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Once a friend, Biden calls Lindsey Graham ‘a personal disappointment’ for not recognizing election win

When Stephen Colbert asked on Thursday whether he could patch up his once close friendship with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, President-elect Joe Biden expression turned somber.

Graham, a close ally of President Donald Trump, has declined to acknowledge Biden’s election victory, and was accused of pressuring Georgia to discard mail-in ballots in a state that went for the Democrat.

Biden, who has made his willingness to work with Republicans a key campaign promise, declined to say whether their relationship was salvageable.

’'Lindsey’s been a personal disappointment because I was a personal friend of his,’' Biden told the CBS host.


The late-night appearance comes as the president-elect faces the task of working with Senate Republicans who remain fiercely loyal to Trump in the last weeks of his term, which coincides with two crucial Senate runoffs in Georgia for control of the chamber. The acknowledgement by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, this week that Biden is the president-elect was met with derision from Trump and his allies, some of whom called for McConnell to retire for ’'giving up’' on the president.

But Biden again expressed optimism on Colbert’s show that he could work with GOP leadership once Trump’s term ends next month.

’'Once this president is no longer in office, I think you’re going to see is impact on the body politic fade, and a lot of these Republicans are going to feel they have much more room to run and cooperate,’' Biden said.

The across-the-aisle bond that once existed between the president-elect and the South Carolina senator has been well-documented, with Graham once describing Biden ’'as good a man as God ever created.’'

But the friendship fractured during Trump’s presidency as Graham became one of the closest allies of a president he originally disdained as a candidate. Then, Graham led the efforts to make Biden’s son, Hunter, a focus of Trump’s impeachment proceedings, pushing for probes of the Biden family and Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine.


Joe Biden soon lashed out at Graham, telling CNN last year that his former friend was ’'about to go down in a way that I think he’s going to regret his whole life.’'

Just this week, Graham pushed for a special counsel to probe the business of Hunter Biden, who is under federal investigation. The president-elect again defended his son on Thursday, saying, ’'I’m not concerned about any accusations that have been made against him.’'

While many Republican senators have finally recognized Biden as president-elect, Graham stopped short, maintaining that Trump still had a ’'very, very narrow path’' after the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit to overturn the election results in four states Trump lost.

’'I don’t see how it gets there from here, given what the Supreme Court did,’' Graham said on Monday. ’'But having said that, I think we’ll let those legal challenges play out.’'

Graham’s spokespeople did not immediately return The Washington Post’s request for comment early Friday.

Washington Post

US eases cherry pie rules

The Trump administration has taken steps to roll back some pretty high-profile rules.

But here’s another deregulatory effort that has flown more under the radar: the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday proposed scrapping its rules governing the makeup of . . . frozen cherry pies.

Small potatoes? Maybe. But Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA chief, applauded it as a fat slice of liberty for the populace. ’'The American people are free [to] add extra fruit, sugar, and make the crust especially thick,’' he tweeted.


Here’s how we got to the Freedom Pie phase: For decades, the FDA has set precise and detailed standards for all kinds of food products, spelling out, for example, the proportion of fruit that goes into a jam, mandating that gumbo must contain okra (unless it’s labeled ’'Creole-style”), and dictating that fajitas must contain no less than 15 percent meat.

Its apparently doomed current rules for frozen cherry pie are similarly specific. Under the FDA’s dictate, there can be no artificial sweeteners in such a product. Actual fruit must make up at least a quarter of the pie’s weight (the agency requires a painstaking method for determining compliance with this that involves a ’'U.S. No. 8 sieve’' held at an angle between 15 and 30 degrees). And no more than 15percent of the cherries may be blemished.

All of which, according to the folks who make cherry pies, is outdated, unnecessary and perhaps even anti-American.

’'It’s that prescriptive mentality that makes it so difficult to adapt and modernize and innovate and improve,’' says Robb MacKie, president and CEO of the American Bakers Association, who notes that the rules were put in place decades ago and that their origins aren’t even clear.

Though it hadn’t specifically petitioned to remove the cherry-pie regulations since 2005, the group has long argued against them, noting that the agency doesn’t regulate other kinds of pie (there’s no similar passage governing apple pies, for example), nor does it prescribe rules for non-frozen cherry pies.


The bakers’ group has also contended that the FDA shouldn’t set quality standards for pie, or really, anything else. Consumers should be able to buy more cheaply made pies if that’s what they like, the group argues, and besides, it says, really bad products probably won’t last long in the market.

’'Standardization of quality is not properly a function of government in a democratic society,’' the organization wrote to the FDA in 1997.

The FDA this week seemed to finally agree: ’'We tentatively conclude that the standards of identity and quality for frozen cherry pie are no longer necessary to promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers and revoking these standards will provide greater flexibility in the product’s manufacture, consistent with comparable, nonstandardized foods available in the marketplace,’' the agency wrote.

If you’re wondering why the FDA would bother with a rule change on something so minor in the midst of a pandemic that is sapping much of the agency’s attention - without even having been directly asked to in 15 years - here’s a possible explanation. According to MacKie, the rules governing frozen cherry pies are often used internally at the FDA as an example of the kind of outdated, slow-moving mind-set the agency is struggling to overcome. The cherry pie rules were seen as a ’'poster child’' for inefficiency, he said.


Removing them, then, might be as much about symbolism as it is about the box of cherry pie you find in your supermarket freezer aisle.

Washington Post