Here’s what you need to know: President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. speaking in Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday.Credit...Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is set to meet in a virtual round table with workers and owners of small businesses on Wednesday to discuss the economic hardship caused by the pandemic as lawmakers continue to try to break a stalemate over virus relief. Though Mr. Biden has said his top priority is getting a generous stimulus package through Congress before Jan. 20, the likelihood remains tenuous despite the many Americans that need immediate assistance, even with a flurry of new proposals circulating on Capitol Hill this week. Congressional leaders continue to agree that another boost of funding is needed to bolster the economy — at least until the distribution of a vaccine — but there remain a number of stark policy divides about restoring lapsed federal unemployment benefits, providing funds to state and local governments and a Republican push for a liability shield. More than 10 million Americans remain out of work and the pace of job growth has slowed. Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, on Monday evening sent a new proposal for an agreement to Republicans, though it is unclear what that proposal contained. A day later, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, began circulating his own targeted framework among Republicans, which has White House approval. “The president will sign the McConnell proposal that he put forward yesterday,” Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, told reporters on Wednesday, declining to comment on the new Democratic offer. “We look forward to making progress on that.” Lawmakers are also staring down a more concrete deadline to prevent a government shutdown by Dec. 11. But lawmakers and aides say they tentatively expect to avoid a shutdown and reach an agreement on an omnibus package in time, and that legislation could carry some extension of coronavirus relief. In an interview with Thomas L. Friedman, an opinion columnist for The New York Times, Mr. Biden addressed the depth of the economic crisis. The longer people are out of work, he said, the harder it is for them to re-enter the work force. And when children miss significant periods of school, he said, they will also suffer and could fall years behind. One of the biggest impediments to the incoming president’s ability to achieve these goals is his former colleague across the aisle, Mr. McConnell, who could work to block much of Mr. Biden’s agenda if Republicans maintain control of the upper chamber. Mr. Biden, however, said he had a history of compromise with Mr. McConnell. “I think there are trade-offs, that not all compromise is walking away from principle,” Mr. Biden said. “He knows me. I know him. I don’t ask him to embarrass himself to make a deal.” But he added if Republicans clearly “let all this go down the drain” just so a Biden administration will not get a win, that “may have an impact on the prospect of Republicans running for re-election in 2022.” Attorney General William P. Barr said on Tuesday that he saw no evidence of irregularities “on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”Credit...Oliver Contreras for The New York Times Entering December, with fewer than 50 days left until Inauguration Day, several of President Trump’s closest allies on Tuesday began signaling a reluctance to continue participating in the president’s broadsides on the election. Most notably, Attorney General William P. Barr said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday that he had no reason to doubt the election results, having seen no evidence of irregularities “on a scale that could have effected a different outcome.” Mr. Barr’s admission that the election clearly indicated a win by President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. came after multiple battleground states in recent days certified their results showing Mr. Biden’s victory. Other prominent Republicans who have indulged Mr. Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud also appeared to back away from the assertion that he had prevailed in spite of results to the contrary. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, acknowledged a changing of the guard at a news conference on Tuesday while discussing a proposed bipartisan stimulus package for pandemic relief after months of inaction by Congress. “After the first of the year, there is likely to be a discussion about some additional package of some size next year, depending upon what the new administration wants to pursue,” Mr. McConnell said. While Mr. Trump posted a litany of unsupported accusations on Twitter claiming widespread election fraud throughout the weekend and into Tuesday, Gabriel Sterling, a Republican and a high-ranking Georgia elections official, lashed out at the president, urging him to condemn the intimidation and harassment of elections workers. “It has to stop,” Mr. Sterling said. “Mr. President, you have not condemned this language or these actions. This has to stop. We need you to step up, and if you’re going to take a position of leadership, show some.” Election challenges have flooded in as officials in Georgia conduct the second of two recounts in the state — with a deadline of midnight on Wednesday — as requested by the Trump campaign. But Mr. Sterling, a Republican, took exception to the president’s inflammatory language and the threats of violence that they have inspired. “I can’t begin to explain the level of anger I have right now over this,” he said. “And every American, every Georgian, Republican and Democrat alike, should have that same level of anger.” The Trump campaign and its allies have lost nearly 40 cases across the country as judge after judge — including some appointed by Mr. Trump — discredited their attacks on election results as lacking both legal merit and convincing proof. Beryl A. Howell, the chief U.S. district judge for the District of Columbia, unsealed documents related to a money-for-pardon case involving the Trump administration.Credit...Alex Wong/Getty Images The Justice Department has been investigating whether intermediaries for a federal convict offered White House officials a bribe in exchange for a potential pardon or commutation from President Trump, according to court documents unsealed by a federal judge on Tuesday. The documents were heavily redacted, and it was unclear who may have been