November 23, 2020

Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's top election lawyer, said at a wild press conference Thursday that he, Sidney Powell, and Jenna Ellis were "an elite strike force team" that's "representing President Trump and we're representing the Trump campaign." On Saturday night, a conservative federal judge in Pennsylvania eviscerated and dismissed Giuliani's lawsuit to flip the state, then Trump ally Chris Christie called Trump's legal team "a national embarrassment" on Sunday, and by Sunday evening, Giuliani and Ellis said Powell was not a member of Trump's legal team.

Most Trump campaign and administration staff have steered clear of Giuliani's legal effort, suggesting he was feeding Trump hope so he could earn a reported fee of $20,000 a day, and few seemed sad to see Powell — and hopefully her untethered conspiracy theory about a global "communist" plot to steal the election from Trump — disavowed.

Powell "was too crazy even for the president," a campaign official told The Washington Post. A Trump adviser echoed that to The New York Times, telling reporter Maggie Haberman "she was too conspiratorial even for him," even though Giuliani has been making similar claims. "One down, two to go," a Trump aide told Haberman, who added that Trump was displeased with the loss in Pennsylvania and "Powell was easiest to vote off the island."

Trump "disliked the coverage Powell was receiving from Tucker Carlson and others," the Post reports, citing two Trump advisers, and "several allies had reached out to say she had gone too far" with her conspiracy theories. On Saturday night, Powell went on Newsmax and accused Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) of taking payoffs to deprive not only Trump of victory in Georgia, but also Rep. Doug Collins (R), who was defeated in his bid for a Senate runoff slot by GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

Powell, who amplified QAnon conspiracies while representing former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, told CBS News she understood Giuliani's statement and would file her own voter fraud lawsuits separately. Flynn tweeted a similar statement, adding that Powell had been suspended from Twitter for 12 hours. Peter Weber

4:48 p.m.

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn into office Wednesday, marking the end of former President Donald Trump's term. After the inauguration ceremony, Biden and Harris embarked on a short parade around the Capitol Hill area that ended at the White House. That's where Biden and his family got to step inside for the first time since Biden was vice president himself four years ago.

Shortly after Biden's arrival, Harris and the second gentleman Doug Emhoff made it to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The vice president has a set of offices in the building next to the White House, but lives in a house on the grounds of the Naval Observatory about two miles northwest.

The White House got a thorough cleaning after the Trump administration departed Wednesday morning. Biden administration members will be required to wear masks once they start working, unlike Trump's staff. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:40 p.m.

President Biden's team is reportedly worried the COVID-19 pandemic they're inheriting is worse than they anticipated, and some advisers say a new, more contagious variant of the virus — as opposed to vaccine distribution logistics — is the main reason why, Bloomberg reports.

Biden has promised to try to curb the virus' spread through a push to inoculate 100 million Americans in 100 days, encourage widespread mask usage, increase testing, and reopen schools. But the fear is that the new variant, which was initially discovered in the United Kingdom, but has made its way to the U.S. and elsewhere, will upend the entire plan and, subsequently, damage his prospects of achieving other legislative priorities like immigration reform and infrastructure development, Bloomberg notes.

While the mutation is seemingly at the center of the apprehension, Biden's aides also reportedly blame their predecessors for putting them in a bad spot. Some aides, per Bloomberg, privately allege the Trump administration "dragged its heels in showing them details of the federal response and its data." Ultimately, they reportedly opted against making those concerns public because they wanted to avoid publicly criticizing the Trump administration during the transition, potentially motivating them to cut them out of the loop completely.

A former senior Trump official told Bloomberg that description of the situation was just the Biden team's way of lowering expectations, adding that they were given unprecedented access to pandemic-related information. Read more at Bloomberg. Tim O'Donnell

4:24 p.m.

Former President George W. Bush described House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) as "the savior" for helping President Biden make his way to the Oval Office, according to Clyburn himself.

The South Carolina Democrat revealed Wednesday he spoke with Bush ahead of the inauguration ceremony and that the former president called him the "savior" because of his key endorsement of Biden's campaign, The Associated Press reports.

"George Bush said to me today, he said, 'You know, you're the savior," Clyburn explained. "Because if you had not nominated Joe Biden, we would not be having this transfer of power today.'"

Clyburn backed Biden prior to the 2020 South Carolina Democratic primary, which Biden went on to win in what was widely seen as the major turning point in his presidential campaign; former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) subsequently dropped out of the race and endorsed him.

Bush, according to Clyburn, also described Biden as "the only one who could have defeated the incumbent president." Brendan Morrow

3:59 p.m.

A new White House means a new But most people who browse the spiffy website won't know that there's a secret message hidden right under their eyes.

Snuck into the HTML code is a "neat little Easter egg," Protocol reports — a message that says "If you're reading this, we need your help building back better," followed by a link to the U.S. Digital Service, the executive branch's elite technology unit.

Another hidden message on the page points anyone creeping on the HTML toward the White House's analytics website, which allows viewers to see how many people are on government websites at any given time, as well as what pages are the most viewed (if all this tech talk is Greek to you, you can snoop the page the easier way, by clicking here; turns out a lot of people try to track their USPS packages!):

President Biden's tough tech agenda in office will indeed need all the help it can get — read more about what he wants to accomplish in office on the cyber front here. Jeva Lange

3:54 p.m.

The numbers are in.

Former President Donald Trump racked up an astonishing 30,573 false claims throughout the four years of his presidency, according to The Washington Post's fact checker. They include repeated inflations like Trump's insistence that more of his border wall was built than actually had been, flat-out lies about just how many votes he received in the 2020 election, and everything in between.

Trump's false claims increased most dramatically in the months leading up to the 2020 election. They plateaued again afterward as Trump stayed out of the public eye, even as he falsely insisted he won the election and that fraud had cost him votes.

Trump most often repeated his claim of building "the greatest economy in the history of the world," saying it 493 times, the Post counts. False claims about his political opponents wanting fully open borders and the actual size of his tax cuts also topped the most repeated list, which you can explore at The Washington Post. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:18 p.m.

Amazon has extended an offer to help President Biden meet his goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans against COVID-19 in his first 100 days in office.

Dave Clark, the CEO of Amazon's consumer business, sent a letter to Biden on Wednesday, congratulating him and Vice President Kamala Harris on their inauguration before detailing how the tech giant plans to expedite the vaccine campaign.

The strategy would include on-site inoculations for any of the company's 800,000 employees who don't have the luxury of working from home during the pandemic. And looking beyond Amazon, Clark added that "we are prepared to leverage our operations, information technology, and communications capabilities and expertise to assist" the Biden administration.

Biden has promised to ramp up the vaccine effort, which has been slower-than-expected, though it's unclear if he'll sign off on Amazon's requests and offer. Tim O'Donnell

2:20 p.m.

In the wake of the deadly riot in the U.S. Capitol building earlier this month, the FBI had warned that armed protests were being planned in every state capital. But though it was still early in much of America as President Biden was sworn in just before noon Eastern time, the handful of pro-Trump demonstrators who actually showed up were largely disappointed by the turnout, to say the least:

In other states, nobody showed up at all:

Meanwhile, in Montana, the only protester to show up ... was a counterprotester. Jeva Lange

See More Speed Reads