President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Wisconsin seeking to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state's two most Democratic counties, a longshot attempt to overturn Joe Biden's win in the battleground state he lost by nearly 20,700 votes.
Trump filed the day after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and the chairwoman of the Wisconsin Elections Commission certified Biden as the winner of the state's 10 Electoral College votes. Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, rather than have it start in a lower court, and order Evers to withdraw the certification.
The state's highest court, controlled 4-3 by conservatives, also is considering whether to hear two other lawsuits filed by conservatives seeking to invalidate ballots cast during the presidential election.
Trump repeats many of claims he made during a recount of votes in Milwaukee and Dane counties that large swaths of absentee votes were illegally cast. Local officials rejected his claims during the recount, and Trump is challenging procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.
Trump is not challenging any ballots cast in conservative counties he won.
A spokesman for the Biden campaign in Wisconsin did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Evers' spokeswoman Britt Cudaback referred to comments Evers made Monday that the election was “safe, fair, and efficient.” Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, and other attorneys involved with the recount on behalf of Evers and Biden, did not immediately return messages.
“The people of Wisconsin deserve election processes with uniform enforcement of the law, plain and simple," Trump's Wisconsin attorney, Jim Troupis, said in a statement. “During the recount in Dane and Milwaukee counties, we know with absolute certainty illegal ballots have unduly influenced the state’s election results.”
Similar Trump campaign lawsuits have failed in other battleground states.
In Phoenix, a judge has scheduled a Thursday trial in Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward’s lawsuit that seeks to annul Biden’s victory in the state. A judge is letting Ward’s lawyers and experts compare the signatures on 100 mail-in ballot envelopes with signatures on file to determine whether there were any irregularities. Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ office, which certified Arizona’s election results on Monday, said there was no factual basis for conducting such a review.
Trump is running out of time to have his legal cases heard. The Electoral College is scheduled to meet on Dec. 14 and Congress is to count the votes on Jan. 6.
Trump's Wisconsin lawsuit seeks to discard 170,140 absentee ballot where there was not a written application on file and all absentee ballots cast in person during the two weeks before Election Day.
People who vote in person early fill out a certification envelope in which they place their ballot and which serves as the written record. But the vast majority of absentee requests these days are made online, with a voter’s name entered into an electronic log with no paper record.
Trump wants to toss 5,517 ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted. The state elections commission told clerks before the election that they could fill in missing information on the absentee ballot envelopes, a practice that has been in place for at least the past 11 elections.
Trump also challenges 28,395 absentee ballot where a voter declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined” under the law. Such a declaration exempts voters from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it is up to individual voters to determine whether they are indefinitely confined, a designation used by nearly four times as many voters this year than in 2016 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump also challenges 17,271 ballots returned at events held in Madison parks where election workers accepted completed absentee ballots from voters looking to avoid crowds and mail delays. Trump alleges those were illegal absentee voting sites, but city officials said the poll workers at the 220 parks served the same purpose as ballot drop boxes around the state.
Dr. Scott Atlas, a science adviser to President Donald Trump who was skeptical of measures to control the coronavirus outbreak, is leaving his White House post.
A White House official confirmed that the Stanford University neuroradiologist, who had no formal experience in public health or infectious diseases, resigned at the end of his temporary government assignment. Atlas confirmed the news in a Monday evening tweet.
Atlas joined the White House this summer, where he clashed with top government scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, as he resisted stronger efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 267,000 Americans.
Atlas has broken with government experts and the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community to criticize efforts to encourage face covering to slow the spread of the virus. Just weeks ago on Twitter he responded to Michigan’s latest virus restrictions by encouraging people to “rise up” against the state’s policies.
His views also prompted Stanford to issue a statement distancing itself from the faculty member, saying Atlas “has expressed views that are inconsistent with the university’s approach in response to the pandemic.”
“We support using masks, social distancing, and conducting surveillance and diagnostic testing,” the university said Nov. 16. “We also believe in the importance of strictly following the guidance of local and state health authorities.”
Atlas defended his role in his resignation letter, saying, “I cannot think of a time where safeguarding science and the scientific debate is more urgent.”
Atlas was hired as a “special government employee,” which limited his service to government to 130 days in a calendar year — a deadline he reached this week.
The viral pandemic is accelerating a transformation of America’s holiday shopping season.
Few people showed up at the mall this weekend, with millions of pandemic-wary shoppers staying home to shop online.