involved. Nothing directly tied Mr. Trump to the scheme, and the documents said no one had been charged. But the documents offered a few clues about what the White House may have known about the scheme. One passage appears to show that a lawyer for the convict had discussions with the White House Counsel’s Office about a pardon or commutation, but it was unclear whether the discussions were part of the scheme or a normal back-and-forth with the White House about a convict’s case. The information about the potential scheme was included in an opinion, dated Aug. 28, from the chief United States district judge for the District of Columbia, Beryl A. Howell, who was weighing whether to allow federal prosecutors to examine evidence — like emails — that may have been protected by attorney-client privilege. Judge Howell granted the prosecutors access to the materials. Investigators suspected that the convict seeking the pardon was imprisoned as recently as this summer and that two people working on behalf of the convict may have undertaken a secret lobbying campaign by approaching White House officials, according to the documents. The two people may have offered to funnel money as political donations in exchange for the pardon or commutation, although it was unclear where the money was supposed to be sent. The White House Christmas decorations are themed “America the Beautiful.” The holiday season is one area where the norm-breaking president appears intent on savoring tradition.Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times The red and gold party invitations make no mention of the coronavirus, nor do they acknowledge the holiday message that public health officials have been trying to emphasize to Americans: Stay home. Instead, the invitations are the latest example of how President Trump is spending his final weeks in office operating in an alternative universe, denying the realities of life during the pandemic. “The president and Mrs. Trump request the pleasure of your company at a holiday reception to be held at the White House,” reads the cursive text, displayed under a presidential seal. Invitations to at least 20 White House parties, the first one on Monday at 7 p.m., have been sent out so far, according to administration officials. The guest lists include current and former officials and allies, some from out of state; Republican National Committee officials; campaign staff members; and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But in more than half a dozen interviews on Tuesday, many invitees said they did not plan to attend because of the health risk. Others joked that since so many people in the president’s orbit had already tested positive for the virus, the White House had achieved herd immunity and was now a safe space for a quick stop to view the Christmas decorations. The holiday party season, canceled across most of Washington, will be a rare time when the White House will feel busy. Inside the West Wing in recent weeks, there has been noticeably less foot traffic in and out of the Oval Office, as staff members pondering their career moves give some space to a president who refuses to concede. Mr. Trump has made few public appearances since the election was called for Joseph R. Biden Jr. But the holiday season at the White House — complete with a gingerbread house made with 25 pounds of chocolate and 25 pounds of royal icing by the in-house pastry team — is one area where the norm-breaking president appears intent on savoring tradition. Next Friday, Mr. Trump is hosting a party for the West Wing staff and their families. There are also receptions planned for Dec. 14 and Dec. 16, according to guests and copies of invitations. Officials said there were at least 20 holiday events on the calendar through December. Stephanie Grisham, the chief of staff to Melania Trump, the first lady, said guests would be strongly encouraged to wear masks when they were not eating and the guest lists were smaller than usual. She did not say how many people were invited to each event. Other restrictions were being put in place that were not instituted when the president hosted a large crowd for an indoor party on election night. “Guests will enjoy food individually plated by chefs at plexiglass-protected food stations,” Ms. Grisham said in a statement. “All passed beverages will be covered. All service staff will wear masks and gloves to comply with food safety guidelines. Attending the parties will be a very personal choice. It is a longstanding tradition for people to visit and enjoy the cheer and iconic décor of the annual White House Christmas celebrations.” The latest guidance from Mayor Muriel E. Bowser of Washington, a Democrat, limits indoor gatherings in the city to no more than 10 people. Beginning Dec. 14, restaurants in Washington are allowed to operate indoors, but at only 25 percent capacity. The White House is exempt from the city’s restrictions because it is on federal property. Neera Tanden’s nomination to head the Office of Management and Budget is likely to be strongly opposed by Senate Republicans. Credit...Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times Early Republican resistance to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s pick to run the White House budget office signaled trouble ahead for the incoming administration, which will face deep partisan divisions on Capitol Hill. Mr. Biden chose Neera Tanden, a longtime Democratic policy adviser known for her somewhat hostile Twitter presence, to lead the office. And his advisers said Mr. Biden was cleareyed about the need to use some of his political capital to fight for her nomination. Even though many Republicans have refused to recognize Mr. Biden as the winner of the election, they said they were surprised that his team had not checked with them on how they might react to Ms. Tanden’s nomination to an agency that lawmakers in both parties see as critical when it comes to advancing congressional priorities. In the 11 years since Mr. Biden last served in the Senate, partisanship in the chamber has intensified, and nominations — once an area dominated by courtesy, comity and a presumption of accommodation — have become just another brutal battlefield. Republican reaction to Mr. Biden’s other nominees has been more muted, and some Republicans suggested they would be willing to give the president-elect deference on his cabinet picks. One person close to the nomination process said that Mr. Biden and his team had, in fact, been reaching out to