May 8, 2018

President Trump, as he is fond of reminding us, won the Electoral College with 306 votes to Hillary Clinton's 232, but Clinton amassed about 2.8 million more popular votes at the national scale. Eager to avoid a repeat of that mismatch in elections to come, 10 blue states plus Washington, D.C., have made a compact that would eventually see them allotting their electoral votes to the national popular vote winner, functionally bypassing the Electoral College without passing a constitutional amendment.

The most recent state to sign on is Connecticut, where the governor said Saturday he supports a bill to join the compact, which was passed by the state legislature in late April. The agreement doesn't kick in until states with Electoral College votes totaling 270 — the minimum needed for victory — have joined. With the addition of Connecticut, the involved states' electoral vote total comes to 172.

While a majority of Americans want to move to a popular vote system to choose the president, support for keeping the Electoral College has actually increased in recent years. In 1987, 33 percent wanted to maintain the current system and 61 percent wanted to switch; by 2016, that had shifted to 41 and 54 percent, respectively. Democrats overwhelmingly want to switch, but 3 in 4 Republicans are happy the way things are.

The bypass compact would likely face legal challenge were it to reach the 270-vote trigger. The Constitution does not say electors have to follow their state's popular vote, but most states have some penalty in place for those who don't.

Read The Week's Edward Morrissey and Paul Waldman for dueling accounts of the Electoral College's value — or lack thereof. Bonnie Kristian

8:48 p.m.

In a clever new ad, Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock found a new way to drop the mic.

Warnock is running against Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) in the January 5 runoff election. In a new ad he tweeted on Tuesday, Warnock is shown taking his dog on a walk. In an earlier campaign ad, Warnock predicted there would be lots of false claims leveled against him, and "that's exactly what happened," he said. "You would think that Kelly Loeffler might have something good to say about herself, if she really wants to represent Georgia."

Instead, Warnock continued, "she's trying to scare people by taking things I've said out of context from over 25 years of being a pastor." By this point, Warnock and his pup were at the end of their walk, and he was holding a waste bag. As he dropped the bag in a trash can, Warnock said, "I think Georgians will see her ads for what they are — don't you?" His dog barked in agreement — and then approved the message. Watch the ad below. Catherine Garcia

7:38 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden told NBC News' Lester Holt on Tuesday that since the General Services Administration notified him on Monday that the official transition can begin, the Trump administration has been in touch.

"And I must say the outreach has been sincere — it has not been begrudging so far and I don't expect it to be," Biden added.

Biden told Holt that national security officials "immediately" contacted members of his team, and they are "already working out my ability to get presidential daily briefs, we're already working out meeting with the COVID team in the White House and how to not only distribute but get from a vaccine being distributed to a person able to get vaccinated, so I think we're gonna not be so far behind the curve as we thought might be in the past."

When asked what his message is, Biden responded, "America's back. We're at the head of the table once again. I've spoken to over 20 world leaders, and they all are literally really pleased and somewhat excited America's going to reassert its role in the world and be a coalition builder." He also made it clear that Americans shouldn't expect "a third Obama term," because "we face a totally different world than we faced in the Obama/Biden administration. President Trump has changed the landscape. It's become America first. It's been America alone." Catherine Garcia

6:52 p.m.

President Trump chose Corn over Cob on Tuesday, during the traditional presidential turkey pardoning.

On Twitter, the White House asked people to vote on which turkey should receive the annual pardon, and Corn won by more than seven points. For his part, Cob accepted the results and has not asked for a recount.

The National Turkey Federation first started presenting turkeys to the president during Thanksgiving in 1947, but they were meant for eating, NPR reports. Some presidents decided to pardon the turkeys, and the event was formalized by George H.W. Bush in 1989. Because these turkeys are not wild, they don't usually live long after their pardons, but do spend the time they have left in comfort at Virginia Tech's Gobblers Rest. For those worried about Cob's fate, fear not — the turkey who doesn't get a pardon also gets to settle in at the farm. Catherine Garcia

5:25 p.m.