The result? Overall holiday sales are projected to rise a slight 0.9% in November and December — and even that modest gain will be due to an explosion in online shopping, according to the research firm eMarketer. It expects online sales to jump nearly 36%, while sales at physical stores fall 4.7%.
The online rush was on fully display Monday, known as Cyber Monday, a day of sales promoted by retailers back in 2005. Once the final numbers are tallied up, this year’s Cyber Monday is projected to become the biggest online shopping day in American history.
Here’s how this holiday shopping season is shaping up:
Black Friday, typically the frenzied kick-off of the holiday shopping season, was eerily quiet this year. Health officials had warned shoppers to stay home, and stores followed suit by putting their best deals online to discourage crowds.
Half as many people shopped inside stores this Black Friday than last year, according to retail data company Sensormatic Solutions.
“Black Friday was really Bleak Friday,” says David Bassuk, a member of the retail practice at the consulting firm AlixPartners.
Online was a decidedly different story. Sales hit a record $9 billion on Black Friday — up a sharp 22% from last year, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks online shopping.
CYBER MONDAY STILL ON TOP
Even though shoppers had access to weeks of online deals, many held out for bargains that they could get only on Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving.
Amazon offered 30% off on board games and discounts on many of its gadgets. Target had 40% off Legos and robot vacuums for $75 off.
Cyber Monday is expected to generate as much as $12.7 billion in sales — a 35% jump from a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics.
A big unknown hanging over the shopping season is this: Will retailers and shippers be able to deliver all those online orders in time for Christmas? Retailers have been warning shoppers to buy early this year, because with far more people shopping online during the pandemic, shippers may become overwhelmed with packages to deliver.
Prolonged delays could send people back to physical stores closer to Christmas, if many people eventually decide that old-fashioned stores are a more reliable way to obtain their gifts on time, said Charlie O’Shea, a retail analyst at Moody’s.
Joe Biden’s victory in battleground Wisconsin was certified Monday following a partial recount that only added to his 20,600-vote margin over President Donald Trump, who has promised to file a lawsuit seeking to undo the results.
Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, signed a certificate that completed the process after the canvass report showing Biden as the winner following the recount was approved by the chairwoman of the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission. Evers’ signature was required by law and is typically a procedural step that receives little attention.
“Today I carried out my duty to certify the November 3rd election,” Evers said in a statement. “I want to thank our clerks, election administrators, and poll workers across our state for working tirelessly to ensure we had a safe, fair, and efficient election. Thank you for all your good work.”
The action Monday now starts a five-day deadline for Trump to file a lawsuit, which he promised would come no later than Tuesday. Trump is mounting a longshot attempt to overturn the results by disqualifying as many as 238,000 ballots. Trump’s attorneys have alleged without evidence that there was widespread fraud and illegal activity.
Biden’s campaign has said the recount showed that Biden won Wisconsin decisively and there was no fraud. Even if Trump were successful in Wisconsin, the state’s 10 Electoral College votes would not be enough to undo Biden’s overall victory as states around the country certify results. Earlier Monday, Arizona officials certified Biden’s narrow victory in that state.
“There’s no basis at all for any assertion that there was widespread fraud that would have affected the results,” Wisconsin’s Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul said in a statement Monday. He noted that Trump’s recount targeted only the state’s two most populous counties where the majority of Black people live.
“I have every confidence that this disgraceful Jim Crow strategy for mass disenfranchisement of voters will fail,” Kaul said. “An election isn’t a game of gotcha.”
State law gives the power to confirm the election results to the chair of the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission. The position rotates between Republicans and Democrats and is currently held by Ann Jacobs, a Democrat. She signed the canvass statement certifying Biden as the winner over objections from Republicans who wanted to wait until after legal challenges were exhausted.
Under state law, the elections staff next sent a certificate to Evers to sign and send to the U.S. administrator of general services — a procedural step since the law says the governor “shall sign” it. Evers did so about an hour after the canvassed results were confirmed.
Trump’s legal challenges have failed in other battleground states, including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Two lawsuits from others seeking to disqualify ballots in Wisconsin were filed last week with the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which has not taken action.
Trump paid $3 million for recounts in Dane and Milwaukee counties, the two largest Democratic counties in Wisconsin, but the recount ended up increasing Biden’s lead by 74 votes. Biden won statewide by nearly 20,700 votes.