Republican lawmakers in recent weeks. Mr. Biden will not need much help from Republicans if Democrats win two Senate seats in January runoffs in Georgia, which would give the party effective control of the Senate. Otherwise, Republicans will have the power to decide the fate of Mr. Biden’s executive and judicial branch picks. Democrats scoffed at the criticisms surrounding Ms. Tanden’s selection, particularly over her Twitter feed, given that most Senate Republicans have diligently spent four years evading queries about the endless provocations and inflammatory attacks on their own colleagues from President Trump on Twitter. Donald Trump Jr. at a rally in Minnesota in September. President Trump is said to be considering pardons for some of his children and closest associates. Credit...Ben Brewer for The New York Times President Trump has discussed with advisers whether to grant pre-emptive pardons to his children, to his son-in-law and to his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and talked with Mr. Giuliani about pardoning him as recently as last week, according to two people briefed on the matter. Mr. Trump has told others that he is concerned that a Biden Justice Department might seek retribution against the president by targeting the oldest three of his five children — Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump — as well as Ms. Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner, a White House senior adviser. Donald Trump Jr. had been under investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, for contacts he had with Russians offering damaging information on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign but was not charged. Mr. Kushner provided false information to federal authorities about his contacts with foreigners for his security clearance, but was given one anyway by the president. The nature of Mr. Trump’s concern about any potential criminal exposure of Eric Trump or Ivanka Trump is unclear, although an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney into the Trump Organization includes tax write-offs on millions of dollars in consulting fees by the company, some of which appear to have gone to Ms. Trump. Mr. Giuliani’s potential criminal exposure is also unclear, although he was under investigation as recently as this summer by federal prosecutors in Manhattan for his business dealings in Ukraine and his role in ousting the American ambassador there. The plot was at the heart of the impeachment of Mr. Trump. Presidential pardons do not provide protection against prosecution by state or local authorities, only federal ones. The speculation about pardon activity at the White House is churning furiously, underscoring how much the Trump administration has been dominated by investigations and criminal prosecutions of people in the president’s orbit. Mr. Trump himself was singled out by federal prosecutors as “Individual 1” in a court filing in the case that sent Michael D. Cohen, his former lawyer and fixer, to prison. Brad Parscale with Kimberly Guilfoyle, far left, and Ronna McDaniel, center, during President Trump’s State of the Union speech in February. “I think if he had been publicly empathetic, he would have won,” Mr. Parscale said of Mr. Trump.Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times Brad Parscale, the former Trump campaign manager who was demoted in July, claimed in a Fox News interview on Tuesday night that President Trump would have handily won the election if he had expressed more empathy about the coronavirus pandemic. “We lost suburban families,” Mr. Parscale said. “I think that goes to one thing: the decision on Covid to go for opening the economy versus public empathy.” He added, “I think if he had been publicly empathetic, he would have won.” Mr. Parscale also appeared to blame those who succeeded him in running Mr. Trump’s campaign for failing to file lawsuits before Election Day. In fact, the campaign filed multiple lawsuits during the early voting period seeking to block mail-in ballot rule changes. “I wanted lawyers everywhere,” Mr. Parscale said. “Why, during the early voting days, why weren’t they already getting in there and filing lawsuits? Why are we doing it post?” At other points in the interview, Mr. Parscale refused to concede that the president had lost the election, claiming that Mr. Trump was “in a position that he might be able to pull this off.” Mr. Parscale has kept a low profile since September, when he was hospitalized after his wife, Candice, called the police saying he was in his house with guns and threatening to hurt himself. According to a police report, Ms. Parscale also said her husband had bruised her arms during a “physical altercation.” She later walked back the claim of domestic abuse. Since that episode, which was caught on police body camera footage, Mr. Parscale has said that he wants to go back to a simpler, more private life flipping real estate. He has told friends he wants to leave politics. Current and former Trump officials on Tuesday interpreted Mr. Parscale’s re-emergence as an attempt to increase the value of a memoir he is also trying to sell and to ingratiate himself with the president. Mr. Parscale said in the Fox interview that he had not spoken to Mr. Trump recently, and that the fracturing of their relationship was “pretty hurtful.” “I gave every inch of my life to them,” he said of the Trump family. “Every inch.” At another point in the interview, he claimed that he was a “semi-quasi campaign manager” during Mr. Trump’s winning 2016 campaign, alongside Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law. In fact, Kellyanne Conway, a former White House official, was the president’s campaign manager four years ago. “The worst thing to ever do was to break us two up,” Mr. Parscale said of his relationship with Mr. Kushner, claiming that the president’s son-in-law was also “slightly sidelined” after his demotion. Addressing the altercation in September for the first time, Mr. Parscale hinted at strains in his marriage but did not address the abuse allegation. Martha MacCallum, the Fox News host who conducted the interview, did not ask him about it. “We lost two children during the election,” Mr. Parscale said, referring to the death of their twins in 2016. “We were completely attacked by the left, the right, the media. And I got to a bad place.” He said that he and his wife had “never been happier,” adding, “I’m just glad I moved on.”
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