formal transfer of power from President Donald Trump to President-elect Joe Biden.
“‘While there will be legal disputes requiring adjudication, the outcome is sufficiently clear that the transition process must now begin,’ the nonpartisan Center for Presidential Transition wrote in a letter exclusively obtained by POLITICO. The letter is signed by Democratic and Republican experts in transitions, including George W. Bush’s former chief of staff Josh Bolten and the former Republican Governor of Utah Mike Leavitt. The letter was also signed by Bill Clinton’s first chief of staff Thomas (Mack) McLarty and Barack Obama’s Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. …
“The letter raises the pressure on the General Services Administration, whose administrator, Emily Murphy, has resisted affirming that Biden won the election. In a statement released Saturday, the agency said, ‘an ascertainment has not yet been made. GSA and its Administrator will continue to abide by, and fulfill, all requirements under the law.’ The agency did not comment further on Sunday.
“Until Murphy ascertains that Biden is the president-elect, the Biden transition cannot access government funds or communicate with the federal agencies they will be staffing. Experts say that the delay could hinder the Biden effort. ‘Every day counts in a transition, this year more than any transition since 1932,’ said David Marchick, the director of the Center for Presidential Transition.”
UP NEXT — “Washington-bound travelers finding higher airfares, hotel rates for Jan. 20 presidential inauguration,” by WaPo’s Keith Alexander
THE UNITY IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY LASTED … well, it never really existed. After Rep. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-N.Y.) spoke to ASTEAD HERNDON of the NYT, and sniped at the center of the party, Rep. CONOR LAMB (D-Pa.) returned in kind. “I respect her and how hard she works. And what she did in an extremely low-turnout Democratic primary. But the fact is that in general elections in these districts — particularly in the ones where President Trump himself campaigns over and over and over again, and attacks members within their own Republican-leaning districts, like me and Representative Slotkin and Representative Spanberger — it’s the message that matters. It’s not a question of door knocking, or Facebook. It matters what policies you stand for, and which ones you don’t. And that is all that we are trying to say.” NYT interview
SPEAKING OF THE HOUSE … ONE OF THE BIG WINNERS of this election cycle is CLF — the House GOP super PAC, which played a key role in several big races. DAN CONSTON, the group’s president, has a new memo out to donors, laying out how CLF — which spent $140 million — keyed in the GOP’s surprising gains.
— FROM THE MEMO: “So far, our record is 36-11, with 7 races outstanding. We have not lost a single defensive incumbent seat yet. Of the 22 races CLF spent $3 million or more in, we are 17-2, with 3 yet to be called. Of races that have been called, our spending ROI is 86%. Of the 10 offense pickups for Republicans so far, CLF spent in 9 and spent $4 million or more in 8 of them. To that point, where CLF went in big, our spending was difference-making – we are on track to win our 10 biggest spending offense districts.” Full memo
ALSO IN THE HOUSE: Rep. RICHARD HUDSON (R-N.C.) is running for secretary of the GOP Conference. His email to colleagues
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — THE COMMUNITY GYMS COALITION, a group representing more than 15,000 gyms, is launching to push Congress for up to $30 billion in relief for the fitness industry, through a grant program similar to the Restaurants Act. Members include CrossFit, Mindbody, Orangetheory Fitness and Zumba Fitness, among others. The group has hired HOLLAND & KNIGHT for lobbying and FIREHOUSE STRATEGIES for public affairs support.
MUST READ … NYT’S BEN SMITH on MAGGIE HABERMAN: “The Trump Presidency Is Ending. So Is Maggie Haberman’s Wild Ride.”
ELENA SCHNEIDER: “Biden swung Georgia left. Now Democrats are racing to do it again”: “Georgia Democrats have been talking up their state as a battleground for years. Republicans have been scoffing at the idea for just as long. Now, both parties are racing to figure out exactly how it swung left in 2020 — and whether it can happen again in just nine weeks.
“Biden is hanging on to a lead of more than 10,000 votes over President Donald Trump in Georgia with a recount pending, a major shift in a rapidly growing and diversifying state. Georgia went to Trump by 5 points in 2016 and hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992. But the results are a demonstration of the possible for Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, the two Democrats heading into Jan. 5 Senate runoffs that will decide whether their party controls Congress next year.
“The tight presidential vote in Georgia also means Democrats face a challenge reassembling their coalition as the state shifts from a presidential election to an off-year runoff. Republicans have their own questions to answer after the startling presidential results. And when a state splits by fractions of a percentage point, any change is significant.
