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The Note: Amid threats of violence, Trump loyalty tests haunt GOP

The TAKE with Rick Klein

To not believe them is to potentially sacrifice your future in the Republican Party — and maybe a whole lot more.

Take the remarkable words of Gabriel Sterling, a top official in the GOP secretary of state’s office in Georgia, where the Trump-requested recount ends Wednesday and will — again — show President-elect Joe Biden to have won the state.

PHOTO: Gabriel Sterling, Voting System Implementation Manager with the Georgia Secretary of State's office, speaks during a news conference at the Georgia State Capitol building in Atlanta, Dec. 1, 2020.

Silence is one level to this — and the fact that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have not referred to Biden as president-elect is astounding, more than a month since the election and with all contested states having certified their votes.

But Trump is asking for more than silence from Republicans.

By attacking those who are doing their jobs — and empowering a legal team that’s making outlandish and unsubstantiated claims in his name — he has made loyalty to his own losing cause the principal tenet of his GOP.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

The post-election headlines have been pretty consistent lately, centered around judges tossing out lawsuits from the president’s legal teams. Tuesday’s news was notably different. Not only were the president’s claims dismissed, they were dismissed after investigation.

During his interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Attorney General William Barr confirmed his team and FBI agents had “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” after they looked into and followed-up on specific leads and complaints.

The latter part matters just as much in this moment of widespread misinformation with a White House team still sputtering conspiracy theories. State officials from Arizona to Georgia have also said that they have not seen evidence of fraud, but the fact that the weight and expertise of the federal government was put to use in this moment should reassure skeptical voters.

PHOTO:Attorney General William Barr testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing in the Congressional Auditorium at the U.S Capitol Visitors Center July 28, 2020 in Washington, D.C.

Sure, some will argue that it was a waste of resources, a political fool’s errand that added to an air of uncertainty. Why would the default be to question some votes and systems more than others? But setting that aside, all voters should feel confident in the system, and Barr gave them one more big reason to do just that when the president has not.

In the last few days, Trump has sounded nearly dumbfounded that Republican governors were not willing to pull extralegal strings for him. But remember many local officials also ran down specific claims as they came up. They have been dedicated to helping their voters trust the system.

Barr has been accused of bending Washington and judicial norms in his role, and here, as the president’s ally, it seems that he did take concerns seriously, but also was not going to pretend something existed, if it didn’t.

The TIP with Kendall Karson

As Democrats fend off Trump’s endless legal endeavors to reverse the presidential election’s clear results, lower down the ballot, where the margins are tight and the results are not as clear, the fights for the last remaining House seats are extending deep into overtime.

Democrats are possibly looking at months in the courts to keep two key House races in Iowa and New York in their grip, which could give House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a bit more wiggle room to execute the party’s legislative agenda. The results are so close — historically close — that challenges are likely to continue into the new year.

In upstate New York, a first official tally in the 22nd Congressional District came on Monday — showing 12 votes separating incumbent Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi and Republican Claudia Tenney — only to be disputed by Tuesday, when an additional 55 ballots were found nearly a month after Election Day.

In Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, with the official certified margin standing at only six votes, the race’s next steps are in the hands of Democrat Rita Hart, who could continue to contest the election. Her campaign appeared to be leaning towards keeping up the fight against Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks.

ONE MORE THING

As White House aides come to terms with the election results and turn their focus to the remaining weeks of President Donald Trump’s administration, multiple sources tell ABC News that various Trump allies and other lawyers have begun a campaign to petition the West Wing in hopes of securing pardons for those who might receive a sympathetic reception from the president. Those in the mix for a potential pardon have ranged from family members and associates all the way to the Tiger King, according to sources. Separately, newly unsealed documents reveal the Justice Department is looking into allegations that lobbyists may have tried to bribe White House officials or a related political committee in exchange for a presidential pardon.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News’ “Start Here” podcast. Wednesday morning’s episode features ABC News’ Steve Osunsami, who recaps Tuesday’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory board vote on who should get the COVID-19 vaccine first. ABC News Senior Editorial Producer John Santucci explains why the White House is fielding an influx of pardon requests as legal avenues for challenging the election run dry. And Mariana van Zeller from National Geographic tells us about her new series “Trafficked.” http://apple.co/2HPocUL

ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” podcast. President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign adviser Anita Dunn will join ABC News Political Director Rick Klein and Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl on the podcast. https://bit.ly/2CGGdCY

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser to Operation Warp Speed, will appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testify before the House Financial Services Committee on their agencies’ response to the coronavirus pandemic at 10 a.m.
  • President Donald Trump has lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at 12:30 p.m. at the White House.
  • Mark Kelly will be sworn in as the junior senator from Arizona at 2 p.m.
  • The Capitol Christmas Tree lighting will take place at 5 p.m.
  • President-elect Joe Biden receives the President’s Daily Brief. Later, he participates in a virtual roundtable with workers and small business owners impacted by the economic crisis in Wilmington, Delaware.
  • Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief.
  • Download the ABC News app and select “The Note” as an item of interest to receive the day’s sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.




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