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President Trump’s attempts to overturn the election result are very unlikely to succeed. For that reason, the effort can sometimes seem like a publicity stunt — an effort by Trump to raise money and burnish his image with his supporters.

And it may well be all of those things. But it is also a remarkable campaign against American democracy. It has grown to include most Republican-run states, most Republican members of Congress and numerous threats of violence. I want to use today’s newsletter to explain it.

The new centerpiece in the effort is a lawsuit that the state of Texas filed this week with the Supreme Court and that Trump supports. It claims that the election in four swing states — Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — suffered from “unconstitutional irregularities.”

The suit is based on the same lies that Trump has been telling about voter fraud. In reality, there was no meaningful fraud, as local officials from both parties have concluded. William Barr, Trump’s attorney general, came to the same conclusion.

Nonetheless, the attorneys general of 17 states — including Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana, Utah, Arizona and the Dakotas — have backed the Texas lawsuit. Yesterday, more than half of House Republicans released a legal brief supporting it. “If they get their way in court (they won’t), they would break the country,” David French of The Dispatch, a conservative publication, wrote.

They are doing so, as my colleagues Jeremy Peters and Maggie Haberman have explained, largely because they believe that defying Trump would damage their standing with Republican voters. By doing so, the politicians are “inflaming the public,” French noted, causing many voters to believe — wrongly — that a presidential election was unfair. And that belief is fueling an outbreak of violent threats against elections officials, including:

  • Dozens of Trump supporters, some armed, went to the home of Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s Democratic secretary of state, and began shouting obscenities.

  • On Twitter, Trump supporters have posted photographs of the home of Ann Jacobs, a Wisconsin official, and mentioned her children.

  • In Phoenix, about 100 Trump supporters, some armed, protested at the building where officials were counting votes.

  • In Vermont, officials received a voice message threatening them with “execution by firing squad.”

  • Seth Bluestein, a Philadelphia official, received anti-Semitic and violent threats after Pam Bondi, a Trump ally, publicly mentioned him.

  • A Georgia poll worker went into hiding after a viral video falsely claimed he had discarded ballots.

  • Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, and his wife have received death threats, including by text message, and caravans have circled their house.

  • Gabriel Sterling, another Georgia official, received a message wishing him a happy birthday and saying it would be his last.

In a later interview with Time magazine, Sterling argued that elected politicians could defuse the threats by acknowledging that the election was fair. “Leadership is supposed to look like grown-ups in the room saying, ‘I know you’re upset, but this is the reality,’” Sterling said.

A swing state responds: In a Supreme Court filing, Pennsylvania called the Texas lawsuit part of a “cacophony of bogus claims,” a “seditious abuse of the judicial process” and “an affront to principles of constitutional democracy.”

The Virus

  • An F.D.A. advisory panel voted in favor of Pfizer’s vaccine, clearing one of the final hurdles before the agency authorizes the drug. It is likely to do so within days.

  • South Korea recorded 686 new cases on Wednesday, its highest daily total since February, and one health official there called it “our biggest ever coronavirus crisis.” In the past week, 45 U.S. states have averaged more daily cases.

  • The speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, Richard Hinch, died suddenly of Covid-19 on Wednesday. Hinch, who was 71, recently attended an indoor meeting with his Republican colleagues where several members contracted the virus.

  • Ellen DeGeneres said she had tested positive.

POLITICS

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Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times
  • President-elect Joe Biden privately advised civil rights activists not to discuss police reform before next month’s Senate runoffs in Georgia, arguing that Republicans would distort Democrats’ position. “That’s how they beat the living hell out of us,” Biden said.

  • Biden named two more officials with whom he has longstanding relationships: Denis McDonough as the nominee to run veterans affairs, and Susan Rice to oversee domestic policy. Both worked in the Obama administration.

  • Aides to Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, said most Republicans would probably not support a proposed $908 billion economic stimulus package that a bipartisan group of senators favors.

  • If the Senate fails to approve a one-week stopgap spending bill today, the government will shut down at midnight.

  • Trump’s secretary of veterans affairs, Robert Wilkie, mishandled an investigation into sexual assault, according to the department’s inspector general.

other big stories

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Morning Reads

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Credit…Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times

Tradition on Hold: There’s something missing in Germany this December. The pandemic has quieted the country’s beloved outdoor Christmas markets, a tradition of mulled wine, carols and gifts that dates to the 14th century.

From Opinion: What does the future of the Republican Party look like? Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics talks with The Times’s Jane Coaston and Ross Douthat, in Jane’s first episode as a co-host of “The Argument” podcast.

Lives Lived: As the nation’s first nationally syndicated lesbian columnist who wrote regularly about gay life, Deb Price covered issues like the debate over gay people in the military. But she also wrote about same-sex couples in everyday, domestic situations, believing that doing so would make it harder for society to deny them equal rights. Price died at 62.


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Credit…Nolwen Cifuentes for The New York Times

The American diet is fantastically diverse. But the roster of American dietitians is less so: About 71 percent are non-Hispanic white. As a result, the recommendations that come from the top U.S. organization for nutrition professionals often ignore non-Western foods.

A new wave of experts is trying to change that, as Priya Krishna writes in The Times.

Already, some dietitians have created their own resources. Hazel Ng made handouts for cooking with Asian produce, like bitter melon and lychees. Ryan Bad Heart Bull offered tips about healthy Native American foods for cancer survivors trying to adjust their diets. A Toronto dietitian, Nazima Qureshi, self-published a guide to healthy fasting during Ramadan. And other organizations, like Diversify Dietetics, address inequities in the profession by offering mentorship and educational materials for students of color.

The national organization — the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics — says it wants to improve. Kristen Gradney, a dietitian who spoke on behalf of the academy, said that while it “has really missed the mark” in preparing dietitians to deal with diverse populations, it was starting to make progress. Still, she said “true change” would most likely stem from grass-roots efforts.

What to Cook

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Credit…Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Originally posted on https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/11/briefing/pfizer-trump-lawsuit-star-wars-your-morning-briefing.html