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Political Notebook

Business leaders urge Trump to acknowledge Biden win

Business leaders in Washington and on Wall Street are increasingly calling on the Trump administration to recognize Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election and initiate a formal transition ahead of Biden’s inauguration in January.

Some of the biggest corporate lobbying groups — including the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers — supported President Trump in his push to cut taxes and roll back regulations while in office but are now breaking with the president as he pushes unfounded claims of fraud and wages a protracted court battle in an attempt to overturn the election results.

The business pressure comes as the General Services Administration refuses to issue a letter of “ascertainment,” which would allow Biden’s transition team to begin the transfer of power, and as top Republicans refuse to formally concede that Trump lost. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has yet to recognize Biden’s victory publicly, but said this week that there would be an “orderly transition of power” before the next inauguration.

The National Association of Manufacturers on Wednesday called on the head of the GSA to formally initiate the transition between Trump and Biden.

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“It’s imperative that our nation has a President and advisors who are fully prepared to lead our nation on Inauguration Day given the magnitude of the challenges ahead and the threats to our economic and national security, and most importantly, to the public health,” wrote the manufacturing group’s leaders, including its president and chief executive, Jay Timmons, and the chief executives of the chemicals giant Dow and Trane Technologies.

“We call on the Trump administration to work cooperatively with President-elect Biden and his team,” the letter said.

On Thursday, the chief executive of the US Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donohue, told Axios that “while the Trump administration can continue litigating to confirm election outcomes, for the sake of Americans’ safety and well-being, it should not delay the transition a moment longer.”

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And at the DealBook Online Summit on Wednesday, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, expressed dismay that the transition has not yet formally begun.

“We need a peaceful transition,” Dimon said. “We had an election. We have a new president. We should support that. Whether you like the election outcome or not, you should support the democracy because it is based on a system of faith and trust.”

The calls from business groups could bring additional pressure on top Republicans in Congress to finally recognize Biden as the winner of the election, even as Trump continues to pressure party officials to cast doubt on the results.

Meanwhile, dozens of public health experts are urging the Trump administration to allow the presidential transition process to move forward, warning that the delay “places American lives at risk.”

The letter is written to Emily Murphy, administrator of the GSA, who has not yet signed paperwork that would allow Biden’s transition team to have access to government officials, office space in agencies and other resources.

Amid the pandemic, wrote the group of medical school deans, researchers and renowned medical experts, the transition period is especially critical.

The letter’s signatories include Leana S. Wen, emergency physician and Baltimore’s former health commissioner; Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist and health care researcher at Yale University; and Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.

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They argue such coordination will allow Biden’s team to evaluate pandemic-related information including vaccine development, help them prepare plans for vaccine distribution, assess state and local capacity for coronavirus testing and contact tracing and let them assess the nation’s supply chain capacity for medication and personal protective equipment.

“With the pandemic worsening nationwide and only two months until the transition of power, every day the transition is delayed is a day the country cannot afford,” they wrote. “Ensuring a rapid and smooth transition will save American lives.”

New York Times and Washington Post

Facebook details work on warnings, removals

Facebook on Thursday said it slapped warnings on more than 180 million pieces of content that were debunked by fact-checkers during the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election.

Between March 1 and Election Day, it also removed more than 265,000 pieces of content in the US for voter interference. The company did not reveal how effective its labels are, except to say that when a label obscures a post, 95 percent of people do not click to see what is behind the warning screen.

The company estimated it helped register 4.5 million voters in the US this year across Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger, and helped 100,000 sign up to be poll workers. Since its launch, 140 million people have visited the company’s voting information center, and on Election Day, 33 million people visited its election center, which included results as they came in.

Facebook also said in its update its artificial intelligence systems are getting significantly better at rooting out posts with hate speech, even as the content continues to proliferate on its social media sites.

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The technology now identifies 95 percent of hate speech posts that the company eventually removes before a user reports them. Nearly three years ago, the AI only proactively found about 24 percent of the violating posts.

Washington Post

Poll shows many say Trump undermines Constitution

A new Monmouth University poll shows that just under half of Americans — 45 percent — believe Trump has done more than his predecessors to undermine the US Constitution.

Thirty-seven percent believe Trump has done more than past presidents to protect the Constitution, while 15 percent believe he has been no different.

Trump has broken a wide range of norms during his nearly four years in the White House. Among them: He has relied on acting Cabinet secretaries rather than Senate-confirmed ones, repeatedly floated the idea of serving for longer than eight years, and refused to acknowledge President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

“This may be the most alarming finding in the poll,” Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray said in a statement. “No one who truly appreciates our country’s founding document can see the last four years as a high-water mark for upholding Constitutional norms. This speaks to the success of Trump and his allies in completely reframing the terms of political engagement, a development that started long before the current administration.”

The survey also shows that 76 percent of Americans believe the United States is greatly divided on the country’s most important values, while only 21 percent feel the country is generally in agreement on those values.

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Not surprisingly, 90 percent of Democrats say the country has become more divided.

Washington Post