October 21, 2020

If baseball and apple pie are the quintessence of America, the ad Joe Biden's campaign dropped during Game 1 of the World Series seems intent on making a play for that proverbial country kitchen windowsill. The ad, "Go From There," has it all: high school football, veterans, corn farms, and — yes — a train, all rolling by under a piano playing "The Star-Spangled Banner" and famously folksy actor Sam Elliott talking about how great America is and can be if it finds common ground.

"No Democratic rivers, no Republican mountains, just this great land and all that's possible on it with a fresh start," Elliott narrates. "Joe Biden doesn't need everyone in this country to always agree, just to agree that we all love this country and go from there." Not mentioned in the ad is the current president of the United States. Peter Weber

8:38 a.m.

President Trump is reportedly heading to Pennsylvania for a Republican meeting on voter fraud allegations, ignoring advice from some of his aides in the process.

Trump is "expected to join" his lawyer Rudy Giuliani in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, as Republican state lawmakers on Wednesday hold a "hearing" about claims of election "irregularities," CNN reports. The plans could reportedly still change, but they were confirmed by Bloomberg, which noted that the event doesn't appear on Trump's public schedule. Trump continues to not concede the 2020 race to President-elect Joe Biden, despite the transition formally beginning, but his legal team has not provided any evidence of widespread voter fraud in the election. Biden was recently certified as the winner in Pennsylvania.

Attending this meeting of the Pennsylvania Senate Majority Policy Committee, which will be held at a hotel, would be Trump's first trip outside of Washington since Election Day, CNN notes. The New York Times' Maggie Haberman confirmed the news and reported that "some aides had tried talking him out of this."

Haberman adds that some of Trump's "advisers were kept in the dark about this" plan entirely, "underscoring how disjointed the president's team has become" since Election Day, and "others tried telling him" this "is a mistake." But Haberman reports that "among other things, Trump is likely to announce a 2024 campaign soon and this is brand building."

This event will be coming after a key Trump campaign lawsuit in Pennsylvania was dismissed over the weekend, as well as after Giuliani held a bizarre press conference last week leveling baseless voter fraud claims. Lawyer Sidney Powell, who took part in that press conference, was subsequently said to not be part of Trump's legal team, and NBC News reports Trump has grown "concerned" that his team is made up of "fools that are making him look bad." Brendan Morrow

6:49 a.m.

President Trump pardoned a turkey on Tuesday, and The Late Show turned that into a dark, Thelma and Louise-themed comedy.

Yes, Seth Meyers said at Late Night, "Trump today presided over the annual Thanksgiving White House turkey pardon — though the Southern District of New York reminded the turkey that he could still be prosecuted for state crimes."

The pardoned turkey, Corn, was "a lucky, lucky bird — to have a better legal team than the president," Stephen Colbert joked at The Late Show. But "there you have it: An innocent turkey pardoned by a lame duck." Trump is "distancing himself from the national embarrassment that is Rudy Giuliani," his lawyer, who amazingly "wasn't always the troll living under America's bridge," and he's "looking to align himself with the more reputable figure" of Randy Quaid, Colbert deadpanned, going through Trump's retweets of the colorful actor's posts, especially a video Quaid shared. "I believe he's using what's known as mood lighting. The mood? Peyote bender."

"Trump took a break from his busy schedule of retweeting Randy Quaid and carried out the presidential tradition of pardoning a turkey," Jimmy Fallon said at The Tonight Show. "The bird needed to be pardoned after it was let down by its bumbling lawyer, Rooster Giuliani." It turns out "people could go online and vote for the turkey they wanted pardoned, Corn or Cob," he added, but "Corn might have won because the vote was rigged by Hugo Chavez."

With Trump's legal avenues blocked, his administration "paved the way for what has been the most highly anticipated transition since Caitlyn Jenner," Jimmy Kimmel said on Kimmel Live. But Trump isn't conceding, and "he isn't happy with Fox News, or some of his fellow Republicans. This morning he expressed that displeasure by retweeting actor Randy Quaid" five times, including that bizarre "video attack on Fox News." Kimmel laughed "Look out kids, Santa's been eating bath salts this year," he said. "Randy Quaid, let's just say he makes Gary Busey look like Dr. Fauci."