Americans returning from Thanksgiving break faced strict new coronavirus measures around the country Monday as health officials brace for a disastrous worsening of the nationwide surge because of holiday gatherings over the long weekend.
Los Angeles County imposed a stay-at-home order for its 10 million residents, and Santa Clara County, in the heart of Silicon Valley, banned high school, college and professional sports and decreed a quarantine for those who have traveled more than 150 miles outside the county.
In Hawaii, the mayor of Hawaii County said trans-Pacific travelers arriving without a negative COVID-19 test must quarantine for 14 days, and even those who have tested virus-free may be randomly selected for another test upon arrival. New Jersey is suspending all youth sports.
“The red flags are flying in terms of the trajectory in our projections of growth,” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom. “If these trends continue, we’re going to have to take much more dramatic, arguably drastic, action.”
Health experts had pleaded with Americans to stay home over Thanksgiving and not gather with anyone who didn’t live with them. Nevertheless, almost 1.2 million people passed through U.S. airports Sunday, the most since the pandemic gripped the country in March, and others took to the highways to be with family and friends.
Now they’re being urged to watch for any signs of illness and get tested right away if they experience symptoms.
Some families are already seeing the fallout from Thanksgiving gatherings.
Jonathan Eshnaur lugged his 32-inch TV to a Thanksgiving Day family gathering at his sister’s home in Olathe, Kansas, so he could watch football outside. He wore a mask and only went into her house for the prayer and to use the bathroom.
His father began feeling terrible that day and tested positive the next. His mother now is showing symptoms, and six others were exposed.
“I think we all have a tendency to think it won’t happen to me,” said Eshnaur, a 34-year-old special education teacher. “But that is kind of the issue with these kinds of viruses is it does happen, especially when we have widespread community spread that is going on.”
Priya Patel, 24, is isolating at her parents’ home in San Antonio after visiting friends over the weekend and coming down with a sore throat.
Patel, who works in public health in New York City, said she had been careful, wearing masks in public and staying out of restaurants and bars. But she spent time at a friend’s home in Texas over Thanksgiving.
“I’m an extremely extroverted person, and there is just so much time I can spend with my parents at home,” said Patel, who will stay away from her parents, both of whom have preexisting medical conditions, and wear a mask inside their home for the next 14 days.
Health officials are urging people to remain vigilant until a vaccine becomes widely available, which is not expected to happen for at least a few months.
On Monday, Moderna Inc. said it will ask U.S. and European regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm the shots offer strong protection. Pfizer is also seeking approval for its vaccine and hopes to begin administering shots in the U.S. in December.
The virus is blamed for over 267,000 deaths and more than 13.4 million confirmed infections in the U.S. The country on average is seeing more than 160,000 new cases per day and over 1,400 deaths — a toll on par with what the nation witnessed in mid-May, when New York City was the epicenter.
A record 90,000 people were in the hospital with the virus in the U.S. as of Sunday, pushing many medical institutions to the limit.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said hospitals across the state will reduce elective surgeries to ensure there is room for coronavirus patients. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 jumped 29% in the past week. In Kansas City, Kansas, hospital and nursing officials said they fear there will not be enough nurses to staff new hospital beds in the metro area if COVID-19 cases continue unchecked. Health officials on Monday added 4,425 confirmed infections and 87 hospitalizations to the state’s pandemic tally since Friday.
Rhode Island’s hospitals reached their COVID-19 capacity on Monday, the same day the state’s two-week pause took effect. Under restrictions announced by Gov. Gina Raimondo, some businesses will be required to shut down, while others are restricted. Residents are also asked to limit their social circles to people in their household.
“This will not be easy, but I am pleading with you to take it seriously,” Raimondo said in a statement.
In suburban St. Louis, a hospital official warned that hospitalizations could double in two to three weeks if people don’t quarantine after Thanksgiving gatherings. SSM Health DePaul Hospital in Bridgeton, Missouri, last week brought in a morgue trailer to store the dead, canceled elective surgeries and doubled up patients in rooms.
“We will be absolutely overwhelmed,” said Shelly Cordum, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer. “I can’t even imagine what we are going to be facing in three weeks if we stay on this path.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s foremost infectious-disease expert, warned on ABC over the weekend that the country could see a “surge upon surge” of infections tied to Thanksgiving. And White House corononavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx told CBS that people who traveled should “assume that you were exposed and you became infected,” and get tested if they experience symptoms.