“‘Typically, in runoffs, you’re just trying to turn out your voters again … because it’ll be a smaller universe of voters going back to vote without a presidential race going on,’ said DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond, a Democrat. ‘And [Warnock and Ossoff] will have to build on the coalition Biden built.’” POLITICO
IN ARIZONA — “‘I loved John McCain’: Inside Arizona’s GOP movement to defeat Donald Trump,” by Bryan Bender and Maggie Severns in Phoenix
WALL STREET WATCH — “What CEOs Expect From Biden Presidency: More Predictability,” by WSJ’s Chip Cutter: “Chief executives say they expect that the biggest change with Joe Biden’s administration won’t be sweeping new policies but a more predictable relationship with the White House.
“Many corporate leaders view Mr. Biden as a centrist on business issues and foresee a quieter, less publicly turbulent relationship with the White House over the next four years—even if they don’t always agree with the administration’s policies.
“That dynamic would be a switch from the Trump years, a period in which CEOs got much of what they wanted from Washington, along with no small amount of agita from swings in trade policies and occasional lashings from President Trump’s Twitter feed.” WSJ
Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at [email protected].
IN MEMORIAM — “Seymour Topping, Former Times Journalist and Eyewitness to History, Dies at 98,” by NYT’s Robert McFadden: “Seymour Topping, who chronicled the rise of China and the Cold War in Europe and Asia as a correspondent, shaped the crowning years of print journalism as an editor of The New York Times, and led the charge into the internet age in the classrooms of Columbia University, died on Sunday in White Plains, N.Y.” NYT
OUT AND ABOUT — Adrienne Arsht hosted a socially distanced, masked “Name That Tune” brunch with the American Pops Orchestra in her backyard Sunday. SPOTTED: Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, Luis Gallegos, Argentinian Ambassador Jorge Argüello and Erika Grinberg, Ecuadorian Ambassador Ivonne A-Baki, British Ambassador Karen Pierce and Charles Roxburgh, Iraqi Ambassador Fareed Yasseen, German Ambassador Emily Haber, Bret and Amy Baier, Patrick Steel and Lee Satterfield, Capricia Marshall, Paige and Bain Ennis, Fred Kempe, Douglas Lute, Agustin Gutiérrez, Jason Marczak, Andrea Mitchell, Robert Pullen and Luke Frazier and Philip Rucker.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Greg Crist, chief advocacy officer at AdvaMed, and Laura Crist of Chambers Crist Public Affairs on Oct. 28 welcomed Samantha Grace Crist, who came in at 6 lbs, 2 oz and 19 inches. Pic
BIRTHWEEK (was Sunday): Former Rep. Dennis Moore (D-Kan.) turned 75 (h/t John Barrow)
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Matthias Reynolds, managing director at Targeted Victory. A trend he thinks doesn’t get enough attention: “I am a bit surprised we aren’t talking more about the Pentagon confirming the authenticity of several UFO videos earlier this year. I get that there’s no way that we’ll ever tie up all the loose plot lines from 2020, but I hope we get to learn more about that.” Playbook Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is 68 … Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) is 58 … Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) is 64 … Sarah Isgur … POLITICO’s John Harris and Zachary Brennan … Charles Kupperman is 7-0 (h/t Sarah Tinsley) … USA Today’s David Mastio and Matthew Brown … Hugh Ferguson … Sunshine Sachs’ Claire Tonneson is 32 … Peter Roff … Hunter Hall, deputy director of federal affairs at the Picard Group … Matthew Ellison is 32 … Nancy Jacobson, founder and CEO of No Labels (h/t Margaret Kimbrell White) … Carolyn Casey … John Cacciatore … Sarah Godlewski … Marcus Switzer … Jenifer Collins Westphal … John Grabel (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) … Chelsea Rodriguez is 29 … Geoff Verhoff of Akin Gump is 4-0 … László Baksay … HuffPost’s Arthur Delaney … Scott Walter … Sean Redmond … Capital One’s Jill Shatzen Kerr … Elise Norris … Peter Lichtenbaum, a partner at Covington & Burling …
… Idrees Kahloon, U.S. policy correspondent for The Economist (h/t Nihal Krishan) … Kendra Kostek … Catherine “Simmy” Jain … Lisa De Pasquale … Megan Carpentier … API’s Bethany Aronhalt … Matthew Dolan … David Levine, COO of BerlinRosen (h/t Mariam Khan) … Trevor Eischen … Kevin Sullivan, founder of Kevin Sullivan Communications and senior adviser at the George W. Bush Presidential Center … Orlando Watson … former Florida Sen. and Gov. Bob Graham is 84 … Joel Seidman … FT’s Chris Giles … Shannon Currie … Regina Calcaterra (h/t Lynn Trono) … Jake Oeth … Mike Bloomberg, COS to Holyoke, Mass., Mayor Alex Morse, is 31 … Daniel Squadron is 41 … Catherine Chen … Karen Scott … Lee Gochman … James Goldburn … Bill Arnone … Tara Patel … Edelman’s Aleena Hasnain … Kevin Bailey … Dee Dee Sorvino … Jennifer Overbye … Alex Curd … Marc Kimball … Richard H. Bernstein is 46