Monday Sunrise Briefing: Courts and clock challenge Trump effort

Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP
A election worker requests help during the presidential election recount at the Wisconsin Center Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Milwaukee.

Neither the courts nor the calendar seem to support President Donald Trump’s bid to overturn the Nov. 3 election results.  The Trump campaign and its allies have now lost or withdrawn more than 30 lawsuits. On Saturday, in a scathing ruling, U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann - a Republican and a Federalist Society member - concluded that Trump's team offered only “speculative accusations," not proof of rampant corruption in Pennsylvania. Another Republican, former N.J. Gov. Chris Christie called Trump’s legal team “a national embarrassment…. They allege fraud outside of the courtroom but when they go inside the courtroom ... "the evidence has not been presented." The Trump campaign said it would appeal the judge’s decision. But the deadline for Pennsylvania’s 67 counties to certify the voting results is (today) Monday. Another swing state, Michigan, is also expected to certify Joe Biden’s victory Monday.  In Georgia, an official machine recount begins this week, after the manual re-tally was completed Friday. 

Universal access to treatments? Leaders of the world’s most prosperous nations ended a summit Sunday with a call for equitable access to COVID-19 treatments for all nations and debt-relief for struggling economies. The G-20 summit, including 19 nations and the European Union, is intended to foster a collaborative approach to problem solving. After the online summit, Germany announced more funding for COVAX, an international initiative to distribute COVID-19 vaccines worldwide. The U.S. declined to join the effort. The G-20 agreed to suspend debt payments for 46 of the world's poorest nations until mid-2021 to allow those countries to focus their spending on health care and social support programs. 

Gender equity, Part II. Germany’s ruling coalition parties agreed to introduce a new law this week requiring a quota for women in senior positions in the top companies. Germany company boards with more than three members must include at least one woman under the bill, the Guardian reports. In 2015, Germany passed a law requiring firms to publish targets for female participation in management. But that transparency hasn’t moved the needle. Women make up only 12.8% of top management in firms listed on Germany’s blue-chip DAX stock market index. By comparison, the proportion of women in C-suite leadership roles is 24.5% in the UK, 28.6% in the US, 22.2% in France and 24.9% in Sweden, according to a survey by the Swedish-German AllBright Foundation.

REUTERS/Charles Platiau
Too soon? The Christmas lights were turned on Sunday evening, Nov. 22., along the Champs Elysees in Paris, marking the official start of France's holiday season.

Why We Wrote This

Good morning! Welcome to your Monday, Nov. 23, 2020, sunrise briefing.

Here are three news events from this past weekend (while you may have been playing disc golf, making lasagna gifts, and enjoying an offline life). Also, what to look for in the news this week.

Look Ahead

Monday, Nov. 23

Democracy watch. Michigan is scheduled to certify presidential election results. Today is also the deadline for Pennsylvania counties to certify tally results, and send them to the secretary of state. 

French corruption trial. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy goes on trial accused of corruption in a phone-tapping and influence-peddling scandal during his 2007-2012 presidency.

Tuesday, Nov. 24

More democracy watching. Minnesota, Nevada, and North Carolina are scheduled to certify their election results. 

Leadership choices. President-elect Joe Biden is expected to announce several key Cabinet positions. Multiple news outlets reported Sunday evening that Mr. Biden is expected to nominate Antony Blinken as secretary of state and Linda Thomas-Greenfield as his nominee for ambassador to the United Nations.

Thanksgiving pardon. Continuing a tradition dating back to President George H. W. Bush, President Trump is expected to pardon a turkey at the White House.

Best musicmakers. The 2021 Grammy nominees are announced. 

Wednesday, Nov. 25. 

Armenia-Azerbaijan peace pact. The Kalbajar district bordering Armenia is due to be handed over to Azerbaijan according to a recent Russia-brokered cease-fire agreement between the two countries.

Thursday, Nov. 26.

A day of gratitude. Americans celebrate thanksgiving, an annual holiday of giving gratitude for one’s blessings. It’s modeled after a 1621 harvest feast shared by the Pilgrims (English colonists) in Plymouth, Massachusetts and the Wampanoag people. But it didn’t become a national holiday until President Abraham Lincoln made a proclamation in 1863.

Friday, Nov. 27

Black Beauty, remade. The latest movie adaptation of the 1877 novel by Anna Sewell debuts. It stars Mackenzie Foy, Kate Winslet, Claire Forlani, Iain Glen, and Fern Deacon. The film is scheduled to be released on Disney+.

Integrity Watch

AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified, after a manual recount, that Joe Biden won the state's presidential election on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, in Atlanta.

The U.S. Nov. 3 election introduced us to a new champion of democracy.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger put loyalty to the law and loyalty to American voters above loyalty to party and president. Not an easy choice.

Mr. Raffensperger, a Republican, is in charge of managing the elections in his state, where Joe Biden won by more than 12,000 votes. But the margin of victory was close enough that the state conducted a manual audit. 

But Mr. Raffensperger’s taking heat for the results. He was publicly criticized by President Trump. The two Republican candidates running for Georgia U.S. Senate seats have called for his resignation. Mr. Raffensperger and his wife have received death threats. And there was a phone call from South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham, chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Mr. Raffensperger told the Washington Post that Senator Graham appeared to suggest that he find a way to toss legally cast ballots. Mr. Graham later told reporters that the call was merely seeking information about signature matching rules in Georgia. On the same day, a federal lawsuit was filed in Georgia challenging the way county election officials check signatures. Coincidence?

“They say that as pressure builds it reveals your character. It doesn’t change your character,” Mr. Raffensperger told NPR. “So, some people aren’t behaving too well seeing what the results are.”

As a conservative, Mr. Raffensperger admits disappointment with the election results. He also understands that the democratic process must be trustworthy. His job is “about integrity. I think that integrity still matters. People reaching out to me appreciate that I’m standing on the principle of one person, one vote. Integrity matters.”

Hidden gem 

Start your week with a recent story that inspired Monitor readers:

Every stitch tells a story: a Black quilter confronts injustice

Sneak preview

In tonight’s Daily Edition, watch for our story on what a scaled-down Thanksgiving dinner might look like. Hint: Mini pumpkin pies. 

Finally, check out the Monitor’s selected stories from Friday's subscription-only Daily Edition:

  1. For Afghans, US troops ‘home by Christmas’ is gift to the Taliban
  2. Trump ‘bromance’ broke Israel’s bipartisan rule. Will Netanyahu pay?
  3. As Native freshman enrollment falls sharply, tribal colleges respond
  4. Pushed by pandemic, Londoners answer call of low-cost country life
  5. First Thanksgiving: How a Native woman is setting the record straight 

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