"Now, you might remember Randy Quaid as the nutty Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation, or as the nutty fighter pilot from Independence Day, or as the nutty criminal fugitive from real life," James Corden said at The Late Late Show. Still, "five Randy Quaid retweets! Two, sure; three, pushing it. Five? I think that makes him secretary of agriculture." Watch below. Peter Weber

5:31 a.m.

Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, revealed that she had a miscarriage over the summer in a remarkable New York Times op-ed published Wednesday. "Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few," she wrote, adding that "despite the staggering commonality of this pain, the conversation remains taboo, riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning."

Markle's op-ed follows Chrissy Teigen's essay about her miscarriage in September, but while Teigen and her husband, John Legend, frequently share stories about their personal and family lives, Britain's royal family keeps a famously tight lid on private issues.

Markle, 39, and her husband, Prince Harry, stepped back from being senior royals in January and now live more or less quietly in California with their 1-year-old son, Archie. "After changing his diaper, I felt a sharp cramp," she writes in her op-ed, describing what had been an otherwise "ordinary" July morning. "I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second. Hours later, I lay in a hospital bed, holding my husband's hand," watching his "heart break as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine."

The duchess turned their private grief into a larger rumination on a year that "has brought so many of us to our breaking points," from COVID-19 to the police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd to the deep divisions that have fractured the U.S. into siloed factions and individuals. "That polarization, coupled with the social isolation required to fight this pandemic, has left us feeling more alone than ever," Markle writes, and she kept returning to a question that might save us: "Are you okay?"

"This Thanksgiving, as we plan for a holiday unlike any before — many of us separated from our loved ones, alone, sick, scared, divided, and perhaps struggling to find something, anything, to be grateful for — let us commit to asking others, 'Are you okay?'" Markle writes, suggesting that if we do, and if we really see one another, "we will be." Read her full op-ed at The New York Times. Peter Weber

3:34 a.m.

Despite his tweets and frequent fundraising emails, President Trump knows "the battle is effectively over" and he's already moved on to asking allies "how he can stay relevant in the media and in the Republican Party and how he can earn money" next year and beyond, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing Trump advisers. "Privately, even the few advisers to the president who had argued he still had a shot over the last week now largely concede he has no path to victory."

Trump's lawyers, led by Rudy Giuliani, are expected to keep up the appearance of a legal fight until the Electoral College votes Dec. 14, the Journal reports. "While there are just a handful of people left urging the president to keep up the legal fight — among them, Mr. Giuliani — there are equally few people telling him to end it." One official explained, "Everybody's trying to straddle the fence and avoid him flipping out." They have other reasons to give Trump a wide berth, the Journal adds:

In a West Wing where advisers have often loitered near the Oval Office in the hopes of being asked inside, there has been noticeably less angling among aides to get an audience with the president in recent weeks, administration officials said. Aides have said privately they are concerned that the president might ask them for something that would draw them into the legal battle. [The Wall Street Journal]

"Usually everybody's looking for an opportunity to go in. Now it's the opposite," said an administration official. "You never know where there's going to be this moment where he's like, well why don't you do X-Y-Z crazy thing." Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Peter Weber

2:48 a.m.

Fox News and Joel and Mary Rich disclosed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in New York that they have reached a settlement in the lawsuit the Rich family filed against the network over a false story it published and promoted about their son, Seth Rich. Seth Rich was a 27-year-old staffer at the Democratic National Committee when he was shot dead in Washington, D.C., in July 2016, in what D.C. police determined was likely a botched robbery.

FoxNews.com published an article in May 2017 falsely claiming Rich had leaked damaging DNC emails to WikiLeaks, feeding a frenzy of conspiracy theories that Democratic Party leaders had him murdered. Russian military hackers had stolen and distributed the DNC emails, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation later confirmed. Fox News retracted the story after a week, saying it did not meet "editorial standards."