While President Trump says he will continue to challenge election results, his administration is simultaneously moving full steam ahead with the presidential transition.

The latest development, first reported by CNN, involves the White House granting formal approval for President-elect Joe Biden to receive the President's Daily Brief, a key step in the process. It's not exactly clear when Biden will first be briefed, but it appears it will be in the near future.

Receiving the intelligence briefings, which are prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and contain information on matters of national security, is "typically one of the first rights of a presidential candidate after winning the election," CNN notes. Several lawmakers, including Republicans, have been calling for Biden to have access to the briefs in recent weeks to ensure that he's up to speed when he's sworn in on January 20. Read more at CNN. Tim O'Donnell

4:36 p.m.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Sunday issued an ultimatum to the leaders of the country's northern Tigray region, telling them to surrender to federal forces within 72 hours. If the Tigray People's Liberation Front rejects the warning and holds out, as they say they intend to do, the government's troops will allegedly move to take Tigray's capital city Mekelle by force Wednesday.

But, Al Jazeera reports, even the capture of Tigray may not end the conflict that broke out earlier this month after long simmering tensions. Already, hundreds of people have died and tens of thousands have fled, but "the conflict could evolve," Ahmed Soliman, a research fellow at London think tank, Chatham House, told Al Jazeera. "There is the frightening possibility it could become entrenched," he said. "Both sides are heavily armed and this could lead to a prolonged insurgent warfare."

There is also the concern, Soliman added, that "the conflict could also spill over into neighboring countries."

The United Nations fears major hostilities may soon break out, as well, and U.N. Security Council will hold a meeting Tuesday to discuss the fighting. Read more at Al Jazeera and BBC. Tim O'Donnell

3:56 p.m.

One America News Network is getting a time out on YouTube after violating the platform's policy against COVID-19 misinformation.

The pro-Trump news network has been suspended from posting new videos for a week because it broke YouTube's rules with a video promoting a "phony cure for COVID-19," Axios reports. The video in question was taken down. YouTube doesn't allow videos that claim "there's a guaranteed cure" for the coronavirus.

Additionally, according Axios, One America News was suspended from YouTube's Partner Program and will need to reapply in order to continue monetizing videos. Should One America News earn two more strikes from YouTube, its account would be terminated.

Previously, YouTube faced criticism for not taking action against One America News, especially after it left up a video from the network falsely claiming President Trump won the 2020 election before a winner had been projected. That video remains online, though with a label stating that the race has been called for President-elect Joe Biden. Prior to Biden being projected as the winner, the label said that election "results may not be final." This same label was also added to accurate election videos. Brendan Morrow

2:05 p.m.

Purdue Pharma, which produces on OxyContin, on Tuesday admitted its role in the growth of the United States' opioid epidemic, pleading guilty to a set of criminal charges as part of a settlement with the federal government, The Associated Press reports.

The guilty plea included admissions that the pharmaceutical giant impeded the Drug Enforcement Administration's efforts to combat the opioid crisis. The company admitted it failed to maintain an effective program (despite assuring the DEA otherwise) focused on preventing prescription drugs from making it onto the black market. It provided the agency with misleading information so it could boost manufacturing quotas, and paid doctors through a speakers program as incentive for them to write more painkiller prescriptions.

The company will pay the federal government $225 million in the settlement, which is just a fraction of the $8.3 billion it owes in penalties and forfeitures. Paying the smaller amount is dependent on Purdue executing settlements while moving through bankruptcy court with state and local governments, and other groups that are also suing the company.

Many of the other plaintiffs are unsatisfied with the settlement, AP notes, especially because members of the Sackler family who own Purdue are not facing criminal charges and, despite owing the U.S. government millions and giving up control of the company, will not see their overall wealth affected significantly. Several state attorneys general also oppose Purdue's plans for future settlements, which include transforming into a public benefit corporation that would use its proceeds to address the opioid crisis. Read more at The Associated Press. Tim O'Donnell

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