But Fox News opinion hosts, notably Sean Hannity, continued to bolster the claim, suggesting it helped disprove the conclusion that Russian intelligence helped President Trump during the 2016 election. "Fox News announced it was conducting an internal investigation into how the story came to be posted on its website, but it has never released the results," Yahoo News reports.

Joel and Mary Rich filed suit in 2018, saying Fox News "intentionally exploited" their son's murder for political gain, causing them extreme emotional distress. A U.S. district judge dismissed the lawsuit but a federal appellate judge reinstated it, and Fox News decided to settle last month, right before Hannity and Fox News executives were scheduled to be deposed under oath about what they knew about the fake story, Yahoo News reports.

The terms of the settlement weren't made public, but Yahoo News says it "includes a lucrative seven figure payment to the Rich family consistent with the size of payouts Fox News and related corporate entities have made in other cases that have brought them negative publicity." Fox News said in a statement it is "pleased with the resolution of the claims and hope this enables Mr. and Mrs. Rich to find a small degree of peace and solace moving forward." Peter Weber

1:59 a.m.

President-elect Joe Biden is trying to decide who should lead the Department of Health and Human Services during his administration, and at the top of the list are New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) and former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, more than a dozen people with knowledge of the matter told Politico.

The health secretary will be busy right off the bat, helping manage the government's COVID-19 response, pushing out messaging about the virus, and coordinating the immunization process. If Lujan Grisham, 61, is selected, she would be the first Latina nominated for the position. Should Murthy, 43, be picked, he will be the first nominee of Indian descent.

UnidosUS President Janet Murguia told Politico Lujan Grisham has "seen directly the impact of COVID-19 on her state and managed the response — and she's had to do a lot because there hasn't been a lot of federal guidance. She knows what it's like to lead in this space and is a very credible candidate."

Murthy is an internist who is now serving as one of Biden's top advisers on the coronavirus pandemic and co-chair of his COVID-19 advisory board. If Murthy doesn't get selected, several people familiar with the matter told Politico it's basically guaranteed that he will get another top health role in the administration.

Biden is still considering a few other candidates, three Democrats with knowledge of the situation told Politico, including Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) and former Louisiana health secretary Rebekah Gee. It's likely he won't announce his choice until Monday, at the earliest. Catherine Garcia

1:35 a.m.

The U.S. plans to send 6.4 million doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine across the U.S. within 24 hours of the vaccine getting emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, officials said Tuesday. The goal is to distribute 40 million doses of vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna by the end of the year, enough to vaccinate 20 million people. States were informed of their allocations on Friday, and they will probably be advised to inoculate front-line health care workers first, said Gen. Gustave Perna, the logistics chief of the U.S. vaccination effort.

The FDA will get a recommendation on whether to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech shots after a Dec. 10 vaccine advisory committee meeting, and final say over emergency approval will go to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn. "While we cannot predict how long the FDA's review will take, the FDA will review the request as expeditiously as possible, while still doing so in a thorough and science-based manner," Hahn said in a statement. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar predicted approval would come "soon after" the Dec. 10 meeting.

Within two days of FDA approval, an independent advisory board to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet publicly to finalize recommendations on who should get the first shots. Then it will be up to the governors of each state, Perna said, describing the federal government as the "air traffic controller" of vaccine distribution.

Getting frozen vials of vaccine — Pfizer's needs to be stored -94 degrees Fahrenheit — to hospitals and other distribution centers across the U.S., then tracking that the right people get two doses of the same vaccine weeks apart will be a massive logistical challenge, as The Washington Post explains.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices says it will recommend that 20 million health care workers and 3 million people in long-term care facilities get first priority, then about 87 million other essential workers, 100 million adults with high-risk medical conditions, and 53 million senior citizens 65 and older. The general public will probably start getting vaccinated in April. Peter Weber

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